NCAA Football

USC Football: Who Is Replacing Every Former Trojan Taken in 2014 NFL Draft

The 2014 NFL draft is already fading in the rear-view mirror, and the next crop of Trojans are set to begin their professional careers...

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Auburn Football: Who Is Replacing Every Former Tiger Taken in 2014 NFL Draft

The chaos of the 2014 NFL draft and the undrafted free-agent signing period has officially come and gone, giving 13 former Auburn Tigers the starts to what they hope will be long and fruitful professional careers.

Four of the former Tigers now making their way to NFL rosters were selected in the three-day draft, including Auburn's first pair of first-round picks since Cam Newton and Nick Fairley in 2011.

With only two of these Tigers leaving a year early for the bright lights of the pros, Auburn's depth chart was more than prepared to replace the outgoing playmakers from its 2013 SEC championship squad.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn's first full recruiting class to the Plains brought a new amount of depth with a veteran cast of stars returning for the 2013 season.

Let's take a look at the crop of 2014 Tigers who will help replace their four drafted teammates and the five spots on this season's depth chart they once held.

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SEC Football: 5 Coaches on the Hot Seat in 2014

For a second consecutive season, the majority of SEC coaches find themselves in reasonably comfortable positions.

Several coaches, led by Alabama’s Nick Saban and South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, are virtually untouchable based alone on season results. The same goes for newer coaches such as Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason and Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin.

Anyone paying attention to SEC football realizes Will Muschamp at Florida faces the longest odds to keep his job.

Beyond Muschamp, though, finding SEC coaches in real trouble isn’t a simple task.

In order to determine which programs could make changes at the top, we will examine past results, fan expectations and the odds of a disappointing season.

Here is a list of the SEC coaches on the hottest seats entering 2014.

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Texas Football: Breaking Down Where Cedric Reed Landed on First 2015 Big Boards

There were 256 players taken in the 2014 NFL draft, and not a single one of them played for the University of Texas last season. Thanks to Cedric Reed, the 'Horns have a chance to break back into the first round of next year's draft.

By not having a player selected this year, the Longhorns snapped a 76-year streak of having at least one player drafted, the longest in the nation. The end of the streak represents that latest and final failure of Mack Brown, whose loaded 2010 recruiting class failed to produce a single NFL draft pick.

There is, however, some semblance of a silver lining for Texas fans. New head coach Charlie Strong had three players selected in the first round from his previous stint at Louisville, which tied Texas A&M for the most of any collegiate program.

The second reason for optimism is that Strong will send Reed and his early-round potential to New York to show the program is getting back on track.

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Clemson Football: Who Is Replacing Every Former Tiger Taken in 2014 NFL Draft?

The NFL draft is over and 256 young men now know where they'll be attempting to live out their NFL dreams. 

Clemson saw five former Tigers picked in last week's NFL draft. The most notable, of course, was wide receiver Sammy Watkins. The Buffalo Bills traded next year's first-round pick to move up five spots to select Watkins. 

Injured offensive tackle Brandon Thomas was the last pick in Friday's third round. Bashaud Breeland was the second pick of the fourth round, while Martavis Bryant also went later in the fourth. Surprisingly, at least to Clemson fans, record-setting quarterback Tajh Boyd was the last to go. Boyd was chosen in the sixth round by the New York Jets. 

Several other Tigers will attempt to make NFL rosters as undrafted free agents. Darius Robinson, Quandon Christian, Chandler Catanzaro, Spencer Shuey and Tyler Shatley all have signed contracts with NFL teams, per Phil Kornblut of SportsTalk South Carolina. 

Now that several Tigers have departed, who will replace those five former Clemson stars that were drafted? 

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Power Ranking the Top 10 2015 Out-of-State Commitments So Far

Every program wants to lock down its backyard, but plucking a recruit from another school's territory is certainly neat. In the 2015 class, there have been several significant out-of-state commitments so far.

Landing an out-of-state commitment is always a huge deal for a program. It shows how long of a recruiting reach the school has and expands its pool of prospects even more on the recruiting trail.

LSU has out-of-state prospects from two 5-star recruits, while USC earned a pledge from a 5-star offensive tackle from Georgia. Plus, Alabama went all the way to New Jersey to land a 5-star cornerback.

