NCAA Football

Updated Recruiting Big Board for USC Trojans

The USC Trojans landed a huge 2014 recruiting class. Will first-year head coach Steve Sarkisian repeat that success with with his 2015 class? The Trojans traditionally target Los Angeles-area recruits, but which high-profile wide receiver recruit sits near the top of USC's must-get targets?

Watch Scout.com'sLindsey Thiry break down USC's recruiting big board and which targets they are most likely to land. 

 

Highlights courtesy XOS Digital. All recruit rankings from 247 Sports

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Updated Recruiting Big Board for USC Trojans

The USC Trojans landed a huge 2014 recruiting class. Will first-year head coach Steve Sarkisian repeat that success with with his 2015 class? The Trojans traditionally target ...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Ohio State's Braxton Miller Hype Article Is Heisman Marketing at It's Finest

Ohio State is subtle, but not that subtle. 

The Buckeyes released an article on their official website Wednesday promoting quarterback Braxton Miller as basically the most clutch player in college football. 

In all, Ohio State credits Miller, a senior, with six game-winning touchdown drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. That number encompasses Miller's entire collegiate career and is one more than Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds. 

"A survey conducted in the past week by Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) sports information directors revealed an impressive statistical note about Ohio State University senior quarterback Braxton Miller," the first line of the article reads. 

If there was ever a preseason Heisman push that wasn't really an official preseason Heisman push, this is it. It's an innocent "Oh, hey, look at this." A not-so-coincidental "Huh, whaddya know about that?"

"Ohio State's protocol is to let our outstanding performer's play on the field drive the discussion, initially, regarding major national awards and honors," Sports Information Director Jerry Emig told B/R in an email.

Ohio State probably isn't the first program to publish something of this nature nor will it be the last. When it's crunch time, though, Ohio State wants you to know that Miller is the best in the country at getting the job done. 

It's a perfect time to blast out that little piece of information. It's June, and beyond the Ed O'Bannon trial, there's little else going on. 

It's the right angle, too. Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games, right? So much is made of the so-called "Heisman moment" when everything is on the line. As Ohio State points out, Miller has two game-winning drives against Wisconsin, a Big Ten title contender, one against Northwestern, when the Wildcats were nationally ranked and undefeated, and one against Michigan. 

It's still an obvious promotional tool, but it's done a little differently than most offseason Heisman or award pushes. Miller already should be a preseason Heisman candidate, but this is the first major unofficial nudge of the summer. 

There's no doubt Miller is a gifted athlete who is crucial to his team's success, but improving as a passer is one way he can increase his Heisman chances (the other is stay healthy). It could also improve his NFL draft stock, as Mike Huguenin of NFL.com notes

Miller (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) is a great fit for Meyer's run-heavy version of the spread and is a true dual-threat quarterback. But NFL scouts will be looking for improvement from Miller as a passer this fall; the more he improves as a passer, the earlier he will hear his name called in the 2015 NFL Draft.

B/R colleague Adam Kramer says the last thing anyone wants to hear is a player's name in the summer, since surely nothing good can come of it. He's right—for the most part. This is the exception. 

And the Buckeyes accomplished their goal: We're talking about Miller. 

 

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

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Mike Leach and Washington State Staff Reel in Giant Fish

Judging by the pictures, Mike Leach and the Washington State coaching staff recently had a successful fishing trip on the Salmon River.

It may have started out as a way for the coaches to bond with each other away from the football field, but it ended up as a memorable experience, thanks to one big catch.

Check out just how long their catch was:

According to Football Scoop's Scott Roussel, the coaching staff says that the fish was a sturgeon.

[Twitter, h/t College Spun]

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Why Texas Tech QB Davis Webb Will Be Biggest Surprise of 2014

There's a precedent for this.

Johnny Manziel was in his second year out of high school when Kliff Kingsbury, then the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M, named him the starting quarterback over Jameill Showers (the favorite to start) and helped guide him to the 2012 Heisman Trophy.

"He has the feel of a kid that has always expected this moment," Kingsbury said after naming Manziel the starter, according to Suzanne Halliburton of the Austin American-Statesman.

If he only knew the half of it.

Now Kingsbury is entering his second year as the head coach at his alma mater, Texas Tech, where he's spent the summer hyping up another two-years-removed-from-high-school QB. Like Manziel, he was a looked-over 3-star prospect on the 247Sports Composite, and like Manziel, he is not much to look at physically (at least not yet).

