NCAA Football

Kynon's Korner: Notre Dame Negative Recruiting, Michael Irvin's Nephew's Top 5

Last Friday, Notre Dame announced the school was launching an investigation into academic fraud involving four Fighting Irish football players per Yahoo! Sports reporter, Pat Forde The potential on-field implications here are obvious, however what may be overlooked is the impact this issue could have on the Irish's recruiting.  

According to SB Nation Recruiting Director, Bud Elliott, Notre Dame should be extra wary of negative recruiting on the trail this fall. 

You can see a scenario where a coach uses it as ammunition against Notre Dame. Coach to Notre Dame recruit, Are you sure you want to go there? You may have to cheat and jeopardize your eligibility just to play. It's not fair, but that's the world of recruiting and the reality of the situation. I think Notre Dame can handle it though. They did so with the Everett Golson saga a year ago. I'm not sure it's an epidemic either. If you look it at it's small sample of five players on an 85-man roster. College football has seen bigger scandals over the last few years. It's Notre Dame so things get magnified. 

One thing that may help the Irish is that they already recruit a different type of player because of the high academic demands similar to that of Northwestern, Stanford, and Vanderbilt. I don't think those schools will use the situation against Notre Dame when recruits come to campus for official visits, but expect other programs to bring it up if a kid is on the fence. 

However, Florida State commit and Notre Dame target, Calvin Brewton downplayed the impact of the investigation. 

The three-star safety from Miami (Fla.) Central defensive back said,

When I first heard about the Notre Dame news it was shocking. I'm 100% committed to Florida State, but Notre Dame is one of the schools talking to me about coming up to take an official visit. Assistant coach Tony Alford is the one recruiting me. I haven't talked to him since the news came out. However, I don't think the scandal will have an impact on my decision to go up there.

Currently, Notre Dame has the No. 13 class according to the 247Sports Team Rankings. It will be interesting to see if the class can stay in the top 15 through National Signing Day.


Does Florida have the lead with a Miami legacy?

When you think of the football surname Irvin and the city of Miami usually the first thought that comes to mind is Michael "The Playmaker" Irvin scoring touchdowns in the famed Orange Bowl for The U. However, those memories might not be enough to keep Michael's nephew, Tim Irvin from Palmetto (Fla.) Westminster Christian School (WCS), in South Florida for college.  Irvin told me he is giving serious thought to leaving Miami to play at the next level. In fact, he likes what the Gators are selling him after his July visit for the annual Florida Friday Night Lights Camp.

I spoke to Coach (Will) Muschamp and T-Rob (Travaris Robinson) when I was up there. They are funny guys, comedians. T-Rob is recruiting me as a strong safety. They said I can be the next Matt Elam. That's a good thing. Elam is a great player.

Irvin is planning to make his college announcement at the US Army All-American Bowl next January. His top five schools are Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, and Miami. Even with the Florida overtures the hometown Hurricanes are still a major player in his recruitment.

Everything is a factor with Miami. My teammate Jordan Cronkrite is committed there. When I go there it feels like home. I'm from Miami, I like the vibe of Miami. I talk to all the coaches and they tell me to stay home.

The two-way star said his parents and his other famous uncle, Sedrick Irvin, will help him make his decision. Sedrick was a standout at Michigan State and spent three seasons in the NFL. He is the head coach at WCS and began his coaching career at the University of Alabama under head coach, Nick Saban.


Calvin Ridley ruled ineligible for most of his senior year 

Five-star wideout Calvin Ridley has been told by the Florida High School Athletic Association that will be ineligible after the third game of the season due to the 19-year and 9-month rule. Dave Brousseau of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel was the first to report the news. The Sentinel's, Steve Gorten, explained the Breakdown of the FHSAA 19/9 Age Rule. The same rule disqualified former FSU split end and current Carolina Panthers receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, during his senior year of high school. 

It's a tough blow for Ridley. However, it will turn off schools looking to flip him from Alabama. Florida State is one of the schools on the heels of the 'Tide. 

At the Miami Dolphins Media Day at the beginning of August, Ridley told me, 

I'm 95% committed to Alabama, but FSU is coming at me a lot. Coach (Lawrence) Dawsey and Coach (Jimbo) Fisher tell me I can come there and make an impact. Coach (James) Coley at Miami wants me to build it in the backyard. Alabama is the only official visit I have scheduled, but I will likely take official visits to FSU and Miami. 


Miami in hot pursuit of Alabama commit Shawn Burgess-Becker 


Miami is turning up the heat for Alabama commit safety Shawn Burgess-Becker. The Crimson Tide came into UM's backyard to snag the Coconut Creek (Fla.) Monarch star behind a strong effort from primary recruiter Mario Cristobal. Miami's pursuit has helped their case recently with Burgess-Becker. The rangy safety elected to attend "U-Day" in Coral Gables a week ago instead of making the trip to Tuscaloosa for the 'Tide's scrimmage.

Burgess-Becker stated,

Miami is coming after me hard and telling me they want and need me. They are doing all the minor things. They hit me up every day, stay in contact. We are building a better relationship. The coaches write me letters all the time. Its tough because I'm a solid commitment to Alabama around 90%. But, Miami and Alabama are neck and neck.

The four-star defensive back grew up a Miami fan. Yet, it was Alabama that offered him first which meant a lot to him and was a big reason he committed. Will it be enough? 


The Gamecocks are making a move on an out-of-state prospect

When running back Jordan Cronkrite became Miami's second RB pledge in April the Canes told him they would only be taking two backs in the 2015 class. In July, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas standout Jordan Scarlett switched his pledge from FAU to Miami. Scarlett's declaration along with the addition of Mark Walton gives The U four four-star running backs in the 2015 class.

Cronkrite says he is still firm to Miami, but he is planning to take all of his official visits to see which situation is the best for him.

Cronkrite commented,

I'm not running away from competition, but who knows what will happen in the near future. I'm going to take all visits and see what happens. The coaches told me there is a good chance that Duke Johnson could be leaving early, so I could play right away. 

The 5-foot-11, 196-pounder said he plans to take official visits to Florida, South Carolina, West Virginia, and maybe Ohio State. South Carolina could have the best chance to pull Cronkrite from Miami. 

He said,

If I had a No. 2 school it would be South Carolina. They reach out to me everyday. They call to see how I'm doing and let me know how the team is doing. I like that a lot about them. 

As a junior, Cronkrite ran for over 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns while adding three scores receiving. 


Will the third time be the charm for 4-star DB Ben Edwards?

The recruitment of Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian defensive back Ben Edwards has been a wild ride. Edwards committed to Ohio State in February, but later backed off his pledge. After opening things back up he pulled the trigger on Auburn in April. On August 3rd, the four-star defender had another change of heart and decommitted from the Tigers.

Where do things stand with the hard-hitting safety from Jacksonville?

I'm looking into other schools right now. Auburn is a great school, but I want to weigh all of my options and take my official visits. In regard to Auburn I feel some schools are offering more for me on and off the field. 

Stanford and UCLA are two schools in the mix. According to a source with knowledge of Edwards recruitment, the Cardinal could be a major factor. The academics stand out to Edwards and he said Stanford is one of the schools he feels most comfortable with the staff. 


The latest on FSU pledge Tyrek Cole 

Florida State target Tyrek Cole has been quiet about his status with the 'Noles. Cole committed to FSU after the BCS title game thanks in large part to ace recruiter Tim Brewster who has done an excellent job in Broward and Miami-Dade County for the 'Noles. 

I caught up with cool and asked him about the rumors circulating that he was cooling on the Noles. 

He replied,

I'm still solid with FSU. My recruiting is going well, but the process is getting harder and harder. Alabama, Kentucky, LSU, Miami, and South Carolina are on me the hardest. There's some pressure to stay home with Miami, but I try not to let it get to me.

The 'Canes feel like they have a shot to flip him the local star. His teammate Leeward Brown is committed and Cole said Miami is the clear cut No. 2. 


S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C 

In case you missed it, ESPN launched the much hyped and anticipated SEC Network. Is there a coincidence the network made its debut during the inaugural College Football Playoff format? I think not. Now coaches can sell the network to recruits and their families. Although its not like the conference needs another recruiting tool. 247Sports has six SEC schools in its' top 10 recruiting rankings. 

