Kendall Sheffield is a 5-star cornerback who is one of the best players in the 2015 class. From Texas, Sheffield is a talented defensive back with an elite skill set.
With so much talent to offer a college team, Sheffield has seen a bevy of schools come after him with scholarship offers. He will have a tough decision to make, but wherever he goes, he should develop into a solid starting cover man.
Sheffield's talent and bright future warrants a closer look.
All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports. Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.com, Rivals and 247Sports.
March is synonymous with madness and the NCAA tournament for college basketball. But, it is also a big month for college football with it being full of pro days for NFL teams to analyze potential draft picks.
The Arkansas Razorbacks don't have as many prospects as they normally do, but there are a few who will be looking to make good impressions on NFL teams in hopes of increasing their draft stock or hearing their name called at all.
The Hogs will hold their pro day on Wednesday, March 5, along with several other programs. Scouts will be making their way to Fayetteville to evaluate several prospects, so there's no need to elaborate on how big of a day it will be for a few players.
Here we take a look at three players from the Hogs who have the most to prove on pro day.
Spring practice officially kicked off for Ohio State on Tuesday, marking the official start of the 2014 season.
The 15 practice sessions will provide Urban Meyer and the coaching staff with an opportunity to evaluate the roster while trying to piece together the first installment of the 2014 depth chart.
While Ohio State has a lot of talented and experienced players returning, it needs to identify 10 new starters.
These four players haven't seen much of the field during their collegiate careers, but a strong showing this spring could propel them into big roles this fall.
Johnnie Dixon, WR
Ohio State needs to replace Corey Brown, who led the team in receptions and receiving yards in each of the last two seasons. Brown paced the Buckeyes' receiving corps with his solid route running and sure hands.
Those are the attributes Johnnie Dixon can offer.
The true freshman enrolled early to take part in spring drills. His top priority should be learning the playbook, but Dixon—who will wear the No. 1 jersey that Dontre Wilson sported last year—showed he has the athleticism to play on Tuesday.
If the former 4-star recruit can mentally grasp his role, he'll make a big impact this fall.
Darron Lee, LB
While much of the attention will be on 5-star freshman linebacker Raekwon McMillan, an early enrollee, Darron Lee has a great opportunity to lock down a starting spot.
The sophomore from New Albany, Ohio, came out of high school as a 3-star quarterback and safety prospect, but added some weight during his freshman season last year and moved to linebacker.
According to Doug Lesmerises of The Plain Dealer, Meyer said Lee's emergence began at the end of last season and extended throughout the winter workouts.
The Buckeyes return Curtis Grant and Joshua Perry, but they need to identify a third linebacker to replace first-team All-American Ryan Shazier.
With the momentum Lee has gained, it appears that he's well on his way to earning a starting role.
Michael Thomas, WR
In Ohio State's two losses last season, the receiving corps—outside of Corey Brown—was nearly a no-show.
Outside of Brown's contributions, the other Buckeyes receivers had a grand total of four catches for 11 yards against Michigan State and Clemson.
That just didn't sit right with Michael Thomas.
Ramzy Nasrallah of Eleven Warriors recapped a since-deleted Twitter rant from Thomas, who sharply criticized the Buckeyes' receivers for their lack of production.
Coming off a redshirt season in 2013, he'll be trying to provide a spark that the offense lacked last year.
Thomas has all the physical tools to be an outstanding receiver. The 6'3", 202-pound standout is a rangy athlete who can high-point the tough catches. According to his team profile, Thomas caught 86 passes for a 1,656 yards (a state high in California) and 21 touchdowns during his senior season of high school.
Thomas can show he has the skill to back up his words—or tweets—and become a major piece of the 2014 offense this spring.
David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
For Nebraska football fans, one of the great joys of spring practice is to see which players emerge. There’s little doubt about what you are going to get from established contributors like Ameer Abdullah and Randy Gregory. But the fun of spring practice is to find those new names, ones you did not expect, to start contributing on a regular basis for Nebraska.
Here are five names to watch out for this spring that may be some of those surprise performers.
The Virginia Tech Hokies begin spring practice on March 27. The annual spring game takes place one month later on April 26. For a number of players, this spring is the most important of their careers.
One such player is senior linebacker Chase Williams. Williams came to Blacksburg in 2010 with high expectations, but injuries and the rise of other players have limited Williams to mainly playing special teams.
When Williams arrived on campus, he impressed coaches immediately. Both head coach Frank Beamer and defensive coordinator Bud Foster planned on Williams playing as a true freshman. However, a hamstring injury limited Williams' reps during fall practice, and the coaches didn't want to waste a year of Williams' eligibility.
Williams debuted in 2011 and played in all 14 games. He saw just 13 snaps on defense, though. That was expected with players like Bruce Taylor, Tariq Edwards and Barquell Rivers ahead of him.