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Big Ten Football: 5 Coaches on the Hot Seat in 2014

College football is filled with pressure, and there's no single person in any program that feels that pressure more keenly than a head coach.

A coach is usually one of the last to get the lion's share of the credit for a season's success, but he's often first on the list of public enemies when things go wrong.

Some coaches seem to relish their positions and feed off of the pressure.  These guys are usually pretty successful.  But sometimes a coach just doesn't fit into his own program—think Rich Rodriguez at Michigan—and the pressure soon becomes an uncontrollable, runaway chain reaction.

The first signs of that chain reaction really becoming uncontrollable is the "hot seat."  Coaches hate it, pundits love it, and fans sometimes can't wait to get it over and done with so they can see their team move on to the next coaching era.

The Big Ten—like every other conference—will have its fair share of coaches beginning the 2014 college football season on the hot seat.  The temperature of those seats may vary somewhat, but one thing is certain: These five Big Ten coaches have a make-or-break 2014 heading their way.

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Tennessee Football: Who Is Replacing Every Volunteer Taken in 2014 NFL Draft?

With the 2014 NFL draft in the books, it was a relatively light few days for the Tennessee Volunteers with only three former players taken.

Eight more signed contracts as undrafted free agents, according to UTSports.com.

Head coach Butch Jones wasn't taken by surprise with any of the departures, and his stout first full recruiting class, which was ranked seventh by 247Sports, addressed the holes left by those gone. 

While the youth movement that accompanies such a massive roster overhaul will be evident, they'll be thrown into the fire early and often thanks to all the players who graduated. For instance, the Vols don't have a single returning starter on either line of scrimmage.

Depth and experience are not assets Jones will have at his disposal in '14, even if there is a lot more talent on the roster than there was a season ago.

The best news for UT is it didn't lose any irreplaceable players. Even departed talents—such as a group of experienced offensive linemen who started for the better part of their careers—underachieved at times throughout their Volunteer careers.

A new crop of Vols will try to put four consecutive losing seasons behind them, and the first step in doing that is to fill the holes left by the guys who'll get to continue their careers on the next level.

Let's take a look at the replacements for those three drafted Vols, as well as a couple of valuable departed free agents.

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Miami Football: Who Is Replacing Every Former Hurricane Taken in 2014 NFL Draft

Three former Miami Hurricanes were selected in the 2014 NFL draft, and Al Golden's team must replace these players next season.

Though the 'Canes lost nine starters in all, only a trio—Brandon Linder, Pat O'Donnell and Seantrel Henderson—heard their names called at Radio City Music Hall.

To the surprise of many, the Jacksonville Jaguars took offensive lineman Linder late in the third round.

On the final day, the Chicago Bears were in desperate need of a punter and decided O'Donnell was the best available specialist in the sixth round. Soon after, in the seventh, the Buffalo Bills snagged Henderson.

It may have been a disappointing draft for Miami, but that also means the Hurricanes kept any elite talent. Nevertheless, the current roster must take over for Linder, O'Donnell and Henderson.

 

Right Guard

Over the last two seasons, Linder started 22 of the Hurricanes' last 25 games at right guard, and he received playing time there all four years. 

Stepping in for Linder is Danny Isidora, a redshirt sophomore who was a member of the 2012 recruiting class along with starter left tackle Ereck Flowers.

Last season, Isidora impressed coaches during spring practice but suffered a broken foot in early August. The injury caused him to miss the first 10 games, and the Cypress Bay High School product made his collegiate debut during Miami's win over Virginia and played limited snaps against Pittsburgh.

But after Linder's graduation, Isidora will take the majority of snaps at right guard and feels physically prepared. He told Christopher Stock of 247Sports (subscription required), "My foot feels great, I don’t have any pain."

On the post-spring depth chart, sophomore Alex Gall and freshman Trevor Darling were listed as Isidora's backups.

 

Right Tackle

The roller-coaster ride that was Henderson has moved on to the NFL, and Taylor Gadbois is the heavy favorite to hold down the right side.

