NCAA Football

Texas Football: Who Is Replacing Every Former Longhorn Taken in 2015 NFL Draft?

The Texas Longhorns had five players selected in the 2015 NFL draft, their most since 2010. Per SB Nation's Jason Kirk, that figure also tied them for the sixth-most selections of any college program.

On the flip side of that coin, the Horns now have to replace five pro-level talents, most of whom had unique and essential roles on the team. First-rounder Malcom Brown will be the toughest to replace, though his fellow selections each had key roles as well.

As the Horns cycle in a big crop of young talent, their ability to plug guys into multiple roles diminishes. You simply can't trust a freshman or a former backup to handle being moved all over the field.

That said, it's difficult to predict how each player's production will be replaced beyond simply filling open roles. 

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Ohio State Football Recruiting Offers of the Week

Urban Meyer and Ohio State have been on an absolute recruiting tear over the last two months. 

Since the start of spring practice in early March, the Buckeyes have gained commitments from 10 prospects for their 2016 and 2017 classes. Two of those verbal pledges came last week when 4-star offensive tackle Michael Jordan and Drue Chrisman—the nation's No. 1 punter—announced their commitment to Ohio State.

On top of that, the Buckeyes' coaching staff spent a lot of time on the road targeting new players. In fact, Ohio State offered seven new prospects last week, equaling the total number of offers it had sent out in the previous four weeks combined. 

Here's a look at the Buckeyes' new targets. 

 

Kyle Davis, 4-Star Wide Receiver (2016)

After losing Justin Layne to Michigan State two weeks ago, Ohio State has really picked up its pursuit of top-flight wide receivers. The Buckeyes recently got in the mix for 4-star Javon McKinley, and last week, they re-engaged 5-star Nate Craig-Myers, who decommitted from Auburn on Wednesday. 

They also offered current South Carolina commit Kyle Davis.

The standout from Lawrenceville, Georgia, is a 4-star prospect and the No. 58 overall recruit in the country. And even though he has already committed to the Gamecocks, schools haven't let up in his recruitment, as Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame and Texas A&M have all offered in the last two months in addition to the Buckeyes.

Rated the No. 5 wide receiver in the country, Davis doesn't have elite speed, running a reported 4.64 40-yard dash. But at 6'3" and 212 pounds, he brings a physicality to the receiver position that sets him apart. He isn't afraid to lower his shoulder and go through a defender, and he's athletic enough—possessing a 48-inch vertical jump—to catch the ball in traffic. 

It'll be very hard for Ohio State to pull Davis from the SEC footprint, though, as it appears his commitment to Steve Spurrier is solid. 

 

Jeffrey Okudah, 5-Star Safety (2017)

Ohio State dedicated the rest of its attention to its 2017 class, and the star of the group who was offered last week was Jeffrey Okudah.

Rated a 5-star prospect out of Grand Prairie, Texas, Okudah is one of the most sought-after recruits for 2017, already boasting 28 offers from Division I programs. That group is highlighted by Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas and USC, but the home-state Baylor Bears are the current leader for his services.

Can the Buckeyes change that? 

Meyer and his staff have had success recruiting in the Lone Star State in recent years, pulling players such as Demetrius KnoxDontre Wilson and J.T. Barrett to Columbus. But those were players who were recruited by Tom Herman, who has strong ties to Texas.

But that's why Meyer replaced Herman with Tim Beck, who held the same position at Nebraska and recruited Texas frequently for Bo Pelini.

Beck's ability to recruit the talent-rich state became immediately apparent when Tristen Wallace, a 4-star quarterback from DeSoto, Texas, announced his verbal pledge to the Buckeyes' '16 class.

Ohio State is hoping Beck can work his magic again. 

 

Micah Clark, 4-Star Offensive Tackle (2017)

Micah Clark headlined a trio of New Jersey prospects the Buckeyes offered last week. 

A 6'5", 265-pound offensive tackle, Clark looks more like a collegiate sophomore than he does a teenager preparing for his junior year of high school. His incredible build—paired with a surprising athleticism—has helped him land offers from Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Michigan and Michigan State. 

But checking in as the No. 68 recruit nationally and the No. 10 offensive tackle overall, more schools will certainly be throwing their hat in the ring. 

The Buckeyes can pitch a unique vision to Clark, though. Meyer has already secured a commitment from the nation's top offensive tackle commit for 2017 in 5-star Josh Myers, and if he can convince Clark to join the ranks, that could be the foundation for one of college football's best offensive lines. 

 

Other Offers from the Week

Fred Hansard, 4-Star Defensive Tackle (2017)

 

Jerry Jeudy, 4-Star Wide Receiver (2017)

 

Dalyn Wade-Perry, 4-Star Defensive Tackle (2017)

 

Tony Gray, 4-Star Offensive Tackle (2017) 

 

All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.

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

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Nebraska Football: Who Replaces Every Former Husker Taken in the 2015 NFL Draft?

Nebraska football fans watching the NFL draft had to wait until the second day to see the first Cornhusker alum go off the board. Ameer Abdullah went in the second round to the Lions, Randy Gregory went (finally) in the second round to the Cowboys and Kenny Bell went in the fifth round to the Buccaneers.

So who will take their place? Which players will step up and replace the NFL-level production provided by Abdullah, Gregory, and Bell last season? With the help of a projected depth chart from Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald, here’s at least some potential replacements.

 

Terrell Newby for Ameer Abdullah

This is probably a little misleading. Newby looks to be in prime position to get the first crack at the lead I-back role for Nebraska in 2015. But McKewon thinks (and with good reason) that Newby will be at least the nominal starter next season.

That may not mean as much with Nebraska’s stable of backs (and with a new head coach and offensive philosophy). And there’s no doubt that none of Nebraska’s I-backs will be the focus of NU’s offense and a team leader the way Abdullah was last year.

But if there’s anyone that will fill the Ameer-shaped hole for Nebraska next year, Newby looks like the man who will get the first shot at it.

 

Marcus Newby for Randy Gregory

OK, hear me out. I know Newby is a linebacker and isn’t even guaranteed a starting job next year. But Gregory was always undersized for a defensive end, making up for his lack of size with freakish athletic ability.

What Gregory’s real talent was for the Blackshirts was rushing the passer. In both 2013 and 2014 (according to CFBStats.com), Gregory led Nebraska in sacks. Newby had one sack in eight appearances. More importantly, though, his appearances were mainly limited to passing situations where his role was to rush the passer.