But just like Manziel, Davis Webb can play.

That became obvious during Webb's true freshman season, when he, unlike Manziel, was called on to make a few starts. Walk-on freshman Baker Mayfield beat Webb for the job out of camp, but by the end of the season, after Webb threw for 403 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions in the Holiday Bowl win over Arizona State, the job was so obviously Webb's that Mayfield transferred to Oklahoma.

Now the job belongs to Webb indubitably. The team and the offense are his, and the 6'4", 215-pound sophomore from Prosper, Texas, is good enough to...well, to prosper. Not just at an All-Big 12 level, but as one of the very best statistical quarterbacks in America.

Webb could be the shocker of the season.

Kingsbury doesn't mince words. He never has, and he never will.

That was his style as a player—Kingsbury, by the way, won the Sammy Baugh Trophy as the nation's top QB in 2002—and that's been his style as a coach. Confident and outspoken. Eccentric and hip and cool.

Despite this, the comments Kingsbury made about Webb in late May seemed out there. Way out there. Even by his own "way out there" standards. Here's what the second-year coach had to say about his second-year quarterback, per Bruce Feldman of FoxSports.com:

He has a chance to be very special. He has one of the quickest releases and strongest arms I’ve been around. Very smart, intellectual thinker. Processes things very quickly. Sees the field. Great at checking to the right place. He probably had the best spring I’ve ever been around as far as protecting the football and making plays in our scrimmages. In our live scrimmages, [he had] 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions, which was a huge step from where he was last year.

I think he’s one of those top-5 pick talents with his arm strength and his mind and his size, and how athletic he is for being 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds.

It is normal, as a first reaction, to rebuff Kingsbury's praise as hyperbole and coachspeak. Of course he'd call his quarterback a top-five type of talent. What is he supposed to say—that he isn't?

But look a little closer, and you realize that he might not be so crazy. Webb is not a household name—his namesake, Katherine, is better associated with college quarterback play than he is—but perhaps he ought to be. His true freshman season was that historically good.

Webb finished No. 12 in the country in ESPN.com's Total QBR metric last season. The three players immediately behind him were Braxton Miller, Teddy Bridgewater and Connor Shaw. Tajh Boyd, Blake Bortles and Derek Carr could all be found a little further down the list.

Only six returning players finished ahead of him:

Not a bad list to be on.

Because he ranks so high, based on his own performance, you might think calling Webb the surprise of 2014 is a misnomer. How could someone who's already placed himself on that list be a "surprise"?

The answer to that question is simple: Because he still don't get no respect. When the most recent batch of Heisman odds were released in February, per Tom Fornelli of CBSSports.com, seven of the eight QBs listed above were included.

Care to guess which one was not?

Exactly.

The Total QBR data at ESPN stretches back to 2004. During that time, no true freshman has ever posted a higher score than Webb's 82.6 in 2013. That's a decade's worth of data that Webb stands on the forefront of—and still nobody seems to notice him!

Well, not nobody. People understand that Webb is poised to be good. He just hasn't penetrated the national discourse.

He did, however, earn this endorsement from Brandon Chatmon of ESPN.com, who called Webb the most indispensable player at TTU:

The Red Raiders' hopes for success are sitting on Webb's shoulders. ...

He looked even better during the spring with his spot as "the man" in the Red Raiders' offense, capping his spring with a four-touchdown performance in the spring game. Heading into his sophomore season, Webb is accurate, takes care of the football and continues to improve, making him one of the Big 12's most valuable players.

If he's out of the equation, Tech's hopes for success take a major hit. Not only because Kingsbury's squad is set to have a true freshman Patrick Mahomes, as its No. 2 quarterback, but because Webb's stellar play would be difficult to mimic for any signal-caller.

Kingsbury's offense, which was welded from his time spent learning under Mike Leach (as a player) and Kevin Sumlin (as a coordinator), is among the most dangerous in the country.

Even after losing tight end Jace Amaro, Webb still has explosive players such as Jakeem Grant and Bradley Marquez to rely on. According to Chatmon, receivers are the team's strongest position.

Webb has a little bit of Manziel in him, too. He wants every play to be the game-changer. Or at least that's how he was when he first arrived.

"He was trying to hit a home run with every throw," Kingsbury told B/R's Ben Kercheval. "He didn't let the game come to him."

To which Webb, himself, conceded, "I have a big head."

