NCAA Football

Georgia Football: How Lorenzo Carter Works His Way into Starting Lineup

Remember Lorenzo Carter? He’s the guy who was regarded as the state of Georgia’s best overall prospect in 2014 according to 247Sports. You know, the guy whose signing with the Bulldogs was a crown jewel in the frenzied close of national signing day?

Well, nobody’s talking about him this offseason, but he could be a starter as a true freshman.

 

Open Opportunities

If Georgia fans learned anything from Jeremy Pruitt’s first spring in Athens, it’s that no positions are locked up. Aaron Davis, a walk-on who redshirted last season, worked his way into the starting lineup for the Dawgs’ spring game. Ray Drew, who registered five total sacks against LSU, Tennessee and Missouri over the course of three consecutive Saturdays last fall was resigned to backup duty.

And despite an increase in open competition and a number of different lineups, no starting spots were firmly secured. As Pruitt told Chip Towers of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “We had 50 guys out there on defense that were all trying to do the same stuff. I didn’t see anybody particularly that just stuck out and deserved an award.”

Undoubtedly, some of that is coach speak. Players like Amarlo Herrera, Ramik Wilson, Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins are sure to be staples of the unit even if Pruitt is hesitant to recognize any surefire starters. That being said, there are still plenty of question marks.

For a player like Carter, who’s equally defined by his size and athleticism, even the slightest sign of uncertainty could yield a tremendous opportunity.

At 6’5”, Carter already has the frame to be an absolute force at the next level. But it takes more than a frame to solidify oneself as a starter in the Southeastern Conference.

This summer, Carter’s top priority must be adding strength and muscle without compromising his speed. Fortunately for Carter, who weighs 230 pounds according to 247Sports, Georgia’s new-look defense is not going to demand too much added mass.

Tracy Rocker, the Dawgs' new defensive line coach, believes oversized players negatively impacted Georgia’s defense two years ago. “They go to the championship, and you turn on the tape, and the first thing everybody saw (was) they couldn’t get off the blocks,” he told Seth Emerson of the Ledger-Enquirer.

Pruitt also said to Emerson, “I think it’s a little different philosophy. I think the old staff maybe wanted them a little bigger, kind of how they wanted to play. We want to be a little leaner, so we can sustain for four quarters.”

Added strength and endurance this summer can mold Carter from a mere prototype into an actual on-field weapon.

 

Taking a Spot

Ultimately, Carter’s going to have to take someone’s spot in order to start the season opener against Clemson. Drew and Sterling Bailey are the most obvious projections to start at defensive end, but James DeLoach could also find his way into the mix. Fortunately for Carter, his unique physical gifts give him potential edges against all three of those players.

Drew, who has registered seven starts (all in 2013) over a three-year career, does not possess Carter’s quickness. Accordingly, he makes more sense on the strong side of the ball as a space-eater capable of penetrating through a tight end. But if Pruitt is looking for speed, Carter will have an edge on the weak side of the field.

Bailey also worked his way into the starting lineup last season and was a member of the first unit on nine occasions. At 6’3”, however, Bailey will be unable to match Carter’s length. If the newcomer is able to master leverage and use his long limbs to his advantage, he could supplant Bailey as the weak-side starter.

And although DeLoach had a strong spring showing, he boasts minimal game experience. Last season he appeared in only five games and registered four tackles. Like Bailey, he lacks Carter’s elite frame.

 

Impact of Carter as a Starter

If Carter can work into the starting lineup he might once again generate some buzz. Again, he’s been all but forgotten this offseason despite his high-profile signing. That excitement is a good for Georgia in two regards.

First and foremost, his movement into the starting lineup reflects improvement. For Carter to start he will have to establish and prove himself as a better option than a former starter. That’s a very positive sign for a defense looking to make a name for itself.

