NCAA Football

Jameis Winston Will Struggle to Repeat as Heisman Trophy Winner

Only one person in history has ever won the Heisman Trophy twice, and Jameis Winston will have a hard time becoming the second.

Since the award was first given out to the most outstanding college football player in the nation in 1935, only Archie Griffin has been fortunate enough to bring home the award in two different seasons. Winston can join this club after winning in 2013, but a number of factors will prevent this from happening.

Based on talent alone, it is clear the Florida State quarterback is one of the best players in the nation. He finished his redshirt freshman season with 4,057 passing yards, 40 touchdowns and the No. 1 passer efficiency in the country at 184.8.

ESPN's NFL draft guru Mel Kiper believes he is the best prospect available for 2015:

However, talent alone does not necessarily guarantee winning the most prestigious individual award in sports. 

One of the biggest problems Winston will face this season is increased expectations. While many had high hopes for the talented player coming into last year, no one thought he would become one of the best in the country right away. This changed in his first start when he went 25 of 27 for 356 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.

As he continued to put up incredible numbers throughout the year, fans watching along could not help but be impressed.

The problem is this year the perception has changed. We have seen what Winston is capable of, and anything less would seem like a disappointment. Johnny Manziel actually posted better passing numbers last season but only finished fifth in the Heisman voting because voters were no longer impressed by his highlight-reel plays.

In reality, fans should expect a bit of a drop in production this season. Coaches have now had an entire offseason to study the sophomore and should be able to come up with ways to defend him. 

Additionally, Winston might have to be more conservative in his approach after losing a few major weapons like Kelvin Benjamin, Kenny Shaw and Devonta Freeman this offseason.

The quarterback also is putting the team first, saying, "I haven't set any individual goals. Just team goals. And the first goal is winning the national championship," via Danny Aller of Yahoo Sports.

This could mean a lot more running plays for Florida State to control possession, especially with the team likely having a lot of big leads in the second half.

However, this brings another problem heading into the season. Even though it was an individual award, voters care about how the team performs. This is another reason Manziel or Mark Ingram were unable to get legitimate consideration.

While Florida State comes into the year as the No. 1 team in the nation, even one loss could prevent the team from getting a bid to the first-ever playoffs. Losing seven NFL draft picks will certainly make things difficult.

If the Seminoles fail to be legitimate contenders for a national championship, voters will be happy picking someone else. With Marcus Mariota, Bryce Petty, Brett Hundley and others expecting big years, we will not be short on alternatives.

Fans are always looking for something new, which was good for Winston last year but will not help him this time around. He is expecting a great season, but winning the Heisman for a second time will be too difficult to accomplish.


Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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Texas Football: What to Expect from QB David Ash in 2014

The 2014 season is a chance for Texas quarterback David Ash to make up for 2013.

Ash entered last season with high expectations. He was named to multiple preseason watch lists and was poised to have a breakout junior year following the bumpy start of his college career.

But things took a turn when the Longhorns faced BYU on Sept. 7. Ash left the game in the fourth quarter after taking multiple, harrowing hits, which resulted in a concussion.

After sitting out the following week, Ash returned to the field in time to kick off Big 12 play, but his stay did not last long.

Ash suffered recurring concussion symptoms against Kansas State, and Texas fans did not see him under center for the rest of the season.

"It was hard," Ash said. "A concussion is something where nobody sees a cast, nobody really knows what is going on. It's a tough deal. But, that's past, and we are moving on to the future now."


Playing it Safe

The expectations for 2014 are nowhere near those of last season. But head coach Charlie Strong does expect Ash to protect his body and avoid contact as much as he can.

Strong put together a lowlight reel for all of his players. When he went through the film with his quarterback, he asked him what he was trying to prove in taking such hard hits.

"I don't need to see how tough you are. If you can outrun him, outrun him, but run out of bounds or slide or something. Just don't take a hit," Strong said of his conversation with Ash. "He took like three or four hits and I just stopped it and asked what he was trying to prove."

The redshirt junior has taken his coach's words to heart and plans on playing a smarter brand of football this season.

"He told me I have to get down. He's right. I have taken hits that were not necessary," Ash said of his talk with Strong. "Sometimes you are just trying to get that mojo going. But there are other ways rather than taking hits like that. He just made it clear that is not what I have to do or how I have to play. I'm going to start being smarter, doing a little baseball practice with sliding and getting out of bounds. I can't be taking those hits anymore."


Managing the New Offense

The Longhorns have installed a new offense under quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson and offensive coordinator Joe Wickline. There was an obvious learning curve when the team was first taught the offense, but Ash has done consistently well throughout fall camp and has the confidence of his position coach.

"In what we do and what we ask him to do, to be honest with you, he's been outstanding. He's been awesome," Watson said. "Everything is done through the eyes of the quarterback. David has allowed our whole team to move fast because he's moved so fast."

