NCAA Football

Michigan Football: 5 Players Sure to Surprise at Fall Camp

In merely a handful of weeks, Michigan's Team 135 takes the field, looking to avenge a 7-6 stumble in 2013. 

Naturally, there are expectations—sky high, in some cases—for the group as a whole, but there are also several players who are on the brink of having breakout seasons...or continuing where they left off this past year. 

By looking at who did what in 2013 and during the offseason, this slideshow will examine five candidates who are almost certain to impress come fall. 

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Clemson Football: 4 Players Sure to Surprise at Fall Camp

For college football players around the country, fall camp is just days away. A new season represents a fresh start for some and new opportunities for others.

Post-spring depth charts are nice and give the media something to talk about, but the real depth chart is made in August. 

For the Clemson Tigers, several young players are eager for their first crack at stardom. While most starting positions are settled for the Tigers, that doesn't mean some players can't shine and make coaches second-guess their decisions. 

Some younger players, like sophomore tight end Jordan Leggett and freshman corner Mackensie Alexander, starred in spring practice, therefore creating massive expectations for themselves. 

Who's ready to step up and become the talk of fall camp? Here's an early peek at four players who will open the eyes of coaches and fans in August. 

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Brennen Wooten to TCU: Horned Frogs Land 4-Star QB Prospect

TCU's odds for 2016 received a major boost on Thursday evening with 4-star quarterback Brennen Wooten committing to the Horned Frogs. The Marble Falls High School standout tweeted out his decision:

According to 247Sports' composite ranking, Wooten is the 10th-best pro-style QB in the class of 2016 and 150th-ranked recruit overall. He joins fellow 4-star recruit Jonathan Marshall in giving TCU the No. 12 class in the country in 247Sports' early team rankings.

ESPN.com's Max Olson called Wooten a "great get" for the Horned Frogs:

Tyler Donohue of Bleacher Report tweeted out the signal-caller's impressive stats from his sophomore season:

Wooten was one of many talented quarterbacks to take part in the Rivals Camp Series. The event posted a Vine of the Marble Falls, Texas, star in action:

TCU had recently been one of the best non-AQ schools before moving to the Big 12. Although the school is coming off of its first losing season since 2004, it's not hard to see why Wooten would be tempted by what the Horned Frogs have to offer.

According to Danny Davis of the Austin American-Statesman, he believes the program is going in the right direction:

Although Wooten isn't the kind of generational recruit who will single-handedly take TCU to the next level, he has the potential to capably lead the offense down the line and help make the Horned Frogs one of the top teams in the Big 12.

This is the kind of player Gary Patterson needs if he wants to get the program back into a bowl game once again.

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5 Committed 2015 Recruits Most Likely to Decommit Before Signing Day

National signing day is always full of surprises, and among them are decommitments. The 2015 class is full of committed recruits who appear locked into their pledges, but several could opt to decommit before signing day arrives.

A 4-star defensive lineman could flip-flop between SEC teams, while a bad season in 2014 could spoil Oklahoma State's plans to sign a 4-star running back in 2015. 

Also, a foreign recruit could change his mind.

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Michael Chigbu to Georgia: Bulldogs Land 4-Star WR Prospect

Georgia continues to add to an already impressive 2015 class with the commitment of wide receiver Michael Chigbu.

The New Orleans native announced his decision on Twitter:

Chigbu is a 4-star prospect and is considered the No. 32 wide receiver in the nation, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. At 6'2", he has good size and the athleticism to go up and get passes at their highest points.

While the Holy Cross star is not known for his blazing speed, he is good in traffic and is elusive enough to create big plays when he is given the opportunity.

It was easy for Chigbu to narrow his decision down to just Georgia and Texas A&M, as he explained to Andrew Lopez of The Times-Picayune:

The most important thing was being able to be able to compete in the SEC. I wanted to be happy with the coaches and being able to live in that state. Both schools are amazing. Both head coaches, the recruiting corners, the players, everything was amazing.

