NCAA Football

Alabama Football: Any Way You Look at Roster, Crimson Tide Loaded

At the end of spring practices, there was one player from the recruiting class of 2009 remaining on the University of Alabama football roster, although most Crimson Tide fans probably don't remember ever seeing him on the field.

He was rated a 3-star player. He's since lined up at two different positions and finally saw his first game action last season.

His name? Anthony Orr.

It’s almost hard to believe that same recruiting class also had Trent Richardson, Dre Kirkpatrick, D.J. Fluker, James Carpenter, Chance Warmack, Eddie Lacy and Nico Johnson, who have all been in the National Football League for at least a year, while AJ McCarron, Kevin Norwood and Ed Stinson were selected in the recent draft.

That’s five first-round selections, an NFL rookie of the year and winners of too many collegiate awards to list. Most were also part of winning three national championships.

“I really do think the most accurate way to be able to rank any recruiting class would be three years down the road,” Nick Saban said on national signing day, “because I think the challenge for all these young men that got recruited today, wherever they're going, is to be able to stay focused on what they need to do to improve as players and do the things that they need to do to become very effective college football players.

“And it is a challenge to go from high school to college. Maybe the biggest challenge of all, maybe even more so going from college to the NFL.”

Nevertheless, with a unanimous No. 1 recruiting class this year, the Crimson Tide remains loaded with talent. Despite needing arguably 11 new starters (four offense, seven defense), the lineup looks like something straight out of one of those high-profile all-star games that the nation’s best recruits play in every year. 

So after reviewing the Crimson Tide position by position earlier this week, the following is a different look at Alabama’s roster based on how each player was evaluated as a prospect. After each name is the year he signed, what level he was assigned (stars, five being the best) and his overall national rank according to the composite rankings by 247Sports


Quarterbacks (5)

  • David Cornwell, 2014, 4, 79
  • Cooper Bateman, 2013, 4, 80
  • Blake Sims, 2010, 4, 275*
  • Jacob Coker, 2011, 3, 532 (FSU)
  • Alec Morris, 2012, 3, 569


Running backs (7)

  • Derrick Henry, 2013, 5, 12
  • Bo Scarbrough, 2014, 5, 16
  • T.J. Yeldon, 2012, 5, 28
  • Altee Tenpenny, 2013, 4, 53
  • Tyren Jones, 2013, 4, 66
  • Kenyan Drake, 2012, 4, 130
  • Jalston Fowler, 2010, 4, 220


Wide receivers (9)

  • Robert Foster, 2013, 5, 23
  • Chris Black, 2012, 4, 45
  • Amari Cooper, 2012, 4, 46
  • Cameron Sims, 2014, 4, 84
  • ArDarius Stewart, 2013, 4, 86
  • DeAndrew White, 2010, 4, 107
  • Derek Kief, 2014, 4, 221
  • Raheem Falkins, 2013, 3, 361
  • Christion Jones, 2011, 3, 365*


Tight ends (5)

  • O.J. Howard, 2013, 5, 19
  • Malcolm Faciane, 2011, 4, 190
  • Brian Vogler, 2010, 4, 228
  • Kurt Freitag, 2012, 3, 480
  • Ty Flournoy-Smith, 2014, 3, 103 (JC)-x


Offensive line (16)

  • Cam Robinson, 2014, 5, 4
  • Grant Hill, 2013, 4, 61
  • Ross Pierschbacher, 2014, 4, 74
  • Brandon Greene, 2012, 4, 125
  • Dominick Jackson, 2014, 4, 2 (JC)
  • JC Hassenauer, 2014, 4, 172
  • Arie Kouandjio, 2010, 4, 173
  • Ryan Kelly, 2011, 4, 237
  • Alphonse Taylor, 2012, 4, 266
  • Joshua Casher, 2014, 4, 280
  • Leon Brown, 2013, 4, 19 (JC)
  • Isaac Luatua, 2011, 3, 391
  • Montel McBride, 2014, 3, 422
  • Bradley Bozeman, 2013, 3, 471
  • Brandon Hill, 2013, 3, 505-x
  • Austin Shepherd, 2010, 3, 623


Defensive line (15)

  • Da’Shawn Hand, 2014, 5, 5
  • Jonathan Allen, 2013, 5, 16*
  • A’Shawn Robinson, 2013, 5, 33
  • Dee Liner, 2013, 4, 46
  • Josh Frazier, 2014, 4, 85
  • Korren Kirven, 2012, 4, 166
  • Jarran Reed, 2014, 4, 13 (JC)
  • D.J. Pettway, 2011, 4, 206 (2014, 4, 14 JC)
  • Dalvin Tomlinson, 2012, 4, 217
  • O.J. Smith, 2014, 3, 398
  • Johnny Dwight, 2014, 3, 429
  • Dakota Ball, 2012, 3 432
  • Darren Lake, 2012, 3, 584
  • Brandon Ivory, 2010, 3, NA
  • Anthony Orr, 2009, 3, 582


Linebackers (14)

