NCAA Football

Vanderbilt Apologizes for 'We Don't Need Your Permission' Football Slogan

Vanderbilt football has come under fire on Twitter for a poorly worded slogan that was being used as a rallying cry for the 2015 season. 

Jeff Ermann of provided the evidence of Vanderbilt football's Twitter post:

Upon seeing the response to the slogan, the team did tweet out an official apology for appearing to make light of a very serious situation, even if that wasn't the intent:

Sexual assault and rape, particularly on college campuses, has become a major topic of discussion recently.

In May, CNN's Kelly Wallace cited a study published by the Journal of Adolescent Health in which 19 percent of women claimed they "had been a victim of attempted or completed rape" during their freshman year. 

In January, per Stacey Barchenger and Joey Garrison of USA Today, former Vanderbilt football players Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey were found guilty on all counts of raping an unconscious woman in a dorm. 

The tweet was not meant to suggest that Vanderbilt was trying to downplay issues of sexual assault, but given recent incidents involving the school and one of its female students, this was an unfortunate slogan to send out on social media.  

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15 Biggest College Football Position Battles to Watch in 2015 Fall Camps

Preseason camps are officially underway at most schools. The 2015 football season is just around the corner, which means any remaining position battles need to be sorted out. 

But not all position battles are created equally. Some are going to get far more attention than others, and frankly, some could be way more meaningful, despite what every coach will say.

Which preseason camp position battles fall under that category? We'll stick with the ol' 15 for '15 model and break down the top competitions in the final weeks before the season. Some battles are obvious, like Ohio State and Alabama's quarterback competitions. Others might fly a little further under the radar but could have huge impacts on the season. 

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College Football Redshirt Freshmen to Watch in 2015 Fall Camp

One of the best aspects of fall camp for fans of college football and the media members who cover the sport is the early chance to see possible instant-impact freshmen.

In today's 24/7/365 cycle of recruiting, newcomers are turned into campus celebrities before they even play a single snap in college. People clamor to see the next big thing for a program.

A group of freshmen that is sometimes overlooked during fall practices is the one that consists of those who received a redshirt in the previous year. The strong buzz surrounding their signings has been replaced by the most recent class, and they normally don't receive as much hype as the players who are fresh out of high school.

But redshirt freshmen are still major playmakers for programs year in and year out. Thanks to a year in the weight room and the new playbook, these players can be valuable first-year starters in key areas for major programs.

Here are 15 redshirt freshmen fans need to keep their eyes on during fall camps. Some have positioned themselves to become starters in their second year on the team, while others will be embroiled in huge position battles in the final weeks leading up to the season.

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Most Popular Academic Majors for 2015 Power 5 Conference Football Players

To many fans, they're college football players. But in the eyes of the NCAA and their respective schools, they're student-athletes.

The first half of that term often gets ignored by those in the stands and watching on TV. When these players hit the football field each weekend, they aren't only coming off several days of hard practice. They are college students who have also been in the classroom and the study hall.

Like most college students, players have declared majors and specific plans of study toward the degrees they could use after they leave campus. After all, less than 2 percent of all college football players make it to the NFL, according to the NCAA.

After months of tallying the totals, here's a look at the most popular majors for Power Five conference football players. Most of the information for each individual school is available through online rosters, but a few programs had to be contacted directly through sports information directors for their players' declared majors.

Notice that many of these totals don't add up to the number of players on a team. That's because these are just the totals of players who have already declared majors or specific school enrollments—roughly one-third of Power Five players, mostly underclassmen, have not yet declared their courses of study.

The following slides contain a conference-by-conference breakdown of the most common majors and clusters of similar majors, as well as the top choice for each team. For a more detailed breakdown of each individual school, check out this spreadsheet

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4-Star Cornell Powell '100% Committed' to Clemson, but Plans to Visit Others

Last national signing day while the focus of college football fans shifted to 2015 recruits, Cornell Powell claimed a small piece of spotlight by committing to Clemson.

Just a junior at the time, his early February pledge helped highlight a five-day stretch that featured Tigers commitments from fellow 4-star wide receiver Tavares Chase, Georgia linebacker Jamie Skalski and 5-star running back Tavien Feaster.

Six months later, Powell's decision remains intact, but it wasn't quite as effective as he anticipated.

"You would think once you commit that other schools would start to back off and things would become less crazy, but that's definitely not the case," he told Bleacher Report. "They knew I still had another 365 days to make a final choice so my recruitment never really ended."

Programs stayed persistent in the pursuit of Powell, a prized 6'1", 180-pound prospect from J.H. Rose High School in Greenville, North Carolina.

Though he is unwavering in his loyalty to Clemson, upcoming official visit opportunities appeal to the playmaker.

"I'm still 100 percent committed to Clemson. I just want to have fun and enjoy this process, as many high school athletes should," Powell said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience." 

He opted to take advantage, lining up trips to four universities this fall. Powell confirmed plans to visit Georgia (Sept. 19), Oklahoma (Oct. 3) and Ohio State (Oct. 17), before closing out his multi-campus tour with a return to Clemson (Nov. 7). 

At this stage, it's unclear whether he will ultimately use a fifth and final official visit before signing day. Regardless, Powell will attend several compelling games this season.

Georgia hosts South Carolina in its SEC home opener when he comes to town. First-year offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has made a strong impression on Powell, encouraging him to visit Athens.

