NCAA Football

Predicting Where the Tennessee Volunteers Will Finish in 2016 Recruiting Ranks

The Tennessee Volunteers' back-to-back top-10 recruiting classes probably won't have company in 2016.

When a program gets a complete makeover the way the Vols have in coach Butch Jones' first two classes—signing 62 players, which is more than two-thirds of a roster—the numbers game catches up eventually.

That's what is expected to happen this year.

With a monster class of in-state players and prospects the Vols coaching staff has established relationships with set for 2017, this year's haul may be slimmer than normal.

The final ranking could suffer because of that too.

Given the relatively slow start from a rankings standpoint (Tennessee is currently ranked 16th nationally in the 247Sports composite rankings and seventh in the SEC) and considering UT already has 12 commitments, the team can't make a massive jump up the charts. 

While Jones recruits well enough that a top-20 class is virtually guaranteed, sneaking into the top 15 may be a tall task unless there's considerable turnover in the current class or several prospects receive ratings bumps.

GoVols247 recruiting analyst Ryan Callahan sees a sunnier outlook.

"It's hard to say where Tennessee might finish in the final rankings, at least in part because we don't know for sure how many players the Vols might end up signing," Callahan told B/R. "Their preference would be to sign a class of around 18 as of right now, but it's always possible that they could squeeze in a couple more guys if they feel they need to.

"If they stick with that plan and sign somewhere around 18, I would expect Tennessee to finish somewhere between 11 and 15 in the final team rankings. It's going to be tough for the Vols to sign a pretty small class that's still deep enough to finish in the top 10. That's just the reality of the situation.

"That doesn't mean they can't still sign 18 really good players and have a nice class. But it's going to be tough to crack the top 10 unless they decide to sign a class of 20-plus players."

Perhaps UT's ceiling for this class would be signing one comparable to what the UCLA Bruins did in the 2015 cycle.

Coach Jim Mora signed 19 players, but the class featured three 5-star prospects, 10 4-stars and six 3-stars and finished 12th.

A more logical comparison based on the Vols' current commits (four 4-stars and eight 3-stars) may be what Ole Miss and Oregon did last year in 22-player classes that wound up 16th and 17th, respectively.

Also, a glimpse of the 2014 rankings shows that Stanford, Clemson, UCLA and Michigan all finished ranked in the top 20 with 20 or fewer commitments.

It can be done, but the Vols need a big finish.

Considering there are at least a couple of players on the commitment list who likely won't be there on national signing day, there's some wiggle room. But another talk-of-national-signing-day finish like the last couple of years is not expected.

That hasn't kept analysts from raving about what Jones has done with limited space thus far:

Here are a few targets Tennessee could sign who would send it surging up the rankings.


Kareem Walker

The top-ranked running back in the nation and 4-star Ohio State commitment from New Jersey is good friends with UT quarterback commit Jarrett Guarantano. He plans on visiting the Vols soon, and as OSU has two other potential running backs already committed in this class, it's not outside the realm of possibility that Jones could steal him. Still, at this point, it's wishful thinking.


Rashan Gary

Like Walker, Gary hails from New Jersey. Like Walker, he's a long shot to commit to Tennessee (nobody has picked the Vols on the Crystal Ball). But he also has ties to Guarantano, and he's expected to visit UT. If the Vols could somehow convince the nation's top-ranked player to come to Knoxville, they'd surge up the rankings.


B.J. Emmons

After the 4-star running back recently decommitted from Georgia, 100 percent of the Crystal Ball projections have him heading to Knoxville. Tennessee desperately needs a running back (or two) in this class, and the staff loves him. If he can qualify, he'd be a perfect fit for this class. He is a power back who also possesses breakaway speed and elite all-around ability. Alabama is also interested.


Derrick Brown

Brown is monstrous defensive tackle prospect from the Peach State who is big and athletic and somewhat comparable to Trent Thompson from a season ago. He had Georgia out front early, and the Bulldogs are still in the top group with usual suspects Alabama and Auburn. But after visiting Knoxville this past weekend, the 5-star told Callahan he "definitely" wants to get back up there soon, so UT is in this race.


