NCAA Football

Projecting College Football's 2015 All-Breakout Team

College football is a game marked by change. Each fall, players emerge from relative obscurity to find starring roles for the nation’s best teams and gain notoriety all their own. Soon enough, they graduate or leave early for the National Football League, and the cycle of replacement-to-star begins anew.

We’re always looking for that next breakout player, the guy who goes from unknown in August to the Heisman Trophy race by October. They’re out there again in 2015. It’s just a matter of finding them. Athlon Sports' Steven Lassan has his picks for breakout players right here.

Here’s the All-Breakout team for 2015, a group selected for their ability to make a difference this fall, thanks to the combination of talent, skills and opportunity. It might not be a perfect list, but it will have plenty of impact players included regardless.

Begin Slideshow

Tennessee Football: Volunteers' Most Important Players at Each Position

A player's importance can be measured in very identifiable traits, and the Tennessee football program has many who are necessary cogs, especially within the framework of what is supposed to be a breakout season.

From guys who the Volunteers would be lost without to others who need to live up to massive expectations in order for the program to, there are players at every position who are needed, relied upon, depended on.

It starts with quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who is arguably the most important player on the entire team. The whole season may depend on whether he stays healthy considering he has three true freshmen behind him on the depth chart. 

On one line, an upperclassman has to be the anchor of a shaky unit. On the other side of the trench, a player who has never taken a college snap must show flashes of the transcendent prospect many predict he'll be.

Head coach Butch Jones has assembled an extremely talented team on paper, but the fact is most of them are still freshmen and sophomores.

From the upperclassmen who must teach those young pups winning ways (when they've never won anything of consequence in college) to the youngsters who have to quickly play up to their recruiting rankings, the 2015 Vols are loaded with players who are vital to this program returning to respectability.

Let's take a look at the most important players at every position.

Begin Slideshow

Georgia Football: Bulldogs' Most Important Players at Each Position

Summer workouts are in full swing for the Georgia Bulldogs, but it won’t be long before all players must report to Athens to take part in fall camp. Once camp starts, the entire team has to be focused and ready for what could be a very rewarding 2015 season if everything goes according to plan.

There will be certain players for the Bulldogs that need to be on top of their games in order for the team to win consistently. Guys like Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins, Quincy Mauger and Nick Chubb will have to play like they did in 2014, because if they don’t live up to expectations, it could be a long season at Sanford Stadium.

But are they the most important players on the team? If they really don’t play up to their standard, will the team really falter?

Here are the most important players for each position.

Begin Slideshow

Top 10 Nike Uniforms in College Football

Nike has undoubtedly become the juggernaut of college football apparel. 

From schools such as Oregon, Nike's guinea pig for new-age gear, to Texas, where the brand has maintained a strong sense to tradition while still advancing the technology of the uniform itself, Nike jerseys routinely trend on social media and captivate audiences. 

Let's check out Nike's top 10 uniforms in college football.

Begin Slideshow

Michigan Football: Jim Harbaugh Brings Whole New Style to Camps, Recruiting

There is something to be said about the way Michigan Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh runs a football camp. Whether it’s by way of satellite reach, or through a grassroots setup in his own backyard, he continuously puts on a show at every turn.

Just ask some of the parents. 

"Look at him: He's like a kid out there. I love it!" said one player's father during the "A4 Aerial Assault" camp this past Saturday at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. 

The definition of “hands-on," Harbaugh participated alongside—and nearly as often—with more than 100 athletes at the quarterback-centric event over the weekend. Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears, along with former Wolverines stars such as Denard Robinson, Todd Collins and Elvis Grbac, dropped by to assist pods of college hopefuls.

Thanks to a wildly successful “Swarm Tour,” Harbaugh has become the talk of college football, all day, every day. While most media and coaches have praised his aggressive approach, he’s managed to make a few people uncomfortable, particularly Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Alabama’s Nick Saban, coaches who have each publicly opposed Harbaugh’s satellite camps.

