NCAA Football

Oregon Spring Game 2014: Live Game Grades and Analysis

Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich said in his pre -game interview on the Pac -12 Network's broadcast that the live-game format for Saturday's spring game was what the fans wanted to see...

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Oregon Spring Game 2014: Live Score, Top Performers and Analysis

Team Mariasu (Green) 14, Team Twifo 0 (White) ; Start of 3rd Quarter

Mark Helfrich and the Oregon Ducks will conclude their spring with a intrasquad contest at Autzen Stadium. 

The contest can be seen on the Pac-12 Network. The game will begin at 11:00 a.m. PT. On radio, the game will be on KUJZ (95.3) in Eugene, and KXTG (750 am) in Portland. 

Bleacher Report appreciates you tuning in with us. Please stick around for analysis, live scores and much more!

 

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Oregon Spring Game 2014: Live Score, Top Performers and Analysis

Team Mariasu (Green) 21, Team Twifo 0 (White) ; Start of the 4th Quarter Mark Helfrich and the Oregon Ducks will conclude their spring with a intrasquad contest at Autzen Stadium...

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UCLA Football: Jim Mora's 4 Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice

Heading into the summer, Jim Mora and the UCLA Bruins have four concerns relating to the prospects of the 2014 season. 

Health at a key position will be paramount going forward. It would also be ideal to have a member of the crowded backfield separate from the proverbial pack and be "the guy" going forward. Lastly, depth concerns figure at two significant positions. 

There is no order determining the level of importance for the four concerns. One slide in particular is clearly depicted as the most pressing concern for the squad. 

Here's a look at the four biggest concerns post-spring practice for the UCLA Bruins. 

Begin Slideshow

UCLA Football: Jim Mora's 4 Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice

Heading into the summer, Jim Mora and the UCLA Bruins have four concerns relating to the prospects of the 2014 season. Health at a key position will be paramount going forward...

Begin Slideshow

Brady White to Arizona State: Sun Devils Land 4-Star QB Prospect

The quarterback is the heart and soul of any college program. Arizona State now has its potential quarterback of the future following a huge commitment.

Brady White, a 4-star quarterback from Santa Clarita, California, gave a verbal commitment that he would be playing with the Sun Devils following his senior season with Hart High School. Doug Haller of AZCentral reported the news:

Todd Graham tweeted shortly after the commitment:

The Sun Devils will have to wait on White taking over behind center, though, as he's a 2015 recruit. But if the numbers he puts up during his senior season are anything like his junior campaign, ASU might have a sensational quarterback coming into the program.

White threw for 4,535 yards, 41 touchdowns and 18 interceptions with a 63.5 completion percentage during his junior season. He also rushed for 320 yards and nine touchdowns on the year.

Hart's head coach, Mike Herrington, spoke about the one potential weakness for White, per Gerry Gittelson of the Los Angeles Daily News, saying, "That’s the only damper, the interceptions, but Brady is doing a really good job for us."

Even with the 18 interceptions during his junior season, White showed he has room to learn in his final year with Hart. But with his cool demeanor and great pocket presence, the 6'2", 190-pound quarterback has a chance to shine for the Sun Devils

Greg Biggins of Fox Sports points out that White was a huge factor during a recent camp:

With other notable offers from Maryland, Nebraska, Louisville and Penn State, the Sun Devils are getting a signal-caller who was widely coveted across the country. Thanks to his arm and accuracy, taking over the reins for ASU should definitely be in his future.

As college football puts a premium on great offenses, as seen in recent years with teams like Florida State and Oregon, getting a versatile quarterback means ASU is one step closer to contending not only in the Pac-12 South but on a national level.

 

Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter:

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'Jameis' Famous Crab Shack' T-Shirts Released in Wake of FSU QB's Citation

In the wake of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston's citation for shoplifting king crab legs, Smack Apparel has released a T-shirt that reads "Jameis' Famous Crab Shack Emporium" with "EAT 'EM LIKE YOU STOLE 'EM!" written at the bottom. 

The back of the shirts read "Our Crabs Are Always at a Five Finger Discount!" Florida fans everywhere can be expected to have these next season.