It became easy to understand his final choice once you examine the situation for Georgia. Fletcher Page of the Athens Banner-Herald breaks down that playing time will be available early:

Seniors Chris Conley and Michael Bennett will be gone after the 2014 season and Malcolm Mitchell could turn pro, leaving plenty of space and production to be filled. From a recruit’s perspective, that means early playing time will be up for grabs soon after hitting campus. That’s good incentive for kids like Chigbu, already an imposing target at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, to say yes to Richt and jump on board.

Nothing will be guaranteed on Mark Richt's squad, but Chigbu has the size and advanced technique to get onto the field early in his career. On the other hand, a redshirt season could make him even better in the future.

If he lives up to his potential, he has the ability to be one of the top receivers in the conference.

The Bulldogs still have more holes to fill before completing the class, but this is already shaping up to be quite a formidable roster in the future. 

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Power Ranking Nation's 10 Best High School Football Teams

High School football season is rapidly approaching, and the nation's top teams will be eyeing various district, regional and state championships.

While it's a bit daunting to rank the top high school teams in the nation, this list will do exactly that. Some of these dominant squads feature a stud recruit or two, while others are well coached. A combination of talent, returning starters, past performance, coaching and competition quality all served as the main factors in determining this list.

A few programs in California figure to have nationally ranked teams, while a pair of powerful Texas squads are also ranked high. The state of Florida is represented well on this list.

All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Rankings.Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

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Winners and Losers from 2014 Pac-12 Media Days

The last milestone before Pac-12 football teams open preseason camp is in the books. Pac-12 media days wrapped Thursday from Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California, and the countdown to the season officially begins.

The conference’s two-day event was an opportunity for all 12 programs to set the tone for the coming campaign. And, for the few next weeks, the entire Pac-12 is on equal ground at 0-0.

Those who stood out at Pac-12 media days aren't guaranteed wins on the field, but the event's winners certainly started the new campaign on the right foot.

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Winners and Losers from 2014 Pac-12 Media Days

The last milestone before Pac-12 football teams open preseason camp is in the books. Pac-12 media days wrapped Thursday from Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California, and the countdown to the season officially begins...

Begin Slideshow

How College Football's Most Underrated Coach Keeps Kansas State Relevant

Before diving into another one of his signature long-winded answers, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder delivered a knockout opening line during Big 12 media days.    

"My degree of optimism is negotiated daily." 

That little gem came when Snyder was asked about his feelings heading into the 2014 season. Media days tend to encourage fluff and promising predictions, but Snyder is a master of downplaying just how good his teams can be. 

That, over time, probably lends a hand to K-State's nearly constant undervaluing. The Wildcats were picked sixth in both last year's preseason media poll and in 2012. In '11, K-State was projected to finish eighth

Snyder's record during those years: 29-10, including back-to-back seasons with double-digit wins and one Big 12 title (2012). 

Doubt Snyder at your own risk. The Wildcats have been anything but irrelevant. 

The preseason polls are starting to get the picture. K-State, which won six of its last seven games, is projected to finish third by media in this year's Big 12's standings, behind Oklahoma and Baylor. That's the highest K-State has been picked since the Big 12 went to 10 teams in 2011. Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports and Matt Brown of Sports on Earth agree that the Wildcats are the Big 12 sleeper.

The team returns a veteran offensive line featuring center B.J. Finney, quarterback Jake Waters, receiver Tyler Lockett, defensive end Ryan Mueller and linebacker Jonathan Truman. As Kellis Robinett of the The Wichita Eagle writes, all were either former walk-ons or unheralded recruits: 

Receiver Tyler Lockett was overlooked by the two biggest football programs in his home state, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Quarterback Jake Waters didn’t receive his first Division I scholarship offer until he was a sophomore in junior college. Jonathan Truman and B.J. Finney — like Mueller — both joined the Wildcats as walk-ons. Little was expected out of them as they exited high school. Now, all five of them are receiving national attention.