Watson said the ideal situation is to be balanced on offense, but nobody is expecting Ash to win games by himself. The Longhorns have potential for a solid ground attack between running backs Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray, which will take a lot of pressure off of Ash from trying to make too many plays on his own. 

Strong has constantly said he doesn't need Ash to be a great player. What the coaches want to see is his ability to manage the game and get the offense in the right place to make plays.

"When you get a quarterback in a new offense, it's just how much he can press that offense and how much he's willing to learn and study," Strong said. "That's what he's been able to do, just learn the offense and study. I always tell him this, 'I don't need a great player, I just need you to manage and do what we ask you to do. I don't like to see the ball turned over.' He's been able to make the throws at practice, been able to get us in the right checks and get us in the right place."

Ash will likely experience some hiccups this season. When Texas takes the field against North Texas on Aug. 30, 342 days will have passed since Ash has seen contact. The concerns surrounding his frightening injury history will likely continue throughout the 2014 season, and a lot of Texas fans will cringe anytime he hits the ground.

But what's most important for the Longhorns, aside from his health, is for Ash to be the game manager his coaches expect him to be. 

As Ash told Anwar Richardson of (subscription required):

You have to manage the game. You have to be a general on the field. You have to be a coach on the field. You have to distribute the ball. You have to give your team the right play. You have to know when to take risks and when not to. Does that sell my talent short? No. I feel like I'm very talented at managing football games. That's why I play quarterback.

One area his teammates have commended Ash for is his increased leadership role. The quarterback has previously been labeled as a shy person who would not speak up in the huddle. He is also a man of few words in media settings.

But Ash has taken notice of the way great quarterbacks lead their teams and plans to do the same for the Longhorns. As he told Richardson:

Leadership, a large part of it is your teammates believing in you, but that belief they have in you comes in you showing up and making plays consistently in practice, and not rolling over in game situations. That's the reason you believe in most of the great quarterbacks you see because you see them execute. You see them execute in tough situations. You see Tom Brady execute consistently. His teammates believe in him. You see Aaron Rodgers execute consistently so his teammates believe in him.

It's all about your actions, and I think that's what shows up. Great play comes from great preparation. Great play comes from team effort. Great play comes from coaching. There's a lot of things that go into that, but that team togetherness and unity comes when we all believe in each other, we're all going to do our jobs, and it's all going to pay off. That's how good team ball works.

Comparing his style of play to Rodgers and Brady is a bit of a stretch, considering they are two of the most consistent and reliable quarterbacks in the NFL.

Ash's career has seen a lot of ups and downs. When he was up, he played very well. When he was down, it was the complete opposite.

Consistency is something Ash will need to prove early this season, especially since Texas will face three preseason AP Top 10 teams in its first six games.

But one thing nobody can question is the quarterback's determination.

There are a lot of people who would have considered giving up football after going through what he experienced in 2013.

For Ash, quitting was never an option.

He believes he is meant to be on the football field and is determined to prove that to his team and to all of his critics.

"He really wants to be a great player," Watson said. "I think he has unsettled affairs after the kind of year he went through last year. I respect that. He has worked really hard and has played very efficient football."

He obviously has the drive to be a great player, but only time will tell if he can show that greatness on a consistent basis.

His coaches have praised his work over the last eight months. Now is the time for him to prove it.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

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

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Tim Tebow Does His Best Steve Spurrier Impression While Telling Recruiting Story

While setting the stage for the Texas A&M-South Carolina game on Thursday, SEC Network analyst Tim Tebow shared an interesting tidbit from his past.

The story itself was interesting, but it was Tebow's impression of Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier that stole the show. Hopefully, he is able to show Spurrier his impression at some point during the season.


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8 Most Important College Football Recruiting Visits of Week 1

The arrival of college football season means anticipation for games rises among every team's fanbase. However, there's plenty more going on beyond the field during game-day festivities.

Recruiting departments spend the entire offseason coordinating plans for every matchup. Teams welcome recruits in an effort to show off program facilities and tradition and provide opportunities for personal interaction with the coaching staff. Each week, we'll take a look at top-tier prospects expected on campuses across the country and dissect how the development factors into their overall recruitment.

As the 2014 campaign kicks off across the country, here's a look at notable game attendees who will be taking in the action on opening weekend.

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Throwback Thursday: Nick Saban Gets Destroyed by a Block in High School

Alabama's Nick Saban is known for being a great defensive coach, but back when he was a high school football player, things didn't always go smoothly for him.

In the clip above, you will see Saban—playing for Monongah High School (West Virginia)—get destroyed by a block while on special teams. 

Below are some more clips of Saban's senior season. (The block above is in the video at around the 2:08 mark.)

