NCAA Football

Tre Lamar Reveals Top 3: Which Schools Hold the Edge for 4-Star LB?

Linebacker Tre Lamar has narrowed his college choices to three southern options, a trio that have spent plenty of time with the 4-star Georgia prospect.

"These three schools offer the qualities I'm looking for," Lamar said of Alabama, Auburn and Clemson, per Wesley Sinor of AL.com.

According to Sinor, Lamar has visited Clemson five times—with another trip scheduled there for the July 17 "All-In Cookout"—and been to both Alabama and Auburn four times. They are three of the 36 schools that have offered the 6'4", 240-pound prospect from Roswell, Georgia.

Rated by 247Sports as the No. 153 overall prospect in the 2016 recruiting class, Lamar is considered the nation's eighth-best inside linebacker and the No. 15 prospect in Georgia.

Lamar had positive things to say about all three finalists, telling Sinor his relationship with Clemson's coaches is very strong. He cited Alabama's tradition of developing inside linebackers, such as C.J. Mosley and Dont'a Hightower, and noted that Auburn's engineering department appeals to his academic interests.

Clemson has the edge in 247Sports' Crystal Ball predictions, collecting 60 percent of the 10 projections made so far. Alabama and Auburn are tied at 20 percent. But if Lamar is looking to be the guy at his school, Auburn figures to be his best bet.

Clemson already has a commitment from Rahshaun Smith, the nation's top-rated inside linebacker, while No. 5 ILB prospect Jaquan Yulee has committed to Alabama and is in pursuit of fourth-rated Dontavious Jackson. Auburn hasn't landed an inside 'backer yet, and Lamar is considered the Tigers' top target at that position.

Alabama could lose junior Reuben Foster to the NFL draft after this season, but the Crimson Tide have plenty of depth at the position and signed three linebackers in the 2015 class. Auburn doesn't have as much behind senior Kris Frost, while Clemson has a pair of freshmen who redshirted in 2014 and are waiting to step in for senior B.J. Goodson.

 

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

4-Star Diondre Overton Opens Up on Top 5 and Chances of Being a 2-Sport Athlete

There was a time when 4-star wide receiver Diondre Overton once thought his future in college athletics would be courtesy of the basketball court. At 6'5" and 194 pounds, he would have been a solid option at the combo guard spot for a program.

As the days go by, Overton's hoop dreams are turning more and more into a gridiron fantasy. And that fantasy inched closer to reality status on Friday when the Greensboro, North Carolina, standout announced his top five.

"These five have pretty much been recruiting me the hardest and showing me the most love," Overton said. "I like the facilities and the coaching staffs. Some of the other colleges that offered backed off, but these five contacted me the most."

Last month at The Opening Charlotte regional, Overton told Bleacher Report that he was strongly considering playing football and basketball in college. The idea still is with Overton, but football holds the edge if he chooses to play one sport.

"It's something I've thought about," he said. "If I focus on one sport, I'll have more opportunity to improve and work on my game. Plus, it will relieve a lot of stress. I know it takes a lot to do both."

As a wide receiver for Walter Hines Page Senior High School last season, Overton caught 62 passes for 1,187 yards and 11 touchdowns, according to his Rivals.com page. He then switched his attention to basketball and, according to MaxPreps, averaged 14.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game as a junior.

For now, Overton is leaning toward playing football only—and he likes all five programs on his list for various reasons. He said he's a fan of Nebraska wide receivers coach Keith Williams.

"The wide receivers coach at Nebraska is pretty cool. He tells me a lot of interesting things and has convinced me to give them a chance," Overton said. "N.C. State is the home school. I've been around it my whole life. I've been there several times, and I love the environment.

"I was at UNC's Freak Show [camp], and it really impressed me a lot, way more than I expected. The whole atmosphere is nice there. With Tennessee, I like that they're producing good wide receivers. The campus is nice, and I like the weight room there."