"Me and Coach Schottenheimer have a very good relationship. I want to get down there to check out the campus. He told me I will love it, so I need to see it for myself," he said.

Oklahoma also set itself apart with an assistant coach. Powell was previously recruited by Sooners offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley at East Carolina, establishing longstanding familiarity.

"He recruited me hard when I was a freshman and sophomore to come to ECU, which is right around the corner from me," Powell said. "We lost touch for a little while when he went to Oklahoma, but things picked backed up. He's one of my favorite coaches, so I'm excited to spend some time with him at the school."

Oklahoma welcomes him to Norman for a matchup with West Virginia.

His motivation for visiting Ohio State is straight to the point.

"I want to see how national champions operate," Powell said.

He will be in attendance when the Buckeyes face Penn State.

Clemson is likely the last stop in his recruitment. He plans to watch the Tigers take on reigning ACC champion Florida State.

Powell expects further confirmation that he made the correct choice in February.

"It will feel like going home. There's no place better. Every time I visit, I fall more in love with it," he said.

Clemson has become a notable landing spot for top-tier wide receivers during head coach Dabo Swinney's tenure. Recent alumni Martavis Bryant, Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins are all expected to play expansive roles on their respective NFL squads this year.

Powell is likely to join a group that now features 5-star 2015 signee Deon Cain.

"Wide receiver is more than a position at Clemson, it's a state of mind," he said. "When you play wide receiver there, you take that opportunity seriously and personally. It is so exciting to know I can learn from the best and play with an incredibly dynamic quarterback in Deshaun Watson."

J.H. Rose High School started training camp Monday. Powell, who caught 67 passes for 1,248 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2014, enters his final campaign at the school with high expectations.

"I have one goal this season and that's to win a state championship. That's by any means necessary, whether I catch 70 passes or 20," he said. "It's going to be tougher this year with all the attention I'll get from defenses, but I'm prepared. I've become an improved route-runner and I understand the game better than ever."


Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake. 

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David Long to Stanford: Cardinal Land 4-Star CB Prospect

Wide receivers in the Pac-12 beware—Stanford has landed 4-star cornerback prospect David Long, according to 247Sports.

Long spoke to the outlet about why he chose the school:

First off it's a dream school of mine. Coming into high school Stanford is the school I always wanted to go to. That's why I chose to go to Loyola High School, too, because it would prepare me for a school like Stanford. I know I'll get a great education there and I really like Stanford's coaches, too. I love how Stanford plays hard-nosed football.

A 6'0", 175-pound prospect out of Loyola High School in Los Angeles, Long is ranked 70th nationally among all prospects, seventh at his position and 10th in the state, according to 247Sports. showcased some of his highlights from last year:

Long makes up for his shorter stature with impressive leaping ability while bringing big-time speed to the position, something that's Brandon Huffman was able to witness firsthand:

Makeup speed is imperative for a cornerback. If beaten or faked out initially, the ability to recover determines whether a lot of corners sink or swim. 

Expect to see Long with the Cardinal in a couple of years, not only in the secondary but maybe even on special teams. With that kind of dynamic play and speed, he has the perfect physique and skill set to return punts as well.

He will need to beef up before he sees the field, though. At 175 pounds, he needs a bit more size to improve his tackling while trying to avoid being pushed around in the secondary when it comes to shedding blocks. With that said, he will also have to make sure he learns how to properly tackle. Instead of launching himself like a missile and leading with the shoulder, Long will have to make sure he wraps up the ball-carrier. It could save him from injury down the road.

Still, it is apparent that Long has the raw capability and intangibles to make any Division I roster. Expect to see him terrorizing quarterbacks in the FBS once he finishes developing and acclimates to the college game.

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David Long to Stanford: Cardinal Land 4-Star CB Prospect

Wide receivers in the Pac-12 beware—Stanford has landed 4-star cornerback prospect David Long, according to 247Sports . Long spoke to the outlet about why he chose the school: First off it's a dream school of mine...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

4-Star DB Deontay Anderson Discusses Top 5, Leaves Door Open for Other Programs

The triple-digit temperatures of a Texas summer in August can be physically draining and mentally excruciating for high school football players.

For Deontay Anderson, it's observed merely as routine, just another day in his quest to be the nation's best safety on the nation's best team.

As Anderson, Manvel High School's 4-star defensive standout and the No. 3 safety in the country, prepares for his senior year, he's managed to balance the anticipation of the upcoming season with the stressful world of recruiting. On Sunday, Anderson tweeted his top five schools, trimming his list from a selection of 43 reported offers.

And he did so just in time to focus on the season, which starts in three weeks.

"Practices have been good; I'm just ready to get to fast action and hit somebody," Anderson said. "It's been hot, but it hasn't been an issue. We run a lot, and it's been kind of a challenge, but it hasn't really been a major issue."

Anderson said the five schools that made his list also will be the schools receiving an official visit. The USC visit most likely will be the weekend of Sept. 18, when the Trojans host Stanford. The official stop in Texas will be during the season, but a date hasn't been determined. Anderson added that official visits to Texas A&M, Ole Miss and LSU most likely will happen after the season.

Anderson—the high-octane player known for making plays with the sugar-rush assistance of Welch's Fruit Snacks— said all five schools had the same thing in common: a connection with the head coach and the position coaches.

"The relationship with the coaches is important," he said. "You're always going to be around your coaches, so you have to have good relationships with them. I like the head coach and my position coach with all of them. I think I can learn a lot."