A redshirt sophomore like Isidora, Gadbois appeared in four games last season, seeing action against Florida Atlantic, Savannah State, South Florida and Virginia.

However, even after the minimal playing time, one member of the Miami coaching staff noticed he already looks like a solid starter.

Per David Lake of 247Sports (subscription required), offensive coordinator James Coley had this to say:

He is standing out [this spring]. He has solidified himself. We are saying that this is a real dude. He can be the guy. We are still in competition for that position, but he is doing the little things and putting in the extra work you need when you are trying to play fast.

And the lineman is looking forward to his chance. "I am just ready to take advantage of my opportunity this year," Gadbois said, per Lake. "When Seantrel left, I had an idea that it would be my time. I have been waiting for this opportunity and I am ready."

Kc McDermott was expected to challenge Gadbois, but the depth chart lists the true freshman as a reserve at left tackle. Redshirt freshman Sunny Odogwu is the second-stringer behind Gadbois.

 

Punter

Being a specialist is not a glamorous job. The punter stands 15 yards behind the long snapper, takes a couple steps and simply swings his leg through a ball. Of course, a proper leg swing is much more difficult than many appreciate.

O'Donnell averaged 47.1 yards per attempt, shattering a program record previously held by current Atlanta Falcons punter and ex-'Cane Matt Bosher.

Consequently, O'Donnell's successor is chasing a near-unreachable bar. According to InsideTheU (subscription required), Miami head coach Al Golden wants his punters to forget about that mark.

"You can forget about trying to replace [Pat]," Golden said. "Just get someone that can do a great job and put the ball where you want it, but don't worry about trying to be Pat. He was faster than half the d— running backs at the combine."

During spring practice, returning kicker Matt Goudis and senior Ricky Carroll battled to succeed O'Donnell, but another player will join the competition. Justin Vogel is transferring from Florida and will be arriving sometime this summer. As noted by Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post, Vogel is immediately eligible because he is a walk-on.

Right now, Goudis and Carroll are listed as co-starters, but Goudis is the early popular choice to assume the punting responsibilities.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

7 Recruits Who Could Join 4-Star RB Dexter Williams at Miami

Dexter Williams is a talented 4-star running back who committed to Miami in April. At 6'0" and 192 pounds, the Florida native can do it all. 

Williams has a great combination of speed and power, and he has the quickness to slash through holes from behind the line of scrimmage. His strength allows him to gain yards after contact, plus Williams can skate to the end zone.

Williams is the best player in Miami's class, and he is certainly a player who will attract other talented recruits to join him in Coral Gables.

 

All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Rankings.Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

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Georgia Football: Breaking Down Where Todd Gurley Landed in the 2015 Big Boards

The 2014 NFL draft has come to an end, and the Georgia Bulldogs only had two players selected, which should come to nobody’s surprise. Quarterback Aaron Murray was taken in the fifth round by the Kansas City Chiefs, while tight end Arthur Lynch was chosen eight picks prior by the Miami Dolphins.

Next year should be a different story for the Bulldogs because there will be some talented players that will be draft eligible. But the leader of the pack has to be one of the best running backs in the country, Todd Gurley.

After battling an ankle injury, Gurley should be ready to have a big year and help lead the Bulldogs to a third SEC title game in four years. But even he doesn’t have a great year, many experts believe he’s the best running back prospect in next year’s draft class.

Walter Football is one of the more popular mock draft sites and they have Gurley being drafted 10th overall by the Miami Dolphins.  John Norris of Rotoworld also has Gurley being drafted by the Dolphins in the first round, but it will be 13th overall instead of 10th. Norris said that Gurley will be the first running back to be taken next year, and the running back class will be very deep.

@JoshNorris I cover Todd Gurley, he's a special back. He will be a top 10 pick, no doubt. Power/speed combo rare.

— Robbie Rosenhaus (@robbierosenhaus) May 11, 2014

So here’s why Todd Gurley is being considered as a first-round pick. Gurley has a true combination of speed and power. He’s not the fastest running back in college football, and he won’t be the fastest running back when he gets to the NFL, but he has enough speed to score from anywhere on the field.

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson told Chase Goodbread of NFL.com back in December that Gurley has all the tools to be a great back in the NFL. Johnson went on to say Gurley’s big, physical and can catch the ball out of the backfield.

