NCAA Football

Tennessee Football: First Impressions from 2015 Fall Camp

After the offseason crept by like a funeral procession, the Tennessee football team raced onto the field for its first practice of the fall Tuesday night.

It may have been the slowest the Volunteers were the entire evening.

The biggest news that came out of a very newsy night in Knoxville was the fact that everybody noticed how much bigger, more athletic and especially faster the Vols looked.

Two full-to-the-brim recruiting classes of highly ranked, SEC-caliber athletes brought in by coach Butch Jones have noticeably improved the caliber of player on Rocky Top.

Unlike UT teams of the past five or six years, this crop of Vols have benefited from coaching continuity, being in the same strength-and-conditioning program for multiple years now, and they've made physical improvements because of it. It doesn't hurt that Jones has brought in a bunch of stud prospects, too.

This looks like an SEC football team. That's something UT hasn't been able to say throughout the two-deep for some time.

In the limited time that the media got to witness and take video of practice, the speed difference was noticeable. It was one of the most noteworthy things that coach Jones pointed out afterwards, as well.

Few personify that speed difference more than running back Jalen Hurd. He bulked up to 6'3", 242 pounds over the offseason, and now fully healthy, he has elite quickness and is even more nimble on his feet than a season ago. 

In the practice video posted by Rocky Top Insider, Hurd looks impressively fluid. Nobody who weighs more than 240 pounds should be able to move like that.

Hurd showed flashes of what he can do when rested and healthy during last season's TaxSlayer Bowl and again during limited Orange & White Game action. With Alvin Kamara, Ralph David Abernathy IV and a duo of freshmen in tow to spell him, there may be more of that this season.

Though Jones noted the Vols need to improve in the passing game from the first day, everything was done in a frenetic pace from the first whistle of drills. That kind of tempo is how Jones and new offensive coordinator Mike DeBord want to play, and quarterback Joshua Dobbs was pleased with the strides in that area.

He believes UT has picked up right where it left off from the spring in that regard, according to's Grant Ramey:

It's different, obviously Coach Jones has been here a couple years as well and our team has definitely matured a lot since I first got here. There's a great flow to practice. It's kind of like when we walked on the practice field, it's like we practiced yesterday, it wasn't like we haven't been practicing for a couple months. That was a great feeling to have.

In photos and video, few pass the eyeball test like cornerbacks Emmanuel Moseley and newcomer Justin Martin.

They're tall, long-armed and extremely fast and fluid. When you take into consideration that neither of those guys are expected to be the strong points of the secondary, it should excite you to think of that unit's potential.

Throwing athleticism such as theirs into a group that already includes senior safety starters LaDarrell McNeil and Brian Randolph, athletic youngsters Todd Kelly Jr., Evan Berry and Rashaan Gaulden as well as junior star Cameron Sutton makes the secondary almost as exciting to project as the defensive ends.

Sutton, meanwhile, started his journey to fill a major void for the Vols on Tuesday: the role of leadership. Senior Curt Maggitt is a vocal, team-rejuvenating revival preacher, but, beyond him, there are few proven stalwarts in player-leadership roles.

Showing every morsel of attention to detail, Sutton chastised the second-team defense when they didn't hustle onto the field, making them do it over. That was a moment of practice Jones praised, according to GoVols247's Wes Rucker:

We had a great leadership opportunity today, and Cam Sutton took full advantage of it. When our second-team defense didn't sprint onto the football field, he called 'em all back and had 'em re-huddle and sprint onto the football field. He said,'‘That’s not the way we do things at Tennessee,' and he took advantage of that leadership opportunity. I think just the maturation and growth of a football family, a football family, you see that.

If the Vols look like they belong among the SEC royalty and they act like it, maybe they'll play like it. There's a long way to go and a lot of practice left, but all the reports made it sound like Tuesday was a good first step.


Out with Old, In with New

Tuesday marked the official beginning of freshman Sheriron Jones' Tennessee quarterback career and the end of Jauan Jennings'.