Harbaugh can’t and won’t please everyone, and the groaning from the SEC proves that his plan is working.

With that being said, recruits can’t get enough of Jim Harbaugh, a man whose reputation for development, competition and constant search for excellence has commanded the attention of some of the nation’s top preps.

“You know, I thought the camp was awesome,” said Allan Walters of Paramus Catholic (New Jersey), a 2018 QB who ended the day with an offer from Michigan. “He brought in baseball, he brought in soccer, he brought in a bounce house, he brought—he just brought everything, just to see how you could compete.

“I thought it was actually really great because it was much different than any other camp. It was much different than doing the typical 1-on-1s, and it showed how much everyone wanted to compete. It was really fun. You got to compete against people in a non-typical way.”

Despite being a week removed from his freshman year of high school, the sophomore-to-be has been around the circuit long enough to know what to expect at events. He's attended the Elite 11 regionals and various Rivals camps, but up until Saturday, he had never experienced anything remotely close to Harbaugh’s mix of grounders, fly-balls, kicking soccer balls into lacrosse nets from more than 10 yards away, par-4 football/trampoline golf courses and bounce houses.

“I don’t think there is any better coach in college football for the quarterback position than Jim Harbaugh,” said Walters, who enjoys doing more than standard footwork and arm strength training. 

“[Harbaugh’s] just a guy who has great methods. He develops great people, great quarterbacks, great players and great character. I mean, you can go down the list; he’s coached Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick and many more. He just develops and gets the best out of you—physically, mentally and academically. He just wants to see the best in you.”

Two weeks ago, Walters “threw a couple of balls” in front of Wolverines passing coordinator Jedd Fisch during the “Lauren’s First and Goal” camp in Easton, Pennsylvania. Impressed by the 6’2”, 200-pounder’s arm, Fisch wanted another look, so he invited Walters to the “Aerial Assault.”

“I registered, paid and we planned the trip,” said Walters, who traveled by plane with his father. “The camp was well worth it.”

More than just interested, Walters is strongly considering Michigan as his collegiate destination. But he also holds offers from Rutgers and Temple, and schools such as Michigan State, Texas, Penn State, USC and UCLA could be options as well, according to his 247Sports profile.

He's fortunate enough to have plenty of time to plot his course.

“I’d like to go through the process, wait and make my decision by this time next year,” said Walters, who was one of the youngest campers in attendance on Saturday.

Prior to the break following the morning session in Ann Arbor, Grbac mentioned “a few young guys” who were going to be “really good” down the road. It’s safe to say that Walters was among those promising quarterbacks witnessed by Grbac.

Stories such as Walters’ could become commonplace for Harbaugh, who is redefining and re-personalizing the world of football recruiting camps. They’re not completely new ways of approaching the game by any means—he’s done this type of stuff for years—but he seems to be incorporating a little extra effort into the rebuilding of his alma mater.

He’s Harbaugh, rebooted—and that’s been evident throughout the past several weeks.

Harbaugh’s approval rating isn’t high among SEC coaches, but he’s building meaningful relationships with high school coaches in the region, such as T.J. Jackson of Atlantic High School in Del Ray Beach, Florida.

“I think it’s great for them to just travel around and not wait on kids to come to them, because a lot of kids don’t have the financial stability to do that,” said Jackson, who volunteered weeks in advance for the camp at the University of South Florida. Jackson said the tour greatly helped Michigan’s presence in the state.

Jackson already has one former star at Michigan in defensive end Shelton Johnson, an incoming frosh, and he’ll send another to Ann Arbor in 2016: 3-star cornerback Antwaine Richardson, who credited Harbaugh’s satellite camp for essentially discovering him.

Rashad Weaver of Cooper City in Ft. Lauderdale, a 2-star tight end/defensive end, said the same about the benefits of satellite camping with Harbaugh. Without the tour, he would have never been able to make such early contact with Michigan. During a recent phone interview, he jokingly said that the $40 registration fee was the best money his mother had ever spent.