However, there are two schools struggling with recruiting heading into the fall. Ole Miss and Vanderbilt currently sit behind Arkansas State and FAU in the Rivals Team Rankings.

I caught up with Southeast Recruiting Analyst, Woody Wommack, to get his take on the situation at each school. 

We've seen Ole Miss land some big name guys recently with the 2013 consensus No. 1 player in Robert Nkemdiche along with stud wideout Laquon Treadwell. However, people shouldn't hit the panic button just yet. They are still in the mix with some big name guys. New five-star offensive lineman, Drew Richmond, was just down there on campus. Richmond is high on Ole Miss. The Rebels are in good shape with four-star guard, Javon Patterson. Although they missed on defensive end Natrez Patrick out of Atlanta they still have some quality guys committed like running back Eric Swinney and defensive back Ugo Amadi

In Vanderbilt's case they enter the season with a new staff that salvaged the 2014 class after James Franklin left Nashville to take over at Penn State. Some recruits are waiting to see the results on the field before considering the Commodores. 

Wommack opined, 

They have a staff without a lot of ties in the southeast. It appears they trying to recruit like the Stanford of the South, going nationwide. That makes it harder to go against SEC schools if they miss on those guys and have to make a late push. Plus they aren't offering underclassmen early and that puts them behind the eight ball. By the time they offer a kid he may have five SEC offers by then. Head coach Derek Mason is taking a different approach and it remains to be seen if it will work in the SEC. One thing I've noticed is they don't seem to have that Atlanta connection like they used to under Franklin. If you like up and down SEC rosters you see a number of players being plucked from the Atlanta area. This year they don't have that. 

The 'Dores still have a pair of four-stars committed in defensive back Donovan Sheffield and linebacker Josh Smith, but its clear they need to add more depth in this cycle if they want to continue the success of the previous regime. 

Kynon Codrington is a national recruiting analyst formerly of ESPN and Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.








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Michigan Football: Final Game-by-Game Schedule Predictions

The addition of Doug Nussmeier has to count for something when predicting Michigan’s season.

It just has to.

Now perching at Al Borges’ former post, the former Alabama offensive coordinator faces the task of calling the shots for a Wolverines offense that is abundant with talent but riddled with holes—case in point: an incredibly porous offensive line that didn’t look any better during this past Saturday’s scrimmage than it did during the spring game.

Of course, that’s excluding Mason Cole, a 6’5”, 292-pound true freshman who’ll likely start the season at left tackle. He’d be the sixth true frosh to start on Michigan’s O-line. That’s one mean first job, isn’t it?

Then there’s the running game, which must get its wheels turning in time for Week 2’s assumed series finale with Notre Dame. During the “under the lights” scrimmage this past Saturday in Ann Arbor, neither Derrick Green nor De'Veon Smith were overly impressive, but they showed that they’re willing to take bumps and bruises in the name of gaining a few yards.

Good thing that the offense has Greg Mattison, who’s built a Goliath defense since arriving as coordinator in 2011. His secondary, linebackers and linemen should serve as the glue that binds while quarterback Devin Gardner’s crew gets comfortable.

With enough question marks, loose ends and deficiencies to go around—but don’t negate the potential positives—Team 135 should be approached with great caution. Again, this can’t be stressed enough: Michigan has the personnel to get the job done in the Big Ten, it’s just a matter of head coach Brady Hoke’s staff putting it together in time to do something this fall.


Game 1: Aug. 30 vs. Appalachian State

This has been said over and over, but it’s worth repeating: This isn’t really a “rematch”—these two teams are drastically different than they were in 2007 when the Mountaineers stunned the Wolverines at The Big House, 34-32.

Not even close this time.

That was an once-in-a-lifetime, back-to-back-FCS-title-defending team vs. an extremely unfocused foe who took the little guy for granted. There is no need for a statistical breakdown right now, because this one is a win for Team 135.

No doubt. It has to be, or heads will roll.

Score: UM 49, ASU 10 (better be, or else)

Record: 1-0


Game 2: Sept. 6 at Notre Dame

So, that makes Michigan 1-0 heading into South Bend, one of the most challenging environments in all of college football. Since 2002, the Wolverines have won twice in front of Touchdown Jesus (2006, 2010), so it’d be easy to chalk up another one for the Irish…


Well, not this time. This past week, due to alleged academic fraud, Notre Dame removed four players—three starters—from its team. That won’t be easy to overcome, and that should make Hoke’s job a little easier, despite having to face quarterback Everett Golson, who’s returning from an academic suspension, for the first time.

Special teams could easily decide the outcome. Don’t rule out a big pick-six or blocked kick to turn the tides in either team’s fortune.

However, the Wolverines will be out for a statement victory—one to make up for not throttling the Mountaineers as they should have, and/or to build on that momentum by posting a gaudy win over their rival Irish.

Score: UM 24, ND 20

Record: 2-0


Game 3: Sept. 13 vs. Miami (Ohio)

Too much maize and blue, not enough RedHawk. We could break down some things, but why? This one should be relatively painless for Michigan.

Score: UM 38, Miami 14

Record: 3-0


Game 4: Sept. 20 vs. Utah

The Utes may surprise a few by hanging with Michigan. In 2013, Akron and UConn—a pair of perceived pushovers—gave the Wolverines everything they could handle. Of course, the same could be said for Miami (Ohio), a team that I’ve given almost zero chance of beating Hoke in Ann Arbor.

Utah will have to get the most from its seasoned O-line and running back Bubba Poole if it wants to skate by with a “W.” Michigan could experience some lag after trampling the RedHawks, so I'm going to say that this one's close until late in the third quarter.

Score: UM 28, Utah 13

Record: 4-0


Game 5: Sept. 27 vs. Minnesota

It’ll be a game against a little brother.

Braylon’s little brother, actually.

As the younger sibling of a legendary Wolverines receiver, Berkley Edwards probably won’t receive a warm ovation when he visits big bro’s former stomping grounds.

Minnesota’s on the rise, as coach Jerry Kill has done a wonderful job of implementing his system and consistency, but it’ll probably get grounded by the Wolverines, who’ll want to sink their teeth into their first Big Ten opponent.

It’s at home. Hoke’s lost twice in front of his own. This game will be Michigan’s, but it won’t come as easily as I thought back in the spring (predicted 31-13, UM).

Score: UM 28, Minn. 21

Record: 5-0 (1-0 Big Ten)


Game 6: Oct. 4 at Rutgers

There’s a first time for everything, and Michigan gets to meet the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, New Jersey, to kick off a new Big Ten…rivalry?


Anyway, back to the predictions.

These aren’t Greg Schiano’s Knights, and they don’t have a superstar like Ray Rice to handle the workload. I can’t see anything but a crooked-number fest for the Wolverines, who should get their second conference win in the home state of Jabrill Peppers, a 5-star Jersey Kid who’s been maize and blue since childhood.  

I can see mop-up time for Shane Morris and maybe even Wilton Speight. Who knows, Hoke may throw Bobby Henderson into the fullback position and let Peppers play quarterback—you know, just for the experience.

If the Wolverines don’t demolish Rutgers, I’ll personally send a bouquet of flowers to Knights coach Kyle Flood as a way to say, “I’m sorry for doubting your team.” But I’ll ask that Michigan reimburse me. It’s a tax write-off, right?!

Score: UM 42, RU 14

Record: 6-0 (2-0 Big Ten)


Game 7: Oct. 11 vs. Penn State (night)

First loss.

Penn State sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg could rattle off a career-type win if he successfully exploits Michigan’s secondary, which is as deep as it’s been since the 1990s.

Of course, the Wolverines want revenge for losing their late-night date with the Nittany Lions in 2013. That Hackenberg-to-Allen Robinson Hail Mary was a punch to the gut.

But 6-0 is far enough. Michigan has potential, but I can’t see it winning seven in a row. Six is pushing it, and I’m giving the Wolverines the benefit of the doubt while assessing their matches with the “underdogs.”

Team 135 could very well start 4-2, which is my way of softening the blow when I see my 6-0 prediction explode before my very eyes. But I’m sticking with it.

