NCAA Football

Power Ranking College Football Conferences by 2015 QB Depth

As Ohio State showed us last year, there are few things more valuable than having depth at the quarterback position in college football. By the time they were hoisting up the national championship trophy, the Buckeyes were on what was essentially their third-string passer, yet the quality of Cardale Jones' play was at (or above) the level of most teams' starters.

Few schools in the country are so fortunate as to have three QBs who could start, let alone two. In many cases, if the starter goes down, there's a whole lot of uncertainty waiting in the wings.

The range of quarterback depth varies from school to school, as it does from conference to conference. Some leagues not only bring back a lot of starters from 2014 but also have some talented backups available in a pinch, while others are heading into this season pretty thin across the board.

Here's our ranking of all 10 FBS conferences based on overall QB depth, factoring in their overall experience, performance and quality of potential backups.

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Mecole Hardman Jr. Reveals Top 10: Odds on Where No. 1 ATH Lands

The country's top-ranked high school football athlete provided a glimpse into his recruitment process Monday morning.

Mecole Hardman Jr., a 5-star prospect from Georgia, announced his top 10 collegiate options via Bleacher Report:

The 5'10", 175-pound speedster could play either wide receiver or defensive back at the next level. Where he'll eventually suit up remains a mystery, with programs from every Power Five conference remaining in the mix. 

Hardman has narrowed his choices from a scholarship offer list that features more than 30 universities. Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Stanford and Tennessee made the cut.

Rated 27th overall among 2016 recruits in 247Sports' composite rankings, he is among the most coveted uncommitted commodities in the cycle.

Hardman dazzled this summer at The Opening, an elite invite-only showcase held at Nike's world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. He finished the 40-yard dash in 4.32 seconds, securing one of the event's fastest times.

His junior season included 1,353 total offensive yards and 13 touchdowns, headlined by five games with at least 100 rushing yards.

Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Sanjay Kirpalani discussed Hardman's skills during the B/R CFB Recruiting 200 series.

Whether it's at corner or receiver, one word describes the game of 4-star Georgia athlete Mecole Hardman—explosive. ...

His speed jumps out immediately, but what makes him special is his competitiveness. He fought for reps and made them count when he got them. As good as he is on defense, he's simply too electric to not have the ball in his hands at the next level.

Now that Hardman has whittled down a lengthy list of potential landing spots, let's take a look at which programs are most likely to land his commitment.


Georgia: 2-1

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is the leading man in this pursuit for Hardman, an in-state standout. The relationship between these two has been so steady that rumors of a "silent" commitment surfaced this summer.

The Bulldogs welcomed him to Athens several times in recent months, and there isn't much more Hardman should need to see at the university. In fact, he already expressed plans to leave Georgia off his official visit schedule due to established familiarity.

The program leads in Hardman's Crystal Ball outlook on 247Sports, as 76 percent of expert predictions have the school signing the playmaker. It seems the Bulldogs already won over his mother.

"I'm a Mark Richt fan because of his values," Danyell Hardman told Chris Kirschner of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I think Mark Richt would make him into more than just another football player. With him, I think it's more than just football. He will make him into a man."

That's a strong sentiment from arguably the most influential figure in this decision-making process.


Tennessee: 3-1

Like Georgia, the Volunteers won't receive an official visit due to his frequency of past trips to Knoxville. If any team lures him beyond state borders, smart money is on Tennessee.

Head coach Butch Jones identified Hardman as a primary target very early in the cycle and put his program in position to remain a top contender throughout. Earlier this summer, Hardman wore both Bulldogs and Volunteers gear to a showcase event in Florida.

Tennessee signed top Peach State wide receiver prospect Preston Williams last February and may return to claim another game-changer. 

"I always have a good time at Tennessee, and going up there is like going home," Hardman told Fox Sports.

The Volunteers are viewed as a team on the rise in SEC action, and talented players like him are the kind of roster additions who could push the program back to national prominence.


Auburn: 4-1

At this stage, Hardman appears destined to end up in the SEC. Auburn rounds out our list of those programs we perceive as his strongest suitors.

The Tigers tempted two-way Georgia 5-star Terry Godwin down to the wire last cycle until he signed with the Bulldogs. History could repeat itself with Hardman, complete with a last-second decision on signing day.

Auburn views him as a compelling offensive threat who would add yet another intriguing wrinkle to an impressive attack. He also shouldn't be ruled out to contribute at cornerback for new secondary coach Travaris Robinson.

"Coach (Gus) Malzahn wanted me down there bad, and he wanted me to visit, and he was just telling me all the things we could do in the offense," Hardman told Fox Sports. "He was telling me a little more about them so I could feel comfortable with them. I had to get down there, and I did, and I really liked it." 

His campus visit early this summer set the tone for a competitive race in this recruitment.

"They made up a lot of ground. ... It's a nice little battle between all three of them [Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee], so we're just going to see going forward who stands out the most," he told Wesley Sinor of


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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Oregon Football: How Loss of Thomas Tyner Impacts Ducks' Playoff Chances

There are injuries, which are a natural part of football, and then there are injuries. The season-ending shoulder surgery to Oregon running back Thomas Tyner, as reported by Aaron Fentress of, is an injury—emphasis definitely added. 

As Fentress noted, Tyner originally sustained the shoulder injury last season against Washington. "Lingering pain and discomfort" led to the procedure, and per Tyner's father, the junior is expected to recover fully in time for the 2016 season. 

In the meantime, the Ducks lose a productive player who was the team's third-leading rusher in 2014—and second among running backs—with 573 yards and five touchdowns. While Tyner has rarely been the feature back in his two seasons with the Ducks, his loss is nevertheless a tough blow to the offense. 

However, Tyner's absence is both a big deal and capable of being overcome. Those two things don't have to be mutually exclusive. As such, Oregon's hopes of returning to the College Football Playoff may not be in jeopardy solely because of Tyner's injury. 