While Williams fought injuries, a walk-on named Jack Tyler found his way into the lineup and never looked back. Tyler would be the full-time starter at middle linebacker in both 2012 and 2013 and was a two-time All-ACC selection.
Tyler and Edwards have both graduated, and the Hokies have very little depth at linebacker in 2014.
Is Williams ready to seize this opportunity?
Williams, the son of St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, worked out at outside linebacker with the Hokies his first two years on campus. In 2013, Williams was Tyler's primary backup at middle linebacker.
So with Tech's top two linebackers now pursuing their NFL dreams, Williams finally has his chance to lead Foster's defense.
In three years, Williams has played just a total of 114 snaps on defense. He was on the field for just 18 snaps in 2013, but that was more an indictment of how good Tyler and Edwards were.
While much of the talk around Virginia Tech will be who will play quarterback next fall, determining if Williams can be the leader of the defense is just as important.
The Hokies were ranked fourth in total defense last season, and Foster is faced with having to replace seven starters.
As valuable as Kyle Fuller, Antone Exum, Derrick Hopkins and James Gayle were, there are players at those positions capable and ready to step up. The secondary will continue to be among the best in the country.
But at linebacker, Williams is the most experienced returnee. Josh Trimble, who started five games at whip linebacker in 2013, returns but is best suited as a reserve.
At this point, middle linebacker, the quarterback of the defense, is Williams' job to lose. There is currently no one behind him on the depth chart that has ever played a snap of college football at the position.
Williams possesses all the necessary attributes to succeed. He's big (6'2", 225 lbs), smart and is a very good athlete. Playing the 'backer position as a freshman speaks volumes about Williams' athletic ability.
The Hokies have a chance to be good in 2014. While the defense may take a small step back from last year's group, the offense should be improved enough to allow the Hokies to compete for the ACC Coastal Division title.
If Williams is successful, the defense will be fine. If he struggles, that could spell trouble for a defense that is always among the country's best.
Spring practice is Williams' chance to assert himself as the team's unquestioned leader. If he can show Foster he's the answer, the coaching staff can focus on who will play the other two linebacker spots.
The Hokies have always had solid play from the Mike linebacker. From Vince Hall to Bruce Taylor to Tyler in recent years, the better the middle linebacker, the stronger the defense is.
Williams will be ready for the challenge. The Hokies' season depends upon it—as does his football future.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
The argument can be made that the reason the Georgia Bulldogs did not reach the SEC title game last year or win the SEC the previous two seasons is the play of the special teams.
According to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, the Bulldogs had two punts blocked for touchdowns, a kickoff returned for a touchdown and numerous snaps on punts.
The Bulldogs were also ranked next to last in the nation in punt-return average (2.92 yards).
So head coach Mark Richt decided to split special teams duties between inside linebackers coach Mike Ekeler and tight ends coach John Lilly. That’s a good start for the Bulldogs, but will it be enough?
Here’s three other ways Richt can finally solve the special teams problems.
We are inching closer to the start of spring practice in Big 12 country. The spring-game schedule starts on April 5 with Baylor, Oklahoma State and TCU and ends on April 26 with Kansas State.
Throughout the league, some marquee players are worth keeping an eye on this spring. Plenty of quarterback battles, such as at West Virginia and Texas, need to be decided. Players like Robbie Rhodes of Baylor and Dante Barnett of K-State are also looking to establish themselves.
With that, check out the 10 Big 12 players you need to be watching this spring.
Texas football will get back in the swing of things March 18 at the start of spring practice. The Longhorns have a revamped image under first-year head coach Charlie Strong and his staff, and have a new motto for the team to follow: Put the "T" back into Texas.
Strong described his slogan as a representation of instilling toughness in an interview with KXAN-Austin's Roger Wallace.
You have to coach it, you have to recruit it and you have to be about it. I have a slogan, there's a t-shirt. It says, 'Put the T back into Texas.' No. 1 is toughness. No. 2 is trust, togetherness, teamwork. And those things have to be done.
The first test of toughness will be seen in position battles during spring practice. Who will step up and replace the starters from 2013?
Here's a look at four position battles to watch during the Longhorns' spring practice.
A week after parting ways with Michigan for the foreseeable future, Notre Dame will do the same with Purdue. The Irish and Boilermakers, who have met every season since 1946, will not play again until 2020 following their Sept. 13 game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Purdue lost 11 games in a season for the first time ever in 2013, defeating FCS member Indiana State for its only win of the season. After a Sept. 28 loss to Northern Illinois, the Boilermakers scored only seven points in the next 41 days (three losses and two bye weeks). Second-year coach Darrell Hazell faces a steep road back to relevancy for a program that went to 10 bowl games in 11 years from 1997 to 2007.