Sure, Gregory was an every-down defensive lineman at the collegiate level, not just a pass-rush specialist. But where Gregory will be most missed by Nebraska is in his ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks. Don’t be surprised to see Newby fill that role next year—if he doesn’t beat David Santos out for the weakside linebacker job altogether.

 

Jamal Turner for Kenny Bell

Yes, De’Mornay Pierson-El is likely to be Nebraska’s most dangerous weapon at receiver. But Bell provided more than just a deep threat—he also provided leadership and toughness. And while Pierson-El’s talent is undeniable, he hasn’t even played a full year at receiver.

Turner, on the other hand, will be starting his sixth year in the program after receiving a medical hardship. And with the injuries he has fought through, Turner has demonstrated a toughness and tenacity that the rest of the receiving corps can look to and emulate.

Admittedly, Turner doesn’t have Bell’s amazing hair. But Turner, more than anyone else on the roster, can replace Bell’s combination of playmaking speed and senior leadership.

 

This column first appeared at The Double Extra Point, which you can follow on Twitter at @DblExtraPoint.

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Michigan Football: Summer Enrollees Who Could Make Immediate Impact

Judging on the spring game, Michigan Wolverines early enrollees Alex Malzone and Brian Cole, a pair of in-state talents, should compete for meaningful reps this fall.

Malzone, a 4-star quarterback out of Brother Rice, and Cole, a 4-star athlete out of Saginaw Heritage, each showed a flash of something during the annual spring scrimmage.

They each have earned considerable praise from teammates and coaches, too. They're worthy of attention. But they're not the only ones—there is a handful of potential impact freshmen sprinkled about Michigan's 14-man 2015 recruiting class.

Zach Gentry, a 4-star quarterback, is one such candidate. At 6’7” and 230 pounds, the former Albuquerque Eldorado (New Mexico) star will enter Michigan with ready-to-go collegiate size, a set of wheels (4.68-second 40) and an arm to match.

Anything but steady, the quarterback situation is of obvious concern for the Wolverines. Following the spring game, head coach Jim Harbaugh tabbed Shane Morris as the No. 1 starter—but that was just for the time being.

As of now, the job is “wide open”—a phrase often used by Harbaugh, passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch and offensive coordinator Tim Drevno during spring availability—and is guaranteed to no one, regardless of tenure or circumstances.

Locking down a quarterback is just one of many priorities for Michigan, which needs a true, reliable starter in order to really progress past the "hope" phase.

Already leaving scouts impressed as the “late bloomer” with immense potential, Gentry could be the answer for Harbaugh's new Michigan in 2015. If not, he'll likely, at the very least, insert himself into starter talks for 2016.

Both outcomes seem generally positive for Gentry, who could make an instant impact by simply challenging Morris, Malzone and Wilton Speight for a spot on the two-deep this season. But he doesn't necessarily have to win the top job to make a mark in 2015.

And neither do the rest of Michigan's potential impact summer enrollees, as Tyree Kinnel, Karan Higdon, Shelton Johnson, Keith Washington and Tyrone Wheatley Jr. each have the skills to dodge a redshirt and offer something substantial this fall.

During spring media sessions, secondary coaches Mike Zordich and Greg Jackson each spoke of improving their defensive backs' physical play. They like their personnel, but they'd like to get more out of them.

At 6’0” and 205 pounds, the 4-star safety Kinnel certainly has the size to assist in that regard.

Versatile, intelligent and quick and already gaining attention from coaches, Kinnel could easily find his way into the two-deep this fall. The only guaranteed No. 1 spots belong to Jabrill Peppers, a nickel, and Jourdan Lewis, the best cover corner on the team.

The door is open for at least one spot in the secondary, just like it is at the running back position—the backfield is far from secure. As of today, Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith appear to be the leaders of the pack. But that's by default. Ty Isaac, a redshirt sophomore transfer from the USC Trojans, may end up becoming the top option.

In all likelihood, Green, Smith and Isaac will compose the main trio, but don't rule out Higdon—the 5’10”, 190-pound Floridian may just end up as a situational back or, dare it even be suggested, crack to the top three.

Drake Johnson, a redshirt junior, is coming off another ACL injury, so it could be some time before he pushes the competition. Justice Hayes just graduated and plans to play elsewhere. Although rarely used, Hayes saw action as a reliever. If he shows out during camp, Higdon could get those reps—and maybe more—this season as a true freshman.

At one time, Shelton Johnson appeared to be on his way to the Florida State Seminoles, one of college football's heavies. However, he made the late decision to play for the Wolverines, a team with two of the best defensive minds in the NCAA: defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin and D-line coach Greg Mattison.

With their guidance, the 6’5”, 220-pound defensive end out of Florida may progress to two-deep status within just a few weeks. Now that Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer are gone, Durkin and Mattison will be on the hunt for aggressive pass-rushers.

Luckily for Durkin, Mattison has already groomed a troop of D-liners, so there is no real sense of urgency when it comes to developing Johnson. He'll either see the field this year, or he won't. Having Johnson contribute early would be great from an (his) experience standpoint, but shelving him may be of great benefit in the long run.

File Johnson under the “able” category, though.

On national signing day, Harbaugh gushed over Washington's athletic prowess. At 6'2" and 170 pounds, Washington is built to torch the field as a return weapon or receiver. He's capable of dabbling in the secondary if needed, too. Versatility in any form is usually a good thing, and that's why Washington should be viewed as a potential impact freshman.

He may get stuck behind Peppers and others in the return game. And really, the Wolverines have a logjam of unused receivers to sift through prior to Week 1 against the Utah Utes. He may not get immediate reps there, either.

But why not Washington? He has the ultimate “I'll show you” attitude, evidenced by his impromptu 40-yard dash in front of Durkin and Harbaugh prior to signing, per MLive's Nick Baumgardner:

They didn't believe him, but Washington wasn't having it. He looked them both straight in the eye and basically told them not to question him.

"They told me they had heard I was pretty fast, and I told them I'd run a 4.3," Washington recalls. "And they were like 'we don't believe you.'

“So I just said, OK, I'll run one for you right now outside. Let's go."

Washington is probably not the only recruit to display that type of confidence, but it's that type of confidence that leads to success. Visualizing him doing something worthy of having his name called on TV this season isn't out of the realm of sensibility.