For one, Royce Freeman, the Pac-12's Freshman Offensive Player of the Year as determined by the coaches, returns. Freeman became one of the most explosive backs anywhere in college football last season by rushing for five touchdowns in the first three games. He would go on to tally 1,365 yards on the ground with 18 touchdowns. 

There's no question Freeman remains a huge part of the Ducks offense in 2015; rather, Tyner's injury is more about who complements and spells Freeman. After all, Tyner stepped in when needed during last season's Rose Bowl against Florida State, leading the team with 124 yards on just 13 carries with a pair of touchdowns. 

The early belief is that senior Byron Marshall will return to his original spot in the backfield. Marshall, a running back in 2012 and '13, moved to receiver last season to offset the season-ending loss of Devon Allen. All Marshall did was lead the team in catches (74) and yards (1,003) and finish second with six touchdowns. 

Once again, Marshall could very well be asked to move positions because of injury. The silver lining? Oregon would have its leading rusher from each of the past two seasons in the backfield. Marshall is a veteran and Freeman is quickly becoming a team leader. 

"We've tried to create situations and opportunities for him to be a leader," Ducks coach Mark Helfrich told Andrew Greif of the Oregonian. "He has a ton of credibility."

Talk about a safety net.  

And assuming Allen is 100 percent healthy again, Oregon's receiving corps is deep enough to absorb Marshall's move back over to running back (at least part time).

Additionally, running back Taj Griffin, who sustained a knee injury in high school, is ready to go for preseason camp.

The wild card for Oregon's playoff chances still remains at quarterback with the upcoming competition between longtime backup Jeff Lockie and Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams Jr. As it relates to the running back depth chart, there are pros and cons to both options. 

Certainly, the running backs won't be asked to take over a game because Oregon doesn't have a legitimate option at quarterback. Lockie knows the offense backwards and forwards. If the Ducks win, it won't be in spite of him. 

On the other hand, even though he's new, Adams gives Oregon another player who can make plays with his feet. Adams' ability to extend and create plays can't be practiced against. That type of ability actually takes some pressure off of the running backs. 

However things shake out for Oregon, the important thing is the Ducks have options. Not everyone else who loses a key player does. There's no minimizing Tyner's loss; he was as dynamic as any player on that offense. And the schedule, which features Michigan State, Arizona State, Stanford and USC, is still daunting. That doesn't change, with or without Tyner. 

But Oregon can overcome this. Its playoff hopes heading into the '15 season are very much alive. 


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. All stats courtesy of

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Oregon Football: How Loss of Thomas Tyner Impacts Ducks' Playoff Chances

There are injuries, which are a natural part of football, and then there are injuries . The season-ending shoulder surgery to Oregon running back Thomas Tyner , as reported by Aaron Fentress of CSNNW ...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Devonta Smith Commits to Georgia: Bulldogs Land 2017 4-Star ATH

As Georgia builds what already looks like an impressive 2016 recruiting class, the Bulldogs staff is already preparing for even further in the future by landing a commitment from a talented 4-star athlete from Louisiana.

According to Kipp Adams of 247Sports, Devonta Smith has committed to Georgia, becoming the program's third pledge in the 2017 class. Smith is a 6'1", 155-pound athlete from Amite, Louisiana, and is the No. 17-ranked athlete in his class.

Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon were Smith's primary recruiters.

"I love Georgia, they have family environment," Smith told Adams. "I have a bond with the coaching staff, and I really like the academics."

Demetric Warren of Varsity Preps in Mississippi first reported the news:

Even though he hails from LSU country, Smith has strong ties to Georgia. According to Adams, Georgia director of player personnel Sam Petitto was a successful head coach at Amite High School, where Smith plays.

"It had been a awhile since I had seen Sam Petitto," Smith told Adams in July. "So we were able to talk about how things were when he was down here, and he really made me feel like nothing has changed—I can still go and talk to him about anything. I have some family in Georgia, but having Sam there really helps Georgia."

Smith picked up a scholarship offer during his visit to Athens for the Dawg Night camp in July. Less than three weeks later, he is the newest member of Georgia's 2017 class.

The athlete also has offers from Alabama, Baylor, LSU and Ole Miss.

Smith is projected to play wide receiver—a position he starred at during Dawg Night—for Georgia. His time in the 40-yard dash is listed on his 247Sports profile as a blazing 4.39 seconds.

The commitment from Smith could put Georgia in great position for a talented prospect in the 2016 class. Smith is close to 4-star Louisiana cornerback Shyheim Carter, who announced his decommitment from Alabama earlier on Monday. 

Georgia is now the leader for Carter's commitment on his 247Sports Crystal Ball Predictions page; 10 different recruiting experts picked the Bulldogs on Monday.

"With Petitto being at Georgia, that brings Shyheim Carter and I closer knowing he is there," Smith told Adams. "I am pretty sure that has us both seriously considering Georgia."


Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

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Auburn Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

AUBURN, Ala. — The Auburn Tigers are now seven days, five practices, one scrimmage and one Fan Day through an extremely important fall camp ahead of the 2015 season.

Head coach Gus Malzahn's team made its long-awaited return to the blazing heat of the practice field on the Plains last Tuesday and wrapped up its first week Monday morning with a scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The Tigers welcomed several newcomers to the practice fold this past week, while returning playmakers looked to provide leadership as the season opener with Louisville approaches.

Auburn also had to deal with some early absences and injuries—including a huge one that has commanded national attention in the early days of fall camps.

Let's recap the highlights of Auburn's first week of fall camp:

Where's Duke, and what's next?

Wide receiver D'haquille "Duke" Williams, the top returning offensive star at Auburn this season, hasn't been on the practice field since last Thursday.

The story dominated the Plains over the weekend, and there's no telling when it will end. Malzahn said Saturday that Williams was out with a "discipline issue" and didn't field any questions on the situation.