[, Yahoo Sports, Rivals]

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UCLA Football: 3 Stars Who Will Break out in 2014

The UCLA football team has three players poised for breakout seasons in 2014.

A veteran wide receiver is now thrust into a starting role. Talent has never been an issue, but a lack of consistency hasn't allowed for a breakthrough season. Now seemingly matured, he will take the mantle of UCLA's top receiver.

The other two players in this piece are true sophomores. Both started last year as freshmen and played big roles.

This year, the duo will take the next steps in potentially becoming all-conference selections. In the process, each will become a known commodity in the Pac-12.

Here are three stars who will break out in 2014 for Jim Mora and the Bruins.

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UCLA Football: 3 Stars Who Will Break out in 2014

The UCLA football team has three players poised for breakout seasons in 2014. A veteran wide receiver is now thrust into a starting role. Talent has never been an issue, but a lack of consistency hasn't allowed for a breakthrough season...

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Biggest Question Facing Each Top 25 Team Heading into the 2014 Season

Ahem: Football's back! 

Technically, it was back last Saturday, when Eastern Washington and Sam Houston State faced off on the red field, but it's not real football unless the SEC is involved. 

(That's only half joking.) 

Digressing, Week 1 is upon us and each Associated Press Top 25 team has a silo of offseason questions just waiting to be answered. It's likely, if not guaranteed, that most of those questions won't be answered after one game.

But we can focus on the overriding storyline for each top-25 team as the season gets underway. What will Texas A&M look like in the post-Johnny Manziel era? Who will win Alabama's quarterback battle? Will Florida State win another national title?

Let's try to predict some answers. And not be horribly, horribly wrong in the process. 


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Cold Hard Fact for Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fact: Steve Spurrier seeks to be the third SEC coach with 200 wins tonight, joining Bear Bryant (292) and Vince Dooley (201).

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

Source: ESPN Stats and Info

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Who Steps Up Alongside Marcus Mariota to Continue Oregon's Offensive Dominance?

The Oregon Ducks are looking to make a run for the national championship in 2014. With many of Marcus Mariota's top targets now in the NFL, the Ducks are looking to restock their weapons. Bleacher Report's Stephen Nelson and The Oregonian's Andrew Greif discuss some potential stars ready to dominate. Who do you think will tear it up in 2014?

Watch the video and let us know.

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Who Steps Up Alongside Marcus Mariota to Continue Oregon's Offensive Dominance?

The Oregon Ducks are looking to make a run for the national championship in 2014. With many of Marcus Mariota's top targets now in the NFL, the Ducks are looking to restock their weapons...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

JW Walsh's Keys to Success as Starting Oklahoma State QB in Matchup with FSU

Despite his experience and presumed edge over teammates Daxx Garman and Mason Rudolph, the formal designation of J.W. Walsh as the Oklahoma State Cowboys starter puts some pressure on the rising junior to succeed in the team's season opener.

What's more, opening against the Florida State Seminoles could leave Walsh with a fairly limited capacity for doing so.

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy has confirmed that J.W. Walsh has been named the starting quarterback for the Cowboys, per NBC Sports' John Taylor, and will be first under center when they play the No. 1-ranked Seminoles on Saturday.

As a sophomore in 2013, Walsh played in eight games with mixed results.

His 1,333 yards passing, nine touchdowns and five interceptions to go along with three rushing touchdowns weren't enough to make him an "easy favorite" among the Cowboys coaching staff. Despite Walsh spending the majority of his time with the Cowboys' No. 1 offense, Gundy has been slow to publicly declare a starter until this Wednesday.

Going up against the nation's top-ranked team and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in Jameis Winston gives Walsh a unique opportunity to prove himself and instill confidence among his teammates in Gundy's decision.

It also presents him with a challenging first test, as the Seminoles will be 17.5-point favorites, according to Odds Shark.


Make Plays Outside of the Pocket

Florida State brings back six starters from last year's team that held opponents to a meager 12.1 points per game. What is additionally concerning for Walsh and Oklahoma State's coaching staff is that the Seminoles were the fifth-best passing defense in the country last year and allowed only 14 touchdowns to 26 interceptions the entire season.

Where a player like Walsh could have a slight edge would be in his ability to scramble and make plays outside of the pocket, considering Florida State allowed nearly 125 rushing yards per game in 2013, good for 18th in the country. 

Luckily for the Cowboys, that's mysteriously high for such a talented defense and presents a possible chink in the armor that they could exploit with Walsh's skill set.

So if Walsh is going to beat the odds, or even stay competitive against the Seminoles, he's likely going to have to make plays with his feet and put running back Desmond Roland in position to score.

Whether it's through the air or on the ground, the 2012 Big 12's Offensive Freshman of the Year has his work cut out for him.


