NCAA Football

The Biggest Takeaways from 2015 College Football Spring Practice

Spring football is hitting its final stretch, with the last major batch of scrimmages set for this weekend. After that, we head into the last extended dead period of college football before training camps get going in late July and early August. Before you know it, the 2015 season will be here.

It's been another notable season in terms of player development and position battles, and coaches no doubt have gained valuable insight into what their teams will look like this fall. Much was learned from the practices as well as the spring games, though far more will come from preseason practice, when teams have their rosters replenished by incoming recruits.

Follow along as we detail some of the biggest takeaways from this year's spring practice season.

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Tre Threat Commits to Auburn: What In-State LB Brings to Tigers

There's a lot to like about Spanish Fort, Alabama, standout Tre Threat.

It starts with his name. He has a name fitting for a linebacker. At 6'2" and 235 pounds, he has the size and overall game to match.

It doesn't hurt that he has some of the best hair in 2016 recruiting. But that's neither here nor there when discussing what he brings to the table. He's a tackling machine who finished with 123 tackles and 4.5 sacks as a junior.

And as of Thursday morning, Auburn will benefit. Threat verbally committed to the Tigers during a ceremony at Spanish Fort High School. Considered a 3-star talent, Threat chose Auburn over Ole Miss and Alabama.

It's a great spot for an athlete who grew up an Auburn fan, as Threat told Justin Hokanson of AuburnUndercover:

I grew up a fan, but I didn't just choose it because I grew up a fan. I chose Auburn because it's the right school for me, I can play there, it's the feeling I get.

The coaches treat me like family, the athletes always welcome me in, [and] I'm at home and comfortable. I wanted to go ahead and get it over with.

Threat's commitment is big for the Tigers, as he is the first linebacker pledge of the 2016 class. An added bonus is that Threat is very versatile at the position. He's listed as the nation's No. 16 inside linebacker, but with a 4.58-second 40-yard dash time, Threat is quick enough to play on the edge at outside linebacker.

Additionally, Threat is a good win for an Auburn team looking to keep as many in-state prospects as possible. The Tigers are hoping to have similar success with in-state talent such as 5-star defensive end Marlon Davidson, 5-star linebacker Lyndell Wilson and 4-star cornerback John Broussard.

And then there's the fun fact of Auburn putting itself in position for having the all-name team, according to Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee.

Threat, who received his Auburn offer on March 7, visited the Auburn campus over the weekend at A-Day. He told AuburnUndercover that he actually committed to the Tigers during the visit.

A handful of coaches were a part of Threat's recruiting, including linebackers coach Lance Thompson, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, co-offensive coordinator Dameyune Craig and defensive line coach Rodney Garner. Add in the presence of head coach Gus Malzahn, and the opportunity to play for Auburn proved to be too good to pass up, as Threat told AuburnUndercover:

Each time I visited, I loved it. Watching them in practice, it was intense and energetic. In a game, it's a difference. During the game, they were locked in.

During the A-Day game, it really stood out to me. I thought they played very hard, they hit well, there were minimum busts. They are swarming to the ball.

Per AuburnUndercover, Threat is expected to play weak-side linebacker for the Tigers. Because of his versatility, don't be surprised if he's used at a variety of spots as well as on special teams.

 

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

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B/R Exclusive: Elite 2016 QB David Moore Makes His College Commitment

David Moore is a 3-star dual-threat quarterback, per 247Sports Composite, who is uncommitted, but he is ready to make his decision.

The five schools remaining on his list are Wake Forest, Houston, SMU, Colorado State and Utah. 

Watch as Bleacher Reports Stephen Nelson is joined by Moore to reveal the school that he will be attending in 2016.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Football: Nick Saban's 3 Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Nick Saban isn’t going to take spring practice as a final gauge of where his team is.

No, spring practice, he says, is only one step along the way.

“It's almost like a midterm in school,” Saban said. It's not the final exam. It kind of shows you the progress that you've made to this point, how many guys that you actually have out there that have made the kind of progress that they need to make, that they can go play in a competitive situation and elevate their game and play with some kind of consistency.

“It also points out the areas where you need to improve, individually as well as collectively as a team, and where we have to invest our time in the future to be able to fix some of those things.”

So if spring practice was the midterm, what does Alabama need to keep studying for the final exam?

Here are three of the Crimson Tide’s lingering concerns going into the summer.

 

Running back depth

Will a No. 3 running back please stand up?

It would seem like a first-world problem, complaining about having only two running backs, but the Crimson Tide will likely need a third to make things work.

Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake are more situational backs. Henry is a bruiser who is most effective late in games. Drake is the speedster whose frame wouldn’t hold up with 25 carries a game but is a threat to take it to the house on every play.