  • Reuben Foster, 2013, 5, 6
  • Rashaan Evans, 2014, 5, 15
  • Trey DePriest, 2011, 5, 29
  • Xzavier Dickson, 2011, 4, 34
  • Christian Miller, 2014, 4, 39
  • Reggie Ragland, 2012, 4, 41
  • Ronnie Clark, 2014, 4, 70
  • Ryan Anderson, 2012, 4, 78
  • Tim Williams, 2013, 4, 82
  • Dillon Lee, 2012, 4, 101
  • Denzel Devall, 2012, 4, 139
  • Shaun Dion Hamilton, 2014, 4, 203
  • Keith Holcombe, 2014, 4, 281
  • Walker Jones, 2013, 3, 658


Secondary (14)

  • Landon Collins, 2012, 5, 7
  • Tony Brown, 2014, 5, 9
  • Marlon Humphrey, 2014, 5, 12
  • Cyrus Jones, 2012, 4, 43*
  • Laurence “Hootie” Jones, 2014, 4, 50
  • Geno Smith, 2012, 4, 61
  • Maurice Smith, 2013, 4, 84
  • Bradley Sylve, 2011, 4, 106*
  • Jarrick Williams, 2010, 4, 130
  • Nick Perry, 2010, 4, 250
  • Anthony Averett, 2013, 4, 273
  • Jabriel Washington, 2011, 4, 285
  • Eddie Jackson, 2013, 3, 349
  • Jonathan Cook, 2013, 3, 524


Special teams (3)

  • Adam Griffith, 2012, 3, 656
  • JK Scott, 2014, 3, MA
  • Cole Mazza, 2013, 3, NA

*Wasn’t necessarily recruited at the position now playing.

x-Hill attended Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia while Flournoy-Smith went to Georgia Military College to quality academically.

There are some interesting things that stand out.



Alabama doesn’t release scholarship information, but the above roster gives the Crimson Tide 42 offensive players, 43 defensive players and three specialists, which adds up to 88, three over the limit.

Saban usually doesn’t disclose information about players who may not return until after the fact, or about incoming players who haven't qualified academically. At least one has yet to arrive at the Capstone and the coach recently said that a couple of signees may need summer classes.

Incidentally, Orr has already graduated.


Year-by-year totals

With six players from the recruiting class of 2011 already in the NFL there are just nine remaining, the same number of holdovers from 2010. Meanwhile, 20 players from 2012 are still on the roster.

With two departures already, there are 23 players remaining from the recruiting class of 2013.


Stars galore

If it wanted to, Alabama could start a 5-star recruit at every defensive position minus two (it’s a linebacker and safety short). Overall, it’s slated to have 15 5-star players (six on offense, nine defense), and 50 (25 and 25) who were rated as 4-four prospects on the roster this season.

Combined, that’s a staggering 76.5 percent of the roster.


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

Follow @CrimsonWalsh

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College Football Uniform Trends to Watch in 2014

College football is changing by the minute.

Not just in the way the game is played—in its tempo and the size of the players who succeed at it—but in the way it looks.

Uniform aesthetics have developed gradually over the past decade or so, but the result of that steady, gradual change is something radically different than what we had before.

We live in a new, chrome-filled, stand-out-by-any-means-necessary era where something such as this new NC State helmet with wolf eyes on the back of the head can actually exist in real life:


Fortunately for us, the "eyes in the back of our heads" conceit is not likely to catch on. Perhaps this is wishful thinking, but it seems more like a gimmick than a trend that will inspire future imitations.  

The same, however, cannot be said for some of the other trends that will continue or begin in earnest next season.

Let's take a look at some of them.


Jarring Sleeve Patterns 

Phil Knight and Nike have helped Oregon redefine what a football jersey can—and perhaps should—look like. Part of that design has included an emphasis on the shoulders, where Oregon has sported everything from wings to metallic-colored tire marks in past seasons.

This year's "Mach Speed" uniforms have the next iteration of sleeve pattern: something close to the winged look but a little bit lower and, especially in the case of the black jersey, a little more intricate.

The wings on the shoulder used to be a gentle accent on the fringe of the uniform. Now they have expanded their breadth, creeping down to the chest area and dominating the front of the jersey. 

Take a look:

And because Oregon jumped the gun and debuted the white version of the Mach Speeds during the 2013 Alamo Bowl, here is a look at how those jerseys come off with a live, game-ready model:

But it's not just Oregon partaking in this trend anymore.

The intricate shoulder pattern has made its way to the opposite corner of the country—way down to Tallahassee, where the defending national champions have decided to update their style.

Check out the Seminole-themed print on the shoulders:

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the patchwork on the sleeves "contain the Seminole Tribe of Florida's symbols for arrow, man on horse, and fire, with the helmet spears crossing in the back representative of the crossed bars of the state flag."

That's actually pretty freakin' awesome.

Also awesome is the integration of the Ibis mascot on the shoulders of the new Miami uniform update (better angle here):

Well done on all three fronts.


Secondary Logos

Jerseys change from week to week. 

That is a historical reality of sports. All sports. Not just football.

Teams need to wear different colors, and because there are so many teams (and so few viable colors), each team needs at least two jerseys to ensure that always happens.

Until recently, however, the logo was supposed to stay consistent. There is no practical reason for an alternate logo, which is not needed to differentiate one team from the other during the run of play. And if anything, logic might dictate that it hurts any sort of branding.

