NCAA Football

VanDarius Cowan Flips Commitment from FSU to Alabama: Details, Reaction

There's been a change of heart for 4-star outside linebacker VanDarius Cowan.

On Saturday, the linebacker from Palm Beach Gardens High School (Florida) announced on Twitter he will not be playing for the Florida State Seminoles but instead will be suiting up for head coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Cowan provided a statement to explain his decision:

Listed at 6'4" and 217 pounds, Cowan is the fifth-best outside linebacker in the 2017 class and the No. 17 prospect from the state of Florida. He's also the 78th-best prospect in the nation, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.

This is not the first time Cowan has backed out of playing for head coach Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles. Cowan first committed to FSU in June before changing his mind Oct. 25. Five days later, Alabama offered a scholarship to Cowan.

According to his recruiting timeline on 247Sports, he recommitted to Florida State on Dec. 29, but schools such as Tennessee, Ohio State and USC continued to push offers to him. Cowan took an unofficial visit to Alabama on Friday before officially flipping his commitment Saturday.

"It's better than Florida State," he said, per Ryan Bartow of 247Sports. "I felt I could play there and they produce good linebackers. Alabama has a good foundation. It's a family. If you play football in Tuscaloosa, you are the man. It's a college town."

Since 2010, six Alabama linebackers have landed in the NFL draft, with three going in the first round (C.J. Mosley, Dont'a Hightower, Rolando McClain) . Defense has been Alabama's calling card for years, and it starts with the linebackers.

However, to imply Florida State hasn't produced good linebackers would be a stretch. Since 2010, eight Florida State linebackers have landed in the NFL draft. Some have been late-round draft picks, but players such as Telvin Smith, Lawrence Timmons and Nigel Bradham have had solid NFL careers.

But this may turn out better for Florida State, knowing they avoided a player who decommitted from the program twice. Alabama got a skilled linebacker, and hopefully he'll stick with his decision this time.

 

All composite rankings courtesy of 247Sports, unless otherwise noted.

Follow Danny Webster on Twitter.

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Auburn Football: Winners and Losers from Tigers' 2016 Spring

Three quarterbacks entered the spring game as co-leaders for the starting spot this fall. After watching the annual A-Day Game, it's probably safe to say that there are still three co-leaders for the job.

Despite hoping to see one of the three (Sean White, Jeremy Johnson and John Franklin III) step forward and take a leading spot in the race, we saw three quarterbacks who all had differing areas of strength and weakness. In short, the race is still very much wide open.

So, who really came out on top after Auburn's 2016 spring game? Let's go over our list of winners and losers.

Begin Slideshow

Deshaun Watson's Supporting Cast Looks Deeper and More Dangerous for 2016

CLEMSON, S.C. — Deshaun Watson got his first Clemson milestone of the 2016 season out of the way early Saturday.

When Watson stepped out onto the Memorial Stadium field for the second offensive series of Clemson's 2016 spring game, he officially became the first Tiger quarterback since Charlie Whitehurst in 2004 to play for both the Orange and the White teams.

The decision, which Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney announced, served a crucial purpose.

"There would've been a revolt if I hadn't have done that," Swinney joked.

In addition to ensuring his safety, Swinney's decision gave Watson an opportunity to play with the entirety of his supporting cast—one that is heavy on both depth and talent heading into 2016.

"It was good for him—it was the first spring game he's played in—to get out in front of the crowd a little bit and go for both teams," Swinney said. "Unfortunately, he had more success for one team than the other when he was in there."

The victorious Orange team version of Watson went 5-of-6 passing for 140 yards, while the White team version went 2-of-5 through the air for just one yard. 

The Jekyll-and-Hyde box score and 17-9 final score wasn't a complete reflection of the story of Saturday's game, which included a running-clock second half that featured plenty of reserves.

The fast offensive start with Watson at the helm, however, had the Memorial Stadium crowd buzzing.

"I'd be really disappointed if we're not one of the best offenses in the country," Swinney said. "That's our expectation, and it should be, with the people we have."

In his four series of action, Watson looked a lot like the Heisman finalist who became the first member of college football's 4,000/1,000-yard club last season, per B/R Insights. Two of Clemson's three touchdowns came from his precise arm.

"It was good, even though it was short," Watson said. "It's good to just go out there and just compete with a whole bunch of different guys and see who was ready and who wasn't."

Watson didn't waste any time spreading the ball around to his receivers for explosive gains. The second play of the game was a 47-yard connection between Watson and national championship game breakout star Hunter Renfrow.

Renfrow caught two more passes from Watson on that drive, and he finished with a six-yard touchdown reception on a slick rollout. The sophomore looks like he will have an even bigger role in the Watson-led offense in 2016 after picking up where he left off in the title game.