[CollegeSpun]

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USC Football: Offseason Recruiting Roundup


The Trojans coaching staff turns its attention to recruiting now that spring practices have been put to bed, and already USC is busy assembling the future of USC. With miles to go on the recruiting trial, Steve Sarkisian and his staff are using this offseason to woo top 2015 talent with the hopes of further impressing those recruits during the impending football season. While it's true that commitments this year don't always amount to much, it's always a good sign when a coach is able to shore up blue-chip recruits without having coached any games yet.

Here's a rundown of what's happening for the Trojans on the recruiting front, and what to expect going forward.

 

Trojan Commits

5-star QB Ricky Town

5-star OT Chuma Edoga 

3-star CB Taeon Mason

3-star QB David Sills

David Sills is USC's longest-standing commit, dating back to when former head coach Lane Kiffin extended him an offer in 2010. His commitment hadn't wavered until Sarkisian brought Ricky Town into the mix in January. The St. Bonaventure (Ventura, Calif.) quarterback's presence in the group almost certainly means Sills will decommit as recruiting season heats up later in the year, but for now, the Trojans have two quarterbacks on deck. 

Chuma Edoga is USC's newest commit, and already he's a pretty exciting prospect. Plucked right out of SEC country, Edoga is considered the fourth-best offensive tackle in his class. His courtship from USC suggests Sark is still trying to ensure the Trojans have a stout offensive line going forward. 

The Georgia native discussed with ESPN why he decided on the Trojans:

I committed to USC. I feel like I can get the best of both worlds by going to USC. First with football and then with their academics. I have a great relationship with coach [Tee] Martin and coach [Tim] Drevno. They are all pretty cool guys—real laid back. They really love the game of football and they are focused on what is best for me, they want to make me the best man I can be—just real genuine guys.

 

Top California Targets*

4-star WR Equanimeous St. Brown

5-star LB John Houston Jr. 

5-star DT Rasheem Green

5-star DE Keisean Lucier-South

5-star CB Iman "Biggie" Marshall

Updates

Equanimeous St. Brown recently picked up an offer from UCLA, so the Trojans and their rivals will go head-to-head for his commitment later this year. St. Brown also has some interest in out-of-state schools, like Notre Dame.

John Houston Jr. could be considered a Trojan lean at this point, as he recently donned USC sleeves during a 7-on-7 passing league tournament. 

Pac-12 schools like Stanford and Oregon are keen on Rasheem Green, and he recently spoke favorably about his visit to each school. He wasn't able to go to USC's spring game, but the Junipero Serra (Gardena, Calif.) defensive tackle got a visit from Coach Tee Martin earlier this week. Because USC has an active pipeline to Serra, he is another name to look out for in the coming months as a Trojan lean. 

An elite pass-rusher, Keisean Lucier-South is a recruit that is high on the Trojans' list. The coaches visited him at his school in April, and he received a personalized tour of USC's campus before the spring game. Schools like UCLA, Michigan and Notre Dame are also vying for his attention. 

Biggie Marshall attended both USC and UCLA's spring games, and he will also be at the center of a local battle between the Trojans and Bruins. He's already a household name in Los Angeles, and his commitment to USC would be a huge gain. 

 

Top Out-of-State Targets*

4-star OT Andre James

4-star WR Cordell Broadus

4-star DE Marquavius Lewis

4-star OLB/DE Porter Gustin

Updates

Andre James (Herriman, Utah) is considered the third-best offensive tackle in Utah and is rated No. 22 overall in his class. USC just offered him this week, and he also holds offers from Oregon and Washington. He visited USC in March, and a commitment from him would ensure a strong O-line presence in the years to come. Sark has been hard at work trying to build an O-line that can bring back the glory days of USC's power run game, and James is the kind of athlete that can help make that happen.

The son of longtime USC fan and international rap legend Snoop Dogg, Cordell Broadus (Bishop Gorman, Nev.) is a wide receiver target the Trojans want to lock down. UCLA is also vying for his commitment, in an effort to convert the Broadus clan into Bruin fans. 

USC's coaching staff has mined gold recently on the JUCO front, bringing in studs like Morgan Breslin and turning them into gems on Saturdays. Marquavius Lewis (Hutchinson C.C., Kan.) would be no exception. The 4-star DE is likely to end up at an SEC school, but it would be huge if the Trojans could sway him to the West Coast. 

Also from Utah, Porter Gustin is a promising linebacker target getting a lot of looks from Pac-12 schools. Right now, he's high on the Trojans and would be a great addition to the linebacking corps. 