Both impressed.

Back in the spring game, Jennings flashed some dynamic athleticism running the option, but the former athlete prospect who was reclassified by 247Sports as a dual-threat quarterback never could get a firm grasp on throwing consistently.

Passing is sort of a necessity to play the quarterback position, and his slow development was going to put him behind the competition with Dobbs entrenched as the starter, classmates Jones and Quinten Dormady in the fold and all the exceptional recruiting UT is doing at that position.

Already this year, the Vols have a commitment from 4-star Jarrett Guarantano. Top-rated 2017 passer Hunter Johnson is high on Tennessee (per Rucker), as is top-rated 2018 prospect Trevor Lawrence, who has called UT his early leader (per 247Sports' Barton Simmons).

Therefore, Jennings was removed from the quarterback derby, and after his first day at wide receiver Tuesday, he may have found his new home.

The 6'4", 200-pound first-year player is a first-class athlete, and he made some catches that had coaches raving about his potential despite being very raw.

Butch Jones continued by saying to the Associated Press' Steve Megargee on Jennings: "He made some catches today where you kind of did a double-take and it got you excited. For Day 1, I was very, very, very encouraged with him."

As for Sheriron Jones, he's undersized, which would set things up for a redshirt season if he can't beat out Dormady for the backup duties. But the California kid has some workable tools. The few practice videos posted show a quick release and accurate downfield throwing from Jones.

Rocky Top Insider's Daniel Lewis had this to say about the freshman: "Jones made some good throws, no doubt about it. He had more command at the position than what we saw from Jauan Jennings in the the spring. He can really throw the football when he’s on. He clearly had his freshman moments as well, missing some guys from time to time and misunderstanding some routes."

As of right now, though, it appears Dormady has a grasp on the No. 2 job pretty firmly. 

"But I was really, really pleased with Quinten," Butch Jones said, according to GoVols247's Ryan Callahan. "I thought Quinten did some really good things, and just the growth and maturation from spring football. You could kind of see the momentum from the spring game kind of carry over into Practice One.”


D-Line Looking Fine

If the Vols get quality play from their defensive tackles, it's going to be a very good season on Rocky Top. 

Those are huge question marks considering UT must get key reps from true freshmen Shy Tuttle and Kahlil McKenzie at literally one of the two or three most difficult positions to play in your first year.

But, man, those two kids are massive.

It's hard not to get excited about their potential. McKenzie's legs look like oak stumps, and Tuttle has transformed from the cushy kid who arrived back in the winter to a grown man. Neither look like he's a freshman.

It's hard to tell anything about the physicality of your team without wearing pads, but these linemen have been around each other all offseason. So, when you've got a sophomore like Derek Barnett who was the nation's best freshman lineman a year ago praising you publicly, you've probably accomplished something.

Barnett knows what it takes to burst onto the scene, and he said Tuesday that McKenzie has what it takes.

When you couple that with the flashes Tuttle showed this spring and the fact that he's been working out for the past three months getting stronger, the sky is the limit for this UT line from a talent perspective.


All statistics gathered from unless otherwise noted. All recruiting information obtained from 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

Brad Shepard covers SEC football and is the Tennessee lead writer for Bleacher Report. Follow Brad on Twitter @Brad_Shepard.

Read more College Football news on

Texas Football: Bold Predictions for the Longhorns' 2015 Fall Camp

When the Texas Longhorns begin fall camp Friday, the quarterback battle between Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard will dominate the discussion.

But this season's fall camp is about so much more than that. This is our first look at what a full-blown head coach Charlie Strong recruiting class looks like and what sort of attitude it brings to the program. It's also a chance to see what sort of magic offensive coordinator Joe Wickline can work after a full offseason with mostly the same group of guys.

Sure, the quarterback deserves our attention. It's the game's most important position, and the Horns have figured out how to underwhelm the entire country at it for five years in a row.

So follow what happens between Swoopes and Heard, but don't overlook what's happening elsewhere.

