NCAA Football

Every Top 25 Team's Must-Win Game of 2016 College Football Season

Spend enough time around college football coaches and you’ll become well-versed in cliches. Football coaches, by nature, are cautious, paranoid, close-to-the-vest creatures, and some speak entirely in platitudes, afraid to mention anything of value to reporters. One of these kind of coaches’ favorite cliches is “the most important game is the next game.”

Sure, it sounds fine, but here’s the thing: It’s not true. The gimme game against an FCS foe does not mean the same as the conference opener. SEC teams often schedule “paycheck” games in late November. Are you going to argue those games are as meaningful as Alabama-Auburn or Florida-Florida State the following week? Of course not.

Some games are just more important, the kind of games fans circle on the schedule the moment it comes out. They’re must-win games, contests that can shape, make or break a season. They’re the games that truly matter. Here’s a look at every Top 25 team’s “must-win” game for the 2016 season. Games were selected for their overall importance to a team’s momentum or overall success this fall. The Top 25 is compiled by Bleacher Report using the latest available preseason polls.

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Why Urban Meyer Is College Football's Most Versatile Recruiter

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A week before Ohio State saw 12 of its players—including five first-rounders—picked in the NFL draft, I asked Buckeyes wide receivers coach Zach Smith what plays better on the recruiting trail: national championships or the ability to put players in the pros?

"I don't know that either sells better," Smith said. "They all want both."

Having played wide receiver for Urban Meyer at Bowling Green before serving as his graduate assistant at Florida and eventually rejoining him in Columbus, Smith knows that with his boss, he has the luxury of not having to pick just one pitch.

With camp season in full force, recruiting currently rules the college football world and no coach in recent months has had more success at luring talent to his program than Meyer. On Sunday, the Ohio State head coach bolstered what was already the nation's top-ranked 2017 class when he received a commitment from 4-star quarterback Tate Martell, the country's No. 1 dual-threat signal-caller.

Any short list of college football's top salesmen undoubtedly includes Meyer, who has signed four top-five classes since arriving in Columbus in 2012 and is well on his way to a fifth. But unlike his recruiting contemporaries—Nick Saban, Jim Harbaugh, Jimbo Fisher and that might be it—the fifth-year Buckeyes head coach doesn't have to stick to one script.

Much like his explosive spread offense, the key to Meyer's approach on the recruiting trail is an unmatched versatility, which allows him to shuffle around his pitches like chess pieces based on any one prospect's given desires.

Want rings? Meyer's got eight of them—five conference titles and three national championships that span a 14-year head coaching career.

Hoping to win the Heisman? Meyer's coached one winner of college football's most prestigious award—Tim Tebow in 2007—and has seen his quarterback finish in the top five of Heisman voting in six of his past 11 seasons as a head coach.

Looking to land in the NFL? Meyer's penchant for putting players in the pros dates back to Alex Smith being selected first overall out of Utah in 2005, continued through his time at Florida and has only amplified at Ohio State, including a 2016 class that Chase Stuart of FiveThirtyEight.com deemed "the most impressive in modern NFL history."

"We're pretty creative around here," Meyer said in the lead up to this year's draft, where recruiting staffers documented the Buckeyes' big weekend on social media as Meyer served as an analyst for NFL Network, only increasing his program's already abundant visibility.

But what separates Meyer's pitches to prospects most has been his ability to adapt to the ever-changing recruiting landscape.

Saban and Fisher can sell championships too, Harbaugh is on the cutting edge of a recruiting revolution and all three have developed numerous pro prospects over the course of their careers. But none have the ability to mesh those draws as Meyer has, using a modern approach to tout his multipronged resume.

Consider Meyer's willingness to take part in several satellite camps this summer, a Harbaugh-staple that Saban and Fisher have been reluctant to embrace. Per Ryan Donnelly of Rivals.com, Meyer and his staff are slated to take part in nearly a dozen satellite camps this month, including stops in Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Georgia and Michigan.

But rather than use the platforms to emulate Harbaugh, whose fashion choices at such camps have kept him front and center in the college football news cycle, Meyer has been able to deliver his own messages—as was the case during the speech he gave at the Buckeyes' stop at New Jersey's Fairleigh Dickinson earlier this month.

"You want to get noticed? Work really hard. Shut your mouth, do the right things, be selfless," Meyer said in a video of the speech posted by NUC Sports. "Be a great teammate, don't draw attention to yourself. You want to draw attention to yourself? Be the hardest working guy out there."

Meyer's ability to sell his own message on the camp circuit is reminiscent of his decision to join Twitter three years ago after realizing its value as a recruiting tool to promote his program. Despite not having college football's most-talked-about social media account—that distinction belongs to Harbaugh—Meyer does lay claim to the most followers, with more than 514,800 users subscribing to @OSUCoachMeyer's tweets.

And much like his presence at satellite camps, Meyer has made his Twitter account his own, as evidenced by a recent tweet promoting an endorsement from his most famous former player, Tebow—a reminder of all the recruiting tools that remain at his disposal.

Looking for a celebrity coach? Meyer can do that, having sat courtside at each of the past two NBA Finals thanks to his relationship with NBA megastar LeBron James.

Want someone entrenched in X's and O's? Meyer's your man, as evidenced by a combined 50-4 record in the past four seasons at Ohio State, a career .851 winning percentage and a trophy case only Saban can claim to match.

After the Buckeyes won the first-ever College Football Playoff championship in 2015, Meyer was well aware of the impact his time in the limelight had on the recruiting trail.

"I tell people it was like a 30‑day infomercial," Meyer said on signing day in 2015. "Go pay for a positive advertisement for 30 days and see what that looks like."

And after Ohio State's heavy presence at this past NFL draft?

"It was like a three-hour infomercial for our program," Meyer said during his NFL Network coverage.

For the past four years, the Buckeyes have had plenty to sell and have used as many means as possible to promote their pitches.

And on the recruiting trail, there hasn't been a product more popular with prospects than Ohio State and the "buy one, get them all" deal its head coach allows it to deliver.

 

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. Recruiting class rankings courtesy of 247Sports' composite.

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Is Florida the Best SEC Team That Nobody's Talking About?