"When he takes care of that, he'll be back on the field," Malzahn said. "I'll make that decision, and I will let you know when he'll be back. The bottom line is that nobody is bigger than the team around here. That's between me and him, and that's all of the questions that I'll take on that."

Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee didn't tackle questions on the Tigers' top receiver, either, when he took the podium after Friday's practice. 

"I’m going to talk about the guys who were out there working hard today," Lashlee said, according to Tom Green of the Opelika-Auburn News

Williams' absence from practice is a small concern that could grow throughout the month of August.

Without him, Auburn will be missing 79 percent of its receiving yards and all but five of its 23 touchdowns in that category from last season.

The Tigers do have options, though, if Williams continues to stay away from practice.

Ricardo Louis has several years of experience for the Tigers and looks to be the best bet to replace the blazing vertical threat of Sammie Coates. The veteran Melvin Ray has also received high praise from his coaches so far in camp.

"Melvin Ray has done a solid job," Malzahn said Saturday. "[Ray and Louis] are two players—along with Jonathan Wallace—we're relying on those guys for leadership."

Following his move from the quarterback battle to the wide receiver room in the spring, athletic JUCO transfer Jason Smith is also impressing through the first few days of camp.

Smith, who starred with quarterback Jeremy Johnson in an Alabama-Mississippi high school All-Star Game back in 2012, has caught the eye of Lashlee.

"You can just tell he's in a good place, and he's been one of those guys in the first four days that's been really impressive," Lashlee said Friday, per Brandon Marcello of "I mean, if you were to ask me some guys that stand out, he's really stood out. And again, him and Jeremy, they seem to have a pretty good connection so we're optimistic and excited about what he can do this year."


Running backs are still racing

For the second straight year, Auburn will head into the season needing to replace the production of a running back who led the SEC in rushing last season.

According to Malzahn, 2015's rotation of rushers still hasn't been sorted out yet, and playing time is still up in the air for the quartet of candidates.

"The good thing is we've got options and we've got guys we feel good about," Malzahn said last Thursday, per Matthew Stevens of the Montgomery Advertiser. "You can never have enough running back depth. We've been fortunate the last two years with very little injuries as far as the running backs are concerned. You can't have enough."

Junior Jovon Robinson, who broke the single-season rushing record for JUCO football during his first season at Georgia Military College, fits the Cameron Artis-Payne mold of bruising running back. Lashlee said he could fit the third-and-short role that Artis-Payne and Tre Mason excelled at during their times under Malzahn.

"[Robinson] didn't have a real showy spring game but those two third-and-shorts were big because that can keep you from winning games and staying on the field," Lashlee said, per James Crepea of

For more of a big-play burst out of the backfield, Thomas could become the top back after working on his ball security and north-south running in the offseason.

One of the biggest critiques of Thomas is that he spins and jukes too much. Thomas also had two costly fumbles during his true freshman season, and he didn't see the field much after his mistake in the Iron Bowl.

"I feel a lot different. I also feel a lot more confident out there [this fall]," Thomas said, per Ryan Black of Auburn Undercover. "Last year I felt pretty uptight. Now, it's pretty much fun every practice, and I think it will be pretty much fun in the games also."

Third-year sophomore Peyton Barber is once again a true wild card in the running back race. Barber has only recorded 10 carries in his Auburn career and is in another uphill battle against the blue-chip talents of Robinson, Thomas and true freshman Kerryon Johnson.

Barber brings a balanced skill set to the table for the Tigers and something that none of the other players on the depth chart has—multiple years of experience in Malzahn's offense. He could use that to turn heads this fall.

"I feel like I can do it all," Barber said, per Crepea. "I feel like I'm an every-down back. I can catch, run. Anything you need me to do, I can do."


"10 times more physical"

The players who have taken the podium after Auburn's first week of practices are all repeating one specific word—and it isn't "Duke" or "Muschamp" or "Jeremy."

It's "physical."

"[Practice] is 10 times more physical, and I like it," sophomore linebacker Tre' Williams said Saturday. "You have to be physical in this league. Last year, we kind of lacked at that. This year, we are going to be much stronger."

Malzahn started preaching the need for more physicality from the Tigers immediately after last year's 8-5 campaign. "Getting our edge back" has been one of the head coach's most common phrases of 2015.

Bringing in defensive coordinator Will Muschamp seemed to set those wheels in motion during spring camp, and that work has continued into fall practices.

"I feel like as a defense we're getting a lot more physical in everything we do, whether it be taking on blocks, tackling physical, getting the ball out every chance we get," senior linebacker Kris Frost said. "Everything we do is a mindset. We're trying to build a culture here."

Auburn practiced in full pads for the first time Saturday, with most of the players on the team "thudding"—hitting without bringing opponents to the ground.

But according to Williams, the newcomers on Auburn's squad got the full brunt this weekend as they went full contact in their scrimmage.

The physical nature of the defense carried over into Monday morning's scrimmage as the unit completely shut down Malzahn's prolific offense:

"It’s about toughness," Frost said. "It’s about pushing through the nicks and bruises and doing everything we can to have that tough mindset that is expected of us at Auburn."


Quick hits

- Offensive line coach J.B. Grimes was available for the start of fall practice just six days after undergoing cancer surgery. According to Marcello, Malzahn called him "the toughest coach in college football."

- Sophomore defensive end Carl Lawson is back to 100 percent after missing all of last season—and he's ready to start hitting people again.

- Projected starting center Austin Golson missed Saturday's practice and Monday's scrimmage with an injury, but Malzahn expects him to return soon.

- The return specialist battles look to be wide-open at Auburn. In Saturday's practice, Smith, Marcus Davis and Blake Countess highlighted the punt return portion, while Johnson, Louis, Johnathan "Rudy" Ford, Myron Burton and Stanton Truitt all fielded kickoffs.