Score: PSU 27, UM 23 (Hackenberg-to-Someone, Part 2)

Record: 6-1 (2-1 Big Ten)


Game 8: Oct. 25 at Michigan State

Winners of five of the past six—but might as well make that winners of six of the past seven; Michigan State is going to take this one. There aren’t any reasonable clues or forgotten logic that says otherwise.

The Spartans’ O-line is far superior to Michigan’s—even their second-teamers are comparable—and their offense is years ahead in development.

Oh, and that defense. Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State’s defensive coordinator, is probably doing jumping jacks right now, just thinking of his “Dawgs” getting at the Wolverines.

At this point, judging by Michigan’s O-line as-is, I’m seeing at least a handful of sacks. Gardner may want to wear some extra padding on his backside, because he’ll be on it a lot if Cole, Jack Miller, Kyle Kalis, Graham Glasgow, Kyle Bosch and, among others, Erik Magnuson, fail to provide adequate protection.

Score: MSU 31, UM 14

Record: 6-2 (2-2 Big Ten)


Game 9: Nov. 1 vs. Indiana

The Hoosiers have quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who’s appeared on a couple of watch lists, and receiver Shane Wynn. This should be fun, as the pair has the potential to frustrate Michigan’s defense, especially during the early goings.

With that being said, once Mattison’s guys apply the clamps, it should be over for Indiana, which doesn’t have enough offensive firepower to outdo the Wolverines defense—one that features an incredible set of DBs led by Blake Countess, Jourdan Lewis and probably Peppers.

Score: UM 28, IU 17

Record: 7-2 (3-2 Big Ten)


Game 10: Nov. 8 at Northwestern

Without do-all running back Venric Mark, who's transferring after being suspended, the Wildcats could find themselves serving as a league doormat. I mean, Northwestern usually puts up a great fight, but it’s hard to imagine it doing a whole lot on offense without Mark, a speedster who could make an entire defense miss by flinching.

He was also a supreme talent on special teams.

And the Wildcats will miss wideout Christian Jones, who's lost to a season-ending leg injury. 

I like the Wolverines in this one, only because the offense will almost certainly be clicking and the defense will most certainly be sticking…”it” to the opposition. By this time, everything should be in sync—and if it’s not, it won’t be until 2015 or later.

Score: UM 27, NW 19

Record: 8-2 (4-2 Big Ten)


Game 11: Nov. 22 vs. Maryland

The struggle is real for the Terps, who have All-Big Ten candidate Stefon Diggs leading the charge at wide receiver. Other than him, it’s kind of thin.

Welcome to the league, boys.

Score: UM 30, Maryland 20

Record: 9-2 (5-2 Big Ten)


Game 12: Nov. 29 at Ohio State

News of Braxton Miller’s injury—he dislocated his right shoulder and could be out for the season, per Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch—certainly changes perception of this game. But not that much. Even without their star senior quarterback, the Buckeyes are, top-to-bottom, better than Michigan.

Even without linebacker Ryan Shazier, Ohio State has the advantage. 

That’s just how it goes.

When it comes to O-H-I-O, it’s back to the drawing board for Hoke. Michigan just isn’t there yet, and going to Columbus will make that abundantly clear—that’s if Michigan State doesn’t end up doing that in October.

Score: OSU 31, UM 20

Record: 9-3 (5-3 Big Ten)

Agree? Disagree? How many wins do you predict for Michigan? Let me know in the comments section. 


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

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Texas Football: Offseason Growth Has Longhorns' D-Line Set for Monster Year

When defensive line coach Chris Rumph came to Austin, he inherited a unit that appeared to be poised for perfection.

Although the group lost 2013 Ted Hendricks Award winner and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jackson Jeffcoat, it still contained a variety of options to fill Jeffcoat's void, most notably Cedric Reed.

At least that's how a lot of the public viewed the unit.

But was the instant hype real or was it just the way outsiders perceived the group?

Rumph's answer would fall under the latter, especially when it pertains to Reed.

"I don't think he had a very good spring," Rumph said of Reed. "If it were someone else, I would say, 'That guy had a good spring.' But I was expecting more from him. And I think he was expecting more from himself. If you were to ask him, and he was honest, he would probably say he didn’t have the spring that he should have had."

Some may be wondering what Reed did, or did not do, to cause Rumph's disappointment. Was it his motor? Toughness? Leadership? All of the above?

"Maybe it was his coaching," said Rumph. "I just wanted to see more mental toughness, more hustle, more leadership, more passion. I wanted to come out there and coach him in flip-flops. I shouldn’t need to come out there with a whistle to coach him.”

This quote may catch some Texas fans by surprise, especially considering the strides Reed made in 2013, which helped him place as the projected No. 1 senior defensive end for the 2015 NFL draft by ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.

But Reed agrees with his coach.

"It was just a learning experience for me," Reed said of his spring performance. "I was getting caught between trying to learn too much at one time. I was playing in a totally different scheme and I was just trying to understand the defense, and I think it made me take a step back because I wasn’t playing my greatest. I was more reacting instead of playing to my ability."

Learning a new scheme is not something new for the Longhorns defense, which is on its third defensive coordinator in four seasons, but that did not make it any easier to learn immediately.

However, the slow learning period may be a thing of the past for Reed and the defensive line. 

"I think Ced Reed is a guy who has really stepped it up," Rumph said. "He's really coming on now. He's starting to look like the type of player I expected."

Reed is just one of the many talented faces the Longhorns have on the line. Defensive tackles Malcolm Brown and Desmond "Tank" Jackson have the ability of being one of the better tackle tandems in the Big 12.

Rumph is particularly pleased with the leadership he has seen from Jackson.

"Tank brings it every day," said Rumph. "He's everything you want in a player. He plays with toughness. He plays with great effort. I'm really pleased with him."

Defensive ends Shiro Davis and Caleb Bluiett are battling for the starting position opposite of Reed, which Rumph refers to as the "fox" position. Davis has been taking many first-team reps, but that could change at any moment.

"We don't have that written in pen yet. It's more written on a dry-erase board, not in permanent marker," Rumph said. "Shiro plays the run a little bit better than Bluiett, and I think Bluiett rushes the passer a little bit better than Shiro. If we could combine those guys into one, we would have a special player right there.”

Although Rumph still needs to determine which guy will fill the fox role, the defensive line appears to be in a prime spot heading into the 2014 season.

But how will this line be any better than recent years if it still features many of the same players?

That's where Rumph's track record comes into the conversation.

During his three seasons coaching at Alabama, Rumph's defensive line held its opponents to an average of 84.9 rushing yards per game and gave up a total of 21 rushing touchdowns. During that same time frame, Texas' rushing defense allowed an average 156.9 yards per game and 65 rushing touchdowns.

Some may argue that comparing the defensive numbers is not relevant because Alabama had one of the best defensive fronts in college football, and that might be a valid point.

But coaching had a lot to do with the Crimson Tide's success.

Rumph has a way with words that makes his coaching style relatable and effective. His focus is on building a fundamentally sound group, and he has been very direct with what he demands from his players.

"You have to be tough. You have to play hard and have a great motor. You have to be able to strike and take on blocks. You have to be able to take blocks and rush the passer. You have to be able to move," said Rumph. "I want it all.”

It's evident he has high standards for his defensive linemen. Brown said a common quote he hears from his coach is, "Play each play like it has a life of its own," which is just one of the many clever sayings Rumph uses to coach his team.

The positive news for Texas fans is it sounds like the group has bought in and fully understands the expectations Rumph has set for the defensive line.

"Right now, I think a lot of guys are mentally focused and know exactly what they’re doing," Reed said. "I’m one of those guys. I know a lot more about the defense than I did in the three years I played in the last defense that we had. I think we will come out and surprise people.”


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.

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Bleacher Report's 2014 Preseason College Football Award Predictions

College football season is no longer a light at the end of a tunnel or a speck on a distant landscape; we have officially reached the one-week countdown to kickoff.

Now is the last time for writers and fans and…well, anybody, really, to get in their predictions before it's too late. It's our last chance to go on record and say what we think will happen (but know, deep down, will inevitably not).