One look at the odds from OddsShark.com on teams likely to win the College Football Playoff National Championship, and you'll see plenty of the usual suspects. 

Alabama and Clemson—last year's participants in the title game—are near the top at plus-700 and plus-750, respectively. Big Ten rivals Ohio State and Michigan are at plus-700 and plus-750, respectively, as well. Tennessee (+1400) and Georgia (+3300) are the two top teams in the SEC East, while LSU (+1400), Ole Miss (+2500) and Auburn (+3300)—yes, that Auburn—all are getting some Las Vegas love as well.

Where's the love for Florida?

You know, that team—despite some massive issues that included the suspension of former quarterback Will Grier in the middle of the season and injuries to a young and inexperienced offensive line—that managed to win the SEC East and remain on the periphery of the playoff discussion until rivalry weekend?

At plus-4000, the Gators are the best team that nobody's talking about. 

Why?

Because of last year's offensive struggles in the month of November? Because of the three-game losing streak to close the season? Because of quarterback issues that plagued head coach Jim McElwain's crew after former starter Will Grier was suspended midway through his redshirt freshman campaign?

Those aren't good enough reasons to ignore McElwain, who recognizes that last year's late-season fade route has forced some instability that will help the program.

"Every day, you wake up and there's a new something going on," he said at SEC spring meetings in May. "I don't think you ever get comfortable. Usually when you get comfortable, that's when you get your tail beat."

Florida got its tail beat in those three losses—by 25 to Florida State, by 14 to Alabama and by 34 to Michigan.

Don't bet on that happening again.

With a stellar defensive line that features tackle Caleb Brantley and former hot-shot recruit Cece Jefferson at end, a linebacking corps that includes potential All-American Jarrad Davis and a secondary that not only has stars in Jalen Tabor, Quincy Wilson and Marcus Maye, but upgraded at defensive backs coach when McElwain hired Torrian Gray away from Virginia Tech.

No, that defense didn't help the Gators down the stretch. But you'd probably get worn down too if you carried a team for three months.

Should the absence of a solidified starter really make a team an afterthought? Nope. Six of the last seven national titles have been won by first-year starting quarterbacks. Plus, if you consider Cole Stoudt as Clemson's starter in 2014, 10 of the last 14 starting quarterbacks in the national title game were in their first seasons as starting quarterbacks.

"It has more to do with the supporting cast around that person," McElwain said. "We were pretty fortunate when I was at Alabama [as offensive coordinator] to have Greg McElroy, but he had been in the program for a while. Same thing with AJ [McCarron] when he became a starter that first year. I don't know that it has as much to do with that particular position as it does with—what have you done for the other 10 guys on the offense."

To win in college football, regardless of how exotic your offense is, you have to run and play defense. Florida has the latter part of that equation locked down.

The former should be just fine as well.

Junior college transfer Mark Thompson rushed five times for 46 yards and a touchdown in the spring game. While many will compare him to former Alabama running back and 2015 Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry because of his 6'2", 242-pound frame, the 26-yard touchdown run from the Orange and Blue Debut (1:45 mark of the video below) suggests that he's a little more nimble than Henry.

With Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite already in house, the Gators should—at the very worst—create a formidable running back committee that will ease the transition to the new quarterback.

That quarterback will likely be former Alabama and Oregon State signal caller Luke Del Rio, who sat out last year while learning the system. He completed 10 of his 11 passes and tossed two touchdowns in the spring game and looked fully capable of moving the chains and keeping the Gators defense well-rested on the bench.

Antonio Callaway is back in a limited capacity this summer and can workout at the complex, and a full-fledged return seems to be in the cards at some point either prior to the season or shortly after it begins. Dre Massey is a junior college transfer who looked solid in the spring game with 29 receiving yards and a touchdown, and an incoming receiving class that includes Freddie Swain, Joshua Hammond and Tyrie Cleveland should bolster depth and give Del Rio (or Austin Appleby, if he springs an upset) options.

What's more, Florida has a kicker now. It got so bad in Gainesville last year that McElwain held open kicker tryouts. But junior college transfer Eddy Pineiro made a splash when he connected on three of his five attempts in the spring game—with the three made field goals all coming from over 46 yards and the two misses being from 52 and 53 yards, respectively. 

A solid defense, the ability to create a functioning passing attack off play-action and a sound kicking game is a recipe for success.

If Florida can get by Tennessee for the 12th straight season—a game which will be on Rocky Top—a return trip to the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship Game should be in the cards. Florida owns the series with Georgia, and the rest of the schedule outside of LSU—which comes to "The Swamp" and has offensive issues of its own—is relatively easy.

Don't sleep on the Gators.

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Tennessee Football: Projecting Who Will Win Volunteers' Open Starting Positions

One of the best things about the Tennessee football program having so much talent stockpiled this season is there should be healthy competitions all over the field.

While a lot of players such as quarterback Joshua Dobbs, running backs Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara, cornerback Cameron Sutton, linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and defensive end Derek Barnett have some starting spots wrapped up as long as they're healthy, there will be battles.

Head coach Butch Jones is trying to build a program that will have sustained success, and while there could possibly be a temporary dip in production after what is expected to be a stellar 2016 season, who wins the position wars this fall will go a long way in determining if that actually happens.

If some underclassmen step up and do what they were recruited to do, this should be just the beginning of the Volunteers being back in the thick of things in the SEC.

There is a ton of optimism all over the national media regarding the Vols, and it has reached a fever frenzy on Rocky Top.

"This is going to be the most anticipated Tennessee football season probably in at least eight years," AM 1340 The Drive radio personality Russell Smith told WBIR's Kendall Morris

The star power and incumbent starters lend to the buzz around the program, but with the newcomers and some talented players who are getting their opportunities to play their way into the mix, that makes the upcoming season exciting, too.

Just how good those players are who win the open position battles will go a long way in determining just how tough the Vols will be. Let's take a look at who should win some of the top position tussles this fall.

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Notre Dame Football: Projecting Who Will Win Irish's Open Starting Positions

Notre Dame football celebrated seven NFL draft picks and 13 players who signed professional contracts, but that success also means the roster has plenty of vacancies to fill.

Fortunately for the Irish, their unfortunate trend of injuries last season means a few open spots already have proven options available for the 2016 campaign.