Nigel Warrior

One of the three most realistic huge targets on this list, Warrior is a Tennessee legacy (his father, Dale Carter, is a UT legend) who once referred to the Vols as his leader. Like Brown with Georgia, the star safety has since backed off that statement, but the Vols are in his lead group with teams such as Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State and others. UT should be in this battle until the end.


Joejuan Williams

Williams is another prospect many SEC teams have offered, and Jones seems to have the Vols positioned well for the defensive back's signature early in the process. The UT head coach has a strong track record of keeping coveted stars in state, and Williams fits both of those categories. He'd help Tennessee's final ranking, and he's a must-get for the staff.

Toss this cluster of targets into a group of many more, and you see that Tennessee could make a positive move between now and national signing day. And that list doesn't include the 10 or so 4-star receivers who include UT in their lists of favorites.

You have to figure the Vols will land at least a couple of them.

During the past couple of recruiting cycles, Tennessee heated up with the weather. The Vols are about to run a stretch of camps that was productive for them a year ago, starting with this weekend's "Orange Carpet Day."

UT has experienced a strong past couple of weeks with commitments from two JUCO targets who were high on the want list. Receiver Jeff George and defensive tackle Alexis Johnson committed to the Vols, giving Jones important targets at positions where immediate assistance will be needed in 2016.

Local tight end Austin Pope, whose stock has risen recently with offers from teams such as Missouri, Arkansas and Nebraska, pledged less than a week after receiving an offer from UT. The Christian Academy of Knoxville produced Vols Josh Smith and Brett Kendrick in recent years, and now Pope will make a third.

All three of those players are 3-star prospects, but UT didn't hesitate in taking them, regardless of the shortage of spots in the class. So, that should tell you all you need to know about how concerned coaches are with rankings.

The past two years, the Vols were the talk of college football, seemingly rising from the ashes to become a major name in recruiting again. They may go about it more quietly this year, but that doesn't mean they're struggling to promote their brand.

They're just facing the reality of having a young roster loaded with underclassmen and limited spots for players in this class.

The end result may not cause the gurus to gush, but the Vols are putting together a solid class.


All observations gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. All statistics gathered from, unless otherwise noted. All recruiting information obtained from 247Sports.

Brad Shepard covers SEC football and is the Tennessee lead writer for Bleacher Report. Follow Brad on Twitter @Brad_Shepard.

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Biggest Remaining Challenge Every Power 5 Coach Faces This Offseason

Now roughly 11 weeks from the start of the 2015 college football season, we can begin to see the horizon. And it's dotted with stadiums, tailgating and pre- and postgame shows—all there to entertain us and carry us through the fall.

There's nothing left to do but wait, at least for the fans. College coaches, however, still have plenty left to do.

Coaches are making the final arrangements to ensure the next crop of incoming recruits arrive without incident. They're tinkering with the playbook and drawing up early depth charts. And that's just the tip of the iceberg as far as what coaches still have to worry about this offseason.

Each coach and team has its own specific concerns and challenges to deal with over the summer. We've identified the biggest one for every power-conference team (and Notre Dame) and explain what impact this issue could have on the 2015 season.

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UCLA Football: Recapping the Biggest Offseason News so Far

It's been a period of transition throughout this offseason for head coach Jim Mora and the UCLA football team. 

The program has bid adieu to integral members of the roster (Brett Hundley, Eric Kendricks, Owa Odighizuwa). Dually, there's been a change at one of the coordinator spots. 

There have also been some problems surfacing—which include a suspension of a coach and legal problems for a highly prized recruit. 

Accordingly, this piece will delve into the biggest offseason news for the UCLA Bruins. 

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UCLA Football: Recapping the Biggest Offseason News so Far

It's been a period of transition throughout this offseason for head coach Jim Mora and the UCLA football team. The program has bid adieu to integral members of the roster (Brett Hundley , Eric Kendricks, Owa Odighizuwa )...

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Ohio State Football: 10 Best Players in Buckeyes' History

The Ohio State football program has been up and running for 125 incredible seasons, and the amount of talent that has filtered through Columbus is staggering.

The Buckeyes have produced six Heisman Trophy winners (and seven trophies total) and sent 416 players to the NFL via the draft, 69 of which went in the first round. 

But who are the 10 best players to ever suit up in the scarlet and gray?