The son of the running backs coach and Michigan legend, Wheatley enters Michigan with a clear path to playing time: Jake Butt, the team's No. 1 tight end, is coming off an ACL injury and needs time to fully recover—that's fully recover, not just enough to get on the field.

Plus, Devin Funchess, the former starting tight end/receiver, skipped his senior year to hop in the NFL draft. That worked in his favor, as the 6’5”, 230-pounder was selected in the second round by the Carolina Panthers.

Michigan needs another reliable big target. Butt is 6’6” and 249 pounds. A.J. Williams, the other candidate, is 6’6” and 285 pounds. Wheatley is 6’6” and 260 pounds, fitting both size and position requirements.

And he can play defensive end; he may not have to do so at Michigan but having two-way knowledge helps.

Open the door for Wheatley this fall. He should be in there as an instant contributor.

 

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

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and references were obtained firsthand by the writer via press conference, press release or other media availability. All recruiting information comes by way of 247Sports.

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SEC Football: Top Offensive Immediate-Impact Freshmen for 2015

There are many SEC football players who'll play key roles during their freshman year in 2015, but a few could become immediate-impact stars.

On the offensive side of the ball, teams have several difference-makers coming in at the skill positions and along the offensive front. One team even has a quarterback who could see immediate action.

Florida and Tennessee hope to answer offensive line questions with elite tackles Martez Ivey and Drew Richmond, respectively. Alabama has an incoming receiver in Calvin Ridley who could help ease the sting from losing Amari Cooper.

In a league that consistently has to replace more players taken in the NFL draft than any other conference, it's a conga line of incoming and outgoing talent every year. The NFL stars of tomorrow go out, and the SEC stars of tomorrow shuffle in.

Let's take a look at some of the top candidates to provide instant aid to their respective teams, taking into account their recruiting rankings, their teams' needs and—in the case of the redshirt representatives—the ability they've shown in their time on campus.

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College Football's 25 Most Indispensable Players for 2015 Season

If the best things in life are those we cannot do without, doesn't the same apply to college football players?

Last year's national championship team, Ohio State, somehow managed to overcome the loss of not one but two standout quarterbacks on its way to the title. Both Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett seemed indispensable when they got injured, yet the Buckeyes' "next man up" mindset enabled them to persevere.

Not every team is so fortunate, not if they were to suddenly lose the services of certain players. It's not that these players are irreplaceable, as someone else on the roster would take their place, but it just wouldn't be the same.

Here's our look at college football's 25 most indispensable players heading into the 2015 season.

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Ohio State in Prime Position to End Alabama's Lengthy Recruiting Reign

Ohio State climbed to No. 2 in national composite recruiting rankings Thursday afternoon when the team landed its latest commitment from a coveted prospect.

Michael Jordan, a 6'6", 285-pound junior at Plymouth High School in Canton, Michigan, joined a 2016 Buckeyes class that continues to pack in premier players. The 4-star offensive tackle is the 15th member of a class that includes athletes from eight states.

"I feel like we have the best class so far, and since these guys are going to Ohio State, you know they're competitors," defensive end Terrell Hall told Bleacher Report in April. "Hopefully we can all help make this a legendary class."

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has already earned individual "legendary" status with national championships at two universities. The only other coach to accomplish this feat is Nick Saban, who is currently on a dynastic recruiting run.

Alabama claimed the top-rated recruiting class on each of the past five national signing days. It's an unprecedented stretch that replenishes the Crimson Tide roster for perennial postseason contention.

That streak seems to be in jeopardy as the 2016 recruiting cycle moves toward summer. Alabama's class currently sits at 15th nationally—a rather pedestrian placement considering past success.

Yes, it's still early in the game. The ink won't dry on letters of intent for another nine months.

However, the Buckeyes' momentum suggests this may be the year someone else claims the recruiting crown in early February.

As Alabama well knows, it helps to have that shiny, new national championship ring to show off while pitching the program to prospects. Ahmir Mitchell, a 4-star New Jersey athlete and coveted Ohio State target, made that clear during his visit this spring:

Ohio State is a campus still reveling in the glory of a commanding victory over Oregon. It's an atmosphere that resonates with recruits.

"Columbus is buzzing right now," 4-star wide receiver Austin Mack, another potential Buckeyes pledge, told Bleacher Report.

Judging by the return of several high-profile players—namely 2014 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Joey Bosa and overnight quarterback/Twitter sensation Cardale Jones—many anticipate another playoff run for the Buckeyes next season.

Much like Saban at Alabama, Meyer has built a program equipped to reload rather than rebuild.

“It’s outstanding to see Ohio State recruiting guys who can replace the talent they have now," Mitchell said. "It shows the dedication they have to bringing in players who can compete for more national championships in the future.”

This 2016 haul is the latest example of that process. As currently assembled, the class includes a nation-best 12 pledges who warrant recruiting ratings of four stars or better.

Most remarkably, it's a group that features three of the country's top five running back recruits—Kareem WalkerGeorge Hill and Demario McCall. Former Texas Tech quarterback commit Tristen Wallace gives Meyer yet another dangerous dual-threat talent to mentor.

Jordan, the newest addition to this class, is one of three impressive offensive linemen on board. Things also look promising in the trenches on defense, with a trio of 4-star linemen in the mix, and that's arguably the spot this class still stands to improve most.

Dominant Florida defensive end Nick Bosa, the younger brother of Buckeyes fan favorite Joey, is widely viewed as a lock to land in Columbus. Fellow 5-star defensive lineman Rashan Gary, rated the No. 1 overall prospect in this 2016 cycle, is also strongly considering an Ohio State career.

Florida State is presently the lone program presiding over Meyer's squad in national recruiting rankings. The Seminoles, who hold 14 total commitments, may ultimately end up tussling with Ohio State to see who finally dethrones Saban and Alabama on signing day.

Ohio State has secured recruiting classes rated fifth, second, third and seventh since Meyer arrived. Saban sat on top each year.

The Buckeyes beat Alabama en route to a national title in January. Next winter, Meyer may be primed to celebrate a different kind of victory over his most decorated contemporary and end a half-decade of recruiting dominance in Tuscaloosa.

 

All quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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College Football Teams with the Toughest Nonconference Schedule

Look, cupcakes are delicious. Don't ever let anyone shame you into not eating one or 10 in a single sitting. But cupcakes in college football? Those are flat-out offensive.

(Okay, not really, but it's the offseason and we need fire for sports takes.) 