Begin Slideshow

Big Ten Football: Biggest Question Mark for Each Team

The pressure is mostly on quarterbacks and a few head coaches throughout the Big Ten heading into the 2015 college football season. 

Ohio State and Michigan State open up as the overwhelming favorites to win the conference given their preseason rankings at No. 5 and No. 6 in the Amway Coaches Poll, but the rest of the Big Ten is riddled with uncertainty. 

Outside of the Buckeyes’ J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones and the Spartans’ Connor Cook, every team in the Big Ten is in danger of potentially unsteady play at quarterback. This also includes Penn State and junior Christian Hackenberg, who is entering his third season under center in State College, Pennsylvania. 

Several coaches, like Illinois’ Tim Beckman, are in critical need of strong seasons, or they could be looking for a new job. 

These make up the bulk of issues across the conference, but there remain a few other unique obstacles for certain programs. Here is a look at the biggest question facing each Big Ten school this upcoming season.

Begin Slideshow

Young Oregon Fan Is Devastated Marcus Mariota Won't Be Team's QB Next Season

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was adored by Oregon Ducks fans during his days in college.

And now, he will be sorely missed.

This little Oregon fan in the video above was just enjoying a nice bowl of morning cereal when his dad dropped a (necessary) bomb on him: Mariota isn’t coming back.

Hearing the names of the Heisman Trophy winner’s potential replacements—Jeff Lockie and Vernon Adams—didn’t console the saddened youngster. He just wants Mariota back.

Sorry, little guy. We feel for you.

[YouTube, h/t College Spun]

Read more College Football news on

Cam Akers to Alabama: Crimson Tide Land 4-Star RB Prospect

Alabama bolstered its future offensive attack Tuesday with the addition of running back Cam Akers to its 2017 recruiting class.    

Akers announced the news himself via his Twitter page:

The 5’11 ½” and 210-pound Akers is a 4-star prospect, per 247Sports' composite rankings, and the No. 54-ranked player nationally, No. 5-ranked running back and No. 1-ranked Mississippi prospect in the class of 2017. The Mississippi native drew plenty of interest from other SEC schools throughout the recruiting process, including Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Georgia and LSU.

It is no wonder that so many marquee programs recruited Akers. He is a dynamic athlete who plays some quarterback in high school and can make defenders miss in open space. His speed projects well to the college level as a potential running back or even a slot wide receiver depending on matchups. 

John Talty of noted that Akers is no stranger to the spotlight, which is important for a future member of the Crimson Tide:

Akers attended camp at Alabama and commented on the experience and his relationship with head coach Nick Saban and the rest of the Crimson Tide coaching staff, per John Garcia Jr. of

I had a great time, I participated in the camp and everything and I got the chance to talk to coach Saban and I really enjoyed talking to him and coach (Bo) Davis. I got to work with (running backs) coach (Burton) Burns while at camp and he’s an extraordinary coach. He pushes you to the limit and definitely gets you better.

I definitely learned a lot of things from the running back position. Coach Burns taught me a lot.

Alabama will eventually have to replace star running back Derrick Henry when he makes his way to the NFL, and adding Akers to the class of 2017 will help it do just that.

Akers’ versatility alone makes him a difficult cover for any defense, and his ability to blow past defenders, line up all over the field and even throw the ball will translate to the Crimson Tide offense.

SEC defenses are officially on notice.

Read more College Football news on

To Win the SEC, Mississippi State Needs More Than Just QB Dak Prescott

Mississippi State defensive lineman Ryan Brown described the scene from last month as just an ordinary day, with an ordinary trash bucket and an athlete who is anything but ordinary.

Dak Prescott was leaving the locker room with teammates when he picked up a piece of garbage and took a shot at the can from about 20 feet away. He missed.

Even though they all had places to go and things to do, Prescott kept going.

“I was like ‘Brother let’s go,’ but he just continued to shoot,” Brown said. “And when he made that, he wanted to scoot back.”

They eventually had to make him stop.

“I’ve never seen anyone who loves to compete like he does,” Brown added. “He didn’t want to let it go.”

