NCAA Football

The 10 Most Important College Football Games of 2015 Season

Now that we’re officially past Memorial Day, summer is here, no matter what the official calendar says. And that means we’re on the downhill slide to the 2015 college football season. Across the nation, players are beginning to sweat through “unofficial” workouts and building bonds with their teammates that will pay dividends this fall.

That means it’s time to start thinking about the biggest matchups of the upcoming season. There are a number of important games that will shape the season and the race for four coveted College Football Playoff berths. But a few loom more important than others. These are games that, at least on paper, have the potential to be truly meaningful for a variety of reasons.

Of course, it’s late May. Other games are sure to emerge as crucial in the flow of the season, but right now here are 10 games that loom as the most important in the 2015 college football regular season.

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Former Ohio State Player Creates Heisman Hype Song for Buckeyes' Ezekiel Elliott

Currently, most of the focus on the Ohio State football team concerns the quarterback situation, but it's running back Ezekiel Elliott who is viewed as the team's top Heisman Trophy hopeful.

As a result, former Ohio State football player and now Buckeyes-themed rapper Mekka Don has created a Heisman hype song for the star known as "Zeke."

Each of Ohio State's quarterbacks has the potential to work their way into the Heisman conversation. However, it is Elliott who became the front-runner for this year's award with a legendary 2014-15 postseason in which he carried the Buckeyes to a national championship.

Elliott ran for 696 yards and eight touchdowns in three postseason games last season.

[Mekka Don]

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If Notre Dame Was Fully Fledged ACC Member, Would Irish Be Preseason Favorite?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — We’ve nearly reached the two-year checkpoint of Notre Dame officially joining the ACC, though that partnership doesn’t extend fully to football, of course.

But as summer crawls closer, let’s take a different look at the conference question and consider if Notre Dame football would be the preseason favorite if it were a full member in the ACC. In analyzing the conference landscape, the focus will be less on how 2015 schedules stack up and more on how the teams themselves compare on paper.

Last year, Florida State rolled through the regular season—narrowly bypassing Notre Dame in a game that will always have an asterisk for many Irish fans—and topped Georgia Tech in the ACC title game to advance to the Rose Bowl, where the Seminoles were stomped by Marcus Mariota and Oregon.

Clemson and Georgia Tech both finished 6-2 in the league in regular-season play, with the Yellow Jackets coming out of the Coastal Division to challenge Jameis Winston and company in the league championship.

For the sake of the argument, here, those three teams appear to be a cut above the rest of the conference, with Notre Dame likely fitting into that grouping as well. So the question comes down to how the Irish compare to the Seminoles, Yellow Jackets and Tigers.

At first glance, it might seem Notre Dame wouldn’t be favored over Florida State, which has gone 58-11 in five years under head coach Jimbo Fisher, with trips to the Orange Bowl and BCS National Championship Game in 2012 and 2013, respectively. But the list of vital Seminole departures following the 2014 season extends well past the name Winston.

Fisher and his staff must replace a top cornerback (Darby) and three key offensive playmakers (Williams, Greene and O’Leary), among others. Meanwhile, Notre Dame returns a bulk of its starters on both sides of the ball.

Everett Golson’s transfer to Florida State assuredly makes this particular comparison more intriguing, and he does move the needle enough to make a difference for both teams. Still, I’ll take Notre Dame, which returns its most attractive draft prospects in Ronnie Stanley, Sheldon Day and KeiVarae Russell, for starters, while the Seminoles are left retooling.

What about Georgia Tech? These teams will have a chance to sort it out in mid-September, when the Yellow Jackets visit South Bend for an afternoon clash.

Talented redshirt junior quarterback Justin Thomas is back to lead Paul Johnson’s triple-option attack. Thomas produced 1,719 passing yards and 18 touchdown tosses to go along with 1,086 rushing yards and eight scores in 2014.

After Thomas, however, the Yellow Jackets lose their next four leading rushers. Sure, an option system can sometimes run itself, especially with such a strong signal-caller at the helm, but, again, Notre Dame’s returning depth would likely give it the preseason advantage.