Drake, too, may be used more in a passing role. We saw him take some reps at wide receiver during some spring practices.

So a third running back needs to step up and eat some carries when needed.

The problem is, all of Alabama’s dropped like flies, and the team is left with a former safety, a true freshman and an incoming freshman to do the work. One of those three (Ronnie Clark, DeSherrius Flowers or Damien Harris, respectively) needs to emerge as a trustworthy back before Alabama faces off with Wisconsin.

 

Quarterback favorite?

Just as Alabama rode Blake Sims to the College Football Playoff, so too will it live and die on the back of its 2015 signal-caller.

Who that will be continues to remain a mystery.

Right now it looks like it will either be Jake Coker or David Cornwell. Coker is still the presumed favorite, despite an inconsistent A-Day performance, and Cornwell emerged late in spring to grab the No. 2 spot.

Alabama also is reportedly looking at Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller to come in and lead its offense. Miller, if healthy, would seem like a natural fit in Lane Kiffin’s offense, but there are still several major questions that remain unanswered before he could get to Tuscaloosa.

The only sure thing we know about Alabama’s quarterback situation is that there is no sure thing right now for the Crimson Tide.

 

Safety shuffle

It looks like Alabama figured out half of its secondary struggles from last year, after it gave up a Saban-era high 226 passing yards per game.

Cyrus Jones is a proven No. 1 corner, and Tony Brown showed waves of improvement after an impressive freshman season.

Those two could form a lockdown cornerback duo, while Bradley Sylve, Anthony Averett and Marlon Humphrey are solid options behind them.

At safety, though, Alabama has developed some talent and moved some guys around, but needs to settle on a consistent rotation to get the most out of the group.

Geno Smith finished spring practice at free safety after a short practice suspension for DUI. Eddie Jackson moved from cornerback to work with the safety groups and looks like he could play free or strong.

Hootie Jones seems to be another major candidate at strong safety after getting some looks there his freshman year. Maurice Smith makes for a nice nickelback or dime back in passing situations.

And Ronnie Harrison made the most moves of any early enrollee, drawing praise from both Saban and his teammates.

If Saban and new secondary coach Mel Tucker can find the right combinations, Alabama’s secondary could be a strength of the team, instead of its biggest weakness.

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes and reporting were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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17 Sports Movie Villains Who Could've Been Heroes

Some of the best-known sports movie villains aren’t really villainous at all, proving in the end to be far more likable than the real bad asses of their evil group.

Rocky IV's Ivan Drago, for example, is more misunderstood than malicious, only getting the chance to show his true humanity in the film's closing scene.

In the very same manner, Jean Girard of hilarious Talladega Nights fame is cast in a villainous light too, but over time, proves to be a fierce but virtuous competitor in search of nothing more than a true challenge.

Finally, Iceland's Gunnar Stahl also takes the form of villain throughout nearly all of D2: Mighty Ducks, yet upon escaping the shadow of his truly evil coach, he establishes himself as nothing more than a kind and charming teen at heart. 

With these contradictory "bad guys" in mind, we've done very our best to put together a comprehensive list in honor of The Least Villainous Sports Movie Villains.  

And while each of our selections vary in forms of evil and degrees of redemption, in truth, they all share one thing in common: Though they're initially depicted through a villainous lens, they prove to be nothing of the sort in the very end. 

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What Are Oregon's Biggest Selling Points to Land Top Recruits in Nation?

The Oregon Ducks have morphed into a recruiting powerhouse over the last decade. From their apparel deal to the winning culture, the top recruits are swarming to Eugene. 

Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Michael Felder goes through Oregon's selling points and how the Ducks are landing some of the best players in the country. 

How is Oregon doing it? Check out the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

What Are Oregon's Biggest Selling Points to Land Top Recruits in Nation?

The Oregon Ducks have morphed into a recruiting powerhouse over the last decade. From their apparel deal to the winning culture, the top recruits are swarming to Eugene...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

10 College Football Players We Wish Didn't Declare Early for NFL

Being selfish is okay. It's more than okay, actually. It's encouraged at times. And we here at Bleacher Report's college football department are super selfish when it comes to players moving on to the NFL. 

While leaving early for the NFL is natural—why do something for free when you can, in the worst-case scenario, get paid league minimum?—there's a certain, shall we say, parental instinct we feel about it. These are players we've followed from signing day to draft day. We've watched them grow and become incredible players. 

We're sad to see some of these players go, knowing they'll never play on Saturdays again. In the following slides are 10 of those players based on 2014 production, plus other variables like injuries and highlight reel plays. 

 

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Texas' Favorite Son, Chad Morris, Is Ready to Finally Save SMU

Before Chad Morris can take back the state of Texas and go toe-to-toe with the state’s sudden gluttony of football-coaching goliaths—like Briles, Sumlin, Patterson, Kingsbury and Strong—his new home needs furnishing.