All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR. 

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Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett? Complete Guide to Ohio State's Historic QB Battle

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As Ohio State's freshmen took the field for the first official practice of their college careers on Monday, a familiar face stood off to the side for the newcomers-only gathering.

Maybe he was finishing up some extra work, or perhaps he just wanted to get a glance at his newest teammates, but regardless of his reasoning, it would have been hard to imagine Cardale Jones attending a non-mandatory practice—especially one with an 8:35 a.m. start time—a year ago.

Yet there Jones was, wearing a white LeBron James Nike "Witness" T-shirt with Beats by Dre headphones draped around his neck. He certainly looked much more like a leader than the career backup that he was until the Buckeyes' historic postseason run seven months ago.

Some may want to read into Jones' Monday morning practice appearance, and others will shrug it off as a mere coincidence, a moment that wouldn't have been noticed if the reigning national champions weren't currently being viewed under a microscope. But searching for meaning will become a regular habit in Columbus in the coming weeks when it comes to both Jones and J.T. Barrett, as the two signal-callers vie to regain their status as Ohio State's starting quarterback.

That will certainly be the case as the Buckeyes take the field for their veterans-only practice on Monday afternoon, as an unprecedented quarterback competition more than a year in the making officially begins.

But before we take a look at where the Ohio State quarterback battle stands, let's first examine how we got here.


The Difference a Year Makes

When Braxton Miller announced his intention to return to Ohio State for his senior season in early 2014, a quarterback competition always appeared to be on the books for the following year. In fact, looking at the Buckeyes' depth chart at the time, Jones and Barrett made for the most likely candidates given the experience each would have obtained by the time the 2015 season rolled around.

But when Miller tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder, ending his senior season before it ever started, all of the Buckeyes' plans for the future—both short-term and long-term—appeared to be thrown up in the air.

Originally it appeared either Barrett or Jones would serve as a season-long Band-Aid before Miller would return for a fifth year of eligibility in 2015. And even after Barrett lit up Cincinnati for 409 yards of total offense and four passing touchdowns on Sept. 27, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer indicated Miller was still in line to reclaim his starting spot.

"Braxton is our quarterback," Meyer said on Sept. 29. "To be fair to Braxton, [the reigning two-time] Big Ten Player of the Year. But it's good to know we've got both of them."

Meyer's tune, however, would soon change.


The Rise of J.T. Barrett

After overcoming a loss to Virginia Tech in the second week of the season, Ohio State had managed to reinsert itself in the discussion for the first-ever College Football Playoff by the time November rolled around.

And Barrett was arguably the biggest reason why.

As the Buckeyes headed into East Lansing for a de facto Big Ten East Championship Game against Michigan State, the redshirt freshman quarterback was already on pace for a statistically historic season. Continuing at the clip he had set for himself, Barrett would go on to break Ohio State's single-season total offense record and the Big Ten's total touchdown record and had even become an unlikely Heisman Trophy candidate.

But while many of Barrett's impressive performances had come against unimpressive competition, his showing against the Spartans only legitimized his breakout campaign.

Totaling 386 yards of total offense and five touchdowns, Barrett led the Buckeyes to a 49-37 road victory that would catapult Ohio State to sixth-place in the CFP rankings. He also made Meyer rethink his stance on handing the Buckeyes' starting QB job back to Miller the following season.

"Competition brings out the best and I'm really excited to have two really good quarterbacks next year," Meyer said two days after Ohio State's win over Michigan State. "That's the plan. I think they're both excellent quarterbacks. Excellent quarterbacks. And we'll worry about that day when it comes."

Over the course of the next three weeks, Barrett would only strengthen his case to be the Buckeyes' quarterback of the future as he led Ohio State to an 11-1 record heading into the Big Ten title game. But a broken ankle in the regular-season finale against Michigan would bring Barrett's debut season to a premature end, leaving both his team's and his own future in doubt.


An Unlikely Hero

Had Miller gone down just a few days earlier, Ohio State's outlook for the 2014 season may have been very different. After all, it was just 48 hours before he suffered his torn labrum that Meyer announced Barrett had jumped Jones as Miller's primary backup on the quarterback depth chart.

Had it been Jones, and not Barrett, who had been thrust into Miller's place, who knows how the Buckeyes' national championship season would have played out? Nevertheless, Jones would still get his chance, as Meyer was, quite frankly, out of options.

Known more for his ill-advised tweets than he was for anything else at the time, Jones headed to Indianapolis as somewhat of an enigma with a potential trip to the College Football Playoff riding on the Buckeyes' battle with a defensively stout Wisconsin team. At 6'5", 250 pounds, the stories of Jones' cannon for an arm had become the stuff of legends but had never been displayed in an actual game.

It didn't take long for that to change.

Throwing a 39-yard touchdown pass on his first drive as a starting quarterback, Jones would earn Big Ten title game MVP honors as he threw for 257 yards and three touchdowns in the Buckeyes' 59-0 beatdown of the Badgers. The game was enough to convince the College Football Playoff committee that Ohio State was deserving of its fourth and final spot, launching the now-Jones-led Buckeyes into a Sugar Bowl semifinal matchup with No. 1 Alabama.

Had the Buckeyes lost to the Crimson Tide, Jones' story would have still been remarkable.

It turned out that it was just getting started.

After Ohio State fell behind 21-6 in the first half, the Buckeyes would battle back with Jones totaling 286 yards of total offense and one touchdown pass in what would ultimately be a 42-35 OSU victory. The Buckeyes would go onto beat Oregon in the national title game a week later, with their former third-string signal-caller posting 280 yards of total offense and two touchdowns.

In the matter of just three games, Jones had turned himself from a likely offseason transfer candidate to a potential first-round pick in the upcoming draft. But when Jones announced his intentions of returning to Ohio State for his redshirt junior season three days after winning the national championship, it set the wheels in motion for an unprecedented quarterback competition.