To add, Anderson said that while he has five officials planned, he hasn't shut the recruiting door on other programs. In fact, he said he's still looking at Georgia, Florida, TCU and Mississippi State, and those four schools have just as much of a chance as the ones in his top five.

"[Narrowing it down] has been very difficult, but it had to be done," said Anderson, who won't make a decision until national signing day. "I knew I had to sit down and just pick which ones fit me best. I hated to cut any school out, but it had to be done."

USC is expected to be Anderson's first visit, and it could set the bar overall. There was a time Anderson wasn't interested in the Trojans, but he said the persistence of defensive backs coach Keith Heyward and head coach Steve Sarkisian should be commended.

"[Heyward] has made a couple of visits to see me," Anderson said. "I was in class one day, and my coach said he came by to speak with me unexpectedly. That really caught my eye. Then [Sarkisian] started coming by to visit. We've had great talks."

There are some who feel the battle for Anderson will come down to in-state rivals Texas and Texas A&M. He has a teammate in 4-star wide receiver Reggie Hemphill-Mapps who has been committed to the Longhorns since October of last year. On the flip side, another former teammate, Koda Martin, is a redshirt freshman at Texas A&M.

Anderson said he's a big fan of the coaching staffs at both Texas and Texas A&M—particularly the coaches who are defensive-minded.

"I love what Coach [Charlie] Strong is doing at UT," he said. "He's a great man, and I feel he's going to change things around. He's a defensive guy, so that's a huge deal to me.

"A&M has been around for a long time. I've built a good relationship with Coach [Kevin] Sumlin, and I love [defensive coordinator] Coach [John] Chavis. He's a cool dude. He's one of the best people I've ever met—a really genuine guy."

LSU and Ole Miss are two schools to keep an eye on. Anderson calls LSU his "dream school" and was excited after receiving the offer. Ole Miss arguably has shown him the most love of the five schools, and he's a big fan of what head coach Hugh Freeze is doing with the program.

"LSU is DBU," Anderson said. "When I first got the offer, I thought about committing, but I didn't because I thought I might get more offers. It's crazy to have your dream school offer. Coach [Les] Miles is unbelievable, and [defensive backs] Coach [Corey] Raymond is unbelievable. It's a great environment there; plus, it's close to home.

"With Ole Miss, I know that Coach Freeze has it rolling over there. He's one special person; he has a certain gift, and that's one thing I've taken notice of. He's one of those coaches who knows himself and really knows his players. Plus, the campus is beautiful, and everybody is genuine. You can't go wrong there."

The winning school gets a dynamic playmaker in the secondary, someone who is as polished a tackler as he is a cover defender. As a junior, he finished the year with 59 tackles, eight pass breakups and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdowns.

Anderson showed his athleticism the last two years as a participant at The Opening in Oregon. This year, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds, completed the 20-yard shuttle in 4.01 seconds, threw the power ball 38 feet and showed a vertical jump of 37.4 inches. 

For his varsity career—which started his freshman year—Anderson has 184 tackles, 18 pass breakups and four interceptions. He also has returned a punt return back for a score, if a school chooses to use him in the special teams department.

Anderson said he's unsure of trimming his list further, but he did say he's excited about giving all of the schools a chance to make their pitches.

For now, however, his primary focus is on Manvel.

"I want to win state with my team," he said. "We've got to take that one day at a time and focus on the details. We can't think about anything else."


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 

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Terrell Cuney Arrested: Latest Details, Reaction and More on Texas OL

Redshirt freshman Terrell Cuney is set to see his first action as part of the University of Texas' offensive line during the upcoming season, but that is currently in question due to a reported arrest.

Continue for updates.

Report: Cuney Arrested Wednesday for ShopliftingThursday, Aug. 6

Just weeks before the start of the 2015 college football campaign, Texas head coach Charlie Strong may have a difficult situation to deal with involving his reserve center.

According to Chris Hummer of 247Sports, Cuney was arrested early Wednesday morning for shoplifting, although specifics regarding the incident have not yet been released.

Cuney is a 6'1", 278-pound lineman from Jasper, Texas, who rated as the No. 7 center recruit in the Class of 2014, per 247Sports.

Senior Taylor Doyle is currently entrenched as the Longhorns' starting center, with sophomore Jake Raulerson behind him, so Cuney isn't in line to play very much in 2015 regardless of his legal situation.

The primary concern relates to his status with the team, as Strong hasn't hesitated to discipline his players. In fact, he dismissed nine players in 2014 during his first season at the helm. 


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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CFB Recruiting 200: Top 8 Pro-Style Quarterbacks in Class of 2016

After thorough study using specific scoring criteria, Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analysts Damon Sayles, Sanjay Kirpalani and Tyler Donohue have graded the top 200 players in the 247Sports composite rankings and provided in-depth analysis on each young athlete. Bleacher Report will run a position-by-position breakdown series of the best college football recruits in the class of 2016. Here we present the Top Pro-Style Quarterbacks.

Other Positions

Every collegiate coaching staff spends a large portion of each recruiting cycle searching for its next offensive leader. The presence of an elite and accountable quarterback commit lends increased legitimacy to a recruiting class and can convince other playmakers to join forces for years to come.

As usual, the majority of America's top-rated passers pledged early and enter their final high school summer break with future intentions revealed. The 2016 crop of quarterback measures up well when compared to groups we've watched develop in recent years and promises to make a major impact on college football's competitive landscape.