"That was a reflection of what we've been doing all spring," Renfrow said. "We're just trying to keep that competitive depth. That's what we did last year. We had six or seven [receivers] that we could roll in there."

Clemson showed Saturday it could go even deeper out wide for Watson in 2016. The Tigers had eight receivers catch multiple passes, with Renfrow, Artavis Scott, Trevion Thompson (who led all receivers with six catches for 87 yards), Seth Ryan and Ray-Ray McCloud all recording explosive plays of 15 or more yards.

And that production came without two probable starting wideouts.

Last year's No. 3 wide receiver Deon Cain and Mike Williams—the Tigers' top receiver in 2014, who missed almost all of 2015 with a neck injury—were held out of the game, but the passing attack didn't miss a beat.

"We have the potential to be even better this year," Watson said. "But we can't just talk about it. We have to prove it and put in the work."

Renfrow's quick start with Watson was an especially welcome sight to Swinney, who also raved about Ryan—a redshirt sophomore who had only one catch last year but stood out in spring ball. 

"I was telling [Renfrow] in the pregame that the legend of Renfrow is diminishing because of Seth Ryan," Swinney said with a smile. "Seth made a couple of big plays today, and he's made two or three of those every day in practice. Whether he's going against the first team or the second team, it doesn't matter."

Like Ryan's performance, McCloud's 61-yard touchdown late in the first quarter from Watson was another display of Clemson's greater offensive depth, which Watson got to take full advantage of while playing for both teams. The sophomore receiver only had 251 yards last year after missing three games because of an MCL sprain.

But on Saturday, a healthy McCloud got more snaps out wide, joining seven other Tigers who made catches in the first half alone. Watson got to build more chemistry with the receivers as a whole, as well as a running back group that went four-deep before halftime.

"It was important for him to get a feel for everybody and see who was ready," McCloud said. "All our quarterbacks threw great, too. With [the backups] following him, they have a good role model in front of them. And I look up to him, too. He pushes me as well."

After his fourth series, Watson was moved to a pseudo quarterbacks coach role, standing behind the offense with Swinney and offering advice to his backups. 

The game transitioned to a more ground-based one in the second half, with backup running backs Adam Choice (17 carries for 88 yards) and C.J. Fuller (16 carries for 58 yards) providing solid burst out of the backfield with starter Wayne Gallman (eight carries for 58 yards).

Add the deeper group of explosive backs and receivers to a solid offensive line that kept Watson's pocket clean against a strong defensive line, and one can see why the offensive hype continues to grow for Clemson.

The Tigers, who averaged 514.5 yards per game and 38.5 points en route to an ACC title and a national championship game appearance, will challenge for the title of best attack in college football this fall.

They return nine starters with Williams back in the fold, and their schedule is ripe for big numbers in 2016.

"What I think about a lot is, 'Man, we've got a lot of personnel,'" Swinney said. "This ought to be fun."

 

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Stats courtesy of CFBStats.com.

Justin Ferguson is a National College Football Analyst at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

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Auburn's Spring Game Raises More Questions Than Answers for Tigers' QB Battle

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn built a reputation and won a national title as an assistant and an SEC title as a head coach based on his high-octane offense that has worked at every stop over the last decade—regardless of the style of quarterback.

That reputation is on the verge of being reversed after last year's struggles that saw Malzahn swing and miss by naming Jeremy Johnson his starting quarterback after spring practice and with an offense that finished 10th in the SEC in total offense (370 yards per game) and 11th in yards per play (5.39).

Saturday's spring game was an indication that the slide could continue, and it raised more questions than answers in the three-man battle for the top spot on the depth chart at quarterback.

Johnson completed just six of 13 passes for 35 yards and an eight-yard touchdown to Roc Thomas. Junior college transfer John Franklin III did complete seven of 11 passes but for only 61 yards—40 of which came on a touchdown pass to Marcus Davis that somehow made it through the arms of two waiting defenders.

Redshirt sophomore Sean White showed the most touch and completed eight of 14 passes for 125 yards. But he fumbled once on a zone read in the red zone and had a surefire interception dropped by T.J. Davis.

"The big negative for me was when our quarterbacks who have had the reps with the first-team running backs put the ball on the ground on the zone read," Malzahn said. "That was probably the biggest negative from an offensive standpoint all day."

The offense featured an abundance of bubble screens and timing routes, with very few shots deep to receivers. 

"We were pretty vanilla offensively," Malzahn said. "That was by design."

That's OK in spring games, since the last thing a coach wants to do is give away too much of the playbook to early-season opponents—the first of which is national runner-up Clemson. 

But Auburn's biggest issue last year was a vanilla, predictable offense; and Saturday's spring game did nothing to calm the fears of the Auburn Family that 2015 was the aberration, not the start of a trend.

