NCAA Football

Building College Football's Ultimate Wide Receiving Corps

Wide receiver is one of the most important positions on the field. The college football world is graced with many incredibly impressive athletes at the wide receiver position. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder joins Stephen Nelson to make the ultimate receiving corps in the video above. 

Who would be on your ultimate receiving group? Check out the video and let us know!

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Alabama Football: Cost of Attendance Money Won't Help or Hurt Tide's Recruiting

ATLANTA — It’s not hard to see what this offseason’s major issue and talking point will be in college football.

It’s not going to be satellite camps or graduate transfers or uptempo offenses (is that still even a thing?).

This coming season, for the first time, schools will be able to provide athletes with the “full cost of attendance,” more than just the standard tuition, books and room and board.

According to ESPN.com’s Mitch Sherman, writing at the time the measure passed, most student athletes will receive an extra “$2,000 to $4,000 annually.”

And therein lies the problem. Schools will be able to determine their own cost of attendance, which could lead to inflated numbers in the name of recruiting.

Depending on who you ask, Alabama’s extra benefits will likely fall somewhere in the middle of the SEC. Tuscaloosa is a reasonably inexpensive place to live, and UA is an average state school, cost-wise.

The Crimson Tide shouldn’t feel a big effect in recruiting from the legislation, regardless of where their final number falls. Nick Saban and Alabama won’t be that much affected by the rule.

Still, Saban isn’t happy about the ramifications.

"To do it the way we did it is going to be a nightmare," he said this week before a Crimson Caravan stop in Atlanta. "We've spent 100 years in the NCAA trying to make everything equal. So no extra benefits, nobody could get something that somebody else couldn't get. All right. Now you leave it up to the institution, and I think some people have manipulated their numbers because they've significantly changed from last year to this year, and that's not the spirit of the rule.

"Everybody has, historically, from an academic standpoint, tried to keep the cost of attendance down. It's a benefit to the students. It's a benefit to their scholarships. Now all of a sudden it's going to be different, and I don't think that's good."

The Chronicle of Higher Education attempted to calculate what these numbers could be for the 65 wealthiest NCAA institutions using some back-of-the-napkin math. They used “a review of institutions’ financial-aid websites and cost-of-attendance figures that the colleges report to the federal government” to determine the cost.

The Chronicle set Alabama’s full cost of attendance at $27,434, fourth in the SEC. But Alabama’s “difference in scholarship,” extra money that goes to cover that full cost of attendance, was $2,892, which put it at No. 10 in the conference.

Those estimates, though, are just that: estimates.

When Saban was asked about the effects of being in the bottom half of the league, a UA spokesman stepped in and said those numbers weren’t accurate and that Alabama hasn’t yet set a number for its cost of attendance.

Saban and Alabama shouldn’t worry about disparity in numbers affecting his recruiting, though, at least in the short term.

He’s pulled in a No. 1 class to Tuscaloosa the last five years, according to 247Sports.com.

Alabama is winning consistently and sending players to the NFL at a breakneck pace. It has first-class facilities, major tradition, an already legendary coach and a gigantic and passionate fanbase. Those things won’t change.

Most recruits won’t turn that down for a few hundred or a thousand extra bucks a year, if they are even aware of the differences to begin with.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken asked a handful of coaches who told him most recruits this year didn’t ask about cost of attendance or even know those benefits would be available to them.

Other coaches don’t think it will have much of an effect, either.

“I know there’s going to be much differing in the number of the cost of attendance, but at the end of the day, a prospective student-athlete really chooses that school based on the relationships they have built,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said, according to CoachingSearch.com’s Chris Vannini.

“We haven’t had much questions asked about total cost of attendance. Really, at the end of the day, it comes down to things that are most important.”

“At the end of the day, some of those factors always play in recruiting, whether it’s playing time, jersey number, where you live, all the little things,” former Georgia offensive coordinator and current Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo said, per Vannini.

And in “all the little things,” Saban and Alabama are doing all right.

Still, Saban would like to see it even across the board.

"Every competitive league, whether it's the NFL or whatever, does everything they can to create parity," Saban said. "So now you take the basic No. 1 thing and made it unequal for some schools. Whether we were at the top or the bottom, I would feel the same way."

He shouldn’t worry about that in the short term, though. He’s doing just fine as it is.

 

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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Jim Harbaugh's First Victory over Urban Meyer Comes on Twitter

The first edition of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry game headlined by Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh won't take place until Nov. 28.