Once offered, both Richardson and Weaver committed.

Like the players, Jackson was also impressed by Harbaugh, who was himself and that's it. His regular-guy persona has previously won over other recruits and coaches, and there was no need to change, Jackson said.

Recruiting and coaching is about treating people like people, not clients or nameless faces. It’s about showing mutual respect and displaying genuine interest. Harbaugh's planting Every Man seeds everywhere he travels.

The same Harbaugh who interacted with players during the “Swarm Tour” and “A4” camp was probably a lot like the one who stepped into the office of Houston Stratford High School coach Eliot Allen back in 2007, looking to recruit a kid named Andrew Luck to Stanford.

"There's a lot of really good recruiters that are out there," Allen said in January, per Bill Landis of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. "In terms of the head coaches, he had a little bit different demeanor than the other guys who come in. He's sort of like a kid in a candy store. He's a high energy guy. Kids like to see that in their leader."

Following the morning session Saturday, Harbaugh made his way to the stands to talk to parents of campers, the same ones who laughed and cheered while watching the Michigan coach pick throws off the turf during baseball drills.

Afterward, he took a few moments to answer questions and explain a few things to local media members. He quickly jumped at the chance to detail the significance of his baseball drills, which were designed to identify those with natural arms.

“You can take athletic reps doing just about anything…climbing a tree… there’s so many things," Harbaugh said. "Climbing a tree would be for balance, you know, the athletic reps. There’s athletic reps everywhere to be found...”

He wasn’t being figurative, either. He was being quite literal, and his “everything has a purpose” mode of operation should continue warping the mold of ordinary recruiting and coaching.

He'll host or travel. 


Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and references were obtained firsthand by the writer via press conference, press release or other media availability.

Read more College Football news on

Ohio State Football Recruiting Offers of the Week

With the offseason camp circuit in full swing, Urban Meyer and the Ohio State coaching staff have been very busy over the last few weeks. The Buckeyes completed their third one-day camp of the summer on Friday—an event that brought a number of high-profile prospects to Columbus.

But that wasn't Ohio State's sole focus over the last seven days, as Meyer and the staff extended offers to a trio of new targets.


Paris Ford, 4-Star Safety (2017)

The week's first offer went out to Paris Ford, a talented defensive back out of Pittsburgh.

Ford is one of the hottest safety prospects in the Class of 2017, boasting an offer list that includes Auburn, Michigan, Notre Dame, Tennessee, UCLA and 11 others. The 6'1", 180-pound athlete is rated as the ninth-best safety and No. 144 overall prospect in the nation.

But where does Ohio State stand? According to Jeremy Birmingham of Eleven Warriors, Ford is very high on Meyer and the Buckeyes.

"I like Ohio State a lot," Ford said, via Birmingham. "They've always been in my top three."

The Buckeyes are checking in as a contender now, but according to 247 Sports' Crystal Ball, they're the favorite to land his commitment.


Cole Kmet, Unranked Tight End (2017)

Ohio State really wants to bring in a tight end for its 2017 class.

Last week, Meyer dished an offer to Matt Dotson, a highly touted pass-catcher out of Cincinnati. The Buckeyes followed that up by offering another tight end last Tuesday, keying in on Cole Kmet at their on-campus camp.

Ohio State joined an offer list that already included Baylor, Louisville, Iowa and North Carolina, but to Kmet, his latest offer stood out for a number of reasons, according to Charles Doss of Land Grant Holy Land.

All the schools that offered have great programs, but being able to see Ohio State was really amazing. When I think of OSU football I think of leadership, tradition, and making you better as a man. The facilities are amazing there. Also their life after football program really caught my attention cause I know football won't last forever.

Based on the current roster and the 2016 recruiting class—which already has a tight end commitment in Jake Hausmann—the Buckeyes will likely take just one tight end for their '17 class. Whether that's Dotson or Kmet remains to be seen, but Ohio State's strategy for the position is starting to take shape.