What's even more concerning than the lack of a deep passing threat is that, even in a vanilla offense, Auburn went 1-of-22 combined on third downs on the afternoon.

Even vanilla offenses need to do better than that, whether it's in a real game, spring game, scrimmage or video game. The primary goal for Auburn moving forward in the offseason is to create some sort explosiveness.

"The fluidity of the offense (is something we need to work on)," White said. "We have to put more touchdowns on the board. I know it was a shortened game, but we have to put more touchdowns up and get the offense rolling to be back where Coach Malzahn wants it."

Somebody needs to step up at quarterback to create the explosiveness that Auburn needs.

Can any of the quarterbacks on the roster stretch the field deep to take pressure off running back Jovon Robinson?

Can Franklin become consistent enough to become a weapon as a dual-threat quarterback in a more multidimensional offense that mirrors the one that Nick Marshall ran when he led Auburn to the 2013 SEC title?

Can Auburn protect the football when it matters most?

All of those questions remain unanswered, due in part to the vanilla game plan (which is OK) but mostly due to the inability of the quarterbacks to consistently stretch the field when shots were called and the inability to move the chains (which are not OK).

What Auburn showed off to the 45,723 fans at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday and many more watching on the SEC Network was an offense that was pretty much identical to the one that led to the 7-6 season in 2015.

Auburn's quarterback situation is murky, and it got even murkier in the spring game. 

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of CFBStats.com, unless otherwise noted, and recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Alabama Football: Takeaways and Stats from Tide's 2nd Spring Scrimmage

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban borrowed one of the favorite teachings of Tony Dungy, who was on hand for the Crimson Tide’s annual coaching clinic this weekend, when describing his team’s second spring scrimmage.

Specifically, Saban related to what the former NFL coach said he learned from Chuck Noll, who won four Super Bowls as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers—that champions don’t have to do extraordinary things, they just have to do ordinary things extraordinarily.

“I think that really speaks a lot about the scrimmage that we had today, the spring practice as a whole,” Saban said.

Although Alabama didn’t release any passing statistics, which has become the norm whenever there’s a quarterback competition, the players whom one would expect to post the best statistics pretty much did just that Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Running back Bo Scarbrough topped 100 rushing yards for the second straight scrimmage. Wide receiver Robert Foster, who is coming off a shoulder injury, topped that same number in receiving yards.

With linebacker Reuben Foster posting a team-high nine tackles, the first-team defense scored three touchdowns—two on interceptions and the other on a fumble recovery.

“But past that I think we have a lot of guys who need to learn how to play winning football, which is really taking care of the ordinary things well,” Saban explained. “Things like take care of the ball, discipline not to get penalties, don’t have mental errors, be able to go out there and do your job well.

“[The second-team players], they’re trying to make plays and they don’t play with a lot of discipline, which affects their ability to go out there and do their job like they need to. This is the goal for the rest of this spring, to get more and more guys to play winning football.”

The wide receivers appeared to demonstrate the difference. The three likely to start—Robert Foster, Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart—combined for 12 receptions, 228 yards and two touchdowns.

“I think we have three guys who are ahead of the rest,” Saban said, before adding that Cam Sims and Derek Kief have both had a good spring and are right behind the trio in the rotation.

Foster, who had a 50-yard touchdown in the closed scrimmage, is the biggest question mark of the front-runners. He’s coming off a shoulder injury that sidelined him for all but three games of 2015.

“Robert has struggled at times this spring and is not 100 percent healthy, but I think he’s gotten better and better,” Saban said. “I’m just really happy to see he made some plays today because that probably did a lot for his confidence.” 

 

Quarterback competition 

After specifically praising David Cornwell’s performance last week, the coach didn’t single out any of the quarterbacks during his post-scrimmage press conference.

“I think that what you look at it is how do they move the team?” he said. “Not just their stats or completions and all that kind of stuff. How did they move the team? I think Cooper [Bateman] moved the team a lot. I think Jalen Hurts did a nice job today and David Cornwell did a pretty good job.”

Redshirt freshman Blake Barnett is the other player competing for the starting job, but all indications are that he’s behind the two older quarterbacks, Bateman and Cornwell.

“I think there’s still a lot of competition with these positions,” Saban added. “Taking care of the ball is a big thing. I don’t know how many times you’ve heard me say it before, if every series on offense ends with a kick, whether it’s a punt, field goal or an extra point, we’re OK with that.

“The game we lost last year we turned it over five times. That’s probably the single statistic that determines winning and losing.”

 

Offensive line update

Outside of quarterback, the Crimson Tide’s biggest competition battle is on the offensive line, where only two spots are set: Cam Robinson (who is out with a shoulder injury) at left tackle and Ross Pierschbacher at center.