But, alas, Arkansas might be helping to start a new trend with a soft introduction of its new secondary logo:

(Which may or may not look like Pumbaa from The Lion King):

The forward-facing hog will not replace the profile shot of the hog on the Razorbacks' helmet, but it will be placed below the neck on the front of the updated jerseys:

Another SEC team, Georgia, did a similar thing in 2013:

Secondary logos might seem frivolous, but they are in fact a smart piece of marketing. They allow the school a chance to roll out and crowdsource an update—perhaps with the intention of making it a full-time change—without the risk of a massive public flop.

Arkansas' forward-facing hog, for example, has been mocked a bit since its introduction. But, for the time being, it is only an alternate. It's only displayed in a tiny little spot below the collar of the jersey.

Had Arkansas rolled out that logo as a new, full-time change, placing it on the helmet, it would have put itself at risk of public scorn and a debacle such as the one Florida State had with its own new logo.

Expect this kind of thing to catch on.


"Group of Five" Chrome Domes

College football's fascination with chrome helmets began to penetrate the NFL this offseason. It also continued spreading among itself.

Now more than ever, it seems, schools from the "Group of Five" are adding chrome domes to their repertoire—ostensibly to look hip and to aid with recruiting, where they are already at a disadvantage.

Just look at Florida Atlantic, which unveiled these (surprisingly cool) chrome-red and -blue helmets back in March:

FAU is also one of the biggest stories of the young recruiting cycle, having landed a commitment from 4-star running back and top-100 overall player (per the 247Sports Composite) Jordan Scarlett and placing ahead of Oregon, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Washington and Stanford at No. 47 on the current 247Sports team rankings.

Do the helmets have everything to do with that? Of course not.

Florida is the ripest recruiting ground in the country, and new head coach Charlie Partridge knows the area well and is an excellent recruiter. Those are bigger factors than the helmets—no doubt.

But the chrome domes definitely don't hurt.

Which is why FAU isn't the only smaller school on fertile recruiting soil that is trying this tactic. Akron put out new chrome helmets as well:

As did Houston way down in Texas:

And South Florida, which is coming off a disastrous 2-10 season and competing with the likes of FAU for the deep class of prospects in the Sunshine State, got creative with its usage of the chrome:

Don't expect this trend to go away anytime soon.


Black For Black's Sake

Because it is ostensibly the most "menacing," "macho," "masculine" color, black jerseys are something many teams fancy—whether the shade of black is part of their school's color palate or not.

Paul Lukas of has coined this phenomenon "Black for Black's Sake" (BFBS for short), and it has continued with many of the new uniform updates that will hit college football in 2014.

Take, for example, this new Arizona State Florida State kit:

Or this updated look at BYU:

Or the clashing sleeves and shoulders that go along with the midnight-purple update at Washington (on the left) in addition to the traditional BFBS update the Huskies will sport (on the right):

Why does a team such as Florida State need a black uniform? It made sense, for example, when Georgia helped begin the "blackout trend" against Auburn in 2007, because the Bulldogs have black featured centrally in their logo. But the Seminoles only have the black in their logo's hair, and their Garnet home uniforms are iconic.

Why try to shoehorn in the "cool factor" when you're already cool?

This is not a new but expanding trend in college (and all levels of) football. It will continue creeping from niche to norm in 2014, leaving those who refuse to indulge in the minority.

And for that, we thank them.


Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

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Position-by-Position Analysis of South Carolina's 2014 Roster

South Carolina lost a few key players in No. 1 overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney, rock-solid quarterback Connor Shaw and a handful of other players. Despite losing some major talents on both sides of the ball, the Gamecocks return a team with a great deal of experience. 

The team may be young in certain areas, but the experience gained during last season will help to carry the Gamecocks a long way in 2014. 

With double-digit win season after double-digit win season for head ball coach Steve Spurrier and his Gamecocks, the bar is set high in 2014, especially considering this could be one of the most complete and overall talented rosters Spurrier has had the privilege of coaching during his tenure in Columbia. 

South Carolina is loaded up offensively and making progress on the defense throughout the offseason, so this team could potentially make waves in 2014 en route to the College Football Playoff. 

Here is a position-by-position analysis of the South Carolina Gamecocks' 2014 football roster. 

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5 Schools Most Responsible for Keeping the ACC on the Upswing

2013 was a banner year for ACC football. The league expanded its East Coast footprint with a pair of additions in Pitt and Syracuse, replaced departing Maryland with an upgrade in the American Athletic Conference’s best team in Louisville and also had a huge breakthrough in on-field play.

Florida State won a thrilling BCS national title game over Auburn to give the ACC its first national title since 2000, when the Seminoles beat Virginia Tech.

And the Seminoles’ ACC Atlantic Division mate Clemson capped its second consecutive 11-win season with an Orange Bowl victory over Ohio State for the Tigers’ first BCS bowl win.

With two BCS bowl wins, the ACC matched its total from the previous 12 seasons combined.

Three years ago, the league was a prime candidate to be torn apart in the realignment frenzy, with speculation about members going to the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC. In the end, Maryland was the only loss, and as college football enters the playoff era, the ACC is firmly positioned as one of the nation’s power-five conferences, thanks to a league-wide grant of rights that preserved stability.

But as the league solidifies its position among the nation’s best, it can’t afford a step back. Florida State and Clemson’s emergence, along with a scheduling alliance with Notre Dame that will put five ACC teams on the Fighting Irish’s schedule each season, will help assure its staying power.