Consequently, each position highlighted will be occupied by a new full-time starter. The lone exception is one spot where a replacement player is projected to maintain his season-ending job.

And it won't be a surprise where that position is found.

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Isaiah Bolden to FSU: Seminoles Land 4-Star CB Prospect

Class of 2018 cornerback Isaiah Bolden made an early college choice Tuesday, announcing his decision to play for the Florida State Seminoles. 

Bolden made it official with the following tweet:

According to 247Sports, the Jacksonville, Florida, native is a 4-star recruit who ranks as the No. 15 corner, No. 20 player from the state of Florida and No. 135 overall prospect in his class.

Per 247sports, Bolden chose FSU despite offers from myriad other high-profile programs, including Florida, Georgia, Auburn, Clemson, Michigan and Oklahoma.

Prior to making his announcement, the Bartram Trail High School standout told Robert Judin of CampusInsiders.com what he was looking for in a school: "Early playing time, a winning program, and [someone who] would think about changing some things. Maybe allow a player to play a little bit of offense—kinda what Miami did with Devin Hester."

While it is unclear if Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher has plans to play Bolden on both sides of the ball, he seemingly has the speed and athleticism to do so if called upon.

Every indication is that his primary position will be cornerback, and since FSU has had at least one defensive back selected in every NFL draft since 2012, Bolden is set to land in a situation that should allow him to reach his fullest potential.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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College Football's Top Defensive Backfields for 2016 Season

With college football becoming a pass-heavier game season after season, the importance of having a fantastic secondary cannot be overstated. It's the No. 1 weapon in slowing down a modern offense.

Some teams have the reputation of recruiting elite defensive backs every year and developing them into fantastic defenders for the next level. These "Defensive Back Universities" are guaranteed to be among the best in controlling the skies, no matter what the depth chart looks like in the preseason.

Other programs are experiencing major turnarounds in pass defenses and are bringing back Thorpe Award contenders for the 2016 college football season. Those playmakers will be cornerstones for secondaries that should receive more and more attention this fall.

Here's a look at the top 10 defensive backfields for the 2016 season. These selections are based on a number of factors, which combine last year's success with returning talent for this year:

  • Success in 2015. This comes down to the performance in categories such as yards allowed per pass attempt, yards allowed per game, opposing completion percentage and opposing QB rating/pass efficiency.
  • Returning starters for 2016. This is the number of projected starters coming back for the 2016 season. Teams that return a fifth "starting" defensive back, such as a nickelback, are marked accordingly.
  • Key players for 2016. This is a look at the five best defensive backs on the roster for the upcoming campaign. The more star power a team has, the better off it will be on this countdown. 

Tell us who you think has the best defensive backfield in the country and which ones will break out for 2016 in the comments below.

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The Opening 2016: Breaking Down Each Top 25 Team's Commits, Targets in Beaverton

The Opening annually attracts America's most impressive high school football talent to Beaverton, Oregon, where premier prospects compete on the campus of Nike's world headquarters. Widespread action takes place July 8-10, while Elite 11 quarterbacks begin work July 5, with 12 passers vying for MVP honors.

Recent alumni of The Opening include top-10 2016 NFL draft selections Jalen Ramsey and Ezekiel Elliott, along with 2015 Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry and No. 1 overall 2016 recruit Rashan Gary. This summer, our attention turns to a new crop of potential national football stars, as 166 athletes received invitations to Beaverton.

Most members in this collection of dynamic playmakers and powerful linemen caught attention from college football coaching staffs early in their high school careers and remain major recruiting targets nearly eight months shy of national signing day. Here's a look at prospects of interest for each program featured in Bleacher Report's post-spring top-25 rankings, including those committed to schools and several still searching for the right fit.

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College Football's Most Important Offers of the Week

One of the crown jewels of UCLA’s 2017 class is 4-star defensive end pledge Hunter Echols.

The 6’3 ½”, 231-pound pass-rusher from Cathedral High School in Los Angeles pledged to the Bruins in February. 

However, a number of programs remain in hot pursuit of the nation’s No. 6 weak-side defensive end and the nation’s No. 90 player overall in the 2017 class.

Last week, fellow Pac-12 power Oregon jumped into the mix by offering Echols:

Despite his pledge, Echols has taken visits to schools such as Arizona and USC. He’s also planning to visit Notre Dame later this month. 

The Ducks are another program looking to earn a visit from one of the top pass-rushers in the current cycle. 

Even though two of the four current Oregon commitments are from defensive linemen, Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich would love to add another player who happens to be one of the elite prospects on the West Coast.

With Echols not completely shutting the door on his recruitment, there appears to be a window of opportunity for the Ducks to get involved with him moving forward.

 

Florida Targets In-State WR

Florida already has one of the top in-state receivers in the 2017 cycle committed in 4-star Daquon Green.

Now, Gators head coach Jim McElwain and his staff have their sights set on another talented Sunshine State playmaker in 3-star athlete Jordan Pouncey—who received an offer from Florida last week:

The 6’2”, 185-pounder has more than 40 offers to his credit—with fellow SEC power Auburn offering him earlier this month.

However, with the Gators now in the running, the trajectory of Pouncey’s recruitment could change moving forward.

 

Florida State and Texas Offer Big-Time 2018 CB

Florida State and Texas battled over a few prospects in the 2016 cycle, and they are among the schools in the running for coveted 2017 standouts such as 5-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson.

It appears that the Seminoles and the Longhorns will continue to battle for touted prospects in the future, as both titans offered 2018 corner Anthony Cook last week. 

The 6’0”, 168-pounder has more than 20 offers heading into the summer before his junior season at Lamar High School in Houston, Texas.

Alabama, Baylor, Clemson and LSU are among the other programs in the running for Cook in the early stages of his recruitment.

 

Nebraska After 2018 California RB

Nebraska head coach Mike Riley and his staff have targeted the state of California hard since their arrival in Lincoln.

Last week, the Cornhuskers continued their gold rush into the Golden State by offered running back T.J. Pledger:

Arizona, Oklahoma, Tennessee and UCLA are among the schools who have offered the 5’9”, 188-pounder in the last few months.

As a sophomore, Pledger rushed for 1,300 yards and accounted for 26 touchdowns on the ground for Chaminade High School in West Hills, California.