During Saturday’s media observation period, the offensive line’s front five consisted of Korren Kirven, Lester Cotton, Pierschbacher, Brandon Kennedy and Jonah Williams. The second unit had Bradley Bozeman, Dallas Warmack, J.C. Hassenauer, Alphonse Taylor and Matt Womack.

“Lester Cotton has had a really good spring, and if I had to say is he one of the top five linemen based on what he has done in the spring, I would say probably yes,” Saban said. “Can I say where he would play? I don’t know for sure. He could play right tackle, he could play right or left guard.

“Some of the younger guys are making a lot of progress. Jonah has done a nice job. So we’ll just see how they continue to progress."

 

Injury report 

Saban did not announce any new injuries after the scrimmage.

Robert Foster (shoulder) and safety Eddie Jackson (leg) wore black no-contact jerseys.

Among those who were held out as a precautionary measure were defensive linemen Jonathan Allen (shoulder) and Dakota Ball (foot), Robinson, linebacker Shawn Jennings (knee) and wide receiver Raheem Falkins (leg).

Defensive end Da'Shawn Hand was sidelined this past week due to back spasms but could return before the end of spring.

Reserve offensive lineman Richie Petitbon suffered a knee injury during Alabama’s first scrimmage and had surgery last week.

“We anticipate a full recovery,” Saban said. 

Alabama’s final week of spring football will feature two practices and the A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, April 16. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET on ESPN.

 

Alabama scrimmage statistics

Stats include 11-on-11, situational drills, red area, goal line, two-minute

Rushing leaders

  • Bo Scarbrough: 12 attempts, 112 yards, 1 touchdown
  • Damien Harris: 8 attempts, 56 yards
  • Ronnie Clark: 7 attempts, 31 yards

Receiving leaders

  • Robert Foster: 4 catches, 106 yards, 2 touchdowns
  • Calvin Ridley: 3 catches, 62 yards
  • ArDarius Stewart: 5 catches, 60 yards
  • Cam Sims: 2 catches, 47 yards

Defensive leaders

  • Reuben Foster: 9 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 forced fumble
  • Ryan Anderson: 7 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack
  • Rashaan Evans: 7 tackles, 1 sack
  • Christian Miller: 6 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick: 5 tackles, 1 interception (returned for touchdown)

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Clemson Football: Winners and Losers from Tigers' 2016 Spring

Clemson football wrapped up the spring Saturday with a 17-9 win by the Orange squad, and the Tigers will now move to their next phase of the offseason. 

There are many questions about the amount of experience returning on defense, but the spring game showed that there is still talent to be found on head coach Dabo Swinney's roster. 

Who came out of the spring practices with momentum, and who came out needing to make improvements? Here's a list of our winners and losers from Clemson's spring practices. 

Begin Slideshow

Where Florida State's QB Battle Stands Post-2016 Spring Game

Much to the approval of Florida State Seminoles fans, Deondre Francois and Malik Henry put on a show during the final minutes of the 2016 Garnet & Gold Game.

Trailing 17-14 late in the fourth quarter, Francois rifled a back-shoulder beauty to Auden Tate for what appeared to be a game-winning touchdown.

Head coach Jimbo Fisher had a different idea.

Instead of making Henry launch a prayer or two with 13 seconds remaining, Fisher put 1:30 on the clock and allowed the true freshman to potentially engineer a scoring drive of his own. Four snaps later, Henry connected with Travis Rudolph for a 43-yard touchdown.

Francois quickly responded, helping the Gold set up Ricky Aguayo for a game-tying 46-yard field goal that ultimately ended the scrimmage.

While the teams left the field tied 24-24, fans exited the Citrus Bowl excited about the future under center.

But, everyone say it together, this was the spring game—one in which incumbent starter Sean Maguire was unavailable due to an ankle injury. He sat out the entire spring.

Francois, to his credit was poised in the pocket and showcased terrific arm strength throughout the scrimmage. Though his two best throws were both touchdowns to Tate, many of the redshirt freshman's 20 completions came at the expense of walk-ons and reserves.

Now, it's not a problem Francois did the smart thing and capitalized on favorable matchups. But opponents in the fall would certainly be more difficult.

FSU's best defenders pounced on Francois' mistakes. Nate Andrews snatched an end-zone interception the quarterback didn't throw far enough to the corner. Francois tried to force a ball down the middle, where Ro'Derrick Hoskins was already standing.

Overall, Francois finished 20-of-33 with 246 yards, two touchdowns, a pair of picks and one lost fumble that Fisher executively decided wouldn't count. Francois stared down a couple receivers, executed a fair share of quick-hitting routes and hit some checkdowns.