Terrance Davis, 4-Star Offensive Guard (2016)

Most of Ohio State's 2016 targeting efforts are already in the books, but Meyer is still keeping an eye out for elite prospects who could bolster this year's class.

That process led the Buckeyes to Terrance Davis, a mammoth 6'4", 305-pound offensive guard out of Hyattsville, Maryland.

Davis is one of the most sought-after linemen in the country. He ranks second at his position and 83rd overall for the Class of 2016, boasting offers from programs such as Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia Tech.

But all of those schools trail Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines, who currently have the lead for Davis' commitment, according to 247 Sports' Crystal Ball. That sentiment was reinforced by Barton Simmons of 247Sports, who reported that Michigan was the team to beat in Davis' recruitment. 

With how late Ohio State's offer came in, it will be very hard for Meyer to win over this recruit, who seems to be trending toward the Buckeyes' biggest rival.


All recruiting rankings and information via 247Sports.

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

Read more College Football news on

Harold Brantley, Missouri DL, in Serious Condition After Car Accident

Missouri defensive lineman Harold Brantley was involved in a car accident on Sunday and is in serious condition at University Hospital in Columbia.  

Tod Palmer of the Kansas City Star reported the news, indicating Mizzou women's basketball player Maddie Stock was a passenger in Brantley's car, which flipped over on southbound U.S. 63 at 1:55 p.m. Stock suffered minor injuries and is in good condition. Neither Stock, 21, nor Brantley was wearing a seat belt.'s Pete Scantleburyrelayedanofficial statement from university athletic department spokesman Chad Moller:

Harold was injured in a car accident this afternoon on Highway 63 south of town. He was taken from the scene to University Hospital and is being treated for injuries. I don't have specifics yet...But will certainly pass along what I can when it becomes available. We are hopeful that he will be OK.

Ashley Zavala of KRCG 13 posted a few images from the scene of the accident:

Per Palmer, head coach Gary Pinkel has compared Brantley to current New York Jets star and former Tigers standout Sheldon Richardson, which provides an idea of the type of talent Brantley is on the gridiron.

A rising junior, the 21-year-old Brantley made 10 starts this past season, racking up 54 total tackles and five sacks.

Read more College Football news on

Meet Ronnie Stanley, the 2016 NFL Draft's Top OL Heading into Next Season

Had Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley declared for the 2015 NFL draft, he well might have been the first offensive tackle off the board. After deciding to return to school, he is now the favorite to be the top offensive lineman selected in the 2016 NFL draft.

After spending his first playing season at right tackle in 2013, Stanley had big shoes to fill last year as Notre Dame’s replacement for Zack Martin, a four-year starter at left tackle who went on to be a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft and a Pro Bowl guard for the Dallas Cowboys in his rookie season.

As good as Martin was at Notre Dame and already is in the NFL, Stanley could be more highly regarded as a prospect. Unlike Martin, who was always projected to move inside because of his measurables, Stanley has the prototypical length and athleticism that NFL scouts covet in an offensive tackle prospect.

Given that, he could have gone even higher in the 2015 draft than Martin went in 2014 (No. 16 overall). As Stanley explained via a release by Notre Dame’s official athletics website, however, he felt as though he has unfinished business in South Bend before he moves on to the next level:

This was a difficult decision. My dream isn't just to play in the National Football League. I want to win a national championship. I've waited to this point so I could watch the actual game and see if I felt any emotion, and I felt a great deal. I am a competitor. I want to play on the top stage so I've decided that I'm returning to Notre Dame for my senior year.

We've got a chance to have a special season next year. Many of my teammates are returning and I've made strong bonds with lots of them. If all of them weren't coming back this year it would've made it an easier decision to leave. All this, the opportunity to graduate, and much more, led to my decision to stay.