Keep the Game Close

To justify himself as the Cowboys' starting QB, Walsh doesn't necessarily have to defeat the Seminoles. Because, frankly, an Oklahoma State loss is more likely to fall at the feet of the Cowboys defense that is unlikely to be competitive against Winston's explosive offense.

If Walsh can keep Oklahoma State competitive and leave his team's mistakes to the defensive side of the ball, he should still come out on top in the eyes of his fans and coaching staff. Expectations are casually lowered.

And if you can keep your team from imploding on day one, it only gets easier as the schedule moves forward. If Walsh plays well and beats Florida State, consider him more than proven. It's one of the few advantages to opening the season against a team like the Seminoles.


Bobby Kittleberger writes about fantasy football for The FF White Papers. You can get in touch with him via Twitter.

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Tennessee Football: How Vols Can Stop Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton

Chuckie Keeton represents the most challenging, versatile quarterback the Tennessee Volunteers will face all season.

If he's healthy, Utah State's 6'2", 200-pound senior signal-caller may be the best all-around player on the Vols' schedule.

He can beat teams with his arm and legs, something Todd Gurley, Amari Cooper and Mike Davis can't do. Nimble on his feet, accurate, strong-armed, smart and seasoned, Keeton is blessed with numerous attributes.

He's good enough that he has been the recipient of dark-horse Heisman Trophy buzz, and one national writer—'s Michael Weinreb—even picked him to win.

Keeton is more than capable of starring and leading the Aggies to a stirring win that could shell-shock the young Vols and extinguish the positive vibes surrounding the program.

So, how does the young UT defense keep that from happening?


Hit Him Early, Often

It's no secret that Keeton tore his anterior cruciate and medical collateral ligaments last Oct. 4 against BYU, normally a devastating injury that can take more than a year to heal.

Yet, according to the Deseret News' Jeff Hunter, teammates and coaches believe Keeton appears better than ever.

Those are scary words for Tennessee, considering how electric Keeton can be and how few mistakes he makes. He even shines on the biggest stages.

Regardless of how much lip service those around USU's program pay Keeton, there are always mental hurdles to get over when coming back from an injury of that magnitude.

The Vols have to do everything within the rules to keep Keeton from feeling comfortable.

USU returns just one starter on its offensive line, and the Vols must exploit that perceived fissure. A rusty quarterback—even one as skilled as Keeton—is more vulnerable behind a shaky line.

Rattling Keeton is easier said than done, especially considering UT's young, small and untested defensive line is the team's biggest question mark.

According to, UT hasn't cracked the league's top five in sacks since 2007. The past three years, Tennessee has finished last, last and next-to-last. Oh, and the Vols must replace all four starters from a season ago.

The Vols have gotten a surprising surge from freshman defensive end Derek Barnett, who earned a starting job with his relentless play. Curt Maggitt is healthy and moving well again, he told GoVols247's Wes Rucker (subscription required).

Corey Vereen was UT's best pass-rusher a season ago. The Vols also traded big, clunky defensive tackles for quicker starters—Danny O'Brien and Jordan Williams—and they both need to have a huge game.

UT's defensive front will attempt to use speed to counter speed. Williams told's Grant Ramey (subscription required):

Really, we have one true D-tackle in there, and that's [Danny O'Brien]. Everybody else is either an end or used to be a linebacker. I was a linebacker two years ago. [Corey] Vereen could've been one. So we have a lot of hybrid guys in there.

In theory, this approach seems like the right game plan. But when Sunday night comes, the Vols have got to get to Keeton and put him on the ground, something they've been historically bad at recently.

If he has time to throw, Keeton could have a field day.


Press Up Front, Shrink the Field

One of the most noticeable differences in Tennessee's fall camp with the infusion of so many defensive newcomers is the upgrade in team speed.

That was a major emphasis for coach Butch Jones in sculpting his first full recruiting class.

Now it's time for it to translate onto the field. Keeton provides a similar test to the one UT has failed so many times before.

A study of UT's official 2013 statistics shows opposing quarterbacks had 701 rushing yards by themselves against the Vols a season ago, running for nearly 6.1 yards per carry. Tennessee simply couldn't stop it.

Now, they play a guy in Keeton who looked extremely familiar to another UT opponent:

"[Keeton] can make something out of nothing; just a real explosive guy," Williams told's Grant Ramey. "We're going to get after him. He throws pretty good when he's outside the pocket. We just have to get somebody in his face."

Containing Keeton is dicey. While the Vols want to force him to move, he throws well on the run. Also, as the statistics against dual-threat quarterbacks show, UT routinely fails to stay disciplined in its rush lanes.

All week, the Vols have been attempting to simulate Keeton's threat, but that's impossible when few in the nation possess his skill set:

If the ends and secondary do their job, UT may even be able to use a linebacker spy such as athletic sophomore Jalen Reeves-Maybin to follow Keeton like a shadow.