Second, true freshman starters are great recruiting tools. Currently, Georgia is in hot pursuit of Trent Thompson, the nation's top player in the class of 2015 according to 247Sports. Thompson may be drawn to the Bulldogs if he wants to follow Carter’s lead as an immediate starter on the Dawgs’ defensive line.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Biggest Remaining Challenge Each Pac-12 Coach Faces This Offseason

The offseason isn't over yet. That's a sentence no Pac-12 fan wants to hear, but we're more than halfway through the month of June and college football is just around the corner.

Recruiting for the 2015 class has hit its stride, and coaches are likely putting together a plan as to how they'll improve when fall camp arrives. Needless to say, while the sky remains dark for the fans, it's full steam ahead for players and coaching staffs around the country.

If you're a top-notch coach, you probably have goals set aside for this time of year. Heck, the best coaches probably have goals they want to accomplish every single day. So what's left on the docket before the 2014 season begins? What hurdles are standing in the way between now and starting the season in the best shape possible?

Here are the biggest remaining challenges each Pac-12 coach still faces this offseason.

 

All stats via cfbstats.com

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Biggest Remaining Challenge Each Pac-12 Coach Faces This Offseason

The offseason isn't over yet. That's a sentence no Pac-12 fan wants to hear, but we're more than halfway through the month of June and college football is just around the corner...

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Texas Football: Predicting Where the Horns Will Finish in 2015 Recruiting Ranks

Texas' 2015 class of 10 commits sits at 15th in the nation, which has the Longhorns poised to finish outside the top 10 for the third straight season. The best way to prevent that from happening is for Charlie Strong to prove he can turn the team around in a timely fashion.

Coming off their fourth straight disappointing season, the 'Horns have lost some equity on the recruiting trail. Players have been decommitting late in the process, leaving the state in search of greener pastures and altogether spurning the Burnt Orange for Texas A&M.

The worst part for Texas is that these players were right to do so. Mack Brown fielded a top-10 recruiting class three out of the last four years and still went 30-21 over that span. That's not going to get it done in a non-SEC conference, especially when your players aren't getting drafted.

It's Strong's job to reverse those fortunes. And considering the circumstances, he's done well to nab some high-upside players that will keep the class atop the Big 12.

 

The Current Crop

The offensive line is the cream of the current group commits, led by one of the state's top tackles, Toby Weathersby. Joining him are The Opening participant Patrick Vahe and fellow tackle Ronnie Major, a 6'6" prospect whose stock continues to soar thanks to his athleticism.

On the other side of the trenches, Charles Omenihu is looking like a steal at defensive end. Rated as a 3-star player when Texas landed his commitment, he is up to 13 offers on his way to jumping up a star on the trail.

Zach Gentry and Kirk Johnson headline the more glamorous offensive positions. At the very least, Gentry provides a solid arm behind Jerrod Heard should anything happen to Texas' top 2014 recruit. As for Johnson, who surprised everyone at the Oakland NFTC, he's shaping up as Texas' replacement for Johnathan Gray in the backfield.

 

The Safe Bets

Texas' top targets in the short-term are defensive tackle Du'Vonta Lampkin, defensive back Holton Hill and running back Chris Warren. The 'Horns could also use a commitment from one of Anthony Wheeler or Cameron Townsend at linebacker.

Not only do all four of the above defenders have a chance to play as freshmen, they would each be the first commit at their respective positions. The Longhorns will be dangerously thin at all three positions next year, so getting players of this caliber would be huge for this class.

Lampkin visited last week and has named Texas his leader.

On the offensive side of the ball, both Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron will graduate following the 2014 season. That leaves the door wide open for a bruiser such as Warren to take over short-yardage duty and then some in 2015.

Texas is in good position with every player on this list, and landing even half of them would make this a national-level class.

 

The Long Shots

Cornerback Kendall Sheffield and linebacker Malik Jefferson are the two best players in the state, and anyone hoping to land their services better be ready to play the long game. The Longhorns stand a better chance with Sheffield at the moment, which would give Texas a four-year starter if he stayed that long.