Sound like anyone you know?

But now Webb is being lauded for his decision-making, for the way he takes care of the football. He's still got that Manziel mentality, but he's better at reigning it in. And although he'll never be the wizard on his feet that Manziel was, Manziel will never be 6'4" (and slowly filling out).

All of which points to a huge season for Webb—statistically and otherwise. Putting up very good numbers would surprise no one, but Webb is poised to do much more. He's poised to put up Derek-Carr-in-2013 numbers, the type that merit Heisman consideration.

If Texas Tech can cobble together a defense and win nine or 10 football games, that's exactly what Webb will receive.

Don't say you haven't been warned.

 

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

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Why SEC Should Be Afraid of Sophomore Tennessee WR Marquez North

Freshman wide receiver Marquez North burst onto the national scene in 2014 with some monster, highlight-reel receptions. What does North have in store for his sophomore season? 

Tennessee's quarterback situation is up in the air, but expect North to put up huge numbers in 2014 regardless of who is under center for the Vols. 

Watch Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee predict how North will fare in 2014. 

 

Highlights courtesy XOS Digital

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SEC vs. ACC: Which Power Conference Will Claim Stud DE Jalen Dalton?

Jalen Dalton, a 4-star defensive end, is one of the top recruits in the 2015 class and has yet to decide where he will play college football.

The 6'5", 235-pound playmaker has a unique combination of size and athleticism that will make him a serious threat at the next level.

Bleacher Report's CFB Analyst Michael Felder broke down what school would provide the best fit for Dalton to excel at the next level.

Will it be in the ACC or SEC?

Watch the above video to find out.

 

Highlights courtesy of XOs Digital. Rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Blake Barnett Opens Up to Former Texas QB Chris Simms on Decommitment from ND

4-star dual-threat QB Blake Barnett recently decommitted from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and opened up his recruitment. Barnett will now go on a few more visits as a part of his renewed recruiting process. 

Former Texas QB and current Bleacher Report NFL Analyst Chris Simms went through a similar situation after committing to Tennessee early in his own recruiting process. Barnett and Simms met up to talk about their experiences and what Barnett is looking forward to in his football career. 

 

Highlights courtesy XOS Digital. Recruit rankings from 247Sports Composite

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Why the Big 12 Is Better off Sticking with 10 Teams, for Now

If orange is the new black, then 10 is the new 12.

That would be the Big 12, which is happy to stick with 10 teams.

A couple of Big 12's athletic directors told ESPN's Brett McMurphy that the conference is satisfied with the number of teams right now and has no immediate plans for expansion. They more or less echoed what conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby said a year ago.

And why not? The Big 12 last fiscal year actually made more money per school than the SEC and ACC, thanks to the lean and mean number of members.

Once on a deathbed, the Big 12 is now thriving with 10 teams. After losing Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC and surviving the then-Pac-10's attempt to poach Texas, Texas Tech and both Oklahoma schools, the Big 12 now has stability following the additions of TCU and West Virginia in 2012.

Not to mention the most fair way to settle the conference championship in football. The Big 12 is the only one of the five power conferences that plays a true round robin, in which every member school faces the rest every season.

"The conference schedule is absolutely great," West Virginia's Oliver Luck told McMurphy. "Our tagline is 'one true champion.'"

The Big 12's lack of interest in expanding comes as bad news for a handful of schools with aspirations to join the big boys' club.

Cincinnati is one of the few longtime Big East schools not poached by the ACC and thought to be a prime target if the Big 12 decides to expand. BYU has made no secret about wanting in with the Big 12 and shedding its independent status. Both UCF and USF also desire to be in the mix as they're large public schools in the recruit-rich state of Florida.

While this isn't to say that the Big 12 will never expand, there is even less incentive for it to do so if a proposed legislation is passed by the NCAA. The Big 12 is backing an ACC proposal to allow conferences to stage championship football games without the need of having divisions. The legislation might be voted on as early as this August during an NCAA board meeting.

The only thing missing for the Big 12 as compared to the other four power conferences is the title game, which has not been held since 2010, after Nebraska bolted for the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac-12.

But unless not having a conference championship game proves to be detrimental to the Big 12 in the upcoming College Football Playoff era, there isn't necessarily a reason to stage one. And chances are, the Big 12 might end up having the best of both worlds, getting to have a title game without needing to dilute the cash take for each member school.