Keeton is a master at sucking in secondaries who come up to tackle him before he reaches the line of scrimmage. When that happens, the senior quarterback's arm is strong and accurate enough to beat the Vols for huge gains downfield.

Keeton is tough for any defense to defend. With 11 to 13 newcomers expected to play for coordinator John Jancek, the coach told GoVols247's Rucker, those guys must play beyond their years.


Take Away His Support System

Finally, Keeton has plenty of moxie, but he can't beat an SEC team on his own.

That's why containing receivers JoJo Natson, Ronald Butler and especially running back Joe Hill is a necessity. If UT can limit the running game and make USU one-dimensional, all of the focus can be shifted squarely on Keeton.

Hill, too, is returning from torn knee ligaments suffered last season. He is talented enough to be included on the Doak Walker Award watch list, but he will likely take a while to get reacclimated.

As for the receivers, Natson is electric, but at 5'7", 151 pounds, he isn't going to beat UT cornerbacks Cameron Sutton (6'1"), Emmanuel Moseley (5'11"), Michael Williams (5'11") or nickelback Justin Coleman (5'10") too often. Those guys are fast, too.

If Tennessee's talented cornerbacks can lock down Natson and Butler, Keeton is going to start pressing, believing he has to do everything himself. That's when the Vols will gain an advantage.

But they've got to accomplish it first.

The test that looms for the Vols isn't lost on anybody in orange, as they've spent months preparing for Keeton as much as a team can when he's not staring back across the line of scrimmage.

The Vols are not going to be able to escape with a victory unless they can harass Keeton, limit the playmakers around him and force him into some uncharacteristic miscues.

Stopping Keeton is asking the young Vols to do something few teams have in his illustrious career. But slowing him down, keeping him from breaking free for long runs and negating big plays will result in a 1-0 record heading into the season's second week.


All statistics gathered from, unless otherwise noted. Quotes and observations were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Brad Shepard covers SEC football and is the Tennessee Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow Brad on Twitter here: 


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Who Will Be the Next Vernon Hargreaves for the Florida Gators in 2014?

The Florida Gators are starting the season with a chip on their shoulders. With a disappointing 4-8 record in 2013, Will Muschamp and Co. are looking to bounce back.

Bleacher Report's Stephen Nelson and's Nick de la Torre discuss some things to watch on the defensive side of the ball. How well do you think the Gators will do this year?

Watch the video and let us know.

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Texas A&M vs. South Carolina: Live Score, Highlights and Analysis

Keep it locked right here as we bring you live coverage of the 2014 college football opener between No. 21 Texas A&M and No. 9 South Carolina!

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Anthony Brown Quits USC Football Team, Claims Steve Sarkisian Is Racist

USC was already having a bizarre week in light of the Josh Shaw ordeal. Now things have only gotten worse for the school, as senior running back Anthony Brown has quit the team and alleged that head coach Steve Sarkisian is a racist.

In an Instagram post Brown has since removed from his account, he wrote, "Sark treated me like a slave in his Office...Can't play for a racist MAN!!!!! #Fighton." The message was posted alongside an image that simply said, "Couldn't play for a racist man!!!!"

Ryan Abraham of took a screenshot of that image and has more on the story:

Steve Sarkisian just came into the media room to inform us that Anthony Brown has quit the football team. Brown went on Instagram and Facebook, accusing Sarkisian of being a racist. Sark said he was "shocked" at these allegations, called them "ridiculous" and welcomed us to talk to anyone in or around the program and they would tell us that it simply wasn't true.

Sark said they tried to accommodate Brown, moving him to running back. He was unfortunately hurt but Sark said they still tried to get him to stay on the team. Sark felt he could help the team. Brown refused, quit the team...

This certainly feels like a story with a lot of unanswered questions at the very least. Perhaps the most pertinent piece of unknown information was raised by Bomani Jones of ESPN:

On the other hand, at least one player, nose tackle Antwaun Woods, has already come to Sarkisian's defense.

It will be interesting to see how other players comment on their relationship with Sarkisian in the coming days.

It will also be interesting to see how USC recovers from two bombshells in the same week. On Wednesday, Shaw admitted that he fabricated the story about spraining both of his ankles while rescuing his nephew, per Tess Quinlan of USA Today.

His lawyer, Donald Etra, claimed he injured his ankles after falling from a balcony on Aug. 23. Shaw was promptly suspended indefinitely.

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports pointed out the recent issues facing the program:

Not only does USC have to now put out the fires started by both of these situations and try to mitigate the distractions and media flurry they have now caused, but they also are now without two players and have some serious on-field concerns to address, as Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated notes:

Shaw was a captain, remember, while Brown started several games in his USC career at cornerback and had been moved to running back this season. Both were expected to contribute to the team this year in some capacity.