Roney Elam and Kris Boyd were once thought of as great consolation prizes to Sheffield, but Texas is losing ground with both. Elam canceled this week's visit, per Orangebloods.com's Dustin McComas, and the Aggies are quickly gaining ground with the athletic Boyd.

Winning 10 games or getting as close as possible without doing so is the only way Texas gets a shot at picking up any of these players. That's why it's called the long game.

 

Prediction

So long as they stay on the current path, the Longhorns will have the top class in the Big 12. Anything more than that depends completely on what they do in the left-hand column.

Vahe, Major, Johnson and Omenihu alone will give this class a boost as it climbs the rankings. Along with the rest of the class, they are as committed as it gets this early in the process.

As for the safe bets to eventually commit, the 'Horns should be able to land between six and seven based on their ability to provide an early role on the team. But the 'Horns can take as many as 27 recruits this year, so more names are sure to enter the mix.

And should Jefferson or Sheffield decide that he looks better in burnt orange than maroon, it wouldn't be out of the question to crack the top five. That's the ceiling with a 10-win season.

Realistically, the Longhorns are looking at eight to nine wins. The end will net them a class full of quality players that ends up near the top 10.

 

All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Predicting Where Clemson Will Finish in 2015 Recruiting Ranks

The key to becoming a powerhouse in college football is simple: win the recruiting battle. It's no coincidence that Alabama has won three national championships over the past five years. The Crimson Tide have had the top-ranked recruiting class—per 247Sports (subscription required)—for four straight years and are poised to finish No. 1 again in 2015.

But not if the Clemson Tigers have anything to say about it.

Currently, Clemson has 20 verbal commitments in the class of 2015, most in the country. The Tigers are ranked No. 2—behind Alabama—in 247Sports' team rankings. And they're not finished yet.

Clemson's biggest commitment thus far is offensive lineman Mitch Hyatt from Suwanee, Georgia. Hyatt is a 5-star recruit and the nation's No. 2 ranked offensive lineman. 

Three straight 10-win seasons are beginning to pay dividends for head coach Dabo Swinney. Back-to-back bowl wins over traditional powers LSU and Ohio State don't hurt either. But can the Tigers continue that momentum with Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins now in the NFL?

The Tigers can move past Alabama and win the 2015 recruiting wars, but it won't be easy. Many of the country's top prospects often wait until signing day, or close to it, to make their intentions known. By that time, the Tide have usually won another national title.

Here are three reasons why Clemson could overtake Alabama for 2015's top recruiting class and a prediction on where it will finish. 

All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Notre Dame Football Recruiting: 10 Best Irish Recruits from BCS Era

The BCS era started in January of 1999, and Notre Dame has recruited well since. The Irish have signed several elite classes, which featured many top recruits.

Although there have been several coaching changes in South Bend, Notre Dame still remains a brand that recruits are attracted to. The Golden Domers signed a hyped quarterback in 2007, while an excellent linebacker from Hawaii came to the program in 2009.

Also, a recruit from the 2013 class is on this list.

All stats are from Sports-Reference.com.

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USC Football Recruiting: 10 Best Trojan Recruits from BCS Era

To start, this list was awfully tough to put together. Production factored, but a bigger emphasis was put on how good a player was as a recruit.

USC has signed a large amount of the best recruits of the BCS era, which essentially began in January of 1999. 

Former head coach Pete Carroll is responsible for many recruits on this list, as he will go down as one of the best recruiting head coaches college football has ever seen. The Trojans are known for their ability to pull top talent from anywhere in the country, and this list is more proof of that.

USC signed an elite defensive lineman in 2001, the same year it signed a quarterback who went on to win a Heisman. Plus, an offensive tackle signed in 2008 is also on this list.

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Florida State Football: Power Ranking 2014 Schedule from Easiest to Toughest

The 2014 Florida State football schedule is a far cry from the 2013 version that drew criticism from analysts and fans.