 

Other Notes

Sarkisian has made great strides to restore some of the Pete Carroll flair to USC, namely, being open to the media and interacting with fans on a regular basis. USC's sanctions are lifted on June 9, and things could become more and more open as the year goes on. That said, the athletic department in Troy has announced that this summer's training camps (like Rising Stars) will continue to be closed to the media and the public.

No reason was given for continuing to keep the camps closed, nor have they indicated whether the media will have access to fall camp. 

 

*This is just a short list of the Trojans' top targets for 2015. As the offseason continues, new targets will be introduced in weekly roundups. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC Football: Offseason Recruiting Roundup

The Trojans coaching staff turns its attention to recruiting now that spring practices have been put to bed, and already USC is busy assembling the future of USC...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Michigan Football: Denard Robinson Goes to Bat for Brady Hoke, Devin Gardner

Despite Michigan’s recent struggles and flurry of so-so headlines, Denard Robinson didn’t hesitate—not even for a split second—when asked about his alma mater’s future under coach Brady Hoke and quarterback Devin Gardner.

As a matter of fact, everything will be OK, says Shoelace, who, before joining the Jacksonville Jaguars, amassed more than 10,000 yards during his wildly entertaining, “flapping in the wind” run with the Wolverines.

“(Hoke) should work for All-State,” Robinson said with his trademark laugh during a podcast interview Thursday night with Sports in the Mitten on Blog Talk Radio. “(Michigan is) in good hands. They’re in good hands.”

As for Gardner, Robinson’s good friend, just wait: The best is yet to come. Interception-prone during the early stretches of 2013, Shoelace’s successor eventually settled down and showed the Big Ten why he’s one of its best overall athletes.

He didn’t break runs like Robinson, but Gardner most certainly made enough plays to keep his team in the fight. Team 134 finished the year with a 7-6 record, but four of those losses were by four or less. And although expectations weren’t met as a whole, Gardner still threw for 2,960 yards, 21 touchdowns (and 11 picks) and nearly toppled Ohio State.

And he did all of that on a bad foot. Needless to say, once healthy, Gardner will be poised to do damage in 2014.

“Devin wants to prove himself,” said Robinson. “I see that Devin is focused. He wants to get back from his injury and lead his team. He’s focused—I’m telling you, I notice this about this guy—he’s locked in.”

 

Denard on Hoke

Robinson has love and respect for Hoke, that's not even up for debate.

“He would treat you like a son," Robinson said. "And when I say that, I mean that he would really treat you like a son and make sure that you’re on the right path and ask you questions and be a father figure to you and a role model that you could talk to.”

 

RichRod

Since being fired from Michigan, coach Rich Rodriguez remains of slight interest for Wolverines fans, mostly due to his success. He’s won 16 games, including two bowls, during his first two years with Arizona and appears to be on the rise since his embarrassing stretch

“I’m excited for coach,” Robinson said of the man who initially recruited him. “I’m happy for him. My mom still watches his games—she watches Michigan and Arizona. We had that bond (with Rodriguez)…I’m always rooting for RichRod.

“But it’s always going to be Michigan, though. That’s a no-brainer.”

 

The Play

Robinson’s first—and maybe most memorable—play from scrimmage set the tone for the ride to come. Instead of taking a sack, he turned a botched exchange into a 43-yard touchdown gallop versus Western Michigan.

Michigan went on to win, 31-7, and The Legend of Shoelace was born.

“I forgot the play,” said Robinson, who mentioned how the crowd at The Big House can overwhelm the home team, not only the opposition. 

In 2010, the following season, he was named as the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year—because of, well, you know. Watch some video.

 

Rivalries

Notre Dame and Michigan are no more, and that’s unfortunate because the game is “a part of college football,” says Robinson, who routinely torched the Irish for yards upon yards. 

Ohio State, of course, is important to the Wolverines and should never be taken lightly. Hoke's yet to defeat Urban Meyer

But what about Michigan State, which has won five of the past six? How does Robinson feel about his former in-state foes?

"What the running back Mike said," laughed Robinson. 

 

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

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Your Best 11 Mailbag: On Centers, Under-the-Radar Freshmen & Miami Beach

It is Friday and that means the mailbag, folks! This is the last Friday before the NFL draft, and that means my last Friday before I head to New York City. We'll be discussing and grading every pick, so download the Team Stream app for your Android, iPhone or BlackBerry to stay up-to-date with commentary from myself, Matt Miller, Chris Simms and Adam Lefkoe. Should be exciting! But, for now, let's get to these questions.