Purdue moves to the new Big Ten West division this season, but will still play rival Indiana annually. The new format should benefit the Boilermakers, but how quickly can Hazell get the program back to respectability? And should Irish fans be worried after Notre Dame was nearly upset last season in West Lafayette?
Purdue kicks off the spring Mar. 6 and will hold its spring game Apr. 12. Let’s look at where things stands with the Boilermakers.
For previous Notre Dame opponent previews, click on the links below:
Filling in for an injured Duke Johnson, sophomore running back Dallas Crawford brought the Miami Hurricanes back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit on the road at North Carolina.
Crawford added a 115-yard performance in a losing effort to Duke, and he led the 'Canes with 13 total touchdowns during the 2013 season.
Right before the 2014 spring session, however, the Miami coaching staff switched Crawford back to safety, the position at which he was recruited. Crawford is fully capable of playing the position, and he will provide yet another boost to the growing secondary.
But the timing of the move seems to be poor.
Johnson is still recovering from a fractured ankle, early enrollee Joseph Yearby is sidelined because of a fibula injury and Eduardo Clements ran out of eligibility last year.
Sophomores Gus Edwards and Walter Tucker are the top two available backs, while transfer De'Andre Johnson and walk-on Quincy Casimir are the only others on the roster.
Originally, if felt like a time to question Al Golden and Co. in this specific situation. But once the season starts, switching Crawford will actually pay off for Miami.
Spring Practice Impact
This one is unavoidable: Miami is extremely shorthanded at running back this spring. As mentioned earlier, Johnson and Yearby are unavailable, and Gus Edwards is ultimately the lone player who has meaningful in-game carries.
But Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post notes Golden believes the 'Canes are fine. He said, "I always tell the coaches, we don't play a game in the spring. We'll find a way. Let's not put somebody there."
Granted, of course Golden will say something like that. It is rather unlikely a coach will ever concede, "Nah, we're not comfortable doin' this, but YOLO. Know what I'm saying?"
On the other hand, Golden is looking toward the future and placing stock in the current unit of available running backs avoiding injury. All that is possible because he is confident both Duke's and Yearby's respective rehabs are encouraging.
Per Porter, the fourth-year head coach said, "We don't make that decision not knowing what the doctors are saying or how they're reacting to running over here or what they're doing in the training room. They're both doing really well."
Although Miami is shorthanded this spring, a triumvirate of Duke, Yearby and Edwards during the regular season is undoubtedly an appealing thought.
Presence in the Defensive Backfield
Miami coaches have complimented Crawford's work ethic throughout his time at "The U," and this situation is yet another example of the junior's team-first attitude.
According to Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Golden said, "You can just feel his presence out there, physical, same old Dallas. You only have to tell him one time. He's very coachable and next play, he gets it right."
But the 5'10" athlete is more than just a morale booster and leader in the secondary, he really can contribute. Crawford holds the school record at South Fort Myers (Fla.) High School with 23 interceptions, so he is certainly mentally prepared to play safety.
Per Porter, "[Crawford is] so comfortable, and he's tough," Golden said. "We've got a long way to go with him at that position, but he is just so willing."
And because it's possible Crawford would have been underused behind Duke, Yearby and Edwards, the move allows someone Golden considers "one of the 22 best football players on the football team," per Susan Miller Degnan of The Miami Herald, to see the field more often.
Special Teams Leader
Golden, who serves as the special teams coach, relied on since-departed running back Eduardo Clements to lead the kick coverage units.
As a freshman, Crawford was a notable part of special teams, tallying 10 tackles, including two games with three stops. Plus, he even snagged an interception as a member of the punt block team.
Crawford occasionally played there last season, but it's safe to assume he will be a key contributor this year both physically and vocally.
According to ESPN's Andrea Adelson, Golden said Crawford has "always been great on special teams," before calling him smart and tough.
Fresh off a 558-yard season, he is content with moving to a low-profile role, passing up the glamorous work of scoring touchdowns and bulldozing through defenders.
And that is a testament to Crawford's selfless attitude, being willing to do anything to help his team win.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
UCLA embarks on the first steps of a highly anticipated season next month with the opening of spring practice. Coming off the program's first 10-win finish in eight years and with the most returning starters in the Pac-12 Conference, the Bruins are drawing plenty of national attention.
Outlets including Sports Illustrated have UCLA tabbed in the top 10 of the preseason rankings. Meeting uncharacteristically high expectations requires players who have not contributed in the past to mature into prominent roles and role players to develop into stars.
The upcoming series of 15 practices allotted by the NCAA is a prime opportunity for those who will help carry the Bruins in a competitive conference race to emerge.