Toss out Bethune-Cookman, Nevada and Idaho on the nonconference slate. In are Oklahoma State, Citadel and Notre Dame (Florida is the mainstay, of course). The Seminoles now have one of the toughest nonconference schedules in the nation, with The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel ranking FSU's No. 1.

While it may be a tough schedule, it's not inconceivable for FSU to go 12-0 and play for the ACC title. The Seminoles gain a few schedule breaks, earning bye weeks before the ACC opener at home against Clemson on Sept. 20 and before a Thursday night game at Louisville on Oct. 30.

Still, state rivals will be waiting in November. FSU will have to win again at Miami on Nov. 15 and then defeat Florida at home on Nov. 29 to have a chance to repeat as national champions.

Let's take a look at FSU's schedule from the easiest opponent to the toughest.

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2016 4-Star QB Messiah deWeaver Commits to Michigan Wolverines

Class of 2016 quarterback Messiah deWeaver, a 4-star prospect on 247Sports' composite ratings, committed to the Michigan Wolverines Wednesday afternoon—the same day he was offered a scholarship by the university.

Steve Lorenz of 247Sports tweeted the news:

DeWeaver is an Ohio kid who plays his high school ball at Trotwood-Madison, where he will be a junior this upcoming season. 

He was not being pursued hard by Ohio State, however, and has only received two other scholarship offers from power conference schools (Louisville and Kentucky). The next biggest team to offer him a scholarship is probably Cincinnati.

But that doesn't mean deWeaver is without potential. He is 6'3" with a developing arm and is ranked the No. 13 pro-style QB in the class. SB Nation's Bud Elliott lauded deWeaver for his size but commented on his up-and-down day at an Elite 11 camp, intimating that his receivers have been making him look good on film:

Shane Morris is a sophomore at Michigan and the ostensible quarterback of the future after Devin Gardner graduates. Unless he gains an extra year of eligibility, though, Morris will be gone by 2017 at the latest, and there is an opening under center behind him.

Wilton Speight was a 3-star recruit in 2014 and enrolled early this spring to get a head start on any future competition. Alex Malzone, another 3-star recruit, is committed for 2015 and could also factor into things. DeWeaver has a slightly higher pedigree than both of those guys—at least at this very early stage of his recruitment—but it's a relatively close race between all three.

You can never have too many quarterbacks, though, and not every team is lucky enough to secure one in four consecutive years.

If nothing else, this at least gives UM options in the future.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

4-Star QB Deondre Francois Trims List to 3 Finalists

The recruiting journey of Deondre Francois has featured dramatic developments during the past few days, setting the stage for a climactic final stretch. The 4-star quarterback recently unveiled a top six, per Jason Dill of the Bradenton Herald, but it didn't take long for him to trim his choices down even further.

The coveted Florida playmaker has eliminated Ohio State, Tennessee and Notre Dame from contention, per his conversation with Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports (subscription required). Francois effectively cut his options in half, leaving Oregon, Auburn and Florida State in the mix.

He spent time at Auburn this week and was slated to follow up with visits to Tennessee and Ohio State in coming days. Those plans changed after his stay with the Tigers:

 Or not:

Francois was frank when describing his reasoning for the cancellations.

"I felt like there was no need for me to go to Tennessee or Ohio State," Francois told Niebuhr. "I've narrowed my schools down to Oregon, Auburn and Florida State. So I don't want to go to Ohio State and Tennessee and waste gas."

It may sound blunt for fans of the Buckeyes and Volunteers, but at least he isn't stringing both squads along while other quarterback options remain available.

Notre Dame has turned its attention to Southern California playmaker Travis Waller and Texas Tech pledge Jarrett Stidham since losing a commitment from 4-star passer Blake Barnett earlier this month.

Francois, rated No. 6 nationally among dual-threat quarterbacks in 247Sports' composite rankings, is a swiftly rising member of the 2015 class. Mississippi, LSU and Michigan are among his recent offers, though they failed to make the cut.

