In less than 12 weeks, college football will be back.
The upcoming 2014 season cannot come any sooner for the Auburn Tigers and their fans, who are eager to see what Gus Malzahn and Co. have in store after their run to the SEC title and the final BCS National Championship Game.
Auburn will return a major portion of its talent from last year's conference-winning squad, including senior quarterback Nick Marshall, top receiver Sammie Coates, four veteran offensive linemen and bruising defensive tackle Gabe Wright.
But the Tigers have eight spots to fill on offense and defense thanks to the outgoing senior class and a pair of early NFL-bound players, running back Tre Mason and left tackle Greg Robinson. Auburn has talent to fill these holes on the depth chart, but there are no guarantees for anyone heading into fall practices.
So as we count down the days to Auburn's opener August 30 against SEC West rival Arkansas, let's take a look at the Tigers projected to move to the top of the depth chart in 2014.
It’s been a surprisingly quiet offseason for the Florida Gators. That may be a good thing for Florida fans, as it’s an indication that guys are working hard, hoping to bounce back after last year’s disappointments and are staying out of trouble.
There has been some news worthy stuff involving the team but for the most part everybody seems focused on the task at hand and waiting for the season to begin.
The biggest news for the Gators this offseason mainly involves two transfers. Florida lost a key defensive back, but received a crucial offensive weapon. Other than that, it’s mainly been a snooze fest for Florida these past few months.
Last week, we looked at the offensive players who stand to gain the most from impressing during summer throwing sessions that are underway at USC. Now, we turn our attention to the defense.
USC's defensive line is as stout as they come, but the rest of the defensive units are still in a bit of flux. Be it because of injury or slow development, some of the Trojans' linebacker and defensive back positions are still up for grabs.
With solid efforts during summer workouts, a handful of Trojans can put themselves in positions to contend for, or outright win, a starting job.
Let's take a look at who those guys are.
There never seems to be a dull moment with Notre Dame football—neither in the regular season, nor the offseason.
This year has been no different.
Since the Irish wrapped up their 2013 campaign with the Pinstripe Bowl in late December, there has been the usual fare of offseason stirrings, from new coaches to returning players and recruiting drama. We’ll highlight some of the biggest offseason news since last season came to a close.
Firing Mack Brown guaranteed an eventful offseason for the Texas Longhorns and his replacement, Charlie Strong.
Losing his starting quarterback to a broken foot should have been the top storyline for Strong. Far from it. Since January, Strong has been hired despite not being named Nick Saban, hired a great staff and dealt with the consequences of the end of Brown's career on the recruiting trail.
This summer should provide more clarity on the news that has not fully developed, but the intrigue has kept on even past the hiring of a new leading man.
The Florida Gators have landed one of the premier dual-threat quarterbacks in the class of 2015. Sheriron Jones, a 4-star recruit out of Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley, California, has committed to play college football in Gainesville.
News of Jones' commitment was reported on Sunday by 247Sports, as the young signal-caller had just wrapped up his visit. Jones shared his thoughts with one of the site's national analysts, Ryan Bartow.
"It's so much like family there," said Jones. "I love the coaching staff, they've been straightforward with me. I just love being at the Swamp."
CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman feels Jones should thrive in coordinator Kurt Roper's spread offense:
ESPN's Jeff Barlis cited analysis by his colleague Tom Lunginbill, who compared Jones' skill set to that of former Louisville star and recent Minnesota Vikings first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater:
That's high praise to say the least, and it should build the hype surrounding Jones before he arrives at his chosen collegiate destination. The class overall is shaping up nicely for the Gators, per the Gainesville Sun's Zach Abolverdi:
Jones is listed at 6'2.5" and 193 pounds, with a 4.60 in the 40-yard dash, according to his 247Sports profile. The site's composite rankings have him as the No. 7 dual-threat QB and the 220th-ranked prospect overall.