This is a great question for a few reasons. First of all, during my era we only went to one bowl game, the Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. Basically a return trip to my hometown during Christmas break, which is where I was anyway. We were a disaster in terms of going out and having a good time, but that is what happens when your team has not been to a bowl in several years.

Secondly, this is a great jumping-off point to talk about bowl locations and how those are the reward, many times, in themselves. With the exception of coaches who move their teams totally out of the action, a place like Miami is an area where guys can have a good time, spend their per diem on more than just a lunch.

It also raises the point that my guy Newy Scruggs of NBC Sports Radio brought up Thursday: securing an early bowl bid. BYU has already accepted a bid to the Miami Beach Bowl, and for the bowl and BYU that is a positive. For folks not involved with either entity, it seems odd to see a team decide its fate this early, or to see a bowl tie itself to a squad without seeing them play a down.

However, for the bowl and the school this is a major positive. BYU is now pushing Miami Beach Bowl tickets to its fans and that means people have a head start on accommodations and securing the funds to enjoy themselves in South Florida. That is a win-win for the program and the game. It certainly beats trying to decide what you're going to do, as a fan, in the first week of December for a game that takes place in three weeks.

Give me the guy with a little less ability, but a lot more knowledge. I want a center who can diagnose the fronts, recognize blitzers and possible added rushers and then can adjust protections based upon the shifting image defenses give him. Eighty-90 percent seems high—after all that is B grade—but that 10-20 percent of plays can lead to sacks and tackles for loss.

Sacks and tackles for loss mean my team is off schedule and being off schedule means constantly trying to pick up more yards than is likely for a team. Sacks and tackles for loss also mean hits on the quarterback and, in many instances, fumbles. Even without sacks, a quarterback pressure leads to errant throws and rushed tosses resulting in wasted plays on incompletions, again off schedule, or interceptions.

So, with that said, I want the guy who makes the right calls all the time and gets my team ready to, at worst, be in the best position to make plays. Another thing that I've found is the guy you're describing, limited athlete but deep understanding of the game, tends to have a workaround for his inabilities.

That is to say that he knows he cannot maul the 360-pound defensive tackle off the ball, but he understands he can work leverage and his quickness advantage to produce a win or a stalemate to allow his team to succeed. Same goes for the quicker body moved in on a passing down. Recognizing your target and helping set a protection that benefits the team, and your own technique, is a plus.

For those of you not as well-versed in mid-20th century learn-to-read books, here's what Dick and Jane were all about. And, yes, I do think that screaming for Myles Jack to play running back is the basal reader of football fandom. Get it away from me, as I wrote earlier this week

Fans, do better. UCLA loses three stud defenders, including two linebackers, and people are clamoring for Jack to do more on offense when the side of the ball he plays on needs him badly. Oh, and let's not forget that a three-down linebacker, like C.J. Mosley, is more valuable than most running backs in the NFL, ultimately Jack's future career.

This is a tough one because there are so many kids all over the nation that I really liked in recruiting. I'll try to keep it tight here as we head into the weekend. The first guy that came to my mind this year was Matt Sokol. A former high school quarterback who is playing tight end at Michigan State. Big, strong kid and I really think he has the skill to contribute to a Spartans offense that should be beastly in 2014.

The Matt Dickerson kid at UCLA is another one I like because he is long and can hopefully come in and play that long-stick defensive end for them in spots. I like Naijiel Hale (he was a 4-star) and I think he'll help out early at Washington. I could not go this entire post without mentioning Nate Dogg's son.

At Texas Tech, the entire class was sort of under the radar, but I'm curious to see what the Payton Hendrix kid brings to the table because he's really long. I remember watching some of him on the server and just thinking what is it about him that he is not rated a little higher. He has great range and the length just adds to what I expect out of him.

And, lastly, an "at-home" plug: Isaiah Robinson. He inked with Wake Forest. I got to see him play a lot over the last few seasons and I really like this kid's game a ton. Good hands out of the backfield, low center of gravity with good balance and the ability to run through contact. Wake's looking for guys to carry the ball and I think he's got the ability to contribute in the run game and in the passing game.

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Notre Dame Football: How 2014 Roster Compares to Undefeated 2012 Team

It may seem crazy now, but things didn't look all that good heading into the 2012 season. Coming off back-to-back 8-5 seasons, Notre Dame had just given away the Champs Sports Bowl to Florida State with a second-half collapse.