Here are five schools that will carry that burden.

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Michigan Football: Losing the Next Generation of Fans?

Despite a 7-6 finish and nearly a decade having passed since its last Big Ten title, Michigan again led the nation in football attendance. According to the NCAA, this marked the 16th consecutive season that the school has won the attendance title.

But while overall attendance continues to be strong, student attendance has been problematic. A significant number of students are foregoing the game-day experience despite efforts by the athletic department to encourage attendance.

Is Michigan losing the next generation of fans? And if so, what are the long-term implications? reported that during the 2012 season, 50 percent of students arrived late, and 25 percent failed to show up at all. Michigan instituted a loyalty program, general admission seating and even offered donuts to entice students to arrive early with little reduction in the number of empty student seats.

Now, a significant number of students have decided to not buy tickets for next season.

The Michigan athletic department expects to sell approximately 7,000 fewer tickets this upcoming season compared to Brady Hoke's first season, according to associate athletic director Dave Ablauf in a report by Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press.

One possibility may be that Michigan is paying the price for six seasons of mediocre football. The Rich Rodriguez era and the last two seasons under Brady Hoke are hardly what many students hoped for.

But the problem goes beyond Michigan. According to an article in the Tuscaloosa News, even Alabama struggled with student attendance during the 2012 season:

A total of 18,683 student tickets of an allocated 109,900 went unused over the course of seven home games, and at least 5 percent of student tickets went unused in every game, topping out at 58 percent for the Western Carolina game.

The usual litany of explanations for poor Michigan student attendance—poor weather, bad team, unpopular game times—don't apply to Alabama, which won the national championship that season.

There is a silver lining for schools with declining student attendance: The seats allocated for students are worth more when sold to the general public. Michigan has already offered season ticket holders the option to purchase additional seats (along with the required seat licenses) and offered ticket plans to the general public.

Michigan Stadium is a revenue-generating machine. New additions include private suites for top donors and outdoor club seats for fans who want a more comfortable game experience. Two huge high definition screens look down on season ticket holders who all pay annual seat licenses for the privilege of maintaining their seats.

But as the fans in the stadium age, will they be replaced by younger alumni, many of whom passed on attending games as students?

Attending football games used to be a priority for many students, but the culture of watching games has changed.

Hundreds of cable channels and dedicated networks ensure that practically every game is available in HDTV quality. Social media has transformed the game-day experience from a passive activity to one where fans can interact with hundreds or thousands of others in near real time.

Students are the proverbial canary in the coal mine. 

Administrators who believe that winning will solve the student attendance problem are ignoring the cultural shift that's taking place among the next generation of football fans.

Michigan and other traditional football powers need to offer fans a compelling reason to attend games, or the next renovation at the Big House might be a downsizing.


Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via press conferences or in person.

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USC Football Recruiting: Latest News, Notes and Analysis

The spring evaluation period has come to a close, so USC's 2015 recruiting endeavors will cool off a bit through the summer. It was a busy spring for USC as the coaches crisscrossed the country checking out recruits and shuffling names up and down their boards. Additionally, the Trojans earned a few commitments in the past few weeks and will look to carry that momentum into the summer.

For the past few seasons, the spring evaluation period meant USC would hit the recruiting trail hard, hoping to lock up at least half of its class before the next football season began. There was a sense of urgency in filling the reduced classes with the highest available talent. But because the Trojans can bring in 25 guys for 2015, things are really just getting started for USC.

Here's a look at where USC's next recruiting class stands, as well as what's to come down the trail later this year.



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USC Football Recruiting: Latest News, Notes and Analysis

The spring evaluation period has come to a close, so USC's 2015 recruiting endeavors will cool off a bit through the summer...

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Can Texas A&M Defense Survive Dismissal of Isaiah Golden and Darian Claiborne?

Texas A&M's porous defense, which was at or near the bottom of the SEC in just about every major statistical category last season, just took another hit.

So to speak.

On Tuesday, Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin announced in an email statement that linebacker Darian Claiborne and defensive tackle Isaiah Golden had been dismissed from the team.

"These two individuals have failed to meet the high expectations and standards that we have for our football players and as representatives of this university," Sumlin said in a statement via The Eagle. "These two players have exhibited a pattern of behavior that we will not tolerate at Texas A&M."

Shortly after the statement was sent out, College Station police announced that Claiborne and Golden were hit with three charges of aggravated robbery each. Those charges came as a result of a drug-related incident that occurred last month.

Details of that incident can be read on

Claiborne and Golden had a history of off-the-field problems, but the severity of the most recent allegations left Sumlin with no choice but to cut ties with the duo.

From purely a football perspective, this is tough news.

For as bad as the Aggies defense was last year, Claiborne was a rising star who finished his freshman season with 89 tackles—good for third on the team. Golden started six games as a freshman last season and finished with 32 tackles.

That production has gone out the window.

According to Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News, Jordan Mastrogiovanni is the likeliest replacement for Claiborne. Redshirt freshman Justin Manning and/or freshman Zaycoven Henderson could fill in on a full- or part-time basis in Golden's place.

Mastrogiovanni has experience, but Manning and Henderson would be new to the game. Henderson was a touted early enrollee, but as with most freshmen, it's a guessing game in terms of how soon he'll be ready to contribute.