Of the five schools, Clemson may be the school to watch. Overton's 247Sports Crystal Ball points unanimously to Clemson, and he's made a few unofficial trips to the campus.

"Every time I go there, I like it more and more," he said. "It's always been near the top for me. I like the wide receiver coach [Jeff Scott], and I like how they're producing more and more wide receivers each year."

Whether or not Overton chooses to play basketball at the next level is up to him. Although he doesn't have a basketball scholarship offer for his top five, he's been in contact with the basketball coaches to discuss the possibility of being a two-sport athlete.

For now, he is focusing more on finding a football home and a place where he can get the best education. He's looking to major in sports medicine. No timetable has been set, but Overton said he will continue keeping all options open.

"I definitely want a good coaching staff, a good environment and a place where I can study my major," he said. "Plus, I want to be a part of a great team that has a lot of history. I'm looking for a great school where I can fit in."

 

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Winners and Losers from College Football Recruiting Trail for the Month of June

The mass high school student exodus known as summer beak has finally swept across the country, creating opportunities for prized football prospects to truly explore their collegiate possibilities.

Competitive camps, multi-university road trips and long-awaited campus visits allow coaching staffs and recruits to spend time in the same vicinity while figuring out whether an ideal fit might be found. June welcomed a new phase of the recruiting cycle, setting the stage for frenzied developments as many players approach the final campaigns of their respective prep careers.

Here's our monthly examination of which college programs picked up the pace and those that must regain momentum moving forward.

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Ranking Greatest Big Ten Football Games of All Time

There's nearly two months to go until the start of the 2015 college football season, which is one of the most anticipated in the history of the Big Ten. Between Ohio State defending its national championship, the arrival of Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, the sustained success of Michigan State and renewed optimism for Penn State, Wisconsin and Nebraska, never has the league seemed so loaded on the eve of its season.

The sudden excitement surrounding the Big Ten could make for several instant classics on the field, particularly in the East Division, where the Buckeyes, Spartans, Nittany Lions and Wolverines are arguably the conference's four most intriguing teams. But while everyone is looking forward to the coming season, now's the perfect time to look back at the matchups that have already made for some of the greatest games in Big Ten history.

With that in mind, here is my countdown of the 10 best games in Big Ten history. Historical significance, star power and the overall entertainment of each matchup were taken into account while creating and ranking the list.

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Power Ranking Nebraska's 2015 Schedule from Easiest to Toughest

As the calendar turns to July, Nebraska football fans can start to see the 2015 season take shape. So as they wonder what the first season under new head coach Mike Riley will be like, it’s a good time to look at the schedule game-by-game and figure out which contests look to be the toughest.

Sure, there’s a long time between now and when a football is kicked in anger this September. But given what we know now, here’s how Nebraska’s schedule looks in terms of its degree of difficulty from game to game.

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Auburn Football Recruiting: Top Commits, Targets to Watch at the Opening

Many of the nation's best high school prospects are heading to Nike's campus at Oregon next week for The Opening, and Auburn fans who follow recruiting will definitely recognize a handful of names at the annual event.

Three players currently committed to Auburn are on the rosters for The Opening, and plenty of the program's top targets are also going to be showcasing their skills July 7-10 in the Pacific Northwest.

Thanks a trio of 5-star recruits—including the nation's No. 1 player—and several of the Southeast's best playmakers, there could be several future Tigers on display at The Opening.

Here's a look at the three Auburn pledges and 10 major targets who will be at the event, complete with highlights and expert analysis of where these players stand in their respective recruitments.

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Insider Buzz: LSU Making Push to Steal 5-Star DE from Florida State

LSU has taken over as the leader in college football recruiting for 2016. Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe and Sanjay Kirpalani discuss who might be its next huge get on the recruiting trail.

Do you think LSU can steal 5-star defensive end Shavar Manuel from current favorite Florida State?

Watch the video and let us know!

 

Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ranking the Top 5 Big Ten QBs of the 21st Century

It has been 15 years since the turn of the century, and we have seen plenty of highly talented quarterbacks come and go in college football.