We broke down every pro-style quarterback rated among America's top 200 players in 247Sports' composite rankings, taking a look at key attributes and their respective recruitments. Athletes are listed in order of composite rankings and graded based on analysis judging accuracy, arm strength, mobility, leadership, football IQ and pocket presence.


All prospects graded by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue.

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Preseason College Football Rankings 2015: Best and Worst of 1st Coaches Poll

Technically, the initial 2015 Amway Coaches Poll doesn’t play a factor in the race toward the College Football Playoff, but best of luck telling that to pigskin-starved fans who have been clamoring for the sounds of the band and the crisp air of autumn Saturdays all summer.

The release of the preseason Top 25 is the clearest signal that football is finally right around the corner, and the poll was particularly good news for the defending champion Ohio State Buckeyes, the SEC (eight ranked teams) and Big 12 title contenders TCU and Baylor.

The No. 1 Buckeyes sit in the driver’s seat on the road to a repeat title, but there are plenty of challengers waiting for a shot at Urban Meyer’s squad.

As is always the case with college football, there is an element of subjectivity with the rankings, which opens the door for criticism (and even compliments). After all, these teams haven’t even played a down of actual football this season and are already ranked in best-to-worst fashion.

Here is a look at the complete Top 25, as well as some reasons to praise and complain about the first coaches poll.


Best Selection: Ohio State at No. 1

Last year’s Heisman Trophy finalists were Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Alabama’s Amari Cooper and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon. One thing they have in common (outside of their places on NFL rosters) is the fact that they all lost to Ohio State under the bright lights at the end of the 2014 season.

The Buckeyes team that steamrolled its way through the Badgers in the Big Ten title game, the Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff and the Ducks in the national championship game is largely still intact heading into the 2015 campaign. That is worrisome news for the rest of the country and makes Ohio State the clear pick atop the initial coaches poll.

In fact, the Buckeyes are so loaded that they have not one, but two quarterbacks who could theoretically challenge for this year’s Heisman in Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett.

Former Big Ten Player of the Year Braxton Miller was set to join them in a quarterback race for the ages, but he will instead play wide receiver and H-back.

Miller's decision will only make Ohio State’s offense even more dangerous given his comments, per Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated: “It’s going to be electric. We had a great season last year, but we didn’t see anyone do off-the-wall type stuff. I’m sure guys miss seeing an explosive, 60-yard shake-and-bake run every once in a while.”

Miller’s electric first step jumped out when he lined up at quarterback, and he will have an even greater opportunity to demonstrate that as a skill player this season. Throw in weapons Jalin Marshall, Mike Thomas, Curtis Samuel, Dontre Wilson, Corey Smith and even youngsters Parris Campbell and Noah Brown, and it’s difficult to envision any defense slowing down Ohio State.

That’s not even mentioning star running back Ezekiel Elliott, who led the way in those final three games last year with a combined 696 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. With all the attention on the quarterback race, Elliott has the talent to win the Heisman Trophy this season behind a loaded offensive line that returns four starters.

The defense also figures to be among the nation’s best behind Joey Bosa (the potential No. 1 pick in next year’s draft), Darron Lee, Vonn Bell, Joshua Perry and Adolphus Washington. 

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller took the time to evaluate their pro prospects, and the mere fact that a draft expert already has his eyes on so many defenders from one team before the season even starts is testament to the talent and depth the Buckeyes boast:

Ohio State held Mariota and the dynamic Oregon offense to a mere 20 points in the title game, and they will shut down plenty of opponents this year as well. 

With a stout defense and an offense loaded with game-changing playmakers, the Buckeyes were an obvious choice for the No. 1 team in the country. The initial coaches poll did not disappoint atop the rankings.


Overrated Selection: Oregon at No. 5

While Ohio State is right where it belongs at No. 1, the team it defeated in the national title contest is overrated at No. 5.

Oregon will still win plenty of games this season, but it is premature to say the 2015 version is one of the five best teams in the country. For one, there is simply no replacing Mariota, who threw for 4,454 yards and 42 touchdowns and added 770 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground on his way to the Heisman.

What’s more, the offensive line must replace three starters, including star center Hroniss Grasu. It is always difficult to break in a new quarterback, and that task will be even more challenging with a developing line and an early trip to East Lansing to face a daunting Michigan State defense.

Whether Vernon Adams or Jeff Lockie seizes the signal-caller reins, they simply won’t be able to run the offense at full gear until the line is completely ready. That may not come until after the Michigan State showdown, which could mean an early loss.

As for the defense that was last seen on the receiving end of Elliott’s stiff arm in the national championship game, it will no longer have All-American cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, defensive end Arik Armstead or cornerback Troy Hill, among others.

Ted Miller of pointed out that the Ducks could also be in trouble if they take a step back from last season based on the overall strength of the Pac-12:

USC is climbing back to full strength. More than a few folks believe the Trojans will return to the national picture this fall, displacing the Oregon/Stanford domination of the conference that began when Carroll bolted to the NFL after the 2009 downturn. USC remains USC. At full strength and well-coached, the Trojans are perennial national contenders, a combination of tradition, geography and wherewithal.

UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona and Utah all have traction in the South as nationally ranked teams, at least as long as they hold on to present head coaches. Speaking of the 1990s, Oregon's good friend to the North, the Washington Huskies, also should be on the uptick under Chris Petersen. The Huskies, Stanford and a rising California program should provide a challenge in the North over the next three seasons.