But the NFL is changing when it comes to viewing running backs. In fact, the first running back that was taken in this year’s draft was Bishop Sankey in the second round.

But next year’s class should be deeper than it has in the last couple of years, and Gurley will be leading the way. If Gurley is taken in the first round, that means he will most likely be the featured back for the team and will have to carry the load for the next five to seven years.

That’s asking a lot for a modern-day pro running back, but Gurley should have no issues adjusting to that because despite the depth and the talent at the running back position in Athens, Gurley is still and will always be the No. 1 back.

And even if Gurley decides to stay for his senior season, he will probably be the No. 1 running back prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft. CBS Sports agrees with that sentiment as it has Gurley as the No. 1 running back prospect for the draft that’s two years away.

So make no mistake about it, Gurley will be drafted and will be drafted very high. The only question is, will he leave Athens after the 2014 season, or will he stay for one more year?

No matter what he does, he has a very good chance of wearing a yellow jacket in Canton, Ohio when his football career is all said and done.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Most Underrated Recruiters in College Football Today

Today, head coaches such as Alabama's Nick Saban, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, Notre Dame's Brian Kelly and Ohio State's Urban Meyer are the best recruiters in college football. Penn State head coach James Franklin has even shown this spring he will be a dominant recruiter in Happy Valley.

While those coaches deserve the praise they constantly receive as recruiters, others have gotten overlooked. A coach in the ACC doesn't frequently sign elite prospects, but he is a tireless recruiter who gets solid football players to join his program.

A pair of Pac-12 coaches in the same state are underrated recruiters, plus the Big 12 has a coach or two on this list.

 

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Michigan Football: Who Is Replacing Every Ex-Wolverine Taken in 2014 NFL Draft?

Taylor Lewan was the first former Michigan player taken in the 2014 NFL Draft—no big surprise there. The former All-American Wolverines left tackle is 6’7” and 309 pounds of mean meant for Sunday consumption.

Needless to say, he’ll probably have a fine career with the Tennessee Titans, who used the No. 11 overall pick to snag one of the Maize and Blue’s greatest blind-siders.

There wasn’t really a question about Michael Schofield's draft ability—it was more of a question of when he'd be taken. A projected late-rounder, the 6’7,” 301-pound right tackle was expected to go in the fifth, sixth or possibly even seventh.

But he didn’t; he was selected in the third, No. 95 overall, by the Denver Broncos, who are looking to add depth and skill to their shifting offensive line.

Perhaps the “perfect” pick in regards to skill set and style, Jeremy Gallon was taken off the board in the seventh round by the New England Patriots, who are led by former Wolverines quarterback Tom Brady.

The Pats have had great success with undersized underdogs. And at 5’8” and 185 pounds, Gallon is a small target who can provide large, and familiar, rewards for The Hoodie and Tom Terrific.

A speedster with glue-trap hands, he’ll be difficult to replace as Team 135 moves toward fall.

So will Lewan and Schofield, who were also part of Team 134’s senior backbone in 2013.

 

Plug in for Lewan?

Left tackle is a big deal, especially in Ann Arbor. It takes a true football player—in every sense of the word—to handle the position for Brady Hoke, who’ll undoubtedly reference Lewan’s play for years to come.

And why not? Lewan set the current bar. Now it’s up to players such as Erik Magnuson, a 6'6," 295-pound sophomore, and Mason Cole, a 6'5," 284-pound frosh, to step in and give Lewan-esque protection to their quarterback and running back.

Magnuson is nursing a right shoulder injury and missed spring ball. Joey Burzynski, a senior, along with David Dawson, who redshirted in 2013, could be options too. For the entire roster, visit TheWolverine.com.

As of now, Michigan's O-line is questionable. The level of talent isn't, but the level of consistency, and lack of it, most certainly remains heavy in discussion. Hoke and Darrell Funk have recruited 4- and 5-star guys for three years. It's about time for one of them to take center stage (or left tackle) and produce. 

Note: The LT/RT candidates are essentially interchangeable at the moment. A clearer picture of who's going where will be apparent this summer. 

