NCAA Football

Hunter Johnson Commits to Tennessee: What 2017 No. 1 QB Brings to Vols

The Tennessee Volunteers landed a monumental commitment from top-rated 2017 quarterback Hunter Johnson on Sunday.

The 5-star Indiana product picked a future in Knoxville over opportunities at Notre Dame, Stanford, N.C. State, Penn State, Florida and several other universities. Johnson felt he experienced enough in the recruiting process to make an educated decision before the start of his junior season.

“I’ve been in contact with Tennessee for so long now, and I know so much about Tennessee, I didn’t see a reason why I wouldn’t commit,” Johnson told Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports. “That’s what I told my parents: Why wouldn’t I go here? I’ve always felt really, really comfortable with Tennessee.”

He is the second top-tier quarterback pledge for Tennessee in four months. Jarrett Guarantano, a 2016 New Jersey talent rated second among dual-threat playmakers in composite rankings, committed in April.

Johnson, a 5-star prospect likely to follow Guarantano's path as an Elite 11 finalist, provides one of the most pivotal moments for Tennessee since head coach Butch Jones arrived in December 2012. 

Jones signed one composite 5-star player—California defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie—through his first three recruiting cycles in Knoxville. Each class resulted in a top-25 ranking on national signing day, including top-10 finishes the past two years. 

Those efforts have helped revitalize the Volunteers roster, creating expectations for long-awaited SEC East contention. As Jones continues to lay the current foundation for program improvement, his future successes are addressed through high-profile pickups like Johnson.

The 6'3", 197-pound passer is the initial member of Tennessee's 2017 class. He's exactly the kind of recruiting catalyst college coaches covet.

Johnson, listed 11th overall in 2017 composite rankings, is third among junior offensive skill players. Only Alabama running back pledge Najee Harris (sixth) and Florida wide receiver Trevon Grimes (ninth) can be found higher than him at this stage.

“He’s a strong kid, broad-shouldered. He’s already very physically advanced and the type of quarterback that can sit in the pocket, take a couple of hits and deliver, and have that kind of strength and confidence in the pocket," said Barton Simmons, 247Sports’ director of scouting.

Johnson is an elite performer on the camp circuit and can be expected to substantially build off his sophomore campaign at Brownsburg High School. He completed 54 percent of pass attempts in 2014, tallying 1,424 yards (11.8 per completion), 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Johnson isn't nearly as mobile as Guarantano and certainly flashes a different overall skill set than freshman Tennessee quarterbacks Sheriron Jones and Quinten Dormady. However, he views the Volunteers' offensive attack as one that's formulated to its leader's strengths.

"I'll run when I have to, but I've always been a pass-first kinda guy," Johnson told Bleacher Report. "[Offensive coordinator Mike] DeBord told me he doesn't make the quarterback suit the offense, he makes the offense suit the quarterback. So if I want to go there and run the pro-style, he'd fit the offense to run around me."

Volunteers fans must wait 18 months until Johnson can officially sign with program, but his potential already has plenty of people talking about how he translates at the next level.

“He’s got a really elite-level arm. When he’s on, there’s not many that are better in his class. And I think he can make every throw that you want," Simmons said. "I think he’s a kid with athleticism that can function in a lot of different types of offenses."

Johnson's long-term outlook impacts how Tennessee will eventually game-plan against opponents. An immediate positive development that accompanies his decision is a potential spike on the 2017 recruiting trail.

The presence of a premier pledge at the sport's most important position could attract others to join him in Knoxville. Often, motivation for an early commitment partially comes from a quarterback's desire to ensure that he has an exemplary supporting cast heading to campus with him.

Johnson likely won't waste much time contacting top 2017 Tennessee offensive targets like tackle Trey Smith, wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson Jr. and running back Ty Chandler.

Though he holds more than 20 scholarship offers, the young quarterback always felt drawn to Knoxville. He sealed the deal Sunday.

"Tennessee was my first offer," Johnson told Derek Tyson of ESPN. "I've always believed in them from the beginning. I trust Coach Jones and the rest of the coaches there, and I feel like I will be very happy there."


Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.

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Michigan Football: Week 3 Fall Camp Stock Report

The submarine emerged briefly at Michigan's fall camp, providing a tremendously useful look inside head coach Jim Harbaugh's first August at the helm.

As can be expected, injuries have started to affect the roster. A wide receiver sustained an injury that relegated him to the sideline, and the lack of experience at the position means the Wolverines are turning to an even younger player.

Two notable positions are in the midst of battles that must be resolved before Sep. 3 arrives. Although one competition is working toward the expected answer, the other has no obvious winner.

Finally, game preparation is about to start in Ann Arbor. But before looking ahead to Utah, let's take a look back at the third week of fall camp.


Freshman Receiver Thrust into Action

Behind clear-cut No. 1 option Amara Darboh, the receiver competition is taking shape yet remains unclear.

Jehu Chesson is the favorite to earn a starting job on the outside, so Freddy Canteen would bring the only game experience to the slot receiver role. As of this moment, though, it appears an injury has opened the door for a couple of wideouts.

Max Bultman reported on that Canteen had his right arm in a sling. Consequently, freshman Grant Perry has been forced into action, while fellow true freshman Brian Cole lurks nearby.

But according to Big Ten Network's Dave Revsine, Perry looked better than Cole and should contribute in 2015.

A few questions remain: Is Canteen's injury a long-term deal? Did Perry pass Canteen on the depth chart prior to the injury? Where does Drake Harris fit in?

Regardless, Perry has a chance to hold off the sophomores and establish a place in the lineup. While that's not a foregone conclusion, it's not unreasonable, either.

Perry racked up 105 receptions for 1,727 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior at Brother Rice, a powerhouse in Michigan high school football. The key for Perry is translating that success to the next level on game day, which is an opportunity he might receive rather soon.


Quarterback Battle Taking Shape

Ideally, Shane Morris wins the starting position because he has another season of eligibility remaining. However, the long-held belief that Jake Rudock will be tabbed No. 1 appears to be nearing its fulfillment.

The Iowa transfer noticeably outperformed Morris during the open session, per Bultman:

Rudock looked more comfortable, whether he was sitting in the pocket or rolling out. Junior Shane Morris made a few nice throws down the sideline, but he didn't match Rudock's rhythm. Part of the difference, to be sure, is that Rudock's offensive line play was much better. Rudock had more time all night, and it translated to sustained drives.

Morris has a cannon, and his running ability is certainly an enticing trait. However, a stronger throwing arm doesn't matter if the junior isn't accurate and continues missing open targets.

As long as Rudock avoids making mistakes, it's difficult to envision Harbaugh choosing Morris. Rudock, who only threw five interceptions in 345 attempts last year, is the safer option.

Since Michigan's season opener pits the offense against a strong Utah defense—on the road—turnovers could doom the Wolverines. Rudock is a better bet to protect the football. He's not the ideal choice, but he's the smart one.


Kickers Are People Too, but They're Struggling

Matt Wile connected on 10 of 11 field goals inside 40 yards last season, but his 5-of-10 mark from 40 yards and beyond left Michigan wanting more from its specialist.

Unfortunately for Harbaugh and Co., a new year might not bring a better result. Bultman notes the two candidates to replace Wile lacked consistency during the scrimmage.

"Senior Kenny Allen and sophomore Kyle Seychel both took field goals, but neither was very consistent," he wrote. "Seychel appeared to have the bigger leg, but his misses were also by a wider distance than Allen's."

In a regular-season outing, the Wolverines would certainly love to confidently send out a kicker for the game-winner. Without a doubt, consistently splitting the uprights in practice would ease some of the growing concerns.


All recruiting information via 247Sports. Stats from Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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Dear Football: The 2015 Elite 11 Story | Ep. 7

Uninterrupted is a platform that allows personalities to connect with fans on a much deeper level, with insight and content not fit for other platforms, media outlets or channels.