He transferred to IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida) from Orlando's Olympia High School this year. Francois replaces 2014 Penn State signee Michael O'Connor as the team's starting quarterback.

His two seasons as starter at Olympia featured 3,162 passing yards and 28 touchdowns, according to Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel. Francois will play with a more talented supporting cast at IMG Academy, a program that perennially produces collegiate talent.

Francois is recognized as one of the hardest-throwing quarterbacks in the 2015 class. His accuracy remains questionable but the raw talent is clearly in place, along with an ability to create opportunities as a runner.

Florida State is viewed as a prohibitive favorite for Francois, who expects to announce his decision by the end of July. The Seminoles are projected to sign him in 95 percent of expert predictions in 247Sports' Crystal Ball.

Auburn is a formidable contender after his successful two-day stay on campus. The Tigers already hold a commitment from Georgia quarterback Tyler Queen but continue to explore other options, including Francois and fellow Florida talent Torrance Gibson.

Oregon extended an offer in April. Expect the Ducks, who recently missed on Barnett (Alabama) and Kyler Murray (Texas A&M), to key in on Francois as a pivotal target. 

 

Recruit ratings and information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Re-Evaluating Wisconsin Football's 2011 Recruiting Class

When your recruiting class features twice as many 2-star recruits as 4-star players, your team will either sink or improve.  Thankfully for the Wisconsin football team, they've improved as former coach Bret Bielema found a number of 2- and 3-star rated players who have been valuable contributors to the team.

One extra piece of the Badgers recruiting class that has helped them immeasurably was the transfer of Russell Wilson, who is included in this class as he certainly was a part of the 2011 recruiting class—only that he came in with three years of experience under his belt.

The stars of this class come at running back and in the secondary, where Heisman Trophy candidate Melvin Gordon was recruited alongside Michael Caputo, who despite carrying only three stars, was excellent in 2013 for the Badgers.

Overall, the class features three 4-star players, 11 3-star players and six 2-star players.  The class was ranked No. 39 by 247 Sports and 9th in the Big Ten.  Despite this, the Badgers made two Rose Bowls since these recruits have come on campus.

Let's take a look back at Wisconsin's 2011 class and how those players performed in Madison.

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Notre Dame Football: Constructing the Perfect Close to the 2015 Recruiting Class

Notre Dame's recruiting efforts have heated up lately, with Brian Kelly and his staff getting on a roll since Memorial Day weekend. A half-dozen recruits have joined the 2015 recruiting class since the last day of May, with Josh Barajas, Brandon Tiassum, Micah Dew-Treadway, Nick Coleman, Elijah Taylor and Shaun Crawford all joining Brian VanGorder's defense. 

Even with the defection of Blake Barnett, a recruiting class that many expected to stay relatively small has swelled to 13 commitments—starting the inevitable exercise of figuring out just how many seats are left on the bus.

With an 85-man scholarship limit, Brian Kelly will have to make some tough decisions on fifth-year players after the season. But before that, he'll need to continue recruiting a talented class where the Irish coaching staff are in hot pursuit of a few dozen prospects with only a fraction of those scholarships still available.

The groundwork has been laid for a tremendous recruiting class.

Right now, 247Sports.com has the Irish haul ranked 10th in the country.

And things should only get more interesting with the biggest on-campus weekend of the summer about to start on June 20—the Irish Invasion camp.

But there is still work to be done. With a few critical holes in the current class, here's the perfect close to Brian Kelly's 2015 recruiting cycle. 

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Texas Football: Re-Evaluating the Longhorns 2011 Recruiting Class

The Texas Longhorns 2011 recruiting class was ranked No. 3 nationally by Rivals.com. The fact that the 22 signees stuck with their commitment was a bit of a shocker, considering the Longhorns' 5-7 record in 2010. But the signees kept their word following the losing season and six coaching changes.

The No. 3 ranking appeared to be positive momentum for the Longhorns' future, but how some of the players have panned out since has not led to Texas earning a top ranking in college football. 