That brings us to Clemson, which finished 10-3 after a 40-6 steamrolling of Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The Tigers will host the Irish in South Carolina the first weekend of October.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson’s health is of the utmost importance, after his true freshman season was stunted by a torn ACL. Watson had thrived for the Tigers in 2014 against Florida State and then North Carolina, and he could be one of the best quarterbacks in the conference if healthy.

That uncertainty, though, coupled with the losses of defensive stalwarts and first-round draft picks Vic Beasley and Stephone Anthony, would likely give the Irish the leg up in the preseason polls.

It’s all conjecture, and Notre Dame won’t be competing for the ACC championship in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Dec. 5.

But the Irish will go head-to-head with Georgia Tech and Clemson in 2015.

 

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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

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Will Ohio State's 2013 Recruiting Class Go Down as Urban Meyer's Best?

Urban Meyer has assembled a number of incredible recruiting classes during his head coaching career, but the group he put together for Ohio State in 2013 has the potential to be historically great.

The 28-member class, which 247Sports rated No. 2 in the country on national signing day that year, could be even better than Meyer's 2006 haul at Florida—which included first-team All-Americans Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes—or the 2007 group that featured four first-round NFL draft picks in Cam Newton, Joe Haden and Maurkice and Mike Pouncey. 

That potential is there because a number of third-year Buckeyes are already household names or on the verge of stardom. 

It starts with Joey Bosa, the versatile pass-rushing defensive end who anchored Ohio State's defense as a true sophomore last season. Boasting a quick burst off the line and a bevy of moves to either beat blockers off the edge or on the inside, Bosa was a nightmare for opposing offenses, ranking fifth nationally with 13.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss, according to NCAA.com.

Comparisons have been made to J.J. Watt—the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year—but to Bosa's credit, he's not buying into that.

"When I watch [Watt], I really don't see myself as much," Bosa said, according to Austin Ward of ESPN.com. "The style, the way I play, I feel like I get the comparisons because I'm a big white dude and he's a big white dude playing defensive line. He has a crazy motor, he's a physical freak and, I don't know, I guess I just look at myself different."

He may not be Watt, but he could end up the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft.

At least, that's the argument ESPN.com draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. is making, as he recently pegged Bosa as next year's top NFL prospect (h/t Doug Lesmerises of Northeast Ohio Media Group). And as teams in the league continue to scramble and find ways to stop the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck and a host of young, top-flight wide receivers, pass-rushers such as Bosa will be a valuable and desired asset.

But it's not just Bosa. Other potential first-round picks such as running back Ezekiel Elliott and linebacker Darron Lee fuel Ohio State's 2013 recruiting class.

Elliott, who rushed for 1,878 yards and 18 touchdowns, and Lee, who ranked third on the team with 81 tackles and second with 16.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks, are coming off breakout 2014 campaigns. Elliott surged down the stretch, running for 696 yards and eight touchdowns during Ohio State's postseason run against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon. Lee was the surprising enforcer on defense who thrived when the coaching staff turned him loose at the line of scrimmage. 

That's why both are projected as first-round picks for next year's draft, according to Dane Brugler of NFL Draft Scout.

But it's not just this trio that makes Meyer's 2013 crop so special. 

There's depth with players who project to the NFL as mid- to late-round picks in 2016 and beyond, such as defensive backs Vonn Bell and Eli Apple, receivers Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Corey Smith and quarterback J.T. Barrett.

But before these players can move on to the next level, they need to continue validating themselves as Buckeyes. They've already helped Meyer win 26 of his last 29 games, and they were key in Ohio State beating Alabama and Oregon to win the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship. 

And if Bosa and Co. keep up their winning ways, their path to the NFL will be clear and fast, and they could cement themselves as the best recruiting class Meyer ever signed.

 

 

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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Georgia Football: 4 Former Top Recruits Who Will Finally Shine in 2015

Nobody will ever argue about Mark Richt’s ability to recruit. Last year, Richt was able to sign Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Lorenzo Carter, and they all helped Georgia earn a 10-win season. In 2013, the Bulldogs added Brandon Kublanow and Leonard Floyd to the fold, and those two were able to play at a high level all season long in 2014.

But there are more former top recruits on the roster that still have yet to shine in Athens. But 2015 will be the year that changes as four former top recruits will help the Bulldogs get to where they want to go.