The dynamic athleticism Jones brings to the gridiron, along with his demonstrated speed, will serve him well. Florida just needs to surround him with a strong supporting cast, and Jones can also contribute to the rushing attack with his legs.
Passing mechanics are something all young QBs can improve on, but the physical tools Jones possesses bode well for his success at the next level. In addition to having a strong enough arm to make every required throw, Jones can be accurate on the run and from the pocket. He has adequate power to deliver on time, on target and with touch on deep passes.
Gators coach Will Muschamp is known for his emphasis on defense, but Florida needs a spark on the other side of the ball to reascend to being one of the SEC's best. Landing Jones as the prospective quarterback of the future is a great way to ensure that happens in the coming years.
Although it's still a bit premature to project where Jones will land when he arrives in Gainesville, he appears destined for greatness. As long as he can refine his fundamentals and keep progressing, Jones' ceiling hints that he'll be installed as a starter sooner than later.
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After spurning the Texas A&M Aggies, 4-star running back Rodney Anderson has committed to the Oklahoma Sooners, per Katy Football:
Anderson also posted this photo to his Instagram page:
His comfort level with the offensive system and coaches in place in Norman was the biggest factor in his decision, per Fox Sports' Ahmard Vital:
"The reason why I went ahead and committed is because at the camp I loved how Coach [Cale] Gundy worked with the guys in the camp, including me," Anderson said, per Joey Helmer of OUInsider.com. "I just felt comfortable at Oklahoma. I have relatives there. And I just feel like my style of running fits Oklahoma the best."
According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Anderson is the second-best all-purpose back in the country and 126th-best recruit overall. The Sooners now have their first running back in their 2015 class, per Bob Przybylo of SoonersIllustrated.com:
With the capture, Oklahoma jumped 20 spots to 29th on 247Sports' 2015 team rankings.
Anderson had previously committed to Texas A&M but backtracked on his decision in April, per ESPN's Sam Khan Jr.:
The Aggies' loss is the Sooners' gain.
Anderson is a speedy back, but he doesn't have what you'd consider home run ability. Part of that is down to the fact that he takes a little while to get into top gear. If he can improve his acceleration, then he'll be able to score any time he touches the ball.
What's also nice about Anderson is that he can be utilized quite effectively in both the passing and return games. His hands are one of his strongest qualities, earning a nine out of 10 on 247Sports.
As long as co-offensive coordinators Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell figure out how to involve Anderson in the offense, they'll have a nice weapon on their hands come 2015.
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Every coach around the country hopes for a quiet, ho-hum offseason devoid of any bombshell news. Tennessee football coach Butch Jones hasn't gotten that, but there haven't been any disasters, either.
Since the end of last year's 5-7 bowl-less season, the Volunteers have welcomed all but one of their 32 February signees. They've said "goodbye" to an important player for the future and "hello" to a recommitted receiver.
UT also celebrated the first-round selection of former offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James in the NFL draft and watched many of its former offensive linemen struggle through a grueling two days to follow.
The steady flow of news has been about like any other offseason in other words.
As Jones embarks on year two of his rebuild, the core of his program finally is in place, barring any unforeseen issues between now and kickoff of the Utah State game on Aug. 31.
But before the team continues its summer workouts and prepares to try to get to a bowl game for the first time in three years, let's take a look back at what has made headlines on Rocky Top since December.
Ohio State's 2015 recruiting got off to a slow start, but with summer camps officially underway, Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes are starting to gain momentum.
On Sunday, that momentum came in the form of 4-star safety Tyler Green, who offered his verbal commitment to become the No. 4 pledge in Ohio State's class.
His decision came quickly.
According to Ari Wasserman of The Plain Dealer, Green committed the moment his offer came from the coaching staff.
"This was the one I was waiting for," Green said. "I am a Buckeye."
Now that Green is in the fold, here are three things he'll bring to Ohio State.
Green was in Columbus for Ohio State's football camp, where he received his offer and committed all in the same afternoon.