However, not every team is stuffing its nonconference schedule full of FCS and lower-tier "Group of Five" opponents. There are a handful that have upped the scheduling ante and have one, maybe two, marquee nonconference games. 

In the following slides are teams that have beefed up out-of-conference games in 2015. For simplicity, we're going with Power Five schools—some of those mid-major nonconference schedules are easy choices—and omitting Independents since they basically play a full season of nonconference games. 

 

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Which Team Has the Best WR Corps in College Football?

There are tons of talented wide receivers in the college football ranks. In order to be a true contender, you must be able to stretch the field through the air. Having multiple deep threats on your offense is a luxury.

Which team has the best assembly of wideouts?

Bleacher Report's College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer debate which team has the best wide receiver corps in the video above.

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Everett Golson Didn't Become a Notre Dame Legend but Can Still Become a Great QB

Notre Dame football loves its legends and lore. Whether the stories are real, glorified or Hollywood fictions, the program and its fans define themselves by the likes of the Four Horsemen, the Gipper and Rudy.

Well, Everett Golson, who a few years ago looked like he was destined for his own folktale after leading the Irish to the national title game as a kid quarterback, obviously isn't going to fit in with Notre Dame's legends, after all.

His story is too real.     

Golson announced Thursday that he's leaving Notre Dame rather than playing his final year there. Soon, he'll figure out where he's going to play this fall, if he hasn't decided already.

It's going to be hard for people to figure out where he fits into Irish lore. Probably he's remembered as a guy who didn't live up to his potential, who cheated on a test, who left with his tail between his legs rather than fight for the starting job again.

But the narrative should be different. His best days as a quarterback are ahead of him. And there's nothing wrong with the story of a kid who flubbed up and then did what he could to make amends and make the most of himself. Think of this: He was kicked out of Notre Dame for academic cheating, and after he was re-admitted, he went on to earn his degree. At least, he's scheduled to earn it at the end of this semester.

It hasn't worked out for him yet, but it still could. He just didn't fit at Notre Dame anymore. He might not have been the starter, and he had just one year of eligibility left.

If I were Golson, I'd be begging Charlie Strong to take me in at Texas. Strong is a tough disciplinarian who believes in second chances for people who have earned them. He also oversaw Teddy Bridgewater's college quarterbacking days at Louisville, and Golson would fit the scheme.

Golson is going to be written off as a failure, but that isn't right. He didn't get caught with drugs. He didn't hit a girlfriend or attack a woman. He cheated on a test, then paid a stiff but fair penalty. This isn't to excuse cheating, but it's to say that he did a dumb thing as a kid. That's what kids do: dumb things. They just don't usually happen to be the most visible player on the most visible team in America.

When Notre Dame kicked him out, he apologized and did what he had to do to get back. He could have gone somewhere else right then. He camped out with a cousin in Chicago, began working out and then went to work with quarterback guru George Whitfield to improve his game.

It is only the legends that demand perfection. Golson has been a real kid in a world of fictionalized perfection.

Good for Notre Dame for taking cheating seriously, even with its quarterback. And good for Notre Dame for recognizing what he'd done to make it right and allowing him to come back after a season away. Golson looked like a Heisman candidate for the first half of this past season, and then everything fell apart on the field. He couldn't take care of the ball.

But he took care of his grades. That's a good academic ending for a kid who messed up. And now his game is messed up and he can make the football end right, too.

Smooth stories aren't necessarily more admirable than ones with screwups. And at Notre Dame, no one's story is really as smooth as it's told. For example, no Irish team ever saw its players place jerseys one-by-one on their coach's desk in protest to make sure Rudy would play—I've always thought at least half of Rudy was fiction.

"Try 90 percent," Robin Weber, one of Rudy's former teammates told me a few days before Notre Dame's loss to Alabama in the championship game behind Golson. Years earlier, Weber, a backup tight end, had made a big catch in another Notre Dame-Alabama title game that also goes down in the lore.

"Good guy with true blue-gold blood," Weber said. "Several of us used to call him the leprechaun in pads because of his dwarf-like stature and enthusiasm in congratulating you on a great hit when you would nail him, which was every play.

"Surprised he never got hurt, but he was real good at hiding by the defensive tackle's (rear) in his position as a fourth-string cannon-fodder linebacker."

There is no way of knowing exactly what is in Golson's head right now. It's surely a painful decision to leave a place he fought so hard to get back to. How did he go from such a courageous player in the first half of last year to one who had confidence whatsoever?

He lost his starting job to Malik Zaire at the Motor City Bowl. Maybe he would have gotten it back. But sometimes, you just need a change.

We judge character too easily and too quickly and base it on not enough information. They made a movie out of Rudy's character, and he ended up years later paying hundreds of thousands of dollars after cutting a deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission on a fraud charge.

Golson's story isn't finished yet. His best is still ahead of him.

 

Greg Couch covers college football for Bleacher Report.

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Michigan Football: Realistic Expectations for Wolverines' RB Depth in 2015

Promise and potential can only go so far. Sooner or later, Michigan Wolverines running backs will either prove that they can advance their collective ground game or further demonstrate their need for more in the backfield.

The 2015 season will be a test in that regard, and the results will be solely based on the performances of Derrick Green, De’Veon Smith and Ty Isaac, along with those from running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley’s mixture of fullbacks and halfbacks.

Known for power-oriented offenses, head coach Jim Harbaugh seems intent on quickly developing a ground-and-pound technique rarely seen lately in Ann Arbor.

Everyone speaks of the changing landscape in college football, which is fine. Even teams like Michigan are being forced into adapting to new styles of play. But all of the streamlined “option this” and “spread that” and other modern twists won’t ever completely replace tried and true techniques, such as the ones successfully used for years by Harbaugh and his staff. 

It’s been said over and over, but it couldn’t be truer right now: Getting back to the basics is the only way that the Wolverines will get back on track, and starting with the running backs is a good place to begin. There may not be a Heisman candidate or Big Ten Player of the Year-esque athlete in the stable, but the Wolverines do have a quartet capable of making up for lost ground.

 

Take the Lead

Note: The above video was posted a year ago, but the same theory applies to Green this season. He should end up becoming the No. 1 back in Wheatley's system. 