Let’s take a closer look. 

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Texas Football: 3 Former Top Recruits Who Will Finally Shine in 2015

Much of Texas' success in 2014 stemmed from former top recruits stepping up to turn in career seasons. A few returning Longhorns have a chance to do the same thing this season.

Charlie Strong's best players from his debut season were predicted long ago by the recruiting services, especially from the 2011 class. Malcolm Brown, Steve Edmond, Quandre Diggs, Jaxon Shipley, Cedric Reed and Mykkele Thompson were all highly regarded members of that class, and all turned in seasons good enough to get shots in NFL camps.

Jordan Hicks (2010) and Malcom Brown (2012) also represented their classes well en route to high draft selections.

Now all of those guys are gone, leaving behind several underachieving recruits from the 2012 and 2013 hauls. Former members of the Top247 like Duke Thomas, Hassan Ridgeway and Kent Perkins have panned out.

Though, for the most part, the highest-rated members of these groups have been outplayed by lesser-known talents such as Taylor Doyle, Dylan Haines, Jason Hall and Naashon Hughes.

Those players will continue to be the backbone of this team, but they'll need a lot of help from the great talents who have underachieved these past couple of years. Running back Johnathan Gray will lead the way for the former Top247 players who will shine in 2015.

 

RB Johnathan Gray

It almost seems unfair to call Gray an underachiever. He's been a class act who has worked his tail off ever since he arrived on campus, and this team will miss him in every sense of the word when he graduates.

Still, the former 5-star recruit has never had a 1,000-yard season or scored double-digit touchdowns, nor has he averaged more than five yards per carry over the course of a season. That's not what Texas expected when it landed the record-breaking running back 

No, Gray hasn't even come close to to meeting the Earl Campbell-Ricky Williams-level expectations he arrived with. There's no other way to put it.

But the shifty back's performance has been as much about bad luck as anything. He was on pace for 1,000 yards as a sophomore before tearing his Achilles against West Virginia, which robbed him of his explosiveness well into the 2014 season.

Once that elite burst returned, Gray looked like a star again. Before the offensive line collapsed against TCU and Arkansas, he was in the middle of a career-best stretch in which he needed only 43 carries to pile up 259 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

As we enter Gray's senior year, expect those numbers to be closer to the norm. He's healthy, the Horns have moved back to the uptempo attack that gave him so much running room in 2013 and the offensive line should be much better.

Without much competition for feature-back work, the elusive 1,000-yard season is well within reach for Texas' senior ball-carrier. 

 

OG Sedrick Flowers

Grabbing and hanging on to elite offensive line talent has been a real problem for Texas of late. Former 4-star take Sedrick Flowers is one of the few who has stuck around, but we've yet to see his best.

After excelling in a sixth-man role in 2013, Flowers looked ready to push for All-Big 12 consideration last season. Instead, he struggled with the rest of a patchwork group that never was able to field its best talent because of injuries and disciplinary issues.

Expected to play between the massive Desmond Harrison and three-year starter Dom Espinosa, Flowers had to make do with first-time starters Marcus Hutchins, Taylor Doyle and Jake Raulerson. For context, Hutchins spent all of 2013 as a defensive tackle.

Hutchins and Doyle should be much improved, and the crew of fresh talent from the 2015 class should help both with depth and overall competition. Ultimately, Flowers should be able to settle in and handle his assignment rather than trying to clean up the mess around him.

He has an interesting ceiling playing with a more stable group.

 

LB Dalton Santos or LB Peter Jinkens

Both Jinkens and Santos came in as touted 4-star recruits who immediately busted into the two-deep rotation. Since then, they've mostly been relegated to the sideline for various on-field deficiencies.

Now they're both seniors and are all that stand in the way of an all-freshman group of linebackers. One of these two has to rediscover his mojo to give the Horns some leadership at the second level of the defense.

Really, it'll be which player's shortcomings the coaches can deal with most easily.

Jinkens has always had the athletic ability to be a good, rangy Big 12 linebacker. However, he has a tendency to misread and overpursue, which is why his playing time has decreased since his freshman campaign.