It's familiar territory. The narrative (for better or worse) about the Wildcats is that they are rarely the most talented team on the field. Snyder is unofficially nicknamed "The Wizard" because he finds overlooked players before getting every last drop of potential out of them. Since Snyder's return in 2009, the Cats have finished at or near the bottom of the Big 12 in recruiting, according to 247Sports rankings. 

No lie, Google "How does Bill Snyder..." and the search engine auto-populates "do it?" Even the Internet is curious. 

So, how does Snyder do it? 

"His attention to details in our personal lives and on the field is amazing," says center B.J. Finney, a former walk-on and first-team All-Big 12 selection by the Associated Press in 2013 and 2012. "He cares so much about his players."

At 74 years old, Snyder hasn't lost his football acumen, and he certainly hasn't lost his ability to connect with his players. He coaches them up, and along the way, draws comparisons between football and life. For many, that's coming sooner rather than later. 

"He prepares us to be ready to hang up the pads," Finney said, "because it's going to happen to all of us one day.

"He told our team one time, 'maybe 10 of you will go to the pros.'" 

It's easy to see why his players want to make every practice, weightlifting session, game and snap count. The program has a system, and it works for them. 

It doesn't always go smoothly. Snyder said repeatedly that his '13 team took things for granted dating all the way back to spring practice. When K-State was upset by North Dakota State 24-21 in Week 1, Snyder delivered the always-embarrassing "I told you so" postgame speech. 

K-State lost three more games in five weeks before turning things around. But then the turnaround started. By December, the Wildcats were having what Snyder said was the best bowl preparation he could remember. 

"What I learn is about other people," Snyder said. "The significant thing is not that I understand something, it's that our young people do. You can't do something two days in a row—practice hard, go to class—and expect to play lights out on Saturdays. You have to do it over a long period of time."

The lessons are as important, if not more so, than the wins. As long as he's healthy, as long as he's affecting his players positively, Snyder wants to keep coaching.

His laid-back style isn't for everyone. One anonymous Big 12 player told Fox Sports Southwest that Snyder would be the coach he'd least like to play for. 

"I'm a high-energy guy," the player said. "I've never met the guy and he doesn't look like he's too high-energy."

Question Snyder's energy levels if you must, few teams were rolling like K-State by the end of last season. If this team keeps that momentum going, perhaps Snyder's degree of optimism will finally change. 

 

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

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Kliff Kingsbury Reads His Admirers' Flattering Tweets on 'SportsNation'

Kliff Kingsbury is a handsome man. This much we know.

The Texas Tech coach is among the less paunchy and better-dressed figures in college sports, and what more awkward way to drive that point home than to have the man read detailed tweets about his own good looks?

Thus we have this segment from ESPN's SportsNation, which asked Kingsbury to quote gushy messages about himself written by random Twitter users.

Well, that was fun. And uncomfortable.

I credit Kingsbury for going through with the segment. Getting a college football coach to say something nice about himself is like milking a horse—you can do it, but it's going to get weird.

While we're here, let’s get meta and read some random tweets of people fawning over Kingsbury while he reads fawning tweets.

Also, here's a screenshot of what comes up when you type "Kliff Kingsbury" into Twitter.

One of these things does not belong. Kingsbury is to Charlie Weis as tuna tartare is to KFC Double Down.

The weird explanation for this is that the Big 12 just began airing a commercial where the head coach of each program says his piece and morphs into another coach.

You know what makes for an aggressive shape-shift? Kingsbury to Weis.

With that, we can conclude our semiannual "Kingsbury is an attractive man" report. I hope you consider yourself up to date and informed on all Kingsbury news.

Just remember: We are all lesser mortals than the Red Raider Gosling.

 

Follow me on Twitter for more sports and pop culture news.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC Football: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from Pac-12 Media Days

The annual zoo known as Pac-12 media days began on July 23, when a variety of conference coaches took their place in front of a hungry band of reporters determined to pick their minds in preparation for the 2014 college football season.