In other words, if Oregon football takes a step back, it could mean that its rivals took two steps forward. 

Look for Oregon to take that step back without so many key contributors from last season. It will still be a nationally ranked team by December, but that ranking will not be in the top five with so many replacements.


Best Storyline to Follow: The Big 12 Arms Race

Last year, the Big 12 was left out of the playoffs in favor of Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State and Oregon even though TCU and Baylor only had one loss each.

The fact that the Buckeyes in particular had the opportunity to showcase their talent in the Big Ten Championship Game during a destruction of Wisconsin while the Big 12 did not have a title contest certainly contributed to the Horned Frogs’ and Bears’ fates.

If this year’s initial coaches poll is any indication, No. 2 TCU and No. 4 Baylor control their own destiny on the way to the postseason. All it takes is a spot in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings at season’s end to have a shot at the national championship, and this initial coaches poll sets up a thrilling race to the finish.

Around the Big 12 representatives, Ohio State and No. 6 Michigan State play each other, No. 5 Oregon is in a deep Pac-12 and No. 3 Alabama resides in an SEC with eight ranked teams. There will be plenty of losses near the top of the polls throughout the season, which opens up the door for TCU or Baylor to be a bride instead of a bridesmaid in this year's playoff.

What’s more, the actual showdown between the Bears and Horned Frogs happens Nov. 27 during Thanksgiving weekend. It represents a golden opportunity to make a late statement with the entire country turning its eyes toward football.

The winner will almost assuredly be in the College Football Playoff this time around if they avoid any significant upsets along the way. That is just what the Big 12 wants after missing out on the party last year.

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Kolin Hill to Transfer from Notre Dame: Latest Details, Comments, Reaction

Notre Dame lost more depth across its defensive line Wednesday with the announcement that sophomore defensive end Kolin Hill will transfer and not report to fall camp.

Andrew Owens of Blue & Gold Illustrated passed along the news and noted that “it is not known where Hill is expected to transfer.”

Hill was not a defensive star during his freshman campaign in 2014, but he did see playing time as part of the rotation and managed seven tackles and two sacks. His best game came against archrival Michigan when he tallied 1.5 sacks.

This represents yet another blow to the defensive line before the 2015 season even begins. Defensive end Jhonny Williams transferred, while recruit Bo Wallace ultimately spurned the Fighting Irish and joined the Arizona State Sun Devils. 

Mike Vorel of Notre Dame Insider put the personnel losses in perspective based on last year’s struggles:

Pete Sampson of noted that Notre Dame will only have “six sure-fire eligible defensive ends this season” after the Hill news. Of that group, only Romeo Okwara, Isaac Rochell, Andrew Trumbetti and Grant Blankenship boast tangible experience.

The defensive line could receive a boost, though, if Ishaq Williams is reinstated by the NCAA. Williams was one of the players suspended during Notre Dame's academic dishonesty investigation in 2014 and is awaiting word on his status as of Wednesday.

The Fighting Irish have College Football Playoff aspirations for the 2015 campaign and were ranked No. 11 in the initial Amway coaches poll. The pass rush was inconsistent at best last season and a major reason why Notre Dame lost five of its final six regular-season contests and fell all the way to the Music City Bowl after a promising 6-0 start.

The only way Notre Dame will avoid that fate and cash in on its elevated expectations this year is with a better performance from its defense. It will not be able to survive efforts that fans saw last season when the defense allowed 43 points to Northwestern, 55 to Arizona State and 49 to USC, especially with games against Texas, Clemson, Georgia Tech, USC and Stanford on the schedule.

With Hill’s departure, it puts even more pressure on the defensive line to stay healthy and productive. Look for opponents to utilize the running game and force the Fighting Irish to rotate their thin group of linemen in an effort to wear down the defense.

The Fighting Irish offense may have to score plenty of points if a trip to the College Football Playoff resides in Notre Dame’s future. 

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Can Braxton Miller Live Up to the Hype as a Wide Receiver?

COLUMBUS, Ohio — When Braxton Miller announced his move to wide receiver two weeks ago, the former quarterback's position change was met with applause from fans, teammates and even NFL scouts.

After all, this is one of the most dynamic players in all of college football preparing to make what many expect—or, perhaps more accurately, assume—will be a seamless transition to a role that may ultimately best suit his skill set, both in the present and in the future.

But while most in Columbus have little doubt that Miller will soon find himself as one of the favorite targets of the Buckeyes starting quarterback—whoever it may be—there's at least one man who still has questions about how the former two-time Big Ten MVP will fare at his new position.

And he just happens to be Miller's head coach.

Maybe it's in his nature to temper expectations, or perhaps he simply doesn't know what he'll get from Miller as a wideout, but Urban Meyer did his best at Big Ten media days to downplay the hype that's surrounded the Huber Heights, Ohio, native in the past few weeks.

Asked to compare Miller to arguably the best wide receiver he's ever coached, former Florida wideout Percy Harvin, Meyer didn't bite.

"Obviously, Braxton has got a long way to go at that position," Meyer said.

But the three-time national champion head coach also added: "Percy—I don't think I've ever been around a more dynamic athlete. I have not been around a more dynamic athlete. However, Braxton Miller is in the same tonnage of that kind of athleticism."

Which is what has so many around the Ohio State program excited about his recent switch.

For all that he may have seemingly lacked as a passer in comparison to the accuracy of J.T. Barrett or the cannon-like arm of Cardale Jones, there's never been any question about what Miller can do with the ball in his hands. In three seasons as the Buckeyes starting quarterback, he tallied 3,054 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns on the ground, many of which came by way of highlight-reel plays that left helpless defenders in his wake.