Santos has the opposite problem. He's a true middle linebacker who finishes tackles and does a good job deciphering what's happening in front of him, but he has trouble getting into position due to a lack of speed.

Malik Jefferson and Edwin Freeman are both tremendous talents, but the two freshmen need some leadership. Both Jinkens and Santos would provide it, and whoever ends up winning out will be in line for a lot of work, as Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond combined for over 275 tackles last season.

 

Honorable Mention: QB Jerrod Heard

Every player listed above was a Top247 recruit who has underachieved through at least three years of experience but has the talent and opportunity to turn it around in 2015. 

Jerrod Heard has never had the chance to underachieve, as no college player can be considered a bust with less than two years to catch up to the competition. Some players just aren't built for instant impact.

However, Heard has been on a collision course with the starting quarterback job since he committed as the nation's No. 2 dual threat in August 2012. Eventually emerging as a two-time state champion, the gifted athlete showed off that "it" factor Texas needed.

So, is it fair to say the time is now for Heard to take the reins and start leading Texas back to the top of the conference? Probably not.

But Heard's athleticism is the closest thing to an elite trait the Horns have had at the position in quite some time, per InsideTexas' Sean Adams. When you're the quarterback, everyone wants to see that special talent as early as possible.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all stats and information courtesy of TexasSports.com and 247Sports.

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SEC Threatening to Change Recruiting Forever If Satellite Camps Continue

DESTIN, Fla. — Jim Harbaugh has poked the bear, and the bear is coming out of hibernation.

Ultra-compelling storylines of the past like realignment and scheduling aren't dominating the headlines like they have in previous SEC spring meeting sessions. They have been replaced by one that rallies the SEC troops more so than any recent legislative storyline.

Satellite camps—the unifying force of SEC coaches.

As it stands right now, SEC and ACC head coaches can't "guest coach" at camps outside of a 50-mile radius from their campuses, while coaches from the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 take advantage of a loophole by bringing their staffs to smaller schools to hold what essentially amount to recruiting combines.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said on Tuesday that the league's 14 coaches were unanimous against satellite camps. 

"All of us are against it, obviously, but there comes a point where we need to start doing it to keep up with Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, the northern schools that are coming into the South," Spurrier said.

SEC coaches are understandably paranoid over coaches from high-profile programs—like Harbaugh at Michigan—invading the fertile SEC recruiting ground in an attempt to lure prospects north.

In fact, some even admit it.

"I guess it’s a selfish position, somewhat," Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze admitted. "I kind of like it the way it is for us, but I totally understand if I was sitting somewhere, and in my recruiting circle, there are satellite camps going on, I would want the freedom to do the same."

The SEC has had enough.

Commissioner Mike Slive and commissioner-elect Greg Sankey announced on Tuesday that the conference will propose national legislation that mirrors the SEC rule prohibiting coaches from guest coaching outside of the 50-mile radius outside state borders.

"We want it to be done nationally, but there was a lot of conversation among our football coaches that we don’t want to be on the sidelines any longer if there’s not going to be a change more rapidly," Sankey said.

"If that’s going to be the competitive landscape, they want to be fully engaged if the rule doesn’t change nationally."

Like his predecessor Slive was known for, this is Sankey's version of walking softly but carrying a big stick.

It's the SEC's version of laying down the hammer and saying, "If you don't do what we want, it's on."

This is an ultimatum laid down by the SEC that could change recruiting in a big way. 

The obvious and immediate byproduct of the SEC's rule being lifted and coaches being able to hold camps nationwide would be the further expansion of the national brand. Alabama reeled in prospects from all over the country last year, including California, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and Texas. 

If allowed, could head coach Nick Saban make a killing by holding a camp in Southern California? You bet he could.

Would Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn not-so-subtly troll Michigan by guest coaching at a camp in Michigan? It wouldn't be the most shocking development in the world.

By exposing the loophole and guest coaching in SEC territory, coaches like Harbaugh, Ohio State's Urban Meyer and Penn State's James Franklin are on the verge of waking the bear out of hibernation. 

SEC programs are already nationally recognizable, and the ability to hold camps nationally will only increase their presence.

But the SEC becoming the wild, wild west of satellite camps could also impact the home front.