After saying goodbye to three offensive coaches in the offseason, Kelly rebooted the offense under safeties coach Chuck Martin's direction. But with a first-year quarterback at the helm and needing to replace first-round draft picks Michael Floyd and Harrison Smith, questions swirled around Brian Kelly and his football program. 

But an undefeated regular season erased a lot of those questions. Faced with a schedule that on paper was the toughest in the country, the Irish's run to the BCS title game in Brian Kelly's third season was the high point for Notre Dame football since the Lou Holtz era.

Can the 2014 team make the same type of dream run? With new coordinators on both sides of the football and the departure of four players who could be drafted in the first two rounds, the challenges are significant. 

Let's take a look at both teams, as we compare the 2014 team to the 2012 squad that went 12-1.

Begin Slideshow

Oregon Football: Week 5 Spring Practice Stock Report

Spring practice season winds down this week at Oregon with Saturday's scrimmage at 2 p.m. ET on the Pac-12 Network. The Ducks are the last of the Pac-12 teams to finish, along with rival Oregon State. 

Oregon's spring game is formatted as closely to live action as possible in a scrimmage, with teams split down the middle by a draft.

Head coach Mark Helfrich joked to Tyson Alger of The Oregonian that the drafting of teams—one chosen by quarterback Marcus Mariota and center Hroniss Grasu and the other by cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and linebacker Tony Washington—was to be broadcast "on Pac-12 Network and ESPN 8."

Though last Friday's draft did not make it on ESPN 8: The Ocho, the complete results are available via GoDucks.com

"It's not ones vs. ones [first-string offense vs. first-string defense]," Helfrich explained on Thursday's teleconference call, per Pac-12.com

As one might expect, the team captained by the quarterback went with a more pass-friendly roster, while the defenders chose a ground-and-pound approach, which GoDucks.com editor Rob Moseley noted on Twitter. 

For an Oregon scrimmage to emulate the real thing, the Ducks must take the field in sharp uniforms. They'll do exactly that and pay tribute to the United States Armed Forces in the process. Nike and the official Oregon football Twitter account tweeted images of the spring game uniforms Thursday.

 

Helfrich's Second Spring

A year ago at this time, Helfrich was just getting his feet wet as Oregon's head coach. The 2013 slate of spring practices were his first since taking over the program from former colleague and current Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. 

After an initial season of tremendous highs and some disappointment, Helfrich was asked to look back on the past year and the differences between 2013 and 2014 on Thursday's teleconference call.

"Any time you go through something more than once, you better be more efficient," he said. 

Kelly set a high bar in his time as head coach, leading the Ducks to three straight conference championships from 2009 through 2011 and four consecutive BCS bowl appearances between 2009 and 2012.

The Ducks' BCS streak snapped last season, but as Helfrich noted, each new season is a chance to build toward a new goal—often with new personnel.

"There’s always adjustment. That’s kind of the fun part about this," he said. "Your roster changes so much from year to year in college football. The leadership, the vibe, and that’s where you kind of fall back on your culture."

 

Ducks Defense Making Spring Strides 

Former defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti's retirement presented the Oregon defense with a major question mark in the 2014 offseason. 

Thus far, the coaching staff seems pleased with the progress. 

"We’ve had a great give and take as far as who’s had the upper hand not only overall, but intra-practice," Helfrich said Thursday.

New defensive coordinator Don Pellum told Sports Illustrated that building his unit starts with the finite details.  

What’s been different is just a lot more time paying attention to overall details. That ranges from preparation to taking it on the field: practice plans, making sure guys are where they’re supposed to be. For instance, if it’s a nickel package and you split the linebackers, then you have the right linebackers down at pass rush and the other guys in pass coverage. 

 

Helfrich Not Surprised by SEC Scheduling

Via SECDigitalNetwork.com, the Southeastern Conference released details of its future scheduling plan, which includes a mandate that all 14 of its members must play an opponent from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12. 

However, the SEC is still committed to an eight-game conference schedule, deviating from other leagues with preferred access to the new College Football Playoff. The Pac-12 and Big 12 already play nine-game conference slates, while the Big Ten is moving to that format in 2016. 

"I’m not surprised by [the SEC sticking with an eight-game conference schedule]," Helfrich said on Thursday's teleconference call. "Obviously, they do that for a reason." 