 

Best of the Rest

2017

 

2018

 

2019

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand, and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Projecting 8 College Football Players Who Will Soar Up NFL Draft Boards

Carson Wentz epitomized the term "late-rising prospect." The lead-up to the 2017 NFL draft will feature similar ascents—albeit not as meteoric.

Some college football players are stepping into larger roles this season or were overshadowed in the past, while a few others are established names who aren't yet consensus first-round talents. If the 2016 campaign goes as expected, though, that will change.

The list only includes draft-eligible prospects, although there is no guarantee the underclassmen highlighted will choose to forgo their final seasons of eligibility. But the following eight players could become darlings of the 2017 draft cycle.

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Who Are the Top Remaining Uncommitted 2017 QB Recruits?

The domino effect. It happens every year in recruiting.

When one big-name player commits, it means one less target for interested schools. This becomes a huge topic of discussion for teams looking for elite quarterbacks, particularly with the position being so vital and so limited.

Tate Martell's commitment to Ohio State on Sunday was huge for the Buckeyes—and a punch in the face for other programs still looking to land a stud quarterback. Prior to Sunday, Martell, the nation's top-ranked dual-threat quarterback, was one of only three 4-star (or better) signal-callers nationally still uncommitted.

That list is now at two—dual-threat quarterback Kellen Mond and pro-style quarterback Jack Sears.

Let's play the numbers game. Per the 247Sports composite rankings, there are 15 pro-style and 10 dual-threat quarterbacks in the 2017 class rated at least with four stars. The 4-stars of the 2016 class, the incoming college freshmen, featured 13 pro-style and eight dual-threat quarterbacks.

That's 25 quarterbacks combined for the 2017 class, 21 combined for the 2016 class. There are currently 128 FBS teams fighting for the handful of elite quarterbacks. And let's not forget some of these programs have two quarterbacks committed.

When news like Martell committing becomes legit, it has an immense trickle-down effect. College coaches are forced to skip to the next-available name on their quarterback charts—but that can be difficult when that chart only has a few names.

At a position that's so heralded in college football recruiting, names who are considered next-level material can be few and far between. That's how it's always been with the position some feel is the most important in recruiting.

Of the 64 teams that represent the Power Five (SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and Pac-12), only 22 are currently without a quarterback commit. Among those 22 are USC, UCLA, Oregon, Auburn, Baylor, Cal and Washington.

 

With so many household-name quarterbacks already committed, look for the battles for Mond and Sears to intensify with these programs without a quarterback pledge. Mond, a recent Baylor decommit, may be the prize get of them all. He has Auburn, Texas A&M and Ohio State high on his list, but with Martell choosing Ohio State—and becoming the second quarterback commit of the 2017 class for the Buckeyes—expect to weigh his options between Auburn and Texas A&M.

Consider this the perfect time for coaches to find those quarterback gems who are rated 3-star or below. Many of the high school 3-stars can play the game at the next level.

Take Jake Haener as exhibit A. Or Chase Garbers as exhibit B. Or Tyler Lytle as exhibit C. Haener and Garbers were participants in the Elite 11 Finals two weekends ago. Lytle has 25 reported offers, the majority of them coming from FBS programs.

There are also those quarterbacks just looking for a breakout opportunity. Nick Sipe is a 3-star with likable physical measurements at 6'4" and 191 pounds. Seth Washington is unrated but has eight reported offers, including UTEP, North Texas and Ivy League schools Cornell and Brown.

And let's not forget those junior college quarterbacks looking to find a home at an FBS program. One quarterback to keep an eye on at the JUCO level is D.J. Gillins, who is at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Mississippi.

Gillins signed with Wisconsin in February 2014 as the nation's No. 7 dual-threat quarterback of the 2014 class. Although he was recruited in high school as a quarterback, Wisconsin moved him to wide receiver. He left Wisconsin in an effort to play quarterback once again.

You can believe that there are many quarterbacks out there simply looking to prove themselves. With the way the dominoes are falling with quarterbacks this year, don't be surprised if one of these sleepers gets the opportunity to play in a respected Power Five program.

The domino effect for quarterbacks is alive and well. And for those still in need of a signal-caller, it's game on.

 

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

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Jim Harbaugh's Second Satellite Camp Tour More Style Than Substance Thus Far

Speaking to reporters following a stop at New Jersey's Paramus Catholic High School to close the final week of his highly touted satellite camp tour, Jim Harbaugh insisted that the purpose of his month-long journey across the country—and sometimes, world—isn't necessarily what many have been portraying it to be.

"Everybody keeps saying, 'the obvious thing is this is about recruiting' and I disagree. I've disagreed with that premise from its first inception," Harbaugh said, per Mark Snyder of The Detroit Free Press. "It's not about recruiting. If it really helped recruiting that much, people would have been doing this."

The Michigan head coach's claims would have been easier to take seriously had he not been wearing a Derek Jeter New York Yankees jersey in an attempt to pander to the Tri-state area.

While Harbaugh may remain steadfast in his argument that the Wolverines' recruiting strategy and satellite camp plans are separate, it remains hard to believe that a high-profile head coach would willingly spend his June working more than 40 camps without the added benefit—or intent—of attracting talent to his program.

It's no coincidence that Harbaugh's camps happen to be occurring in traditionally talent-rich areas, or in the case of Paramus Catholic, directly at programs that possess high profile prospects.

And in the event Harbaugh is being less than truthful when he says the primary purpose of his camps aren't rooted in recruiting, it's hard to consider the first two weeks of the sequel to last year's Summer Swarm Tour an outright success.

At least not compared to a year ago. The former San Francisco 49ers head coach's original revolutionary satellite camp tour started with a slew of commitments to Michigan from prospects who coincidentally or not had participated in one of Harbaugh's camps. Within the first 15 days of last June, the Wolverines had received no fewer than six commitments to their 2016 class, four of which came from satellite camp attendees.

"Coach Harbaugh is why I committed, coach Harbaugh, that's it," 4-star all-purpose back Chris Evans told MLive.com's Nick Baumgardner after committing to Michigan following a camp in his hometown of Indianapolis last summer. "I've never seen a head coach like him before."