If SEC coaches are allowed to guest coach at camps, and there's no limit on the number of events they can hold, the more meaningful impact would be within the conference.

Instead of going to Columbus, Ohio, and plucking a prospect out from under Meyer's nose, Saban could organize an event at Auburn High School next to his intrastate rivals. Georgia head coach Mark Richt could set up shop in Jacksonville, Florida, and hold a "cocktail party camp" on the banks of the St. Johns River.

The unified stance against satellite camps will be replaced with the same angst and animosity that exist now, amplified to a much higher level due to the same conference affiliation.

That's not good for the conference, but it might be the only option if satellite camps are as much of a threat as they're being made out to be this week in Destin.

Sankey said that votes are weighted among FBS conferences, with FBS Power Five conferences getting two votes to every "Group of Five" FBS vote—with a simple majority of those 15 needed to pass the measure. 

With three conferences behind and benefiting from satellite camps and Group of Five FBS schools benefiting from the exposure created by high-profile coaches at their camps, it's going to be an uphill battle for the SEC to ban satellite camps. 

At that point, we'll see if the SEC's ultimatum is all bark or if it has some bite behind it.

 

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

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

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Michigan Football: 5 Toughest QBs Wolverines Will Face in 2015

According to Odds Shark, there are 19 quarterbacks who stand a decent chance of winning the 2015 Heisman Trophy. Luckily or unluckily enough, depending on the point of view and if the odds hold, the Michigan Wolverines could experience the pleasure—or displeasure—of facing up to five of them this fall.

In fact, they could deal with up to three at once on Nov. 28—the date of their regular-season finale with the Ohio State Buckeyes, who boast a stiff-armed-hopeful trio of Cardale Jones (12-1 odds), Braxton Miller (25-1) and J.T. Barrett (2-1).  

Capping one of them is a challenge in itself.

Stopping all of them or a combination of the three on the same day would be nearly impossible.

There are also dates with Michigan State’s Connor Cook (20-1) and Brigham Young’s Taysom Hill (40-1). The gritty veterans will greatly influence the outcome of their meetings with Michigan. The arms don’t stop there, though—it appears that Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg and Utah’s Travis Wilson will also be in the way. 

That’s a lot of talent—and at least few miles of passing yardage and dozens of touchdowns scattered throughout September, October and November.

However, there is good news for Michigan: Defense has been its backbone for the past three years. With D.J. Durkin at the helm, Greg Mattison shifted to the D-line and Michael Zordich and Greg Jackson mounted in the secondary, there is good reason to believe that the trend will continue this fall.

Fielding a top-15 defense is certainly possible for Michigan. 

The word “tough” can mean a lot of things. Today, it means “difficult to play against and ultimately defeat.” With that said, the five “toughest” (likely) quarterbacks on Michigan’s 2015 schedule will be ranked based on individual ability and potential, past experience versus Michigan/other major-conference opponents and team strength.

All of that will be measured against Michigan’s personnel, past against said quarterback and other relevant statistics.

When finished reading, feel free to voice your opinion regarding the order in the comments section.

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Blake Countess Alleviates Some Concerns for Auburn Tigers Secondary

The Auburn Tigers football program received big news Tuesday as former Michigan Wolverines cornerback Blake Countess announced his decision to join the Tigers on his Instagram account, a move that should bolster a defense damaged by offseason departures, especially in the secondary.

Countess is a graduate transfer and will be eligible to play immediately for one season.

Standing at 5’10” and 185 pounds, Countess started 30 games during his Michigan career. He earned All-Big Ten first-team honors in 2013 and All-Big Ten honorable-mention honors in 2014, both from the media.

The native of Owings Mills, Maryland, took an official visit to Auburn from Friday to Sunday. He left impressed, according to Jeffrey Lee of AuburnSports.com.

Per Lee, Countess credited head coach Gus Malzahn, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and secondary coach Travaris Robinson for making him feel comfortable during the visit:

“They all sat down with me and did a really good job of explaining their situation to me. They explained how they would utilize me and my skillset, how they would help me get to where I want to be and also how I could help get them to where they want to be, which is national champions.”