Interested fans get a unique perspective that brings them closer than ever to the personalities they care about.

The Elite 11 camp brings together the top high school senior quarterbacks in the country in search of the best 11.

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College Football's Most Important Offers of the Week

One area where Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher is looking to load up in the 2016 cycle is along the offensive line.

The Seminoles already have three pledges from offensive linemen in 4-star Baveon Johnson, 4-star Josh Ball and 3-star Andrew Boselli.

However, the ‘Noles are still in the market for at least one more prospect in the trenches.

Last week, Fisher and his staff offered 4-star offensive tackle Tramonda Moore

The 6’6”, 330-pounder, who rates as the nation’s No. 32 tackle prospect and the No. 302 player overall in the 2016 cycle, is the top recruit from Oklahoma this year.

However, as Bleacher Report’s Damon Sayles detailed, the interest in Moore has been building steam since the beginning of summer. He’s accumulated nearly 20 offers since June.

FSU joined fellow powers such as Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and TCU in tendering Moore.

As Sayles notes, his latest offer is a big one, considering Florida State was his “dream school” as a kid.

Moore plans to take his time in making a decision, which he said will come on national signing day. 

Among his chief criteria appear to be playing time and finding a place he feels comfortable at the next level.

"I've talked to my family and friends, and I'm going to take my time with everything," Moore told Sayles. "I really want to look at the depth at my position. I don't want to go somewhere where there are 10 or 12 guys already there. I want to go somewhere where I can get on the field immediately and be an impact on offense."

Time will tell if the Seminoles can make enough of an impression to be in the race for Moore in the months leading up to signing day.


Tennessee Offers Recent LSU Decommit

On the heels of decommitting from LSU, the interest 4-star wide receiver Stephen Sullivan has cranked up a few notches.

Two days after he backed off that pledge, the Pelican State standout received an offer from fellow SEC power Tennessee.

As Sayles noted, Auburn and TCU are two schools that have been linked with Sullivan in the aftermath of his decommitment. 

According to Ryan Callahan of GoVols247, Sullivan said the offer has him considering taking an official visit to Knoxville in the future.


Ohio State Offers 2017 5-Star WR

Considering that he averaged 26 yards per catch as a sophomore, rising junior 5-star receiver Tyjon Lindsey has already established himself as one of the most explosive playmakers in the 2017 cycle.

The 5’9”, 161-pounder, who rates as the nation’s No. 3 wideout and the No. 19 player overall in the 2017 class, picked up a big offer last week when Ohio State pulled the trigger on him.

Among the other programs who have already offered the speedster include Oregon, Texas A&M, USC and Washington. 

The Buckeyes may face an uphill battle with Lindsey, considering that his prep teammate, 5-star quarterback Tate Martell, recently pledged to the Aggies.

However, Lindsey has the athleticism to become a dynamic weapon in the offense of Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer.


Stanford Offers Rising 2017 CB

One of the nation’s hottest programs on the recruiting trail is the Stanford Cardinal.

Fresh off landing a pair of 2016 commits in 4-star corner Treyjohn Butler and 3-star offensive lineman Henry Hattis, head coach David Shaw and his staff offered 2017 4-star corner Deon Jones. 

The 6’1”, 180-pound Washington D.C. native, who rates as the nation’s No. 8 corner and the No. 61 player overall in the 2017 class, already holds more than 20 offers heading into his junior season.

Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Miami and Ohio State are among the early offers for Jones.


Best of the Rest







Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.


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Auburn Football: DE Byron Cowart's Frustration Indicates His Importance

It's late August, and players in programs around the country are likely tired of hitting one another and getting earfuls from the same coaches over and over.

In the case of Auburn freshman defensive end and former 5-star prospect Byron Cowart, the frustration temporarily boiled over to the social media world.

Cowart voiced his frustration with the weight his 5-star status carries Saturday night, sending out several tweets that were quickly deleted, according to Brandon Marcello of

"Being penalized because I was No. 1 player but I'm struggling i don't care about the stars," Cowart wrote, according to Marcello. "So why when I struggle it's thrown in my face? How about help me huh? I came in humble ready to learn man not bragging and flashy. I just wanna learn."

Cowart then tweeted an apology of sorts after the initial tweets went viral.

"Lesson learned," he tweeted. "Nothing is wrong with me. I love my team, I love Auburn, I just made a freshman mistake. #WDE Mental mistake."

It's not a jump to assume his frustration stems from coaches riding him during fall camp as they try to get him prepared for a season in which the Tigers are expected to compete for a berth in the College Football Playoff and Cowart is expected to be a big piece of that puzzle.

It's not hard to connect the dots and figure out what's going on. Cowart is being de-recruited, which is something defensive line coach Rodney Garner commented on in an all-access piece from's Chris Low.

"Hey, there's the No. 1 player in the country right there," Garner said, according to Low. "At least, he's supposed to be. He's getting coached like everybody else. I guarantee you that. He's being talked to like he never has been before. Gotta decruit. Most important thing you do."

De-recruiting high-profile prospects is the default response for any staff, especially those recruits who are being counted on to be early impact players. The fact that Cowart is being de-recruited so heavily is a sign of just how important he is to the 2015 Tigers.

Auburn finished last season with just 21 sacks—the fourth-worst mark in the conference. The return of stud redshirt sophomore Carl Lawson will help after Lawson missed the 2014 season with a torn ACL, as will the presence of first-year defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. Add a healthy Lawson to the mix, and that will serve as a fuel additive to an Auburn defense that's going to churn at a much higher level in 2015.

It's not lip service when Cowart says he's eager to learn.

I saw it firsthand in the limited practice viewing Auburn had earlier in August. He was on the hip of Lawson learning the ropes, talking to all of Auburn's defensive assistants and in the ears of former players who were at practice.

Despite that, the coaching staff feels obligated to bring prospects back down to Earth before their first games because things won't be easy once toe meets leather. That is especially true for true freshmen who are vital to the success of their teams. What they hear in practice is PG-rated compared to what they hear across the line of scrimmage when the lights come on.

The fact of the matter is the staff has been counting on Cowart for quite some time.

"I think [Cowart] could have a big impact," head coach Gus Malzahn said in May prior to his Tiger Trek stop in Atlanta. "It’s going to be up to him. He’s going to have an opportunity. Carl Lawson made a big impact as a freshman, and I see a lot of similarities not only ability-wise but also mindset-wise."

Consider Cowart's tweets exactly what he said they were—freshmen mistakes. 

The coaching staff knows how important he is and is pulling out all the stops to get him ready to contribute right away for a team that was predicted to win the SEC at media days in July.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. Statistics courtesy of Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83.

Follow Barrett on Twitter: @BarrettSallee.

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Tennessee Football: Week 3 Fall Camp Stock Report

Rashaan Gaulden went from sterling special teams star as a freshman to winning the Most Improved Defensive Player award this spring to a surefire starter at nickelback for Tennessee as a sophomore.

Now, the No. 25-ranked Volunteers are going to have to endure 2015 without him.

The 6'1", 178-pound defensive back fractured his foot during a punt return drill Thursday, and though he was initially expected to miss about a month, UT head coach Butch Jones informed the media this weekend that Gaulden would miss the entire season.

"Rashaan meant so much to us, not only from a defensive standpoint, but on special teams as well," Jones said after Saturday's practice, according to Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Patrick Brown:

The setback is the third season-ending injury suffered by the Vols during fall camp, including the second for a definite starter. Senior left guard Marcus Jackson tore his biceps tendon, and he'll miss the year. Reserve guard Austin Sanders will also miss the 2015 season on UT's suddenly shrinking offensive line depth chart.

Gaulden's injury is perhaps the most devastating.

While it isn't out of the question for the Vols to replace his production, Gaulden's unique skill set was ideal for such a crucial position on coordinator John Jancek's defense. He is a hard-hitting, sure tackler, and he is also strong in coverage. 