His speed stood out, which prompted the domino effect.
According to Eleven Warriors, Green ran a reported 4.41 40-yard dash:
That speed will come in handy as the Buckeyes rework their secondary.
With Chris Ash as co-defensive coordinator, Ohio State will be abandoning its zone for more man-to-man coverages. If the Buckeyes cornerbacks are expected to play on the line of scrimmage, they'll need fast safeties who can close quickly.
That's exactly what Green brings to the table for the Buckeyes.
Replacement for Ben Edwards
Green's commitment is huge because the Buckeyes needed to replace 4-star safety Ben Edwards
The Jacksonville, Florida, product pledged to Ohio State back in February, but two months later, he flipped his commitment to Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers.
After a two-month search, Meyer and the coaching staff found their guy in Green.
A Maryland Connection
When Ohio State hired defensive line coach Larry Johnson, the Buckeyes were inheriting his strong recruiting ties to the East Coast—primarily in the state of Maryland.
Johnson's relationship with Green was a huge factor, according to Wasserman.
"We had a good relationship back in Maryland and when he was at Penn State he was recruiting me," Green said. "He always stops by my school to see me and things like that. Really, it's all great."
Green can now serve as Ohio State's pipeline into Maryland, a role he's willing accept, via John Brandon of Eleven Warriors.
"Coach Meyer told me he needed me to help get us some commits," Green said. "As soon as I get home, I'm trying to pull some guys in."
That could start with Darius Fullwood, a highly sought after 3-star defensive end from Olney, Maryland. Fullwood has offers from programs such as Alabama, Florida State, Miami, Penn State and Virginia Tech, but the Buckeyes are the overwhelming favorite.
Some encouragement from Green won't hurt Ohio State's cause at all.
All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.
David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter: @davidreg412.
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Losing is inevitable.
Going undefeated in a sport is very rare, and when it does happen, the feat should be applauded. However, to assume perfection will occur on a regular basis is foolish, no matter the sport and (in the case of college football) no matter how much your coach gets paid or how great that incoming recruit class was rated.
Florida State went 14-0 last year, the only FBS team to finish unbeaten. The Seminoles join a very select group to go an entire season without a loss in the past 10 years, as only 11 others since 2004 have done so.
Yet, based on the expectations of fans from pretty much every team in the country, going unbeaten this fall isn't just possible, it's downright probable. Not so fast there, folks.
We've gone ahead and given a close look at the schedules of every team currently rated in Bleacher Report's Preseason Top 25 (Post-Spring Practice Edition), and we've come to one significant conclusion: Every one of them will lose at least once this year.
Click through the slideshow to see when each Top 25 team will fall for the first time so you can plan accordingly. Don't agree with our assessment? Feel free to comment as such below.
There is a reason why college football never sleeps.
As soon as the BCS title game came to an end in January, the 2014 season was beginning with all the offseason news.
It was no different with the Georgia Bulldogs, as they have had enough of it to last for the next decade.
It started with good news with the addition of new coaches, but it has not been good recently due to the losses of a few key players.
So, here’s a look at the biggest offseason news pieces so far.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll wants to clear the air and establish that he didn't leave USC as a result of the sanctions with which the Trojans were about to be hit. In fact, it was the exact opposite, he told Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.
Carroll received criticism for his seemingly convenient time of departure from USC, but he maintains that he and the school had no idea the NCAA would drop the hammer after its investigation of improper benefits given to Reggie Bush:
"It does bother me because it's not right and it's not accurate," he said of the criticism, later adding, "I didn't feel bad about leaving at all. I didn't feel bad about it because I knew what the truth was."
Asked last week what was inaccurate, and what was the truth, Carroll did not hesitate.
"The truth was, an opportunity came up and it was one I couldn't turn away from," he said. "… The NCAA came back at the university… 'Now we're going to revisit after five years.' I had no knowledge that was coming. We thought maybe it wasn't coming because they didn't have anything to get us with. It wasn't five days, it wasn't five weeks. It was five years."