The inclusion of Countess brings much-needed help to the Tigers’ situation—which is a lack of depth and experience on a defense fresh off an offseason exodus of secondary players.

Senior safety Derrick Moncrief, sophomore defensive backs Kamryn Melton and Mackenro Alexander, junior cornerback Joe Turner and freshman cornerback Kalvaraz Bessent all left the program this offseason. Moncrief played in 13 games last year, but the other four players contributed minimally.

Countess gives the team 10 scholarship defensive backs currently on the roster, not including four incoming signees.

With senior Jonathan Jones, a second-team All-SEC selection in 2014, entrenched as a starter at cornerback, Countess will likely battle senior Joshua Holsey, who seemingly emerged as the other starter out of spring camp, according to AL.com.

This allows junior safety Jonathan “Rudy” Ford to play more exclusively at safety. Ford started all 13 games at that spot and led the team with 93 tackles last year. The Tigers were expecting Ford to play cornerback at times this season to compensate for the position’s lack of depth.

At the same time, Countess’ presence will help take some pressure off the secondary players in the incoming signing class. Instead of being thrown into the fire, players like 4-star defensive backs Carlton Davis and Jordan Colbert can take time to get accustomed to the college game while still possibly contributing.

Muschamp can breathe a little easier, knowing he has an experienced and talented cornerback in the fold to help him as he tries to reinvigorate a defense that finished 80th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total passing yards allowed (2,870).

Some, like Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee,believe Countess will immediately start for the Tigers.

Countess will have to adjust to a faster pace of play in the SEC, but a player of his caliber should be able to manage. Against the best competition in the Big Ten, Countess performed well. He finished with a total of 15 tackles, two pass breakups and one interception in his Michigan career against Big Ten powerhouses Ohio State and Michigan State.

 

All recruit rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Laquon Treadwell Doing Backflips Excites Fans, Makes Hugh Freeze 'Cringe'

DESTIN, Fla. — Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell has become one of the most discussed players of the college football offseason.

When Ole Miss was at its best and dancing in and around the top four of the College Football Playoff in late October and early November, Treadwell was the centerpiece of the high-octane Rebel offense. He had 48 catches for 632 yards and five touchdowns and appeared to be headed for a sixth score—a potential game-winner in the closing seconds of the Auburn game.

But he was tackled just short of the goal line and suffered a gruesome broken leg that ended his season, drastically changing the offense for the final month of the season.

According to head coach Hugh Freeze, Treadwell is now a full go.

"He desires to get back and better than he was, so it's a bit hard to keep him patient," Freeze said at SEC spring meetings at the Sandestin Hilton on Tuesday. "It's time to turn him loose though.

"We could have let him do some things in spring besides the routes against air, but we didn't and he's ready to go, run, jump and catch balls so that he has his confidence come fall camp."

It appears he's already got plenty of confidence, though.

Treadwell has posted a series of Instagram videos detailing just how confident he is.

How did that sit with his head coach?

"He looks like he's pretty good to me," Freeze said. "He's doing backflips on trampolines, and that made me cringe a little bit."

That's only a temporary feeling for Freeze, though.

With Treadwell at 100 percent, the entire Rebel offense can open up. He established himself as one of the top possession receivers in the country as a freshman in 2013, when he caught 72 passes for 608 yards. After adding deep-threat responsibilities to his arsenal, he appeared to be well on his way to an All-American season before that broken leg ended his season.

His return will boost a Rebel passing attack that could use its centerpiece back.

With Ryan Buchanan, Chad Kelly and DeVante Kincade all competing for the open quarterback job, an established go-to target will provide a solid foundation for Freeze as he adjusts to his new quarterback and attempts to establish a between-the-tackles running game.

On top of Treadwell's presence dictating the way opposing defensive coordinators approach the Rebels, his supporting cast will excite fans and terrify opposing defensive coordinators even more.

Washington transfer Damore'ea Stringfellow is a Treadwell clone in size, stature and speed, Cody Core and Quincy Adeboyejo are veterans who can't be overlooked and 6'2", 182-pound junior Derrick Jones has turned heads this offseason.

"I thought Derrick Jones had the best spring of anyone," Freeze said on the coaches teleconference earlier in May. "He’s a long, rangy, fast kid that’s come a long way."