Bleacher Report college football analyst Adam Kramer ranks the top five Big Ten quarterbacks in the 21st century.

Who do you think should have made the list?

Watch the video, and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

8 College Football Teams with the Coolest Facilities

The competition on the field in college football is nothing compared to the battle being waged between schools to have the country's best facilities.

Across the land, the so-called "arms race" that involves near-constant advances and improvements in locker rooms, training facilities and practice complexes—not to mention the stadiums themselves—has made it so the games themselves seem inconsequential. That's not really the case, considering how much money is spent on recruiting budgets and coaching salaries, but it's still a huge part of the overall picture.

And just like those areas, the facilities game isn't played on a level playing field. Some schools simply have more money (read: donations) to work with, and thus are able to build bigger, better and cooler complexes.

Here's our list of some of the teams with most awe-inspiring college football facilities for 2015.

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The Opening: Michigan Commits Looking to Set the Bar in the Trenches

Michigan fans should get excited for some of their top recruits to represent the Wolverines in Beaverton, Oregon, at The Opening Finals.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down a specific Michigan commit and what we should expect to see from him next week.

How well do you think the Michigan commits will do at The Opening?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Will the 2015 SEC West Champ Come from the State of Alabama?

We're only a few weeks away from SEC media days in Hoover, Alabama, and the predictions are already flying.

The most recent of those comes from the conference's Sports Information Directors, who sided with a rematch in the SEC Championship Game.

According to Charles Hollis of AL.com, the Auburn Tigers barely edged out the Alabama Crimson Tide in the annual poll 33-32. Auburn received three first-place and three-second place votes, while Alabama received three first-place, two second-place and one third-place vote. SIDs were not allowed to vote for their own school.

If everything goes according to the SID's plan, the Tigers will have a rematch with Georgia in the SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome this December.

Clearly, the Iron Bowl is shaping up to be the game of the year in the SEC—just as it has been over the last six years when its winner has played for the national title or made the College Football Playoff.

Will the SEC West champ come from Alabama, or will another state rise up for the first time since LSU won the SEC West in 2011 (and lost the BCS National Championship to the Crimson Tide)?

Give me the state of Alabama over the field.

There's a reason the two teams from the Yellowhammer State are in the top four of Bovada's preseason odds to win the national title (via OddsShark.com). Both have taken tremendous steps to fix lingering problems in the offseason after proving they can both win at elite levels with those problems.

For Alabama, it's about the secondary.

Mel Tucker was brought in as Alabama's defensive backs coach after defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and head coach Nick Saban had been more hands-on with the group in the past. It seems like he's already figuring things out.

With starter and star Cyrus Jones out with an injury, Tony Brown seemingly emerged as a more reliable option at corner, and former starter at corner Eddie Jackson moved to safety. That's an indication that Tucker might be farther along in the development of the new-look secondary than anticipated. 

Offensively, sure, there's that big, glaring, unavoidable number jumping off the page of every preseason magazine. Nine new starters. One of those is running back Derrick Henry, who led the Crimson Tide in rushing last year. Another is running back/wide receiver Kenyan Drake, who has played plenty of football over the years. Another is O.J. Howard, who has the potential to be one of the most dangerous downfield weapons out of the tight end position in college football.

Sure, the quarterback situation is unsettled. But Jake Coker and David Cornwell both looked much better this spring than Blake Sims did last spring. All offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin did with Sims was win the SEC title and post a program-best (484.5 YPG).

The Crimson Tide will be just fine.

Their cross-state rivals will be too.

Auburn is set up for a monumental year offensively. Quarterback Jeremy Johnson already has the starting job nailed down. He has an experienced offensive line in front of him, a veteran wide receiving corps led by D'haquille "Duke" Williams and a deep and talented running back group for head coach Gus Malzahn to utilize. Sure, there's no true No. 1 running back as of now, but Malzahn has produced 12 1,000-yard rushers in nine seasons as a college head or assistant coach. 