While many college football programs will spend the spring trying to decide on a new starting quarterback, the Ohio State Buckeyes are in a much more enviable situation as they aim to decide on who will be the backup behind star signal-caller Braxton Miller.
Miller elected to delay his professional career for another year and come back for his senior season in Columbus, leaving OSU with the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year at the helm.
The question now remains: Will redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones, redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett or true freshman Stephen Collier back up the Buckeye legend?
Kenny Guiton was arguably the best backup quarterback in the country last year, as he filled in admirably when Miller was injured early in the 2013 season. Guiton finished the year with 1,079 total yards and 19 total touchdowns with just two interceptions. However, he has graduated, opening the door for a new No. 2.
In a strange twist, Miller will be limited in the spring after having minor outpatient surgery on his throwing shoulder in February.
While injuries are never a positive, his is oddly convenient and will allow for his two backups to split more time during spring practice, giving them more time to impress Urban Meyer and his staff.
Come along as we break down OSU's two contenders for the No. 2 slot on the depth chart.
Tale of the Tape
Meet Cardale Jones
If the name "Cardale Jones" sounds familiar, you aren't crazy. You probably know Jones as the "we ain't come to play school" guy.
In 2012, Jones infamously tweeted (then deleted): "Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain't come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS."
While Jones doesn't have the best reputation, offensive coordinator Tom Herman was quick to report that one tweet doesn't tell his entire story, per Doug Lesmerises of The Plain Dealer:
Cardale needs to show consistency. He’s got a ton of physical talent and he’s a lot smarter than you think. He’s kind of class clown. I think he has grown up a lot and continues to grow up. And all the things we’ve seen in the off-season and off the field need to start to translate onto the field and his maturity coming through and I think that will show in his consistency of play. He’s a good player, he just needs to mature. He’s a lot smarter and a lot more decisive than some people think.
Jones came out of the class of 2011 along with Miller but spent a postgraduate year at Fork Union Military Academy before arriving in Columbus as a 3-star recruit in the 247Sports Composite ratings.
He logged action in three games last season, finishing 1-of-2 passing for a whopping three yards. He is a strong rusher, though. He ran 17 times for 128 yards and a touchdown last year.
Herman told Lesmerises that Jones will enter the spring as the No. 2 behind Miller, but depending on how he handles his time—and how Barrett and Collier handle their time—anything is subject to change.
Meet J.T. Barrett
While Jones is a big, powerful runner, Barrett is much more comparable to Miller.
He was a 247Sports Composite 4-star and the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the 2013 class out of Wichita Falls, Texas.
He'll essentially be starting with a blank slate. He redshirted the 2013 season after undergoing surgery for a torn ACL he suffered while in high school. However, he wasn't just sitting around doing nothing all year. Barrett worked hard to carve himself into a physical condition that will prepare him for this spring's battle, as Herman told Lesmerises:
J.T. has a ton of intangibles and has reworked his body since he got here. He came in kind of pudgy. He has basically spent an entire year reworking his body and has shown a lot of leadership on the scout team this year.
You want to talk about intangibles and just being able to feel when guys kind of have that it factor, he’s got that. He has a quick release, he’s pretty accurate, and those things are what drew us toward him. Now he’s done laying in the weeds, now he has to get out of the weeds and attack this thing.
Those intangibles could very well put Barrett closer to Miller, who is a skilled playmaker in his own right, in the eyes of the OSU coaching staff.
While skills on paper are great, don't be surprised if Barrett lets his innate ability to play the game show during spring practice.
Meet Stephen Collier
The clear No. 3 in the race for OSU's backup job is early enrollee Stephen Collier.
Collier seems destined to redshirt this season after joining the squad as a 247Sports Composite 3-star in the 2014 class.
Urban Meyer said in February, per Ari Wasserman of Cleveland.com, that Collier will need to develop into the position.
Having said that, garnering reps this spring will be very valuable for the true freshman from Leesburg, Ga.
Prediction: Barrett Wins No. 2 Job
Jones will enter the spring as the leader of the race. With his size and relative experience, he will have an understandable advantage.
However, he'll face a great challenge from Barrett, who looks to be OSU's quarterback of the future.
As the spring goes along, Barrett will move further into favor with the Buckeyes coaching staff.
By the time the April 12 spring game rolls around, Barrett will have supplanted Jones for the backup role behind Miller.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
One of the staples of Alabama’s most recent dynasty has been strong play from its offensive line units.
However, in 2013, Nick Saban’s troops experienced some noticeable stretches where that group had its share of struggles.
Entering the spring, offensive line coach Mario Cristobal will be searching for two new starters in addition to developing the type of cohesion the Tide have enjoyed up front in recent years.
Between tackle Austin Shepherd, center Ryan Kelly and guard Arie Kouandjio, the line unit has a trio of experienced veterans who are familiar with the Tide’s system and the rigorous trench wars that take place in the SEC.