It all revolves around Treadwell, though.

Now that he's a full go, flipping and ready for fall camp, those Instagram videos are more likely to make opposing coaches cringe than Freeze. He's the catalyst of a Rebel offense that could evolve into one of the SEC's best in 2015.

 

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

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

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ranking Every State by Their College Football Teams

College football is a very pride-heavy sport. Fans root for their schools first and foremost, but in many cases, they'll throw support toward members of the same conference in hopes that makes their team look better for being in a strong league.

But what about state pride? Why isn't that more of a thing?

At Bleacher Report, we think identifying which states have the best collection of college football teams is just as important as which conferences and individual schools are superior to each other. Maybe it's leftover patriotism from Memorial Day, but we think it's worth deciding.

Using every FBS team's 2014 performance as a barometer—but also taking previous seasons' results into consideration—we've ranked every state, commonwealth, territory and principality in the United States. And since it's a collective ranking, having one really good team at the top doesn't take away from bottom-feeders bringing up the rear.

Check out where your part of the union ended up, then give us your thoughts in the comments section.

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Best Fits for Top Uncommitted 2016 Recruits

The class of 2016 is loaded with top-tier talent. From standout quarterbacks to lockdown defenders, this crop of athletes is turning heads on the recruiting trail. 

College football analyst Michael Felder joined Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe to comb through the top uncommitted recruits in the class of 2016. 

Where will these stud players go? Check out the video, and let us know! 

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Building College Football's Ultimate Defensive Line for the 2015 Season

College football is chock-full of top defensive line talent. Composing an all-star lineup is harder than ever because of the depth across the country. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder joins Adam Lefkoe to give his picks for making the ultimate defensive line.

Who are the top defensive linemen in the country? Check out the video and let us know!

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Who Will Be Florida's Defensive MVP for the 2015 Season?

The Florida Gators are in a state of transition. After Will Muschamp's departure, the Jim McElwain era has officially arrived. In addition to having an explosive offense over the years, the Gators have featured several standout defenders. 

Who will be Florida's defensive MVP in 2015? 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder joined Adam Lefkoe to answer that question in the video above. 

 

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Every First-Year College Football Coach's Biggest 2015 Offseason Question Mark

With the summer offseason in full swing, how are first-year coaches adapting to their new jobs? What questions do they still have to answer?

Chances are, there are a lot of things that still have to be tied up. However, not everything can be solved in a day. For now, let's start with the most pressing issues. (For that matter, they may not be solved anytime soon, either.) 

What do first-year coaches still have to figure out during the offseason and going forward? We take a stab at the biggest storylines based on unanswered spring-time questions and ongoing concerns within the program. 

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Which 5-Star Does Notre Dame Need to Land to Solidify 2016 Recruiting Class?

Behind Brian Kelly's relentless pursuit of top talent, Notre Dame is looking to continue its success on the recruiting trail in 2015.

Adam Lefkoe is joined by Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder to give his pick for a big-time recruit who can help the Fighting Irish.

Who is the must-have prospect for Notre Dame's 2016 recruiting class? Check out the video and let us know!

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Auburn Football: Michigan Transfer Blake Countess Will Start Day 1 for Tigers

Former Michigan cornerback Blake Countess recently announced that he is transferring to Auburn. The talented defender started most of 2013, earning all-conference honors.

Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee joined Stephen Nelson as they discussed Countess' game and how he'll fit into the Tigers defense in 2015. 

Will Countess make an immediate impact at Auburn? Check out the video and let us know! 

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Nick Saban Warns of SEC Becoming a "Farm System" If Rules Aren't Changed

DESTIN, Fla. — "You can't create a system that really can almost promote fraud."

Alabama head coach Nick Saban issued a warning today that this is the road that college football could be heading down in the age of autonomy if the Power Five conferences—the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC—don't get on the same page regarding key legislative issues that will define the future of major college football.

Speaking at the SEC spring meetings at the Sandestin Hilton, Saban stood strong on several key issues, including the different numbers generated by each school regarding the full-cost-of-attendance stipend, satellite camps that are allowed in the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 and graduate transfer rules that prohibit players who have been disciplined by their previous institutions from coming to the SEC unless they receive a waiver.