Henry wasn't much different, settling down after a couple overthrown passes. He found a rhythm thanks to a handful of simple play-action rollouts and hitches, some of the most basic offensive calls.

The true freshman's 41-yard bomb to George Campbell set up an earlier touchdown, then Henry relied on underneath targets before finding Rudolph.

After 60-plus minutes, Henry registered a respectable line, completing 15-of-22 passes for 205 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.

But Francois' repeated mistakes and Henry's (expected) inconsistency are too glaring for anyone to make a snap judgment that Maguire has somehow lost the job. Fisher confirmed that thought, per Brendan Sonnone of the Orlando Sentinel.

And that's not a slight on Francois or Henry. Their combined performance suggested Florida State will have one heck of a competition in 2017.

Yet Maguire's knowledge of the system is an overwhelming positive for the senior, who Fisher previously said could be "full speed" in June, according to Tom D'Angelo of the Palm Beach Post.

Remember, Maguire threw nine touchdowns to just two interceptions when not playing on a broken ankle. He's a proven player, not simply the veteran on the roster.

That experience will be a notable factor in the competition. Either Francois or Henry would have to absolutely overwhelm the rest of the competition to overtake Maguire.

After the spring game, via the ESPN stream, Fisher said there were "not enough" flashes of excellence.

"But you saw what we can be," he added.

The Seminoles' future under center is dazzling, but they'll likely be waiting one more season to let the young talent shine.

Stats from cfbstats.com or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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Florida State Football: Winners and Losers from Seminoles' 2016 Spring

The 2016 Florida State spring season is officially over, and now it's a countdown to the fall. 

With 11 returning offensive starters, the Seminoles have plenty to look forward to this coming season. But there's still many questions left, and Saturday's spring game was the last glimpse into any answers we'll get for now. 

With that, let's take a look at the winners and losers of the Florida State spring camp. 

Begin Slideshow

Auburn Spring Game 2016: Recap, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

The blue and orange side of Alabama might want to try to forget about last season. Auburn football went 7-6 in 2015, its worst mark since 2012, while watching the University of Alabama win its 16th national championship.   

Tigers fans had a chance to look ahead on Saturday with the school's annual A-Day—Auburn's version of its spring game—as the Blue team defeated the White team, 19-10. 

There are some big-time questions that need answering, especially under center. A transfer from East Mississippi Community College is expected to be the man to lead Auburn. 

John Franklin III, who has made his name in football by utilizing his blazing speed, wasn't consistently lighting it up with his arm, as Brandon Marcello of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted:

However, he did show off his throwing ability on his lone touchdown pass, via Dana Sulonen of the Opelika-Auburn News:

Franklin might have some competition in Sean White, who had a decent outing himself. But neither came out of A-Day exhibiting the skill or confidence to lead a threatening SEC program. Saturday Down South tried to pick between the two:

Franklin's day was done after the first two quarters, and Auburn Gold Mine took a look at the two quarterbacks' stats at halftime:

The busiest member of Auburn and probably the most valuable player of A-Day was kicker Daniel Carlson, who booted five field goals for both teams in the first half alone. 

He hit two from 25 yards out, one from 33, another from 52 and another from 55, his longest of the day. Auburn Football had a look at the 55-yarder:

While Carlson was succeeding, Auburn's offense—whether it be the Blue or White team—had problems punching the ball into the end zone, which concerned Marcello:

The Blue team managed to build on its 12-10 halftime lead when quarterback Jeremy Johnson hit Roc Davis for an eight-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter in the last score of the day. 

With mental mistakes and sloppy play galore, Auburn has a lot of work to do if it wants to challenge in the always-difficult SEC next season. It will all start at the quarterback position, and if Franklin does get the nod as the team's starter, it might be best for the Tigers to keep the offense simple and utilize him as a dual threat. 

Once Franklin's able to grasp the offense, Auburn can play a quick-tempo style and could possibly be a dangerous team to meet in 2016. 

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Clemson Spring Game 2016: Recap, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

It's been about three months since the Clemson Tigers fell short in the national championship game to the University of Alabama.   

On Saturday, Clemson fans got another opportunity to see their Tigers play before the 2016 season starts in their annual spring game.

The Orange team took down the White team 17-9 as quarterback Deshaun Watson reminded everyone he's one of the elite quarterbacks in the nation.

In the first quarter—the only one in which he took snaps for both teams—Watson went a combined 7-of-11 for 141 yards and two touchdowns for the Orange team as it hopped out to a 14-3 lead. 

The Post and Courier's Aaron Brenner broke down Watson's stats:

ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson already saw everything she needed from him:

ESPN.com's Jared Shanker was just happy to see Watson back out on the field:

Watson is going to have some big standards to live up to as he looks to follow up a 2015 season in which he threw for 4,104 yards and 35 touchdowns while rushing for an additional 1,105 yards. 