The Spring Hill, Tennessee, native is smart and instinctual, able to make all the calls and line up personnel on the exterior as well as come up and help in run defense or cover receivers. He was going to have a strong season in that secondary.

So where do the Vols go from here? Supremely talented sophomore and JUCO transfer Justin Martin has missed some time with injury, but he's expected back this week. He could slide into one of the edge corners, and the team's most talented defensive back, Cameron Sutton, could shift to nickel.

If UT wanted to keep Sutton outside, it's also possible that junior Malik Foreman or freshman Micah Abernathy could play nickelback. 

Regardless, the Vols must find consistent play at the position. If they're bad there, it can damage the entire defense—as it did two seasons ago when the revolving door at nickel led to big play after big play as opponents shuffled play-making receivers into that spot and blew past UT defenders.

Gaulden is a massive loss, but it isn't insurmountable. It hurts depth, but the Vols have the talent to go plug-and-play. They just need to prepare a couple of guys there in a hurry. Gaulden, meanwhile, will most likely use this season as a redshirt year.


Kirkland Coming On

The Vols need a talented, difference-making athlete to step up and take control of the middle linebacker spot. If they do, it'll be the best thing for the defense.

It appears that may be happening.

True freshman Darrin Kirkland Jr.—a former 4-star prospect who is the most talented player of the ones vying for the position—has emerged during the past week, getting more headlines than incumbent redshirt junior Kenny Bynum and sophomore Colton Jumper.

According to GoVols247's Wes Rucker, Jones had glowing remarks about his young defensive stalwart this week:

I think when you look at him, first of all he's very mature. He's very mature, he's very, very intelligent, he's very instinctful (sic) and he can run. He has very, very good explosiveness, so he has the skills set, obviously, that we're looking for at linebacker. But the football intelligence…again, he can retain information immediately. You only have to tell him one time. And he's a run-and-hit individual. We're excited. He's another one, just like Kyle Phillips, that continues to get better and better with every rep that they gain. He will play this year.

While that in no way, shape or form sounds like a definitive endorsement to start, Kirkland is at least making things interesting at the position.

Having a run-stuffing force such as Bynum manning the middle may not be such a bad idea in an early-season stretch that features run-heavy opponents such as Oklahoma, Arkansas and Georgia. But the Vols need to have the ability to put a more athletic personnel grouping on the field, and Kirkland gives them that option.

He'll be the man in the middle of Jancek's defense for years to come.


JJ and Other Dy-no-mite Freshmen

You hate to pin expectations on first-year kids who are only just now adjusting to the college game, but Jones and Co. continue to heap immense praise on freshman receiver Jauan Jennings.

The Murfreesboro, Tennessee, native continues to flourish after being moved from quarterback. It appears he has the skills to be special, and he'll help a loaded unit right away.

This coaching staff referred to Derek Barnett and Jashon Robertson in much the same way last year, and both of those guys wound up being first-year starters.

But beyond Jennings, what other freshmen could carve out a role for this year's Vols?

Kirkland has already been mentioned, and everybody is talking about defensive linemen Phillips, Kahlil McKenzie and Shy Tuttle, who will not only be part of the rotation but could be potential stars.

Now that Gaulden is out, Abernathy and fellow freshman cornerback Darrell Miller should see the field, or at least one of them will. The other two linebackers besides Kirkland, Quart'e Sapp and Austin Smith, will play special teams roles at least.

On offense, Jack Jones is starting at guard right now, and Chance Hall and Drew Richmond could figure into the offensive line rotation as the year goes on. Running back John Kelly could get some carries, and Quinten Dormady has nailed down backup quarterback duties.

Coaches are talking about freshmen seemingly every other breath:

All in all, there don't appear to be a lot of misses for UT in last year's loaded class.


Dobbs' Accuracy Praised

There are no questions about UT quarterback Joshua Dobbs' immense ability throwing and running the ball.

He has the arm talent, speed and intelligence to be an all-around weapon in the mold of Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott. 

But there had been concerns about his accuracy. If UT's vertical game struggles as it did a season ago and the Vols are incapable of stretching the field, the offense will suffer because of it. That's why this past week's comments from offensive coordinator Mike DeBord are big.

DeBord isn't one to sugarcoat things, but he continues to praise his junior signal-caller:

His improved accuracy isn't the only reason why Vols fans should be excited. After Jones talked about Dobbs taking a step forward as a "CEO quarterback" all spring and taking control of the offense, he said this week that Dobbs has taken control of the entire team:


All recruiting information obtained from 247Sports unless otherwise noted. All stats gathered from unless otherwise noted. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Brad Shepard covers SEC football and is the Tennessee lead writer for Bleacher Report. Follow Brad on Twitter @Brad_Shepard.

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Ohio State Football: Week 2 Fall Camp Stock Report

COLUMBUS, Ohio — With two weeks to go until its season opener against Virginia Tech, Ohio State officially finds itself at the midway point of fall camp. "Hell week" for the Buckeyes is over, and players have moved out of their hotel as Urban Meyer has his squad fully focused on the Hokies.

But even as OSU has moved on from the training camp portion of practice and is now in game-prep mode, several questions the Buckeyes must answer still remain. Most notably, Meyer still hasn't settled on a starting quarterback for the season—or at least isn't willing to reveal whether or not he has publicly.

With all that—and much more—in mind, let's take a look at where Ohio State stands following its second week of fall camp.


Competition Ongoing

While discussing a competition that he knew was still months away from taking its full form, Meyer said in the spring that he'd like to know who his starting quarterback was by the midway point of fall camp.

But now that it's here, Meyer has changed his tune a bit, insisting that no final decision has been made about who the Buckeyes' starting signal-caller for the 2015 season will be.

"They're both doing good," Meyer said with a wry smile when asked about the ongoing quarterback competition between J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones. "I try to be as honest as I can. They're neck and neck."

The fourth-year Ohio State head coach has previously stated that he won't be revealing whether Barrett or Jones has won the starting job in advance of the Buckeyes' battle with the Hokies, and doesn't plan on deviating from that plan.

He did, however, reveal that one quarterback had pulled ahead of the other in his mind at one point last week—only to have the other even the score at a Saturday scrimmage.

"I really thought in my mind two days ago that one guy was starting to move ahead of the other," Meyer said after the scrimmage. "And guess what today is? They're back to [even]."

Meyer may not know—or be willing to publicly admit—who his starting quarterback will be yet, but that won't slow down the countdown ticking toward Ohio State's matchup with Virginia Tech. With the Hokies having handed the defending national champions their lone loss a season ago, the Buckeyes are already preparing for their season opener, even as their starting signal-caller remains unclear.

"We actually started a little bit earlier, obviously, because we open up with them and we have a lot of respect for who they are and they beat us," Meyer said of the Hokies. "Over half our practice will be devoted to Virginia Tech now."


Budding Battles

While Ohio State's quarterback competition has garnered the most attention—and rightfully so—it isn't the only battle that's still ongoing in Columbus.

Although the Buckeyes are set as far as starters are concerned at most positions, some spots still remain open. One of the still-undecided position battles is one that wasn't even expected to be a competition this summer, as Duke transfer Jack Willoughby has unexpectedly given incumbent Sean Nuernberger a run for his money at kicker.

According to Meyer, a big reason for that was a strong practice performance from the former Blue Devil, which included two successful 60-yard field-goal attempts with the Buckeyes head coach hovering over him.

"Back to back. I've never seen that before," Meyer said of Willoughby's consecutive long field goals. "If you said, 'Who's kicking right now?' I can't answer that question."

Willoughby served as Duke's kickoff specialist during the 2014 season, averaging 62.78 yards on his 73 kickoff attempts. As a freshman, Nuernberger was Ohio State's starting kicker throughout the Buckeyes' run to the national title, making 13 of his 20 field-goal attempts with a long of 49 yards, while also making all 89 of his extra-point tries.