Here's a re-evaluation of the 2011 signing class, as well as the grades the athletes have received during their three seasons at Texas.

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5 Nonconference Games That Will Make or Break College Football Playoff Chances

Hopefully, strength of schedule will be a heavily weighted factor in determining which four teams are selected to the first College Football Playoff. 

But, as with most things involving the selection committee, no one really knows for sure if that's going to be the case. For that matter, does the committee know what its selection requirements will be?

Anyway, we'll find out how important scheduling is and whether losing to quality nonconference opponents is weighted differently. In other words, is it a make-or-break game?

The criteria for a make-or-break game is relatively simple. It has to either significantly boost a team's resume with a win, or breaks a team's playoff chances if it loses—likely as a result of a difficult schedule elsewhere. 

Which nonconference games could make or break a team's playoff hopes? The answers are in the following slides. 

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The 15 Best Offensive Coordinators in College Football

The coaching carousel was a little bit different in 2013-14. All of the biggest-name hires seemed to be former head coaches bouncing around from one school to another, as opposed to big-name coordinators getting a promotion.

The two best offensive coordinators who became head coaches this offseason—Blake Anderson (North Carolina to Arkansas State) and Chuck Martin (Notre Dame to Miami-Ohio)—were considered among the best in their profession, but neither was considered at the top.

Without a Kliff Kingsbury to Texas Tech-type move this winter, the names on this list are stacked. Almost all of the hottest offensive coordinators in the country will remain offensive coordinators for at least another season, which means it was hard to crack the top 15.

But based on their resume, their recent success and whom they have learned from by coaching under, a group of offensive coordinators did stand out as the most adept in the country for next season.

Sound off below and let me know who I overlooked.

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Oregon Football: Power Ranking Ducks' 2014 Schedule from Easiest to Toughest

Oregon's road to a College Football Playoff berth is paved with several noteworthy stops along the way. The program faces one of the toughest nonconference games of any team in college football, a daunting cross-divisional road trip and a chance at two years' worth of revenge. 

The Ducks' 2014 season starts with a tune-up, but the action revs up to the red line by Week 2 when reigning Rose Bowl champion Michigan State comes to Eugene. 

Pac-12 competition presents several intriguing matchups, not the least of which is the return engagement with Stanford. The winner in this burgeoning rivalry has claimed the conference championship every season since 2010. The 2014 campaign could bring more of the same—unless up-and-coming Pac-12 South power UCLA has anything to say about it. 

The Bruins get a crack at the Ducks early in the season in a marquee showdown. 

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Oregon Football: Power Ranking Ducks' 2014 Schedule from Easiest to Toughest

Oregon's road to a College Football Playoff berth is paved with several noteworthy stops along the way. The program faces one of the toughest nonconference games of any team in ...

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Biggest Remaining Challenge Each SEC Coach Faces This Offseason

Amazingly, SEC Media Days are less than a month away, meaning this is a great time to examine each program’s biggest question marks headed into summer camp.

Coaches around the league are trying to size up their teams at this stage, probing for weaknesses and desperately searching for ways to strengthen or hide them to win as many games as possible.

This year will feature a number of new starting quarterbacks. At least eight programs will turn to new primary signal-callers, yet the sport’s most important position only surfaces as the primary concern for a few programs.

A season of change awaits the SEC.

How well heavily compensated coaches adjust to their new personnel and circumstances will go a long way toward determining which two teams face off in early December for the conference crown.

Here are each coaches’ biggest remaining challenges as the countdown toward college football’s 2014 debut takes center stage.

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How 4-Star Blake Barnett's Commitment Impacts Top Uncommitted QBs of 2015 Class

When Blake Barnett walked away from his Notre Dame commitment earlier this month, it appeared all roads led to Oregon. Instead, the 4-star California prospect will spend his collegiate career at Alabama.