A team doesn’t necessarily need a 1,000-yard rusher to be wildly successful; just look at the 1997 national co-champion Wolverines—they were led by Chris Howard’s 868 yards and seven touchdowns. The year prior, he rushed for 698 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Why does a player from nearly 20 years ago matter today? Because Harbaugh’s philosophy, paired with the methods of offensive coordinator Tim Drevno and Wheatley, then in turn combined with the current personnel, makes for an ideal environment in which to produce a Howard-esque lead running back this season.

Howard’s stats weren’t mind-blowing. They were respectable.

He was a reliable runner who worked well within his system.

Expecting something along similar lines this fall for Green and Smith would be sensible. If fully healthy, Green could approach 868 yards and seven touchdowns while serving as a steady No. 1 option. If not for a season-ending injury this past fall, a broken clavicle versus Rutgers, he may have gone on to eclipse those marks in 2014—he finished his six-game sophomore year with 488 yards and three touchdowns.

On the upside, Green could creep into Fitz Toussaint territory, which would be barely more than 1,000 yards. That would be the best-case scenario, one that would require a much more physically and mentally improved O-line. Missed blocks and penalties last season accounted for several blown late-down situations and red-zone opportunities. 

Intent on becoming a more focused hole-hitter, Smith, who has taken the time to analyze a considerable amount of 2014 film during the offseason, could scamper his way for roughly 700 yards and 10 touchdowns, just as Howard had done as a junior.

As a sophomore, Smith rushed for 536 yards and six touchdowns but was constantly hampered by poor decisions. During spring availability, he mentioned that going with his initial instincts may be the best approach moving forward.

The pair of bulldozing backs possesses tactical advantages: At roughly 5’11” and 230 pounds, they each have lower centers of gravity, they share the ability to absorb contact and move along and they’re each capable of gaining the tough yards, just like Howard, who was just about the same size in college.

As for Isaac, he’s an altogether different story.

Wheatley and Drevno should have fun while finding ways to implement the 6’3”, 240-pound redshirt sophomore into their schemes. Size is the first thing that catches your attention: Isaac is a big guy. Fullback/linebacker size. He could become the hammer of the running game, which perfectly suits his style.

Isaac likes to go straight ahead. Dancing isn’t his thing, but he’s nimble enough to make one or two moves prior to shooting through a gap or around a linebacker or safety in the open field. Ideally, he should be able to contribute 400 yards and a handful of touchdowns. Goal-line situations and short-yardage opportunities will probably be the USC transfer’s calling cards while at Michigan.

In 2013, the Wolverines averaged just a shade more than 125 rushing yards per game. In 2014, that average shot up to 162.8 per game, leading to 1,954 net yards, per MGoBlue, the team’s official site.

With that being said, there is a reason to believe that Michigan could cross the 2,000-yard mark on the legs of Green, Smith and Isaac. Harbaugh’s past with running backs at Stanford and in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers certainly provides optimism. The added motivation of having a program legend as the running backs coach probably does something, too.  

 

Their Helpers

In late 2014, Drake Johnson showed off exemplary speed and vision that led to 368 yards and four touchdowns in what seemed like a couple of weekends.

Unfortunately, another ACL injury, this time against Ohio State, all but removed him from the perceived top tier at Michigan. That’s not to say that the 6’0”, 207-pounder won’t factor into the rotation this fall, but it is to say that fans shouldn’t expect a lot from him. He was just given the green light to resume running in late March. 

During the spring, he served as more of a coach and motivator, even a scout from time to time, for Wheatley, who constantly praised Johnson’s demeanor and work ethic. That strong desire to compete should get him on the field this year, but it will most likely be in a limited capacity. It all depends on the strength of his knee.

Johnson is once again a fan-favorite underdog entering the summer.

Karan Higdon, a 3-star freshman, will probably redshirt this year. Unless the 5’10”, 190-pounder dazzles beyond compare in fall camp, expect to see him sitting out and learning a few things from the coaching staff and upperclassmen this fall.

 

Get Full

Given the recruitment of Kingston Davis, a 3-star 2016 commit, Michigan is quickly looking to reimplement the use of power backs and fullbacks into its offense. Prior to his firing, former coach Brady Hoke courted Isaac, who is essentially a fullback—things were going that way regardless of the coach.

Harbaugh, Drevno and Wheatley, like Hoke, enjoy smashmouth football. A suitable, full-time fullback is needed in order to properly execute that style, opening the window for Joe Kerridge, a fifth-year senior, and Sione Houma, another senior who's seen little playing time during his career. 

At 6’0” and 249 pounds, Kerridge will likely serve as a lane clearer for Smith, Green and, on occasion, Isaac and Johnson. He could also catch a pass or two, just as he did during the spring game. Bailout options are always nice to have. Following the spring game, junior quarterback Shane Morris said that Kerridge had the best hands of any ball-carrier on the team.

Nearly the same size as Kerridge, Houma, who is 6’0” and 243 pounds, will also be another blocking option. He may get a carry every now and then, but don’t expect him to be a primary ball-handler. Together, Houma and Kerridge could gain 200 yards and score four touchdowns as reserves for Isaac—offensively speaking, that would be the ceiling.

However, blocks and lanes opened aren’t always calculated and, given the proper coaching, they could become the unsung heroes this fall, which features a run-unfriendly schedule loaded with returning top-40 rush defenses from Utah, BYU, Michigan State and Ohio State.

 

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

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and references were obtained firsthand by the writer via press conference, press release or other media availability. Recruiting information via 247Sports.

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4-Star WR Austin Mack High on Ohio State: 'Columbus Is Buzzing Right Now'

Indiana wide receiver Austin Mack is just a month away from announcing his collegiate intentions, entering the final stretch of a frenzied recruitment that involves more than 30 programs.

The 4-star Bishop Luers High School standout will reveal his choice June 7 at the Redefining Athletic Standards Football Camp in Fort Wayne. Mack maintains he's still unsure about the decision and is weighing several options as the days dwindle.

"I'm evaluating each school based on a lot of different aspects," Mack said. "It's not just about emotions or about the football program, but more about how attending the university will impact the rest of my life. In this last month, I plan on talking with all the coaches, and hopefully, I'll make a decision before my announcement day comes."

Mack is among the most coveted offensive commodities in the 2016 recruiting cycle. He's seen his scholarship offer total double since the end of last season.

This outpouring of interest has resulted in an incredibly busy spring.

"I've been on the road just about every weekend these past couple months," he said. "It's been tiring at times, and I've missed out on some stuff back home, but it's what I needed to do."