The off-the-field issues don't end with Claiborne and Golden, and neither do the dismissals.

The Houston Chronicle reported that redshirt freshman Kameron Miles, who was expected to compete for a starting job this year, was dismissed from the program in March for alleged theft.

Defensive lineman Gavin Stansbury was arrested earlier this spring on assault charges stemming from an alleged incident on Rice's campus, though he's fighting those charges. Safety Howard Matthews, who was in the car with Stansbury at the time of his arrest, was also arrested—receiver Edward Pope was driving. 

However, all three players are still on the team.

Stansbury played in 10 games in 2013 while Matthews was one of the most active players for the Aggies.

There are questions at every level of the defense for A&M—that was going to be the case with or without Claiborne and Golden—but what the Aggies do have is potential. Sam Khan Jr. of identified Henderson, Mastrogiovanni, defensive back Devonta Burns and linebacker A.J. Hilliard as four players who had standout springs.

Once again, A&M will need young and/or inexperienced players to grow up quickly. If they don't, last year's liability will grow into a consistent problem.

A&M plays at South Carolina in Week 1 and will face an SEC West loaded with offensive firepower this year. That's a lot to ask of any defense. 

Plus, it remains to be seen how well the offense performs in the post-Johnny Manziel era. So, for the time being, the margin for error on defense has shrunk.


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. 

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Here's Video of Les Miles Hula Hooping and Singing Bob Seger for Charity

Man. Myth. Part-time adrenaline junkie.

All of these words describe Les Miles, who reaffirmed his status as the most interesting man in college football this May by gripping and ripping on plastic hoops and Bob Seger at a charity event for children.

The head coach of LSU football’s program attended an event called Cooking in Central, wherein he endeavored in a bit of friendly competition and singing.

Greg Smith of (h/t Andrew Holleran of spotted video of Miles going to town with a hula hoop and singing Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll.”

His commitment to hula hooping was far from total, though he did manage some impressive arm-hooping.

“Hey, watch the technique,” Miles told onlookers before failing completely. 

What Miles lacked in hip swiveling he more than made up for in Seger, however. Coach brought the business to the microphone. 

And thus another day passed in the life of Miles, the grass-gobbling coach born with everything but a single care to give. 

As Tigers fans can attest, hula hooping is far from their coach’s most ridiculous charity stunt. Miles nearly broke the Internet in 2013 when he rappelled down the side of a 24-story building to promote child adoption. 

That’s Les Miles—anything for a good cause. 

The Tigers kick off their season against Wisconsin on August 30. We can only presume Miles will participate in a furious downhill cheese wheel race to commemorate the matchup and raise money for orphans.


On the Twitters.

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5 Top-Performing Quarterback Recruits from 2014 Columbus Elite 11 Regional

The nationwide Elite 11 tour made a stop in Urban Meyer's backyard Monday evening. The prestigious quarterback competition camp attracted several premier passers to Columbus, Ohio, for a chance to prove themselves against top peers.

This event has featured notable college and NFL stars in the past, including Andrew Luck, Vince Young, Jameis Winston, Matthew Stafford and Tim Tebow. Elite 11 action occurs throughout the country over the course of months, as a select few pick up invites to the national competition this July in Oregon.

After the dust settled in Columbus, a pair of invitations were extended and a number of competitors saw their stock rise. Here's a look at five of the most impressive passers who were on hand for the Elite 11 regional.

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5 Reasons Kahlil McKenzie Will Sign with the Tennessee Volunteers

With needs all over the field for the Tennessee Volunteers, perhaps none is bigger in this recruiting cycle than securing an impact defensive tackle. Concord, Calif., 5-star Kahlil McKenzie certainly fits the bill.

It just so happens that ties run deep between the 6'4", 309-pound McKenzie and the Vols.

The great quarterback debate can rage on—and there's no minimizing UT's need for at least one commit this year—but coach Butch Jones has to restock the offensive and defensive trenches to turn Tennessee's fate.

After a recent camp swing in which McKenzie surged all the way up to 247Sports' No. 10-ranked overall player in the 2015 class, it's evident why UT is so high on him.

He also is feeling the Vols right now, as evidenced by 97 percent of his Crystal Ball projections aimed toward UT. News broke Tuesday night on Twitter that McKenzie would be choosing between UT and Arizona on July 10 at The Opening.

He listed the Vols as his leader when he released his top 12 in late May, so things are looking good for UT. Here are five reasons why McKenzie will anchor UT's 2015 recruiting class, based off comments he has made throughout the recruiting process.

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3 Reasons 5-Star QB Torrance Gibson Will Sign with Auburn

Auburn may have only grabbed one commitment from its recent Big Cat Weekend—3-star fullback Chandler Cox, who was not even on campus for the annual recruiting event—the defending SEC champions got some valuable one-on-one time with several of the nation's top recruits.

One of those recruits was 5-star Florida native Torrance Gibson, a dual-threat quarterback at Ft. Lauderdale's American Heritage high school and the nation's No. 1-rated athlete.

After visiting the Plains, Gibson moved Auburn up to "1A," slightly above SEC rival Tennessee in his list of top schools:

According to Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports (subscription required), Auburn rose in Gibson's eyes after his second unofficial visit—a visit that did not focus only on the pigskin.