The same could likely be said for the prospects who have attended the 14 camps Harbaugh has already taken part in this year. Though, thus far, the only commitment the Wolverines have yielded has come from 2018 offensive guard Jalil Irvin, who attended Michigan's June 2 stop in Atlanta.

The Wolverines have received commitments from 2017 4-star defensive ends Luiji Vilain and Corey Malone-Hatcher since the start of June, although neither pledge came as the result of a satellite camp stop.

"We know the 200-250 people that we're recruiting already," Harbaugh insisted, per Snyder. "We can easily recruit them from Ann Arbor."

But despite his public objections, Harbaugh can also use satellite camps to recruit them on the road too, especially with Michigan's first week's-plus worth of camps coming on the fertile recruiting ground of Ohio, Mississippi, Georgia, Atlanta, New Jersey, Florida and Texas.

As for the lack of commitments, that could perhaps be attributed to an adjustment in the Wolverines' strategy after multiple 2016 commitments—including some whose pledges stemmed from satellite camps in early June—ultimately didn't wind up in Michigan's class.

"There were mistakes made and I take full accountability for them," Harbaugh said this past national signing day, after accusations that the Wolverines were forced to trim their class due to size limitations. "But I won't apologize."

But even without actively taking commitments—Michigan has only received three verbal pledges to its 2017 class in the past two months—Harbaugh has managed to use his unprecedented camp tour to his advantage.

Over the course of the past two weeks, no coach in college football has garnered more attention than Harbaugh, who's shown up at each satellite camp stop wearing the jersey of a hometown hero. The result has been a steady stream of tweets and headlines announcing what Harbaugh is wearing as if he were an actress on the red carpet at an award show.

After all, if Jim Harbaugh wearing an Allen Iverson Philadelphia 76ers jersey to a camp in Delaware isn't going to generate headlines in the college football blogosphere in early-June, then nothing will.

It's a play straight out of the Jim Harbaugh playbook: Maximize the attention on yourself and your program in order be a constant in the news and the minds of recruits. It's a strategy that helped the Wolverines land the nation's No. 5 class in 2016, with Michigan's 2017 class currently ranking fourth in the country.

"From a marketing and publicity standpoint, he is an absolute genius," Rivals.com National Director of Recruiting Mike Farrell told Bleacher Report last month.

Harbaugh has insisted this summer hasn't been about recruiting, going as far as to telling Snyder and other reporters, "I'm not going to say it anymore, this is the last time. We're doing this because we really enjoy it. You can believe that or not, I don't really care anymore."

But through his first year-and-a-half as the head coach at his alma mater, Harbaugh's ability to build a brand that benefits his program on the recruiting trail has been apparent.

The jerseys, the excessiveness, the overall extravagance of Harbaugh's latest venture, all of it fits a track record that's helped make Harbaugh one of college football's top recruiters—even if tangible results from this year's satellite camp tour have been few and far between, thus far.

But fear not, Michigan fans. There's still more than two weeks and dozens of camps left for Harbaugh to make the most of this month.

And if his history has shown anything, it's that he'll certainly make some noise while doing so.

 

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. Recruiting class rankings courtesy of 247Sports' composite.

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SEC Football Q&A: Which First-Year Head Coach Will Have Most Success in 2016?

Three coaches will don the headsets for the first time with new programs in the SEC in 2016, as former Florida head coach Will Muschamp will take over at South Carolina, former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and former Memphis defensive coordinator Barry Odom will take over at Missouri—where he played and worked as an assistant under former head coach Gary Pinkel.

Which one is set up for the most success in Year 1?

That question and more are answered in this week's edition of SEC Q&A.

 

Monday on Bleacher Report, this year's edition of "Optimistic, Pessimistic and Realistic" expectations went up, and the three new head coaches don't exactly have groundbreaking, realistic predictions. I have Georgia at 9-3, Missouri at 3-9 and South Carolina at 5-7.

Based on expectations, I wouldn't define any of those hypothetical seasons as overly "successful." However, the path that I think Smart will take to get to 9-3 will be the most impressive of the three.

Let's be real: 9-3 at Georgia isn't great. In fact, 9-3 regular seasons in back-to-back years got former head coach Mark Richt fired. But Smart can use the grace period associated with being a new head coach, reach 9-3 and set the tone for the future of the program.

The future is true-freshman early-enrollee quarterback Jacob Eason, who I think will start from the moment toe meets leather in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against North Carolina. In that prediction piece linked above, I have Georgia winning in the Georgia Dome in the opener and springing an upset at home vs. Tennessee.

If Georgia posts a 9-3 record with Eason at the helm with those two signature wins, that'd be a pretty solid inaugural campaign for Smart.

However, Muschamp isn't out of this battle.

I have South Carolina at 5-7 at this point of the offseason. But if Muschamp can find another win in there somewhere and reach a bowl game, I would consider that a more successful season than Georgia's 9-3 relative to expectations, based on the massive talent gap that exists on the rosters of the two border rivals.

 

It depends on how you look at it.

Is LSU 9.5 points better than Wisconsin? I don't think so. 

Sure, some great defensive players like linebacker Kendell Beckwith, cornerback Tre'Davious White and defensive lineman Lewis Neal chose to return to college and play for new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. Plus, star running back Leonard Fournette is back for his third (and likely final) season in Baton Rouge.

But LSU still runs a painfully conservative offense under head coach Les Miles, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and quarterback Brandon Harris, and it doesn't seem to have the capability to get into and win shootouts consistently. 

Harris is 2-3 as a starter on the road during his two years at LSU, and there undoubtedly will be a home-field advantage for Wisconsin in the home of the Green Bay Packers. LSU will probably win, but as Odds Shark noted in its predicted score of 38.3-35.5, grabbing those points and taking the Badgers is rather tempting. 

But LSU is getting a ton of hype this offseason nationally, including from ESPN.com's Football Power Index, which ranks the Tigers No. 2 in the nation behind Florida State.

The job of oddsmakers is to get an equal amount of money on both sides, so setting a line at 9.5 seems to make sense considering the public thinks very highly of the Tigers.

It is a sucker bet, though.

 

Not very likely (Muschamp's one good year was actually his second year at Florida, when he went 11-2 and made the Sugar Bowl).