With that, let's get to our final preseason awards predictions. Of the major national hardware winners, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston (Heisman Trophy/Walter Camp Award) is the only position player to return in 2014, so there is plenty of room for new faces. And even Winston's old spots are up for grabs!

Who that performed well last season will take that one final leap in 2014? Who that has not reached his potential will get there at last? Whose combination of skill and opportunity will make him the best player in the country at his position?

Sound off below and let me know where you agree/disagree.

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4-Star WR George Campbell Reveals His Top 3: Where Would He Fit Best?

Dynamic Florida wide receiver George Campbell committed to Michigan last summer but became one of the 2015 recruiting class' hottest commodities by backing off that pledge in December. After a summer filled with campus visits and football showcases, the 4-star prospect appears poised to reach a decision.

Campbell cut down an expansive list of options to three programs, per Josh Newberg of 247Sports. LSU, Florida and Florida State are still vying for his commitment moving ahead.

The trio may not have to wait very long for an announcement. Though Campbell isn't expected to commit before the season begins, that development is "likely" to occur in September, per Newberg.

It's a drastic turn of events in a nationwide recruitment that began with a steady stream of scholarship offers during his sophomore year. Campbell, who averaged 25 yards per reception and caught seven touchdowns last season at East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs, eliminates dozens of potential suitors by focusing on three finalists.

Clemson, UCLA, Oklahoma and Alabama are among squads that hoped to lure him away from the Sunshine State. Instead, LSU seem to be the lone landing spot that could lure Campbell beyond state borders.

The Tigers appeared to make a strong push in recent months. Campbell showed up at The Opening, an annual camp at Nike's world headquarters in Oregon, wearing LSU gear and ignited a growing sentiment he could be bound for Baton Rouge.

LSU maintains a strong track record at receiver, producing NFL draft picks at the position on a seemingly annual basis. Head coach Les Miles landed in-state pass-catcher Jazz Ferguson in February and remains in pursuit of 5-star New Orleans receiver Tyron Johnson.

Malachi Dupre, another top-ranked New Orleans product, picked LSU over Florida State last signing day and is expected to contribute immediately in the team's aerial attack. The Tigers also welcome receiver Trey Quinn to campus after he set a national high school record for career receiving yards.

This time, it's the Seminoles aiming to keep a prized prospect on home turf. Campbell has visited campus multiple times and the team appears to be in good shape at quarterback when Jameis Winston eventually leaves, holding commitments from three 2015 passers—including two 4-star recruits.

Receivers value reliability at quarterback and, on paper at least, Florida State offers several promising options. Campbell would join Tampa product Aden Tate, a 4-star pass-catcher who committed earlier this month.

The Seminoles boast a bevy of young receivers. Head coach Jimbo Fisher signed two of the country's top 10 receivers during the last recruiting cycle, securing Travis Rudolph and former Florida pledge Ermon Lane.

Lane's departure hurt the Gators' 2014 recruiting efforts and the team settled for one receiver rated above 3-star status (J.C. Jackson). Florida is in dire need of field-stretching targets along the outside, especially after watching Jacksonville commit Tristan Payton flip to USC this summer.

Though Gainesville may provide the clearest path to a spot in the rotation for Campbell, uncertainty swirls around the coaching staff. If the offense doesn't rebound this fall, there will be a lot of questions regarding where the Gators go from here.

Florida State and LSU have each assembled stacked receiving corps, but Campbell is a confident young man and won't shy away from competition.

Ultimately, his best fit can be found in Tallahassee, where the 6'3", 184-pound prospect would grow with an impressive group of passers and help set the stage for strong seasons in a post-Winston world. 


Recruit rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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Nebraska Football: Final Game-by-Game Schedule Predictions

Nebraska football fans know that the season is now achingly close. Fall camp is just about finished, and fans throughout the state have been anxiously reviewing Nebraska’s schedule to imagine how the 2014 campaign will unfold.

So now that we’re just about ready to kick a football in anger, let’s take one final game-by-game look to see how Nebraska’s 2014 season will unfold.

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Why 2014 Will Be the Year of the Freshman in College Football

LSU freshman running back Leonard Fournette set the tone for 2014. Not just for himself, either. Perhaps without knowing he did so, he also showed the kind of attitude incoming freshmen across college football can have. 

"My expectations: Heisman candidate, All-American, national title,"Fournette said in an April interview with Sports Illustrated. "That’s just my first year as a freshman, though."

The talking didn't stop there. During SEC media days, Tigers running back Terrence Magee even compared Fournette, the No. 1 overall player in's 2014 class, to Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (h/t Chase Goodbread, 

Those are lofty expectations for a player who has yet to take a snap in a college game, but Goodbread did note that Fournette has a good chance to win the starting job this season: 

Given that neither Magee nor veteran running back Kenny Hilliard commanded a starting role previously, Fournette is widely expected to be the Tigers' top rusher as a true freshman this fall. At 6-foot-1, 225 pounds and with a highlight reel that left major college programs drooling over his recruitment, it's no wonder LSU head coach Les Miles, like Magee, said Fournette has shown an early willingness to learn and a humility not common in a recruit so highly decorated.

Of course, if Phil Callihan of had it his way, freshmen wouldn't be allowed to play college football. 

"There's so much going on for them right away," he said. 

He has a point. Acclimating to college life is no easy task, especially with the added demands from football. But that hasn't stopped freshmen from competing right away, nor has it stopped them from enrolling early with the hopes of getting a jump start on things. 

Rather than stave off high expectations, freshmen are welcoming them early. 

Fournette is just one of several freshmen who could keep this trend of impact freshmen going this season. Jabrill Peppers, a 5-star athlete who signed with Michigan, could see the field immediately as a nickelback. Texas A&M wide receiver Speedy Noil, Baylor receiver KD Cannon, USC defensive back Adoree' Jackson and a host of other, perhaps widely unknown, players could all help make 2014 the year of the freshman. 

Take Peppers, who, according to Callihan, is already setting a tone for older players. 

"[Michigan defensive back] Blake Countess told me that everyone this summer has had to compete with Peppers," Callihan said in an interview with Bleacher Report. "That says a lot coming from a veteran guy like that." 

Another option, per Callihan, is to put Peppers on offense, perhaps as a wide receiver where depth is thinner. Wolverines head coach Brady Hokehas hinted before that offense may not be out of the question for Peppers. 

"I don't know how you keep [Peppers] off the field," Callihan said. 

With the rise of tournaments and events like The Opening and Elite 11, high school football—or, at least, a seven-on-seven version—has morphed into a 365-day-a-year sport that highlights its athletes at younger and younger ages. And more than ever, young players are ready to seize the spotlight.

Consider last year's session at The Opening when Noil posted the second-best SPARQ score ever (153.51) after completing the 40-yard dash, the 20-yard shuttle, the vertical jump and the powerball toss. The numbers may not equate to on-field success, but they only added to the attention given to Noil. Camps also showed what he was capable of doing in a wide-open offense like A&M's, where he could be a go-to slot receiver, according to Sean Lester of The Dallas Morning News

Or, consider last year's Elite 11, which featured Jerrod Heard (Texas), Kyle Allen (Texas A&M) and Brad Kaaya (Miami). Is it possible for those freshmen to play in 2014? Of course. David Ash is Texas' starting quarterback, but what if he gets hurt? Allen lost a heated quarterback battle to Kenny Hill but pushed him to the final weeks. Kansas transfer Jake Heaps may not be the answer for the Hurricanes. 

A quick glance over the top players in 2014's class, via, shows several freshmen who will be in a position to play right away. Like Peppers, Jackson can play offense and/or defense, head coach Steve Sarkisian told Rahshaun Haylock of Fox Sports West in April. 

Noil, Florida State wide receiver Ermon Lane and Alabama cornerback Tony Brown are other players who have the talent (and the depth chart) to compete immediately. The Aggies and Seminoles lose star power at those spots due to the departures of Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin. 

And as Andrew Gribble of notes, Brown has been catching head coach Nick Saban's attention since the spring. After getting torched through the air by Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight in the Sugar Bowl (348 yards, four touchdowns), the Tide's cornerback situation is up for grabs: 

His performance throughout the Crimson Tide's 15 spring football practices -- combined with Alabama's lack of experienced veterans at cornerback -- only made him more popular among his newest fans.