Three's a Crowd

With Jones returning to Columbus and Miller shrugging off rumors he would use his ability as a graduate transfer to spend the 2015 season elsewhere, to say that Meyer entered spring practice with an embarrassment of riches would be an understatement. Ohio State possessed the reigning national champion quarterback, the reigning National Freshman of the Year and two-time Big Ten MVP, all at a position where only one player could play.

"It is fairly unique," Meyer said. "I've never been in this situation."

Spring practice wouldn't provide much clarity, as Miller continued to rehab his shoulder and Barrett only participated in a limited role. Perhaps if there was anything telling about the Buckeyes' 15 spring practice sessions, it was that Jones was unable to grab hold of the starting job with his competition still hobbled.

But as Ohio State entered the summer with a logjam at quarterback, the Buckeyes' battle soon became a two-man race. His prognosis as a quarterback looking bleak, Miller opted to make the move to wide receiver, announcing his position switch to's Pete Thamel with just weeks remaining until the start of fall camp.

"I had been practicing at quarterback for the six months after my surgery," Miller told ESPN's Joey Galloway during an appearance on Monday's SportsCenter. "And the thing that was going through my head was, 'I don't know if I'll be able to play quarterback for the full season.'"

But even with seemingly Miller out of the picture—as far as playing quarterback is concerned—Meyer's decision doesn't appear to be much easier.


Where to Now?

When the first-team Buckeyes offense takes the field for practice Monday afternoon, Meyer already knows how he'll decide who will be at quarterback. According to an interview on SportsCenter, the three-time national champion head coach will a flip a coin in order to pick whether it will be Barrett or Jones who takes the first official snaps of fall camp.

From there, the players will rotate, with Meyer relying on a "gut-feeling" when it comes to making his final decision. How the Buckeyes head coach will define that "gut-feeling" remains unclear, but it would seem to differ from the statistically based approach he originally said he would take.

"I made an error when I spoke last spring about, 'It can't be a gut instinct.' It's got to be both," Meyer said. "How they performed last year, how they performed in the summer, then we're going to chart everything throughout training camp.

"It's going to be the accumulation of that all information, then we'll make a decision."

A statistical approach would seem to favor Barrett, as he posted a higher completion percentage with a larger sample size than Jones did a year ago. Advanced analytical site also projects that Ohio State would have a more successful season with Barrett at the helm than Jones would.

But that "gut-feeling" could ultimately bode better for Jones, especially after an offseason where he became the unlikely face of not only the Buckeyes program, but college football. From flirting with UFC star Ronda Rousey to feuding with Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, Jones has seen himself go viral on a consistent basis, often serving as an unofficial spokesman and ambassador for the OSU players.

It also might not hurt that Jones bypassed on the NFL draft and Meyer may feel that he owes it to Jones to reinsert the redshirt junior into the starting lineup. And while Barrett has often been lauded for his exceptional leadership, Jones has a way of leading in his own unique way, with Monday morning's appearance at practice showing a commitment to football that he wasn't necessarily always known for.

That certainly won't be enough to sway Meyer's gut-feeling in Jones' favor, but it certainly can't hurt either. It's too early to get a true feel for how this quarterback battle will play out, but as the Buckeyes' first practice of fall camp approaches, both Barrett and Jones appear to be on equal footing with the OSU staff.

How long that will be the case for remains to be seen. But with the Buckeyes offering limited media availability throughout the remainder of the month, don't expect to know who Ohio State's starting quarterback for the 2015 season will be anytime soon.

When will we know?

If it's up to Meyer, not until the Buckeyes' first series of the season.

"The first guy that jogs out at Blacksburg [for Ohio State's opener against Virginia Tech]," Meyer said, via's Brian Hamilton, "will be the starting quarterback."

Until then, prepare to find yourself reading into anything and everything.


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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Alabama Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Report

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama football program opened up training camp this past week, and like usual, there was nary a dull moment.

Despite daily 100-degree heat, the Crimson Tide held two practices in shorts and helmets and two in shells, in addition to its annual fan day/media day that features the only open practice of the year.

But the most talked-about item with the team was something that occurred off the field. At the end of Nick Saban’s first press conference of training camp, the coach gave an unprompted statement about the unauthorized biography by Monte Burke, Saban: The Making of a Coach, that was released last week:

I just want everybody to know that I’m opposed to an unauthorized biography on anybody. If some person that you don’t even know (is) trying to profit by your story or someone else’s story. One of these days when I’m finished coaching at Alabama, I’ll write an authorized book because there’s only one expert on my life and guess who that is … me. And there won’t be any misinformation. There won’t be any false statements. There won’t be any hearsay. There won’t be any expert analysis from anybody else. It will be the real deal. And I’m not really ready for that to happen and it’s a little amazing to me that the timing of all this happening right when we’re starting camp. I just want everybody out there and all of our fans to know, it’s not going to be a distraction to us and it’s never going to get discussed again.

But since I’m not finished yet at Alabama, we’re not writing any books yet. But when we decide to write an authorized book it will have the truth—the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Saban didn’t give any specifics about what he didn’t like about it and indicated that this would be the only time he commented about the book.

The coach also made the statement shortly after responding to a question about a player’s eligibility by saying he “shouldn’t comment because it seems like every time I make a comment about something it kind of gets taken out of context and gets blown up and all that, so I’m going to make less comments about things."


Stock up 

One player making an early favorable impression is true freshman Calvin Ridley, who was rated Alabama’s top recruit in the class of 2015 by 247Sports.

Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin went so far as to call him an “elite talent.”

“Now there’s a long way to go to get to that level, but his speed and the way that he catches the ball and his transition, if he does the other things all the way through, which is a lot, I think he can be really special,” Kiffin said.