Among those program leaders was Trojan head coach Steve Sarkisian, and he offered some illumination on what he sees lying ahead for the men of Troy this year.

Remarkably candid, coach "Sark" offered up some interesting tidbits as USC prepares to embark on the final practice sessions in the fall as the August start of the football season looms directly ahead.

This slideshow will look at some of those pearls of Sarkisian wisdom and attempt to decipher what they mean for USC in 2014.

Did the USC head man tip his hand during media days?

Read on to find out.

 

Note: All quotes obtained from transcripts provided by ASAP Sports Transcripts.

 

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USC Football: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from Pac-12 Media Days

The annual zoo known as Pac -12 media days began on July 23, when a variety of conference coaches took their place in front of a hungry band of reporters determined to pick their minds in preparation for the 2014 college football season...

Begin Slideshow

Preseason College Football Rankings 2014: Predicting Amway Coaches Top 25 Poll

New era, new sponsorship. As we transition into the first season of the College Football Playoff, we must also transition into the first season of the Amway Coaches Poll.

But don't expect a radical difference. Amway has partnered with the Coaches Poll's traditional producers, USA Today and the American Football Coaches Association, and the voting process will remain essentially unchanged. The only difference is that now, unlike during the BCS era, the poll will not play a role in deciding who gets to play for a national title (or in this case, in a national semifinal).

Although the rankings no longer have a stake in the season, they are still important for entertainment (and arguing) purposes. And the preseason edition is especially important, as it signals the impending return of real, live, actual college football to our lives.

So with the first rankings set to be released on July 31, let's take a stab at predicting which teams show up and where.

For those of you prudent enough to read the intro slide, keep in mind that these are not how I would rank the teams myself. It's a projection of how the coaches will rank them based largely, but not entirely, on the apparent general consensus.

Chime in below and let me know where you think the poll will differ.

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Why JUCO Recruiting Will Be Crucial to Bo Pelini, Nebraska's 2015 Class

Junior college players have always been a part of Bo Pelini's recruiting plan. For 2015, it needs to become a crucial part.

Less than a month after arriving in Nebraska, defensive end DeAndre Wills left the program. The Omaha World-Herald reported the decision was primarily determined by two family illnesses. Now that he's gone, the Huskers face an interesting predicament.

The depth at defensive end is now concerning. Randy Gregory and Greg McMullen are the only two players with experience at the position on the roster. But that doesn't mean it's time to panic.

Instead, it's time for Pelini to focus on recruiting JUCO players.

Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald recently took a look at the benefits of doing so. He was clear that Pelini needs to build JUCO players into his bigger plan.

"Nebraska’s done so well scouting that level of football it doesn’t need to be a court of last resort," McKewon said. "It needs to be built into the plan."

McKewon even explained why JUCO players fit so well at Nebraska:

Why do junior college guys fit so snugly into NU’s system? Probably because they’re hungry, and thus self-starters. Examining Pelini’s program over seven years, this much is clear: He and his staff tend to reject coddling. He’s not a micromanager, outside of being a stickler for academics. So junior college players — who have already learned to fend for themselves in the cattle-call system of juco ball, where facilities can be sketchy and the meal plan can be fast food — come in ready to lift, ready to learn the playbook, ready to adjust to college life, arriving with a little extra maturity and humility. Those components matter to NU coaches.

The players that Pelini has recruited out of the JUCO ranks in the past fit that description exceptionally well, too. For instance, DeJon Gomes came to Nebraska from the City College of San Francisco. His two seasons with the Huskers were nothing short of impressive.

Another example of success is Lavonte David. Coming from Fort Scott Community College in Kansas, David made a quick impact for the Huskers in just one season.

What David and Gomes show is that Pelini knows how to recruit great players from junior colleges. That skill is going to have to be put to use for the 2015 class.