 

So Long, Schofield

Now with a year behind him, Logan Tuley-Tillman could be among favorites to win the right tackle spot. He’s a natural left tackle, but at 6’7” and 290 pounds, he’s too big to ignore.

Plus he was one of the best O-line recruits of 2013, so he has that working for him.

At 6'6" and 319 pounds, Ben Braden is another who's "too big to ignore." This guy doesn't miss many meals, and the Wolverines need a big-bodied people-mover in the trenches. Braden's of that caliber. In 2013, he got his feet wet while lugging reps in the middle of the line. 

He should benefit from that experience in 2014 and emerge as a true contender for Schofield's old job. 

 

Going to Miss Gallon

Excitement-wise, Gallon is almost irreplaceable. He wasn't Denard Robinson, but he gave Team 134 that special feeling of "what's going to happen next?" each time he touched the ball this past season.

With a record 369 yards against Indiana, the ex-slot man caught his way into the record books and into the hearts of fans. 

If there was ever a player who left it all on the field, it was Gallon, who wasn't supposed to get drafted, per CBS

Freddy Canteen, a 6'1," 170-pound frosh, seems like the logical successor; and after a dynamic spring game, he's earned that distinction. Freddy Footwork, as he'll soon be dubbed if he hasn't been already, arrived in Ann Arbor as a modestly rated 3-star recruit, per 247Sports.

It seems as if the scouts may have missed on that one. But that's OK. Michigan's coaching staff, particularly Hoke and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, probably doesn't mind having a "so-so" prospect.

Oh, those star rankings. What do they know anyway?! 

Canteen's the guy until someone beats him. And as of right now, there doesn't appear to be many ready for that challenge. However, once healthy, expect Drake Harris, a 6'4" 190-pound frosh, to make things interesting. 

 

UDFA

Well, the headline says "drafted," but here's a quick mention of other former Wolverines who are getting pro looks. For more info, check out Josh Henschke's post on Maize 'n Brew, which tracks the UDFA crowd. 

Thomas Gordon (S): Signed contract with New York Giants

Jibreel Black (DL): Mini-camp invite, Pittsburgh Steelers, per the Detroit Free Press' Mark Snyder

Cam Gordon (LB): Unspecified invite, New England Patriots

Fitz Toussaint (RB): Tryout, Baltimore Ravens, per MLive.com's Nick Baumgardner (via Henschke)

Quinton Washington (DT): Tryout, Oakland Raiders

Willie Henry and Ondre Pipkins are in line to take over for Washington. Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith are ready to pick up Toussaint's role. Linebacker is deep for Michigan, so no real concern there. Black's departure impacts the D-line, but it doesn't cripple it. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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Notre Dame Fan Shows off Custom Golden Dome Groomsman Cake

With wedding season now underway, brides and grooms are getting pretty creative with their cakes, and this is one of the more interesting ones.

A Notre Dame Fighting Irish fan decided to have his groom's cake in the shape of a golden football helmet to show off his college football allegiance.

[Twitter, h/t College Spun]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Football: Who Is Replacing Every Former Tider Taken in 2014 NFL Draft?

With eight former Alabama stars finding new homes in the NFL over the weekend, the 2014 NFL draft once again served as a showcase for Nick Saban’s program and its ability to develop talent.

Its become an annual challenge for Saban and his staff to reload the roster quickly in an effort to replace NFL-bound stars every season.

On offense, replacing star quarterback AJ McCarron and left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio take precedent. On the other side of the ball, sizable voids to fill include those left by linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Which players will be stepping into the positions vacated by former Tide stars taken in the draft?

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Texas A&M Football: Who Is Replacing Every Aggie Taken in 2014 NFL Draft

The 2014 NFL Draft is complete and three members of the Texas A&M football team heard their name called. With three Aggies drafted in the first round there are going to be significant holes to fill on the 2014 team. 

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff have recruited well since arriving in Aggieland in 2012. The have brought in consecutive classes ranked in the top 10 in the nation by 247sports.com. 

In 2014 Aggie fans will start to see some of the fruit of that labor as the team will be as deep as any time in recent memory. The talent, especially on the defensive line, will be as good as any Aggie team in 20 years. 