Additionally, in part due to the injuries at his position, true freshman cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick took a lot of snaps during Sunday’s open practice and showed little or no signs of being overwhelmed.


Injury update

Alabama got a scare when left tackle Cam Robinson was carted off the field due to an injury Saturday. Although rumors were rampant of a serious setback and possible foot fracture, the sophomore only had a mild knee sprain and return to practice the next day.

“I’m fine,” he said.

Meanwhile, sophomore cornerback Tony Brown, who is expected to challenge for a starting job, left Sunday’s practice with a shoulder injury. His status won’t be updated until Tuesday.

In other injury news:

• Junior wide receiver Chris Black is day-to-day with a sprained ankle. Alabama is already thin at the position after sophomore Cam Sims suffered a torn ACL during the spring and junior Raheem Falkins is coming off surgery to repair a leg fracture.

• Senior tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith was limited by a sprained ankle but back practicing Sunday.

• Redshirt freshman cornerback Marlon Humphrey will miss a few days with what Saban described as a “pulled muscle.”

• Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Josh Casher injured a pectoral muscle while lifting weights over the summer and is expected to be out for a few more weeks.

• Junior Eddie Jackson, who made the switch from cornerback to safety during the spring, appeared to be limited Sunday with an undisclosed injury. Taking extra snaps at strong safety was true freshman Ronnie Harrison, who has impressed teammates.

• Coaches have taken the no-contact jersey off running back Kenyan Drake (leg fracture/dislocated ankle).


Quarterback competition

Coaches remain adamant that there’s no timetable for picking a starting quarterback between senior Jake Coker, redshirt freshman David Cornwell, junior Alec Morris, sophomore Cooper Bateman and true freshman Blake Barnett. All indications are that Coker and Cornwell remain the guys to beat, although everyone remains very high on Barnett's potential.

Saban squashed recent speculation that Alabama might be best off starting a younger quarterback so it can build more for the future.

“If someone shows great potential for the future then our theory on how we manage that is to keep that guy in a position where he can develop so that if he's called on at some point in time in the future, he's going to be more ready to do that,” he said. “But that does not give him sort of an advantage in being able to play right now.”


Crimson Tide bits

• Freshman running back Bo Scarbrough is back practicing with the team in a black no-contact jersey after suffering a knee injury during the spring, but Saban announced that he’ll miss the first four games anyway due to a suspension regarding NCAA eligibility.

• Usually Alabama opens training camp with two split-squad sessions on the first day, with the younger players essentially having their own practice so the coaches can help them get acclimated, but Saban combined them this year. “The issue with that in the past has been it really wears out the players because you only have 50 players out there at a time and you don't have enough guys to actually share the reps. Guys get too many reps, and then I always felt that really degraded us getting really some overuse problems the very first day. We decided that we had made good progress with a lot of the freshman (over the summer).”

• A notable absence on the preseason watch lists was cornerback Cyrus Jones by the Thorpe Award for best defensive back. “I’m not going to say disrespected, but, I mean, it is kind of disappointing,” said Jones, who was named All-SEC at media days. “Me just being a competitor and knowing what I can do as a player I do feel like don’t get the respect sometimes. But it just adds extra motivation to me. I don’t take it personal.”

• Saban’s message to his team: “It comes down to there's two ways you can look at camp. You can say I'm going to try to survive this camp or I'm going to go out there and thrive every day in this camp in terms of working hard, pushing myself, trying to get in better condition, trying to be a player that can better go out and dominate the competition and do my job better.”

• Alabama will hold its first scrimmage of training camp at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. It will be closed to media and the public.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer.

Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

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SEC Football: Biggest Games That Will Determine Outcome of SEC in 2015

The SEC has been held without a major bowl win over each of the last two seasons, but that doesn't mean the SEC is down. 

In fact, the balance that exists this season within the nation's toughest football conference should make 2015 one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in recent memory.

Which games will determine the outcome of the SEC in 2015? Our picks based on team strength, importance to the division title race and what the outcome could do to the winner and loser later in the season are in this slideshow.


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B/R 5th Down: Cardale Jones Wears Ronda Rousey Shirt, Drone Follows Braxton

Editor's Note: The 5th Down captures the top social college football stories of the week. Because the long, grueling offseason is underway, we'll focus on things that make us laugh, think or maybe cry, but mostly laugh.


1) Cardale Jones Is Full-on #TeamRousey

The crush—real, exaggerated or otherwise—Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones has on UFC fighter Ronda Rousey is well documented. Give 12-Gauge this: He had Rousey, who is as intimidating as any athlete out there, flustered (in a good way) by his comments. 

Jones kept on showing his, um, "appreciation" for the UFC fighter on his way to Buckeyes preseason camp with a Rousey shirt: 

Say this for Jones: The guy wears his heart on his sleeve. Or his chest. Either or. 


2) You Know Ohio State Is Starting Preseason Camp When...

A camera drone is following Buckeyes H-back—it still feels odd typing that—Braxton Miller as he enters the team's football facility. 

Yes, the quarterback competition may be down to Jones and J.T. Barrett, but let's not forget that Miller is still one of the key faces of the program over the past several years. A year lost can make a lot of people forget about you, but it should be reiterated that Miller was one of the most entertaining players in college football before sustaining his shoulder injury last year.  

If the transition to wide receiver goes well, Miller will undoubtedly remind everyone of that fact. 


3) Plus, This Ohio State Combine Spoof Was Amazing

Hype videos are the best. They also take themselves way, way too seriously. Ohio State tight ends and fullbacks coach Tim Hinton is out to put an end to that with this amazing NFL combine spoof video: 

There's so much #riseandgrind and #blessed and #leggggoooooo and #eatinggreedy in this video. The production quality is amazing, and Hinton really sells it. 