Rummaging around the furniture store with his wife, Paula, Morris is ready to leave the makeshift apartment that has bridged his transition from Clemson, where he was one of the nation’s best offensive coordinators, to SMU, a program that only recently hit rock bottom.

Today he is seeking out sofas and such to furnish his new digs, taking just a few hours away from a massive rebuilding project—one of the largest comprehendible—although he refuses to use that vile word.

“I don’t see it as a rebuild,” Morris told Bleacher Report. “I see it as a new era. It’s a fresh start, and it’s going to be something different from anything any SMU fan has seen.”

It’s a new era for a historic program that won exactly one game in 2014, scoring just 15 touchdowns. For perspective: 97 players individually matched or surpassed this total last year nationwide. SMU didn’t just struggle in 2014; it was one of the worst—if not the worst—teams in the nation.

To coincide with a fresh start, Morris has watched roughly 10 minutes of SMU from last season. He caught a small portion of the Mustangs’ final game live and has followed up this experience with a grand total of zero minutes of film. He doesn’t plan to watch any more.

After successful stops in Tulsa, followed by Clemson—the place where he made a name for himself as one of the nation’s brightest offensive coordinators—many waited to see where Morris would land. When he decided on SMU, some found the decision curious. Many assumed he could have landed a job at a place with more recent success.

As it turns out, however, this is a marriage that has been in the making for quite some time. After coaching high school football in the state of Texas for 16 years, Morris jumped at the opportunity to come home.

“The city of Dallas is hungry. I’m from that city, I’m from this state, and I grew up coming to SMU football games,” Morris said. “I coached high school ball in this state, and I know the importance of football here.”

It won’t be easy. Art Briles, Charlie Strong, Kevin Sumlin, Gary Patterson, and Kliff Kingsbury are not going away. Tom Herman, now at Houston, is only getting started. Texas football is as ruthless and unforgiving as it has ever been.

But with the help of 22,000 high school coaches seemingly invested in one of their own and a plan in place to capitalize on the one thing he knows better than just about anyone else, Morris is ready to embrace his former home on his latest endeavor. And home is ready to embrace him right back.

“It’s important to the state of Texas and important to the high school coaches that he’s a success,” Cedar Hill head coach and back-to-back Texas state champion Joey McGuire said. “He’s one of us.”

 

Chapter One: Returning Home

In his 16 years as a Texas high school coach, Morris won multiple state titles in multiple stops. Given the level of difficulty and competition, this was nothing short of Saban-esque. His back-to-back state championships at Lake Travis ultimately catapulted him to the collegiate ranks.

A model of consistency, Morris won more than 80 percent of his games at the high school level, and yet, it wasn’t always good enough. In the rare instances when one of his teams lost, the Morris family would often wake to a freshly placed “For Sale” sign in its front yard on Saturday mornings, a gesture from a disappointed and passionate fan. Paula Morris would often try to remove the sign before her husband saw, but he knew.

“Every Friday night is the Super Bowl,” Morris said.

This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. He didn’t look forward to surprise lawn ornaments, but it ultimately helped shape the coach and the man. The expectations, as magnificently unattainable as they might have been, were a sign of success. The signs were badges of honor he carries with him in his new football life.

“I take great pride in saying that I coached high school football in the state of Texas,” Morris said. “I know there are many, many coaches in that state that could be sitting here doing this interview. They are every bit as qualified, if not more qualified than I am.”

After working under Todd Graham for a year at Tulsa, Morris was hired by Dabo Swinney at Clemson to add points to the scoreboard.

His unique uptempo, spread offense—known appropriately as “basketball on grass”—allowed the Tigers’ wealth of position talent to flourish over four seasons. In that time, his profile morphed and developed: The former high school power became a commodity.

“Over the course of the four-year tenure I was in Clemson, I probably had four opportunities to leave to become a head coach,” Morris said. “But the timing wasn’t right. Had this job been in Florida, or North Carolina or South Carolina, I just don’t think the job would have been the one.”

Although tempting propositions trickled in, none were perfect. When the SMU position officially opened in December, Morris—despite knowing the work and makeover necessary—was instantly drawn to the vacancy. The timing and geography was right.

“I knew I had a great situation in Clemson. SMU knew I had a great situation in Clemson,” Morris said. “This job, this situation, the wheelhouse of my recruiting, at home and in a conference that’s full of turnaround programs, I think it can be done,” Morris said. “Otherwise I wouldn’t have taken it.”