Helfrich was not as harsh as some of his Pac-12 coaching peers, specifically Stanford head coach David Shaw. Shaw said on Thursday's teleconference call that SEC teams are "back[ing] down from playing your own conference." 

Helfrich echoed a sentiment that UCLA head coach Jim Mora and Oregon State head coach Mike Riley expressed.

"If we’re going to call anything equal, and everybody pointing in the same direction as far a playoff, it seems like the qualifications for that playoff should be equal. We’re a long way from that," Helfrich said.

Oregon has lost just six games since 2010, four of which came against conference opponents. Coincidentally, the two nonconference losses were against SEC opponents: Auburn in the 2010 season's BCS championship game, and LSU in the 2011 season opener. 

 

Recruiting Update

Brady White, a class of 2015 4-star quarterback from Hart High School in Santa Clarita, California, is scheduled to announce his verbal commitment at 6:30 p.m. ET today. Oregon is among the finalists, though CBSSports.com reporter Jeremy Fowler tweeted White could be headed to Pac-12 counterpart Arizona State. 

Oregon made its offer to White earlier this week. White's recruitment became a top priority after the Ducks moved to the "outside looking in" on 5-star prospect Kyler Murray, Justin Hopkins of 247Sports.com reported.  

 

Recruiting rankings and information culled from 247Sports.com 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oregon Football: Week 5 Spring Practice Stock Report

Spring practice season winds down this week at Oregon with Saturday's scrimmage at 2 p.m. ET on the Pac -12 Network. The Ducks are the last of the Pac -12 teams to finish, along with rival Oregon State...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

How Arkansas Fan Canaan Sandy Became a Spring Game Sensation

Canaan Sandy tried to pump up the crowd as he ran on to the field. He wanted them as excited as he was. 

Sandy joined the Arkansas Razorbacks in their huddle at midfield. The play was simple: Hand it to Canaan. He stood to the right of quarterback Brandon Allen, hands on his knees, in a shotgun formation just behind the 50-yard line. 

The ball was snapped and off he went through a gaping hole on the right side of the line. He held the pigskin high and tight, just like they teach it. No one was close to touching him. No one was going to touch him. This was Canaan's moment. 

The players mobbed him in the end zone whooping and hollering before quickly realizing he wasn't done. There was still a celebration dance to do. 

A series of "Ohhhhs!" erupted as Canaan busted a move that would make Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury jealous. 

Like little Jack Hoffman's touchdown at Nebraska's spring game the year before, Canaan's run made headlines with all the major news outlets. "We didn't even see the touchdown run until Tuesday," said Canaan's mother, Ginger Sandy. "Our Internet was down, so we were way behind the times."  

The touchdown counted. It's in the official stat sheet and everything. Canaan has been a lifelong Razorbacks fan, but for a day he was a member of the team with his own stat. 

After it was over, after all the dancing and celebrating, Canaan pulled a group together with a simple request. 

"Let us pray," he said.

 

History of Resilience

Danny and Ginger Sandy had no idea their son would have Down syndrome. 

Once Canaan was born, though, they knew something wasn't right. "The next morning, the doctor came in with his suspicions and said he was calling in a specialist," Ginger said.

There were complications. Canaan was born with a hole in his heart, an intestinal blockage and he was deaf. 

"We got to have him home for three weeks before he had his first little heart attack," Ginger said. "Then we were back in the hospital for almost two months after that. 

“By the time he was three months old, he had undergone open-heart surgery and major intestinal repair.”

For the first three years of Canaan's life, the Sandy's second home was the hospital.

Now 31, Canaan lives with his parents on a farm in Cave City, a small town in northern Arkansas a little more than 100 miles from Little Rock and a couple of hours west of Memphis. 

"DS children never really grow up," Ginger explained. "There is a [mental] level where they plateau. It could be 12 or 13 years old. They can’t drive, there are safety concerns, money issues: things that adults would have to deal with.

"DS children—and I call them children, no matter their age—aren’t equipped to handle that.” 

Though he's unable to live by himself, Canaan is high-functioning. He's capable of doing tasks on his own and was the first student with Down syndrome to graduate from Cave City High School at age 21 with the help of the Arkansas Disabilities Act. He's even taken some college-level courses through the high school. 