The 6'2", 205-pound playmaker has spent time at many of the country's premier college campuses in recent weeks. This loaded itinerary included trips to Ohio State and Michigan.

Fellow Indiana prospect Brandon Peters, a 4-star quarterback who became the first 2016 prospect to personally commit to new Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh, has helped Michigan gain momentum. 

"Brandon is actually one of my boys, and he's not too far from me here in our home state," Mack said. "We talk all the time, and now, he's really trying to recruit me."

His experiences in Ann Arbor proved fortuitous, as he built a rapport with Harbaugh and assistants.

"Jim Harbaugh, as a person, is great. He's all about what Michigan stands for as far as character," Mack said. "His staff is very impressive, and they're all NFL-caliber guys. The thing that's special with them is I love the coaches."

His last trip to the university included dinner out with Harbaugh. The head coach called a timeout during the meal to have Mack show off his three-point stance at the restaurant. 

"I don't think I'd ever done a three-point stance in my life," Mack said, while laughing. "Harbaugh told me it was pretty awful."

Like many recruits who've landed on the radar for this Wolverines regime, Mack is compelled by the possibility of future success under new leadership.

"I'm very interested to see what Michigan does this year because if they have a strong season, their recruiting will be back to what it was in the past and a lot of great players will go there," he said.

Mack is among a collection of prospects who finds himself caught in the middle of a tug of war between the Wolverines and Big Ten Conference rival Ohio State Buckeyes. He's visited the Buckeyes various times and admits the environment is rather unique these days.

"Columbus is buzzing right now, and there's a lot of energy in that town after the championship," Mack said. "There's nothing like Buckeyes fans. They are absolutely crazy. It's a great place to be."

He was actually in the stadium earlier this year when Ohio State celebrated its national title game victory.

Urban Meyer made Mack a top priority much earlier than many top suitors. That initial diligence could pay off June 7 if the Buckeyes land their man.

"The Ohio State coaching staff has definitely been recruiting me hardest," Mack said. "They were actually the first really big school to offer me, and they've been hitting me up almost daily since before last signing day when a lot of teams were focused on 2015 guys. That made a big impact."

Like Harbaugh, Meyer has won Mack over when it comes to establishing a meaningful relationship.

"Coach Meyer is a heck of a guy," Mack said. "He takes care of his players and knows exactly what it takes to compete for titles in college football."

Nick Saban is the only current FBS coach who can measure up to Meyer in terms of championship clout. Mack felt a bit starstruck during a late March visit to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he received an offer.

"Sitting down with Saban and talking about your future with him is crazy," he said. "It's almost like being a little kid and meeting your favorite football player. I've grown up watching him coach on TV, and he's very respected throughout the country. It was really awesome to hear from Saban that I earned a scholarship to play for him."

Though the offer arrived later than most, Mack immediately put the Alabama Crimson Tide into consideration as a potential landing spot.

"Alabama is Alabama. There's nothing else quite like it," he said. "Surprisingly, even though they have a lot of talent on the team, there's actually an opportunity to compete early at wide receiver. The culture is great down there, and the players are respectful because of how Saban runs that team."

His recent journeys also took him to Notre Dame, where Mack gained a greater understanding of how the Fighting Irish operate.

"The tradition there is crazy, and its atmosphere is totally different than any other campus," Mack said. "They're all about being prestigious with both football and academics. That's huge for a person like me who really cares about education."

Mack, who plans to pursue a career in pediatrics, is adamant about finding an ideal blend of academic and athletic resources in college.

He has one more campus visit to check off his list before reaching a decision: Tennessee.

Mack will head to Knoxville on May 16 for the final assessment in a series of collegiate explorations.

"It's a huge visit for me. Tennessee is actually one of my dream schools," he said. "It seems like a wonderful place, so I want to experience that, meet [wide receivers] coach [Zach] Azzanni in person and get a feel for how things are run down there."

Volunteers quarterback commit Jarrett Guarantano has done his best to hype up Tennessee during discussions with Mack. The two became close on the camp circuit and could potentially team up for years to come.

"Jarrett has been on me a lot about Tennessee, and I promised him I'd go visit before I commit," Mack said. "I want to see what Jarrett saw at Tennessee that he didn't see at Ohio State or some of the other schools he was looking closely at. That's part of what has me really interested."

If it seems like Mack is juggling an abundance of options with just weeks remaining in his recruitment, it's because that's the reality. Unlike most recruits, he's opted not to unveil a list of favorites in advance of his announcement.

"I don't believe in having a list because I don't think it makes much sense to shut teams out," Mack said. "I try to take the most respectful route by giving every school that offered me a chance. I'm leaving things open until that day I commit."

Mack is projected to sign with Ohio State by 85 percent of expert predictions in 247Sports' Crystal Ball. Notre Dame and Michigan round things out with 10 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

He aims to enroll early in college, but that outcome isn't a certainty at this stage. This fall, Mack will look to build off a junior campaign that included 69 receptions for 1,062 yards and 15 touchdowns.

"I'm an all-around wide receiver who commits to the little things," he said. "I'm smart enough to memorize playbooks quickly and execute my assignments, whether I'm blocking downfield or running crisp routes. For a high school player, I'm polished. You can put me anywhere on offense, and I can contribute on special teams. I believe I'm ready to compete in college."

 

All quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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B/R 5th Down: Cardale Jones Taking over Social Media, the Biggest Hit Ever

Editor's Note: The Fifth Down captures the top social college football stories of the week. Because the long, grueling offseason is underway, we'll focus on things that make us laugh, think or maybe cry, but mostly laugh.

 

1. Cardale Jones vs. Joakim Noah: Who Ya Got?

If you had to pick between Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones and Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah in a boxing match, who would you go with? Why, you ask? Oh, no reason, it's just that Jones is apparently ready to throw down. 

Here's the backstory, courtesy of Tom Ley at Deadspin

During a break in last night’s playoff game between the Cavs and Bulls, Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones and other players from the national champion Buckeyes were introduced and cheered on the court. Of course, this harmless event led to Jones getting into a beef with Bulls center Joakim Noah, because if there’s one thing Noah loves, it’s beefing with athletes from Ohio.

That reportedly led to Noah doing the most SEC thing possible besides actually chanting "S-E-C!":  

That, in turn, inspired Jones to tell Noah on Twitter to watch himself: 

For what it's worth, Noah has denied saying anything to Jones. Or knowing that he exists:

Still, we here at B/R love a good Photoshop, so here are Jones' and Noah's measurables for a boxing match that will surely never happen: 

Come to think of it, more athletes should solve Twitter beefs in the ring. Sure, there's the whole injury thing, but that's a cash cow waiting to happen.  