Technically, Stanley still has two years of collegiate eligibility remaining. He is considered to be a senior by Notre Dame, which always lists its players by class year, but he is actually a redshirt junior from an eligibility standpoint.

Based on the quote above, though, it sounds like Stanley already has his mind set toward moving forward to the NFL in 2016. If he continues to perform as well this upcoming season as he did last year, he’ll be in high demand.


Dominant in Pass Protection

When NFL teams look for a franchise left tackle, they search for a player who can consistently handle pro-caliber pass-rushers on the edge and provide consistent protection for the quarterback’s blind side.

Stanley, after just two years as a collegiate starter and just one season on the left side, looks as though he could do that already.

From a physical standpoint, he has optimal measurables for the left tackle position. A long-limbed lineman who is listed at 6’5 ½” and 315 pounds by, Stanley is a former high school basketball player who combines the size of a behemoth with the feet of a ballerina.

Even more striking than his physical tools, however, is how fundamentally sound he is in using them. Despite his relative playing inexperience, he already has refined technique in both his upper and lower body.

Stanley consistently lands proper hand placement on his opponents, which enables him to lock out his long arms, absorb punches and keep pass-rushers at bay.

The rising senior’s footwork is also excellent. When pass-rushers line up wide, Stanley (No. 78) is able to employ his smooth kick-slide to get out in front of the edge defender quickly, like he did on the following play against Florida State’s DeMarcus Walker (No. 44, bottom of screen):

While Notre Dame allowed 28 sacks last season, according to, that was mostly because its former quarterback, Everett Golson, often didn’t know when to get rid of the football.

Golson likes to use his feet to maneuver the pocket and create plays, and Stanley regularly gave him the pass protection he needed to do so. A player who can be trusted in one-on-one matchups, Stanley does an excellent job of fighting with his hands and sliding his feet to mirror a pass-rusher in isolation and keep his man away from the quarterback.

On the play below, also from last year’s Florida State game, Stanley showed that ability as he was able to mirror Seminoles linebacker Jacob Pugh (No. 16, top of screen) for a good five seconds, buying time for Golson to dance around the pocket before ultimately completing a shovel pass.

Stanley’s foot skills make him a fit for any offensive scheme. Have a mobile quarterback and want to create a moving pocket to extend a play? No problem, as Stanley showed on the following example of pass protection (working toward bottom of screen) against Stanford:

If you watch Stanley’s entire game versus Florida State from last season, you will see many examples of his not allowing his opponent—specifically, 2015 second-round draft pick Mario Edwards Jr.—to even get off the line of scrimmage. He consistently gets out of his stance quickly, shuts down most pass-rushing moves and exhibits strength in holding his ground against bull-rushes.

When a pass-rusher does start to get momentum toward the quarterback, however, Stanley does not panic. He is adept at adjusting his angle mid-play to guide an opponent around the back of the pocket, like he did on the following matchup with Pugh (bottom of screen) to not only buy time for Golson but enable the quarterback to take off running for a first down.

As Stanley moves forward into the 2015 season, he can still work on becoming more consistent as he blocks the blind side for a new Notre Dame starting quarterback, Malik Zaire, this year. All in all, though, Stanley has no glaring weaknesses that should stop him from being a successful pass protector in the NFL.


Can Stanley Make an Impact as a Run-Blocker?

How teams feel about the answer to that question could make a difference in whether or not Stanley is the top-10 overall pick he has the potential to be. While his pass-blocking skill is outstanding for a player who still has two years of collegiate eligibility left, he has not shown that he can make the same sort of consistent presence in the run game.

Despite his size and strength, Stanley has not exhibited much ability to generate power. He rarely drive-blocks defenders more than a couple of yards off the line of scrimmage, and he often struggles to move his man backward at all.

To a similar extent, he does not regularly translate his athleticism into making downfield blocks in space, though he shows more potential in that regard.