Aside from quarterback and kicker, however, the only other positions Meyer said he has concerns about are his offensive and defensive lines. Starters have been established at all spots on both units, but the three-time national champion coach said he's still unsure of the depth that each possess.

With suspensions to Corey Smith, Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall for the season opener, wide receiver could also be viewed as somewhat of an issue for the Buckeyes, at least for the first game of the year. But between Michael Thomas, Noah Brown, Curtis Samuel, Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, Johnnie Dixon and Torrance Gibson, Meyer believes he has enough bodies at wideout to get by.

And then there's Braxton Miller.


Braxton Watch

Having entered fall camp as one of Ohio State's most talked-about players, the hype for Miller has seemed to die down. The realities of Miller's move from quarterback to wide receiver have seemed to set in, as it's now clear that he'll have to do more than change his number to adjust to his new position.

But while hamstring issues have hampered Miller—he sat out Saturday's scrimmage—through the first two weeks of camp, Meyer still has high hopes for the two-time Big Ten MVP. As he continues to adjust to his increased running load, Miller still has a chance to be one of the Buckeyes' starting H-backs against the Hokies, according to Meyer.

"My plan is to get him ready to do that," Meyer answered when asked if Miller could start in Ohio State's season opener. "I'm not ready to say [he's the starter]. I want him to be."

In order to do that, Miller will have to continue to develop the routine of being a wide receiver, which includes getting a play rather than giving it, taking a split and executing. The fifth-year senior has made progress when it comes to doing just that, but still must continue to prepare his body to adequately play his new role, which requires significantly more running than his last one.

Still, much like Meyer's impending decision at quarterback, the countdown for the season opener won't be slowing down anytime soon.

"Braxton's life has not been spent running, running, running. Wide receivers basically put on track shoes and run for two hours," Meyer said. "So his body—next week's a big week for Braxton."

How Miller performs in the coming week could just determine the size of his role in the Buckeyes' 2015 season.


Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Georgia Football: Week 3 Fall Camp Stock Report

When it comes to practices this past week, there wasn’t any big news to report from the Georgia Bulldogs' camp in terms of how the players performed. The Bulldogs did have a scrimmage on Saturday, and head coach Mark Richt was able to report on the quarterback race.

Also, a highly recruited player will officially be a Bulldog in 2016. And this player will have a chance to make an immediate impact.

So overall, it was a good week for the Dawgs, as they prepare for the season opener in less than two weeks.

Here’s the stock report for Week 3 of fall camp.


Stock Up: Rico McGraw

Cornerback Rico McGraw is one of the true freshmen who could see playing time right away. According to Jake Rowe of 247Sports, McGraw has a very good chance to earn playing time at the star position.

“I’ve been really trying to focus on learning my plays and really trying to have a lot of mental intensity,” McGraw told Rowe. “I’m just giving it my all every day and hopefully I’ll start the first game.”

McGraw was listed as the 20th-best cornerback in the country and the sixth-best player in the state of Tennessee, according to 247Sports.


Holding Steady: The Quarterbacks

The Bulldogs wrapped up another fall scrimmage on Saturday, and Richt was able to comment on the quarterback race afterward.

According to Chip Towers of, Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta and Greyson Lambert evenly shared snaps with the first-team offense, and Richt is still uncertain about who is leading the battle.

“Walking away from the practice, I feel like I know less about what to do than I did going in,” Richt said. “That’s just my first impression. We’ll watch the film and we’ll make a determination.”

With the first game only a couple of weeks away, there’s not too much time for Richt and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to make a decision. However, with Georgia's first game being against Louisiana-Monroe, there’s a chance two quarterbacks could play in the game.


Stock Down: Justin Scott-Wesley

The Bulldogs got some bad news from camp, as receiver Justin Scott-Wesley suffered a knee injury, according to Robby Kalland of

Later on in the week, Richt commented on the severity of Scott-Wesley’s injury, and he’s not sure when he’ll be back.

Justin Scott-Wesley injury now looking bleaker. Richt: “I’m not sure we’ll see Justin for awhile, if at all.”

— Seth Emerson (@SethEmersonAJC) August 22, 2015

Scott-Wesley missed nearly the entire 2013 season with a torn ACL. He only played in six games last season because of the injury.


Stock Up: Jacob Eason

There is no longer any controversy about Jacob Eason committing to another team, because he signed with Georgia this week, according to Rusty Mansell of 247Sports.

The quarterback from Washington signed his financial papers to Georgia on Friday afternoon. This means it will allow “Eason to have unlimited contact with UGA until he enrolls in January."

Eason is a 5-star recruit that is listed as one of the five best players in the country. He will begin his final high school football season on September 4.

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B/R CFB 250: Top 16 Defensive Tackles

Bleacher Report's CFB 250 is an annual ranking of the best players in college football, regardless of NFL potential. Through interviews with B/R Experts Matt MillerMichael FelderBarrett Sallee andAdam Kramer, authors Brian Leigh and Brian Pedersen have studied, ranked and graded the top athletes in the country, narrowed that list to 250 and sorted by position. Today, we present the Top Defensive Tackles.


Other CFB 250 Positions


It's a transition year for college defensive tackles.

Or at least in four of the major conferences.

The ACC loses Eddie Goldman and Grady Jarrett. The Big 12 loses Malcom Brown, Chucky Hunter and Jordan Phillips. The Big Ten loses Michael Bennett and Carl Davis. And the Pac-12 loses Leonard Williams and Danny Shelton.

Fortunately, the SEC brings back everyone. And it keeps the defensive tackle position—which, despite all those losses, might be deeper than it was last season—from becoming too bottom-heavy. The top two players on this list hail from down south.

But there is no shortage of non-SEC players chasing them.

Before we dig into the list, though, a disclaimer: We graded the linemen who follow as college prospects, not as NFL prospects.

Targeted skills such as run defense are important at both levels, but there is a difference between a college run defense and a professional run defense. If a lineman can set the edge and make plays in the SEC or the Big 12, it doesn't matter if he can set the edge and make plays in the NFC North—at least not here.

This is all about college performance.


Note: If two players finished with the same grade, a subjective call was made based on whom we would rather have on our team right now. Also, all recruiting info refers to 247Sports' composite rankings. All advanced stats courtesy of

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Preseason College Football Rankings 2015: Analyzing Key Selections from Polls

After winning the national championship a year ago by beating Alabama and Oregon in the first College Football Playoff, the Ohio State Buckeyes are starting the 2015 college football season just where they finished it—at the top of the Associated Press poll.

With a pair of quarterbacks like Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett, that wasn't a big surprise. However, the fact that they are on top and received all 61 of the first-place votes is a surprise. No team had ever been a unanimous choice in the first poll of the year, per SportsCenter.

Ohio State is 1st unanimous preseason No. 1 in AP college football poll. Buckeyes got all 61 first-place votes.

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 23, 2015

It is also the eighth time in Ohio State's history that it has been at the top of the preseason poll. But that's where the good news stops for Urban Meyer's team. None of the previous Buckeye teams that started at the top of the poll finished there at the conclusion of the season.

TCU is the No. 2 selection in the AP poll. If this sounds a bit unusual, that's because it is. The Horned Frogs have never been ranked this high in their history. They are joined in the elite part of the poll by Big 12 conference mate Baylor. The Bears are in the No. 4 spot, and that's the highest ranking they have ever achieved in the preseason poll.

The third-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide are once again highly respected across the poll, but not quite as much as they had been in previous years. The No. 3 ranking is the lowest Nick Saban's team has been ranked since 2009, per Paul Myerberg of USA Today.

This is the first time since 2009 that Alabama hasn't been ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the preseason AP poll.

— Paul Myerberg (@PaulMyerberg) August 23, 2015

Alabama leads the way for the still-powerful Southeastern Conference. Auburn is ranked sixth, Georgia is ranked ninth and five other SEC teams are also in the Top 25.