Now, however, USC is down two men and left dealing with the public spotlight that is currently shining brightly on the program. It certainly has not been an easy start to the Sarkisian-era this summer.


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Anthony Brown Quits USC Football Team, Claims Steve Sarkisian Is Racist

USC was already having a bizarre week in light of the Josh Shaw ordeal. Now things have only gotten worse for the school, as senior running back Anthony Brown has quit the team and alleged that head coach Steve Sarkisian is a racist...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

How Melvin Gordon Became College Football's Most Underappreciated Superstar

You don’t realize how extraordinary Melvin Gordon is until you stand next to him, when he has finally stopped moving. Then, when the blur comes into focus and you study his enormous frame, you start to ponder how you could possibly bring down the game’s most explosive player.

As much as you casually still brag about your 40-time in high school—which gets faster each year, somehow—that ain’t happening. Let’s just forget about that.

Should you get in front of him? He’s 6’1” and nearly 215 pounds. Although Gordon hasn’t acquired the reputation of being a battering ram, he could be if it was necessary. When you can essentially run past or around anyone and everyone with uncanny consistency, why do anything else?

Then you remember something else. You remember that Gordon, who ran for more than 1,600 yards last season, has yet to actually start a game for the Badgers. That moment will finally come on Saturday when Wisconsin takes on LSU in the most exciting (and important) game of Week 1. 

“His role will be amped up, without question,” Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said. “He’s ready, he’s excited and so are we.”

For the past three years, Gordon has been utilized in a reserve role. That term should come with an asterisk the size of a cartoon-ish Wisconsin Bloody Mary, because this isn’t your average backup. In 2013, for example, he logged just 28 fewer carries than starter James White.

But it has never truly been his show; he’s always shared duties, and thus, the spotlight.

Because of this, the buzz regarding the Kenosha, Wisconsin, native has never been what it should be. The Heisman whispers have started and the limelight has intensified, although the attention on his play has never matched the excitement of the long, juke-filled runs and dumbfounding numbers.

“He wants to be a great team leader and he wants to be a feature back on a great team at the University of Wisconsin,” Andersen said. “So we’re going to work like crazy to help him make that happen.”

Corey Clement, who served as the team’s third back last season, will essentially step into Gordon’s role in 2014. The sophomore, who showed tremendous promise during his freshman season, is a name you will learn quickly, perhaps as early as Saturday night. Like everyone else, however, Clement is just watching, learning and observing as his teammate does unthinkable things.

“Melvin is just Melvin,” Clement recently said to Zach Heilprin of “He pulls out some things that you thought weren’t humanly possible."

On the eve of Gordon's coronation as the next leader of the legendary Badgers backfield, it is apropos to remember his "Hello World" moment. 

It was the opening drive of the 2012 Big Ten Championship Game; Wisconsin sent its third-string running back in motion. As the lanky back glided behind the corn-fed wall of designated human movers—a Madison specialty, and a huge part of the yearly running success—the unknown ball-carrier took the handoff and darted for the outside.

If you’re a Nebraska fan, now would be the appropriate time to close your computer, light it on fire and go for a stroll.

The play looked doomed. Nebraska safety Daimion Stafford read the exchange perfectly. He closed, although an unforeseen juke toward the sideline forced Stafford to dive in a last-ditch effort to keep his man from running free. He caught only jersey and held on for as long as he could. As he did, the “25” on the back of the vibrant red uniform seemed to double in size, foreshadowing things to come.

No. 25 broke free, and the number vanished as the mystery player turned up field. It was then P.J. Smith’s turn to try and bring him down, although the next safety up didn’t stand a chance in the open field. One simple juke—well, it was simple for him—and Smith, like his teammate, was grasping at shoelaces.

A great block from wideout Jared Abbrederis was all that remained: 56 yards later, No. 25 coasted to the end zone, erasing the zeroes that had just been placed on the scoreboard. A stadium of onlookers and a nation of television viewers scrambled to figure out who that was.

Melvin Gordon had arrived.

He finished the evening as Wisconsin’s leading rusher despite only logging nine carries. He turned those nine carries into 216 yards. The Badgers won 70-31.

Gordon parlayed his success in this game into a monster 2013, a year in which he turned 206 carries into 1,609 yards. He also had three runs of 70 yards or more—which was tops in the nation—and delivered at least a 20-yard run in nine of 13 games.

Over the past two seasons, Gordon has seven rushes of 50 yards or more. Most running backs would be thrilled with a handful.

More impressive than the game-breaking plays and total yardage, however, is how he’s been able to reach these thresholds while sharing the football with other NFL-caliber backs. 

Since stepping foot in Madison, Gordon has averaged 8.1 yards per carry.

I repeat, 8.1 yards per carry.

No matter how many times you take his career rushing yards (2,328) and divide by the total carries (288), it still doesn’t make much sense. To further drive home this point, here’s how Gordon’s YPC compares to some of the recent and all-time greats.