"We weren’t always talking about football," Gibson said. "It was about having fun, enjoying life. It’s not always about the coverages and defenses. It’s a big difference. Not only seeing them as football coaches, but seeing them as a person."

The Tigers are expected to be in a tight race with Tennessee over the next few months, with LSU, Oklahoma and Ohio State rounding out the top five. Gibson is expected to announce his commitment after his senior season at American Heritage, where he helped lead the Patriots to a state championship last year.

Auburn is currently the leader to sign Gibson on 247Sports' Crystal Ball, which compiles predictions from a wide variety of recruiting experts.

B/R's own Adam Kramer put 4-1 odds on Gibson signing with Auburn, slightly behind Tennessee at 3-1:

The Tennessee coaching staff—and its passionate fanbase—has been a leader in recruiting Gibson since before his junior season of high school. The Volunteers' biggest draw is its immediate need for a quarterback as Butch Jones looks to rebuild an SEC contender in Knoxville.

If he signed with Auburn, Gibson would have to compete in a quarterback depth chart that features several former 4-stars: current backup Jeremy Johnson, former Under Armour All-America Game MVP Sean White and possibly fellow class of 2015 member Tyler Queen.

But with a dynamic offensive scheme, a coach known for his success with dual-threat quarterbacks and a roster ready to compete for a national championship, Auburn has more to offer down the road to the left-handed 5-star if it comes down to a two-way battle between the Plains and Rocky Top.


Auburn's Schematic Advantage

While some recruiting experts think Gibson could be a receiver at the collegiate level, Gibson has all the physical tools to be an elite dual-threat quarterback for the school he signs with next February.

At 6'4" and 200 pounds, Gibson brings the durable size coaches and scouts like to see with a scrambler. Gibson also runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, making him one of the quickest blue-chip recruits in the class of 2015.

Jones is implementing the hurry-up spread scheme that led him to success at Cincinnati and Central Michigan, but his offenses have never reached the statistical heights of offenses coached by no-huddle guru Gus Malzahn.

Since his move to Tulsa in 2007, Malzahn has either been the offensive coordinator or head coach for seven offenses that finished in the top 25 nationally in total yards per game, including three top-10 attacks.

With the exception of Auburn's statistically woeful 2011 season, Malzahn's offenses have consistently had more success and talent than ones coached by Jones and longtime offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian.

From a running back stable featuring several former blue-chip recruits to a dynamic receiving corps to a deep offensive line, Auburn already has the pieces in place to help an athlete such as Gibson excel at the SEC level.


Malzahn's Past Success with Dual-Threat Quarterbacks

In an Auburn offense that is seeking more balance following its option-dominated run in 2013, Gibson would be able to show off both his arm and his legs in an offense that already has a history of producing top dual-threat signal-callers.

Malzahn's offense, which has a solid zone-read foundation, would give Gibson the opportunity to showcase his top-level running ability—something the stat sheets show us he might not get as much in Knoxville. 

At Central Michigan, Cincinnati and now at Tennessee, offenses under Jones rely heavily on their running backs to get most of the yards on the ground.

Central Michigan legend Dan LeFevour ran for 1,122 yards in 2007, Jones and Bajakian's first season coaching the Chippewas. LeFevour followed up those years with marks of 592 and 713 yards on the ground, and the most rushing yards a quarterback had under Jones at Cincinnati was Munchie Legaux's 335 in 2012.

Malzahn, on the other hand, has coached a pair of 1,000-plus-yard rushing quarterbacks at Auburn, possible 2014 Heisman contender Nick Marshall and 2010 Heisman winner Cam Newton.

Ryan Aplin ran for 438 yards in Malzahn's only season as Arkansas State head coach, and while Paul Smith's rushing yardage was not extraordinary in a pass-heavier 2007 Tulsa offense, the Golden Hurricane quarterback found the end zone on the ground 13 times.

While quarterback rushing yards in offenses under Jones have progressively declined, quarterbacks in Malzahn's system are now getting more opportunities to run the ball.

One would expect Jones' coaching staff to find ways to let an elite athlete such as Gibson run the ball in the Volunteers offense, Auburn already has an established system favoring dual-threat quarterbacks and an offensive innovator who has a proven track record of helping those types of players succeed.


Chance to Win Now

While offensive schemes, coaching staffs and early playing time are important and specific factors in the recruitment of Gibson and any other top-level high school player, one of the most universally crucial appeals for a school is the opportunity to win early and often.

Gibson is no exception, as he told reporters at Big Cat Weekend that his prospective school's success in the 2014 season will be important in his decision.

"I want to win, too, I don't want to lose," Gibson told's Wesley Sinor last weekend. "That's why I'm committing. I want to win."

And Auburn is simply in a better position to win in the near future than Tennessee.

Fresh off a SEC championship season, the Tigers were predicted by the SEC's sports information directors to finish a close second behind rivals Alabama for the 2014 SEC title. The Volunteers were picked to finish No. 11 in the conference.

While Auburn has been a preseason Top 5 and inaugural College Football Playoff pick by several media outlets, Tennessee will be fighting this year for its first season of eight wins or more since 2007. In that same time span, Auburn has won eight or more games in four seasons, won two SEC titles and made it to a pair of national championship games.