He helps on the farm and assists his mother at the local community theater, where he's been acting since he was six. The Sandys are devoutly religious. Canaan is an usher for the local church and gets to sing a song every week. 

He's been a 4-H member since he was five and was elected to the Arkansas 4-H Hall of Fame. He's served as a state officer, state ambassador and the Arkansas representative to Washington, D.C. 

Canaan has also shown pigs on a national level. He was featured in the first-ever youth edition of the National Swine Association magazine and pictured on the National Showpig brochure.

In short, Canaan has been living quite a life. 

"We don’t focus on his DS," Ginger said. "Canaan doesn’t even know he’s special or that he has a title. We just treat him like he’s normal and let him do as much as he can and wants to do."

 

Hall of Fame Fan

Canaan attended his first Razorbacks game when he was two months old. And he had to go into open-heart surgery the next week. His parents wanted to go to the game, but couldn't leave their infant son behind while they went to Fayetteville. 

So began the first of many trips to Fayetteville for Canaan. 

The Sandys make day trips to Arkansas football games—a five-hour drive each way—a few times each season. Oftentimes, the family won't get home until five in the morning the next day. 

But that has molded Canaan into the superfan he is today. When he's not watching sports, he's playing as his beloved Razorbacks on the NCAA Football video game for his PlayStation. He's convinced, without a doubt, that the Hogs will go undefeated this year. 

When ESPN began holding its Fans Hall of Fame contest, Canaan's sister, Krista, and Ginger knew he would be a perfect contestant. They sent in videos and pictures, and of the thousands of entries, Canaan was chosen as a top-10 finalist and elected in December. 

Arkansas invited the Sandys to special Razorback Club events, where they got to meet head coach Bret Bielema. Ginger recalls that it was around that time that Bielema came up with the idea of putting her son in the team's spring Red-White Game on April 26. In the week leading up to the game, the athletic department began hinting to the family that they had big plans for Canaan. 

"When we got to Fayetteville that Friday, word was that he was going to make a two-point conversion," Ginger said. "But, during halftime, coach Bielema got the notion that he wanted Caanan to score a touchdown and have a bigger part in the game.”

So, with under two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Canaan ran on to the field. He took the handoff from Allen and 50 yards later put the Red Team up 54-22. 

And his mother missed the whole thing. 

“I didn’t get to see anything," Ginger said. "I’m a little short in stature and all the people down on the field were big.

"And then I started crying and I didn’t see anything.” 

Canaan's time in the spotlight isn't over yet, though. The Sandys head to ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Conn., on May 29. That's when Canaan will be inducted into the Fan Hall of Fame at the ESPN campus, where his picture and name will be engraved on a stadium seat.  Next year, Canaan will help pick the top 10 finalists.

The collective moments from Canaan's life, culminating in last weekend's touchdown run, have played out nothing like his mother's initial vision—for the better. 

"I was distraught [when he was born]," she said. "I felt like there would be no life for him and didn’t know what it would be like for us.

"As you can see, I turned out to be worried for nothing."

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Football: The Real Quarterback Competition Is Finally at Hand

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Today is the day, you see.

University of Alabama football fans are used to having things to look forward to during the offseason, including days that are the equivalent to unofficial holiday—and celebrating them as much or more than the real ones.

Recent Januarys have featured some national championship celebrations. National signing day can be like Christmas all over again for recruitniks and eerily similar in the early-morning hours. Last month, 73,506 people still showed up for A-Day even though for many there was the huge scheduling conflict of it being held on Easter weekend.

Nevertheless, today, Friday, May 2, is the day that many Crimson Tide fans have been looking forward to the most this offseason. It’s the last day of finals/classes for the spring semester, followed by graduation ceremonies.

But it’s not the commencement exercises on the Capstone that’s been their focus, but rather those that’ll be held 300 miles to the southeast at Florida State, where quarterback Jacob Coker will subsequently no longer be enrolled.

Assuming that he did enough to fulfill his final academic obligations, Coker will have his degree, which means per NCAA rules that when he arrives in Tuscaloosa over the weekend and completes his transfer, the former three-star prospect out of St. Paul's Episcopal in Mobile, Alabama, will be eligible to play in the fall.

Thus, the competition to replace three-year starter AJ McCarron begins in earnest on Monday.

"Basically, we’re talking about learning a system so that he has a chance to be able to, when the opportunity comes in August, have a better chance of going out and feeling comfortable and playing with confidence and developing the physical skills to implement the things that we want to do, which probably aren’t as different as people would like to make them from what he has done,” said Nick Saban on the SEC coaches spring teleconference with reporters Wednesday morning.

