NCAA Football

5 Reasons 4-Star Jaquan Johnson Will Sign with Miami

Safety Jaquan Johnson is among the highest priorities in the Miami Hurricanes' 2015 recruiting class.

The 4-star recruit is in high demand, though, because he could attend a wide variety of universities in the ACC, SEC and even Pac-12.

Recruiting is largely a guessing game, and even the heaviest of leans sometimes unexpectedly choose a different program at which to continue playing football.

Nevertheless, here are five probable reasons why he will choose the Hurricanes.

Note: All recruit information courtesy of 247Sports

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Top College Football Legacy Recruits in Class of 2015

Prospects who play for programs that once were home to an older family member are generally called "legacy recruits". While there's a good amount of them in the 2015 class, this list will focus only prospects who are among the best at their positions.

A 5-star quarterback recently decided to follow in his father's footsteps, while a 5-star offensive tackle is headed to the same school his uncle played at.

Also, a pair of players on this list will get a chance to play with their brothers. 

 

All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Rankings.

Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports

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Former LSU Player Gives Ridiculously Wrong Answer to Sports Question on Jeopardy

Former LSU offensive lineman and current CFL player Peter Dyakowski had his chance on Jeopardy. A college sports question. This was his moment.

This @Jeopardy contestant just promoted @SyracuseU to the #IvyLeague! #TrueThat. @SUAlums@SUPhilly@SyracuseUNewspic.twitter.com/GS6SmMLznf

— MPH (@PhillyPartTwo) June 4, 2014

Well, so much for that. No, the missing nickname you were looking for is not "The Orangemen." Not only does that nickname/mascot belong to Syracuse of the ACC (and formerly Big East), but it also has not been officially used since 2004.

Fortunately, another contestant came through with the correct response.

@Penn Not every school gets to be a Final Jeopardy answer! #Quakeshow@pennathleticspic.twitter.com/fLfL9HfqPl

— PENN Football (@PENNfb) June 3, 2014

[Twitter, Penn, h/t College Spun]

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Three Reasons 3-Star J.W. Ketchum III Will Sign with Nebraska

Nebraska football fans have been following with interest NU’s pursuit of J.W. Ketchum III, a dual-threat quarterback prospect from Lamar, Texas. Ketchum is a 3-star prospect, according to 247Sports, although with a composite rating of 89, he’s right on the cusp of being a 4-star prospect.

Ketchum is currently thought to be most likely to stay home and sign with Texas. So why should Nebraska fans hold out hope of seeing Ketchum in scarlet and cream?

 

Nebraska will let him compete as a quarterback

This might be the biggest reason Nebraska is still in on Ketchum. A Texas native, most believe the Longhorns would be Ketchum’s first choice. However, according to Horns247 (subscription required), he might not be in the Longhorns’ plans at quarterback.

“Well, I see myself playing quarterback in college and the UT coaches weren’t really talking much about it,” he told Horns247. “The new coaching staff was basically talking about how they were planning on making the program better. Making them more successful basically. Making them better overall.”

If Ketchum is set on playing quarterback, and if front-runner Texas is iffy on Ketchum as a signal-caller, that boosts Nebraska’s chances to get his signature. (OK, in fairness, it also boosts the chances of the other seven schools, including Alabama and LSU, who are interested in Ketchum, per 247Sports. But still, a boost is a boost).

 

There’s room on Nebraska’s depth chart

If Nebraska lands Ketchum, he will be in the 2015 class. Assuming a redshirt year, here’s what the quarterback depth chart will look like for Ketchum in 2016:

  • Tommy Armstrong—Senior
  • Johnny Stanton—Junior
  • Zack Darlington—Sophomore (assuming redshirt)
  • AJ Bush—Sophomore (assuming redshirt)
  • Kevin Dillman—Freshman (assuming redshirt)

I’ve italicized Bush because—protestations to the contrary, according to Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star—I don’t think it’s likely he stays at quarterback. Assuming Armstrong and Stanton will be the contenders for playing time in 2016 and 2017, that leaves Darlington and Dillman as Ketchum’s competition at quarterback.