Auburn proved last season major turnarounds can happen in the nation's toughest conference, and Tennessee could shock the country like the 2013 Tigers did by heading to Atlanta for this year's SEC Championship Game.

Anything can happen in the crazy world of college football, but Auburn's superior recent seasons and recruiting classes point to the Tigers staying ahead of the Volunteers this season and possibly the next couple of seasons.

If winning now is of high importance to Gibson, Auburn should emerge as the winners in the race for one of the country's most coveted offensive playmakers.


Justin Ferguson is Bleacher Report's lead Auburn writer. Follow him on Twitter @JFergusonAU. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats taken from All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Legacy 5-Star DT Recruit Kahlil McKenzie Sets Decision Date

Class of 2015 defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie, a 5-star recruit and the No. 35 overall player on the 247Sports Composite, announced Tuesday night that he will make his college decision on July 10, per Kipp Adams of 247Sports.

Kahlil is the son of Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, who starred at the University of Tennessee in the early 1980s. The younger McKenzie is favored to follow his father's footsteps, as UT currently has 30 of 31 votes on his 247Sports "Crystal Ball."

And he does look right at home in this creamsicle Volunteers bucket hat, which he tweeted out late Tuesday:

But his decision is not as plain as that might make it sound. Arizona is also a big player for McKenzie's services, and a West Coast team would be much more familiar for the Concord, California, native.

According to Wescott Eberts of SB Nation, McKenzie raved about the unoffical visit he took to Tucson in April:

Arizona really exceeded my expectations a lot...

Arizona wasn't really a place that I thought would be a really great place for me, but once I got there I loved everything about it. I love the coaches, I loved the facilities, I loved the city. It wasn't too hot when I was there visiting, which was nice. Everything was really nice about it.

Although he is a 5-star recruit on the 247Sports Composite, McKenzie's ceiling might be even higher than his ranking of No. 35 overall in the country would indicate. The subjective rankings at 247Sports have him rated as the nation's No. 10 overall player.

And if you still don't believe the hype, maybe check out this video—courtesy of Eberts—of McKenzie obliterating some hopeless offensive linemen at the Oakland Nike Football Camp in May:

Yeah. This guy can play.

Whoever lands McKenzie will not just be getting the son of a famous personnel man, they will be getting a 6'4", 309-pound wrecking ball who grew up around the game and has the physical tools to match.

Knoxville and Tucson will wait on pins and needles for another month.


Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

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Position-by-Position Preview of Ohio State's 2014 Roster

Ohio State was just one victory away from playing Florida State in the national title game last year, but Michigan State derailed the Buckeyes' title run in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Urban Meyer is looking to rally his troops for another shot at glory this season, and fortunately for Ohio State fans, he has the talent to get it done.

With Braxton Miller back and a loaded defensive line, the Buckeyes have all they need to make a serious run at major college football's first-ever playoff.

Here's a position-by-position preview of Ohio State's 2014 roster.

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LSU Football: 4 Reasons Why 5-Star WR Tyron Johnson Will Sign with the Tigers

LSU 2015 recruiting target Tyron Johnson is smooth. 

He makes defenders miss while making it look so easy. His highlight tape has a tendency to drop jaws. There will be more ankle-breaking footage soon as he enters his senior season at Warren Easton High School in New Orleans. 

Johnson will not blow you away with speed, but his natural football instincts and ball skills are impressive. He is potentially a less physical but more explosive version of LSU's leading receiver from last season Jarvis Landry. 

The Tigers will make a strong push for Johnson. Though Les Miles made huge strides at receiver in the 2014 class, a 5-star talent like Johnson cannot be overlooked.

The 247Sports Crystal Ball Projection has LSU as an overwhelming favorite to nab Johnson. But the experts at 247Sports have Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Georgia in hot pursuit. 

Here are four reasons why Johnson will eventually wear the purple and gold of LSU. 

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How College Football Offensive Stats Looked in Pre-BCS Era Compared to Today

Is the offensive explosion in college football a reality, or is it something we’ve conjured up in our own minds?

Though it definitely seems like teams are scoring more points, gaining more yards and relying on the pass more than they did 25 years ago, what do the numbers actually say?

Here’s a look at offensive statistics from 2013 compared with those from 1987, 1997 and 2007, respectively. The span stretches back to a decade before the BCS took over, a year before its debut in 1998 and then a decade into its 16-year run.



Offensive yards are one thing, but putting the ball in the end zone is another. Check out the scoring trends in college football since 1987:

On average, teams are scoring six points more per game than they were a decade before the inception of the BCS. The biggest jump came between 1997 and 2007, when the number increased by almost three points.

What’s even more striking is the increase in the number of teams scoring more than 40 points per game, which has more than quadrupled over the 25-year span.

The biggest spike in 40-plus-points-per-game scoring came from 1997 to 2007, when the number of teams more than tripled from two to seven.

Overall, the trend is clear: The explosion in scoring is real, and it’s continuing to trend upward.

It’s important to note that the increase is not driven by small pockets of offensive rebels at smaller schools who are eking out a meager existence on excessive points rather than solid defense.

To illustrate, take a look at the five national champions for the years studied along with their rank in scoring offense:

The only team listed that didn’t finish in the top 11 in terms of scoring—Michigan in 1997—was ranked No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense, giving up a paltry 9.5 points per game.