 

Chapter Two: Meet the Neighbors

On a rare snowy Texas day earlier this offseason, with schools closed and much of the impacted areas essentially shutting down for the day, Adamson High School head coach Josh Ragsdale and his offensive coordinator spent the entire day locked in the SMU film room with Morris and his staff.

“We talked football from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. We watched film, went on the board, and any detail we wanted Chad gave us,” Ragsdale said. “That was shocking to me. That’s so valuable for our staff.”

Adamson is located only a few miles away from SMU’s campus. Taking back roads, Ragsdale can be there in seven minutes. And yet, despite the proximity, the coach’s relationship with SMU up until the past few months has been almost nonexistent.

“When the SMU game was on, I didn’t really care to watch,” Ragsdale said. “I couldn’t name one coach on their staff other than June Jones. That’s a problem.”

This midweek encounter wasn’t anything in particular. It was a foundation for recruiting and many conversations ahead. It was help for competitive minds seeking out an edge. And perhaps on a far simpler level, it was a room full of Texas high school coaches doing what they like to do: talk football.

Let’s go down the road a bit, although not too far. Todd Peterman, still fresh off a promotion from offensive coordinator to head coach at DeSoto High School—just a 30-minute drive from SMU—has also logged hours with Morris since he took over. In fact, the regime change ultimately helped Peterman get his dream job.

Morris hired former DeSoto head coach Claude Mathis to his staff when he took over, which left an opening at the high school. With his head coach gone, Peterman pondered his future at the program. Morris, understanding the situation, offered his services.

“He asked me if there was anything he could do to help get me the job,” Peterman said. “He didn’t have to do that, but he did.”

Ultimately Peterman got the job. Morris didn’t have to pull any strings to make it happen, although the conversation stuck with the new DeSoto head coach. A relationship and friendship was formed.

Operating in far different circumstances, Joey McGuire—a high school coach who garnered serious interest from collegiate programs this past offseason, including Texas—checked his phone after Cedar Hill capped off its second consecutive state championship late last year.

He was greeted with a slew of congratulations, although none were more noticeable than the unified effort coming from a program only 25 minutes from his workplace.

“Every single one of SMU’s coaches between the time that game was over and midnight sent me a text congratulating me and our program,” McGuire said. “From Day 1 when Chad stepped on SMU’s campus, he’s made it a point that they are going to recruit Texas. They’re going at it really hard.”

Ask any Texas high school coach who’s been in the game long enough about Chad Morris, and they’ll beam about his football presence in the state. They’ll speak of him as if he’s a friend—and many are—referring to him simply as “Chad.” They've been saying it for a while.

“Chad was always such a good guy when he was winning,” Peterman said. “He was inviting, and that’s why a lot of high school coaches are such big fans of his here.”

More significant to Morris in his current situation, many of these coaches already have a sense of who he is and what his program will ultimately be about even thought the first game is still months away.

“I trust Chad Morris,” Ragsdale said. “I trust him as a man and what he teaches kids. That’s where I want my kids to be.”

 

Chapter Three: Seeing It Through

Still wandering around the store looking for the appropriate furnishings for his new home, Morris reveals his game plan in a sentence that is as simple as it is intricate.

“You can recruit all the kids you want with 10 dollars in a tank of gas,” Morris said. “And if you can just keep the kids from leaving the state…”

Wait a second; hold it right there.

While keeping Texas players from leaving the state is a shared philosophy, there are still Texas-sized obstacles functioning within the state lines.

With Baylor, TCU and Texas A&M operating with more momentum than they’ve had in ages, recruiting should not be assumed. And then there’s the biggest giant of them all, Texas, poised to bounce back now that Charlie Strong has settled in.

There’s a solution for this, too. Compete when you can, but embrace the state’s magnificent size and resources.

“Texas, TCU, Baylor and A&M are all going to get their 25 [kids],” Morris said. “Well, that’s 100 kids total. If you can just keep the other kids from leaving the state, you can sign one of the top classes in the conference every year.”

Morris watched Art Briles revive a Houston program that was tiptoeing toward extinction before Briles ignited a sleeping giant. He watched Gary Patterson thrive at TCU and make a move to a larger conference feasible. Each coach has had ample opportunities to leave during his tenure. Up until now, they have politely declined.

“They’re building there, and they know the importance of football in that state,” Morris said. “That’s what excites me about SMU. You’re in one of the hotbeds of recruiting, and you have an opportunity to get this thing turned.”

It won’t happen this spring or this fall. Despite his unwillingness to use the term, the rebuild at SMU will take years and multiple Texas-heavy recruiting classes. It will demand a philosophical change and a great deal of nurturing. It will take time.

With his expectations of conference championships and a Top 10 ranking, Morris isn’t simply thinking about relevancy. He’s aiming much higher than that, hoping to bring his winning ways back home.