Why not have the cake and eat it too, if you can?

 

Follow on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru

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After Joker Phillips Departure, Pressure Is on Chris Leak at Florida

All most of us know at the moment is that Joker Phillips is no longer Florida's wide receivers coach, and Chris Leak is. 

On Wednesday, Phillips abruptly stepped down from his position after one-and-a-half years in Gainesville, citing "personal reasons.

However, ESPN's Brett McMurphy later reported that Phillips resigned because of possible recruiting violations. Footballscoop.com tweeted that the possible violation was a bump, which is nothing more than impermissible contact between a coach and a player during non-contact periods. It is considered a relatively minor violation. 

None of this really adds up. The only thing that can be said definitively is that Leak, the former Gators quarterback who won a national championship in 2006-07, is taking over an important position for Florida. In way, he's almost as important as first-year offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. 

Florida is not void of talent at wide receiver, but it is one of the weaker links for the offense transitioning into the 2014 season. The Gators finished 12th in the SEC in passing offense and their receivers hauled in just 11 touchdowns. That's not entirely on the receivers—the quarterback position was a revolving door—but there wasn't much help on the outside, either. 

Quinton Dunbar returns after catching 39 passes a year ago, but he didn't have a single touchdown. Andre Debose has had a lengthy career derailed by injuries and he's never quite fit in with previous offensive schemes. Demarcus Robinson was a 4-star receiver coming out of high school and saw the field as a freshman—but caught just six passes. 

On one hand, Leak has plenty to work with. On the other, he has a lot to work on. Until Florida gets inside the 5-yard line, that is.

Jokes aside, ESPN's Edward Aschoff thinks Leak is up to the challenge, citing former quarterbacks Tee Martin (Tennessee) Dameyune Craig (Auburn) who have successfully transitioned to wide receiver coaches. 

Leak's work will be on full display as more receivers should see the field this season in Roper's up-tempo offense. That places more importance on their development this offseason, as Roper explained to Bruce Feldman, previously of CBSSports.com, in April: 

We're talented at receiver. We 've got some guys that can run and make plays. We've just got to keep throwing and catching. For so long here they were in two-backs and a tight end, and all they would play was two wide receivers. We just need a ton of throwing and catching together. They haven't played in these formations as much as we're using them.  

When head coach Will Muschamp hired Roper away from Duke, it showed he was committed to turning the offense around in a hurry. After all, his job may depend on it.

The Gators ranked at or near the bottom of the SEC in major offensive categories. Injuries were a major issue for the entire team, but if the offense had been so much as serviceable, Florida likely would have been bowling instead of sitting with a 4-8 record. 

Clearly, Roper has a big job a head of him. But so does Leak, who has only served as a graduate assistant to this point. 

Like the rest of the Gators coaching staff, Leak will have to produce results quickly.

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com

 

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Georgia Football Recruiting: Bulldogs Land Two Commits on Same Day

Georgia added a pair of defensive prospects to its 2015 recruiting class Wednesday, picking up in-state linebacker Gary McCrae and Florida cornerback Deandre Baker. The Bulldogs capped the day off with a commitment from McCrae, who pledged shortly after receiving an offer, per Radi Nabulsi of NBC Atlanta.

The duo gives Georgia 11 total commits in a class that currently rates 10th nationally in 247Sports' composite team rankings:

Head coach Mark Richt continues to stockpile defensive talent in a group of prospects that is heavy on that side of the ball. Among pledges, at least eight are expected to join Jeremy Pruitt's attack in 2015.

McCrae, a 4-star prospect from Randolph Clay High School (Cuthbert, Georgia), is a dynamic player along the edge who brings intimidating size to the field. The 6'4", 220-pound playmaker provides versatility, and he could develop into an effective pass-rusher at the next level with improved technique and added strength.

His loyalties to the Bulldogs are deep-rooted.

"My family members are all Bulldogs fans and I have a player that I look up to that went to school there to from my hometown: Thomas Davis," McCrae told Nabulsi.

Davis was an All-American linebacker and safety at Georgia. He now plays for the Carolina Panthers.

McCrae is the second linebacker to join the class in June. Florida product Juwan Taylor pledged last week and is viewed as the player best suited for an inside position.

McCrae is rated No. 22 nationally among outside linebackers in 247Sports' composite rankings. Rated 28th overall in Georgia, he is the Bulldogs' seventh in-state commit.