There is some competition to find Watson's main backup, though, between Nick Schuessler and Kelly Bryant.

Schuessler brought the White team within five points at 14-9 in the second quarter with its first touchdown of the game after starting 7-of-7 for 47 yards. 

Shakin The Southland liked what it saw from Schuessler:

But a missed extra point and field goal by Alex Spence held back the White team from gaining even more ground before halftime.

While Watson remains a constant, Clemson will have a new look on defense, as it is returning just four starters. 

It lost some big names in the process too, including defensive end Shaq Lawson, lineman Kevin Dodd and cornerback Mackensie Alexander. 

With the defense not allowed contact with the quarterbacks, the line could not fully be scouted, but the secondary looked decent with a pair of interceptions in the first half off of Bryant. 

Brenner once again showed the quarterback comparisons:

Bryant finished the day with a 9-of-17 mark for 128 yards.

One defensive player in particular who did have a solid outing on Saturday was linebacker Kendall Joseph, a redshirt freshman who recorded seven tackles on the day as he displayed his ability to diagnose plays and run down ball-carriers.

Clemson splits its team into three units called the White, Purple and Pride teams instead of labeling them the first, second and third units. 

In the second half, the younger players and those not expected to see much playing time next season, better known as the Pride team, took over to close out the game. 

Regardless of the result, this gave head coach Dabo Swinney a nice opportunity to see which players he could perhaps start to rely on moving toward the 2016 season. If the coach likes what he sees, especially on the defensive side of the ball, then Clemson will be just fine as long as Watson is under center. 

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Texas A&M Spring Game 2016: Live Score, Top Performers and Analysis

Maroon 28, White 28—Halftime

The 2016 Texas A&M spring game is underway in College Station as the Maroon squad takes on the White squad at Kyle Field. 

You can watch the game live on the SEC Network, but make sure to stay right here for the latest news, notes and analysis. Also, make sure to stick with us after the game wraps up, too, as we take a look at some of A&M's top performers from this spring.  

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South Carolina Football: Winners and Losers from Gamecocks' 2016 Spring

South Carolina wrapped up its annual Garnet and Black game on a beautiful Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium. 

In head coach Will Muschamp’s first spring game in Columbia, the Black team, comprising the first-team offense and second-team defense, walloped the Garnet team, which was the first-team defense and second-team offense, by a score of 35-14. 

It was an overall positive day for Muschamp and the Gamecocks program, but there are still areas that need to be improved. Here is a look at the winners and losers from Saturday’s scrimmage.

Begin Slideshow

Auburn Spring Game 2016: Live Score, Top Performers and Analysis

2016 Auburn Spring Game—4 p.m. ET, SEC Network

Despite some high hopes last season, the Auburn Tigers limped across the finish line with a 7-6 record that included an abysmal 2-6 record in the SEC. Hope springs eternal in college football, and what better way to get over last season's disappointment than with a little spring football?

The usually potent Gus Malzahn offense struggled last season, as one key cog in the offensive engine—the quarterback—was missing. The Tigers managed to finish the season ranked just 10th in the conference in total offense.

If the Tigers hope to reinvigorate an offense that was one of the nation's most efficient squads in previous years, finding a quarterback who can open up room for the Malzahn-loved running game with efficient passing will be crucial. We should see the next chapter of the quarterback battle Saturday, as Sean White, Jeremy Johnson and John Franklin III should all get their fair share of reps.

Stay tuned for all of the live highlights and analysis from Auburn's 2016 spring game.

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94-Year-Old Lou Sossamon Scores TD at South Carolina Alumni Game

As former South Carolina star Lou Sossamon proved on the football field this weekend, age is just a number.

The Gamecocks played their annual spring game Saturday and also held an alumni game. That's when the 94-year-old Sossamon showed he's still a gamer.

Sossamon, the first South Carolina player named to an All-American team, took a handoff a few yards from the goal line and followed his blockers into the end zone for a touchdown. Again, he's 94.

A moment like this is worthy of another look:

Sossamon was a linebacker and a center during his playing days, but for one play Saturday, he looked like an All-American running back.

[South Carolina Gamecocks]

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Florida State Spring Game 2016: Live Score, Top Performers and Analysis

Florida State Spring Game

Garnet 3, Gold 14

HALFTIME

TV: ESPN3

The 2016 spring season is upon us, and the Florida State Seminoles take the field Saturday as they look to remain among the nation's elite teams.

There are plenty of questions to answer—including a brewing quarterback battle between returning starter Sean Maguire and Deondre Francois—and while true answers may not arrive until the fall, the spring game gives Seminoles fans a potential glimpse into the crystal ball.