With that in mind, try to imagine how the three losses from 2014—against No. 1 Alabama, rival Ole Miss and Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl—have been eating away at the quarterback since January.

Or how he took it when the Bulldogs, after spending more than a month at No. 1 last season, were recently predicted to finish last at SEC media days.

It also helps explain how Prescott made the decision to come back for his senior season instead of leaving school early for the National Football League. In addition to not wanting to sit on a bench this fall learning a new system, he wanted another shot.

“I remember one time that he said he wanted to be the best in everything,” cornerback Taveze Calhoun said. “Running sprints, dressing or maybe even sleeping, it doesn’t matter what it is. That gives him the edge that he has, and being a quarterback, I think he needs that.”

Usually, heading into a season, there’s a debate about who the best quarterback is in each conference, but this year in the SEC, there’s no doubt.

Prescott was first-team All-SEC and a finalist for essentially every national quarterback award in 2014. He placed eighth in voting for the Heisman Trophy, Mississippi State’s best finish ever.

That designation is something Prescott’s going to have to get used to because previously the list of outstanding quarterbacks at Mississippi State pretty much started and ended with Jackie Parker (1952-53).

Twice named the SEC’s MVP, the All-American led the nation in scoring as a senior. He went on to have a prolific 14-year career in the Canadian Football League, during which he won the MVP award three times and was named All-Pro nine times.

Meanwhile, Prescott has been drawing comparisons to the other famous quarterback Dan Mullen used to coach while at Florida, Tim Tebow. With similar size (Tebow was 6’3”, 235 lbs, while Prescott is listed as 6’2”, 230 lbs), they’re both tall, strong, big, fast and tough for a defense to bring down.

With 10 more rushing touchdowns by Prescott, they’ll be the only two quarterbacks in SEC history to run for 40 touchdowns and throw for 40 in a career.

“I was a big Tebow fan,” said Prescott, who picked Tebow’s No. 15 to wear when his high school jersey number wasn’t available as a freshman. “That was cool.”

Even Tebow’s numbers from his Heisman Trophy year and Prescott’s from last season are comparable. The big difference is Tebow ran in more touchdowns and had fewer passes intercepted in 2007.

But that points to the one thing that Prescott has to be careful of this season—trying to do too much. Although the Bulldogs have some promising quarterbacks behind him, with Damian Williams, Nick Fitzgerald and Elijah Staley, Mississippi State’s hopes clearly ride with Prescott.

“Dak is a proven leader,” Calhoun said. “Everybody trusts him on the team. Everybody follows him. Just going on, knowing the kind of guy that he is, knowing that he’s going to be prepared and ready to lead the team, ready to step up in the leadership role, I think that gives up confidence as a player. You can always depend on him no matter what the situation in the game.”

However, Prescott’s one of just four returning starters on offense, with the others being prolific wide receiver De’Runnya Wilson, and linemen Justin Malone and Justin Senior. The rest of the line is a question mark going into training camp, while numerous playmakers also need to step up.

With the departure of Josh Robinson, none of the returning running backs had more than 294 rushing yards last season (Brandon Holloway), although Ashton Shumpert tallied 68 yards on 10 carries in the Egg Bowl. The team needs to find a replacement for slot receiver Jameon Lewis. The defense will have seven new starters.

It can’t just be Prescott alone, especially when considering Mississippi State’s schedule features an early showdown with LSU on Sept. 12 (9:15 p.m. ET, ESPN), back-to-back road games at Auburn and Texas A&M, and a brutal November against four teams all ranked in the preseason Amway Coaches Poll.

Mullen even touched upon it indirectly when talking about what his quarterback worked on the most this summer.

“I think the first thing that you see that Dak's really improved on this offseason is getting rid of the football in his hand,” Mullen said. “Understanding where he wants to go with the ball in any situation, getting to the third or fourth read in a progression, knowing where his checkdown is, knowing when to hold the ball for a second and take a shot down the field, or just get it out of my hands quick and let's worry about playing the next play.”