Determining that starts with Ohio State's six Heisman winners. They're part of a fraternity that is comprised of the greatest players in college football history, so they're on this list by default.

The other four spots? Those went to guys who played key roles in their respective championship teams, dominated their position like no other players ever have or own the distinction of putting Ohio State on the map (in a literal sense).  

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Anthony Jennings Among 4 LSU Football Players Arrested: Latest Details, Reaction

Anthony Jennings, Maquedius Bain and Dwayne Thomas, members of the LSU Tigers football team, were arrested by campus police Thursday, per Ross Dellenger and Maya Lau of the Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Dellenger listed the charges the three players face:

News of the arrests came just hours after Dellenger and Lau reported another Tigers player was involved in an ongoing legal issue. Trey Lealaimatafao was arrested for simple battery and simple assault after an altercation outside of a bar in Baton Rouge.

Dellenger provided a statement from head coach Les Miles:

Dellenger and Lau were unaware if Lealaimatafao's arrest was related in any way to that of Jennings, Bain and Thomas.

Even if the two incidents are completely independent of one another, Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman still thinks they don't make for a pleasant situation at LSU:

Jennings is certainly the most notable of the four to find himself in potential trouble.

Many expect him to at least compete for the Tigers' starting quarterback job in 2015. He threw for 1,611 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions last year while sharing snaps with Brandon Harris. Jennings likely has the edge going into the season, but his arrest could change that.

The Tigers start the year off at home against McNeese State on Sept. 5.

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UCLA Football: Projecting Who Will Win Bruins' Open Starting Positions

While the UCLA football team returns the vast majority of its starting lineup from a season ago, there are multiple spots in which the Bruins have to replace integral cogs within the proverbial machine. 

The most pressing need is at quarterback. The eventual starter will be tasked with replacing arguably the most successful signal-caller (Brett Hundley) in school history. 

Additionally, there are two pressing needs within the defense to look at, as well as two positions along the offensive line. 

This piece will project and predict the eventual winners of these open starting spots. 

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UCLA Football: Projecting Who Will Win Bruins' Open Starting Positions

While the UCLA football team returns the vast majority of its starting lineup from a season ago, there are multiple spots in which the Bruins have to replace integral cogs within the proverbial machine...

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Trey Lealaimatafao Arrested for Battery, Robbery: Details, Mugshot and Reaction

LSU defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao was arrested on battery and robbery charges Thursday after an altercation in a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, bar.

Ross Dellenger and Maya Lau of The Advocate spoke with team spokesperson Michael Bonnette, who said Lealaimatafao has been suspended pending the result of the investigation. Police allege that Lealaimatafao knocked an unnamed male unconscious and punched his girlfriend in the face during an altercation in a bar parking lot Tuesday.

He was arrested two days later and placed on $15,000 bond. He remains in jail at this time.

A redshirt freshman, Lealaimatafao was a 3-star recruit out of Warren High School in San Antonio, per He was expected to compete for playing time this season on a deep Tigers defensive line.

This is the second time Lealaimatafao has been arrested since arriving in Baton Rouge. Last summer he was arrested after stealing a bicycle, and was also involved in an incident where he punched out a window in the team's weight room. The latter incident forced him out of action until October, which in large part resulted in him redshirting. At the time, he called the moment a "learning experience."

Lealaimatafao's latest off-field incident could come with a jail term of up to seven years if he's convicted on the robbery charge. LSU coach Les Miles has not commented on the situation at this time.


Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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Recruiting Results All Jim Harbaugh Needs to Defend Satellite Camps

With nearly two months to go until the start of the season, Jim Harbaugh still finds himself dominating college football's daily headlines.

But as opposed to the first five months of the new Michigan head coach's unprecedented reign as the sport's most talked-about persona, Harbaugh is now backing up his words with plenty of action.

Harbaugh's arrival in Ann Arbor late last December served as a lightning bolt to the college football landscape, his affinity for satellite camps receiving most of the attention from opposing coaches across the country.

Now that the former San Francisco 49ers head coach's "Summer Swarm Tour" is fully in effect, the noise has only amplified, with Mississippi State's Dan Mullen being the latest to take a swipe at Harbaugh's recruiting practices.