Barnett committed to the Crimson Tide on Wednesday morning, announcing his decision with Bleacher Report:

The 6'3.5", 195-pound passer picked Alabama one week after visiting Tuscaloosa, capping off a lengthy search for head coach Nick Saban. The Tide have been hunting for an elite prospect at the position since losing 5-star pledge Ricky Town to USC in late January.

Barnett, a strong-armed, fleet-footed athlete, fits the bill.

Rated third nationally among dual-threat passers, he enjoyed a dominant junior campaign at Santiago High School in Corona, California. Barnett passed for 2,322 yards and 22 touchdowns, adding 695 yards and 13 scores as a rusher.

He provides Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin with a rare talent who could help usher in a new offensive approach at Alabama. His mobility certainly contrasts recent Tide quarterbacks AJ McCarron and Greg McElroy, who combined for three national titles despite scoring just five total rushing touchdowns in five seasons.

Since seeing Town flip to USC, the Tide have whiffed on a number of targets, most notably New Jersey's Brandon Wimbush (Penn State) and New Mexico's Zach Gentry (Texas). The recruiting cycle, a perennially long and winding road, eventually led Alabama to Barnett, who spent seven months committed to Notre Dame.

Although Saban extended an offer in February, it appeared the Southern California talent was destined to head north to Eugene after decommiting from the Fighting Irish. After all, he was on campus with the Ducks during the days prior to his departure from Notre Dame's class.

Barnett's decision to turn his back on Oregon and join an SEC powerhouse provides a further reminder of the fluidity of this 2015 quarterback class. The crop of passers is special, but so many unknowns remain in play less than eight months shy of national signing day.

Here's a peek at how Wednesday's events reshape the landscape for three coveted uncommitted quarterbacks.

 

Travis Waller

Yet another Southern California prospect, Waller is one of the hottest members of this recruiting class. The 4-star Anaheim product has seen a steady rise in interest during recent months, including offers from Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Cal and Maryland.

Alabama extended a scholarship in mid-May, and he visited Tuscaloosa earlier this month. Waller, rated No. 4 nationally among dual-threat quarterbacks, appeared to be a strong option for the Tide and included the team in his top four:

With Alabama apparently out of the picture, it would appear Notre Dame is now the front-runner. Equanimeous St. Brown, his top wide receiver at Servite High School, is also a top target for the Fighting Irish, and a package deal seems to be a realistic goal for head coach Brian Kelly.

Waller, who tallied 2,900 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior, is projected to sign with Notre Dame by 92 percent of expert predictions in 247Sports' Crystal Ball.

Kelly may find his 2015 quarterback in California after all. However, Oregon could be encouraged to make a late push for Waller after missing out on Barnett.

Waller plans to announce his decision on July 1.

 

Deondre Francois

The Florida star is arguably rising just as fast as Waller. Francois has received offers from Oregon, LSU and Mississippi State since April.

He possesses one of the nation's most impressive throwing arms, though he is still learning how to harness his power and develop improved accuracy.

The 6'1", 195-pound IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida) standout revealed six finalists Saturday morning but trimmed that list in half Wednesday after his visit to Auburn, per Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports.

Francois, rated No. 6 nationally among dual-threat quarterbacks in 247Sports' composite rankings, eliminated Tennessee, Ohio State and Notre Dame from contention. He is focused on three finalists: Florida State, Auburn and Oregon.

The Ducks could rise to the forefront after missing out on Barnett. Oregon flourishes in the kind of uptempo, quick-hit attack that suits Francois well at the next level.

He plans to share his decision late next month.

 

Torrance Gibson

The scintillating talent led American Heritage High School to a Florida state title in 2013, finishing his junior season with 2,900 total yards and 29 scores. Rated No. 1 nationally among athletes, the jury is still out on whether Gibson is capable of orchestrating a collegiate offensive attack or if he's better suited for a future at receiver.

Regardless, it appears he'll start college with an opportunity to compete as a quarterback. He recently released a revised top seven to Ari Wasserman of Cleveland.com.