Anyway, we're taking bets* on who'd win: Jones or Noah? 

(*No we're not. Don't bet. Ever.)

 

2. R.I.P. This High School Running Back 

As if you needed any more evidence that Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher can recruit, we present to you Panama City defensive end Janarius Robinson. A 4-star prospect according to 247Sports, Robinson is verbally committed to the Seminoles' Class of 2016. 

And he is a bad, bad man (in a terrifyingly good kind of way). 

Here's a video of Robinson absolutely destroying some poor running back and my goodness is a teenager's life not sacred anymore?  

Sometimes, life and genetics just aren't fair.  

(h/t Tomahawk Nation’s Bud Elliott)

 

3. Former Auburn Tight End Rides a Horse (SPOILER: It Ends Poorly) 

Horses are majestic creatures. They're also frightened easily and will kick you. For these reasons, horses should not be trusted, but that's a conversation for another day. 

Auburn's equestrian horses are probably fine, but they require skilled riders. That's definitely not former Tiger and current Cincinnati Bengal tight end C.J. Uzomah. In the fourth installment of "Auburn Sports Collide," Uzomah gives horse riding the ol' college try. It doesn't end well: 

If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's that football players aren't warriors. Seriously, warriors used to ride horses, and they didn't fall off. 

 

4) Ezekiel Elliott Throws Out First Pitch at Cardinals Game (SPOILER: It Ends Well) 

The defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes are having quite the offseason (see: pretty much everything written above. And the week before. And the week before. And the—).

As part of that, Buckeyes running back and St. Louis native Ezekiel Elliott threw out the first pitch during a Cardinals baseball game. He throws a nice strike, as you can see in the video below:

Not to be outdone, Cardale Jones used Elliott's first pitch to leverage the Cleveland Indians into doing the same for him: 

However, here's the pertinent question: What's a guy gotta do 'round here to get that job running in circles around Elliott holding a camera? Also, who is that guy? Because that's some impressive footwork. And he's actually kind of fast, too. Seriously, watch him. He doesn't lose balance or anything. In fact, if you were to view him from above, here's guessing he was running in a perfect circle. Wonder what the circumference was of that circle. Is that the one that measures from one end of the circle to the other, or is that diameter? Wait...what's radius, then? Man, I should have paid attention in geometry and stopped playing on my TI-83 so much.

Oh well, the Pythagorean theorem was crap. 

 

5. [EVENT]: W H _ _ L   _ F    F _ _  T _ N _    _ T    W _ S H _ N _ T _ N   F _ _ T _ _ L L 

If you guessed "Wheel of Fortunate at Washington Football," congratulations: You've won a one-week trip to the Bahamas and a new ironing board.* 

(*Not redeemable with B/R, or anyone.) 

"Wheel of Fortune" host and sidekick Pat Sajak and Vanna White stopped by Husky Stadium this week while filming the upcoming season of the popular game show. 

So, you know, if you're a fan and in the area, try to get on it. Or something. 

 

6. Check Out Pharaoh Brown's Recovery Video

The Pac-12 released an awesome video this week profiling Oregon tight end Pharaoh Brown, who is recovering from one of the nastiest, most awful leg injuries we've seen in a good, long while. The internal damage was so bad, apparently, that amputation was a possibility.  

However, Brown's recovery has been nothing short of a miracle. He's ahead of schedule in his rehab and is on track to return to the field. Watch the video below and be absolutely inspired:

Here's hoping Brown can get back on the field sooner rather than later. But more than anything, we're amazed Brown's recovery has gone so well. 

 

7. Finally, Your LOLWUT??? Quote of the Week

College football would be far less interesting if Washington State head coach Mike Leach wasn't in it. Thankfully he's blessed us with his X's and O's acumen, because he can be gold behind a microphone. 

Here's Leach on the recovery of former Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday, who sustained a brutal season-ending leg injury in 2014:

Never change, Leach.

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. He's currently beefing with Cardale Jones on Twitter @BenKercheval.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Insider Buzz: 8th-Grade Two-Sport Stud Turning Heads on Recruiting Trail

Eighth-grader Blake Hinson, a two-sport phenom from Daytona Beach, Florida, is already turning heads on the field and recruiting trails. With Division I offers on the table to play both football and basketball, Hinson has some tough decisions ahead. 

Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Damon Sayles joins Stephen Nelson as they discuss all the info on Hinson and what sport he may choose to play at the next level. 

What is Hinson's upside? Check out the video above and let us know!

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Alabama Football: 3 Things Standing in the Way of an SEC Championship

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It's not a stretch to say that Alabama's 2014 SEC Championship was a surprise.

Between the talent it was replacing on both sides of the ball and breaking in a new quarterback, few saw Atlanta as a likely early-December destination for the Crimson Tide, let alone their bringing home the hardware they did.

But Alabama rode Blake Sims and Amari Cooper all the way there, ultimately earning a spot in the College Football Playoff.

A return trip won't be so easy, either. Here are three things standing in Alabama's way right now.

 

Quarterback play

At the end of the day, Alabama isn’t going to get much done with average or below-average quarterback play.

There was a time where the Crimson Tide could put up a brick wall on defense and grind teams to a fine dust in the run game on offense and go undefeated, but that time is no more.

Alabama showed last year that you need to score points to win in the present-day SEC, and to score points, you need high-level quarterback play.

By now, the quarterback rundown is pretty well-known: Jake Coker is still the favorite, while David Cornwell separated himself during spring practice.

A big-name JUCO transfer like Braxton Miller (or now, Everett Golson) would be welcome, as head coach Nick Saban himself has said, but that would only be icing on the cake.

The next couple of months will be critical for quarterback development. The players can’t go through any sort of organized on-field work with coaches but can continue to study the playbook and learn the offense inside and out so they can hit the ground running in fall camp.

There won’t be much in the way of tangible updates as far as the quarterbacks are concerned this offseason. Any sort of improvement won’t be evident until fall camp kicks off in August.

 

Secondary cohesion

Alabama’s Achilles' heel down the stretch of last season was its pass defense, or lack thereof.

In the Crimson Tide’s last four games against Power 5 teams, it gave up an average of 318.5 passing yards per game, including 456 in the Iron Bowl.