There are also younger talents such as tackle Grant Hill and guard Alphonse Taylor who have an excellent chance to make their case to earn a starting role. Also, the arrival of Cameron Robinson, the nation’s top left tackle prospect in the 2014 class, is sure to add a little intrigue to the race to fill Cyrus Kouandjio’s shoes.
What should Tide fans need to know about the offensive line unit heading into the spring?
All recruiting information and rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
Each March, college football teams across the country relinquish early-morning workouts in shorts and shirts in favor of actual football practice.
The Nittany Lions are less than two weeks away from spring practice, a four-week period that will culminate on Blue-White Weekend with the annual Blue-White spring game on April 12 at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Penn State returns 15 starters including standouts Christian Hackenberg, Deion Barnes and Adrian Amos, but with a new coaching staff, there will be plenty of opportunity for movement across the depth chart.
Here's a look at a handful of players who will benefit from the "clean slate" and possibly make a big impact in the coming weeks.
All stats courtesy of CFBStats.com.
Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive is one of the most powerful men in collegiate athletics, and he'll reportedly remain so for at least another year.
Jon Solomon of AL.com reported Tuesday that Slive will return as the SEC commissioner for the 2014-15 year, citing some unfinished business still left on his docket:
I've got too much going on. I've got the (SEC) Network to work on. I've got football scheduling to solve. We've got the NCAA restructuring. We've got a lot of important issues to take care of. I wouldn't miss it for the world.
The 73-year-old gave no insight as to when he might step down as the leader of the league that has dominated college football for nearly a decade.
"I'll be here as long as you see me," he told AL.com. "I'll be working until I'm not working."
With the SEC Network set to launch in August, there is plenty of work that Slive understandably wants to see through before he departs.
Slive mentioned last year that he was mulling his future, but even then, he said that the SEC Network and upcoming College Football Playoff were projects he wanted to see through to completion, as Solomon reported in June:
There were certainly big things in my A pile (to complete before retiring): the expansion, the (SEC) network and the BCS and modeling that out to how we hoped it would come out. I have another year to go in my current agreement, and at some point this year we'll sit down and have a conversation and see where we go from there.
With that pile still standing, Slive will be back. He has been the conference's commissioner since 2002, when he left his post atop Conference USA. According to Solomon, he pulled in $1.2 million in compensation for 2012-13.
As much as he has earned, he has brought the league even more. During his tenure, revenue distributed to members has exploded from $95.7 million to $314.5 million, which Solomon detailed in January.
Slive has accomplished a lot during his tenure. On top of the league's dominance in football, it also gained two new members—Missouri and Texas A&M—while preventing other programs from being poached during waves of conference realignment.
As long as Slive is at the helm, the SEC is under exemplary leadership.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
With the news that Virginia Tech has enticed former Texas Tech quarterback Michael Brewer to transfer to Blacksburg, the Hokies’ QB competition just got a lot more complicated.
Redshirt senior Mark Leal has the most experience in the program, but his poor performance in the Sun Bowl in relief of Logan Thomas don't make his prospects for 2014 seem particularly exciting.
Accordingly, the staff searched for someone to provide veteran competition for Leal, and they seem to have found what they were looking for in Brewer.
The Hokies will be bringing in a trio of talented quarterback prospects in the 2014 class, but now the staff has a chance to redshirt some—or all—of the incoming freshmen should they need time to develop.
Andrew Ford will be the first prospect in camp, as he’s already enrolled and will participate in spring practice, but the learning curve for true freshmen is notoriously steep, according to offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, who spoke on the subject to Andy Bitter of The Roanoke Times.
Chad [Henne] walked in in July into Ann Arbor and the fact of the matter, talent-wise, he’s either a first- or second-round draft pick, talent-wise. That guy was. He was super talented. But he also walked into a situation, I believe, don’t quote me, six or seven NFL football players on offense alone around him, and an older group on top of it. So they were able to help and aid for whenever he did make mistakes. ... And when you look back at it, he did great things, but he was also able to be aided and helped with a bunch of older guys that were … his receiving corps alone, my gosh, they were all great players. It was a perfect situation for him to walk into. Is it hard for a true freshman? It is ridiculously tough.
So while Ford could certainly make a big impact early on and become part of the quarterback competition, it seems as if the real battle will be between Leal and Brewer.
Neither is perfect—after all, both have been passed over for starting jobs several times at this point—but evaluating their separate skills can reveal which one might be better suited for Loeffler’s offense.
Although Leal has been on the roster for five years, he got his first real shot when Thomas got knocked out of the Sun Bowl. The results weren’t pretty.
Leal went just 12 for 25 for 130 yards and two very costly interceptions in his only real experience on the big stage.