Unlike Muschamp, Jim McElwain has made good decisions on both sides of the ball in the coaching offices, which should give him much more staying power. 

Muschamp came to Gainesville in 2011, and his big coaching hire was Charlie WeisCharlie Weis.

Are you kidding me?

Two years of Brent Pease didn't do much to spark the offense either, and by the time he found Kurt Roper in 2014, it was far too late for Muschamp to save his job. 

McElwain is an offensive wizard who has found success wherever he has gone and lured Geoff Collins away from Mississippi State prior to last season to run his defense. Collins made Mississippi State's defense one of the best situational defenses in the country (first in red-zone scoring defense, seventh in red-zone touchdown percentage and 21st in third-down defense in 2014 according to CFBStats.com).

What's more, he lured Torrian Gray from Virginia Tech this offseason to run the defensive backfield after Gray posted the second-best pass defense in the country over a 10-year span, according to Florida's release

Muschamp neglected the side of the ball that he was less familiar with. McElwain has paid closer attention to it than he has his own side.

Because of that, he'll be around Gainesville for a long time.

 

The only reason I can fathom is because he plays for Mississippi State, and Mississippi State always gets overlooked.

If you discount South Carolina's Skai Moore—who's out for the year with a neck injury—Richie Brown is the SEC's leading returning tackler at the linebacker position (109) and third-most prolific overall.

That's more than Tennessee's Jalen Reeves-Maybin (105), Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham (103), Arkansas' Brooks Ellis (102) and Florida's Jarrad Davis (98). 

A legitimate case can (and should) be made for Brown to be a preseason All-SEC First Team linebacker when we vote at SEC media days in Hoover, Alabama, next month, but I would be floored if he even makes the second team.

That's a shame. 

He was a monster in big road wins for the Bulldogs last year against Auburn and Arkansas, when he notched double-digit tackles in each and totaled 4.5 tackles for loss.

Head coach Dan Mullen replaced his entire on-field defensive coaching staff this offseason, which could have led to tumultuous times in Starkville if there was no leader in place. Luckily for Mullen, Brown is that leader and should help ease the transition. 

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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The 1 Position That Needs Most Improvement for Every Power 5 CFB Team

There's always room for improvement. Ask any college football coach and he'll be quick to point out at least one area on his team that could be better, either in terms of personnel, scheme or production.

Every college football team has that one position that could stand to get better. Better quarterback play, stronger blocking on the offensive line, more pressure from the defensive line. Whatever the case, it's an area that isn't as good as it could be.

Trying to improve at that position is among each teams' key offseason goals, and being able to get better could mean the difference between a good or great season.

We've pointed out the most notable position area that's in need of improvement for every Power Five conference team, along with top independents BYU and Notre Dame.

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Tyrell Shavers to Alabama: Crimson Tide Land 4-Star WR Prospect

Wide receiver Tyrell Shavers announced Monday he's committing to the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The 4-star recruit broke the news on Twitter:

According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Shavers is the No. 159 player overall in the 2017 recruiting class and the 23rd-best wideout. The 4-star recruit ranks 25th in Texas.   

"I enjoyed myself," Shavers said after taking a visit to Tuscaloosa, per 247Sports' Ryan Bartow. "Alabama is the national champs. My recruitment is over. I'm playing for the best."

According to Bartow, Shavers had 36 receptions, 800 yards and 13 touchdowns in his junior year at Lewisville High School.

He'll join a loaded 2017 recruiting class for head coach Nick Saban. Alabama is second to the Ohio State Buckeyes in 247Sports' team composite rankings, boasting two 5-star recruits and 10 4-star recruits.

In March, Shavers participated in The Opening's Dallas regional and tested off the charts for a player of his size (6'6", 202 lbs). Below are his final numbers, courtesy of StudentSportsEvents.com:

The Dallas Morning News' Michael Florek noted Shavers turned heads during the event:

Shavers already had 12 Division I offers coming into the day, but there were some gasps when it was announced that at 6-4, 200-pounds he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash, tied for the second fastest at the regional. (It was wind-aided.) Shavers ran a race with the top three finishers in the 40, but lost to Cedar Park cornerback Javelin Guidry, who originally recorded a 4.35. (Again, wind-aided.)

Shavers didn't disappoint in the individual drills either. At one point he made a leaping catch over a cornerback's head that drew awe from the corners on the sidelines watching.

Shavers' height will make him an immediate target inside the red zone, depending on how quickly Saban wants to get him on the field. Over time, as his route running improves, he should grow into one of the Crimson Tide's best receivers:

Calvin Ridley joined Alabama in 2015 and proceeded to record 89 receptions, 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns. Expecting Shavers to make a similar impression out of the gate would be unrealistic.

By the time Ridley leaves Tuscaloosa—be it after his junior or senior year—Shavers will be poised to become the team's No. 1 aerial target.

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Ohio State Football: Projecting Who Will Win Buckeyes' Open Starting Positions

The Ohio State Buckeyes entered the 2016 offseason needing to replace 16 starters from last year's 12-1 team, and head coach Urban Meyer wanted to use a pivotal spring camp to put together some semblance of a two-deep depth chart ahead of the summer.

Establishing that pecking order didn't go as planned, though, as 11 players expected to contribute this fall were either rehabbing from serious injuries or limited with nagging ones.

"With 11 guys out, that's the thing that kicks you in the teeth," Meyer said, via Eric Seger of Eleven Warriors. "If everybody's ready to go, I think you could [establish a depth chart]. But we're not."

The Buckeyes finished up spring practice with far more questions than answers, and with so many holes to fill, the coaching staff will need players to emerge and prove they're ready for the spotlight this fall.

What will Ohio State's starting lineup look like when it kicks the season off against Bowling Green on September 3?

With quarterback J.T. Barrett, center Pat Elflein and right guard Evan Lisle returning, Ohio State's offense has its centerpiece and foundation to build around in 2016.

That process starts with rebuilding the line—which has been the heart and soul of the team since Meyer took over in 2012. Jamarco Jones secured the left tackle spot this spring, and Isaiah Prince surged to the front of the pack at right tackle.