A screen block is not precisely the same as a run block, but nonetheless, the following clip—on which Stanley blocked Florida State safety Tyler Hunter to lead Notre Dame wide receiver Will Fuller to an 11-yard touchdown—shows his potential to accelerate to the second level and impose his size upon a smaller defender.

Stanley does not consistently show that level of ability to find a defender in space and get a body on him, so he needs to improve in that regard.


Where Does Stanley Fit in the 2016 NFL Draft?

Altogether, Stanley needs to make strides as a run-blocker this upcoming season if he is going to solidify himself as one of the top prospects in the 2016 NFL draft.

The good news is that NFL teams tend to value pass-blocking ability, especially in a prospective left tackle, more highly than run-blocking ability.

Furthermore, a lack of power should not stop a team from drafting Stanley, especially if he shows development in that area in 2015. While he could continue to get stronger through hard work in the weight room, his length and athleticism are naturally inherited traits that many offensive tackles—even some who are already starting in the NFL—are unable to match.

Stanley’s top competition to be the first offensive tackle chosen in the 2016 NFL draft could be Ole Miss junior Laremy Tunsil. He has similar physical attributes to Stanley but is not quite as natural in pass protection and is also coming off a fractured fibula suffered in the Peach Bowl last season.

Other offensive tackles who project as potential first-round picks and could compete for draft position with Stanley and Tunsil include Ohio State senior Taylor Decker, Michigan State junior Jack Conklin, Baylor senior Spencer Drango and Texas Tech senior Le'Raven Clark.

Regardless of how those players or any other offensive linemen who might emerge as top prospects perform, Stanley should be one of the first players selected in the 2016 NFL draft assuming he declares, stays healthy and continues to perform at the high level he did last season.

In comparing Stanley to prospects from recent drafts, he does not yet project at the same elite level as the top two offensive tackles from the 2014 draft, No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson and No. 6 overall pick Jake Matthews. If he can take a leap forward as a run-blocker and have an excellent junior season, he could reach that level.

Within the 2015 draft pool, however, Stanley might have already given No. 5 overall pick Brandon Scherff a run for his money. As aforementioned, some draft analysts—including Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller—felt that Stanley would have been the top prospect at the position this past spring.

Adding to that, Miller also considers Stanley to be among a group of six prospects who stand out, in his opinion, as the top talents in the 2016 draft class.

All of those players (spoiler alert: you might see a few of them as our top-prospects-by-position series moves to the defensive side of the ball) have the potential to be among the top picks next spring.

Stanley’s case in comparison to some of the others, though, is not only bolstered by his skill set but also his position—left tackle—which is typically valued at a premium in the NFL draft.


This article is part of a series on the projected top prospects at each position for the 2016 NFL draft. Also read:

Meet Jared Goff, the 2016 NFL Draft's Top QB Heading into Next Season

Meet Ezekiel Elliott, the 2016 NFL Draft's Top RB Heading into Next Season

Meet Tyler Boyd, the 2016 NFL Draft's Top WR Heading into Next Season

Meet Evan Engram, the 2016 NFL Draft's Top TE Heading into Next Season


All GIFs were made at Gfycat using videos from Draft Breakdown and YouTube.

Dan Hope is an NFL/NFL Draft Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.

Read more College Football news on

Jim Harbaugh Sent Rapper Lil Wayne a Custom Autographed Michigan Jersey

Jim Harbaugh is apparently a big fan of Lil Wayne, so much so that he sent the rapper an autographed custom Michigan Wolverines jersey.

Harbaugh tweeted out a photo of Lil Wayne with rapper Jack Kennedy. Kennedy was a walk-on quarterback at Michigan from 2009 to 2012. Kennedy was one of the openers for "Big Show at the Joe" at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena on Friday night. 

Harbaugh penned the jersey with "To Wayne, proud to be a fan of yours, Go Blue!" 

Expect to hear Lil Wayne boom through the stadium speakers this upcoming season. 

[Twitter, h/t College Spun]

Read more College Football news on