His offer sheet includes Kentucky, North Carolina, Louisville and Michigan State, among others.

Baker is the third player Richt has plucked from Florida during this recruiting cycle. The 5'11", 175-pound defensive back competes at Miami Northwestern, where he earned a U.S. Army All-American Bowl invite.

His commitment also came just hours after an offer was extended.

“Coach (Mark) Richt personally offered me," Baker told Rusty Mansell of 247Sports. "He was surprised I committed.”

He chose Georgia over the likes of Tennessee, Rutgers, Mississippi State and Clemson.

Baker is a 3-star recruit who rates 78th nationally among cornerbacks in 247Sports' composite rankings. He adds to a 2015 haul that already includes 4-star Tennessee cornerback Rico McGraw

 

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

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10 Ways Pac-12 Football Can Overtake the SEC in College Football Playoff Era

The Pac-12 is a tremendous football conference. In fact, you could make a very strong case that it's the second-best league in college football with Oregon, Stanford and UCLA all looking like top-notch teams heading into 2014.

But yes, the second-best conference. Because like it or not, the SEC still holds the title of the toughest league in the sport. A recent history littered with national titles and Heisman Trophies proves that. So does tons of first-round draft picks, highly rated recruiting classes and future Hall of Fame coaches.

Nobody in Pac-12 country wants to hear those same things 10 years from now, though. So what can be done about it?

To start, we must look at where the SEC excels over the Pac-12. What exactly is it that makes it a better overall conference? Then, the Pac-12 must bridge those various gaps if it hopes to contend for the title of best league in college football. Let's be clear, too, that this league isn't that far behind. We're not comparing an expansion team to the '97-'98 Bulls. But it is indeed behind.

Here are 10 ways that the Pac-12 can overtake the SEC during the college football playoff era. And let's be honest, if it goes the way of the BCS era, the SEC fans will become insufferable if they aren't enough already.

(Just kidding guys, you're welcome anytime and there's plenty of microbrews for everyone.)

 

All stats via cfbstats.com

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10 Ways Pac-12 Football Can Overtake the SEC in College Football Playoff Era

The Pac -12 is a tremendous football conference. In fact, you could make a very strong case that it's the second-best league in college football with Oregon, Stanford and UCLA all looking like top-notch teams heading into 2014...

Begin Slideshow

Clemson Football: Recapping the Biggest 2014 Offseason News so Far

The Clemson Tigers are coming off one of the most successful periods in school history. For just the second time since the school began play in 1896, the Tigers have reeled off three straight 10-win seasons. 

So naturally, much of the talk around Death Valley relates to Clemson's recent success.

However, this offseason has been more about what Clemson must replace to repeat that type of success versus enjoying what the program has built.

Tajh Boyd, arguably the greatest quarterback in school history, is gone. So is Sammy Watkins, one of the best offensive players in the history of the ACC.

Senior Cole Stoudt gets the first crack at replacing Boyd. Can he hold off true freshman Deshaun Watson?

Here is a look at four of the top news items of the 2014 offseason for the Clemson Tigers. 

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How Sound Mind, Sound Body Football Camp Evolved into One of Nation's Best Camps

Detroit is a fitting backdrop for the 10th annual Sound Mind, Sound Body football camp, which kicks off Thursday, June 12.

After all, the camp was founded in 2004 by Motor City native Curtis Blackwell as an integral part of his nonprofit organization—the Lifting As We Climb Foundation.

The foundation’s primary goal was to enhance college opportunities for young athletes and reverse negative trends—such as the 25 percent high school graduation rate, according to the Associated Press (via Fox News)—that existed in his hometown at the time.

What began as a local camp spread across the state of Michigan, into the Midwest and now will play host to some of the nation’s top prospects from across the country.

Over the last decade, SMSB has helped more than 1,000 student-athletes earn college scholarships—with current NFL players such as Nick Perry, William Campbell and Johnathan Hankins counted as SMSB alums.

But how did SMSB expand, and what makes it different from the number of camps popping up across the country?

As Blackwell’s childhood friend and fellow Detroit native Chanterius Brock—who serves as the Director of Player Recruiting for SMSB—describes it, the camp’s fabric is heavily influenced by what the two friends and alumni of Detroit’s Martin Luther King High School witnessed growing up.

“In a city like Detroit, it’s about trying to identify any and all opportunities to teach these kids before it’s too late,” Brock said. “They can’t see the tangible reality that is there for them if they work hard and apply themselves academically, trust in God, respect people and others and themselves. These are the skills that are lacking.”