Michigan State has been one of the most consistent teams in the nation during the last two years and has been ranked in the Top Five at the end of both seasons. However, the Spartans are not used to starting off in an advantageous position. They are the No. 5 team in the poll, and that's the highest they have been ranked at the start of the year since 1967.

The Spartans were the third-ranked team going into that season, but it turned out to be a disastrous one for Duffy Daugherty's team. The Spartans dropped their opener 37-7 to Houston and were 3-7 that year.

Jimbo Fisher's Florida State team is ranked 10th in the AP poll, and it is the highest-rated Atlantic Coast Conference team in the poll. The Seminoles don't have a lot of company, as 12th-rated Clemson is the only other ACC team to make the Top 25. Florida State had 95 percent of the first-place votes in last year's preseason poll.

Florida State opens preseason at No. 10 in AP poll. Highest-ranked in ACC:

— (@Warchant) August 23, 2015

Seventh-ranked Oregon and eighth-ranked USC are the highest-rated Pac-12 teams in the poll. However, the Pac-12 is well-represented, as the Ducks and Trojans are joined by UCLA, Arizona State, Stanford and Arizona in the poll.

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Texas Football: Week 3 Fall Camp Stock Report for the Longhorns

Fall camp has come to an end for the Texas Longhorns, who have made changes at just about every position other than the one everyone's been watching.

That's right. If the season were to start today, Tyrone Swoopes would be the starting quarterback. That might be disappointing for some, but the junior has taken a big step as a leader and earned one more chance.

However, the rest of the team is going to look much different.

Freshmen are going to be everywhere on the two-deep for the Notre Dame game. John Burt will start at receiver, Connor Williams and Patrick Vahe look like they'll start along the offensive line, every one of the freshman defensive backs looks ready and, of course, Malik Jefferson is worth noting.

After the final week of camp, we can enjoy the performances of guys who made big impressions over the final week, including a surprising senior.


Stock Up: WR Daje Johnson

Daje Johnson started hot at fall camp, and he sustained his effort level to close strong. Now he looks ready for the big year he's owed the Horns since his freshman year.

It's been all downhill for Johnson since his explosive freshman season. Since averaging over 10 yards per touch in 2012, he's been suspended for five games and hasn't scored an offensive touchdown since the first game of 2013.

At one point, it was fair to assume Johnson's best football was well behind him. Even worse, head coach Charlie Strong could have easily cut him when he was purging the program of its distractions last summer.

Instead, Strong's kept the maligned playmaker in his sights, and it seems to have paid off. As Johnson told ESPN's Max Olson, he realizes what a great opportunity he still has.

"I feel like there's a lot of people pulling for me, I just want to prove them right," he said. "I don't want to be going out trying to be all 'What if?,' 'He could've done this.' I ain't trying to do all that. I'm trying to be remembered. I am worth the investment."

Sporting improved hands and route running, Johnson has enormous potential for the Horns. The last time he was an every-down weapon, he turned nine touches into 129 yards and two touchdowns.

As a regular in the slot, similar usage will give Texas a truly game-changing weapon, which the team could never find in 2014.

As long as he stays healthy, Johnson's due for a big year.


Stock Down: QB Jerrod Heard

Tyrone Swoopes has seemingly run away with the starting quarterback job. The way things have gone, Jerrod Heard never made it a real competition.

Strong continues to assert that Heard's in the running, but even he conceded to reporters that Swoopes would get the first snap against Notre Dame. The junior has dominated first-team reps since the beginning of camp, and everyone around the program has been raving about his development.

Heard's the type of player who's at his best in game situations, but you'd have expected the two-time state champion to make this more of a fight. The reality is it's never been close.

On the other hand, this is a great development for Swoopes. He has obvious talent that was held back by his lack of confidence. As we saw against Oklahoma and Iowa State, he can really light it up when he's feeling it.

Swoopes won't be on the longest of leashes, but he's put Heard in the rear-view mirror for now.


Stock Up: RB Chris Warren

Texas' running game was always going to the team's strength this season. Johnathan Gray's healthy, D'Onta Foreman's ready to fill in for Malcolm Brown and the offensive line is much improved.

Having stud recruit Chris Warren ready to mix it up is just an awesome bonus.

According to Horns Digest's William Wilkerson, Warren took full advantage of Gray and Foreman's absence in Saturday's scrimmage. The big freshman saw plenty of action with the ones, ripping off a 20-yard touchdown against the first-team defense.

Warren should still be viewed as the third option in this attack, but that won't leave him a forgotten man. Even at 6'2", 232 pounds, he's got good long speed to blow by the guys who don't feel like tackling him. The coaches will find a way to work him in.

Texas' young power back should see around five carries per game to begin the season, and his role will expand as the year wears on. His athleticism gives him an outrageous ceiling.


Stock Down: DE Bryce Cottrell

After he tore up the spring game, Bryce Cottrell seemed like a lock to crack the starting lineup. But an ill-timed injury and the resilience of senior Shiro Davis might keep him with the twos.

According to Wilkerson, reports have been glowing about Cottrell, but Davis continues to hang in there. Given what's being said about Cottrell, that's probably a good thing. Davis has been a disappointment in his time on campus, recording just 4.5 sacks for his career.

Per Wilkerson, Cottrell's now dealing with a leg injury that kept him out of Saturday's scrimmage. It doesn't seem serious, but it certainly won't help the junior define his role as we build toward the season opener.

The bottom line is Cottrell was expected to really tear up camp after what he did in the spring. The hope is he's not just a spring star, because his pass-rushing would be a valuable asset for this defense.


Stock Up: TE DeAndre McNeal

Blake Whiteley's injury is a tough blow for the Longhorns, but it puts freshman DeAndre McNeal closer than ever to a Week 1 role.

Slated for Geoff Swaim's blocking role, Whiteley going down shortens Texas' already-thin rotation at the position. Every other tight end on the roster was recruited to play another position before making the switch, so just filling that role will be difficult.

What Texas does have is the well-rounded Andrew Beck and the multitalented McNeal. Beck will certainly get reps because of his experience on the roster, but McNeal will demand time as well.

A do-it-all offensive weapon in high school, he can make up for his lack of blocking prowess with his ability to frustrate opposing defenses.

Strong seems pretty excited about the ways he can deploy the multitalented freshman:

We just know this, that he can create a mismatch problem for a lot of [defenses] because you can take him—he's a big receiver is what he is and you can take him and move him outside and he can be a guy that can float for you. The thing about it is a lot of times when you move a guy at a position, a lot of them don't want to accept that move. But he came to me, he said, "Hey, Coach, I've gained a lot of weight. I don't know if I can go outside and play but I know I can be a move guy for you."

McNeal's been working with the first team, and his role should grow as the season wears on.


Unless otherwise noted, all stats and information courtesy of

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College Football Preseason Rankings: Comparing AP, Amway Coaches Top 25 Polls

The 2015 Associated Press preseason Top 25 Poll was released Sunday afternoon. Coupled with the Amway Coaches Poll, we have a great idea of where the top teams stand from a national perspective. 

The top four teams in each poll remain the same, which isn't a major surprise. Ohio State, TCU, Alabama and Baylor look like the early favorites to feature in the 2016 College Football Playoff. 

From the No. 5 spot on, there's a bit of deviation. The Amway poll came out nearly a month prior to the AP poll. As a result, offseason injuries and other various musings certainly weren't accounted in the mix. The AP poll should (in theory) be the most up-to-date and accurate ranking of the top 25. 

Interestingly enough, both polls came up with the same 25 teams (in different orders). Let's take a look and compare both polls. 

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Ohio State Football: What Braxton Miller Must Do to Win Starting Job

When Braxton Miller announced his move from quarterback to wide receiver, he had a clear vision of bringing his electric playmaking ability to the perimeter. As a former Heisman Trophy candidate and two-time Big Ten MVP, he certainly has the confidence and the history to make that claim.