Carroll added that he never would've left if he knew the NCAA would level such heavy sanctions.
"When I look back now, I would have stayed there to do what we needed to do to resolve the problem," he said.
Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson questioned the veracity of Carroll's claims by looking at when he actually left the university:
Whatever the motivation of his exit, there's no question that he got out of Los Angeles when the getting was good. USC was slapped with the dreaded "lack of institutional control" tag, and it resulted in the loss of scholarships and a postseason bowl ban in 2010 and 2011.
Between that and the toxic tenure of Lane Kiffin, the Trojans are just now beginning to piece their program back together. The halcyon days of Bush and Matt Leinart feel like a lifetime ago.
Carroll, meanwhile, led the Seahawks to the playoffs in two of his first three seasons in Seattle and won the Super Bowl last February. He signed a two-year contract extension back in April.
USC fans probably want to move on from this altogether. Steve Sarkisian is entering his first season as head coach, and the sanctions expire at the end of the 2014 season. Now is the time to look forward.
Having Carroll open up old wounds is unlikely to go down well in Los Angeles.
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Football used to be a sport that was only played during the fall and that ended in the winter. Now, it is essentially played all throughout the year due to seven-on-seven football passing-league games and tournaments.
Offensive seven-on-seven teams consist of a quarterback, plus usually any variation between five running backs and receivers. The seventh offensive player is the center, although he is not eligible to catch passes.
Looking at the crop of 2015 recruits, it's time Bleacher Report fielded an offensive "dream team" for seven-on-seven football. This team was put together quite carefully with general fit and strategy in mind, and it certainly should make defenses tremble.
It's still six months away, but even at this early stage eyes are starting to focus on the Big Ten Championship Game on December 6. With the addition of two new teams bringing changes to the divisions of the conference, the Big Ten is sure to be exciting this season.
But which teams will be able to ride that excitement to Indianapolis and play for a likely berth in the first-ever College Football Playoff?
Michigan State made an impressive run through the conference last season, finishing 8-0 and knocking off Ohio State in the conference title game. What's more, MSU beat every Big Ten opponent last season by double digits. Can you remember the last team to do that? We can't.
(For the record, it was Michigan in 1943).
New teams and new divisions mean new challenges. Michigan State and Ohio State, once cross-division foes, will now battle it out in the regular season for the right to play in Indianapolis.
And what about the West Division? Can Nebraska finally capture that elusive Big Ten title? Can the Huskers finally make it through a season under Bo Pelini without losing four games? Is Wisconsin ready for a championship comeback?
We'll ponder those questions and more as we take a peek at the five most likely Big Ten Championship Game matchups for 2014.
Perhaps the biggest event of the summer for recruits is The Opening. Held in Oregon at Nike World Headquarters, the event invites 162 elite recruits to come compete against each other.
It is also held in conjunction with the Elite 11 Quarterback Finals, so it's a star-studded affair. The Opening will be held July 5-10, and several 5-star prospects will be in attendance.
However, the hungriest people there will be the 4-star recruits who will be looking to earn a coveted fifth star. The following players could leave The Opening as 5-star studs with a big showing.
Note: All recruits on this list have been invited to The Opening, per Student Sports.All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Rankings.Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.com, Rivals and 247Sports.
Sterling Jenkins is a 4-star offensive tackle who committed to Penn State in May. The Nittany Lions are building an outstanding class, as Jenkins is the leader of a 16-man group of commitments.
Head coach James Franklin surely will use Jenkins' pledge to attract a few more prospects to Happy Valley before the end of this cycle. When you combine Jenkins' commitment with Penn State also boasting the No. 3 class in the 247Sports rankings, Franklin shouldn't have a tough time landing a few more talented recruits.
Two 4-star cornerbacks like PSU, while a couple of talented offensive linemen also have interest. Plus, a few underrated prospects are on the radar.