"I imagine Jim Harbaugh, if he's going to have a camp, would want to coach the kids in Michigan, the young kids in Michigan, maybe how to be better football players," Mullen told Super Talk Mississippi's Head To Head on Monday. "So why do they need one all over the place? The only purpose obviously is for recruiting, which I don't think is the right purpose for camps."

It wasn't the first time Harbaugh had been criticized by a coach from the SEC, which along with the ACC forbids its programs from attending camps further than 50 miles away from their respective campuses.

Ohio State's Urban Meyer and Penn State's James Franklin have also held satellite camps over the offseason, but neither has participated in as many as the Wolverines' staff, which has already taken part in 11 with a 12th looming in Youngstown, Ohio, at the end of the month.

"In my America, you're allowed to cross state borders," Harbaugh told USA Today's George Schroeder on Wednesday. "That's the America I know."

Harbaugh's defense wasn't necessary. Neither was his direct response to Mullen's comments, telling Schroeder that he's been merely "sharing a love for football" with his plethora of appearances at satellite camps.

The reality is that Harbaugh's allegiances lie with the school that's paying him—and nobody else.

To that end, it's hard to view the new Michigan headman's venture into satellite camps as anything but successful.

Heading into the summer, the Wolverines' 2016 recruiting class was hardly impressive, with six commits making up a unit that saw its national ranking fluctuate between the mid-30s and 40s. But in the past week, Harbaugh's first full haul as his alma mater's head coach has skyrocketed to 247Sports' No. 9 ranking following the commitment of 4-star offensive tackle Ben Bredeson on Wednesday.

Unsurprisingly, there's a direct correlation one can draw between Harbaugh's foray into satellite camps and the rise of his 2016 class, which has gained nine of its 16 current members in the month of June.

Eight of those nine players attended one of the stops on the "Summer Swarm Tour," which included stops in Florida, California, Texas, Pennsylvania and Indiana.

Some of those players—like Indianapolis 4-star running back Chris Evans—were already highly coveted prospects, while others—like Florida 2-star safety Josh Metellus—earned offers at the camp they attended.

Either way, it's tough to argue with the results Harbaugh has manufactured on the recruiting trail with a little more than seven months to go until national signing day.

That's not to say that Harbaugh's work is done—far from it—especially with rivals Ohio State (No. 3) and Michigan State's (No. 6) respective 2016 classes still ranked ahead of the Wolverines'. 

This fall likely won't be a walk in the park for Harbaugh in his first season on the Michigan Stadium sidelines either, as he inherited a roster that's already at a perceived disadvantage when it comes to talent.

But when it comes to what he can control at this point in his Ann Arbor reign, Harbaugh has managed to already make a mark, and satellite camps are a big reason why.

From all indications, he doesn't seem to be planning on stopping anytime soon either, with the the Virginian-Pilot's Harry Minium reporting that Michigan is planning on taking part in a satellite camp at Old Dominion in Norfolk, Virginia, in 2016.

Whether Harbaugh's reputation as a recruiter will be strengthened or weakened by then remains to be seen. But after six months, The Offseason Of Harbaugh is only gaining steam, and Harbaugh won't be apologizing for it anytime soon.


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

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Stat Projections for Georgia Bulldogs' Loaded Running Back Committee

The Georgia Bulldogs have a talented pool of running back talent, but replacing first-round draft pick Todd Gurley will be no small task. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee gives his stat projections for the Dawgs RBs. 

What kind of season will the RB corp for Georgia have in 2015? Check out the video, and let us know!

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Parker Boudreaux Reveals Top 5: Odds on Where 4-Star Lands

Parker Boudreaux continues to work his way through a pile of college scholarship offers.

The 6'4", 287-pound Florida lineman commanded attention from more than 70 football programs before finishing his junior year at Bishop Moore Catholic High School. He is now focused on five favorites, revealing them in a Bleacher Report video released Wednesday:

Boudreaux, a 4-star prospect rated 12th nationally among offensive guards in 247Sports' composite rankings, provided a glimpse at his current mindset with the reveal. His top five teams—Clemson, Florida, Georgia Southern, Notre Dame and Oklahoma—each landed on the list for various reasons.

He previously released a top 10 in April. All five favorites appeared in that release, while Alabama, Auburn, Iowa, Ole Miss and Penn State didn't make the cut this time around.