Stay plugged in below for continued updates.

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Clemson Spring Game 2016: Live Score, Top Performers and Analysis

Orange 14, White 9, Second Quarter

The Clemson Tigers came up just short in their chase for a national championship in 2015, but the same excitement and level of expectation awaits the 2016 football team. We will get our first look at that team in Saturday's spring game. 

The spring game will give us an opportunity to see a lot of young players try to prove themselves and also a first look at the freshmen who enrolled early. The game can be seen on ESPN3 at 2:30 p.m. ET, but follow along right here for live updates and analysis. 

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South Carolina Spring Game 2016: Live Score, Top Performers and Analysis

Black 7, Garnet 0. First Quarter.

The South Carolina Gamecocks are beginning a new chapter Saturday as they are on the field for their first spring game under new head coach Will Muschamp on the SEC Network.  

Stay here for live reactions and updates from the Garnet and Black game. Feel free to join the conversation in the comments section. 

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Cory Batey, Former Vanderbilt Football Player, Found Guilty of Rape

Former Vanderbilt football player Cory Batey was found guilty on one count of aggravated rape and three counts of aggravated sexual battery late Friday night.

Stacey Barchenger of the Tennessean confirmed the details of the retrial and noted Tennessee law required him to get taken into custody immediately.

Hayley Mason of WSMV provided a full breakdown of the charges and the jury's rulings:  

The jury also found him guilty on four "less severe but related charges," per Barchenger.

Batey, along with fellow former Vanderbilt player Brandon Vandenburg, was found guilty of aggravated rape in January 2015 in the case. Last June, Davidson County Judge Monte Watkins declared a mistrial in the case, stating one of the jurors was "was biased and not impartial," per Steve Almasy of CNN.

The retrial verdict came after Batey, 22, and the woman both took the stand Friday before the sides delivered their closing arguments, according to the Tennessean. The jury deliberated for around two-and-a-half hours before reaching a verdict based on the incident in 2013.

The Associated Press reported the five-day trail featured "graphic images and videos" taken during the sexual assault of an unconscious student. Batey testified he didn't remember the alleged actions because he had been drinking and was drunk at the time:

Batey told jurors Friday that he had been drinking heavily with friends on campus in June 2013 and had never consumed so much alcohol in his life. He would later estimate that he had between 14 and 22 drinks.

Batey, who was 19 at the time, said he woke up the next day and saw pictures on his phone of a woman that he had never seen before.

Vandenburg is scheduled to go through a separate retrial in June. Two other former players, Jaborian "Tip" McKenzie and Brandon E. Banks, face charges related to the incident. Their cases are pending, according to the Tennessean.

The report notes the aggravated rape conviction against Batey carries a sentence of 15 to 25 years in prison. His sentencing is currently set for May 20.

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Auburn Spring Game 2016: Date, Start Time, TV Schedule, Live Stream and More

A-Day 2016, otherwise known as the 2016 Auburn spring game, has a dramatically different feel to it compared to past years.

The Auburn Tigers don't roll into the event triumphant on the shoulders of head coach Gus Malzahn this time, not after a 7-6 campaign with plenty of jobs riding on the team's 2016 performance.

Those folks on the hot seat have to find new starters under center, in the backfield, in both trenches and yet again re-tool a defense.

With such a theme in mind, here's a look at everything to know about one of the most important Auburn spring games in recent memory.

 

2016 Auburn Spring Game

When:  Saturday, April 9, at 4 p.m. ET

Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium

TV: SEC Network

Live Stream: SECSports.go.com.

 

It's not hard to figure out where to start when it comes to Saturday's event.

John Franklin III, a transfer, is the man tasked with turning the offense around next season. Considering Jeremy Johnson only threw 10 touchdowns to seven picks last year and Sean White one and four, respectively, it's safe to assume Franklin has his hands on the starting gig.

That doesn't mean he isn't under the microscope. Franklin only comes in at 174 pounds. He's fast and a dual-threat option in every sense of the description, but he'll have to show he can get the most out of guys around him and also hold up under the rigors of play.

At the very least, everyone seems to love Franklin's versatility, as captured by SEC Football:

The offense will need to fall in around Franklin. Behind him, running back Jovon Robinson returns after a season in which he turned 117 totes into 639 yards and three scores. Good, but the rest of a committee will need to sort itself out.

It's a similar story at wideout. The top two wideouts from last season (Ricardo Louis and Melvin Ray) are gone, so it will be interesting to see which former depth players can emerge as the best fit for the Franklin-led offense.

Again, same story in the offensive trenches. Xavier Dampeer is the focal point at center. A senior, he'll get the nod as starter with Austin Golson moving to left tackle to shore up the blind side.