A quicker release will aid Prescott’s NFL draft status, but it will also help him take fewer hits and hopefully keep him on the field this season.

Tebow never really replicated his Heisman numbers, but he also didn’t have to while leading the Gators to the 2008 national championship.

That’s the goal for Prescott, who when running the Davis Wade Stadium stairs for the last time as part of the offseason conditioning program did something unusual: He stopped at the top.

“I sat for a second, took a deep breath and said ‘It’s my last time. I’m going to give everything I have to make sure I do it the right way,’” said Prescott, who didn’t want to have a legacy of losing three of his last four games. 

“There’s a lot of unfinished business.”


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer.

Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

Read more College Football news on

Ohio State Football: Bold Predictions for 2015 Fall Camp

Ohio State is less than a week away from opening fall camp and officially gearing up for another run at the College Football Playoff.

The Buckeyes return 15 starters and loads of talent for their title defense, but there's still a number of questions that need answers before the season-opening road clash with Virginia Tech. 

How will Braxton Miller fit into the offense? Will any freshmen step up and make an early impact? And who will win the highly anticipated quarterback battle?

There's no shortage of intriguing storylines in Columbus. Here are some bold predictions for Ohio State as it approaches fall camp.


Braxton Miller Will Reemerge as a Dominant Playmaker

From the onslaught of transfer rumors to the announcement that he was staying at Ohio State and switching positions from quarterback to wide receiver, Miller was one of the hottest names of the college football season. 

After a pair of surgeries to his throwing shoulder, the two-time Big Ten MVP didn't take a single snap for the Buckeyes during their championship run last year. His lengthy recovery process has prevented him from participating in the quarterback battle at full capacity, so his announced move to wide receiver makes a lot of sense for both his future prospects and the team as a whole. 

Envisioning his former quarterback at wide receiver last week at Big Ten media days, Urban Meyer offered Miller high praise.

“He's one of the best athletes I've ever coached," Meyer said, according to Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel. "He's got an incredible first step."

That elite athleticism will set him apart when fall camp opens next week, and he'll emerge as one of the Buckeyes' top playmakers heading into the season. 


True Freshman Michael Weber Will Earn a Spot in the RB Rotation

Ohio State's backfield boasts the most productive returning rusher in the country in Ezekiel Elliott, but the Buckeyes are in need of depth at the position.

With Curtis Samuel's move to the H-back position, Bri'onte Dunn stepped up as Elliott's primary backup during spring camp. Meyer was impressed with the redshirt junior, who split time with Warren Ball during spring practice as Elliott worked his way back from minor wrist surgery.

But Michael Weber, the 4-star standout from Detroit, will quickly show why he was one of the most highly recruited running backs in the country for the 2015 cycle.

At 5'10" and 215 pounds, Weber offers the coaching staff a different and complementary running style. He's very strong and runs through arm tackles, but he has the speed to break away when he hits the second level. He also has great hands for a running back and can be a viable threat in the passing game.

All of those attributes will be on full display when the team hits the practice field, and the coaching staff will want to develop and reward that talent early.


J.T. Barrett Will Beat Out Cardale Jones and Win the Quarterback Spot

Ohio State's unprecedented quarterback battle will finally reach its conclusion over the course of the next month, and when Ohio State's offense takes the field against Virginia Tech, it'll be J.T. Barrett leading the charge.

Barrett became a household name during a breakout redshirt freshman campaign last year, when he set the Ohio State single-season record for total offense and the Big Ten benchmark for total touchdowns in a single season. But before that, during fall camp leading up to the '14 season, Barrett was named the starter over Jones because he orchestrated the offense more efficiently.

""The offense moves better when [Barrett's] in there. You can throw all the completion percentages – he's probably completing more balls and making more of the right reads in the run game," former offensive coordinator Tom Herman said last August, according to Ari Wasserman of The Plain Dealer. "Not that Cardale is doing a bad job, but the offense moves more frequently when J.T. is the quarterback."