“But it’s just the idea of terminology and understanding and feeling comfortable in the system that we have. The learning curve is going to be steep, but he’s a bright young guy. He’s got experience and knowledge in a similar system, so we’re hoping we can make it a smooth transition for him."

Coker is switching schools so he doesn’t potentially spend the rest of his collegiate career behind Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, and his soon-to-be-former team is coached by a former Saban assistant coach, Jimbo Fisher, who does many of the same things as his mentor.

He’ll have a month of simply getting acclimated. Then he'll jump into summer workouts in June. The Crimson Tide have nearly 100 days until fall camp opens, followed by the neutral-site game in Atlanta against West Virginia on Aug. 30.

Considering what happened in 2011 between McCarron and Phillip Sims, a competition that wasn’t resolved until Week 2 against Penn State, it wouldn’t be surprising if no one is declared the starter until after the regular season begins so coaches can fully gauge how Coker and senior Blake Sims handle running the offense.

About the only thing they have in common is that neither has a whole lot of experience as they’ve combined to attempt 80 passes at the collegiate level, and neither has made a start.

The 6’0” Sims is a fifth-year senior who has played in 23 games and has made it clear that he’s up for the challenge. The converted running back put in the time during the offseason, and during spring break he worked with a private quarterbacks coach, Ken Mastrole.

“Blake has made a big step up from last year to right now, especially with taking on the role of starting quarterback,” wide receiver Chris Black said near the end of spring practices. “I’m proud of him with that.”

However, during the only time he performed in front of fans as the starter Sims was pressing and got off to a rocky start on A-Day. With a scaled-down playbook against the first-unit defense, he completed 13-of-30 passes for 178 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, while redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman was 11-of-24 for 156 yards, one touchdown and zero picks versus the reserves.

Afterward Saban said: “We did make some plays, but there wasn’t the consistency that you would like to see in the offense.”

Coker was watching on the sideline at Bryant-Denny Stadium that day after spending his spring break in Tuscaloosa to get a jump on things. Coming off knee surgery for a torn meniscus in November, he too has been working with a quarterbacks coach, David Morris, and recently told Mike Herndon of AL.com that he’s "pumped" to get started with Lane Kiffin.

Alabama’s new offensive coordinator could work in Coker’s favor because he’s simplified the offense, making it easier for everyone to learn.

“Lane did a fantastic job with our staff and our players,” Saban said. “Both parties have a lot of respect for his knowledge and enthusiasm, experience. I think they respect him as a teacher.

“Any time you make a change you have to make little adjustments, and we tried to keep some of the things that we’re doing and allow Lane the freedom to do some of the things that he wants to do. I think everyone’s bought into that and it’s worked out really, really well.”

At 6’5” with a strong arm and good mobility Coker is physically impressive, but he still has to get the offense down, gain the confidence of his teammates and beat out Sims, who isn’t about to concede anything.

So it's Jacob Coker Day in Alabama. Let the real quarterback competition begin...

 

Christopher Walsh is the lead Alabama football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. 

Follow @CrimsonWalsh

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10 College Football Teams That Need New Uniforms

In what is quickly becoming an annual tradition, several schools unveiled new logos, uniforms and helmets this past month or so. Most of it is an effort to lure in potential recruits with something shiny and new, but not every uniform combo works and not every redesign is a good idea. 

More often than not, the changes work, especially those that have been thought through and look towards tradition and history for inspiration. 

However, we've all seen some major duds, and even those that haven't changed in decades or a century are just plain awful. 

So, let us take a look at the 10 uniforms that are in need of an overhaul (in no particular order). 

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Texas Football: Projecting Post-Spring 2-Deep Depth Chart

The Texas Longhorns are done with spring practice, and first-year head coach Charlie Strong is putting together the two-deep depth chart. Although it is unlikely Strong will publicly release any depth chart, he said he planned on telling the players where they stand following spring practice.

"They are going to have the chance to just sit one-on-one and have the coaches tell them exactly where they are," Strong said. "I want the coaches to let them know 'If you are a starter, then you are a starter, and if you are a backup, you are a backup.' Each player will understand the role he has on this football team."

Here's a look at the projected two-deep for the Texas Longhorns heading into summer workouts.

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