Miller possesses that rare "quick twitch," the term Meyer reserves to describe athletes such as Harvin who always seem to be a step—or, often times, steps—ahead of everybody else. Nobody knows that better than Miller's own OSU teammates, some of whom used to practice against the former signal-caller on a daily basis.

"To be honest, he didn’t even need to wear that [no-contact] black jersey in practice," senior defensive tackle Adolphus Washington said at Big Ten media days in Chicago last week. "He’s hard enough to tackle without it."

"Don’t blink," Buckeyes linebacker Joshua Perry added. "He’s got some of the crispest, most ridiculous moves. His footwork his amazing, he’s really fluid, and his speed is obvious.”

But what's perhaps just as obvious is that it takes more than being really fast and having the ability to make people miss to play wide receiver. Especially when you've spent the better part of the rest of your football career playing another position and are trying to learn the new one on a month's notice.

For one, Miller will need to learn routes, although having spent three years studying Meyer's playbook as a quarterback should help in that capacity. He'll also have to create separation while doing so, a skill that Bleacher Report NFL draft lead writer and analyst Matt Miller doesn't foresee being an issue for the 6'2", 215-pound speedster.

"From what I've seen of his movement and explosive ability, it's all there athletically," Matt Miller said. "He's a powerful runner for his size and has the get-up-and-go to pull away from defensive backs. Ideally, he'll be used a lot in space on shorter routes where his ability to make defenders miss can come into play."

And as for the not-so-small issue of catching the ball—something he's never done in his college career to this point—his Instagram account seems to indicate that he'll be just fine.

"The feedback I'm getting from guys like J.T. and Cardale is that he's very athletic, obviously, and he can catch the ball," Meyer said. "I've not seen him do that. I'm anxious to see him do that."

A former wide receivers coach during his days as an assistant, Meyer said he'll be working personally with Miller throughout fall camp as he continues to adjust to his new position. With wide receiver Corey Smith and H-backs Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson each suspended for the Buckeyes' season opener against Virginia Tech, getting Miller involved in his new role in the passing game will be of utmost importance to Ohio State, which suddenly finds itself shorthanded at wideout heading into its national title defense.

As a receiver, Miller possesses plenty of promise, most of which has been based on projections and not actual results. But for all that he still has to prove, Meyer expects that Miller will remain a star in his spread offense.

"He's one of the best athletes I've ever coached. He's got an incredible first step. Above all else, you say it's time to win or lose, and he's not going to lose," Meyer said.

"My expectation is he's an impact player."

He isn't alone in thinking so either.


Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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4-Star OL E.J. Price Talks Top 8 Schools, Life After College

Fresh off of a busy summer that included numerous camps and visits to various programs, 4-star offensive tackle E.J. Price has narrowed his list of schools to a final group of eight powers.

Included in his list of finalists are the in-state Georgia Bulldogs—to whom Price was once committed before reopening his process earlier this summer.

Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Tennessee join the Bulldogs in the 6’6”, 311-pounder’s short list.

What has Price intrigued with each of these schools, and what are the major factors that will play into his final decision?

Price spoke with Bleacher Report recently and broke down the teams still battling for his commitment.  

Auburn – “They started recruiting me since I was a sophomore. I’ve visited there a few times and I love the atmosphere on campus. Every time I go there, I love it. They have a great coaching staff there. [Offensive Line] coach J.B. Grimes is one of the best to ever do it. It’s a great place in general.”

Florida State – “They are winners. They have been a power program over the last couple of years. Coach Rick Trickett is one of the best OL coaches in the business. I just love the campus. I enjoy my time every time I go down there. They won a national championship recently and they should contend again this year.”

Georgia – “I live in Georgia. They have been one of my top schools from the beginning. I was committed to Georgia at one time and I still have a great relationship with Coach [Mark] Richt. I felt like I committed a little too early and I just want to enjoy the process a little bit. [Richt] understands that. They have been one of my top schools, and it will remain that way until the end.”

LSU – “[Offensive line] Coach [Jeff] Grimes, I’ve built a great relationship with him. He’s coming by our school a lot. He also is familiar with my offensive line coach in high school. Coach Les Miles, I’m originally from Michigan, and he is as well. We have that connection. They are an elite program.”

Michigan – “I’m from Michigan originally and I grew up a Wolverines fan. With Coach Harbaugh coming in, that has a major impact on me. He’s got a great coaching staff around him. I look forward to seeing how they do this season, and I’d like to get up there, hopefully for an official visit.”

Oklahoma – “That’s OL U. They produce a ton of offensive linemen. Their resume speaks for itself in developing great players at my position. One of my favorite offensive lineman is Trent Williams with the Redskins, and he went there. I’ve spoken with the offensive line coach there, and that could be another place I take an official visit to.”

Ole Miss – “[offensive line] Coach Matt Luke, he’s a great guy. He’s hilarious. Every time I talk to him, we just click. Plus, they have also done well in producing offensive linemen. We just had my teammate, [3-star linebacker] Donta Evans, commit there. We [Archer] have some other guys who are interested in them too.”

Tennessee – “[Head]Coach Butch Jones has personally been recruiting me. Their whole coaching staff has showed me a lot of love, and they have been interested in me from the very beginning. I visited there for the first time a few weeks ago, and it was great. I’m not one of those guys who gets caught up in facilities, but [Tennessee’s] blew me away. I plan to go back there sometime soon.”