When you lose as much talent and experience on both sides of the ball as Wisconsin's football team did after 2013, you are bound to have some position battles as the new season approaches.
Going into his second year as head coach of the Badgers, Gary Andersen is in the process of implementing a more aggressive defensive scheme while on the offensive side of the ball, the plan should be to run, run and then run some more.
But even with an offense predicated on a power running game, losing its top four pass-catchers while having a giant question mark at quarterback could put a crimp in Melvin Gordon's bid for a Heisman Trophy and hamper the team's ability to run the football.
On the defensive side of the ball, nearly every position features a battle as only Sojourn Shelton, Michael Caputo and Derek Landisch come in with significant starting experience. Replacing Big Ten Defensive Player of the year and Badger all-time great Chris Borland will present a massive hole to fill by the coaches.
There are a handful of spots where the Badgers have unquestioned starters. At running back, Melvin Gordon will take the lion's share of carries while Corey Clement will play a strong complementary role. Along the offensive line, four of the five spots are being held by starters last year, all of whom have a firm grip on their position, barring injury.
Two other spots where the Badgers are set is at cornerback, where Sojourn Shelton will take the top corner spot, while Darius Hillary will play across from him. Last but not least, Drew Meyer is the punter barring an open competition at the spot.
Overall, this is a team hurt more by a lack of experience than a dearth of talent. Let's take a look at who will win the Badgers' open spots.
It has already been an eventful 2014 offseason for the Texas A&M football team. The Aggies have had a lot of good news and some bad as the clock ticks down toward August 28.
There are a little over two months left until the Aggies kick off the 2014 season against South Carolina. The Aggies are not the same team they were at the end of May.
There have been dismissals and additions to the 2014 team. There has been a big swing toward the positive in recruiting momentum.
The Aggies have had an eventful month since finals ended. This is a look at the biggest stories during the offseason up to this point.
Mississippi State secured a commitment from one of the top playmakers in the 2015 class in 4-star athlete Malik Dear.
Paul Jones of 247Sports provided news of the announcement:
Despite being just 5'9", Dear has a lot of strength at 217 pounds and uses it to break tackles with consistency. However, he is even better when he avoids contact thanks to his elite speed and agility.
According to ESPN, Dear ran a 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds and a 20-yard shuttle in 4.28 seconds, ranking near the best in the class in each category.
With good strength, elite athleticism and the ability to find the end zone on virtually any play, the Mississippi native is clearly one of the top offensive players in his class. He is rated as the No. 10 athlete and the No. 4 player in his state at any position, according to 247 Sports' composite rankings. He is also considered the No. 130 overall prospect in 2015.
The only question is what position he will play at the next level. At Murrah, he lined up as a running back and wide receiver while also spending time as a Wildcat quarterback. Amazingly, he found ways to rack up yards and touchdowns at each spot.
He has been training as a wide receiver at offseason camps, but Barton Simmons of 247Sports sees a move in the future. He explained that Dear "has the body and frame of a stocky, powerful running back. We think that's what he likely evolves into. Though he never made a major splash at wide receiver on Sunday, his skill set is still unique."
On the other hand, it is hard to count out his ability to make plays as a slot receiver. Here is a look at him using his physicality to separate himself at Rivals Camp:
No matter what position he plays, he should have a strong career with the Bulldogs after choosing them over a bunch of other interested schools. Dear had a choice of virtually any school in the SEC after impressing everyone with his production throughout high school.
Still, he sent a message to those that did not have him on their list:
With Dear's strength and playmaking ability, you can be certain that the coaching staff will do its best to get him on the field as soon as possible. While he might not have a starting spot cut out for him, he can contribute in multiple ways on offense as long as he gets a chance.
His skill set also indicates that he could be successful on special teams as an elite returner on both kickoffs and punts.
No matter where he is used, you can be certain that his new coaches and fans will be happy with the young man's decision once he suits up for the first time.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.
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