The Aggies will need to replace the three players who left in the draft, but Sumlin has been accounting for those losses in his recruiting. The Aggies have the talent on campus to step in for the departed players without missing a beat on the field. 

Johnny Manziel was a special player and you cannot replace what he brought with just one person. For this reason there will be more than one player who will be used to replace Manziel's production on the field. 

This is a look at the players who will replace Manziel, Mike Evans and Jake Matthews. 

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Texas Football Hitting Rock Bottom with No Longhorns Chosen in 2014 NFL Draft?

Texas hasn't been a championship-caliber program for the last four years, but at least NFL talent has come through Austin. 

Not in 2014. 

As tweeted by Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and noted by other media outlets, zero Texas players were taken in this past weekend's NFL draft. The last time that happened? 1937.

That 76-year streak was the draft's longest, according to Chuck Carlton of The Dallas Morning News

Meanwhile, Baylor, which won its first Big 12 championship in football this past season, led the conference with five players drafted. (Granted, all players were drafted in the final day, but were drafted nonetheless.) 

Does first-year Texas head coach Charlie Strong have a lot of work ahead? Of course. He basically said as much when he told fans last month that there would be no championship for the Longhorns in 2014-15. 

Even at a place like Texas, rebounds don't always happen overnight. Couple that with other schools undoubtedly using Texas' draft "absence" against it in recruiting, and Strong's job of elevating the program back to an elite level just got a bit harder.

Put simply, the Longhorns don't have a lot of momentum at the moment. 

Strong can get it back, of course. He had three Louisville players—safety Calvin Pryor, defensive end Marcus Smith and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater—taken in the first round of the draft. That's something Strong can point to. 

However, there's a distinct difference between getting recruited in college and getting drafted in the NFL. In college, the recruiting "star system" may be an inexact science, but there's some correlation between it and fielding a championship-caliber team. The same can't be said for the NFL.

Pro organizations want guys who grade out the highest. Period. What recruiting ranking, statistics or accolades a player had in college hardly matters. 

Former Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack was drafted fifth overall on Thursday by the Oakland Raiders (and probably could have gone higher). Mack was a 2-star recruit out of high school with no major offers. He wore No. 46 in college because it reflected his rating on EA Sports' NCAA Football video game franchise. 

Former Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, another player generally overlooked by bigger programs, was taken two spots ahead of Mack by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Bortles probably has the most work to do of any of the big-name quarterbacks who were drafted. But, because he's 6'5" and 230 pounds with a great skill set, he was the first quarterback off the board. 

Also consider SMU and former Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who was selected in the sixth round of the draft by the St. Louis Rams. Gilbert, who threw waves of interceptions with the Longhorns and was literally booed out of Austin, turned things around with the Mustangs. 

Yes, Gilbert was a former 5-star recruit, but how many fans would say Gilbert played like a 5-star recruit for most of his college career? He was drafted late because of his potential. 

Or, consider former Texas wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, whose whole college career could be summarized with the phrase "We’ve got to get the ball in his hands more." But Goodwin has world-class speed and was drafted in the third round of the 2013 draft by the Buffalo Bills. 

The examples could go on and on. In theory, Texas could recruit entire classes of 4- and 5-star players and compete for championships—and none could get drafted. That's quite unlikely to happen, of course, but recruiting and drafting are viewed through two different lenses.

Longhorns defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, an All-American and Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year, was a force for the Horns in 2013. He went to the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent. Jeffcoat was a 5-star member of the 2010 class, which was second nationally. 

This may feel like rock bottom for Texas fans. And, yes, it's not a flattering look. However, the number of players drafted during any given year doesn't dictate, by itself, how successful a program is. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports

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Jameis Winston's Scouting Report and Outlook for 2015 NFL Draft

This year's NFL draft is finally history. After all the mock drafts and media frenzy, the picks are finally locked into place. For teams that didn't find their preferred quarterback in 2014, they may have to look no further than 12 months down the road when Florida State's Jameis Winston is likely to take his chances at professional stardom.