The Peach State standout is the nation's No. 8 offensive tackle prospect and the No. 52 player overall in the 2016 class. He maintained his status as one of the elite offensive linemen in this cycle with a great showing at The Opening in July. 

That experience, he said, is a perfect springboard into his senior season. 

"At The Opening in Oregon, I was able to be coached by one of the best in LeCharles Bentley," Price said. "He worked with me on my footwork and technique. That was something I really appreciate, and I feel like it will help my game a lot this season."

Price, who currently reports a 3.1 GPA and a desire to major in a field of law in college, mentioned Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Louisville and Ole Miss as schools he has tentative plans on visiting in the coming months.

Still, he admits he has a lot of homework to do before reaching a conclusion. The recruiting process, he said, can get confusing at times.

“Sometimes, I don’t even know what I’m thinking,” Price said with a laugh. “I just roll with it. It’s all about the relationships I’m building with these coaches. They all want me on campus. I really just don’t know right now. Anything can happen, I guess.”

Other than his bond with his position coach, he also notes that life away from football will factor into his decision-making process.

“I’m just looking at the overall picture,” Price said. “Like what I want to do after college? What school best suits me as a person, and where do I feel like I fit in best? I will also take into my consideration how my family feels about the school. That will play a major part as well.”

Price said his current focus is on his senior season at Archer High School and helping his team win a state championship—which means a decision isn’t likely until that pursuit concludes. 

“I just want to find the best school for me,” Price said. “Whenever that happens, and if I get that feeling, that’s when I will commit. Right now, I plan to release my final three schools after I take my official visits. It won’t be anytime soon. It will definitely be after the season.”


Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

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Non-Power 5 Schools with Best Shot to Crash College Football Playoff

For whatever reason, college football doesn't love a Cinderella in the same way college basketball does. Why is anyone's guess, but the sport's mid-majors never had an opportunity to prove their worth in the BCS era. 

Could that ever change in the four-team playoff era? Perhaps, but a lot would have to happen. 

Before spouting off the (extremely short) list of non-power schools that could crash the playoff in 2015, there are a couple of things that have to be taken into consideration.

The first is that the following teams must go undefeated. This is pretty much non-negotiable. A one-loss team listed here isn't going to get so much as a glance from the selection committee—unless no Power 5 team finishes better than 9-3. 

Even then, an undefeated non-power team could face difficulties getting in over a one- or even two-loss team. Remember: Expanding to a four-team playoff was about money, not access. 

Secondly, when referring to schedules, the more difficult it is, the better. Marshall was undefeated through the first 11 games of its 2014 season and barely sniffed a top-25 spot in the playoff poll (which was quickly taken away following a loss to Western Kentucky). The reason? The Thundering Herd, while a quality team, played n-o-b-o-d-y

With those things in mind, here are three non-power schools with an outside shot to crash the playoff—should planets align and circumstances permit. And, as it so happens, all three schools play at least one other program on this list. 


Boise State

The Broncos own the Cinderella label. From the mid-2000s on, Boise State has been either near the top of the rankings, involved in giant-killer games or making "dark-horse championship" lists like these. While it's never resulted in so much as an opportunity for a national championship, there are few programs more recognizable outside of the Power 5. 

"Boise State has been a power program for a long time, if we’re in the Group of Five or not,” head coach Bryan Harsin told Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated last month. That might sound like coachspeak, but Harsin's not wrong. The remarkable run under Chris Petersen included draft-day success—from 2007-14, the Broncos had 20 players drafted—and two Fiesta Bowl appearances. Harsin took Boise to a third Fiesta Bowl last season, beating Arizona 38-30. 

This year, despite losing quarterback Grant Hedrick and running back Jay Ajayi, Boise State is looking for more. Thamel, however, brought up a good point on Boise's quest for a playoff spot: 

First off, the committee wipes the slate clean and re-ranks each week. In doing so, it will inherently hurt teams from outside the Power Five. When the first College Football Playoff rankings are released on Nov. 3, Boise’s games from that date onward are New Mexico, Air Force, at San Jose State and potentially the Mountain West title game. That offers little opportunity to impress committee members. By contrast, Auburn will face Texas A&M on the road, Georgia, Idaho, Alabama and potentially the SEC East winner in that league's championship game.

Boise's late-season slate can't be (and won't be) ignored, but neither can the entire body of work, which has already been used as an explanation by playoff committee chair Jeff Long before. In addition to its Mountain West schedule, Boise State plays Idaho State, Washington, BYU and Virginia. Idaho State aside, that's certainly not the worst out-of-conference schedule. Using Football Outsiders' F/+ efficiency rankings from last year, the latter three opponents give Boise's nonconference strength of schedule a rating of about 55. 

It's not terrible, but it certainly leaves Boise with no room for error, not that there was much room anyway. 



Technically, the Cougars are now "considered" a power opponent by some of the power conferences. However, that's about as official as you considering me the worst sportswriter in the country. (So pretty official then, right?) 

Anyway, the Cougars are in a no-man's land of sorts in major college football. They're not in a power conference but don't hold the same level of rapport among Independents as Notre Dame. And, as McMurphy notes, BYU isn't entitled to Power 5 money from the playoff. 

Still, BYU has the personnel and schedule to make an interesting playoff run. The first three games on the Cougars' schedule are rough: at Nebraska, at home against Boise State and then on the road at UCLA. 