While Darlington does look like the complete package, whether he will be able to play at all due to concussion concerns is still an open question. If that’s the case—and Ketchum has to be taking that into consideration in deciding his college home—then it would be a straight-up fight between him and Dillman.

Someone of Ketchum’s skill and confidence level would have to like his chances in that scenario.

 

He hasn’t seen Lincoln yet

Nebraska’s biggest selling point to recruits is, well, Nebraska. Getting kids to Lincoln to see the campus, see the facilities and see the game-day experience in Memorial Stadium is a huge factor in convincing those kids to sign. Without the benefit of beaches or mountains, Nebraska has to use the passion of the fanbase along with state-of-the-art facilities to get top-flight recruits to Lincoln.

Ketchum hasn’t come to Lincoln to see what Nebraska has to offer. If he does, Nebraska’s chances to land Ketchum improve dramatically.

 

If you’d like to contact Patrick, send an email to patrickrunge@gmail.com.

Or you could also always use the Twitter machine to follow @patrickrunge.

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USC Football: Keep an Eye on Morian Walker II at Running Back in 2016

As USC continues to deal with a depleted roster in 2014, head coach Steve Sarkisian and running backs coach Johnny Nansen cast a wary eye to 2015 and beyond.

With the recent announcement that Ty Isaac will be leaving the program, what is known is that beyond this year, USC will need to replenish a running backs unit that was once thought to be one of the deepest groups on the team.

That is because the only running back that will be on the roster for sure in 2015 is Justin Davis, although either Javorius "Buck" Allen and/or Tre Madden could come back for their redshirt senior season.

How about 2016? Don't ask.

With 2014 being a down year for high school running backs, the class of 2015 will have to produce a cadre of ball-carriers for the Trojans to re-stock the unit or they will be in big trouble going forward.

However, there is one very youngbut extremely talentedrunning back that Trojan fans should keep an eye on in the future.

Morian Walker II is a class of 2016 running back from Valley Christian High School (San Jose, Calif.), and this young man is going to be special by the time he gets to the next level.

Already 6'1", 197 pounds, Walker has everything one looks for in a young running back, including speed, which is evidenced by his 4.49 40-yard dash time.

I had an opportunity to catch up with Walker, and as impressive as he is physically, he is even more impressive as a person.

Asked what he is looking for in a college, Walker stated, "Education is very important to me, so that is one thing, but I am also looking for a family environment where I am thought of as more than just a football player." He went on, "I also am looking for a bond with teammates and my coaches as well."

As a young player, Walker understands that he has room to improve, but interestingly, his efforts will focus on the cerebral part of the game. "I am going to work on the mental aspects of my game because physically, I am pretty well set." said Walker.

Of course, talk turned to recruiting, and young Morian said he was aware of USC's need for running backs saying that he "met with coach Shelton and really enjoyed the facilities." Walker continued, "My mom, aunt and grandmother all went to USC, so I have those ties to the school."

Asked which school was recruiting him hardest, Walker admitted, "Probably UCLA; they have showed me a lot of love and invited me to their spring game, which I really enjoyed. I have also established a good relationship with the coaches too."

While Trojan fans might be disappointed with Walker's early infatuation with the Bruins, they should take heart that the process is very early and he is pretty much open to everyone.

But the great thing about this young running back from San Jose is that while he is as physically impressive as any 16-year-old at the position I have seen on video, he is also a great young man.

Spiritually grounded, Walker's Christian faith guides him on a daily basis. "I grew up in a Christian home, and my parents are both Christians." Walker continued, "I attend a Christian high school, and I will rely on God to guide my choice for where I attend college."

However, Walker doesn't just talk a good game, he lives it, and that is evident in the many charities he has been involved with, including several children's hospitals.

Although 2016 is a couple of years away, it is never too early to establish relationships, and to that end, I would encourage the USC recruiting brain trust to stay on Morian Walker II.

At 16 years old, he is already sporting a college-ready body, and by the time he is ready for the next level, the kid will be a beast.

Nimble on his feet and with a very soft pair of hands, Walker is destined to be a top player in 2016 and will be coveted by all of the best programs in the nation.