He'll make it work.

Will Muschamp will make it work defensively as well.

The first-year defensive coordinator now in his second stint in the role at Auburn was brought in to kick-start a defense that has become more of a punchline than a power. Auburn, a team that used to be known for defense, hasn't finished in the top half of the conference in total defense since 2007—which was Muschamp's last season of his first stint on the Plains.

There's a solid foundation with an All-SEC-caliber corner in Jonathan Jones, veteran linebackers Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzy, defensive tackle Montravius Adams and end Carl Lawson—who missed all of last season recovering from a torn ACL.

As JC Shurburtt of 247Sports noted on the Cole Cubelic Show on 730 WUMP in Huntsville on Monday, it seems that, despite questions, it's Auburn, Alabama and everybody else in the SEC West going into the season.

The two teams from the state of Alabama have holes but have proven that they can overcome those holes even if they aren't solved. 

Alabama made the College Football Playoff with secondary struggles and won titles with first-year starting quarterbacks Greg McElroy (2009) and AJ McCarron (2011) in the past.

In Auburn's national championship year of 2010, it finished with the fourth-worst defense in the SEC (368.4 YPG) and was 12th in 2013 (420.7 YPG) when it came within 13 seconds of another crystal football.

Those two teams deserve the benefit of the doubt at this point, with the rest of the SEC West chasing them.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Top 10 Defensive Coordinators in College Football

Offenses might continue to steal the show in college football with the rise of uptempo spread attacks, but elite defenses are still a valuable commodity in today's game.

Several powerhouse schools decided to hire elite defensive coordinators this offseason in order to combat the increasing spread of high-scoring offenses across the country. Elsewhere, top defensive assistants received new contracts and head-coaching buzz for their success at shutting down opponents in 2014.

The following list of top 10 defensive coordinators was determined by a defensive coordinator's overall success and years of experience with highly ranked defenses, with a little more weight given to results in recent seasons. 

Standard defensive metrics such as total yards allowed and scoring played huge roles in these rankings in addition to Football Outsiders' S&P+ defensive ratings, which measure efficiency with regards to opponent strength.

Sound off on this top 10 list in the comments below, and create your own rankings for the best defensive coordinators in college football.

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The Opening: Which Targets Should Tennessee Commits Recruit Hardest for Vols?

Tennessee fans should get excited for some of their top recruits to represent the Volunteers in Beaverton, Oregon, in The Opening Finals.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down which targets the Tennessee commits need to recruit next week.

How well do you think the Tennessee commits will do at The Opening?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

4-Star DE Xavier Kelly Tweets Top 8 Schools

One of the top 2016 recruits from America's Heartland has narrowed his list of schools, and they represent nearly every corner of the country.

Xavier Kelly, a 4-star defensive end from Wichita, Kansas, is rated by 247Sports' composite as the No. 102 player in the 2016 class and the country's eighth-best weak-side edge-rusher. He's the top-rated player from Kansas, but he only included one of that state's two FBS programs among his final eight.

That would be Kansas State, where Kelly had originally committed last November but then backed out of in March.

A two-sport athlete at Wichita East High School, Kelly played both tight end and defensive end during the football season and also starred on the basketball team.

Clocked at 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash, per 247Sports, Kelly has great speed for a player of his size and he figures to continue to grow into his body. Bleacher Report's Tyler Donohue said this could prompt college coaches to "implement him as a stand-up defensive threat along the edge.

"His first-step burst is elite enough to send even polished blockers back on their heels," Donohue said.

Kelly has received 31 scholarship offers, most recently from Florida in early June, and he spent much of this past month making visits to his many suitors. Kelly made visits to Florida, Miami (Florida), Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Oklahoma in June, yet only Michigan made the cut.

His final eight doesn't line up with what experts had originally expected from the 6'5", 255-pound Kelly, as all six entries in 247Sports Crystal Ball Predictor made prior to Kelly's announcement had him going to either Michigan State, Nebraska or Oklahoma.