But that doesn’t mean he’s out of the running for the Hokies’ top quarterback spot. Frank Beamer has always trusted his veterans, and Leal has benefited from many years in the system (even if he’s had only one year with Loeffler).
And there’s no doubt that he does possess some skills that would make him uniquely suited for the job.
First and foremost, he’s got a big arm. Leal can wing it when he wants to, as French of TheKeyPlay.com notes.
I have often compared him to the legendary Raiders quarterback Daryle Lamonica, whose love of throwing deep balls resulted in his nickname of "The Mad Bomber." For much of 2011 and 2012, it was rare that BeamerBall.com posted a practice or scrimmage video that did not include a beautiful deep pass. As Leal has matured, he has demonstrated fantastic touch on his passes at all depths when he is not pressured.
He hasn’t gotten a lot of chances to flash his arm during the season, but he has in some of the team’s early scrimmages, like this one.
Considering that Loeffler has said he wants to stretch the defense with the deep ball—and the staff recruited a pair of receivers that could help do that in Cameron Phillips and Isaiah Ford—Leal’s arm strength could be a big asset for the offense.
However, the problem becomes when he gets pressured. The second interception he threw against UCLA was a direct result of him making a poor decision as the pocket collapsed.
His arm strength is certainly on display on the throw, but he made a poor decision to overlook linebacker Jordan Zumwalt and it led to the ugly interception.
Leal’s worst decision of the day also came when he was under pressure.
It’s one thing to get pressured, hold the ball too long and take a sack, but throwing the ball right into the arms of a defender while falling backwards is inexcusable, no matter the experience level.
The biggest mark against Leal is how uncomfortable he’s seemed in the pocket. Tech’s offensive line is improving, but he still will have to learn to deal with some pressure as the line adds a new starter.
His arm strength is a big point in his favor, as is his experience, but he certainly has plenty to work on.
Brewer is a similarly unknown quantity.
At Lake Travis High in Austin, Texas, he put up stellar numbers largely due to the presence of current Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, formerly the head coach at Lake Travis. But Brewer never did much with Texas Tech.
He attempted only 48 passes with the Red Raiders, redshirting his first year, playing sparingly his second year and languishing on the bench in 2013.
However, he fell down the depth chart last year largely due to a back injury he suffered in June, which Brewer claims was misdiagnosed.
“It was only supposed to be about a two-month injury, and it ended up being about a 4 1/2-month injury,” Brewer told Texas Tech’s athletic website. “From the beginning of June until I got cleared the week that we played Kansas (Oct. 5).”
Both the extended injury and the clash with the training staff seem like red flags, but a change of scenery could certainly help Brewer.
He certainly has talent that could make him a major contender for the starting spot.
Brewer was a 3-star prospect coming out of high school, and he displayed plenty of mobility at Lake Travis—he ran a 4.70 40-yard dash at the time.
In his junior year of high school, he ran for 615 yards on 114 attempts and 23 touchdowns, so he certainly can make plays with his legs.
But his diminutive, 6’1”, 185 pound frame means he likely won’t spend too much time running the ball at Tech. Instead, his mobility will be best served in helping him move the pocket on plays like this one.
However, in his limited time in the college ranks, this same mobility tended to get him into trouble.
He often got indecisive if he was forced out of the pocket, and that led to big sacks like this one.
So it’s clear that both quarterbacks have issues with pressure, which shouldn’t come as terribly surprising considering their lack of experience facing college pass rushers.
Both will have to make some big changes to be ready for the starting role, but there is still time for them to make that happen.
Handicapping the competition seems difficult, since the two seem very even, as Bitter details.
Brewer will have an entire summer to digest the playbook before hoping to make an impression come August. It's a small time frame, but he said he's up to the task of learning a new system (he already learned two in his brief time at Texas Tech). ... Handicapping the field, I'll put it a 45 percent shot for Leal, a 45 percent shot for Brewer and a 10 percent shot at someone else entering the picture. With 40-some practices and a summer's worth of 7-on-7 drills and workouts between now and the season opener, however, the job is open for whoever wants to seize it.
It all really comes down to the kind of skill set Loeffler is looking for.
If he wants his quarterback to drop back and wing the ball around, Leal might be the choice. But if he’d like to move the pocket, run some option plays and spread the field, Brewer seems like a better option.
Leal has the advantage heading into the spring given his experience, and going through spring practice with the first team will help. But if he falters, Loeffler won’t be afraid to turn to Brewer.
This quarterback competition is far from over, and it should be fascinating to watch to its conclusion.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
Mark Helfrich's 2015 recruiting class is off to an impressive start.