But that hasn't stopped the Buckeyes' and Wolverines' head coaches from already going head-to-head on multiple occasions.

Most of the undercard battles between Meyer and Harbaugh have taken place on the recruiting trail, with Meyer typically getting the upper hand. The reigning national champion managed to secure the commitment of 4-star running back and Detroit native Mike Weber on national signing day, and any concerns about Ohio State's access to its Michigan pipeline went away last week when Meyer snagged a verbal pledge from 2016 4-star offensive tackle Michael Jordan.

But as of Thursday, Harbaugh is officially on the board against his newest rival.

And he got there 140-characters-or-less at a time.

Despite having only been active on Twitter for fewer than five months, Harbaugh has built an online brand for himself that is unmistakable. The new Michigan head man routinely responds to the happenings of his program with vague tweets (and apparent sub-tweets to Meyer), goes back and forth with Judge Judy and wishes his players happy birthday in his own unique way.

Add in his shared selfies with pop star Ciara and the recent announcement of an unprecedented quarterback camp, and @CoachJim4UM has become college football's must-follow coach.

The numbers say as much.

Despite Meyer's having been active on social media since 2013, Harbaugh passed his new rival on Twitter in terms of followers in a mere fourth months. As of Friday, Harbaugh has more than 269,000 followers to Meyer's 263,000, making him the most followed coach in all of college football.

It's not hard to explain the reasoning behind Harbaugh's surge in Twitter popularity, as there isn't a coach in college football who makes his personality more apparent. As opposed to most coaches, who just use their accounts as a publicity tool to promote their programs, Harbaugh spends time documenting his offseason trips to Peru and posting pictures of his kids.

Meanwhile, it's tough to scan Meyer's account and find a tweet that looks like it was crafted himself. Most are just promotional Ohio State-themed pictures that have already been tweeted by another official school account, essentially retweeted in an effort to get them in front of Meyer's sizable audience.

That Meyer has been been able to garner such a following without any particularly interesting tweets are testaments to both his success and the Buckeyes fanbase. But make no mistake: The three-time national champion's account could disappear or go dormant, and it'd be a while before anyone would likely notice.

The same couldn't be said for Harbaugh, as evidenced by his ability to become college football's most followed coach in such a short amount of time. Like most coaches, his account exists to create a buzz for both him and his school—he just happens to be doing it better than anybody else at the moment.

Whether that success will carry over to the football field this fall remains to be seen.

But for now, score one for Harbaugh.

 

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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Miami Football: Offseason Recruiting Hot Streak Just What Al Golden Needs

Miami Hurricanes head coach Al Golden is facing an unsteady future in Coral Gables due to inconsistent play from his program, but things are running smoothly as ever when it comes to recruiting efforts.

After a Friday morning commitment from rising sophomore defensive back Jalen Patterson, per Ryan Bartow of 247Sports, the Hurricanes now hold top-three classes in national composite rankings for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 cycles. It's quite an accomplishment for a squad that finished 6-7 last season.

Golden has picked up 22 total pledges from prospects in those three classes since Miami suffered a loss to South Carolina in the Independence Bowl. That puts him in rare territory when it comes to recruiting effectiveness with present prospects and those still years away from their national signing day.

In fact, the small collection of coaches who can compare to his current success rate during this decade are all national champions—Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Jimbo Fisher and Les Miles.

Golden, in terms of on-field results, is an obvious outlier.

He enters his fifth season as the Hurricanes' leader with a 16-16 record against ACC opponents. His best season at Miami—a nine-win campaign in 2013—ended with a 27-point loss to Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

It hasn't been a fruitful chapter in the program's rich history, but things began to sputter long before Golden arrived from Temple and found himself shackled by scholarship sanctions and bowl bans.

Golden's predecessor, former Hurricanes linebacker Randy Shannon, averaged just seven victories per season at his alma mater. Before him, 2002 national champion Larry Coker failed to sustain lofty levels of success following a transition to the ACC.

It may seem hard to fathom, but Miami hasn't posted a double-digit win total since it departed the Big East in 2004. This drought follows a period when the program won at least 11 games for four straight seasons.

Golden could certainly be shuffled off campus like Shannon and Coker if the Hurricanes don't make significant strides this season. Sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya provides reason for immediate optimism, but Miami's recruiting success serves up long-term hope.

Hope is a strong sell at this point for Golden, who hasn't offered Miami's administration much proof it's found the next Jimmy Johnson.