Alabama has since jumped into a tie with Nebraska and Oklahoma for first, at 25 percent, and 247Sports' Chris Nee expects the Crimson Tide to "surge" with predictions.

 

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports, unless otherwise noted.

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

B/R 5th Down: Texas A&M Trash-Talks Bama with Shirts, Nick Chubb Dunks

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. Texas A&M T-Shirt Wants Bama

Your summertime trash talk is well-intentioned, apparel companies. It's probably good for some coin, too. That's all you're worried about, anyway. It's the summertime, and everyone is undefeated and going to the national championship this year (just you wait and see). Trash talk is what bides the time until real football begins. 

But, a warning: If you're going to proclaim something like "Bama's got nothing on us," like this A&M T-shirt at Academy Sports and Outdoors stores did, at least make sure there's some supporting evidence. 

Otherwise, you get a heaping dose of #wellactually referencing Alabama's 59-0 win over A&M last season. 

To look at it another way, maybe it's A&M that has nothing on Bama, so to speak. 

 

2. Here's Nick Chubb Dunking a Basketball

You don't need any more affirmation to know that Georgia running back Nick Chubb is a freak of an athlete. But here's some anyway—it's Chubb, all 5'10" of him, dunking a basketball:  

Chubb has a perfect blend of power and speed, which makes him one of the best running backs in college football. Now, we're waiting for him to hurdle a player during a game and clear him by a good four or five feet.  

 

3. Kendall Fuller Will See Your Smack Talk and Raise You an 'LOL'

Smack talk isn't limited to fans and clothing. Players run their mouths all the time. B/R colleague and former player Michael Felder notes that defensive backs talk the best trash. Following this friendly text message exchange between UNC wide receiver Ryan Switzer and Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller, I'm inclined to agree: 

Well done, Fuller. If you're going come at the best, you better be ready. 

  

4. Darius Rucker Had to Sing Notre Dame's Fight Song

What is Rucker, a noted South Carolina fan, doing singing the Notre Dame fight song at a concert? Here's the backstory, according to Andrew Holleran of College Spun (h/t Yardbarker):

ESPN radio personality Mike Golic, a Notre Dame grad, and country star Darius Rucker, a South Carolina fan, made a bet prior to the women's Final Four game between their two schools. 

Notre Dame won, so Rucker lost the bet. 

Not sure a fight song like Notre Dame's goes well with a strong Southern flair, but Golic and Irish fans everywhere probably didn't care.

 

5. Kid with Inoperable Brain Tumor Sings 'Rocky Top' to Peyton Manning

Perspective check: There are people out there fighting battles and being far more brave than any of us could imagine. One of those people is four-year-old A.J. Cucksey, a Tennessee fan who has an inoperable brain tumor.

In a story from Wes Rucker of 247Sports, Cucksey got a chance to sing "Rocky Top" to Peyton Manning while Manning was in Knoxville for one of his charity golf tournaments. 

It had to have been a surreal moment for Cucksey. Watch the video above and take a few moments to smile.  

 

6. Just a Michigan Player, a Man Bun and a Kangaroo (or Is It a Wallaby?)

You've heard of a Michigan Man, but have you ever heard of a Michigan Kangaroo?

Here's Michigan running back Wyatt Shallman. What's that in his arms? He says it's his pet kangaroo. Jerry Hinnen of CBS Sports' Eye on College Football thinks it's a wallaby

I'm not smart enough in the world of marsupials to know one way or the other, but I'll be damned if that isn't the cutest thing ever. 

Suddenly, Rocko's Modern Life flashbacks are happening. 

 

7. Ohio State's Hype Video Will Have you Running Through Walls

At 5th Down, we're firm believers that summer is a time to be enjoyed. It's okay to stop counting down the days toward college football—that clock is still going to be there either way—and have some fun. 

That said, Ohio State's hype video for 2015 is enough to make you want to put on a helmet and pads yourself. 