"I hope that in the not-too-distant future, you and I will do an article about one of the greatest turnarounds in the history of college football,” Morris told me.

But first things first. Does that chaise come in black?

 

Adam Kramer is the College Football National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

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Which Team Has the Best Running Back Corps in the Country?

Running backs are an essential part of what makes an offense go, and these teams have the best crop of ball-carriers heading into the 2015 season. 

Watch as Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer debate who has the best backfield in the country. 

Which team has the best running back corps in college football? Check out the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Should Alabama Fans Worry About Sluggish Start to 2016 Recruiting Class?

Alabama is off to a slow start in recruiting for 2016. But the Tide are coming off five consecutive recruiting titles, so they know how to kick it into gear.

Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Damon Sayles joins Stephen Nelson to discuss Alabama's 2016 class in the video above.

Will Alabama have the best 2016 recruiting class this year? Check out the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

If Braxton Miller Wants to Transfer to SEC, Alabama Is Not His Best Option

One of the hottest industries in college football has become the quarterback transfer market, and this offseason could include one of college football's most prominent players.

Ever since J.T. Barrett got Ohio State in position to win the Big Ten and Cardale Jones took over and capped off the Buckeyes magical national-title run, all eyes have been on senior Braxton Miller

The former Heisman Trophy contender injured his shoulder last August, graduated in December and would be eligible immediately should he decide to transfer to another FBS school.

Where could he land?

Thanks to The Paul Finebaum Show on SEC Network and ESPN Radio, Alabama has emerged as an option this week so much so that head coach Nick Saban did his best to dance around the subject on Tuesday night.

"If there was somebody out there that I thought could help our team, we have a spot or two available that we could probably—but it would have to be the right person, in the right place that could make a contribution," he said, according to Bleacher Report Alabama lead writer Marc Torrence.

One source in close to Ohio State indicated to B/R that Miller isn't leaving Columbus, according to Torrence. 

Could that change once it becomes even more apparent that either Jones or Barrett (or both) will play over Miller? Sure. If Miller does decide to change his address, Alabama isn't his best option in the SEC. Here are some more appropriate choices.

 

LSU Tigers

Not to get overly simplistic, but why would Miller decide to leave Ohio State? To start.

There's nothing to suggest that a starting job would be guaranteed at Alabama, even though a starter hasn't been named. Sure, Jake Coker hasn't worked out yet, but he's still leading redshirt freshman David Cornwell.

Cornwell is the biggest reason a job isn't guaranteed. He came to Alabama last January with a torn ACL, recovered last spring, and then underwent offseason foot surgery before working with the scout team last fall. He's only had one true practice session to run Alabama's offense and did so with four other players vying for snaps.

At LSU, the door is wide open. 

This is Year Two of the Brandon Harris vs. Anthony Jennings battle, and the results from Year One—a year in which both players started games—didn't work out so well. Jennings, who started all but one of LSU's games, completed just 48.9 percent of his passes, struggled with short and intermediate routes and couldn't pose the threat that LSU needed to take pressure off of the running game.

In the spring game, they both looked better statistically but did most of their damage against the second-team defense (which didn't look good). The duo combined to throw for just 64 total yards, zero touchdowns, one pick and took five sacks for the "purple" team against the first-team defense, according to stats released by LSU.

That won't cut it.

Head coach Les Miles isn't on the hot seat, but it's not exactly cool either. He can't really afford another 8-5-type season, otherwise he might be coaching for his job in 2016. Because of that, he might be more willing to not only take a risk on Miller (or any quarterback transfer), but also hand him the job earlier in fall camp.

Does the system at LSU fit?

Not really, and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron would have his work cut out for him in order to get acquainted to Miller on the fly. Dual-threat quarterbacks are all that LSU has, though, and Miller would instantly be the most talented one the roster.

As Bama Sports Radio on VSporto pointed out on Twitter, LSU makes much more sense than Alabama.

 

Florida Gators

New Florida head coach Jim McElwain has established that redshirt freshman pro-style passer Will Grier is the leader to win the job in Gainesville and sophomore Treon Harris, who started seven games last year, is a close second.

Harris doesn't seem to fit what McElwain wants to do from a schematic standpoint, but Florida's offensive line issues may force the new staff to become more vanilla than anticipated in Year One, and having a mobile quarterback to elude what seems like it could be constant pressure wouldn't be a bad thing.

Miller is the perfect quarterback to find that happy medium.

While he's most known for his dual-threat abilities, Miller has thrown for 5,292 yards, 52 touchdowns and only 17 picks. He hasn't operated in a true pro-style offense at Ohio State, but he still has had a ton of success through the air.

What's more, Florida's issues up front might require McElwain to transform his system into more of a hybrid scheme in 2015 anyway, and Miller would be the perfect quarterback to bridge the gap.