The coveted blocker told Bleacher Report he expects to make a final decision before the start of his senior season. This timeline provides college coaching staffs with approximately another 10 weeks to sell their team as an ideal destination.

We broke down each option under consideration, assigning odds on the likelihood of each university emerging as his eventual landing spot.


Clemson: 3-1

The Tigers are viewed as a co-favorite to sign Boudreaux, according to 247Sports' Crystal Ball. Clemson and Notre Dame each claim 36 percent of expert predictions.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to see the Tigers still in this mix. Head coach Dabo Swinney extended an offer at the start of last season, and his staff has remained diligent throughout.

He gave rave reviews about time spent at the university during a March conversation with Tony Crumpton of TigerNet.

"Best visit so far," Boudreaux said. "The people in Clemson care for you and are super friendly and they will treat you right and it makes it feel more like home when there is a family atmosphere."

He actually journeyed to campus during his birthday weekend:

Clemson signed two of the country's top 10 offensive tackles in 2015. Boudreaux would further enhance an impressive young stockpile of big men.


Florida: 5-1

With Miami out of the mix, Florida is Boudreaux's lone in-state favorite. The Gators surprisingly didn't offer him until February, when he became a main concern for a new regime led by head coach Jim McElwain.

"[Offensive line coach Mike Summers] said that since they got a new staff that for the last month they have been focusing on '15 kids, and they are starting to focus on '16 kids today. He said that I had to be the first guy for them to offer," Boudreaux told Andrew Spivey of Gator Country.

He visited Gainesville multiple times before the offer arrived and returned to campus this spring. Florida landed top-ranked 2015 offensive lineman Martez Ivey last signing day, so another big-time addition would signal significant and necessary strides up front for Florida.

"They are lacking a lot of offensive linemen, so it's an awesome chance to come in and play early as a freshman," Boudreaux told Bleacher Report's Damon Sayles.

Still, Florida doesn't seem to be trending as much as a few other contenders here. Expect McElwain and company to coordinate more visits this summer, which shouldn't be too hard considering he lives less than two hours away.


Georgia Southern: 8-1

This is the favorite that caused folks to scratch their heads Wednesday.

The Eagles are the lone option that doesn't reside in a Power 5 conference, and Georgia Southern is only entering its second season as an FBS member. This program was a powerhouse against FCS competition and did beat Florida in the Swamp two years ago, but we're not quite accustomed to seeing it battle for top-tier recruits.

Georgia Southern signed the nation's 90th-ranked class in February. It currently rates 103rd on that list for the 2016 cycle.

But Boudreaux might just be the breakthrough commitment the Eagles need.

"Georgia Southern is one of the greatest schools of all time. By far, the coolest coaches I've spent a lot of time with," he told Sayles. "With six national championships and just getting in [FBS] football, I think they are easily going to be a top-25 team."

Those are lofty expectations and the kind that realistically require athletes like Boudreaux. Georgia Southern is still a long shot here, but its not nearly the level of underdog many national analysts may see.


Notre Dame: 2-1

A flurry of recent projections for the Fighting Irish pushed Notre Dame into a stalemate with Clemson atop Boudreaux's 247Sports Crystal Ball.

He is coming off an extremely positive campus visit that's led some to believe head coach Brian Kelly's squad could now be a slight overall favorite.

"I loved how unique and different it was," Boudreaux told Anna Hickey of "The campus is beautiful, the people are nice and everyone wants you to succeed."

His rapport with offensive line coach Harry Hiestand continues to grow. Hiestand traveled to Florida twice earlier this year for in-person visits and reiterated his need for Boudreaux during their most recent meeting.

"He loves everything about me," Boudreaux told Hickey. "He said to me today, 'You are an outstanding young man, and between you and me, we will truly find out how great you can be. Give me that chance, and I promise you will never regret it.'"

Notre Dame's pursuit should continue to intensify following a Michigan commitment announcement Wednesday from 4-star offensive line target Ben Bredeson. The Fighting Irish already gained a pledge from 5-star tackle Tommy Kraemer.

Every recruit is searching for a high comfort level in college. It seems Boudreaux may have found that in South Bend, Indiana.

"Notre Dame is like a bigger version of Bishop Moore. It is a private Catholic school with great academic support and awesome people," he told Sayles.