“Dampeer is playing at a pretty good level at center right now,” offensive line coach Herb Hand said, according to Bryan Matthews of Rivals.com. “He's another guy that I've been very, very pleased with.”

The same pressure applies to the defensive side of the ball, which suffered last year under the much-hyped Will Muschamp. Now new coordinator Kevin Steele directs the attack, also inspired by the Nick Saban coaching tree.

In other words, fans shouldn't expect to see much difference Saturday compared to last year, except in the effort department.

“We’ve kept it pretty vanilla because we wanted to find out who would play with toughness, who would play with great effort and if you’re thinking and worried about making mistakes and busting then that’s pretty hard to do,” Steele said, according to Brandon Marcello of SECCountry.com. “We’ve kept it very, very vanilla.”

It's hard not to sense the positive vibes around the unit even though the team is on its third defensive coordinator in as many years. With major names such as Carl Lawson returning and high-upside guys like Byron Cowart continuing to emerge, the growth and development in a familiar scheme should pay dividends.

If budding positivity around a defense and a general nervousness about a Malzahn-directed offense seems odd going into a spring game, it most certainly is.

That won't stop fans from flocking to the event, nor should it. While not the bottom line in how a season will play out, should the spring game provide reassurances about both sides of the football, the SEC might have a sleeper on its hands. 

While an odd position, it sure makes for quite the interesting A-Day.

 

Stats and info courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise specified. Broadcast and spring game info via AL.com.

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Clemson Spring Game 2016: Date, Start Time, Schedule, Live Stream and More

Defense takes center stage at this year's Orange & White Game.

"Clemsoning" is dead. The Clemson Tigers gave the Alabama Crimson Tide all they could handle in the title game and get key contributors on the offensive side of the ball back, highlighted by Heisman Trophy contender Deshaun Watson under center.

In a spring game perhaps ready to break records, the Tigers will look to ease new starters into spots on the defensive side of the ball to round out what could once again be one of the nation's most well-rounded rosters.

Here's everything to know about the must-see event.

 

2016 Clemson Spring Game

When:  Saturday, April 9, at 2:30 p.m. ET

Where: Memorial Stadium

TV: N/A

Live Stream: WatchESPN

 

Folks know what to expect from a Clemson spring game—traditional rules and a major turnout.

This time, as usual, a normal clock monitors the proceedings until the second possession of the third quarter, where a running clock gets implemented to speed things along.

Orange and White shared the roster split for the event:

For head coach Dabo Swinney, Saturday is a chance to get his younger guys in front of a major crowd, a factor that will really help the coaching staff slot in the best possible players at positions of need.

Swinney spoke with the Independent Mail about his expectations:

I really want to challenge our crowd and our fans to show up. If we can have 30,000 people show up for a pizza party, we ought to have 50,000 show up, at least, for a spring game. A lot of new guys, new faces, so I really want to challenge our fan base to come and enjoy a great day at Clemson.

Rest assured, fans have every reason to help Swinney hit the goals. 

Fresh off a season in which he threw for 4,104 yards and 35 touchdowns, and added another 1,105 yards and 12 scores on the ground, Watson will orchestrate an offense getting most of its notable weapons back for another go at a title tilt, including leading wideout Mike Williams after a scary neck injury last year.

Starters won't stay on the field too long, of course, but when the depth of the team is so important, fans should want to see the younger future playmakers, too.

Really, though, this one is all about defense. The Tigers lost a laundry list of contributors, including lineman Kevin Dodd and defensive backs Mackensie Alexander, Jayron Kearse and T.J. Green, among many others.

Clemson boasts big names to replace the big names, too. One focal point is defensive lineman Christian Wilkins, who continues to flash in practice at every spot along the line. Wilkins' new partner in crime, freshman tackle Dexter Lawrence, gets even more hype, even from his own teammate, as the Post & Courier's Aaron Brenner captured:

New faces line the linebacking corps, too, with Tre Lamar and Shaq Smith fighting over a starting gig.

In the secondary, Mark Fields, Van Smith and many others will compete for the right to play with Cordrea Tankersley.

As Brenner noted, the new-look secondary attempted to learn from its past mistakes:

It all comes to a head Saturday, when the defense has to face not only one of the nation's most potent set of offensive weapons, but do so in front of what might be one of the biggest crowds ever to grace a Clemson spring game.

Times have changed around the Orange & White Game. Clemson isn't working its way back from a wildly disappointing finish to the season this time around, but attempting to one-up itself and get back on the hunt for a College Football Playoff berth.

Easier said than done, but these Tigers aren't strangers in the face of adversity ahead of a spring game.

 

Stats and info courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise specified. Broadcast and spring game info via ClemsonTigers.com.

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