If the Trojans were to land him, they would go a very long way in addressing their running back needs for that class and beyond.

But just as important, they would be getting a classy young man who will represent the university in the way all Trojan fans would admire.

And you can never have enough of those kind of players.

 

Note: All quotes were obtained firsthand.

Follow me on Twitter: @RickMcMahan

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USC Football: Keep an Eye on Morian Walker II at Running Back in 2016

As USC continues to deal with a depleted roster in 2014, head coach Steve Sarkisian and running backs coach Johnny Nansen cast a wary eye to 2015 and beyond...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

10 Most Crucial Recruiting Visits Already Set for This Summer

With summer right around the corner, recruits are starting to put even more focus on which schools they want to see. While official visits in the fall are certainly important, an overlooked step in a prospect's recruitment is the process of taking unofficial visits in the summer.

For this list, the concentration will be on elite prospects and their visits. A pair of 5-star defensive ends will be going to check out key schools this summer, while a program in the Midwest will see a 4-star receiver later this month.

Plus, a pair of 4-star safeties will also do a lot of traveling over the next few months.

 

All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Rankings.Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

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Nick Saban's New Contract with Alabama Worth Up to $55.2 Million

Back in December when Nick Saban and the University of Alabama agreed to a long-term contract extension, one source summed up the deal simply: "It's significant."

Six months later, the new deal has been approved by the school's compensation committee, and we now know that anonymous source wasn't joking around. 

According to ESPN.com's Alex Scarborough, Saban's new contract will pay him an NCAA-best $6.5 million in base salary per year through January 2022—a $1 million annual raise. Throw in yearly completion bonuses worth $400,000, and his entire deal beefs up to a massive $55.2 million. 

Saban commented on the deal in a statement, via Scarborough:

We are honored by the commitment the University of Alabama has made to us with this new contract. It is certainly a mutual agreement in terms of our commitment to the University of Alabama. We will continue to work hard to keep our football program among the nation's elite.

According to AL.com's Michael Casagrande, the compensation committee passed the motion unanimously, and it's hard to blame them. 

In seven seasons with the Crimson Tide, Saban has compiled a gaudy record of 79-15 (.840) and brought three national championships to Tuscaloosa. Building college football's greatest current powerhouse, he has established himself as the best head coach in America. 

As FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman and ESPN's Paul Finebaum argued, Saban's newest raise still might not have been large enough: 

Unfortunately, as salaries continue to exponentially rise, the gap between head coaches and student athletes, who are a major part in raking in money for schools, will only increase. 

There's little question Saban deserves his contract, but this will certainly further the ongoing debate surrounding NCAA amateurism. 

For Alabama, though, none of that matters now. With Saban firmly entrenched on the sidelines for years to come, they can focus on returning to the top of the SEC and college football as a whole. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Arden Key to South Carolina: Gamecocks Land 4-Star DE Prospect

Arden Key's decommitment from South Carolina started a southern-school recruiting war. Now, Key is again heading to South Carolina.

Key announced his decision via Twitter:

The 4-star defensive end affirmed his fall destination on Tuesday, choosing the Gamecocks over offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Ole Miss. A Hapeville Charter standout in his native Atlanta, Key will spend his next few years trying to ensure his home state university doesn't compete for national titles.

Key's initial lack of interest in Georgia or Georgia Tech was to be a major oversight for both schools. He is ranked No. 123 nationally by 247Sports' composite rankings. Among in-state competitors, Key is 14th, and he's the 10th-best weak-side defensive end overall in the class of 2015.

Where Key stands out is with his versatility. Listed at 6'5" and 200 pounds, Key blasts off the ball with a quick initial burst, allowing him to disrupt activity in the backfield. Even when he's unable to get to the quarterback, his length and athleticism allow him to at least make life difficult for the quarterback. 

“I’m a speed rusher; I’m tall and I can get after the quarterback,” Key told Brian McLaughlin of Saturday Down South. “I’m a good player, and they can make me into a better player in college if they keep putting good weight on me."