Saban certainly hasn't ruled out the possibility of Brown emerging as a starting cornerback by the time Alabama opens the season against West Virginia, and it's a challenge Brown appears to have embraced entering his first season.

2014 wouldn't be the first time freshmen have become key players for their teams. First-year players like Arkansas running back Alex Collins and Ohio State defensive lineman Joey Bosa were impact players right away. It's no surprise to see some of those impact players come from the top of recruiting rankings. 

Rankings may be an inexact science, but they can project how good a player is capable of being. 

Can the '14 class be even better? Absolutely. 

Leonard Fournette for Heisman? It could happen, and he'd be the first true freshman to win. (Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel won as a redshirt freshman in 2012.) Put up big enough numbers and anyone has a chance. 

Peppers could be the next Charles Woodson-type player for the Wolverines. Like Fournette, Peppers has been quick to downplay his own hype. Still, the goal of Michigan's coaching staff, before a single snap has been played, is to find a way to utilize Peppers' athleticism any way possible.

Perhaps a player who's not on anyone's radar comes out of nowhere to take college football by storm. The year of the freshman isn't picky. That's what makes it exciting. 


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. All recruiting information courtesy of

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Bold Predictions for Every SEC Football Team's 2014 Season

By this point of the summer, you're already preparing for the season.

You're getting your grill ready, locking down your menu and are making plans with your friends set in stone to watch the action either on campus or within the friendly confines of your cozy man cave.

Before then, though, let's serve up an appetizer in the form of some bold predictions. 

What will be some surprising storylines that develop as the 2014 season goes on? One bold prediction for every SEC team is in this slideshow.

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Updated 2014 Heisman Odds Post-Braxton Miller Injury

News of Braxton Miller's reinjured shoulder, which will keep Ohio State's senior quarterback out for the 2014 season, has altered the college football landscape in a couple important ways. It changes the outlook of the Big Ten, the College Football Playoff and the Heisman Trophy races. reports that the injury is a torn labrum in his right shoulder. 

Miller is the twice-reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and was listed in August as the No. 3 favorite to win the Heisman, per Jack Randall of Only last year's winner, Jameis Winston, and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota had smaller odds.

Miller's absence thins the field of contenders, eliminating a player who was valued at 15-2 to win. In theory, that means he would have taken home the award once every 7.5 times this season was played. For obvious reasons, his lack means other players have a better shot.

But who—if anyone—jumped up the odds board most in the wake of this injury? How might the new Heisman landscape look?

Let's take a quick preview:



The Group of Five Becomes Four

Their odds reflect it only slightly, but four of the biggest beneficiaries of Miller's injury are the other front-runner candidates, who now have one less strong quarterback to contend with.

Before this, there were a discernible top five candidates on the Heisman ballot, all quarterbacks: Winston, Mariota, Miller, Bryce Petty and Brett Hundley. Now, there are only four of them. And each of their odds go up a little bit because of it.

That is not just for statistical reasons, either. Florida State, Oregon, Baylor and UCLA all now have a slightly bigger margin for error with regard to making the CFP. Ohio State was the type of team that could have easily run the table and forced a quality one-loss team out of the playoff. Without Miller, that seems much, much, much less likely.

Other favorites rising include Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, who was rated just outside that top five and now slides into Miller's spot. He's now the fifth-most likely quarterback to win the Heisman, and Auburn's odds of making the CFP increase a slight amount.

The top running back candidate, Todd Gurley of Georgia, also sees a small boost because there's one less blue-chip quarterback to compete with, although this news effects him less than that core four.

If a running back is going to win this award—something that has happened only twice (counting Reggie Bush) in the past 14 years—he was going to need a transcendent season before Braxton's injury.

Now? Well, not much (if anything) has changed.


The Biggest Riser

You don't want to call anyone a "winner" when a player gets injured, especially a player such as Miller who is so fun to watch/good for the sport. We are all sort of losers in his absence.

On paper, though, no one benefits from this news more than Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook, whose team now becomes the favorite to win the Big Ten/make the CFP. His Heisman odds should see a considerable uptick because of that.

Not that he "needed" the boost, per se. Cook was a fast-rising candidate even before Miller's injury. Bleacher Report's Michael Felder called him a Heisman dark horse—in his own words: "I'll tell you…this dude's a bro"—and Dane Brugler of CBS Sports had him going in the top 10 of his first-round mock draft for 2015.

Everybody wants a piece of Cook after his hot finish to 2013-14, which included a pair of superb games in the Big Ten Championship and the Rose Bowl, and now everybody is going to get it.

Also rising because their Big Ten Championship odds go up are running backs Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin and Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska. Chris Huston of, who thoroughly understands the politics that go into regional Heisman voting, thinks Gordon will be the Midwest voters' new champion (so to speak):

Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg also gets a slight bump, albeit one that doesn't land him in the top 15. Fair or not, his team's postseason ineligibility will make it tough for him to win this award.

2016 is more likely Hackenberg's year.


The Long-Shot Riser

There are favorites, there are dark horses, there are long shots, and there are long long shots. Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds probably registers as the latter. But if he leads an upset of Ohio State in the first week of the season, he'll start to creep up the hierarchy.

Of course, beating the Buckeyes with Miller and without Miller are two very different things, the former being much more impressive. Still, Ohio State's defense remains just as scary in Miller's absence (if not scarier now with a chip on its shoulder), and the offense has enough pieces to keep from imploding.

If Navy starts the season 1-0, Reynolds will be put on the map.

Not that he necessarily prefers that. When asked in August if he belongs in the Heisman conversation, Reynolds calmly told reporters, "I'll let you worry about that," per Gene Wang of The Washington Post.

Reynolds' numbers, however, speak much louder than his words.

He finished last season with 1,346 rushing yards and 31 rushing touchdowns, a year highlighted by an NCAA record eight total touchdowns in a triple-overtime win over San Jose State.

If he keeps posting ridiculous lines like that, and he has a signature win over Ohio State on his resume, is there any reason (other than "he plays for Navy") to keep Reynolds off Heisman ballots?

That Week 1 game in Baltimore just became a huge one.

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Meet JT Barrett, Braxton Miller's Replacement & Ohio State's New General

At his press conference on Saturday, Urban Meyer raved about a "J.T. Barnett" who was impressing him in Ohio State's quarterbacks room. It only takes one quick scan to realize that no such player exists on the Buckeyes roster—although it's not too hard to figure out who Meyer was making reference to.

Meet J.T. Barrett, coach.

He's the new starting quarterback at The Ohio State University.

The plan was always for Barrett to hold that title one day—just not necessarily so soon. But with the news that Braxton Miller's re-injured shoulder will cost him the entire 2014 season, Barrett suddenly finds himself atop the Buckeyes' quarterback depth chart, with less than two weeks to go until their season opener.

Where He Came From:

At 6'1" and 225 pounds, Barrett arrived at Ohio State in January 2013 as a 4-star prospect byway of Rider High School in Wichita Falls, Texas. Despite enrolling early, Barrett never saw significant snaps—not in practice and certainly not on the playing field—as he recovered from a torn ACL suffered during the senior season of his high school career.

Yep, the same Barrett who is expected to take the field in Baltimore for Ohio State's opener with Navy on Aug. 30 is the same player who hasn't taken an actual game rep since Oct. 5, 2012. That's obviously a scary proposition for any Buckeye fan to take into consideration, as a team that was just ranked fifth in the nation could now be lucky to finish fifth in the Big Ten.

But while Barrett's inexperience is certainly cause for concern, there's also a lot to like about Ohio State's new starting quarterback. What that means for the Buckeyes' 2014 prospects remains to be seen, but here's what you need to know about the new QB-1 in Columbus.


The Good

Despite having only been on a college campus for little more than a full season, Barrett has already shown resiliency, and not just in how he has recovered from his injury.

Entering his second fall camp in Columbus as Ohio State's third-string quarterback, Barrett was essentially an afterthought—especially on an offense that was centered around a Heisman hopeful ahead of him. But as Miller's recovery from a previous shoulder injury went slower than expected, more reps at quarterback were to be had, with Barrett using enough of them to leapfrog third-year sophomore Cardale Jones as the Buckeyes' second-string signal-caller.