He can showcase a 2016 recruiting class that rose to No. 1 overall in national rankings earlier this year and now sits third on that list. With 20 pledges, the Hurricanes have college football's biggest haul of high school juniors.

Headliners include impressive 4-star quarterback Jack Allison and a trio of Florida's premier wide receiver prospects (Sam BruceAhmmon Richards and Dionte Mullins). The group also features top in-state linebacker Shaquille Quarterman and 4-star defensive end Joseph Jackson.

It remains to be seen how balanced this class ends up in terms of quantity versus quality, as the majority of committed players currently command a composite rating of 2 or 3 stars. And Golden hasn't yet reached out of the Sunshine State for a single commitment in this recruiting cycle.

Regardless, any perception of a "hot streak" in recruiting is great news for Golden. It shifts the focus from a sub-.500 season and generates a perception that the program is on track to improve.

That outlook is further enhanced when you examine how Miami has fared with high school underclassmen. The Hurricanes hold 10 commitments from athletes finishing their freshman or sophomore year, and Golden managed to land some of the state's top sophomores in running back Robert Burns and linebacker Tyler Dunning this February.

Reigning national champion Ohio State is the only other FBS squad with six 2017 pledges. 

Miami tops everyone with four committed 2018 recruits following Patterson's declaration. The 5'10", 170-pound prospect already held multiple Power Five scholarship offers after one high school season.

"He's an unbelievable athlete," Stephen Field, his high school coach, told Bartow. "He can play all over the field. He's just a playmaker." 

That's an accurate description for many Hurricanes stars who helped turn the team into a national powerhouse during past decades. The next generation of playmakers could help move momentum forward at Miami and make Golden's shaky start fade into the rearview mirror.

But many are still a long recruiting journey away from formally signing with the program. And those who do will require time to develop.

Time seems to be against Golden these days, but hope may give him a few more pebbles in the hourglass.

 

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Ole Miss Football: Running Game Still a Work-in-Progress

What if I told you that Ole Miss' biggest spring question was still a work-in-progress, and that head coach Hugh Freeze is happy with where the players battling for that position are but that there's still a long way to go?

You'd probably assume that the next sentence would have something to do with the three-way quarterback battle raging in Oxford that includes junior college transfer Chad Kelly and redshirt sophomores DeVante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan.

You'd be wrong.

The most important position battle in Oxford is the one to be the "thunder" to running back Jaylen Walton's "lightning" in the Rebel backfield.

The Rebels have finished 10th or worse in the SEC in yards per carry in each of Freeze's three seasons as head coach. They finished 11th last season with 4.25 yards per carry and 10th in yards per game at 155.46. Against Arkansas in late November, they netted just 63 rushing yards on 33 carries and gained just nine rushing yards on 37 carries against TCU in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. 

Eugene Brazley, Akeem Judd and Jordan Wilkins are all competing to earn bruiser carries for the 2015 Rebels. Of that trio, Wilkins—a 6'1", 209-pound sophomore who finished second on the team in rushing last year with just 361 yards and one touchdown—was the most impressive this spring.

"Wilkins is going to be a solid player for us," Freeze said in quotes released by Ole Miss. "He is a good pass protector and a hard runner. He can get the football out of the backfield. I think he sees that now is his time to start getting more reps and more opportunities to help this football team. He has been good this spring."

Only with the first team, though. 

Injuries decimated Ole Miss' offensive line this spring. Star tackle Laremy Tunsil broke his leg in the loss to TCU and missed all 15 practices. According to Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, starting guard Aaron Morris, center/tackle Robert Conyers, tackle Daronte Bouldin, tackle Davion Johnson, center Sean Rawlings and tackle Talbot Buys all missed practice time this spring as well.

On top of that, sophomore Christian Morris was just back off battling the injury bug, and Jeremy Liggins—the massive former tight end/Wildcat quarterback—was playing as an offensive lineman for the first time as a Rebel.

The injuries prevented Freeze from getting a good gauge on his running backs.

"It was a bit unfair not only for them, but for the quarterback who had that rotation of playing with the second and third units," Freeze said on Tuesday's coaches teleconference. "We got those kids better up front, but our defensive line is really talented and deep, so that makes it very difficult for us to evaluate how those guys did. When they drew the straws to go with the first guys, I saw good signs from all of them."

Judd is a 6'0", 222-pounder from Durham, North Carolina, who redshirted last year after moving over from Georgia Military College. At 5'9", 189 pounds, Brazley is more of the happy medium between a bruiser and an edge threat.