In addition to defensive end, the wide receiver position looks to be a concern after 2014. In the last few months, the Huskers lost Monte Harrison (recruited in the 2014 class) to Major League Baseball, as well as Damore'ea Stringfellow and Spencer Tears.

When current seniors Kenny Bell and Jamal Turner graduate, the experience level is going to be a concern at wide receiver. That's what makes junior college players necessary.

Even JC Shurburtt, 247Sports' national recruiting director, believes the Huskers will find the needed players in junior college.

"There's always good JUCO wide receivers all over the place," Shurburtt said. "That's a position that's plentiful and I certainly think the Huskers will find their share and replenish their numbers."

Pelini could replenish numbers from high school recruits, but the needs are much more immediate now. With the defensive end and wide receiver positions filled with mostly inexperienced players, junior college recruits could make an impact immediately.

With how Pelini works with junior college players, it only makes sense to put some time and energy there for the 2015 class. It may not be how Pelini envisioned things going at first, but the success of this class now relies on it.

The Huskers are now halfway through the recruiting cycle, which is another reason junior college players will be important. The 2014 season will bring out the best in those players, allowing Pelini to find just what he needs to make up some ground.

Junior college athletes are no longer nice-to-have pieces for Nebraska in 2015. At this point, they're a need-to-have. That's what makes it so crucial for Pelini and the Huskers.

 

All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted.

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Spelling Mistake in Texas Media Guide Allows Oklahoma Fans to Troll Longhorns

A simple spelling mistake is usually just embarrassing and nothing more. However, a spelling mistake in Texas' 2014 media guide has given Oklahoma fans the opportunity to troll their rival.

Check out what is on the bottom of each page in the Longhorns' media guide:

Writing "TexsaSports" turned out to be a big mistake.

What happens when you go to TexsaSports.com?

Well played, Sooners fans.

[h/t Reddit and College Spun]

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Ty Montgomery Injury: Updates on Stanford Star's Arm and Return

Just over a month before the start of the college football regular season, Stanford has announced senior receiver Ty Montgomery has suffered an arm injury.    

Coach David Shaw said Thursday he is currently listed as questionable for the opener against UC Davis and noted he could miss the Week 2 showdown against USC, per Jon Wilner or the San Jose Mercury News.

"Hopefully, by the end of training camp, he'll be able to do more contact stuff," Shaw said. "He might not play the first game, and it will be close for USC."

Montgomery is coming off a breakout junior season in which he led the Cardinal in receptions (61), receiving yards (958) and receiving touchdowns (10). The 6'2", 215-pound receiver also added 1,091 yards and two additional scores in the return game last year.

Wilner notes that Montgomery "missed spring practice after surgeries on his knee and arm, is ahead of schedule and able to run full speed. But he is not ready for contact drills and will be limited for at least the first portion of training camp."

Montgomery also enters the season with plenty of hype for the 2015 NFL draft. NFL Draft Scout currently has him listed as the No. 1 senior receiver in the class, but injury concerns might impact his stock.

Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN ranks him as one of the top senior receivers, per College GameDay:

Behind him in each of the above statistical categories was senior Devon Cajuste. The experienced receiver will have to step up to give quarterback Kevin Hogan a reliable target if Montgomery is forced to miss time.

While the loss of Montgomery likely won't hurt the team against UC Davis, having him out against Pac-12 opponent USC could be devastating. The Trojans are entering a new era with Steve Sarkisian and looking to make noise in the conference.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Who Does ASU QB Commit Brady White Want to "Put a Whoopin' On" Pac-12?

Brady White is one of the top quarterbacks in the 2015 class. The California native has decided to stay out west and play for Todd Graham and the Arizona State Sun Devils...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Who Does ASU QB Commit Brady White Want to "Put a Whoopin' On" Pac-12?

Brady White is one of the top quarterbacks in the 2015 class. The California native has decided to stay out west and play for Todd Graham and the Arizona State Sun Devils.