The big surprise came at left guard, when true freshman and early enrollee Michael Jordan surpassed Demetrius Knox for first-team reps. Jordan is certainly talented—he was a 4-star prospect and the No. 127 prospect nationally—but it usually takes a first-year player (especially on the offensive line) awhile to acclimate to the speed and power at the collegiate level.

That wasn't the case for Jordan, and because of that, he'll be the final piece in Ohio State's line this season.

Ohio State is also in the midst of reloading on pass-catchers after losing all three starting wide receivers (Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall and Braxton Miller) and tight end Nick Vannett to the NFL.

And while young guns such as redshirt freshman Torrance Gibson and true freshmen Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor will see the field regularly this year, Meyer will start the year with the experienced trio of Noah Brown, Corey Smith and Curtis Samuel on the perimeter, with Marcus Baugh at tight end.

That leaves the key vacancy at running back, which Ezekiel Elliott's early departure to the NFL draft created. The Buckeyes have hung their hat on a strong, power-spread run game, and redshirt freshman Mike Weber looks like the perfect fit to fill that role. He's quick and hard to tackle, and he complements that by finishing runs with his bruising strength.

That much was on display in the spring game, when he ran for 38 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries. Backup Bri'onte Dunn will be heavily involved in the rotation, but Weber will be the first back on the field.

Ohio State's rebuild defensively starts up front as Meyer tries to identify successors for superstar defensive end Joey Bosa and defensive tackles Adolphus Washington and Tommy Schutt.

Bosa's void is easy enough to fill with the return of Sam Hubbard, who served as his primary backup and ranked second on the team with 6.5 sacks. But the Buckeyes will get a familiar boost on the strong side when Nick Bosa, Joey's younger brother, reports to campus and wins the backup spot in fall camp.

Tracy Sprinkle and Michael Hill will clog the middle at defensive tackle, and they'll have a ton of young depth behind them with the likes of Jashon Cornell and Dre'Mont Jones in the rotation.

Returning starter and middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan will anchor the linebacker corps—and by extension the entire defense. Meyer and the coaching staff have already dubbed him a team captain. He was productive in his first year as a starter last year, leading the team with 119 tackles, but according to co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, it's his leadership that sets him apart.

“[McMillan] was ready when he walked in the door, to be honest with you,” Fickell said, according to Tim Shoemaker of Eleven Warriors.

The Buckeyes will need that leadership while they break in Chris Worley and Dante Booker as the new outside linebackers.

In the secondary, the Buckeyes need two new safeties and an outside corner to replace Vonn Bell, Tyvis Powell and Eli Apple, who all burned remaining eligibility to enter the NFL draft. 

Malik Hooker looks like Ohio State's next great safety, and he put on a show in the spring game when he intercepted a Barrett pass attempt and returned it 82 yards for a touchdown. But rounding out the secondary will be a pair of high school teammates who were staples in Ohio State's 2014 recruiting class—cornerback Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith.

Both have played sparingly in backup roles throughout their careers, and they're also coming off injuries that limited them in spring practice. But the pair should be ready to go by fall camp and complete Ohio State's secondary.

 

All recruiting information via 247Sports.

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

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Position-by-Position Preview of Auburn's 2016 Roster

AUBURN, Ala. — It's approaching full-blown preview time in the college football offseason calendar. The traditional print preview magazines are starting to hit the newsstands, and more online outlets are pushing out 2016 predictions as the long summer months continue.

Now that spring practices are in the rearview mirror and summer enrollees are starting to arrive on campus, Auburn nearly has its roster for a crucial 2016 season finalized.

The Tigers are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 7-6 campaign in a big way with a good mix of returning starters and exciting new talent. Another quarterback race is heating up the Plains, and with the amount of playmakers back for 2016, Auburn's defense could be one of the best since the days of head coach Tommy Tuberville's stifling units.

The regular-season schedule will be brutal and bookended by games against the two teams that played for last season's national championship—Clemson and Alabama, respectively. But the Tigers have shown themselves to be capable of quite a few surprises under head coach Gus Malzahn, and his new-look staff will be looking to turn around the momentum in Jordan-Hare Stadium after falling short of high expectations. 

Let's take a position-by-position look at this Tigers roster, focusing on the starters, the key reserves and the next generation of talent Auburn fans everywhere will be talking about this fall. 

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Michigan Football: Projecting Who Will Win Wolverines' Open Starting Positions

Michigan returns a veteran roster in 2016, but the Wolverines need to fill eight total starting positions.

While the offense must replace the quarterback and center—perhaps the two most important spots—the defense brings back a majority of its production on the line and in the secondary.

Despite a fair bit of turnover, though, Michigan has clear-cut starters at each vacancy except one. The problem? That position carries the greatest responsibilities on the team.

For Jim Harbaugh's team to reach its championship potential, the new—yet often recognizable—starters must excel.

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College Football's 10 Most Valuable Backups for 2016

College football teams always need meaningful contributions from non-starters, but coaches try to stack the rosters with game-ready backup plans.

Several of the nation's top reserves in 2016 will occupy a weekly role. Others, though, are top-notch insurance policies for an unquestioned—or eventual—starter.

Quarterbacks are the featured players on the list, which is intended to show the 10 players who could replace a starter yet still help his team achieve its ultimate goal. A few 5-star freshmen and young backups also claim a spot.

Each program represented is considered a preseason contender for a conference championship or the national title.

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B/R Recruiting Notebook: 5-Star ATH Has Top 7, but 3 Standing Out

It's mid-June. Satellite camps are in full swing, and unofficial visits to campus are trending.

Additionally, more and more verbal commitments are being made. Look for that trend to continue as the summer progresses. Plus, June will be loaded with ever-changing recruiting news.

Here are the latest updates from some of the nation's top 2017 targets.

 

3 of top 7 stand out for 5-star ATH Stevens

When Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 5-star athlete Jacoby Stevens announced his top seven schools late May, he was hoping to eventually find something to help separate a leader and to simplify his recruitment.

Stevens, the nation's top-ranked athlete in the 2017 class, said three schools so far have emerged as front-runners in his process—Clemson, Auburn and LSU. Stevens said those three schools "have been the most interested in me" but also added that there's still plenty of time for things to change in his recruiting race.