That’s not to say Gordon belongs in the conversation with some of these historic giants just yet, but the sample size is big enough where you almost feel obligated to match up certain aspects of their resumes side by side.

You can’t help but do more math.

If Gordon carried the ball just 206 times and managed to run for more than 1,600 yards last year, what kind of season could be within reach with a bigger workload against a schedule that eases up plenty after LSU? Two thousand yards? A Heisman?

The questions are both fair and legitimate, although the move to starter might not be as significant as some might make it out to be. At the very least, this is where Gordon’s on-field carnage and off-field calm go their different ways at the fork in the road.

"If I get 30 to 35 carries a game, that means Corey is hurt, and we can't have that," Gordon told Brian Bennett at "I like splitting the ball. It keeps us fresh throughout the season. Me and James were really fresh last year, and that helped us play so well."

It would appear that he and his head coach have talked this out.

“Melvin is not going to carry the ball 35 times a game,” Andersen said. “But he will be much more involved as an every-down back for us.”

Gordon’s debut as every-down back will come at NRG Stadium in Houston against LSU, one of the nation’s most successful college teams of the past decade. A Melvin Gordon-like performance in the bright lights of opening weekend will only propel his football reputation closer to where it should be. It will also, almost certainly, propel Wisconsin to a win.

It’ll be up to LSU head coach Les Miles to ensure that doesn’t happen.

“He’s one of those guys that gives you a concern because he’s a big strong physical back that can make you miss,” Miles said, via Hunter Paniagua of Tigers Sport Digest. “You’re going to have to tackle well. Tackling is what you do on defense and it’s the first thing you do. It’s tremendously important in this game. We have to tackle well.”

It’s a daunting task. It’s even more daunting now that the offseason is over and Gordon will no longer be standing still. The blur is back in business.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.

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Darvin Taylor to Florida State: Seminoles Land 4-Star DT Prospect

Darvin Taylor, the prized defensive tackle recruit from Thomas Dale High School in Virginia, has both present skills and room to get exponentially better, which he will do at Florida State.

Taylor made his college decision official Thursday, announcing at a press conference that he will become a Seminole starting in 2015, via 

There was a cluster of eight schools that Taylor was deciding from, per a tweet he released in June:

Looking at the early recruiting rankings for 2015, Taylor's addition gives Florida State 18 total commitments and 11 ranked in the four- or five-star category, according to

Football recruiting classes don't live or die on the shoulders of one player, but Taylor is the kind of prospect you can build a group around. He is ranked as the No. 16 defensive tackle prospect in the country and 165th overall for the 2015 season, also per

Taylor's decision to attend college in Tallahassee seemed to be in the works for months, as the defensive tackle had nothing but praise and respect for Florida State defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins in March, per Christopher Nee of "He's like another dad to me. My dad tells me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear and that's what coach Odell does too."

While that doesn't exactly sound like a game-changing talent on paper, Jamie Uyeyama of and raved about Taylor's raw potential and upside before acknowledging he is a huge project:

Taylor seems to have that knack for just being around the ball. Whether it’s a fumble, tipped pass, or chasing down a player to make a tackle, he shows that he can produce splash plays.

He shows the ability to play strong at the point of attack and take on the double team when he fires off the ball. The problem is that he plays too passive and relies on his eyes to try and figure out the play rather than feeling his block which will tell him where the ball is. He’s big and strong enough to blow up his man on each play, but doesn’t do it on a consistent basis.

With "prospect," the one term that people simultaneously love and hate to hear is "project." It's a term designed to get you excited about a player because you can see the moments of brilliance that can make him a superstar. 

However, it's also one of the worst terms in sports because it means that for whatever reason something hasn't clicked. Taylor is a coach's dream as a teenager who is already 6'2" and over 300 pounds playing defensive tackle. 

In a defensive scheme with four linemen, whether it's 4-3 or 4-2 nickel coverage scheme, Taylor can just be that anchor in the middle, taking up blockers and opening holes for defensive ends to get sacks and stop the running back behind the line of scrimmage. 

There will be more pressure on Taylor's development as a pass-rusher in a 3-4 setting. He's not the kind of prospect who is going to make an instant impact, likely needing a redshirt year to turn his skills into ability at the college level. 

Florida State is the perfect spot for Taylor to develop into the player everyone thinks he can become. He's joining an already-loaded roster that won't put a lot of pressure on him right away while being able to come out of the shadows in the next few years to become a star for Jimbo Fisher's defense. 

Whatever path Taylor takes in college, there's enormous physical potential for the defensive tackle. He can become the anchor on a defensive line, which is what every coach in the country is searching to find. 


If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter.