History will repeat itself this year but not because Barrett runs the offense any better than Jones. In fact, Meyer made it clear that both quarterbacks have a similar skill set last week at Big Ten media days. The difference will be Barrett's leadership, which Meyer highlighted last week in Chicago.

With the pressure and expectations Ohio State is facing, solid leadership will be one of the biggest keys to the Buckeyes' success in 2015. And because of that, Barrett will give Ohio State the best chance of handling that pressure this fall.


All recruiting information via 247Sports.

David Regimbal is the Ohio State football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

Read more College Football news on

4-Star Terrell Hall Opens Up on Decommitting from Ohio State and What's Next

Terrell Hall has altered his approach—on and off the football field—during recent months. 

The Washington, D.C. defender transformed his body following a dominant junior campaign, packing more than 30 pounds onto a physique that now stands 6'5", 256 pounds. Now weeks before the start of his final high school season, Hall is relaunching a recruitment that seemed settled.

The 4-star prospect ended a three-month commitment to Ohio State on Monday afternoon.

"I love Ohio State's atmosphere, but I need to make sure I find the best fit, and that means I have to explore some options. Regardless of which school I pick, you can't go wrong with any of them," Hall told Bleacher Report.

The St. John's College standout, rated 10th nationally among weak-side defensive ends in composite rankings, is particularly compelled by the unknown.

"I started to think about the possibility of playing positions other than a 4-3 defensive end," he said. "I like how Alabama sees me as a 3-4 outside linebacker who can still play some defensive end. It also gives me an opportunity to drop back in pass coverage and show off my athleticism. That versatility is attractive to NFL teams."

Professional football is an ultimate goal for many members of a star-studded 2016 class, and Hall is no exception. A recent visit to Tuscaloosa made Hall rethink which collegiate route could help him achieve that dream.

"Apparently people think I decommitted because of [new 5-star Ohio State commit] Nick Bosa, but I've been expecting him to commit. It had nothing to do with my decision, because I'd been on the verge for a while, really since my Alabama visit in June," Hall said. "I liked Ohio State, but it was the first big school that I visited. That trip to Alabama urged me to open my eyes to other opportunities."

His list of options continues to expand. Florida and Oklahoma both extended scholarship offers Tuesday.

"I grew up a fan of Florida. They told me they've liked me for a long time, and now that I'm decommitted, that's a school I think will really recruit me hard," Hall said. "I would highly consider taking an official visit there."

He plans to utilize all five official visits before making a decision. That almost assuredly pushes his next commitment announcement beyond this season, according to Hall.

Ole Miss, LSU, Georgia, Texas A&M and UCLA are other programs he mentioned as potential destinations on his official visit itinerary. Alabama is "definitely" on that list.

While Hall is excited to spend time at new campuses, his focus remains on finding the right fit through research.

"I'm looking at every school with an open mind about how I might fit as an athlete on defense," Hall said. "If I take an official visit to a school, it's because I know the coaches and I are on the same page."

He isn't exactly sticking to a specific script, considering several variables at the next level.

"I can play middle linebacker, defensive end and outside linebacker. I bring a lot to the table," Hall said. "It makes it hard for an offense to find a way to stop me. You have to worry about where I am before the snap—whether I'm going to drop back in coverage, rush off the edge or line up over your guard."

His high school team implements him at linebacker and on the defensive line, where he tallied 19 tackles for loss last season. However, his playing weight has since ballooned from 222 to 256 pounds.

"I've added a lot of strength without sacrificing my athleticism," Hall said. "I try to eat about every two hours and I worked out at least six days per week before training camp started. I want my body to be all muscle."

Under the training guidance of former Rutgers football player Sean Washington, his maximum bench press has increased from 275 to 405 pounds during the past year.

"These workouts can be a lot like the fourth quarter, you've got to keep pushing through them," he said. "I know it's going to pay off on the field."

Hall, who remains open to an Ohio State recommitment, believes the added physicality further enhances his status as an elite 2016 talent.