White took some time to talk with Bleacher Report about his recruiting and what he is excited about regarding the future. How well do you think he will do at the collegiate level?

Watch the video and check out this future Sun Devil. 

 

Rankings from 247Sports composite

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Why SEC Bluebloods Should Be Wary of College Football Playoff

After years of complaints, anger and frustration, college football fans finally got their way. 

The 2014 season will be the first that concludes with an FBS playoff when the 13 esteemed members of the College Football Playoff selection committee choose the four best teams in the country.

Don't expect there to be two or more SEC teams because that's not happening.

The reason is simple—the goals for the College Football Playoff contradict themselves.

Executive director Bill Hancock explained the main objective for the committee when they sit down to pick the four participants.

"The committee will select the best four teams, period, no strings attached," he said at SEC media days earlier this month.

There's one problem though: There are strings attached. One big one, in fact.

The selection procedure specifically states that one point of emphasis should be conference championships, which presents a bit of a problem based on how college football has worked itself out in the past. Two teams from the same conference have finished in the top four of the final BCS standings in each of the last four seasons, the last three of which have been from the SEC.

One coach who recently mentioned the possibility of two teams from the same conference getting in was Auburn's Gus Malzahn, whose Tigers won the SEC title last year and are in the preseason discussion to make the four-team playoff in 2014.

"I think it's safe to say the SEC champion will be in the final four," he said at media days. "If you look at the last few years, numerous times there would be two teams from the SEC in the final four."

We're playing by an entirely different set of rules now, and one of those rules urges committee members to vote based on arbitrary conference championships, not overall merit.

Would Alabama have gotten a bid last year? Maybe.

Michigan State had a conference championship and finished fourth in the BCS, and Big 12 champ Baylor and possibly even Pac-12 champ Stanford would have had an argument. Stanford and Kansas State each would have been knocking on Florida's door in the previous season, especially since the Gators lost to Georgia in the regular season and the Bulldogs suffered their second loss in the SEC Championship Game to Alabama.

On top of the stated contradiction of rewarding conference champs, there's an implied goal of making this a national event on top of determining the best team. The national title game is designed to mirror the biggest spectacle in sports based on how the location is determined.

"It will be much like the Super Bowl," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in 2012, according to The New York Times. "You'll be dealing with civic communities, and I think it'll be a national process and people have to be very energetic about it. I think it's going to be great for the sport."

Overall, ESPN paid a cool $7 billion for the television rights to the playoff games, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Terms like "national process" and "like the Super Bowl" are code for "spectacle," which, on top of the hefty media deal, is exactly what the College Football Playoff is designed to be. That's great for the sport because more eyeballs means more exposure, and more exposure means more money. But it's terrifying if you're weary of politics and the lure of the almighty dollar.

If you're expecting multiple teams from the same conference to make the inaugural playoff—or any playoff—you're going to be disappointed. It's more likely to be the exception, not the rule.

There's no way to know exactly how the committee will operate until it actually gets down to business, but with a stated goal like rewarding conference championships and the clear intent to make this a spectacle, why would the committee regionalize the playoff by taking two teams from the same conference unless there's really no other option?

The SEC has built itself quite a reputation as the nation's top college football conference based on the seven-year streak of BCS National Championships. But the way this process is set up, it's unlikely that reputation will benefit the conference when it comes to getting a second team into the mix.

Two teams from the same conference in the College Football Playoff?

That's unlikely, especially in its first year of existence. Just be happy with one.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

 

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Watch Snoop Dogg's Son Quiz 5-Star Teammates on Their Bromance

Torrance Gibson and Tarvarus McFadden are two of the highest-rated recruits in the 2015 class. These two studs just happen to be longtime friends who attend the same high school as well.

We had Snoop Dogg's son Cordell Broadus—a top recruit himself—host these two for a trivia game to see how well they really know each other.

Will Gibson and McFadden end up at the same school?

Watch the video to check out how close these two 5-star athletes really are.

Rankings from 247Sports Composite.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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