Winston led the NCAA in passing yards per attempt (10.6) and passing efficiency rating (184.8) in 2013, according to Sports-reference.com. He went undefeated in his first year as a starter, won the BCS National Championship, the Heisman trophy, and he has even found time to play baseball for Florida State now that the season is over. He's also highly regarded for his leadership skills and intangibles, as this video demonstrates.

Despite his weekly heroics, Winston may not even be the top quarterback in the 2015 NFL draft. That honor could belong to Oregon's Marcus Mariota. According to Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated, one NFL scout would have taken Mariota over Johnny Manziel had he entered this year's draft. Via Thamel:

"I'd take him over [Johnny] Manziel. He's more accurate. He's bigger and I think he's faster, not as elusive, but more durable. A lot of upside there," said the NFL scout.

Mariota has an extra year of starting experience under his belt and his numbers are impressive, but they still fell short of Winston's in 2013.

One area where Mariota does outpace Winston is running the football. Mariota racked up 775 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013. Winston managed just 215 yards and four touchdowns on a 2.5 yards per carry average. Mariota may be a more effective runner, but Winston still has the mobility to move around in the pocket and buy time for his throws.

Unlike Mariota, Winston benefits from running a hybrid offense that contains elements of both spread and traditional offensive systems. Mariota will have to convince scouts that his numbers aren't the result of the unique, high-octane spread offense he runs at Oregon.

Winston's numbers aren't purely the result of a high volume passing attack that leaves quarterbacks ill-prepared for NFL schemes. In this way, Winston is unlikely to suffer the same fate as prolific college passers who played in gimmick offenses like Colt Brennan or Vince Young.

In fact, EJ Manuel, Winston's predecessor at Florida State, once stated the Buffalo Bills' offense is less complex than Florida State's. From a May 2013 interview with Sirius XM Radio, via ESPN.com's news services:

"I've done great. The learning curve for me is a lot shorter simply because of what I had at Florida State. [The Seminoles' offense is] more complex and a little bit harder to catch on and learn. This offense is very simple. I've done a great job with it."

This bodes well for Winston, who is working in a similar system under head coach Jimbo Fisher. In fact, Manuel did much more running than Winston in spread-option packages, which means Winston has likely spent more time working on pass plays that translate better to the NFL.

Of course, Winston may not even enter the 2015 NFL draft, according to Coach Fisher. Via Tim Linafelt of FloridaState.247sports.com:

“Everybody says he’s going to stay one year and leave,” Fisher said. “Which I don’t think that’s true. I think it will be two." 

It would be interesting to see how Winston might justify coming back for a junior season barring an injury that keeps him sidelined for an extended period of time as a sophomore.

Winston is a likely top-10 draft pick should he continue his dominating performances and enter the draft after his sophomore season. He has the size, skills and intangibles to compete at a high-level in the NFL. His 2014 season should give him ample opportunity to prove to NFL scouts that he is capable of performing in a traditional NFL offense.

Another quarterback Winston may have to outperform ahead of the 2015 NFL draft is UCLA's Brett Hundley. The Bruins' signal-caller has performed well in Westwood and will have three years of starting experience under his belt should he declare for 2015 as well.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Why Justin Worley Will Be the Tennessee Vols' Starting QB in 2014

Justin Worley's big-game experience, senior leadership and calm demeanor under pressure will give him command of the Vols offense and the first snaps under center when Utah State comes to Knoxville on Aug. 30, 2014.

After claiming the starting quarterback position in 2013, Worley was on track for a serviceable season, throwing for 1,239 yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions before a thumb injury against Alabama sidelined him for the rest of the year.

But the stats don't show that Worley managed to do something no Tennessee quarterback has done since 2009: beat a ranked team. 

 

First Tennessee Win Over a Ranked Team Since 2009

By leading the Vols to a last-second 23-21 win over No. 11 South Carolina on Oct. 19, 2013, Worley proved that he can step up when the pressure is right in his face—literally. 

His 40-yard bomb late in the fourth quarter, thrown moments before getting flattened by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, was caught by Marquez North in dramatic fashion and led to Michael Palardy's game-winning field goal.

Just one week earlier, Worley almost led the Vols to an upset victory over No. 6 Georgia before losing, 34-31, in overtime. In both games, he turned in nearly error-free performances, throwing for a combined two touchdowns, 394 yards and no interceptions. 