That's tough for anyone. 

BYU's schedule gets more manageable from there, but Michigan, East Carolina, Cincinnati, Missouri, Fresno State and Utah State all present hurdles in one way or another. If it goes undefeated through that, BYU should be, at worst, in the peripheral playoff conversation by December. 

There's also the return of quarterback Taysom Hill, a talented dual-threat who has battled injuries throughout his career. After losing Hill to a season-ending leg injury in 2014 against Utah State, the Cougars lost four straight games. 

"I’ve got another year to showcase what I can do as an athlete, as a quarterback and (we) as a BYU football team, so let’s make the most of it," Hill said in June (h/t Jeff Call, the Deseret News). “I feel like I’m a smarter player because I was able to watch (the game) from a birds-eye view. The biggest thing that I learned is, this opportunity is so small, I’m going to make the most of every chance that I get."

With a veteran group, BYU once again finds itself in the dark-horse playoff discussion. This time, though, can the Cougars actually deliver?



As far as Group of 5 conferences go, the American Athletic Conference could actually be excellent in 2015. Central Florida, East Carolina, Memphis and even Temple have all elevated their programs over the past few years. However, Cincinnati is the overwhelming favorite to win the American this year. The Bearcats won nine games last season despite injuries and return many of those starters, including quarterback Gunner Kiel. 

However, Cincinnati's nine wins also rang a bit hollow. Two marquee nonconference games against Ohio State and Miami were double-digit losses, as was Military Bowl against Virginia Tech. The Bearcats thankfully don't get the Buckeyes again but do have an opportunity for revenge on a Thursday night at home against the Hurricanes. 

If Cincy wants to at least show down the line it should be in the playoff conversation, it has to beat Miami and then BYU the following game. 


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

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Auburn Football: Carl Lawson's Return to Full Contact Just What Tigers Need

Carl Lawson's injury, missed time and recovery are all in the past now.

The sophomore defensive end is back to 100 percent, and he can't wait to prove it on the field.

"I'm ready for the first game," Lawson said Tuesday, according to Brandon Marcello of "I'm ready to get back out there and enjoy the sport. First scrimmage—I'm looking forward to it, and these days will fly by. I'm ready."

Auburn's coaches made Lawson, who missed all of 2014 with an ACL injury and subsequent surgery, stay out of full-contact practice this spring. They wanted to take it slow with the star sophomore and not risk a setback.

But they're not going to hold him back during fall camp, which opened Tuesday for the Tigers.

"I'm not thinking about the injury. My coaches are more thinking about that than me," Lawson said, according to Charles Goldberg of "Even when I got back out there, I've never really thought about how my knee went out.

"I'm one of those players who plays with reckless abandon."

Lawson's eagerness to return to contact is an excellent sign for Auburn's defense. Without him, Auburn dropped from 32 sacks in 2013's championship run to just 21 in 2014.

The entire defense suffered without the pass rush it enjoyed two seasons ago with Lawson and NFL first-round draft pick Dee Ford.

Quarterbacks had all day to throw the ball, and the Tigers allowed more than 7 yards per opponent pass attempt for the fifth straight season. Auburn recorded only five total sacks in the five losses of what was a disappointing 2014 campaign.

Now, Auburn is looking at the trenches as a potential place of strength in 2015 with the return of Lawson and several experienced members of last year's defensive line.

"[Lawson's return] helps a lot because last year we needed some pass rush and we didn't have that," junior defensive tackle Montravius Adams said, according to Alex Scarborough of "Having everybody back, everybody pretty healthy, it's going to force people to free up somebody."

In new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp's scheme, that someone could be Lawson.

Instead of a traditional, hand-in-the-ground defensive end, Lawson is lining up at buck—a stand-up pass-rush specialist who operates like a hybrid 3-4 outside linebacker—during practices.

That allows the former 5-star recruit to concentrate on what he does best.

"I like the position because you get to go make plays," Lawson said, per Goldberg. "You're not holding blocks for the backers. You're going to make the plays yourself. That's why I like it. It's real natural."

Lawson said he understands the importance of being back out on the practice field for the Tigers. He's counting down the days until the first day of full pads and the first scrimmage of fall camp.

"I need to be in the scrimmages, and I need to be out there," Lawson said, per Marcello. "With coach Muschamp's defense, he's trying to prep as many guys to be as good as possible so there's no overly valued person. A team that puts more emphasis on one guy, what happens when that one guy goes out? They blow up."

A healthy Lawson at full speed is just what Auburn has been waiting to see for over a year now.

Even though he's a sophomore with just one season of experience, he's the best pass-rusher on the roster. And his work in practice can help develop other key linemen, including elite newcomer Byron Cowart.

Several Auburn players and coaches have said throughout the offseason that Lawson looked bigger, stronger and faster in his return from the ACL injury.

The defensive end himself says he's better than ever this fall—and he's even working on some new moves to torment offensive linemen.

"There are a lot of things that are going to happen in the season that I'm not going to tell you," Lawson said, per Scarborough. "It's a secret."

There's no doubt those words are music to Auburn's ears.


Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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

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Top Heisman Trophy Dark-Horse Contenders to Watch for the 2015 Season

Last year, we saw Marcus Mariota lift the coveted Heisman Trophy above his head. Here, Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer discuss some potential Heisman Trophy dark horses in 2015.

Who do you think could make it to New York City this year? Watch the video and let us know!

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