Brock recalls seeing plenty of talented athletes fail to capitalize on the chance to make it to college, and it wasn’t because of a lack of athletic ability.

“We (Detroit players) were underachieving in terms of the gap between talent and actual success as student-athletes,” Brock stated. “The best players that I’ve played with and against and coached, these aren’t the kids that are playing Division I football or the ones who went on to have the most successful careers.”

When he went off to play his college ball in Tennessee, Brock bristled when classmates would tell him about the superiority of football in the South.

In his mind, the opportunities for success weren’t equal because the commitment to football in the two regions was vastly different. That’s where he and Blackwell worked to bridge the gap with SMSB.

“My thing was that we knew we had talent, but we just lacked the resources,” Brock said. “So I said to myself, ‘when I go home, I want to be able to provide those resources to kids like myself who didn’t have them.’ It was kind of like a divine type of thing for us (he and Blackwell) to connect because our visions were so similar.”

Together, they developed a term for their strategy in unifying their vision—“aggressive creativity.”

On a small scale, Brock—who spent time in Detroit as an assistant coach on the prep level—set out to establish opportunities for the kids he was coaching. Meanwhile, Blackwell’s focus was on networking and cultivating relationships with high school and college coaches, as well as with administrators on the college level.

The first major project put together was a winter camp dubbed the “Michigan Football Showcase” in February 2007 at the University of Michigan.

“We had about 400 or 500 prospects at that showcase,” Brock said. “That was really our inlet when it came to building relationships with schools and coaches. Kids came from all over the Midwest. That kind of surprised us, that we could get kids from out of town. That’s when it flipped for Sound Mind, Sound Body.”

However, their breakthrough moment on the national recruiting scene didn’t come until they were able to add one element that separates their camp from the litany of similar ones across the country.

Blackwell’s background as an intern with the NCAA and the American Football Coaches Association helped him develop relationships that contributed to the expansion of SMSB.

Furthermore, his role in managing and understanding compliance rules and regulations was critical in getting college coaches to actively participate in the SMSB camp a few years ago.

“First, the original battle was getting coaches and schools to recognize that it was legal,” Brock said. “Once they understood that and got things cleared with NCAA compliance, we were getting more and more schools who wanted to be a part of it.”

Once college coaches were on board, that helped SMSB lure top prospects from all over the country.

Additionally, landing a sponsor such as Adidas three years ago further established SMSB as a marquee event in recruiting circles.

“Adidas has come on board and been a great sponsor in terms of providing uniforms and cleats to every kid at the camp,” Brock said. “That’s been a huge partnership for us.”

This year, SMSB will feature more than 200 college coaches in attendance—including Michigan’s Brady Hoke, Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio and Penn State’s James Franklin. This year’s camp will feature hundreds of prospects from around the country, including 5-star standouts such as Jashon Cornell and Preston Williams.

Over the two-day camp, in addition to hearing from and being mentored by camp counselors such as former NFL great Jerome Bettis and current Broncos defensive lineman and SMSB-alum Kevin Vickerson, student-athletes will go through training sessions on topics ranging from NCAA eligibility to conflict resolution.

With the presence of the college coaching community and the multiple training sessions designed to teach invaluable life skills, SMSB has transformed into a unique camping experience.

The camp is now a self-sufficient brand that is thriving, even after Blackwell left his post as camp director last August for a position on Dantonio’s staff at Michigan State.

Brock marvels at the success stories that have emerged from SMSB. In returning to its Detroit roots, this year’s camp will be a celebration of an event that has turned into a source of pride for the Motor City.

 “We try to teach these kids that as they continue to climb, grow and get better and have success, we want to make sure that you are reaching back and lifting up the next man,” Brock said.

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand. 

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Does Big 12 Football Have Any Legit Heisman Candidates for 2014 Season?

The last Heisman Trophy winner to come from the Big 12 was Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III in 2011. As a whole, the conference has had five winners—Ricky Williams, Eric Crouch, Jason White, Sam Bradford and RGIII—since its inception in 1996. 

With that said, the Big 12 in 2014-15 seems to be lacking a good list of legitimate Heisman contenders, with only three guys that could honestly be brought into the conversation. 

At the top of the list is Baylor signal-caller Bryce Petty, who tore up defenses last season en route to a conference title. 