Despite his achievements in big games, Worley's fellow signal-callers aren't going to let him run away with the starting position without a fight. 

 

Riley Ferguson 

Redshirt freshman Riley Ferguson may be the most talented quarterback on the Vols' roster, and both fans and media have speculated that he has the strongest arm out of the bunch.

In fact, head coach Butch Jones told Patrick Brown of the Chattanooga Times Free Press in August 2013 that Ferguson "stepped up" and "made some big throws" shortly after arriving on campus. Even Worley admitted he was impressed by his young teammate's arm strength. 

Since then, Ferguson has continued to prove himself to coaches, teammates and onlookers in practice, but he appeared rattled and uncertain during the Orange and White game in April 2014, throwing an interception and fumbling after a blindside sack. 

Despite his talent, his lack of in-game experience will keep the starting position out of his reach for another season. 

 

Joshua Dobbs

After an impressive performance on the road against Alabama to replace an injured Worley, sophomore Joshua Dobbs showed that he wasn't quite ready for the spotlight by struggling to move the chains and throwing too many interceptions against Auburn and Vanderbilt. 

However, his play against Kentucky to close out the Vols' season, which included 199 yards passing, two touchdown passes and a 40-yard touchdown run, is good reason to be optimistic about his future on Rocky Top.

Dobbs also appeared poised and greatly improved in the 2014 spring game, throwing multiple crisp passes to his wide receivers and breaking several tackles on his way to the end zone on a busted play.

With Ferguson receiving a redshirt last season, Dobbs is a prime candidate to sit out in 2014 while he continues to develop and mature.  

 

Nathan Peterman

Nathan Peterman, the Vols' redshirt sophomore quarterback out of Fruit Cove, Fla., likely fell to the bottom of the pecking order after turning in a disastrous performance against the Florida Gators in 2013.

Peterman also suffered a serious thumb injury in the game that denied him the chance of redemption later in the season. 

Although his debut in The Swamp was far from ideal, Peterman is the second-most experienced quarterback on Tennessee's roster.

Bouncing back from adversity and climbing the depth chart in 2014 isn't out of the question for the former 4-star recruit, per Rivals, but it won't be enough to unseat Worley. 

 

It's Worley's Job to Lose

Of all the quarterbacks on the roster, Worley doesn't have the strongest arm, the quickest release or the fastest feet.

But with new offensive weapons surrounding him in 2014, Worley is poised to become the efficient, calm quarterback and the leader Tennessee needs to compete in the SEC and get back to its first bowl game since 2010. 

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Texas Longhorns Go Undrafted in NFL Draft for 1st Time Since 1937

For the first time since 1937, the Texas Longhorns failed to have a single player selected in the NFL draft, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Who said Mack Brown couldn't develop talent?

Wide receiver Mike Davis, defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, defensive tackle Chris Whaley and cornerback Carrington Byndom were among the Longhorns with draft aspirations, but they've instead joined the ranks of the undrafted free agents.

Jeffcoat said that he does have some opportunities available to him, per Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman:

Prior to his resignation in December of 2013, one of Brown's biggest knocks was his inability to make the most out of his impressive recruiting classes. He could get the players to come to Austin, but once there, their potential was spoiled.

Take a look at how the 2010 class ended up:

Baylor head coach Art Briles alluded to the fact that five players from his program will be playing on Sundays:

The fact that Texas failed to get a single player drafted is another sign of how far the Longhorns have fallen down the totem pole. This isn't some plucky school from a non-AQ conference which is happy to get a guy taken in the second or third round. Texas has the richest football program in the country. To have zero players drafted is unacceptable.

This is also a likely factor in the Longhorns' decision to bring former Louisville head coach Charlie Strong to Austin:

Louisville had four players taken in the draft, including three in the first round. One of Strong's most impressive accomplishments with the Cardinals was the way in which he got the most out of his players.

The 2014 NFL draft will likely serve as a nadir for Texas football, or at least as much as an NFL draft can be a low point for the school.

Now Strong can come in and work with a clean slate to a certain extent. Given his track record at Louisville, hopefully this is the last time Texas is absent during the draft.

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