Freeze was impressed with the straight-line speed that Brazley showed this spring, and that could be a huge asset for the 2015 Rebels.

"We are excited about Eugene's progression," Freeze said. "[He] ran one of our fastest 40-yard dash times when we tested right before we broke for May."

The injury issues up front and inability of the staff to get a really good gauge on where they stand with the running back position could be a blessing in disguise, though. Those backup offensive linemen got plenty of work this spring with both the first and second teams, and that experience will be invaluable to them as backups once the starters get back to full strength.

That will help the running backs continue to develop during fall camp. In an ideal world for Freeze, it will also provide the balance that Ole Miss desperately needs to become a legitimate SEC West title contender.

 

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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One Week Away from Decision, Kenney Lyke Breaks Down Top Schools

Around this time next week, at about 2 p.m. CT, Palatine, Illinois, defensive back Kenney Lyke will announce his college plans. He also will give his parents one of the best belated birthday presents money can't buy.

On May 22, the Fremd High School 3-star prospect will verbally commit to one of four schools—either Notre Dame, Michigan State, Baylor or Oregon. He also will put a huge smile on the face of his mother and father, Latoya Williams and Kenneth Lyke, who will celebrate birthdays before the announcement.

Lyke's mother is celebrating her birthday today. His father will celebrate his birthday on Monday.

"I'm excited about [May 22]; I think they are, too," Lyke said.

"We're definitely very, very proud of him and all of his accolades," Williams said of her son, the No. 13 player from the state of Illinois and a top-40 safety nationally. "He has worked really hard to get to this point. To see that he was so talented to peak so many schools around the nation, it's amazing."

Lyke announced his top four on Tuesday and officially announced his decision day on Thursday via social media.

Lyke said the past couple of days have been exciting for him and his family, and he's using the next few days to not only weigh his options but reflect on the process. He said he has enjoyed his process, but he's ready for everything to slow down.

"I think it's been a pretty positive experience so far. It's always good to go out and meet other people and coaches on visits and see how the coaches come at you," he said. "It's always good to see where you fit in at a new place."

Lyke said he has "a pretty clear understanding of where I'd like to play college football." Of the three schools, Oregon has yet to offer. Lyke, however, put Oregon in his top four because of the strong relationship he's built with the staff. He believes an offer will come soon.

For the time being, Notre Dame and Michigan State appear to be the front-runners. Notre Dame has a slight proximity advantage, but both schools are less than a three-hour drive away from Palatine.

"Michigan State was the first [Power Five] school to recruit me and offer me," Lyke said. "Everybody in East Lansing are real cool. The recruits they have right now are doing a good job of recruiting prospects. Plus, the coaches keep it real. I like [recruiting coordinator] Coach [Brad] Salem and [head] Coach D [Mark Dantonio].

"With Notre Dame, when I took my first my visit there, I wasn't offered. I was a little discouraged, but they told me they'd offer down the line, and they kept their word. Coach [Brian] VanGorder is a good defensive coordinator to play underneath. They run a lot of NFL defenses and work a lot with the secondary."

Baylor is the wild card of the three schools that have offered. While it is far away from home, Baylor's coaching staff has won Lyke and his family over with its sincerity. Williams likes that it's a private school built on religious morals.

"I love the way [defensive coordinator] Coach [Phil] Bennett and [safeties] Coach [Cris] Dishman are coaching the defensive backs," Lyke said. "They run the same defense as I run in high school, so that'll be a plus going in knowing the defense. My defensive coordinator is really good friends with Coach Bennett, and I've had extensive conversations with both Coach Bennett and Coach Dishman."

If Oregon offers between now and next Friday, credit secondary coach John Neal for keeping Lyke interested. Lyke has been paying attention to Oregon's defensive backs, and he likes what the coaching staff is doing to produce quality, Pac-12 athletes.

Lyke is being recruiting to all four schools as a safety, but he added that he may get opportunities to play on special teams and possibly kick returner. As a defensive back, Lyke had 81 tackles and two interceptions last season for Fremd.

Lyke said the "feeling of being at home" is the main factor in his decision. He also wants the chance to compete early. Williams said she's looking for a quality education for her son.

"At the end of the day, he can't go wrong with anywhere he chooses," Williams said. "We've been excited throughout the whole process. I think I was probably more stressed than he was, but I know that wherever he goes, he'll be at a great school. It'll make for a great belated birthday present."

 

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

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