"J.T. Barrett's moved slightly ahead of Cardale in the quarterback derby," Meyer stated on Saturday. "That's because of his opportunities."

Expanding on Barrett's recent promotion on Monday, Ohio State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman had high praise for the now-former understudy.

"The offense moves better when he's in there," Herman said of Barrett. "Not that Cardale is doing a bad job, but the offense moves more frequently when J.T. is the quarterback, and that's the sign of a good one."

Despite being just a second-year player with no playing experience at the college level, Barrett has also already been lauded for his leadership within the Ohio State locker room. And while he may not be a physical freak capable of stringing together single-game highlight reels like Miller, he prides himself on his intangibles and ability to spread the ball around.

"I'm a grinder. I really hate to lose. I probably hate to lose more than I like to win, honestly. A competitor, a really tough guy," Barrett said. "I'm pass-first, throwing the football and distributing it to the receivers. I'm able to run. It could be a quarterback design run or just be a scramble."

In a best case scenario for the Buckeyes, Barrett would overcome his inexperience by distributing the ball to a plethora of potential playmakers like Dontre Wilson, Ezekiel Elliott, Devin Smith Jalin Marshall, Corey Smith, Michael Thomas, Johnnie Dixon and Curtis Samuel. He may not be the one-man show that Miller often has been throughout his college career, but Barrett could help open Ohio State's options offensively and make it less one-dimensional than it's been at times with Miller at the helm.

The Bad

Barrett's inexperience aside—which there's no denying—he also possesses physical limitations as both a passer and a runner. Comparing the arm strength of his top-three quarterbacks, Herman placed Barrett at a "distant third," behind both Miller and Jones.

"We're going to work on strengthening his arm," Herman promised.

That's fine and well, but also a process that would likely take an entire offseason and the Buckeyes don't even have an entire two weeks until the start of the season. Even when he was a true freshman, Miller's big arm managed to make big plays for Ohio State, which is a luxury it likely wouldn't get to enjoy with Barrett at the helm.

Asked how he'd feel about putting Barrett—or Jones—into an actual game right now, Herman expressed confidence, but also trepidation.

"I wouldn't say it's where it was the previous two years, but close," Herman said of his confidence in OSU's backup quarterbacks. "By no stretch of the imagination are we where we were at that position with Kenny Guiton, arguably the best backup quarterback in college football the last two years."

And while Barrett has time to develop into the safety valve that Guiton was, it's hard to imagine him doing so in time for the Buckeyes' second game of the season—a Sept. 6 home date with Virginia Tech. The Hokies may be unranked, but they'll be as talented as any team that Ohio State faces this season—especially on the defensive side of the ball—and will undoubtedly be a tall task in what will likely be the second start of Barrett's college career.

Even if the Buckeyes manage through their non-conference slate and the better part of a lighter Big Ten schedule than most teams, all signs point to Ohio State's Nov. 8 matchup at East Lansing, Michigan, being the Big Ten East's de-facto championship game. Would Barrett be ready to take on the defending Big Ten and Rose Bowl champions on the road and at night by then? It's too early to tell. But at this point and time, it's certainly a tough sell.


The Unknown

Can Barrett's intangibles overcome his physical shortcomings? That's the biggest question in Columbus right now.

With Kenny Guiton, the answer was yes, as evidenced by the four victories that the former Buckeyes backup was essentially responsible for in Ohio State's past two seasons. But playing in spot duty and playing for an entire season are two different animals to attack, and Guiton was never faced with the task of the latter.

Now Barrett could be, and while his ceiling is undeniably higher than Guiton's, it's also lower than Miller's—perhaps significantly. Expect the Ohio State offense to change significantly—less designed runs from the quarterback, more quick screen passes and perhaps a heavy dose of the Buckeye running backs—as Meyer and Herman no longer have the ace in the hole that they possessed with Miller, especially as a runner 

Is Braxton Miller really Ohio State's equivalent to LeBron James, as tight end Jeff Heuerman alluded to a month ago? We're about to find out. And that could be up to Barrett to decide.

But as uncertainties in Columbus mount, one thing is for sure: Barrett's head coach should no longer have an issue remembering his name.


Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Ohio State Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All recruiting information comes courtesy of 247Sports.

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Meet Texas A&M's New Starters for 2014

The Texas A&M football team will be deeper than it was in 2013, but it still has some areas of questionable depth. The Aggies return 12 starters from the 2013 squad, so they will be breaking in 10 new starters when they open the season against South Carolina. 

The Aggies defense was going to be rewarded for taking its lumps in 2013 while playing so many freshmen. That plan was foiled when two of the starters from 2013 in Darian Claiborn and Isaiah Golden were dismissed from the team. The expected starter at strong-side defensive end, Gavin Stansbury, decided to transfer

The Aggies will feature four new starters on defense. There are still some question marks about who will start in the opening game due to some possible suspensions and injuries

This is a look at who the starters will be against South Carolina on August 28 with the information that is available right now.

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Blueprint for How Ohio State Can Survive Braxton Miller's Injury in 2014

Ohio State senior quarterback Braxton Millerre-injured his throwing shoulder during practice Monday afternoon—a setback that will reportedly sideline him for the entire season and deal a heavy blow to the Buckeyes' title hopes.

The No. 5-ranked Buckeyes were one of a handful of teams expected to make a run at the inaugural College Football Playoff. Miller, the reigning two-time Big Ten MVP and Heisman Trophy hopeful, fueled those expectations because of his nearly irreplaceable playmaking ability.

Can Ohio State bounce back without the centerpiece of its offense?

That's a question that won't be answered until Ohio State takes the field, but here are three things the Buckeyes must do to survive without Miller in the fold.


Get Defensive

Even before Miller's injury, the Buckeyes' title hopes hinged on Chris Ash's ability to rebuild a beleaguered defense. That unit, which opponents gashed regularly a season ago, is fueled by top-end talent and loads of potential.

If Ohio State wants to maintain its status as a Big Ten contender, the defense will need to step up and realize that potential.

Stocked with 5-star talent across the board, the Buckeyes boast one of the country's strongest defensive lines. Joey Bosa and Noah Spence are terrors coming off the edge, and Michael Bennett, Adolphus Washington and Tommy Schutt are the kind of run-stuffing/pass-rushing combination that offenses hate to deal with.

The Buckeyes lost their most productive linebacker when Ryan Shazier opted for the NFL draft, but the unit should see a boost thanks to stronger depth and fundamentals.

The secondary is the biggest question mark. The Buckeyes allowed opposing offenses to throw for 268 yards per game in 2013, which ranked No. 110 in the country. This season, Ash has Ohio State's corners playing press coverage instead of ineffective zone schemes—a move that made a drastic difference during the spring game.

If Ohio State's defense can return to elite status, the loss of Miller won't sting as much.


Get J.T. Barrett Ready

Without Miller, Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes have to get option No. 2 ready for the week-to-week grind of the college football season.

J.T. Barrett, a former 4-star prospect and the No. 3-ranked dual-threat quarterback from the class of 2013, is primed to fill that role.

Barrett won't know the nuances of Ohio State's offense like Miller, who ran Meyer's system at a high level during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. He doesn't have the top-end speed or the arm strength that made Miller such a dangerous threat either.

But he's still capable of orchestrating a powerful Buckeyes attack. Although he struggles with his accuracy at times, he has a strong arm and enough speed to be a threat in the run game.

Those characteristics propelled Barrett past Cardale Jones in the Buckeyes' backup quarterback competition.

"The offense moves better when he's in there," offensive coordinator Tom Herman said of Barrett, according to Tim Shoemaker of Eleven Warriors. "He's probably completing more balls and making more of the right reads in the run game."

That's exactly what Ohio State will need from Miller's replacement, because Meyer has stacked this offense with weapons at every level.


Solidify the Offensive Identity

Without running back Carlos Hyde and four multiyear senior starters along the offensive line, Meyer and the Buckeyes were planning to reshape the offense in 2014. Instead of bulldozing over defenses with an array of interior runs, Meyer wanted to utilize Ohio State's speed at wide receiver to attack the perimeter.