Oklahoma: 4-1

Few programs have stayed as consistently ardent in this hunt as the Sooners. Oklahoma displays a strong national-recruiting reach every year, and Boudreaux could become the latest key cross-country addition.

Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh continues to make Boudreaux feel like a priority in Norman. Boudreaux appreciated the atmosphere he encountered this spring during a campus visit.

"When you step on campus, you can feel the amazing tradition flowing in the air," he told Sayles. "Coach [Bob] Stoops is an amazing, genuine guy who will take care of you just right. It's all about winning and family over in Norman."

Like Florida, Oklahoma is a high-level program with needs along the offensive front. Clemson and Notre Dame are considerably more stocked at those positions.

"[Stoops] said I would be the perfect fit, and he doesn't see why I couldn't go in as a freshman and make a big impact at Oklahoma," Boudreaux said.

Even if Oklahoma isn't his choice this summer, expect the Sooners to potentially host him for an official visit during the season.


Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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The Florida Gators' Breakout Star Will Be Incredibly Versatile WR Brandon Powell

The Florida Gators have been attracting some of the best all-around athletes to Gainesville for years. In order for new head coach Jim McElwain to gain success, he must continue the trend. 

Who on the current Gators roster is the most versatile player? 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee answers that question in the video above. 

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Power Ranking the Greatest Undefeated Seasons in College Football History

Going undefeated is one of the toughest things to do in sports, not just in college football. No matter the talent or the strength of schedule, asking players, especially college players, to be perfect each week is nearly impossible. 

Even then, not every undefeated team is created equally. Some teams put more players into the pros or face tougher schedules along the way. Even more have historical significance on their side in hindsight. 

Which undefeated teams throughout the history of college football had the greatest runs? We power rank them in the following slides based on the players, coaches, schedules and game results. 

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Why WR Christian Kirk Will Be Texas A&M's Breakout Star in 2015

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin is no stranger to trotting out breakout stars during his time with the Aggies.

Just last season, stud defensive end Myles Garrett burst onto the scene and broke the SEC's freshman sack record with 11.5. That record was previously held by some guy named Jadeveon Clowney. Perhaps you've heard of him.

Two seasons before that, all redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel did was win the starting job at quarterback—somewhat surprisingly—midway through fall camp and then set the college football world on fire en route to becoming the first redshirt freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy.

Who's next in line to be a breakout star in College Station.

Wide receiver Christian Kirk is a good candidate.

The 5'11", 190-pound freshman from Scottsdale, Arizona, signed with the Aggies in February and participated in spring practice. It was this spring that Kirk caught the eye of just about anybody hanging around the practice field, including 247Sports' Jeff Tarpley, who wrote about the receiver and his relationship with sophomore quarterback Kyle Allen in April.

Kirk has been a revelation ever since he arrived on campus. He carries himself like an upperclassman and physically he looks like one too. He's impressed everyone around the program with his work ethic and attention to detail. He's learned how to use his athleticism to get separation (he's got astoundingly quick feet) and work over linebackers and safeties on the inside. In fact, Kirk has already become something of a security blanket for Allen.

If that's not a ringing endorsement, I'm not sure what is.

If Kirk has already developed that kind of chemistry with Allen—in 15 short practices—that will go a long way.

It wasn't just this spring when Kirk was turning heads. Bleacher Report national video analyst Michael Felder was wildly impressed with Kirk when he saw him at The Opening last July.

"[He was] the best player at The Opening a year ago," Felder said. "Kid was dynamic, great route-runner, tremendous hands. Not the tallest wide receiver, but built solidly enough to get off press and succeed against physical competition."

His talent is obvious, as evidenced by this video of him scoring high school touchdowns from six different positions.

So how does he fit in?

Part of the reason Kirk was impressive this spring was because the opportunity was there. Texas A&M is loaded with stud wide receivers like Josh Reynolds, Ricky Seals-Jones, Edward Pope and Speedy Noil. Once every member of the Aggie receiving corps is back, Allen will have six of the team's top seven receivers at his disposal.

But Reynolds skipped the spring while he recovered from a knee injury, and Noil was suspended for the final couple of weeks of spring practice.

Can he crack the rotation this spring?