It will be interesting to see how Steve Spurrier plans on developing Key. Defensive end is his most natural position and his long-term projection, but his frame and quickness may lend themselves to some outside linebacker opportunities. As defenses continue to evolve into more hybrid sets instead of constant bases, Key may wind up just playing both depending on the situation.

Run defense isn't a strength at this point. Key penetrates as well off the ball as he does against the pass, but the aggressiveness can sometimes lead toward him over-pursuing. It's not an overwhelming problem, and no one can mistake Key for any other player. He hits, he drives and he does so with ferocity. 

The biggest issue with Key is apparent even on high school film: He's slight. For an SEC defensive lineman, he's rail-thin. Getting him into the weight room and on a consistent program will be key to his development, and Key is at such a size disadvantage at this point it would be surprising if he were much more than a situational player as a freshman.

With plenty of time to go between now and the 2015 season, it's possible Key's body develops to the point he could contribute. One can rarely account for how an 18-year-old kid's body grows. Key has the frame to support the extra weight; it's just a matter of him packing it on without losing any of the explosion.

A few years down the line, Key could be the biggest coup of South Carolina's recruiting class. For now, Gamecocks fans can just imagine the possibilities.

 

Follow Tyler Conway on Twitter:


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Mark Richt Dismisses Tray Matthews: What Move Means for Georgia Football

For the second time this offseason, Georgia announced the dismissal of a starting safety on Tuesday, as Tray Matthews’ career as a Bulldog came to a close.

According GeorgiaDogs.com, Georgia head coach Mark Richt offered a particularly curt explanation for Matthews’ dismissal saying simply, “We are trying to make room for guys who want to do things right.”

Although news of the star safety’s release was sudden and spread rapidly, it was not altogether surprising given recent history.  Most recently, Matthews was one of four Dawgs arrested on the eve of spring practice in a check fraud scheme involving stipends received from the athletic department.  Punishment for the arrests had not yet been announced.

And yet, just last week, Mark Richt expressed optimism regarding Matthews' future.  According to Seth Emerson of Macon's Telegraph, Richt had plenty to say about the potential maturation of Matthews, who started six games as true freshman in 2013.  

"I think he's on a turning point of maturing some, and becoming a very dependable guy," Richt commented to Emerson.  But he tempered that stance by adding, "I'm not saying he is a dependable guy, or has been at this point.  But I have a feeling that that's his desire to become that.  And he needs to. It's time."

Obviously, Matthews did not reach that point of inflection—at least not in Richt's eyes.  While specific details regarding Matthews' dismissal have yet to emerge, Georgia fans must now face another offseason of negotiating an all-too-familiar conflict of sentiment.

Mark Richt's laudable stance as a disciplinarian has made the Bulldogs task on the field all the more difficult.

 

Disciplinary Implication 

For every "Mark Richt has lost control" joke told, there's a piece of anecdotal evidence that suggests Richt's primary objective is to build character and conduct business—both on and off the field—in a manner befitting of his coined "Georgia Way."

And to Richt's credit, his "Georgia Way or the Highway" standard has not been mitigated in the slightest, not even by some of the biggest stars in recent Georgia history.  Several notable Georgia contributors have been dismissed from the team over the past several seasons for on-going behavioral shortcomings.  Countless others have faced suspension for failing to meet requirements.

Even a player of Matthews' caliber, a 4-star recruit, according to 247Sports, and one of the most promising players on the young 2013 defense, is not immune to the lofty expectation set by Richt.  And in the most literal and holistic sense, that's a very good thing.

Richt does not bend to the wills of even the most talented athletes.  

Days like today—frustrating as they may be—serve as a reminder that even after 13 seasons at the helm in Athens, Richt is still very much in control of his program.

 

On-Field Impact

Despite all these positive externalities, even the most casual of Georgia fans knows Tray Matthews' dismissal hurts the on-field product.  Even worse, so did the dismissal of Josh Harvey-Clemons a few months back.