"With Auburn, I feel like Coach [Gus] Malzahn is turning things around," Stevens said. "They pulled in one of the best DTs in the country [Derrick Brown], and they're getting ready for a big run. Adding Coach [Wesley] McGriff from the Saints was a great move. He'd be a good DBs coach for me if I choose to go to Auburn."

Stevens continued, "LSU is a school that I've always loved. I like the family there, and I like what Coach [Les] Miles and Coach [Corey] Raymond are doing. Their recruiting classes are always amazing. They're always shooting for championship runs and dynasties. There's a special feeling and a special vibe in Baton Rouge."

Stevens said he is planning summer visits to LSU and Alabama. A Clemson trip will also be a part of his summer rotation.

"It's the excitement of the program," Stevens said of Clemson. "Coach [Mike] Reed is really coaching up the DBs. He and coach [Dabo] Swinney are helping to make that program very exciting. I like where they're going with everything."

While Stevens has his current three to watch, he added that Tennessee has been working diligently to keep him in-state. The Volunteers on Sunday landed its top-ranked pledge in safety Maleik Gray, who is also an in-state commitment. Stevens said the Tennessee staff has made him a major priority.

"They've been working the hardest. They always stay in contact," Stevens said of the Volunteers. "Coach [Bob] Shoop, Coach [Willie] Martinez and Coach [Butch] Jones all have been very serious about putting the program back to the top. I know they pulled in Maleik, so that tells me how much they're trying to build the program."

 

4-star DT Hansard in no rush with his top 9

For the time being, Fred Hansard is making the recruiting process something of a priority, but not the most important thing on his plate. The next few weeks for the Princeton, New Jersey, 4-star defensive tackle is all about getting better as a player and validating his status as an elite defensive lineman.

Hansard, ranked No. 10 among defensive tackles nationally in the 2017 class, tweeted his top nine on June 6 and on Sunday said nothing has changed with his recruitment. He said he is using this time to monitor all of the schools and find the pros and cons in each of them in an effort to eventually trim his list.

"With all of the schools, I really feel comfortable, and they've been keeping in touch," Hansard said. "I've been talking to these schools a long time. A lot of coaches are saying I'd fit at their school, but right now I just want to take my time and take more visits."

Hansard said he's taking an unofficial visit to Tennessee this weekend and a visit to Florida next month. He is also trying to make it to Oklahoma and USC before the summer is over.

As for a commitment date, Hansard said nothing is set but that he's hoping to have his college plans finalized before the start of his senior season.

"I want to have it done so I can pay attention to my team and my season," he said.

 

2 weekend commits for Texas A&M...who's next?

It's only 13 days into the month of June, but Texas A&M has had a respectable showing from a recruiting standpoint. The Aggies have scored four commitments this month, including two pledges over the weekend in 4-star athlete Keldrick Carper and 3-star running back Travis Etienne, two Louisiana standouts.

The Aggies now have 12 commitments in the 2017 class, but head coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff are working hard to land a few more studs.

One name to keep an eye on is 4-star quarterback Kellen Mond.

After Mond decommitted from Baylor on June 1, he announced that Auburn, Ohio State and Texas A&M were his top three schools. Ohio State added a second quarterback to its class Sunday when Tate Martell, the nation's top-ranked dual-threat quarterback, gave his verbal pledge to Urban Meyer and joined longtime commit Danny Clark on the recruiting roster.

Mond originally said Auburn was the top choice of the three, but with the IMG Academy standout originally from San Antonio and Texas A&M being much closer to his family than Auburn, proximity is a factor to watch as Mond continues his process.

Mond's 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions point heavily in favor of Auburn, but the majority of his latest predictions are in favor of Texas A&M. The winning school will get the nation's No. 3 dual-threat quarterback. Auburn is without a quarterback commit, while Texas A&M will add Mond to a roster that also includes Elite 11 finalist Connor Blumrick.

 

New school battling 4-star OL Hainsey's top 10

Kellen Mond's success at IMG's quarterback will rely on how successful offensive lineman Robert Hainsey performs for the upcoming season—and there's a reason why Hainsey is the nation's No. 4 guard.

Hainsey has 26 reported offers and released a top 10 back in March. Those 10 schools, however, may have an 11th to keep an eye on.

Hainsey said Auburn has made a major rise in his recruiting. He has a solid relationship with offensive line coach Herb Hand.

"I didn't have them in my top 10 because I hadn't visited," Hainsey said, "but when I visited with my team, I definitely liked it. I've known Coach Hand since I was a freshman and he was recruiting me at Penn State. I've gotten to know him, Coach [Rhett] Lashlee and Coach [Gus] Malzahn for a while."

Hainsey added that he's attracted to Auburn's campus atmosphere and family environment. Auburn is hoping to add Hainsey and Mond to the class, which would mean instant chemistry between the high school teammates.

Hainsey said that along with Auburn, schools like Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State have been recruiting him the hardest. No decision is expected anytime soon, but Hainsey knows what he's looking for.

"I definitely want to go to a school where I know I can make an impact early," he said. "I want to be successful on the field and in the classroom and go somewhere where the coaches prepare you for the next level. I also want to be at a place where I can call home.

"At this point, I'm just taking it step by step and figuring out when I want to make my decision. I'm not sure when I'll decide, but I'm working on that."

 

June performances benefiting 3-star QB Haener

The last couple of weeks have been good to Danville, California, 3-star quarterback Jake Haener. Although he didn't make it past the Elite 11 Finals, he managed to make a huge impression and attract more college interest.

Haener, who claims 11 offers, is hoping the summer is the start of something great from a recruiting perspective. He tweeted a new offer from Colorado State Sunday afternoon.

"Everything's going really well right now," Haener said. "I've gotten a couple of offers since [Elite 11 Finals], and I'm seeing more schools interested in me. Colorado and Washington have been in touch, and I've been talking to USC.

"I kind of just wanted to go [to Elite 11 Finals] and show that I could compete with some of the top guys. The main thing is that it legitimized me as a main player and someone who can spin it with the other top kids. It's helped me to turn some heads."

Haener said he's looking to take a summer visit to Washington if the Huskies offer. Other potential summer trips, he said, include USC and Utah State. Haener added that he wants to be close to a decision—if not verbally committed to a school—by the end of the month.

 

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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