Easily, this is one of the best videos of the offseason. And Ohio State has put out some great videos


4) Jimi Hendrix: College Football Artist

Jimi Hendrix may not be blessing us with incredible music anymore, but writer Joe Posnanski did find some amazing rare artifacts from Hendrix at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Below are some drawings that a teenage Hendrix made in 1958 featuring some then-Pac-8 teams. It's a great find by Posnanski and a cool thing to take in if you're a fan of both Hendrix's music and college football: 


5) So, Everett... Was It Pass Interference or Nah?

Everett Golson is now officially a Florida State Seminole. That means it's fair game to ask him if Notre Dame, Golson's old team, really committed offensive pass interference in a prime-time game against Florida State last October. 

The question was perfect, and Golson's reaction, which you can watch below, was priceless. 

But, no, Golson, you can't just cop out with "I'm here now, everything's fine, it's in the past" type of answer. The people must know. And, psst, you're on the other team now. You can say it was. Because it was. 


6) Rich Rodriguez, Arizona Just Beat Y'all at the Whip/Nae Nae 

About 10 million people have filmed themselves doing the Whip/Nae Nae over the past month or so. Many of them are college football players and coaches. None of them, however, have anything on Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats staff, who made this video with the school's gymnastics team: 

RichRod has always been great for Arizona's video production team, but let's also take a second to recognize Wildcats Director of On Campus Recruiting Matt Dudek. He's the fine gentlemen on the left (Rodriguez's right) just tearing it up. 

He's the real hero. 



College GameDay analyst/headgear wearer/hilarious entertainer Lee Corso turned 80 last week. To help celebrate Corso's big day was Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who wore the famous elephant head gear in honor of the longtime GameDay staple. 

Look, it's Saban in head gear. Is there another reason this needs to be shared? I could watch this GIF on loop for hours. 


8) And Now College 3-D!

The 1990s were a weird time, y'all. Not so much for things like music, which was great. Rather, the 1990s were a time of experimentation, namely for 3-D midfield logos that, looking back, were not a good idea. 

Like, at all. 

Look, if you're going to do 3-D, go all the way. There should have been 80,000 fans in Kyle Field with 3-D glasses. 

*Actually, that probably would have been most unwise given how steep the stands are in that stadium. You don't want anyone getting vertigo. I wonder if A&M was ready to go full 3-D and then realized this at the last minute. Or, maybe they just thought the 3-D logo would look cool. "Aggies Football: Catch the Excitement! Also: WORDS...WILL....FLY....AT....YOU....VERY....FAST." 


9) Frank Beamer Way

You know you're a program legend when people start naming things after you. Clearly, Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer is a legend in Blacksburg. Beamer has been with the Hokies for the better part of three decades; that's unheard of nowadays. 

So, it's only appropriate that Beamer gets a street named after him next to Lane Stadium: 

The release from Virginia Tech's website states:

Recognizing contributions made both on and off the field by Tech's head football coach and wife Cheryl, Spring Road, which runs alongside the west stands and press box of Lane Stadium, will be re-named Beamer Way. The official athletics department street address will be 25 Beamer Way in recognition of Frank Beamer’s jersey number when he played football for Tech from 1966-68.

Congratulations, Beamer. Well deserved. 


10) An Ode to Baylor's Weirdness

Baylor may be the preseason No. 2 team in the Big 12, but the Bears are No. 1 in our hearts with off-the-wall antics. For instance, defensive end Shawn Oakman has a python. Which he wears around his neck (Britney Spears style?). Around Waco: 

Also, as noted "ALL-NAME TEAM" supporter Holly Anderson of Grantland pointed out, Lynx Hawthorne, a wide receiver, is criminally underrated. Playoff worthy, even: 

Finally, let's just take a moment to be awed by 400-pound tight end Laquan McGowan holding Oakman on his shoulders like it's not any big deal at all.  

In fact, if Baylor doesn't use this as a red-zone play, this whole season is a waste. The whole dang thing: 


11) REMINDER: This Is an 18-Year-Old

The above photos feature freshman Tennessee defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie, who is an 18-year-old freshman being a freshman at the Vols' preseason camp. 

Mercy. This shouldn't be allowed. I mean, it should, but it shouldn't, if that makes sense. This was a kid who was listed at 339 pounds on his 247Sports a recruit. 

We can't italicize how incredible this is any more than we already have. McKenzie is, as B/R colleague Adam Kramer described, a yacht. This is a good thing, since yachts are legit. 

We're blown away by this. 


12) Your College Football Quote of the Week (Part I)


13) Your College Football Quote of the Week (Part II)


14) Your College Football Quote of the Week (Part III)


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. He's trying to decipher Les Miles' quote on Twitter @BenKercheval

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Notre Dame Football 2015: Complete Preview of Fighting Irish Offense

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish finished off the 2014 season with an 8-5 record. Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer break down the Fighting Irish's biggest storylines on offense heading into the 2015 season.

How well do you think Notre Dame will do this year? Watch the video and let us know!

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CFB Defenses That Will Offer No Escape

Possessing a good defense is generally the hallmark of a successful football program. 

It can help to compensate for a sputtering offense—and even generate points via the creation of turnovers. This piece will speak about 10 teams equipped with what should be very good defensive units in 2015. 

The appearance on this list will encompass a few items—including returning starters, conference affiliation (in terms of one's schedule) and sheer talent. 


Honorable Mentions: Clemson, TCU, UCF, Virginia Tech, Miami, Southern Cal, Wisconsin, Utah, Arkansas, Louisville, UCLA, Stanford, Pitt, Virginia, Texas and Missouri. 

Begin Slideshow

Georgia Football 2015: Complete Preview of Bulldogs Offense

The Georgia Bulldogs finished off the 2014 season with a 10-3 record. Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael FelderBarrett Sallee and Adam Kramer break down the Bulldogs' biggest storylines on offense heading into the 2015 season.

How well do you think Georgia will do this year? Watch the video and let us know!