On one hand, Georgia has all its desired personnel to rebuild a defense that struggled more often than not in 2013.  New defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is fresh off a national championship with the Florida State Seminoles, and he's expected to revitalize the unit, particularly the team's defensive backs.  For the most part, Georgia fans seem pleased with the other hires brought to town.

But on the other hand, the rebuilding project was never going to be overnight.  The spring game in April was more indicative of the long road ahead than of the progress already made under the new regime.  And while the front seven may return a wealth of talent and experience, the major questions for this defense in 2013 all revolved around the secondary.

The same can be said for 2014, but now the unknowns are amplified thanks to the loss of Harvey-Clemons and Matthews (and to a lesser extent, cornerback Shaq Wiggins).  

Make no mistake about it: Georgia will enter the 2014 season without its two best safeties.  As a result, the onus of rebounding now falls on the shoulders of Corey Moore, a senior who's never been able to lock down a starting spot, sophomore Quincy Mauger and redshirt freshman Tramel Terry.  Moore and Mauger could have been capable backups.  Nobody knows what to expect out of Terry, who missed last season with an injury.

Now, these three unproven safeties are—for better or worse—the catalysts for the development of Pruitt's first Georgia defense.  That could be a good thing, but for now, all Dawg fans really know is that none of those guys is Tray Matthews. 

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Georgia Football: Who Will Replace Tray Matthews in the Starting Lineup?

Things have gone from bad to worse when it comes to the Georgia Bulldogs secondary. It was announced today that Tray Matthews has been dismissed from the team by Mark Richt, according to Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph. Matthews did confirm this on his Twitter account but would not elaborate on why he is leaving Athens.

This could not come at a worse time for the Bulldogs. Richt recently kicked Josh Harvey-Clemons off the team, and shortly after that, Shaq Wiggins decided he was going to transfer. Both players have transferred to Louisville.

So the question now is who is going to take the place of the sophomore? 

Tray Matthews: "I'm leaving. I can't really talk about that right now. But all I can confirm is I'm leaving."

— UGA Football News (@UGAfootballLive) June 3, 2014

That is an interesting question because the depth at the safety position is very thin. Quincy Mauger is the top backup, and he’s likely going to be the No. 1 free safety when preseason practice begins. Like Matthews, Mauger is a true sophomore that played in all 13 games and started in seven of them. He recorded 42 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble.

Having Mauger starting is fine because he has experience. However, when it comes to his backup, the options are not very plentiful.

Lucas Redd would be the next option. The senior has only played in 12 games his entire career, and all of them came last season. He was a member of the scout team in 2012 and in 2011.

Another option is Tramel Terry, who played wide receiver last season. Terry took the redshirt last year because he was recovering from a knee injury.

When it comes to newcomers, there is only one signee that is a true safety. Dominick Sanders from Tucker, Ga., is not as big as Matthews, but he has the ability to make plays, which is something defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is looking for. In fact, this may be a very good thing for Sanders because Richt told Gentry Estes of 247 Sports (subscription needed) that every position in the secondary is wide open, and it’s a good time to be a young defensive back at Georgia.

But no matter how young the players they have out there are, there will have to be some adjustments made in the secondary. J.J. Green, who played running back last season, was listed as the No. 1 strong safety this spring. There could be a chance he could move to free safety and have Corey Moore play strong. Another option is have Brendan Langley move back to defense and be a backup to both safety positions.

Right now, it’s too early to tell what will be the next move for Mark Richt’s crew. But if there is one thing that is certain, Richt wants the players that are going to do the right things on and off the field, and he won’t hesitate to tell players to hit the road if they don’t agree.

 

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Alabama Football Recruiting: Five 2015 Commits Who Can Make an Immediate Impact

With three new additions to Alabama's top-rated 2015 recruiting class within the last week, Nick Saban and the coaching staff are cleaning up on the recruiting trail.

Fourteen of the Tide’s 18 pledges are 4-stars or higher, and 10 rank among the nation’s top 100 players, according to 247Sports Composite Rankings.

With that type of talent headed to the Capstone, a handful of potential impact players are capable of making the jump to the college level and earning playing time as freshmen.

Which current commits fit the bill of being able to make an impact on the field next fall?

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