Don't actually do it, though. Leave that to the professionals amateur athletes. Otherwise, you risk getting trucked by Ezekiel Elliott or tackled by Joey Bosa. 

 

8. Alabama's Most Important Commit is a Field-Goal Kicker

Here's kicker Eddy Pineiro, a 3-star Alabama commit for the class of 2016, per 247Sports, hitting a 73-yard field goal. This is impressive in and of itself. Think about the accuracy and leg strength that goes into something like that. 

But there's also context here. Alabama place-kicker jokes can be traced back to 2011 when the Tide lost to LSU during the regular season in part because of missed field goals. Then, there was the "Kick-Six" in 2013 against Auburn. 

What we're trying to say is Pineiro is Alabama's most important recruit ever. 

 

9. Florida State Commit Crushes Agility Drill Like it's Nothing

247Sports 5-star recruit Levonta Taylor is verbally committed to Florida State for the class of 2016. It's another huge pickup for head coach Jimbo Fisher, who has been dominating on the recruiting trail over the past few years. 

How Taylor impacts the Seminoles remains to be seen, but the kid can crush an agility drill, and it doesn't even look like he's trying. 

Still, he has a long way to go before he catches up with these folks: 

 

10. Auburn's New Video Board is Hilariously Huge (by Comparison)

Auburn is installing a new video board at Jordan-Hare Stadium. This by itself isn't huge news, so to speak, until you compare the new board to the old one. 

The board is the largest in college football—yes, even bigger than Texas' Godzillatron.

How big is too big? Let's put it this way: This is all going to look silly when Auburn inevitably builds a newer video board 10 times the size of the current one.  

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. He's attempting an agility drill (and failing horribly) on Twitter @BenKercheval

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC Commits Looking to Dominate the Opening for 2nd Year in a Row

USC fans should get excited for some of their top recruits to represent the Trojans in Beaverton, Oregon, at The Opening Finals.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down the USC commits and what we should expect to see next week.

How well do you think the USC Trojan commits will do at The Opening?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC Commits Looking to Dominate the Opening for 2nd Year in a Row

USC fans should get excited for some of their top recruits to represent the Trojans in Beaverton , Oregon, at The Opening Finals...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Jawon Pass Sets Decision Date: Odds on Where 4-Star QB Commits

Jawon Pass, the top-ranked uncommitted quarterback in the 2016 class, is nearly ready to declare his collegiate intentions.

The 4-star Georgia standout will announce a decision between four finalists at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 16, per Ryan Bartow of 247Sports. A commitment ceremony is scheduled at Carver High School, where Pass rose to prominence on the national recruiting radar.

Alabama, Auburn, Louisville and North Carolina are each viewed as teams still in the equation. A long list of programs including Clemson, Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Mississippi State must search elsewhere for further options at the position.

The 6'5" 220-pound playmaker burst onto the scene with a scintillating sophomore season. Pass, rated fourth nationally among dual-threat quarterbacks in 247Sports' composite rankings, erupted for 2,600 total yards, 34 touchdowns and just two interceptions in 2013.

His passing mechanics remain a work in progress, but his raw ability is evident as throws approach targets with more consistency downfield. He is also a powerful runner who operates well in traffic and figures to play a prominent role in any college goal-line rushing attack.

There's a sentiment Pass may be the most athletically gifted high school quarterback to emerge from Georgia since eventual Heisman Trophy candidate Cam Newton.

Just weeks shy of his decision, here's a look at how we view each contender's chances of landing Pass. Odds are given based on program familiarity, fit and current momentum.

 

Alabama: 2-to-1

The Crimson Tide are clearly trending toward mobile talents behind center since the arrival of offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Blake Barnett provided proof in the 2015 class while 2016 commit Jalen Hurts enhances that ideal.

Like Alabama, every team among Pass' finalists features a quarterback pledge in this cycle. Clearly, this development doesn't deter Pass and won't result in a coaching staff slamming the door on him if they're his selection.