If he took Miller, would McElwain be running the risk of losing one or both of his current quarterbacks? Probably not. Harris knew he was a square peg in a round hole all offseason and chose to stick around, and he would certainly benefit from a year working in the new system. For Grier, he'd still be a redshirt sophomore next season and have up to three years as the starter if he's able to win the job.

It'd be a concern, sure. But only a minor one.

 

South Carolina Gamecocks

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier turned 70 years old on Monday, and his window to win the SEC title at South Carolina is closing by the day.

Miller's presence could prop the window open for the time being in the wide-open SEC East.

South Carolina was at its best with dual-threat star Connor Shaw taking the snaps, and Miller would be the closest thing to Shaw that South Carolina has on its roster. Spurrier and quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus could get really creative with how they use Miller alongside ultra-versatile wide receiver Pharoh Cooper and running backs Brandon Wilds and David Williams.

Current quarterbacks Connor Mitch, Perry Orth and Michael Scarnecchia looked decent in the spring game. But with a rebuilt offensive line and no established playmakers outside other than Cooper, South Carolina could use a kick start in its offense in the form of an established dual-threat quarterback transfer, and Miller would be the best on the market if he decides to leave.

As is the case with Florida, accepting a graduate transfer for one season likely wouldn't alienate Spurrier's current group of quarterbacks. Mitch, a redshirt sophomore, is the front-runner to win the job right now, and as I wrote earlier this month, true freshman dual-threat Lorenzo Nunez will likely see some time as a changeup quarterback in some capacity this fall.

Mitch would still have time in 2016 and 2017, and Nunez could benefit from a redshirt season in 2015.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Tennessee Football: Players to Watch in the Orange and White Game

Despite an injury-riddled spring for the Tennessee football team, several Volunteers have earned high marks for their work over the course of the past month.

In some instances, the laundry list of hurt Vols allowed little-used players to receive valuable reps.

The coaching staff also gave extended looks to several newcomers who proved over the course of practices, workouts and meeting sessions they'll be able to help right away.

New arrivals such as Alvin Kamara and Shy Tuttle emerged to be depended upon for meaningful snaps when the season rolls around. Others who were already at UT like Evan Berry, Kendal Vickers and Rashaan Gaulden showed they could be primed to take the next step.

Upperclassmen who will play major roles are ready to be leaders as well.

So, while team depth reared its head as a potential hindrance in a 2015 season where a Vols' resurgence is expected, the quality of that depth may wind up much improved because of this spring.

With Saturday's Orange and White Game on the horizon, let's take a look at a few players you'll want to watch.

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Notre Dame Football: Brian Kelly's Biggest Concerns Post-Spring

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Spring isn’t designed as a time for negativity and pessimism, but Notre Dame football head coach Brian Kelly still has a few areas of concern following the slate of 15 practices.

By and large, Notre Dame is in good shape. As Kelly has reiterated, the depth in the program is strong and the Irish coaching staff was able to handle the spring season differently than it has at any other point in Kelly’s tenure in South Bend.

But whether Kelly is outwardly optimistic or not, there are issues worth monitoring with this Irish squad moving forward.

Let’s address a few.

 

Defensive Health

When making predictions, it’s easy to pencil Notre Dame’s banged-up bodies into the fall depth chart. According to Kelly, middle linebacker Joe Schmidt and defensive tackle Jarron Jones will “absolutely” be ready for fall camp and should participate in summer OTAs in June, too.

Second-year safety Drue Tranquill is recovering from a torn ACL and has drawn impressive reviews of his ongoing return.

While all signs are certainly pointing in the right direction, it’s often easy to assume the returning players won’t miss a beat and will step right back to their previous form.

 

Pass Rush

Without a proven and dominant pass-rusher, Notre Dame is preaching a sacks-by-committee approach heading toward the 2015 season.

In 2014, defensive end Romeo Okwara led the Irish with four sacks. Linebacker Jaylon Smith and defensive back Matthias Farley each tallied 3.5 sacks. Jones chipped in 1.5, Isaac Rochell added 2.5 and Sheldon Day nabbed one.

Sure, there will be individual improvement. Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder praised Rochell’s growth throughout the spring, highlighting his understanding, quickness and foot coordination.

But without an elite pass-rusher, Notre Dame just might not be a team able to consistently pressure quarterbacks—especially those with the ability to bounce around the pocket and elude rushers.

 

Special Teams

If Irish fans were looking for any further indication that special teams aren’t a focus in the spring, then a quick reminder of the Blue-Gold game scoring might change their thinking.

By rule, there were no kickoffs during the spring game and all punts were fair catches. Of course, injury prevention is the primary reason for the lack of special teams work. That’s worthwhile for sure.