"The reason I'm the best defensive end in this class is because of all the things I can do outside of the regular position. I allow the defense to do things it wouldn't be able to do otherwise," he said.


Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake. 

Read more College Football news on

Texas OL Recruit Denzel Okafor Breaks Down His Top 2 Schools

Skill-position players dominate the state of Texas, and schools like Texas and TCU are making sure they are going after their share of the talent available.

While skill-position guys are plenty, quality offensive lineman are more scarce. They're also needed by both programs. Lewisville, Texas, standout Denzel Okafor is well aware of that fact and could make one of those programs very happy by the end of the month.

Okafor said he's looking into making a decision of where he'll play college football either the last week of August or the early part of September. His top two schools are Texas and TCU.

"I'm just honored that God's given me the talent and the ability to be in this spot. I'm just blessed," Okafor said. "A lot of people don't get this opportunity."

Now standing 6'4" and weighing 293 pounds, Okafor is a hybrid lineman who can play tackle or guard at the next level. He is listed as a 3-star guard according to 247Sports' composite rankings, but he said he's more comfortable playing tackle—even though he's all for lining up anywhere to see early playing time.

TCU may have the inside advantage over Texas at this point. The Horned Frogs, he said, were the first school to offer him, and he's built a great relationship with head coach Gary Patterson, co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Sonny Cumbie and other members of the coaching staff.

Texas, however, is a school he's grown up a fan of. He likes the direction head coach Charlie Strong has the program going, and he's excited about the program's future. He mentioned Strong and offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Joe Wickline.

"TCU really stood out last year. No one expected them to have the season they had," Okafor said. "They're building a great program that's only going to get better. With them being my first offer, the fact that I was a necessity to them stood out to me. Coach Patterson, Coach Cumbie, they're all great coaches. I can see myself being there.

"With Texas, I've always liked Texas. Coach Wickline was the first coach to really start talking to me. Coach Strong and I have had some good conversations. He's a great coach, and he's going to get them back to where they once were. I feel like he can get me where I want to be."

TCU's 2016 class already has a 4-star tackle committed in Austin Myers, as well as 3-star interior linemen committed in guard Tyler Brown and center Kellton Hollins. Additionally, the Horned Frogs' 2015 class only had three offensive linemen sign.

Texas has a ton of young offensive linemen on its roster, but it's landed only one commit for the 2016 class in 3-star guard Tope Imade. The Longhorns' 2015 class featured six offensive linemen to sign.

Okafor said that while Texas and TCU are his top two, schools like Texas A&M, LSU and Oklahoma still should be considered in the running. Wherever he ends up, Okafor said he wants to be at a school that he can help make better, as well as a place where he knows he'll learn a lot.

Look for a decision in a few weeks. Okafor said he'll either announce his decision via Twitter or by way of an announcement through a local television station.

"They're both great programs," Okafor said of Texas and TCU. "It's going to be a tough decision."


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

Read more College Football news on

Where Notre Dame Turns at Running Back with Greg Bryant Ineligible

For another season, the academic ineligibility hits keep on coming for Notre Dame. 

According to Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated, running back Greg Bryant will be ineligible for the 2015 season because of academics.  

A previous report from Tom Loy of 247Sports stated that Bryant was already slated to miss the first four games of the season due to a violation of team rules. 

Adding to the agony of it all, Bryant's father confirmed to Sampson that his son was within a letter grade in a summer course of staying eligible.

"There are certain expectations within our program that must be met on a daily basis," head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. "Quite simply, Greg did not meet those expectations." 

It was close, but unfortunately not close enough for Bryant, and now the Irish proceed without their leader in yards per rush at running back from a year ago. Where does the offense turn now?

The clear answer is junior Tarean Folston, who actually led the team with 889 yards rushing and eight touchdowns in 2014. Folston has appeared in 25 career games, starting 10 of them last season. Folston figured to be the go-to back in '15 after leading the Irish with 175 carries. 