According to The Oregonian's Andrew Greif, 4-star offensive guard Zach Okun has verbally committed to Oregon, giving the Ducks their first commitment of what is sure to be another star-studded group:
The 6'4", 310-pound interior lineman, who committed during his unofficial visit to Eugene, talked about what went into his decision, via 247Sports' Justin Hopkins:
I"ve taken a lot of trips and this was just it for me. I felt comfortable here, it just felt natural for me and my family. My parents came with me and they loved it too. I am 100-percent committed to Oregon and I'm done with the process.
I'm done with recruiting. In my mind I'm firmly committed and I won't be taking any other visits.
Fellow Pac-12 schools USC and Washington, as well as Notre Dame, were in the mix for the Newbury Park, Calif., native, but his time on campus appeared to seal the deal for the Ducks.
"I have an outstanding relationship with the coaches and I love their energy," he said. "I love the atmosphere and the other players I met."
Okun is a tremendous prospect—and a somewhat surprising one, according to 247Sports' Crystal Ball predictions—to build the 2015 class around.
Per 247Sports' composite rankings, he is the No. 166 recruit in the nation, seventh-best offensive guard and 26th-best prospect out of the hotbed that is California.
Projected to play either center or guard, Okun still has a year of high school to continue to hone his skills. But as 247Sports grades him a 9 out of 10 in run blocking, he already looks like a tremendous fit for Oregon's fast-paced, run-oriented offense.
He's going to continue to attract offers, but Oregon fans likely don't have anything to worry about, as the 17-year-old sounds confident in his decision.
This, of course, is only the beginning for Helfrich's staff.
Oregon has finished with a top-20 class the past four seasons, and with Marcus Mariota at the helm in 2014, the Ducks should continue to serve as a national powerhouse that attracts top recruits from all over.
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Five Auburn players traveled to the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, but only two, offensive tackle Greg Robinson and running back Tre Mason, took part in complete testing.
Of the other three, one was punter Steven Clark, whose score in the three-cone drill, broad jump, etc. wouldn't really affect his draft stock. His game tape and numbers matter more than his measurable scores.
The other two, however, were defensive end Dee Ford and cornerback Chris Davis, who were both advised not to work out for medical reasons.
Ford was flagged because of a herniated disc from a procedure done in 2011 and Davis tweaked a hamstring in preparation for the event.
Neither injury was serious, though, which put Ford and Davis in the spotlight during Auburn's pro day on Tuesday—an event which, according to ESPN 106.5's The Drive, was attended by every NFL team.
Alongside those main attractions, a number of other, lesser-known Tigers got to flash their stuff for professional scouts, as did Robinson (who only weighed in and did position drills) and Mason (who stood on his combine score for everything but the three-cone drill) once again.
Let's take a look at what we learned.
Dee Ford Would Have Been a "Winner of the Week" in Indy
Despite being forced to miss workouts in Indianapolis, Ford was a already a riser in the postseason draft process. After his performance at the Senior Bowl, his stock was in high demand, but scouts still wanted to see how he tested athletically—just to make sure.
On Tuesday, Ford passed those tests with ease. He didn't just meet the benchmark scouts were looking for—didn't just prove athletic enough to select based on the dominance of his senior-year game-tape—he exceeded it and showed himself to be one of the finest physical specimens in the draft.
Here are his unofficial numbers from pro day, courtesy of ESPN 106.5's The Drive (via Eric Galko):
Ford's second unofficial 40-yard dash was even better than his first (cited above), clocking in at 4.53 seconds. That would tie him with Jadeveon Clowney—the defensive lineman whom (a) scouts were smitten with after watching him run, and (b)Ford called out and said he was better than during the combine—for the best time among defensive linemen.
Meanwhile, Ford's three-cone score of 6.8 would have given him the single highest score among defensive linemen at the combine, while the 29 bench press reps, 35.5'' vertical jump and 10'3'' vertical jump would have all placed him squarely inside the top 10.
The numbers Ford posted across the board on Tuesday—especially in the 40-yard dash and three-cone drill—were imperative to his draft stock in terms of health and scheme versatility, as duly noted by Chase Goodbread of NFL.com:
It was the sort of validation Ford needed to not only establish himself as one of the draft's elite athletes, but as well to quell any concerns about the back surgery he underwent in 2011, which prompted his absence from combine workouts. At 252 pounds, he is considered light to play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, but could be ideal as a pass-rushing linebacker in a 3-4. Ford said at his combine news conference that teams that showed the most interest in him operated 3-4 defenses.
Some in the scouting community use "tweener" as a pejorative term, but Ford is a "tweener" in a good way. He could be the next Trent Cole playing with his hand down in a 4-3 scheme, or he could be the next Bruce Irvin standing up and playing Leo.
Either way, as he proved on Tuesday, he should become a useful, do-it-all member of an NFL defense.