That shouldn't change with Barrett at quarterback. Bubble screens and quick passes to the perimeter will help Barrett settle into the offense as he develops the mid-range and deep passing attack.

With players such as Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall, Devin Smith, Michael Thomas and Johnnie Dixon, the Buckeyes have a number of lethal options on the edge. Each of those receivers have the ability to take a screen pass to the house, so the Buckeyes can build their aerial attack around the quick throws.

On the ground, nothing should change schematically. Barrett has the skill set to run the read-option offense—along with the other elements Meyer uses to keep defenses off balance. Miller's speed will be the only thing Barrett can't replicate, but a deep stable of running backs will help offset that.

Of course, Ohio State's offense won't be as potent with Miller sidelined, but Meyer was already building an offense that would utilize perimeter speed. Even with their star quarterback out for the season, the Buckeyes still have the tools to attack the edge.


All recruiting information via 247Sports. All stats via

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

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Braxton Miller Reportedly Out for Season with Shoulder Injury

The worst possible scenario for the Ohio State football team is now a reality less than two weeks before the season starts.      

Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch had the initial report regarding quarterback Braxton Miller’s health Monday evening, and Brett McMurphy of ESPN provided the sobering news Tuesday:

Miller had offseason surgery on his right shoulder after injuring it during the Buckeyes’ Orange Bowl loss to Clemson. He missed spring practice and was limited for much of August training as he eased back into things. Per May, Miller reinjured the same shoulder in a second-session practice on Monday, although "he was not hit, having been off-limits from contact since off-season shoulder surgery."

Given the fact that Ohio State lost bruising running back Carlos Hyde to the NFL and four of its five starting offensive linemen from a year ago, this injury is particularly worrisome. Perhaps even more important now is the loss of QB Kenny Guiton to graduation.

Miller was seen as a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate for 2014 after posting 2,094 yards and 24 touchdowns through the air, and 1,068 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground last year. Perhaps most damaging of all is the impact on Miller's potential NFL career that could have really used a boost with a productive senior season.

Somehow, life will have to move on for the Buckeyes with a season rapidly approaching. May provided some details on the contingency plan:

It likely means redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett will start when the Buckeyes open the season against Navy on Aug. 30 in Baltimore. Barrett moved ahead of sophomore Cardale Jones last week in the competition to back up Miller, Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. 

Adam Kramer of Bleacher Report had a nugget about that contest with Navy that is sure to interest some viewers:

It wasn’t that long ago that co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner wasn’t particularly concerned with Miller’s health, via Kyle Rowland of Eleven Warriors:

We’re kind of bringing him along slowly. I think we have a really good plan to get him where he needs to be Aug. 30. We definitely don’t need to rush it.

I love Braxton’s work ethic, his attitude, his mentality. His mindset is awesome. His understanding of the game is great, and his leadership has improved. We’re just letting him come along physically.

It’s part of the plan. There was no he got the hook in the middle of the day. It was all planned out. We’re doing that with some other guys who started a lot who are coming off injuries, just watching their volume until they build into it.

That is clearly no longer the case anymore. Instead, Ohio State's once promising College Football Playoff chances are in serious jeopardy. The biggest concern of all, especially given the loss of Hyde and the majority of the offensive line, is the lack of experience under center. ESPN Stats & Info provided the discouraging details in that regard:

SportsCenter on Twitter provided this interesting stat:

Turning the reins over to a freshman was once unthinkable in Columbus, but it has become business as usual in recent years. Dave Biddle of added more:

You would be forgiven if you were a glass-half-empty sports fan and you abandoned hope for a postseason appearance. However, the preseason is for optimism, and Eleven Warriors, Alex Gleitman of and Kramer provided a dose of that:

Still, even the most optimistic fans would admit that the Buckeyes are in some trouble without their star playmaker.

Remember, we are talking about the two-time defending winner of the Big Ten Silver Football as the conference’s best player and one of the most dynamic athletes in the entire country. The previously mentioned loss of Hyde and Guiton cannot be overstated either.

Hyde rumbled for 1,521 rushing yards and 18 total touchdowns in 2013 even though he missed three games and single-handedly won some nailbiters (the Northwestern contest comes to mind). Guiton threw for 749 yards and 14 touchdowns, and added 330 yards and five touchdowns on the ground last year. He also started multiple games and rescued the Buckeyes when Miller was periodically injured throughout the past two years.

Now that Miller is out for the season, the national title expectations that are in place every year in Columbus fall on the inexperienced shoulders of J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones.

Don't let the talking heads who decry a weak Big Ten every year fool you either. The Buckeyes will be tested a number of times this season, including in the non-conference portion of the slate against a dangerous Navy team, Virginia Tech and a Cincinnati squad that will be hungry to shock the state's bully.

In conference, Ohio State has to face a resurgent Penn State team under the lights in what will be the Nittany Lions' Super Bowl, square off in the annual clash with archrival and hated Michigan that came down to the last play in 2013, and play Michigan State in a rematch of the Big Ten championship game.

The Spartans contained the Buckeyes offense with Miller at the helm in a neutral-site contest last year. Playing that stout defense on the road at night with a possible playoff spot on the line is plenty of pressure for a tested senior, let alone freshman Barrett.

Fair or not, the only way a Big Ten team is getting to the College Football Playoff is by winning the conference. If the Buckeyes can't beat fellow East Division member Michigan State, they probably aren't even reaching the conference title game, given the tiebreaker scenario in this hypothetical.

Not having No. 5 under center will certainly make the task at hand even more difficult.

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Meet UCLA Football's New Starters for 2014 Season

With the Pac-12's most experienced starting rotation returning for 2014, UCLA's lineup will not feature much in the way of new faces. 

Bruins who played significant reserve roles a season ago are vying for the few spots opened by departures. However, a high-profile transfer and highly touted recruit are also in the mix for roles in UCLA's starting lineup. 

These newcomers, coupled with proven commodities, will fill out the Bruins' starting lineup in a potential championship run. 


Malcolm Bunche, OT

Miami transfer Malcolm Bunche brings the Bruins front five some much-needed experience. He will also be tasked with protecting quarterback Brett Hundley's blind side, as he was named the team's starting left tackle last week.

"It's a tremendous honor playing the blind side for one of the most explosive quarterbacks in college football," Bunche said, via Abbey Mastracco of "I've just got to keep grinding and working hard on the position and protect my man Brett."

When Bunche announced his transfer to UCLA in the spring, his father, Curtis, talked about the impact Bunche could make for the Bruins. 

"They need an O-lineman to protect that Heisman Trophy candidate's blind side," he told Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald.  

Indeed, Hundley could use the protection. Last season, UCLA surrendered 36 sacks to rank No. 109 in the nation. 


Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE

Redshirt senior Owamagbe Odighizuwa played in all 14 games of UCLA's 2012 Pac-12 South-winning campaign. He made quite an impact with 44 tackles, six tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, three pass deflections and two fumble recoveries. 

That should have been a springboard into a monster 2013, but a hip injury sidelined Odighizuwa for the duration of the campaign. 

His return to the Bruins' defensive front is met with great anticipation. Last year when he was injured, Dan Greenspan wrote on that a returning Odighizuwa was "likely [UCLA's] top [2014] draft prospect on [defense]." 

Pro scouts are not alone in their excitement about Odighizuwa. 

"He's come back immensely," linebacker Eric Kendricks said last month at Pac-12 media days. "He's going to make a huge impact. You guys are going to start writing about him soon, I guarantee it." 


Kenny Orjioke, Deon Hollins and Aaron Wallace, OLB

Replacing game-changing pass-rusher Anthony Barr is no easy feat, and the competition to do so has extended throughout the offseason.  

In fact, defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich may not even rely on any one player to step into Barr's massive shoes. Talking with Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times, Ulbrich hinted at a platoon-style shift in response to the Pac-12's many uptempo offenses:

We're going to rotate more than we have in the past. You look around at some defenses that are paired [against] tempo offenses, I think it's necessary that you start to rotate guys. Those teams are healthier towards the end of the season, and they are fresher.

The Bruins see the benefit of flexibility, as Deon Hollins told Jack Wang of the Los Angeles Daily News

It’s much more amorphous. Since we have so many guys, you can just be so versatile. ... You can do so much with a lot of the guys we have on the field. I think Coach Brick does a great job mixing and matching looks, not having the same concepts.