"I’m going to have fun with that and still score a lot of touchdowns and help the team out and be dominant at that," Miller said of his transition, according to Pete Thamel of Sports IllustratedHe later added, “It’s going to be electric. We had a great season last year, but we didn’t see anyone do off-the-wall type stuff. I’m sure guys miss seeing an explosive, 60-yard shake-and-bake run every once in a while."

But Miller was making a leap. While he proved himself as one college football's best big-play threats in his three years at quarterback, he hadn't taken a single rep as a wide receiver at the collegiate or high school level. And the Buckeyes are loaded at wideout—particularly at the H-back position he's moving to—so he had a lot to prove during fall camp. 

That was a sentiment head coach Urban Meyer echoed when Miller announced the move. 

"We won't know enough until practice starts how we can use him and what he can do," Meyer said of Miller, according to Doug Lesmerises of the Plain Dealer. "I just don't know. He's a great athlete, but he's never caught a pass for us. So we'll know more and we have plenty of time when practice starts."

With fall camp in the books and preparations for Virginia Tech underway, Meyer has a much better feel for Miller's ability to not only play on the perimeter but also to start.

"My plan is to try and get him ready to do that," Meyer said when asked if Miller was the No. 1 H-back. "He's getting close."

So what's holding him back?

For starters, Miller is adjusting to a new life as a wideout. Instead of steadily guiding the offense behind center, he's sprinting and cutting down the field and then hurrying back to the line of scrimmage before the next snap. That's a lot of running, and it's something he's adjusting to.

“As a quarterback, Braxton's life has not been spent running, running, running,” Meyer said Saturday, according to James Grega of Scout. “Wide receivers basically put on track shoes and go for two hours. Next week is a big week for Braxton. He had a tight hamstring and we held him out today, but he should be ready to go on Monday."

The other thing holding Miller back? How about Ohio State's deep stable of H-backs. 

The Buckeyes have a trio of outstanding options at the position with Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall and converted running back Curtis Samuel. But two of those players—Wilson and Marshall—have been suspended for the season-opening clash with Virginia Tech, giving Miller the perfect opportunity to showcase what he can do on a national stage against a stout defense. 

But as Meyer said Saturday, the coming week will be a big one for Miller. He's proven to his coaches and teammates that he's a viable threat in the slot, and of course, the thought of Ohio State running the option with him at tailback is tantalizing. 

Now, he needs to prove that his body is ready to handle the workload—or rather, the running load—that comes with playing receiver. 

Because if he can, maybe he'll provide those "60-yard shake-and-bake" plays to Ohio State's offense on a weekly basis this fall.


David Regimbal is the Ohio State football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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College Football Rankings 2015: CFB Playoff Predictions After Preseason AP Poll

It would take some real courage to come out with our early college football playoff predictions and not include the Ohio State Buckeyes.

The Buckeyes were voted the unanimous preseason No. 1 selection in the nation, taking all 61 votes in the Associated Press poll.

But courage might just be what is needed. While the Buckeyes appear to be a loaded team fully capable of winning the second College Football Playoff National Championship after beating Alabama and Oregon last year, college football is the most difficult of domains.

Ohio State makes history in AP preseason poll

— ESPN Big Ten (@ESPN_BigTen) August 23, 2015

Head coach Urban Meyer's team has a huge target on its collective back. Every opponent will focus more intently and prepare for its best game against Ohio State, and when a team has to play 12 regular-season games and a Big Ten conference championship game under those conditions, it's a lot to consider.

However, a closer look at that schedule indicates that the Buckeyes may not be tested until well into the season. While they lost to Virginia Tech last year, Ohio State appears far superior to its Sept. 7 season-opening opponent. Going to Blackskburg, Virginia, will not be easy, but Ohio State should come out with a win.

This is 96th AP Poll Ohio State is ranked No. 1. Only Oklahoma (101) & Notre Dame (98) have been ranked No. 1 more weeks

— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) August 23, 2015

The next difficult game may not be until they face Michigan State on Nov. 21 at Ohio Stadium. The big question going into this game may be whether the losing team will still earn a spot in the playoffs. Both teams could be undefeated going into that game.

We are not going to bet against either Big Ten team, and the good thing is that both are in the East Division of the Big Ten conference. That means there is no chance they will also meet in the conference championship game, where a second loss would be the eliminator.

Ohio State is just too strong on both sides of the ball, and we trust Meyer will come to the right decision when it comes to naming the quarterback, a choice that is still up in the air. While Cardale Jones brought home the national championship last year, J.T. Barrett was a Heisman Trophy candidate before suffering a season-ending injury late last year.

The Buckeyes also have a brilliant offensive line, led by left tackle Taylor Decker and left guard Billy Price. That could make the offense difficult to stop.

Michigan State faces a huge challenge Sept. 12 when the Oregon Ducks come to East Lansing. The Spartans lost at Oregon last year, and we expect head coach Mark Dantonio to have his team ready for revenge. It doesn't hurt that the Spartans have one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in Connor Cook.

MSU has two straight top-5 finishes, but this will be the Spartans' first top-5 start in almost a half century.

— Joe Rexrode (@joerexrode) August 23, 2015

The Spartans should stay unbeaten until their November trip to Columbus if they beat the Ducks. That should be good enough to get them into the playoffs.

Don't bet against Alabama, either. Losing in the semifinals last year has been like a nasty splinter in the side of the Crimson Tide, and it has bothered head coach Nick Saban and his players all year. The Crimson Tide have power on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and if Cooper Bateman, Jake Coker or Alec Morris can separate himself at the quarterback position, the Tide should be rolling again.

Unlike Ohio State and Michigan State, Alabama has the most challenging of schedules. The Tide face seven opponents ranked in the preseason Top 25, and there can be no slip-ups. On the positive side, Alabama has handled these kind of tough schedules in the past, and it will not be intimidated.

Alabama plays NINE teams in the preseason Top 27. Ohio State plays just ONE

— Sports Brackets (@sportsbrackets0) August 23, 2015

TCU is our fourth choice to make this year's playoff foursome. TCU has a late-season meeting with playoff hopeful Baylor at the end of the regular season, and the Bears are good enough to beat the Horned Frogs if they are healthy and play their best game.

However, TCU will play at home in that game, and they also have the remarkable Trevone Boykin at quarterback. Boykin completed 301-of-492 passes for 3,901 yards with 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last year, and he could be even better since the TCU offensive line returns all five of its starters.

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Hunter Johnson to Tennessee: Volunteers Land 5-Star QB Prospect

The Tennessee Volunteers made positive strides in Butch Jones' second year as head coach, and their biggest step may have come Sunday after Jones secured the commitment of 5-star quarterback Hunter Johnson.

"I've been in contact with Tennessee for so long now and I know so much about Tennessee, I didn't see a reason why I wouldn't commit," Johnson said, per 247Sports' Steve Wiltfong. "That's what I told my parents, why wouldn't I go here? I've always felt really, really comfortable with Tennessee."

According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Johnson is the No. 1 pro-style quarterback and No. 11 player overall in the 2017 recruiting class.

Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman and Clay Travis both see this as a major development for the Vols' program:

Chris Childers of College Sports Nation also believes Johnson's decision represents affirmation for Jones being the guy to lead Tennessee forward:

Quarterback has been a problem area for the Vols ever since Tyler Bray left in 2012. Neither Justin Worley nor Joshua Dobbs looked entirely convincing in 2013 and 2014. While Johnson's arrival won't come for some time, he at least gives Tennessee fans reason for optimism.

Plus, he'll join Quinten Dormady, a 4-star QB in the 2015 recruiting class.

At some point, Jones will need to start piling up the wins, but he's certainly proving to be an adept recruiter, which will help the Volunteers catch up to the competition in the loaded SEC. 