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Inside the World of Twitter Hashtags on the College Football Recruiting Trail

For college football coaches, the celebration of winning the grueling wars on the recruiting trail is normally reserved for national signing day. That’s mainly because NCAA rules prohibit coaches from discussing potential recruits by name.

However, thanks to the rise of social media in recruiting, a handful of coaches across the country are being creative in their use of outlets such as Twitter to send coded messages that serve as an unofficial welcome to new commitments.

As Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated noted, there are no rules against coaches announcing a commitment as long as the player isn’t mentioned by name.

While some coaches such as Nick Saban avoid social media, others such as Kevin Sumlin embrace it. Additionally, assistants and support staff members at bigger schools use it as a tool, and it’s often the prime means of communication with the recruits of today.

Which schools and coaches have created hashtags and phrases alerting fans and recruits alike of a victory on the recruiting trail?


Arizona: #ontothenextone

The Wildcats have put together a strong 2015 class under the guidance of head coach Rich Rodriguez.

However, Matt Dudek, who serves as Arizona’s recruiting coordinator, is the main man getting the message out about the Wildcats program on Twitter. 

According to Daniel Berk of the Tuscon Star, Dudek uses the hashtag #ontothenextone to get the word out about a new Wildcats pledge. 

“After a game at Pitt that we won, I put it out there somewhere, and it just kinda stuck,” said Dudek, who borrowed the phrase from Jay-Z. “It became fitting. It has a little bit of swag to it, but it’s not offensive. It just became a thing, but it really blew up here. The fans here really took a liking to it, and I just ran with it.”


Georgia: #CommitToTheG

There’s been no hotter team on the recruiting trail lately than Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldogs.

Beginning with 5-star defensive tackle Trent Thompson’s pledge on Aug. 12 and culminating with 4-star receiver Van Jefferson’s commitment on Tuesday, the Bulldogs have surged to the No. 3 spot overall in the 247Sports Team Rankings.

The ‘Dawgs 2015 class has been a hit on social media thanks to the hashtags #CommitToTheG and #fam15. Richt and ace recruiter and running backs coach Bryan McClendon are among the members of the staff who have been actively using those hashtags throughout this cycle.


Miami: #WelcomeToTheU 

Considering Pete Carroll was one of the first coaches to embrace social media dating back to his days at USC, it’s no surprise to see that his son—Miami recruiting coordinator Brennan Carroll—is one of the foremost voices among the coaching fraternity on Twitter. 

He and offensive coordinator James Coley are two of the more vocal members of Al Golden’s staff, and each of them are sure to be found moments after the ‘Canes have added another pledge. 

#WelcomeToTheU has become a mantra for the arrival of new ‘Canes and is only picking up steam as Miami’s 2015 class continues to grow.


Oklahoma: #Unmatched

While his brother Mark Stoops has made waves for the way he and his staff have used social media, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops has quickly caught on after joining Twitter in Sept. 2012.

He and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel are among the members of the Sooners staff using the hashtag #umatched in tweets.

Stoops used it last week following the commitment of 3-star California offensive lineman Dru Samia.

As a bit of a personal touch with each message following a commitment, Stoops uses the area code from which the newest pledge hails.


Penn State: #PSUnrivaled

James Franklin turned the Vanderbilt program around in large part due to his ability to recruit top-notch talent to a school that had long been mired in the cellar of the SEC. 

After moving on to Penn State in January, Franklin and his staff—led by offensive line coach Herb Hand—have hit the ground running. The Nittany Lions currently have the No. 6 class in the country.

With more than 5,700 tweets on his account, Hand has been one of the more active coaches on social media. After the Lions land a commit, Hand is not far behind with a message using the hashtags #WeAre and #PSUnrivaled.

Hand and Franklin are one of the more dynamic duos of recruiters who are constant presences on sites such as Twitter.


Texas A&M: #WRTS

While Sumlin’s trademark “yessir” is one of the more widely known phrases in recruiting circles, one of his assistants created a newer hashtag that has taken off in recent months.

As Taylor Hamm of GigEm247 noted, defensive coordinator Mark Snyder tweeted out #WRTS after the commitment of 5-star quarterback Kyler Murray in May. The hashtag is an acronym for “We Run This State.” 

“People can argue all they want but it’s the facts,” 5-star Aggies defensive tackle commit Daylon Mack told Hamm. “We have the best class in the state of Texas, with the best team in the state of Texas. I feel like people are trying to catch us. We’re already in front.”

While the move to the SEC has certainly helped Sumlin and his staff, their presence on social media has caught the attention of big-time recruits such as Mack.


Coaches across the country are always searching for an edge that helps them win on the recruiting trail, and these schools are examples of how a little creativity on social media can go a long way toward helping accomplish those goals.

With social media now playing an important role in the recruiting process, expect the race on platforms such as Twitter to continue to grow moving forward.


Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.


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