Consistency, however, hasn't been Folston's strongest quality. Last season, roughly 81 percent of Folston's rushing yards came after the midway point in October. As a freshman in 2013, Folston never reached higher than 47 yards until a breakout, 140-yard performance against Navy in early November. 

The point being, Folston has a history of starting slow and ending strong. While that shows promise, Folston has yet to put everything together for an entire season. 

Bryan Driskell of wrote this about Folston's projection for 2015: 

The expectations for Folston are clear, carry the late stretch run into the 2015 season and perform like that on a consistent basis. Folston never carried the ball more than 21 times during that stretch, so it's not like he needs 25-30 carries to get to those numbers. His vision between the tackles combines with his ability to stretch the defense and find creases on the perimeter to make him a highly effective player.

Beyond Folston, the Irish will have to get creative. The depth and experience simply isn't there like it is at other positions. Two freshmen, 4-stars Dexter Williams and Josh Adams, figured to see some carries anyway, and they could now be asked to be more steady contributors throughout the season. 

C.J. Prosise, a converted wide receiver, had limited carries—10, to be exact—last year, but his emergence this spring has impressed the likes of Matt Fortuna of and Brian Hamilton of Sports Illustrated

Then there's receiver Amir Carlisle. The former USC transfer has battled consistency and injury problems during his career, but made tremendous strides this spring. "Amir Carlisle has probably had the best spring in terms of the growth at that position, understanding the position," Kelly said in April via Frank Vitovitch of

However, because the Irish are so loaded at wide receiver, now might be a good time to convert Carlisle back to his original position at running back. Carlisle is a tremendous athlete who can do great things in space, but for one reason or another, things haven't quite clicked for him yet. 

Moving forward, Bryant's absence is most felt on the depth chart. This is important in a running game made up of a committee of role players. As the season wears on, it's good to have a steady stable of backs rotating in and out of the field. It keeps everyone healthier and defenses on their toes. 

Ultimately, Notre Dame might not be able to achieve that luxury in 2015. Depth was at a premium to begin with before the rigors of the season kicked in. If the ground game is going to take pressure off of first-year starting quarterback Malik Zaire, who is, in fairness, a rushing threat himself, Folston is going to have to step up. Behind him, young players and converted receivers may have to help shoulder some of that load. 


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. All stats courtesy of All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports

Read more College Football news on

Greg Bryant Ruled Academically Ineligible by Notre Dame, Will Miss Season

Notre Dame running back Greg Bryant, who was already suspended for the first four games of 2015 because of an undisclosed violation of team rules, has been ruled academically ineligible and will miss his entire junior season.

Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated reported the news. Bryant's father told Sampson that the Florida native needed a B-plus in a summer class to stay eligible but was only able to earn a B-minus. His future with the football program overall remains unclear.

"There are certain expectations within our program that must be met on a daily basis," coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. "Quite simply, Greg did not meet those expectations."

To make matters worse, Keith Arnold of NBC Sports reported linebacker Michael Deeb and right end Mike Heurman have been medically disqualified the same day as Bryant's suspension.

Bryant rushed for 289 yards and three touchdowns last season and was expected to compete for the primary backup job behind Tarean Folston. C.J. Prosise, who has been playing a hybrid of slot receiver and running back throughout preseason workouts, will now likely step into a much bigger role carrying the ball.

“He’s a natural runner,” offensive coordinator Mike Sanford told's JJ Stankevitz in April. “He presses the line of scrimmage well, he sees things, and then he plays with good pad level, which is tough for a tall guy. I’ve been really impressed with C.J. and I just think that’s been a great storyline for our offense is just the depth that he brings and the quality he brings and the versatility that he brings to that position.”

Without Bryant, Prosise will have no choice but to make that transition successfully. The Irish will also be hurting if either Prosise or Folston goes down with an injury. Incoming freshmen Josh Adams and Dexter Williams are the only other two running backs listed on the depth chart.

Williams was the more highly touted of the two coming out of high school, so he would seemingly have the inside track at the third spot on the depth chart.     


Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on