"Coach Kiffin's a good coach and can do a lot of great things with me," Pass told Wesley Sinor of AL.com. "He's doing good with that offense up there."

Pass has a personal connection to the program. He previously played at Carver with newly-arrived Alabama freshman edge rusher Mekhi Brown. 

The Crimson Tide are surging on the recruiting trail right now, jumping to fourth overall in composite national rankings. Pass is precisely the kind of piece who could keep a five-year streak of No. 1 classes intact next national signing day.

Perhaps the most positive sign for Alabama is that Pass intends to visit Tuscaloosa July 14-15 after he competes at the Elite 11 finals in Oregon. Nick Saban should have the last in-person conversation with Pass prior to his announcement.

 

Auburn: 3-to-1

Earlier this year, Pass said Auburn and Alabama are on a level playing field with his recruitment.

"Right now, they're neck and neck," he told Justin Hokanson of 247Soorts in April after a trip to Auburn's spring game.

Our sense is Alabama has gained a slight edge since.

He certainly possesses the skill set Gus Malzahn has implemented at quarterback to great success with the Tigers. While some draw comparisons to Newton, Pass sees flashes of himself in current Auburn starter Jeremy Johnson.

"I could visualize myself, our game is a lot alike," he said when asked about Johnson. "(Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee) told me I'm the guy and when I'm ready, I can let them know. It says a lot about how much they really want me."

Those comments came before fellow 4-star quarterback Woody Barrett committed to the Tigers in early June. The Florida product is Pass' top-rated contemporary at any school he's seriously considering, so it's worth wondering if his presence could ultimately influence this decision.

 

Louisville: 5-to-1

Family is a major factor here. Pass' older brother, Khane, is approaching his freshman year with the Cardinals.

Louisville landed 3-star Tennessee quarterback Tylin Oden in May, but their staff has never shied away from Pass. There remains a legitimate chance he'll become the biggest acquisition at this stage of head coach Bobby Petrino's second tenure on campus.

Though Petrino has seen his reputation rattled by off-field issues, his effectiveness as a play caller is rarely in question.

"(Louisville's) offense would get me ready for the NFL," Pass told Bartow. "Their head coach is an offensive genius. Plus my brother is going there."

It's also important to note 2015 running back signee Traveon Samuel is friendly with the Pass brothers. Common sense says Pass lands in the SEC, but Louisville may have a solid grasp on his heartstrings. 

 

North Carolina: 8-to-1

Alabama, Auburn and Louisville each took turns as leader or "co-leader" during this recruitment, while North Carolina always seemed to be just a step behind in the hierarchy. This appears to remain the case as Pass closes toward a decision.

The Tar Heels now carry two quarterback commits in this cycle. Former Duke pledge Chazz Surratt flipped to North Carolina on June 26, joining fellow 3-star passer Logan Byrd.

Despite the presence of a pair of players at his position, Pass has long maintained he won't shy away from a crowded depth chart.

"I'm not afraid. Anywhere I go, there will be competition," Pass told Bleacher Report's Damon Sayles in June. "I want to be the guy wherever I go. Most of the schools I'm interested in said they'll take two [quarterbacks] if I want to go there."

Despite his willingness to embrace competition, the belief here is North Carolina is a clear underdog in this group regardless of its current commitments.

 

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Which Quarterback Will Break Out at the Elite 11 Showcase?

The Elite 11 quarterback competition is just around the corner, and the top signal-callers from all over the country will be in attendance.

Watch as Stephen Nelson is joined by Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder to discuss who he thinks will break out in Beaverton, Oregon.

Who do you think will break out at the Elite 11? Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

The Opening Preview: Miami Hurricane Commits Set to Dominate Against Top Talent

Miami fans should get excited for some of their top recruits to represent the Hurricanes in Beaverton, Oregon, at The Opening Finals.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down the Miami commits and what we should expect to see next week.

How well do you think the Miami Hurricane commits will do at The Opening?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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