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AP Preseason College Football Rankings 2015: Analyzing Initial Top 25 Poll

It's not a surprise that defending champion Ohio State is the No. 1 team in the preseason AP poll, but it's a bit of a shock to see that the Buckeyes gained all 61 first-place votes in the poll.

Massive respect has been shown to Urban Meyer's team, and it's clear that the pollsters had Ohio State's dramatic two-game sweep over Alabama and Oregon in winning the first College Football Playoff championship at the top of their thinking. Ohio State is the first unanimous preseason No. 1 in the history of the poll.

While that's notable, it's not necessarily great news for the Buckeyes. Ohio State has been a preseason No. 1 on seven other occasions, but it has never finished in the top slot.

This is the 27th straight year Ohio State is ranked in the preseason AP poll. Full rankings:

— ESPN (@espn) August 23, 2015

Meyer's team is going to have to deal with many significant challenges along the way, and the first is an internal one. Who gets to start at quarterback for the Buckeyes?

It will be either Cardale Jones, who led Ohio State to the two playoff wins over the Crimson Tide and the Ducks, or J.T. Barrett, who was a Heisman Trophy candidate prior to suffering a season-ending injury at the end of the regular season in 2014.

Meyer has said that he won't name a starter until the season opener against Virginia Tech Sept. 7. "We're going to play the guy that helps us win," Meyer said at the Big Ten media days in July (h/t New York Times).

Meyer added that the decision would be "data-driven," but that whatever he feels in his gut at the moment of choice would also be a factor.

Ohio State is trying to become the 12th team to win back-to-back championships since the AP began its college football poll in 1936.

8th preseason #1 for Ohio State, breaks tie with USC and trails only Oklahoma (10)

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 23, 2015

TCU is ranked second in the poll, but the Horned Frogs are nearly 100 points behind the Buckeyes. They could be a major threat to steal the No. 1 spot because of the superb passing attack led by quarterback Trevone Boykin. The Horned Frogs also return a strong offensive line intact.

Big gap from No. 1 and unanimous Ohio State in AP poll to No. 2 TCU. But also big gap between TCU and No. 3 Alabama.

— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) August 23, 2015

Alabama, Baylor and Michigan State follow, and that means the Big Ten has two teams in the top five. Auburn checks in at No. 6, while Oregon, USC, Georgia and Florida State follow to round out the top 10.

Well here you go. Highest preseason rankings ever for No. 2 TCU and No. 4 Baylor.

— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) August 23, 2015

The Crimson Tide figures to be a dominant team once again, and Nick Saban will have powerful lines on both sides of the line of scrimmage. But he won't have Amari Cooper, T.J. Yeldon or Trey DePriest, and those are difficult losses to overcome. 

Alabama is No. 3 in the AP Preseason poll. Lowest preseason AP ranking since 2009 (No. 5)

— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) August 23, 2015

Shock Linwood and Johnny Jefferson give Baylor a dominant and intimidating rushing attack, but there are questions about the quarterback position without Bryce Petty.

The Spartans have built one of the most dependable programs in the country, and head coach Mark D'Antonio always puts together a nasty defense. He also has Connor Cook, who is one of the top quarterbacks in the nation.

OddsShark also agrees that the Buckeyes are the No. 1 team in the nation. They are plus-300 according to the odds site with Alabama as the second choice at plus-750 and Auburn third at plus-900. Those three teams are the only teams with odds that under plus-1,000.

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Preseason College Football Rankings 2015: Winners and Losers from AP Poll

The 2015 college football preseason hit its final major milestone Sunday with the release of the first Associated Press Top 25 poll, the granddaddy of all preseason rankings in college football.

Defending national champion Ohio State took home the top spot by a comfortable margin and was joined by fellow Big Ten East contender Michigan State in the Top Five. Alabama returned to the playoff zone in the poll, along with a pair of Big 12 powerhouses in TCU and Baylor.

Some fanbases will undoubtedly be happy about where their favorite teams wound up in the preseason poll, while others will, of course, be outraged—and not only at where their schools landed. A few conferences stood out in the AP's first Top 25 of the season, and several schools might play the disrespect card heading into the upcoming schedule.

Before we take a look at some winners and losers of the first poll, here's the complete look at the Top 25:

1. Ohio State (61 first-place votes)
2. TCU
3. Alabama
4. Baylor
5. Michigan State
6. Auburn
7. Oregon
8. USC
9. Georgia
10. Florida State
11. Notre Dame
12. Clemson
13. UCLA
14. LSU
15. Arizona State
16. Georgia Tech
17. Ole Miss
18. Arkansas
19. Oklahoma
20. Wisconsin
21. Stanford
22. Arizona
23. Boise State
24. Missouri
25. Tennessee

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2015 Ohio State Is Worth the Hype of 1st Unanimous No.1 Preseason Ranking

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It won't officially kick off the season for another two weeks, but the 2015 Ohio State football team has already made history.

For all of the teams that have entered a college football season highly touted following a national championship campaign—1995 Nebraska, 2002 Miami (Florida), 2005 USC, 2009 Florida, 2013 Alabama—none has earned a unanimous No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press preseason Top 25.

That, however, changed Sunday, when the Buckeyes became the first team to do just that, earning all 61 first-place votes in the AP's first Top 25 poll of the season.

Is Ohio State's 2015 season worth that sort of hype?

It sure seems that way.

Returning 15 combined starters on offense and defense from a season ago, the losses from a Buckeyes team that beat Alabama and Oregon en route to capturing the first College Football Playoff championship appear minimal. No Ohio State player was drafted before the second round of the 2015 NFL draft, with only a total of five Buckeyes being chosen in the draft's seven rounds.

Ohio State's minimal presence in the draft shouldn't last for long, however, as this year's Buckeyes team appears to be loaded with first-round talent.

Depending on the mock draft you're looking at, Ohio State players could potentially make up as many as six picks in the 2016 NFL draft in the first round alone.

Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Taylor Decker, Adolphus Washington, Cardale Jones and Darron Lee have each been viewed as potential first-round selections, while Eli Apple, Michael Thomas and Vonn Bell could each play themselves into the front end of next year's draft.

NFL talent, of course, isn't the be-all and end-all in college football, but this collection of talented Buckeyes has already proven to possess the makeup of a great team.

Despite Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Braxton Miller going down with a season-ending injury two weeks prior to the start of the season, last year's Buckeyes compiled an 11-1 regular-season record behind a record-breaking campaign from freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett.

When Barrett went down with a fractured ankle in the regular-season finale, Jones picked up right where he left off, helping carry Ohio State's young roster to three postseason wins.

"I thought it was a year away," Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer said after Ohio State made the playoff as the No. 4 seed in December. "The future is bright."

It's also here.

Both Barrett and Jones have returned, currently engaged in an unprecedented quarterback competition as far as qualified candidates go. Meyer may not have his answer yet for which one will line up behind center when the Buckeyes take the field for their season opener against Virginia Tech on Sept. 7, but his dilemma is one almost every other coach in America should be begging to deal with.

Lining up behind Ohio State's quarterback—whoever it winds up being—will be Elliott, the preseason front-runner to win the 2015 Heisman Trophy who rushed for 696 yards and eight touchdowns in the Buckeyes' three postseason games. Upfront will be four of five starters from last year's offensive line, anchored by Decker at left tackle and preseason All-American guard Pat Elflein.

The receiver position might possess Ohio State's only question mark, with Devin Smith, Evan Spencer and tight end Jeff Heuerman having all moved on to the NFL. But Thomas returns as the Buckeyes' leader in receptions (54), and Meyer has raved about the offseason work of sophomores Noah Brown and Curtis Samuel, as well as tight end Nick Vannett, who had more catches, yards and touchdowns than Heuerman in 2014.

Corey Smith, Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall will each miss the first game of the season due to suspension but will each add experience to the OSU receiving corps upon their return to the lineup.