Gibson's finalists, in order, are Tennessee, Auburn, LSU, Oklahoma, Central Florida, Miami and Ohio State.

So how does Barnett's decision impact his outlook?

The quarterback vacancy at Oregon could tempt Francois to take a closer look at the Ducks. If he's drawn to Eugene, that would leave the door open for an intense SEC recruiting battle between Tennessee and Alabama.

On the flip side, if Francois elects to commit to Auburn, that would make Tennessee an even stronger favorite to land the Fort Lauderdale phenom.

 

Recruit information and ratings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

How Nick Saban Will Get Even with Auburn, College Football Gods in 2014

The loss was nothing short of stunning, especially considering the opponent. 

The University of Alabama defense had limited Auburn to season lows in total offense and rushing yards, only to be left watching as the Tigers celebrated the remarkable comeback win.

"We didn't finish the game," Alabama coach Nick Saban said during his postgame press conference. "When you play good teams you've got to play for 60 minutes. Those kinds of teams don't go away. There's a lot of lessons to be learned out there about finishing games and continuing to do things correctly.”

Yet this wasn’t last year’s epic finish at Jordan-Hare Stadium, where Chris Davis’ 100-plus yard touchdown return off a missed field goal as time expired resulted in an epic 34-28 finish.

This was the 2010 game. Due to a torn pectoral muscle, safety Mark Barron couldn’t lift his arm to intercept or deflect a pass that resulted in a 70-yard touchdown, running back Mark Ingram had just his second lost fumble in 613 touches and Alabama blew a 24-0 lead.

The Crimson Tide subsequently responded by winning the rematch 42-14 and the next two national championships only to learn the same tough lesson all over again.

The question now is can Alabama bounce back in similar fashion?

There’s no way of knowing until the season plays out and the rivals meet again Nov. 29 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, but history tells us that the Crimson Tide should be more than ready.

Since 2008 only eight opposing coaches have managed to pull out a victory against Saban, while just one, Les Miles, has defeated him twice in a row. Previously the last coach to defeat him in consecutive games was Steve Spurrier when Florida was flying high under his direction. It pounded LSU 41-9 in 2000, and 44-15 in 2001.

Before losing to LSU during the 2011 season Saban had won 12 straight rematches.

In those 14 initial defeats Saban’s team lost by an average of 14.4 points. In the rematches he won by an average of 14.7 points.

Of course, no rematch was bigger than LSU in 2011, when the Crimson Tide lost the regular-season meeting in overtime, 9-6, only to play again for the national title. Despite LSU being in its back yard of New Orleans, Alabama recorded the only shutout in Bowl Championship Series history, 21-0.

It’s part of a familiar pattern.

After losing to Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer in the 2008 SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, Alabama spent a lot of the following offseason working on the Gators. It returned to the Georgia Dome and won.

Last year it did the same to Johnny Manziel and Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M. After the Aggies pulled off a 29-24 win in 2012, when Alabama was facing its third ranked team in as many weeks, the Crimson Tide went to Kyle Field and notched a 49-42 victory.

Consequently, there’s a reason why no SEC opponent has a winning record against the Crimson Tide under Saban.

Overall, there are just nine programs that have an edge on Saban over his 18 years as a collegiate head coach. Florida State, Navy, Stanford, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Utah and Washington are all 1-0, while Nebraska is 2-0. From his Big Ten days at Michigan State (1995-99), Wisconsin is 2-1 while Purdue is 3-1-1 thanks largely to quarterback Drew Brees.

Michigan was one of the few opposing programs with an overall winning record against Saban before he arrived at Alabama. The Crimson Tide opened the 2012 season with an impressive 41-14 neutral-site win in Dallas. 

That’s the same venue where it will open the 2015 season against Wisconsin, where Saban will once again try to show that he doesn’t just get mad about losing, he gets even.

 

Christopher Walsh is the lead Alabama football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. 

Follow @CrimsonWalsh

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