If you’re thinking passing yards drove the scoring increase, you’re right.  Here’s a look at the averages for individual quarterback stats from 1987, 1997, 2007 and 2013, respectively:

On average, quarterbacks in 2013 threw for 538 more yards in a season than their predecessors did in 1987. The biggest jump came from 1997 to 2007, when the number rose by 437 yards.

Again, what’s most striking is the staggering rise in the number of prolific passers—guys hitting the 3,000-, 4,000- and 5,000-yard mark—over the 25 years.

The number of 3,000-yard quarterbacks doubled from 1987 to 1997 and then tripled from the beginning of the BCS until 2007 before finally regressing slightly last season. Proving that the bar is being pushed up even further is the fact that there were zero 4,000-yard passers in 1987 and 1997, but there were six in 2007 and nine in 2013.

This passing-yard explosion, resulting in a media frenzy, goes a long way in explaining why just five quarterbacks won the Heisman in the 13-year span from 1987 to 1999 versus 12 quarterbacks winning the award in 13 tries from 2000 to 2013.



Though rushing yards haven’t gained the same momentum as passing yards, the ground game has played its part in the offensive explosion.

On average, rushers earned 112 yards more per season in 2013 than they did back in 1987. But while the number of prolific rushers has risen, it hasn’t done so at the same blistering pace as passers.

Even though the spike isn’t as high as that of the passers, the overall trend is similar, with the rushing peak coming in 2007 and the plateau forming from 2008 to 2013.

Overall, average passing yards rose 29 percent over the 25-year span, and rushing yards increased by 20 percent. This makes a clear case that though passing has had a stronger upward trend, rushing has also made significant gains.


Why It Happened

The obvious cause of the offensive renaissance in college football is the development of the broad concepts of the spread attack, the hurry-up and other new schemes. These advancements have allowed teams to score more points, and to do so much more quickly.

Though this explanation is valid, it leaves one major question unanswered: Why did the explosion coincide with the BCS era?

The answer to this might be as simple as teams needing “style points” to manipulate the BCS scheme. In other words, if top-ranked teams wanted to rise in the BCS standings, scoring a zillion points couldn’t hurt.

Where it was one thing for Florida State—making a case for a BCS national title bid with the disadvantage of a supposedly “weak” ACC schedule—to beat No. 25 Maryland 34-0, it was even better if it beat the Terps 63-0.

So, on one hand, offensive masterminds managed to make unbelievable strides over the last 25 years, while on the flip side the BCS format forced teams to max out utilization of the new schemes.

The combination of the two made the offensive craze spread across college football at an increased rate, resulting in the explosion.

The next question is how the new College Football Playoff will effect offensive stats. Will teams take their foot off the gas during the season, or will they instead press down even harder to try and get the attention of the selection committee—the gateway to gaining one of the four most coveted spots in college sports? 

If you're thinking a slow down is on the horizon, check out what Auburn's Gus Malzahn had to say about his offense, per Brandon Marcello of "We think we can be quite a bit faster."

Remember, this is a unit which averaged 73.8 plays per game in 2013 and ranked No. 12 in scoring offense with 39.5 points per game.


Statistics courtesy of Sports Reference-College Football.

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Why 5-Star CeCe Jefferson Will Sign with the Florida Gators

CeCe Jefferson, one of Florida’s top recruits, told 247Sports last week that he knows which school he will commit to on national signing day.

Instead of waiting for another eight months, let’s let the cat out of the bag right now.

Jefferson is going to commit to the Florida Gators. He’s going to harass SEC quarterbacks for at least three years and help keep their defense at an elite level. There are simply too many signs pointing in this team's direction. Anything else would be a downright shocker.

Sorry, Alabama, Auburn and USC—Jefferson is taking his talents to Gainesville.

Here's why.

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Big Ten Football: Power Ranking the Conference's 5 Most Intense Fanbases

With the Big Ten being the toast of the Midwest for college football, it's only natural that some of the sport's most intense fanbases reside in the conference. 

It's no secret that fans love to pile into The Big House at Michigan, Happy Valley at Penn State and the Horseshoe at Ohio State. 

But those are just three of the conference's 12 teams that all feature unique followings. For now, let's take a look at the five most intense fanbases in the Big Ten. 

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5 Reasons 4-Star Jaquan Johnson Will Sign with Miami

Safety Jaquan Johnson is among the highest priorities in the Miami Hurricanes' 2015 recruiting class.

The 4-star recruit is in high demand, though, because he could attend a wide variety of universities in the ACC, SEC and even Pac-12.

Recruiting is largely a guessing game, and even the heaviest of leans sometimes unexpectedly choose a different program at which to continue playing football.

Nevertheless, here are five probable reasons why he will choose the Hurricanes.

Note: All recruit information courtesy of 247Sports

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Top College Football Legacy Recruits in Class of 2015

Prospects who play for programs that once were home to an older family member are generally called "legacy recruits". While there's a good amount of them in the 2015 class, this list will focus only prospects who are among the best at their positions.

A 5-star quarterback recently decided to follow in his father's footsteps, while a 5-star offensive tackle is headed to the same school his uncle played at.

Also, a pair of players on this list will get a chance to play with their brothers. 


All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Rankings.

Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports

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