Obviously, by Week 1, head coach Jim Mora and Ulbrich will place one of the three of Kenny Orjioke, Aaron Wallace and Hollins atop the depth chart. Orjioke and Wallace have each had first-string repetitions, but Wang writes Hollins is a potential difference-maker in nickel formations. 


Isaako Savaiinaea and Kenny Young, ILB  

Another heated competition ensues for UCLA's other starting linebacker spot. A number of candidates are vying for the position, but two standouts are Isaako Savaiinaea and Kenny Young. 

Savaiinaea was one of 18 true freshman to play for the Bruins in 2013. He appeared in all 13 games and made his first career start in the Sun Bowl rout of Virginia Tech, filling in for an injured Kendricks. 

Relieving the team's leading tackler was quite an introduction for Savaiinaea into the starting rotation, but his coaches were confident in his ability to acclimate. 

"From Day 1, he has had an uncommon maturity for a freshman," Ulbrich told Foster. "I am not worried at all."

Kendricks returns, but gone is fellow inside linebacker Jordan Zumwalt. That leaves a starting role alongside UCLA's top tackler and defensive leader Kendricks, which Savaiinaea could fill. If it's not him, look for Young to emerge. 

The true freshman Young has turned heads at fall camp and earned praise from teammate Myles Jack, a first-year linebacker breakout in his own right a season ago. 

"I love his natural instincts to the ball," Jack told Foster. "Even when the play is not to his side, he's shedding blockers, making his way to the football. He just has a knack for getting to the ball." 


Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics compiled via

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Meet UCLA Football's New Starters for 2014 Season

With the Pac -12's most experienced starting rotation returning for 2014, UCLA's lineup will not feature much in the way of new faces. Bruins who played significant reserve roles a season ago are vying for the few spots opened by departures...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Tennessee Football: Final Game-by-Game Schedule Predictions

With only a few days left until the Tennessee Volunteers open their 118th football season in Neyland Stadium, it's time to take stock one last time of the upcoming schedule and predict the wins and losses.

First, a sobering fact: Tennessee hasn't had a winning season since 2009 when it won seven games under Lane Kiffin. In fact, the Vols have enjoyed only three winning seasons since 2005, with the other two coming in 2006 and 2007 during the twilight years of Phillip Fulmer's tenure as head coach.

Based on his stellar recruiting efforts, second-year head coach Butch Jones appears to have the Vols on the right track toward competing in the SEC, but first he needs to get Tennessee above .500 for the season and back to a bowl game—something the vast majority of players on the roster have never experienced. 

Unfortunately for Jones, simply breaking even this year is a tall task, given the difficulty of the Vols' schedule in 2014. That said, there are some glimmers of hope, as the team's speed and athleticism received a massive upgrade with the arrival of the 2014 recruits.

In addition, Tennessee's opponents have many question marks as well, as several are breaking in new quarterbacks and adjusting to new coaches and coordinators. 

The margin for error this season is razor-thin for Jones and his young team, but there's enough talent on the roster to make the postseason for the first time since 2010.

Here's a breakdown of how they're going to get there. 

Begin Slideshow

USF's Jerseys Will Feature 'The Team' on Nameplates on Back of the Jerseys

The name on the front of the jersey is usually more important than the one on the back, but in the University of South Florida's case, the name on the back is pretty important as well.

This upcoming season, the Bulls will wear jerseys with "The Team" on the nameplate on the back of the jerseys.

It's a good concept for teamwork. When the players put on the jerseys, there is no question who they are playing for. Individual stats are great, but South Florida wants its players to play for each other.

[ESPN, h/t SB Nation]

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Dish Network Gives JaMarcus Russell a Chance to Relive the Glory Days

Dish Network has already given USC quarterback Matt Leinart, Tennessee quarterback Heath Shuler and Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth a chance to relive the glory days. Now, former LSU signal-caller JaMarcus Russell is joining those former college stars.

The No. 1 pick in the 2007 NFL draft had a backyard barbecue with the trio of former stars. Given the chance to relive his college days, Russell decided to join in on the fun.

[DISH, h/t Dr. Saturday]

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Alabama Football: Don't Sleep on Kenyan Drake in 2014

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Much has been made about Alabama’s vaunted backfield this offseason.

There’s T.J. Yeldon, the returning starter who’s rushed for more than 1,000 yards in both of his first two seasons on campus and has a good chance at breaking Alabama’s career rushing record. And there’s sophomore Derrick Henry, a 6’3”, 241-pound beast of a human who, in his first significant game action of the season, rushed eight times for 100 yards and a score and took a screen pass 61 yards to the house against Oklahoma.

Lost in all of this has been Kenyan Drake, a junior who was Yeldon’s backup for most of last season and electrified with his speed, but whose fumbling issues relegated him for the Sugar Bowl. He didn’t help his cause with a July arrest for crossing crime-scene tape, either.

But he’s putting together a productive fall and shouldn’t be slept on in that talented backfield. That’s not to say that he’s going to explode to the top of the depth chart and take over the offense. Just that he still has a meaningful role, and his presence could give Alabama yet another dimension in its skill positions to make the offense even more dangerous.

Drake’s speed is his No. 1 asset, and he very much uses it to his advantage. When he came in off the bench as the No. 2 in 2013 and the No. 3 in 2012, he was always a threat to break the big play and did that several times.

“Kenyan, he has great speed,” tight end O.J. Howard said. “He's really a scatback kind of guy. He's really quick. He can make you miss with one move. He gets you open space, it's hard to bring him down.”

His yards per carry stats support that, too:

What’s held Drake back, though, has been a combination of on- and off-field issues.

Off the field, while he hasn’t done anything too drastic, he hasn’t exactly had a clean slate either.

He was suspended for a late-season game against Western Carolina in 2012, his freshman year, for a violation of team rules that coach Nick Saban didn’t specify, though he said that Drake had already been warned once before. Last year, he didn’t make the trip to Atlanta for the season opener against Virginia Tech.

Then in July, he was arrested for obstructing governmental operations when police said he crossed crime-scene tape because his car was inside the marked-off area. Saban suspended Drake after the incident, but Drake was at practice to open fall camp and has been working with the team ever since.

The individual incidents on their own aren’t really cause for concern, but collectively they could be.

His biggest issue on the field is ball security. According to, Drake fumbled four times and lost three last season, but it was the timing that made them worse.

Against Kentucky, he fumbled inside the 5-yard line and on the goal line against Tennessee, killing two drives.

So it’s been a point of emphasis for Drake and the running backs as a whole this offseason.

"It's something that you drill in practice," Saban said, according to Andrew Gribble of "I think because you practice so much against each other, the better your defense is at finishing and trying to create turnovers, and the more ball awareness and ball security you actually develop on offense."

The fumbling and off-field issues seemed to make Drake a long shot to play meaningful snaps in 2014, but his fall camp performance might say otherwise. So far, he’s put up impressive stats in the two fall scrimmages.

Both scrimmages were closed to the public, so it’s difficult to put context to those numbers, though Saban did say that one of Drake’s touchdowns was a 65-yard reception, so he’s still making big plays.

He’s also drawn praise from his teammates, who note his explosiveness. Saban and new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin also called him a “mismatch” player who could create problems.

And his presence would give Alabama three running backs with very different skill sets who could throw almost anything at opposing defenses.

“Drake's more of the speed guy,” Yeldon said. “Derrick's power and speed. And [Henry and I are] both power and speed, too.”

Drake seemed to get lost in the shuffle this offseason, but a productive Drake would just give Alabama another dimension to its offense.


Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats come from CFBStats. All recruiting information comes from 247Sports.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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How Braxton Miller's Injury Will Cause College Football Playoff Madness

The Ohio State Buckeyes have taken a huge hit with Braxton Miller re-injuring his right shoulder, as he will reportedly miss the entire 2014-15 season due to the injury, according to Brett McMurphy of ESPN. Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee discuss how Miller's injury will affect the Big Ten and the College Football Playoff.

Which four teams do you think will end up in the College Football Playoff?

Watch the video and let us know.

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