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Michigan Football 2015: Complete Preview of Wolverines Offense

The Michigan Wolverines finished the 2014 season with a 5-7 record. But how will they fare in 2015?

Watch as Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer break down the Wolverines' biggest storylines on offense heading into the 2015 season in the video above.

How well do you think Michigan will do this year? Watch the video and let us know!

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Oregon Ducks Football 2015: Schedule Breakdown and Predictions

The Oregon Ducks finished off the 2014 season with a 13-2 record. Bleacher Report's college football analysts Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer break down Oregon's schedule heading into the 2015 season.

How well do you think the Ducks will do this year? Watch the video and let us know!

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Oregon Ducks Football 2015: Schedule Breakdown and Predictions

The Oregon Ducks finished off the 2014 season with a 13-2 record. Bleacher Report's college football analysts Michael Felder , Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer break down Oregon's schedule heading into the 2015 season...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Stanford Football 2015: Complete Preview of the Cardinal

The Stanford Cardinal finished off the 2014 season with an 8-5 record. Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer break down the Cardinal's biggest storylines heading into the 2015 season.

How well do you think Stanford will do this year? Watch the video and let us know!

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Stanford Football 2015: Complete Preview of the Cardinal

The Stanford Cardinal finished off the 2014 season with an 8-5 record. Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer break down the Cardinal's biggest storylines heading into the 2015 season...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Michigan Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

Fall camp has officially started in Ann Arbor, so the Michigan Wolverines are back on the field and preparing for their first game of the 2015 campaign.

First-year head coach Jim Harbaugh has limited media access, saying the team is heading into a "submarine," per MLive's Nick Baumgardner.

Consequently, while updates on these players and position battles may be scarce, Michigan heads into camp with a couple interesting storylines—especially at quarterback.

Less than four weeks from now, the Wolverines will battle Utah in the season opener. Until then, Michigan fans should be keeping a close eye on a few particular stocks.


Hot Commodity: Jabrill Peppers, Safety

Jabrill Peppers' value is skyrocketing every day. He can play offense. He can play defense. He can return kicks. He can do everything on a football field.

But he’s also unproven.

It's not worth trying to slow the hype train, because it's already out of control. Nevertheless, it's important to point out some theories surrounding Peppers might have no weight—as of yet.

According to Baumgardner, Peppers hasn't engaged in "any sort of specific conversation with Harbaugh about playing offense."

We really haven't had an open discussion to it. He didn't know us from a can of paint when he first got here. He kind of had conversations with everyone about it, just one-on-one, and I don't know what other people talked about – but we talked about me being a guy who is going to be hungry and lead by example.

The 6'1", 205-pounder is a versatile defensive back and is expected to, at the least, line up at both safety and nickelback throughout the season. Michigan has the personnel in the secondary that allows defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin the ability to use Peppers in the most advantageous position, even if it fluctuates by opponent.

Peppers is bound to become college football’s next star. That doesn't mean he's going to be a first-team All-American. In 2015 specifically, will the payout be worth the investment?


Stock Up: Jake Rudock, Quarterback

The Iowa transfer isn't a glamorous choice. He's not the forward-thinking option. Nevertheless, Jake Rudock seems headed for the starting role over junior Shane Morris.

Rudock tallied 2,436 yards and 16 touchdowns last season, completing 61.7 percent of his passes while tossing just five interceptions. The 6'3", 208-pound shot-caller has the makings of a game manager, an approach Bleacher Report's Ben Axelrod suggests Harbaugh may prefer under center:

"With a Wolverines defense that appears further along than the offense," Axelrod said, "Rudock's safer style of play could be preferable to Harbaugh, who got the most out of the similarly efficient Alex Smith during his time with the San Francisco 49ers."

Under Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Tim Drevno, Michigan will attempt to feature a ground-and-pound attack. The object of the passing game is to use it sparingly, typically in an attempt to catch the secondary sleeping or merely out of necessity—like 3rd-and-long.

Additionally, while passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch should improve the efficiency of each quarterback, Rudock boasts a clear advantage over Morris. Through nine career appearances, the left-hander has managed a 49.4 completion percentage, zero touchdowns and five interceptions.

Though Rudock doesn't have a tremendously high ceiling, Harbaugh might not want to risk watching the value of his young quarterbacks plummet.


Stock Down: Ty Isaac, Running Back

After sitting out the 2014 season due to NCAA rules for undergrad transfers and an injury-shortened spring session, Ty Isaac has to make up for lost time.

Isaac will likely join Derrick Green as part of the one-two bulldozer—not just a punch—by season's end, but the USC transfer certainly won’t be handed a spot in the rotation. Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press notes Harbaugh hasn’t seen much of Isaac on the field.

"I feel like he's healthier (now) than he was," Harbaugh said. "Very minimal (exposure). He really only practiced for a day."

De'Veon Smith carried the load during the spring, so simply because the coaches have seen him work, the junior holds a slight edge in that department over Isaac and the other two competitors. Green sat out while recovering from a shoulder injury, and Drake Johnson missed practice because of an ACL tear.

Nevertheless, a 6'3", 240-pound freight train, Isaac made an impression on teammates while redshirting last year. According to John Niyo of the Detroit News, offensive lineman Kyle Kalis praised Isaac’s physical running style.

"I mean, he was bruising guys up. He was killin' it. We were all like, 'Oh, man, we cannot wait to see Ty!' … He's gonna be a threat."

It's clear no one should sell Isaac, but as the 2015 season approaches, he faces an uphill battle to climb the depth chart against solid competition.


All recruiting information via 247SportsStats from cfbstats.comQuotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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Missouri Football 2015: Complete Preview of Tigers

The Missouri Tigers finished off the 2014 season with an 11-3 record. Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer break down the Tigers' biggest storylines on offense heading into the 2015 season.

How well do you think Missouri will do this year? Watch the video and let us know!

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