Freshman Torrance Gibson has also made waves since moving from quarterback to wideout in the first week of fall camp, and the shifty Miller will now use his talents to catch passes rather than throw them.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Buckeyes have even less concerns to deal with, as all 11 starting spots appear to be set in stone. The biggest question might be how Gareon Conley will fill in at corner for first-team All-Big Ten corner Doran Grant, but Apple's ability on the other side of the field should put Ohio State fans at ease.

But perhaps the biggest reason to believe in the Buckeyes has nothing to do with their abundance of talent or even their manageable schedule, which may not see them challenged until a matchup with Michigan State in the second-to-last week of the regular season in Columbus.

No, the optimism surrounding Ohio State is predominately due to their head coach, who has been in this situation before.

Having coached a 2008 national title Florida team that returned 18 starters—including star quarterback Tim Tebow and its entire defense—a year later, Meyer knows what it's like to enter a season with sky-high expectations and a target on his team's back.

With lessons learned from the 2009 Gators' failed attempt at a repeat, the three-time national champion coach will no longer have his attention focused on going back-to-back.

"Repeat is not the conversation," Meyer said after Ohio State's first fall camp practice in August.

Maybe it's not for Meyer and his players, but based on the history the 2015 Buckeyes have already made, that's certainly the expectation. Ultimately, we'll find out whether or not Ohio State is worth the hype in the coming months, but for now, this Buckeyes team appears to having the makings of an all-time great.

At least that's what the pollsters believe.



Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Preseason College Football Rankings 2015: Twitter Reacts to AP NCAA Top 25 Poll

The second major college football preseason poll has been released, and the Associated Press has declared the Ohio State Buckeyes are the nation's best team before the 2015 season begins. 

Ohio State has been a near-unanimous No. 1 coming into the year, with the Buckeyes receiving 62 out of 64 first-place votes in the Amway coaches poll released in July.

The Associated Press took things one step further, giving the defending national champions all 61 first-place votes.  

Here's how the entire AP Top 25 preseason poll looks:

Ohio State's spot atop the rankings gives the program a rare and historic distinction, per Matt Barnes of NBC 4 in Columbus:

The Buckeyes have been sneaking up on teams since Urban Meyer took over as head coach. Their undefeated regular season in 2012 was met with skepticism because of a mediocre schedule that didn't include one win over a team ranked inside the Top 20. 

Ohio State was undone in 2013 by back-to-back losses at the end of the year against Michigan State and Clemson. Last year, everything came together in surprising fashion because Braxton Miller was injured before the season and J.T. Barrett went down in the regular-season finale against Michigan. 

Now, the Buckeyes are going to be the hunted team, which isn't something that has historically worked well for the program, per ESPN College Football:

Adding to that, Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times pointed out how long it's been since a preseason No. 1 won the AP national title:

The Buckeyes will be challenged this season, particularly in the final two games against Michigan State and at Michigan. 

Even starting out the season at Virginia Tech looks more dangerous for Ohio State, with Joey Bosa, Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Corey Smith suspended for violating an athletic department policy.

Moving down the ranks, the Top Four with TCU, Alabama and Baylor lines up with what the coaches had. The Big 12 teams will try to make sure no one overlooks them when it comes time for the College Football Playoff this year. 

The Horned Frogs also made program history by starting the year ranked No. 2, per TCU assistant athletic director Mark Cohen:

It's a positive step in the right direction for college football and the voters, giving credence to schools that haven't been traditional powers for decades like Ohio State, Alabama, etc.

The first split between the coaches and AP comes at No. 5. The AP gave that spot to Michigan State; the coaches went with Oregon. 

Per Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free-Press, this is the Spartans' highest starting position in the AP poll in a long time:

The Big Ten fared well overall, with two Top Five teams and Wisconsin lurking in the shadows at No. 20. Penn State, Nebraska and Michigan were in the "also receiving votes" category. 

When it comes to conference depth, the SEC still reigns supreme, with Fox Sports' Clay Travis citing one huge difference between No. 1 Ohio State and No. 3 Alabama:

Even though Alabama is the highest-ranked SEC team, Auburn is getting a lot of love, starting the year at No. 6 despite losing starting quarterback Nick Marshall, leading-rusher Cameron Artis-Payne and leading receiver Sammie Coates. It speaks to the depth of talent and recruiting efforts of head coach Gus Malzahn that the Tigers, who finished 8-5 in 2014, would still be thought of as one of the nation's elite teams.

One team whose ranking wasn't affected by a preseason injury concern was Notre Dame, which comes in at 11. 

Per Nick Ironside, this is Notre Dame's best preseason showing in the AP poll in nearly a decade:

The big problem for the Fighting Irish is the loss of star defensive tackle Jarron Jones, who is out for the year after tearing the MCL in his knee. 

It doesn't help that Notre Dame's schedule is loaded, starting with Texas on September 5, with ranked opponents like Georgia Tech, Clemson, USC and Stanford also in the mix. 

The one conference that isn't going to be happy with its spot in the rankings is the ACC, as noted by Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post:

Despite the presence of Florida State the previous two years, it's no secret that depth in the ACC hasn't been there. The Seminoles are facing plenty of questions with Jameis Winston taking his talents to the NFL, but head coach Jimbo Fisher has been able to restock the talent year after year. 

Georgia Tech did have a breakout season in 2014, winning 11 games for the first time since 2009, and Clemson has a strong claim as the conference's best team coming off four straight 10-win seasons. 

Once you get past that, though, the ACC is a string of decent teams, like Louisville and Duke, but not one worthy of being in the national conversation. 

Meanwhile, the Pac-12 continues to get stronger, featuring six teams in the Top 25. Oregon is facing its own quarterback questions with Marcus Mariota in the NFL, but the offensive system head coach Mark Helfrich has in place is designed to make things easy for the position.

There's a lot of support for USC in the polls, which is understandable with the Trojans coming off a nine-win campaign and quarterback Cody Kessler having the tools to be a Heisman finalist. 

Some fans are certain to be upset or confused by their team's spot in the preseason ranking, so B/R's Barrett Sallee is here to offer a logical explanation:

Preseason polls are designed to build expectations, but it's always important to remember there will a lot of turnover after the games start. There are always examples of teams that started the year ranked in the Top 10 only to stumble—South Carolina last year, just to name one. 

The polls are a conversation starter, reminding everyone where things left off at the end of 2014 and how roster turnover has helped or hurt a team. 

Ohio State may be No. 1 right now, but don't be surprised if someone outside the Top 10 ends up in that spot by season's end.  

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Steve Sarkisian Apologizes for Comments Made at 'Salute to Troy' Event

USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian issued an apology Sunday for his inappropriate behavior at this weekend's Salute to Troy event, the school's yearly introduction of the team to major donors.   

"I sincerely apologize to my players and staff and to our fans for my behavior and my inappropriate language at our kickoff event Saturday night," Sarkisian said in a statement. "I have a responsibility to all of them, and I let them down. Pat Haden talked to me after the event about my actions, and I assured him this will not happen again." 

According to accounts of the event on Twitter, many of which have been rounded up by Lost Lettermen here (contains NSFW language), Sarkisian was allegedly drunk during his speech. He said Oregon, Notre Dame and Arizona State all "suck" and used profanity during team introductions. After being pulled aside by USC officials, Sarkisian was allegedly removed from the event as team assistants finished the ceremony.

"I met with Coach Sarkisian, and I expressed my disappointment in the way he represented himself and the university at our Salute to Troy event," Haden said in a statement. "While the details of our conversation will remain between us, I am confident he heard my message loud and clear."

Sarkisian, heading into his second season as Trojans head coach, went 9-4 in 2014. The program is expected to make a major leap this season, with USC ranked No. 8 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 and No. 10 in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll.

As Ron Higgins of noted, one of the reasons Sarkisian got the USC job two years ago over interim head coach Ed Orgeron was Haden's faith in how Sarkisian would deal with alumni. Saturday night's embarrassment indicates everyone, no matter how polished, has an off day every now and then.


Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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