It wouldn't be the most shocking development in the world.

While Kirk is similar in stature to the 5'11", 185-pound sophomore Noil, they're much different players. Noil is more of the typical slot receiver while Kirk can play much bigger than his 5'11" frame yet still possesses the skills of a slot receiver.

Because of that, he'll have a chance to earn playing time alongside the Aggies veterans.

In fact, he might jump over them.

"He's better than just about all of those other guys at playing wide receiver," Felder said. "[The] kid knows the craft so well."

Don't be fooled by the logjam at wide receiver in front of Kirk. The door opened for him this spring, and he did his best to not only work his way through it, but kick the whole thing down.


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

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

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Previewing the Irish Invasion

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame football will host its premier offseason recruiting event this weekend, when more than 60 high school prospects are expected to visit campus for the Irish Invasion.

On Friday night, a slew of top prospects will work out at the camp inside Notre Dame Stadium. According to Irish247's Tom Loy, there are more than 60 expected visitors, including 2016, 2017 and even a few 2018 prospects.

"It's stronger. That's for sure," Loy said of this year's visitor list. "The names are bigger. The talent is more impressive."

Perhaps relatedly, Notre Dame's 2016 class sits at just six commitments. By this date last year, the Irish had already landed 12 commitments in the 2015 class.

"It's not gonna be a top-five class, and it may not even be a top-10 class when all is said and done," Loy said. "But this staff does not sit around and look at star rankings all day."

Whether a focus or not, a 5-star prospects headlines the list of weekend visitors. 2017 class quarterback Hunter Johnson is expected in town. The No. 1 pro-style quarterback and No. 9 overall player in his class, Johnson visited South Bend in early April.

"It's very clear that Johnson is the guy that they want," Loy said. "He's the top [quarterback] target regardless of class."

The Brownsburg, Indiana, product holds offers from Florida, Oklahoma, Michigan and Miami, among others. Johnson has visited more than 10 schools in the past few months.

"They've been to Notre Dame, Penn State, Tennessee, NC State," Loy said. "They've been to a lot of schools. They're definitely trying to get the process over with early. I expect him to make a decision later this summer. I expect him to shut down his recruitment at that point."

Meanwhile, Loy said he does still expect Notre Dame to ink a quarterback in the 2016 class.

2016 class outside linebacker Caleb Kelly, the No. 2 outside 'backer and No. 17 overall player in the country, was planning to be on campus but changed his plans Thursday. Loy said he believes Oklahoma leads for the services of the Fresno, California, native but added the Irish are in the mix.

In addition to Johnson, high-end 2017 class targets such as athlete Tyrell Ajian, tight end Brock Wright and defensive ends Robert Beal and Corey Malone-Hatcher are scheduled to visit.

Ajian recently camped at Ohio State, three days after receiving an offer from the Irish. Wright checks in as the No. 1 tight end and No. 57 overall player in the 2017 class. The Cypress, Texas, native visited South Bend in March.

The No. 11 weak-side defensive end, Beal hails from Norcross, Georgia, and took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame in early April. Malone-Hatcher is the No. 10 weak-side end and has an impressive offer sheet that includes Oklahoma, Alabama, Michigan and Ohio State. Malone-Hatcher is from St. Joseph, Michigan, which is less than an hour from South Bend.

"I know we're in 2016, and next year, a lot of these guys could be at the Irish Invasion," Loy said. "But there's a lot of [2017 class] guys coming on campus this weekend that could very easily end up in Notre Dame's class."

Loy said he will be particularly interested in watching the 2016 class defensive backs work out. Between safeties Ikenna Okeke, Florida commit Spencer Perry, Chacho Ulloa and Devin Studstill, Notre Dame will have the opportunity to make progress at a position of need.

Other 2016 class visitors, per Loy, include wide receivers Javon McKinley, Ahmir Mitchell, Kevin Stepherson and Donnie Corley, cornerback Eric Cuffee and linebacker Chase Pine.

"There are so many guys out there that they are right in the mix for," Loy said. "They just need to start landing a few of them. A couple got away early in the process, and they finished second."


Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting stats and information courtesy of 247Sports, and all quotes obtained firsthand. Star ratings reflect 247Sports' composite rankings. 

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

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