With that, let's look at the Big 12's best chances to grab a Heisman in the upcoming season. 

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Joker Phillips Resigns as Florida Assistant Coach: Latest Reports and Analysis

Florida wide receivers coach Joker Phillips abruptly resigned Wednesday afternoon, a move that left many in Gainesville scratching their heads and trying to find a reason.    

Phillips, 51, has been with the Gators since 2012. In addition to his assistant-coaching duties, he served as the team's recruiting coordinator. Phillips previously spent a decade at Kentucky, first as a position coach and recruiting coordinator before a three-year stint as head coach. The Wildcats fired him after the 2012 season, having compiled a 13-24 record in his three seasons, including a 4-20 mark in the SEC.

In a statement released by the university early Wednesday, Phillips cited "personal reasons" for his decision to step down.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity that the University of Florida and Will Muschamp provided to me and my family, but at this time I have decided to step down from my position on the UF coaching staff for personal reasons,’’ Phillips said.

ESPN's Brett McMurphy initially reported that possible recruiting violations led head coach Will Muschamp to force Phillips' resignation but later backtracked:

McMurphy did not recant his claim of recruiting violations being at the heart of his departure, but there were not any reports on their severity. Kentucky self-reported incidents involving Phillips in both 2012 and 2013. Both were minor in nature, dealing with text-messaging prospective recruits.

Phillips will be replaced by former Gators quarterback Chris Leak. Leak, who helped lead Florida to its 2006 national championship under Urban Meyer, was an offensive quality control coach as a graduate assistant in 2013. The 29-year-old retired from his playing career in 2012 and has seen his star quickly rise since joining Muschamp's staff.

“Chris is a bright young coach,” Muschamp said. “He is one of the all-time Gator greats and being at Florida is very important to him. He has been working with coach Roper and our offensive staff and is very familiar with our players and new system.”

Whether recruit-related or not, the Phillips fiasco is just the latest controversy for the increasingly embattled Florida program. Muschamp enters 2014 with perhaps the hottest seat in the entire nation. The Gators are coming off a dreadful 4-8 campaign, their first losing campaign since 1979. Many expected Muschamp to be fired after last season, but he was brought back as the Gators instead made major changes to his staff.

Most notably, Florida hired Kurt Roper as offensive coordinator in an effort to fix its dilapidated offense. The Gators averaged only 18.8 points per game in 2013, good for 112th nationally. Roper, who most recently served as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Duke, will attempt to recharge the Gators' batteries with a no-huddle system.

Leak and Roper have worked closely together throughout the spring, so Phillips' resignation might create an even more cohesive staff. From the outside looking in, though, it's just the latest fiasco for a program that already came into the offseason teetering on the edge.

With the Gators home opener against Idaho less than three months away, Muschamp will need to nip the speculation in the bud and move on quickly before what is undoubtedly the most important season of his young coaching career gets underway.


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

5 Burning Questions in 5-Star CB Torrance Gibson's Recruitment

Torrance Gibson is one of the hottest commodities on the recruiting trail.

At 6'4" and 200 pounds, the 5-star dual-threat quarterback is from Florida. He is a bit raw with his mechanics and other mental parts of the quarterback position, but he has a high ceiling.

Gibson's recruitment has a wealth of people on the edge of their seats. The following questions are the most burning ones that need answers.

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Uncommitted 2015 Recruits Sure to Leave Big Ten Country for SEC Football

The main heartbeat of the Big Ten's recruiting trail goes through the Midwest. States in the region make up "Big Ten Country," but SEC football powerhouses are not afraid to pluck players from this area.

While Big Ten studs such as Ohio State and Michigan do all they can to keep top recruits close to home, several 2015 prospects appear to be eyeing leaving the Midwest to play in the SEC.

A 5-star defensive end from Illinois may head to Missouri, while Florida is trying to sign a 4-star athlete from Ohio. Speaking of Ohio, both Alabama and Auburn are on the trail of one of the state's 4-star running backs.

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Penn State Recruiting: 5 Commits and Top Targets to Watch at the Opening

Held by Nike, The Opening is a high school combine of sorts that places the country's elite prospects against one another in various competitions and drills, including a seven-on-seven tournament.

With the success that James Franklin has had on the recruiting trail, Penn State will be well-represented in Oregon when The Opening kicks off on July 5.

Here's a list of prospects with Nittany Lion ties who will be competing in The Opening!

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