But with most practices indoors at the Loftus Sports Center, it would seem consistent practice for the third phase of the game is hard to come by.

Moreover, Notre Dame’s expected starting kicker, incoming freshman Justin Yoon, won’t arrive for another few months.

The spring did afford new punter Tyler Newsome the opportunity to gain valuable reps after Kyle Brindza’s graduation.

Special teams in South Bend have been a punch line in recent years. Until Notre Dame shows marked improvement in this department, there will be lingering concerns.

 

Depth

To be clear, Notre Dame’s depth is a strength overall. The Irish have added deep recruiting classes in recent years, and last year’s horde of underclassmen has progressed into a crop of seasoned upperclassmen.

However, there are a few areas worth keeping an eye on.

While assessing Notre Dame’s defense before the spring game, Kelly said the Irish must continue to grow at cornerback. Second-year man Nick Watkins turned in a strong spring showing, but most of the Irish depth at the position has yet to touch down in South Bend.

Three cornerbacks—Shaun Crawford, Ashton White and Nick Coleman—are scheduled to enroll this summer, while KeiVarae Russell is expected back in June, as well. Those reinforcements should turn the group into a position of strength, but the spring months aren’t to be totally discounted.

One of the main storylines following Saturday’s Blue-Gold game was the Irish offensive line.

In addition to an impressive performance by the starting unit, including both left guards Quenton Nelson and Alex Bars, Kelly agreed afterward the offensive line could be as deep as any he’s had in South Bend.

While that could prove to be true given the recent success with recruiting along the line, Notre Dame doesn’t boast many established commodities in the second unit. Even starting right tackle Mike McGlinchey has only logged one career start—the Music City Bowl against LSU.

There's work to be done in the summer months heading toward fall camp.

 

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Mike Monaco is a lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco_ on Twitter.

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Jim Harbaugh Reveals He Called His Future Wife 9 Times Before He Got a Reply

As determined as Jim Harbaugh is on the football field, he is just as persistent off it.

The new Michigan Wolverines coach recently did an interview with HBO and revealed how he met his wife, Sarah. From the moment he saw her, he knew that she was a "winner." However, it took him a while to get in touch with her after their first encounter.

Harbaugh revealed that it he had to call her nine times before he ever heard back from her. 

To Harbaugh's credit, he never gave up. And it paid off.

[YouTube, h/t USA Today's FTW]

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JUCO Transfers Who Have Dominated College Football This Spring

It doesn't matter which program you are or how good you are—everyone in college football needs immediate help. Whether they choose to take that help is up to them.

In any case, junior college (JUCO) transfers provide a great way to provide an immediate boost to a position in need. In the spring, that can be especially important when depth is at a premium. But just because a JUCO transfer can provide immediate assistance doesn't mean that he will. 

The ones who do? They're the impact players. 

Which JUCO transfers have been tearing it up this spring? We provide some answers in the following slides based on—but not exclusively—spring game performances, practice reports and accolades. 

Begin Slideshow

What the Mike Riley Era Means for Tommy Armstrong Jr.'s Future at Nebraska

As he exited his first spring football session as Nebraska's head coach, Mike Riley wasn't prepared to name a starter at quarterback heading into the summer.

But reading between the lines of what the former Oregon State head coach said, it isn't hard to see who has a leg up in the competition.

Redshirt freshmen A.J. Bush and Zack Darlington each showed flashes in the Cornhuskers' April 11 spring game, but junior Tommy Armstrong still appears to be the front-runner to reclaim his starting role in Riley's first season in Lincoln. Speaking after the exhibition, Riley said he had a pecking order at quarterback in mind but wasn't going to reveal it just yet.

The bulk of the praise he offered when it came to the position, however, was directed toward Armstrong.

"The thing that never wavered about Tommy was—and is a separator for him right now—that's his confidence," Riley said. "He's a confident guy and he plays like it."

The Cibolo, Texas, native enjoyed a strong sophomore season statistically under Bo Pelini in 2014, passing for 2,695 yards and 22 touchdowns, in addition to rushing for 705 yards and six scores. But while his totals may have been big, Armstrong struggled with consistency in the passing game, completing just 53.3 percent of his attempts while also throwing 12 interceptions.

Those struggles could potentially be magnified under Riley, whose pro-style offense relies more on efficient passing than Pelini's spread system did. The first-year Nebraska head coach admitted that Armstrong has had his share of struggles in adjusting to his new offense after two years of playing one more fit for his skill set.

"The hard part for a guy that has been playing for a couple of years is all of the sudden having a new system put in. I thought he did a really good job of learning it, and there's some new football that he's dealing with," Riley said. "It is a tough thing midway through your college career to have what you know pulled out from under him. That's a tough deal for him. But I think he's done well, and he should continue to grow."