Chris Davis Is an NFL Athlete
Davis, the hero of the Iron Bowl win over Alabama, has taken some heat in the couple of months that have followed.
His tape revealed what Auburn fans already knew—i.e., he is inconsistent at best in man coverage—and he was repeatedly burnt by Florida State receivers in the national title game.
However, these are things that NFL coaches, whether through experience or conceit (or both), believe they can hammer out of a guy in practice. As long as he wasn't a train wreck on film, an NFL athlete will be drafted and given a shot to succeed.
On Tuesday, Davis proved that he is an NFL athlete. His vertical jump of 40.5'' would have tied for second-best among cornerbacks and fifth-best overall at the combine, which left professional scouts smiling:
With a respectable 40-yard dash time of 4.51 and a broad jump of 10'4'', Davis showed more of the straight-line speed and explosion from the legs that scouts love to see.
Even standing just 5'9'', he earned himself a definite spot in the draft.
Jay Prosch Is Bane
Alright. Maybe Auburn fans didn't learn this at Tuesday's pro day. Most had known it all along, seen it in action every Saturday in the fall.
They still had it reinforced.
Starting in the pre-pro-day lineups, folks on Twitter—and ostensibly those in attendance—were in awe over the size of Jay Prosch's arms, pictured here in the back left corner here:
And here during his 27 bench press reps:
And here , courtesy of AL.com's Brandon Marcello, in video form:
Prosch had a good day on the stat sheet, too. Especially in posting a 40-yard dash time of 4.72 seconds, which is quite fast for a fullback. He looked and moved like someone who deserves a shot in an NFL training camp.
...Even if he's not actually drafted.
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He firmly gripped the podium and stared into the eyes and camera lenses with a steely determination.
He delivered precise, straightforward answers. He appeared to the assembled media as a man on a mission, a man intent upon righting the one disastrous wrong he made nearly one year ago.
And for the first time in his career, Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson carried himself with the type of confidence and limited bravado that may carry him back to the starting quarterback position that was rightfully his during the Irish's run to the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, a game that feels as if it was played a decade ago.
Golson, dressed in a gray Notre Dame polo complete with what appear as more muscular, rippling arms protruding from the short sleeves, made it known he hasn't forgotten about that humbling defeat to Alabama in Miami on Jan. 7, 2013.
Golson - we want to win a championship - that's my unfinished business.— Irish Sports Daily (@ISDUpdate) March 3, 2014
Rumblings about his habit of not throwing the football with the laces and other technical aspects of his game aside, Golson whetted the appetite of a championship-hungry fanbase by stating the No. 1 goal for both the program and himself is to return to college football's championship game.
The Myrtle Beach, S.C., native didn't mince words regarding the matter, and he shouldn't have; the motto of the program upon his return was undoubtedly "championship or bust." Say what you will about that ultimate goal, but the Irish have their sights clearly set on winning the first annual College Football Playoff.
Yet to advance to that hollowed ground, Golson has to be a more efficient quarterback than he was in 2012, and that began with Notre Dame's spring practices on Monday morning. The first of 15 scheduled practice sessions was the first opportunity for Golson to showcase the work he put in during his time away from Notre Dame with noted quarterback guru George Whitfield.
It was with Whitfield in San Diego that Golson worked tirelessly to not only tighten his fundamentals and mechanics, but to sharpen his knowledge of the game, which was perhaps his most glaring weakness during the 2012 season.
It didn't take long for those training sessions to prove their worth, as head coach Brian Kelly addressed the assembled media throng within the confines of the Isban Auditorium at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex on campus.
"There's a conceptual awareness that he had lacked sometimes," Kelly said, via Sports Illustrated's Brian Hamilton. "When he explained his progression [of reads before], it might take him 10 seconds. Well, you have 2.6 seconds throw the ball. Now he's precise in his communication. That tells me a lot."
Kelly has never been one to sugarcoat anything within his program, which gives his praise of Golson added significance.
With his dual-threat ability combined with much firmer mental grasp of the game, Golson could become the explosive player the Irish can center their offense on, and that's what he needs to be—an unquestioned leader both on and off the field.
Kelly said as much, also via Hamilton.
"But I think we all know college football and where it is—the quarterback is really going to be the centerpiece of this offense and the way we run it," Kelly said. "It's going to fall on him. We all live in the same world when it comes to the Notre Dame quarterback. We're going to heap a lot on this kid's shoulders.
"And he knows that. That's why he came back to Notre Dame, because he wants that. Clearly, he's going to be the one that drives this for us."
Essentially, Golson will be to the 2014 Irish what the defense was in 2012—the driving force behind a run to a championship.
And if his steely resolve to begin his redemption tour at Notre Dame says anything, it's that he and the Notre Dame program aren't settling for anything less.
Let the games begin.
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