The good news is that even with the departure of Landon Collins, Alabama appears to have the makings of a strong secondary.

Cyrus Jones developed into one of the better corners in the SEC last year, while Tony Brown will be better opposite him after his true freshman season.

Eddie Jackson’s move to safety gave that group more consistency and experience. He and Geno Smith could form a formidable duo on the back end. Safety Hootie Jones will also be better in Year 2, while true freshman Ronnie Harrison drew rave reviews during spring practice. Maurice Smith is also a versatile defender who can play in a lot of spots in the secondary.

Among those seven, Saban and new defensive backs coach Mel Tucker have plenty of talented options around which to mold their secondary. Even against wide-open passing teams like Texas A&M, Alabama will have the firepower necessary to counter.

Now, it’s a matter of getting that group to work as a unit to cut down on the big plays Alabama gave up last year.

 

Attitude

Alabama is always going to be the most talented team in the country. That’s not exactly a state secret. The Crimson Tide’s five straight No. 1 recruiting classes have stockpiled the cupboards for Saban and his staff.

But what determines Alabama’s success is what that talent does with the knowledge that it’s the best. It can become easy to feel entitled, a word Saban likes to use when talking about handling success.

He’s already been lamenting about it this offseason.

“I think we’ve got too many people worried about winning and losing and not enough about what we need to do to play our best and be our best all the time, be physical and aggressive,” Saban told reporters in Dothan, Alabama, last week, according to Ken Rogers of the Dothan Eagle. “That’s what we need to get back to. That’s what I’d like for our expectation to be.”

The difference between Alabama’s national championship teams and those of the last two years has been a lack of killer instinct. The teams with BCS rings played almost with a chip on their shoulder.

Less than half of Alabama’s current roster knows what it’s like to taste that kind of success. The Crimson Tide need to get their edge back.

 

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

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Is Cardale Jones Taking Harbaugh's Title as College Football's King of Twitter?

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The merits of Jim Harbaugh's attention-grabbing first four months as Michigan's head coach depends on who you talk to.

Fans of the Wolverines see a coach creating a buzz around a program in desperate need of just that. Rivals seem to see nothing more than an empty threat coming in the form of guest appearances at spring training and courtside pizza at basketball games.

But while the value of Harbaugh's celebrity-like offseason is up for debate, this much is not: The former San Francisco 49ers head coach has owned college football Twitter for the past four months.

Or at least he did.

And perhaps fittingly, the biggest threat to Harbaugh's 140-characters-or-less crown comes from his renewed archrival.

Cardale Jones might not be Ohio State's starting quarterback when Harbaugh gets his first shot at the Buckeyes since taking the field as the Wolverines signal-caller in the 1986 edition of "The Game," as Jones still has to beat out J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller this summer in order to retain his starting status. But that hasn't stopped Jones from basking in the limelight of the Buckeyes' run to the national championship last season, with much of his celebrating playing out right in front of his 173,000-plus followers.

Formerly best known for one of his ill-advised tweets, Jones has become a Twitter superstar since leading his team to three consecutive postseason wins at the end of the 2014 season, specifically within the last week. It started last Friday when Jones, currently entrenched in an unprecedented quarterback competition, sent shockwaves through the Twittersphere when he "announced" that he would be transferring to Akron:

Jones followed up his announcement—which came complete with an avatar change to the Zips logo—with two more pro-Akron tweets as the college football world held its collective breath.

Eight minutes later, the 6'5", 250-pound quarterback let the rest of the world in on his joke:

Whether Jones' faux transfer was received as well by Urban Meyer as it was his fans remains unclear, but this was the national champion quarterback at his best. Uncaring of what anybody thought, Jones realized the power he has at his fingertips and played with it, as fans and reporters alike hung onto his every tweet.

Jones' big week didn't stop there, however, as he spent the weekend tweeting about the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight, his former teammates who were drafted and one of his favorite subjects—Chipotle: 

After showing off a sweet customized phone case, Jones then took his Twitter game to the next level, engaging in a public feud with Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah. Whether the Jones-Noah beef is actually a two-sided affair remains unclear, but here are the details.

As Jones and his OSU teammates were honored on the court during a timeout in Wednesday night's Eastern Conference semifinals matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Noah's Bulls, Jones took to the microphone to encourage his hometown Cavs to "bring another championship to Ohio." An alum of Florida, Noah took issue with the Buckeyes' presence, according to 92.3 The Fan's Anthony Lima:

While Noah denied saying anything about the Ohio State quarterback, Jones took notice. And never one to back down, he responded—via Twitter:

Already in the good graces of Cavs fans after taking on one of their most hated rivals, the Rock and Roll City native then turned his attention to baseball. After Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott threw out the first pitch for his hometown St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday, Jones let the Cleveland Indians know that he wouldn't mind being honored in a similar fashion:

The Indians, to their credit, noticed and responded, perhaps sensing an opportunity to fill Progressive Field:

In fairness to Harbaugh, he isn't exactly riding quietly into the night, posting a selfie with first lady Michelle Obama and pop star Ciara, before bemoaning ESPN College GameDay's recent personnel moves with some rather choice words in the last week alone:

But while Harbaugh's Twitter remains a must-follow, it's paled in comparison as of late to the account of his rival's quarterback. Especially in a sport that can so often be devoid of personality, Jones' willingness to embrace his sudden celebrity has provided some much-needed entertainment in the dog days of this offseason.

Like Harbaugh, the merits of Jones' personality are still unclear, as it remains to be seen whether or not having public opinion on his side will aid him in this summer's quarterback competition. The Buckeye faithful will undoubtedly be satisfied with any of the three signal-caller options Meyer settles on for the upcoming season, but neither Barrett nor Miller have connected with their fanbase in a fashion similar to Jones.

For now, however, Ohio State fans—like their Michigan counterparts—should just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Jones and Harbaugh each seem to be.

 

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

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SEC Football: Realistic Expectations for Every Team in 2015

Pads have been sent back to the equipment rooms, practice jerseys have been washed and depth charts have started to sort themselves out.

Spring practice is over around the country, which means that the eternal optimism for every fanbase is at an all-time high. Unfortunately, though, all of your teams can't go undefeated in 2015.

We've already handed out our post-spring power rankings for the SEC, but let's get a little more specific. Our realistic expectations for every SEC team in 2015, based on talent, coaching and schedule, are in this slideshow.

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