If Armstrong can continue to adjust to his new offense and solidify his lead in the Huskers' quarterback race, it could benefit him not just now, but down the road as well.

Thanks in part to Riley's system, the Beavers made a habit of putting quarterbacks in the NFL in his 12 years in Corvallis. Derek Anderson and Matt Moore have each enjoyed prolonged professional careers and have had multiple stints as starters, and Sean Mannion is a lock to be selected in next week's NFL draft.

At 6'1" and 220 pounds, Armstrong isn't necessarily an ideal draft prospect himself, but there are enough exceptions that a strong final two seasons at Nebraska could earn him a place in professional football.

Especially if Armstrong can master Riley's passer-friendly system, which helped Mannion throw for an astonishing 4,662 yards and 37 touchdowns in 2013, before his numbers came back down to earth in his senior season. Armstrong may be four inches shorter than the 6'5" Mannion, but Riley has seen enough in him to be reminded of another one of his former players.

"Tommy is very natural at throwing, and I thought Lyle Moevao was one of the most natural guys that we ever had," Riley said. "Just looking at the natural rhythm of throwing the ball and the relatively quick release and it just looks comfortable for him."

Playing in 11 games in 2008, Moevao threw for 2,534 yards and 19 touchdowns while completing 59.3 percent of his passes. At 5'11" and 220 pounds, he was similar to Armstrong in stature, and as Riley explained, his system is capable of fitting different types of quarterbacks.

"Our system—that is a loose term a little bit," Riley said. "Our system varied from Derek Anderson to what Lyle Moevao did. Lyle was a heck of a quarterback, but he didn't have the same reach on the throws that Derek did. What he did, he was probably the best angle thrower that we've ever had. That was more of a feature thing for him.

"We would adapt as we will when we watch Tommy. We will look at the throws he can make and then we will adapt."

That certainly seems to bode well for Armstrong's prospects, although it's worth noting that Riley is yet to solidify his status as the Huskers' starter for the 2015 season. In the spring game, however, he was certainly treated like a first-string player, attempting just 12 passes on the day, six of which he completed for a total of 77 yards.

For his part, Armstrong admitted to enduring some struggles picking up his new offense, but overall he seems pleased with the progress he made this spring. 

"I felt like I improved, just mentally," he said after the spring game. "Being able to know where I needed to go with the ball. My assignments, giving other guys assignments. Putting myself in the right situations."

Armstrong will need to continue to do just that throughout the summer, in order to fend off Bush and Darlington in a competition that isn't quite over yet. Bush and Darlington's skill sets may be better fits under Riley, but Armstrong has experience on his side, which could ultimately help him make the most of the remainder of his college career.

 

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

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Blind Long Snapper Earns Walk-on Opportunity at USC

Years after becoming an inspiration to the USC Trojans football team, Jake Olson will officially become a member of the squad.

ESPN aired an outstanding feature on Olson back in 2013, detailing his fight with cancer and his involvement with the Trojans:

Olson lost his left eye to cancer when he was just 10 months old and lost his right eye 11 years later. However, he hasn't let that stop him from playing the game that he loves.

The teen was able to put in the work to make California's Orange Lutheran High School football team as a long snapper. Now, his hard work has helped him achieve a lifelong dream.

According to Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times, Olson will become a walk-on member of the USC football team:

The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Olson has been admitted to USC, but not as one of the university's incoming 24-player football recruiting class. He is a recipient of a Swim With Mike scholarship, awarded annually from the Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship fund.

...

Olson, 18, was introduced as a Swim With Mike scholarship winner in February during an event where video highlights of incoming football players were shown to Trojans fans. He would join the program as a walk-on.

This remarkable story just continues to get better and better.

Needless to say, this is something that the long snapper has wanted for a long time.

"It's a dream come true," Olson said, per Klein.

But don't just view this as a publicity stunt. Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian fully intends to get Olson into a game.

"When? I don't know. But it will happen," Sarkisian said, per Klein. "When that day comes, it will be awesome."

To read more about Olson's story, check out Klein's article.

[ESPN, h/t Sports Illustrated]

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Blind Long Snapper Earns Walk-on Opportunity at USC

Years after becoming an inspiration to the USC Trojans football team, Jake Olson will officially become a member of the squad...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Satellite Camp Debate Latest Reason Why College Football Needs a Commissioner

The latest college football saga surrounding satellite camps only further illustrates why the sport is in desperate need of a commissioner.

Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee and Adam Lefkoe discuss some of the topics and issues in college football and what a commissioner could do to eradicate them.

Who should be college football's commissioner? Check out the video and let us know!  

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