"We need to have the same rules in the big five in all leagues," Saban said. "If we're going to compete for the championship and everybody is going to play in the playoff system, then we need to get our rules in alignment so that we are all on a level playing field.

"These things need to be global; otherwise we are going to become a farm system for all of the other leagues."

SEC coaches are understandably upset that coaches from outside the region are allowed to invade the fertile recruiting grounds of the SEC to try to poach players. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh recently held a camp at Prattville high school in Alabama—one of the most powerful high school programs in the state—and landed a commitment from 3-star running back Kingston Davis, according to the Montgomery Advertiser's Ethan Bernal.

"We have a lot of crazy rules," Saban said. "Head coaches aren't allowed to go out during an evaluation period in the spring, but you can go have a satellite camp anywhere in the country and bring your staff in and bring players to it? Does that make any sense to anybody?

"I think we should have recruiting periods and evaluation periods, and the only time you should be able to have a camp is on your campus."

It isn't just a recruiting issue, though.

As it stands right now, financial aid offices at each individual school determine the true full-cost-of-attendance figure for each school. According to Brad Wolverton and Sandhya Kambhampati of the Chronicle of Higher Education, the number ranges from Kentucky at $2,284, on the low end of the SEC, to Tennessee at $5,666 at the high end.

"Even in the NFL, they have a salary cap," Saban said. "When we don't have a cap that makes it equal for everybody, it really goes against everything we've tried to do in the NCAA that we've tried to do for parity."

Doesn't that sound a bit extreme?

Well, maybe a little bit, but SEC spring meetings is the right place to take a hard line in order to come to a consensus as a conference.

Saban is spot-on.

This is the time and place to make a stand against these types of issues, and hopefully the SEC will conclude spring meetings on Friday with a specific topic to take to the NCAA: uniformity.

There's no reason for conferences to have different rules in this day and age of autonomy among the Power Five conferences. The push for autonomy—a separate governance structure for major college football—essentially created a need for the Power Five conferences to get on the same page for all major legislative issues.

Yet here we are, in late May 2015, with conferences playing by different rulebooks. 

That has to change. 

Some of those issues—like the full cost of attendance—are direct results of issues created by that autonomy, but that doesn't mean they should linger. The new NCAA football oversight committee was specifically created to address these concerns and is as close to a "commissioner of college football" that exists. These should be the first issues that it addresses.

These aren't the dark ages, where conferences look out for their own best interests. Rising revenue figures first from the BCS and now in the age of the College Football Playoff are a clear indication that a rising tide floats all boats. We are in an age of simplicity, and having uniformity across the board regarding key issues addressing college football is a necessity.

Could it be paranoia driving Saban to suggest that the SEC—a conference that won seven straight national titles from 2006-2012—could become a "farm system" to other conferences?

Maybe a little bit. 

But if other conferences have recruiting advantages and, conceivably, more money to throw around via full-cost-of-attendance stipends, he has every right to be paranoid.

 

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

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

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Alabama Football: 5 Toughest QBs Crimson Tide Will Face in 2015

A quick survey around the SEC shows this year won’t be the “year of the quarterback” in the league.

Half of the SEC’s 14 schools will be breaking in a new starter or don’t have a solid starter named right now. That’s good news for defenses in a league that has recently been defined by the points it’s been putting up on the scoreboard.

That’s not to say there will just be a bunch of scrubs suiting up under center, though.

Here’s a look at the top five quarterbacks Alabama will face this year. These players are either returning starters or guys who have been named starters in the offseason (sorry, whoever ends up starting for LSU).

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Insider Buzz: Alabama, Notre Dame and Florida Set Sights on 'Forgotten' Stud QB

Pro-style quarterbacks are a hot commodity in college football. Having already adapted to playing under center, these signal-callers are what most head coaches are looking for.  It's the dual-threat quarterbacks that seem to get overlooked. 

Bleacher Report Recruiting Analyst Sanjay Kirpalani joined Stephen Nelson as they touched on Xavier Gaines, a talented dual-threat quarterback gaining lots of attention on the recruiting trail. 

Where should Gaines play his college ball? Check out the video and let us know! 

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