NCAA Football

Dorial Green-Beckham: 2015 NFL Combine Results, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

Depending on the perspective, Dorial Green-Beckham may have the most to gain of any wide receiver at the NFL Scouting Combine, or his fate has already been determined due to the string of issues off the field. 

Whatever happened in the past, there's no denying that Green-Beckham was going to have every team watching his workout in Indianapolis closely. The former Missouri wideout is a physical freak, as he showed during the combine workouts. 

Let's take a deeper dive into Green-Beckham's workout now that it's in the books. 

The first major test of the day for DGB was the 40-yard dash. It's not a perfect measure of what a wide receiver can do on the field, as it doesn't show separation, but teams do love to see what a player does on a straight sprint. 

Green-Beckham's best 40 time was unofficially 4.49 seconds. It wasn't the best of the day, though considering he's 6'5" and 237 pounds, there were some rave reviews like this one from Fox Sports analyst Joel Klatt:

Here's what his 40-yard dash looked like, via

One player Green-Beckham has drawn physical comparisons to is Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Before the combine began, Albert Breer of spoke to one AFC college scout who brought up the correlation. 

He's one of the best receivers I've ever seen. He's special. He's gigantic; he has tremendous body control, balance; he runs like a deer and can leap out of the gym and high-point the ball. He's special. It's impressive. If not for all that stuff, he'd be the best receiver to come out since Calvin Johnson.

Yet for all the physical comparisons that Green-Beckham might draw to Johnson, ESPN's Todd McShay pointed out Megatron had superior speed:

It's unfair to compare anyone to Johnson, especially before he enters the NFL, so Green-Beckham shouldn't pay attention to those kinds of things and should focus on playing to the best of his ability. 

The main question with Green-Beckham is all the baggage he brings, but NFL on Fox analyst Charles Davis notes that Oklahoma's coaching staff was high on the wide receiver's maturity last year:

Keep in mind, Green-Beckham did that without being able to play in an actual game when the NCAA denied his waiver request to play immediately after transferring.

One area where DGB did shine was in the gauntlet drill, which is when receivers catch two passes from a quick turn and run a straight line from sideline to sideline catching five passes. 

Per Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star, Green-Beckham was smooth in his actions in that particular area:

That's important because he hasn't played an actual game since the Cotton Bowl in January 2014. Teams want to see how his hands look, if he's able to make catches out in front instead of waiting for them to come into his body. 

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the 49ers were at least impressed enough to meet with Green-Beckham at the Indianapolis airport.

Overall, it was a good day for Green-Beckham. He may not be the "next Calvin Johnson," because only a very select few players can warrant praise that high. Most of them are already in the NFL.

The controversial wideout did exactly what he needed to do on the field. Green-Beckham displayed good speed, especially given his size, and showed strong hands and ease running the field during catching drills. No one questions the talent that will be on display every Sunday. 

More than any other player in this class, especially among the marquee guys, Green-Beckham will have to answer for everything that happened off the field. He's got supporters in Oklahoma, which is sure to help his case, but that may only carry him so far. 

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Dorial Green-Beckham Impresses at Combine, but Stock Dependent on Past Concerns

No matter what former Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham does on the field during the 2015 NFL combine, his athletic performance remains secondary to the questions he has to answer about his off-the-field actions. 

There is absolutely no way to deny Green-Beckham's physical talent

He stands 6'5" and weighs 237 pounds. Comparisons are readily made to the Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson, because the two are very similar physically. 

The comparison is a little over the top, though, as Detroit Lions staff writer Tim Twentyman illustrated: 

However, many were impressed with Green-Beckham's speed at his size. 

The former Missouri Tiger ran an unofficial 4.50-second 40-yard dash in his first attempt. The wide receiver bettered himself on his second run, clocking in at 4.49. 

Bleacher Report's Matt Bowen wasn't shy about the growing interest in Green-Beckham: 

Fox Sports' Joel Klatt was also blown away by the massive wide receiver's speed: 

While the Johnson comparison may be over the top, Green-Beckham is much closer to Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, who was selected seventh overall in the 2014 draft and played tremendously well as a rookie. 

If the two stood back-to-back, they would appear nearly identical. At least year's combine, Evans measured in at 6'5" and 231 pounds. He also ran an official 4.53-second 40-yard dash. 

The one major difference between the two is arm length. 

Green-Beckham's arm length is surprisingly small for a 6'5" wide receiver. His arms measured at 32.5 inches. Evans, on the other hand, has arms that are over 35 inches long. 

The wide receiver's workout went beyond an impressive 40-yard dash time, too. 

The native of Springfield, Missouri, appeared smooth and athletic with strong hands during position-specific drills, as The Kansas City Star's Terez A. Paylor noted: 

A strong workout even has some, such as NFL Network's Brian Billick, wondering if Green-Beckham can overtake the class' top three wide receivers—Alabama's Amari Cooper, Louisville's DeVante Parker and West Virginia's Kevin White:

Bleacher Report's Dan Hope even placed Green-Beckham in elite territory: 

Green-Beckham is clearly talented. He owns first-round ability. His past history, though, remains the primary concern. 

Talent will eventually trump trepidation in nearly every instance, but when that happens is in question. 

Will a team be willing to spend a first-round pick on Green-Beckham with his history? Does it make the pick easier if he starts to slide into Round 2 or 3?

Each organization will make that decision individually. 

"I think the consistent problems for [Cleveland Browns wide receiver] Josh Gordon are going to leak over and hurt his draft stock," an anonymous NFC director of personnel told's Lance Zierlein. "He couldn't keep himself out of trouble, had no structure growing up and didn't take coaching at Missouri. He's tall and fast and has good hands, but he can't be trusted. Why would you take a guy like that before the third day?"

All of the physical talent in the world doesn't mean anything if that player can't stay on the field. 

Gordon led the NFL in receiving yardage during the 2013 season, but he's also been suspended numerous times and he won't play during the upcoming season as a result. 

Like Gordon, Green-Beckham was dismissed from one university before trying to unsuccessfully transfer and eventually pursuing a path to the NFL.

Green-Beckham was dismissed from the University of Missouri after a particularly disturbing allegation that involved a burglary and pushing a woman down a flight of stairs. It wasn't his only incident during his time in Columbia either. The wide receiver was arrested on drug charges at one point. He was also suspended twice by head coach Gary Pinkel before his eventual dismissal.

When asked about his past history at the combine, Green-Beckham didn't provide much on an answer. 

"All the decisions I made, I wish I could take them back," the wide receiver offered, via's Joan Niesen. "It happened. I was young. I made mistakes. I understand that.

"I know what’s at stake. I know what type of person I am, and I realize what the NFL is looking for in me as a person. I want them to know that I’m going to go out there and give it my all."

Hint: The NFL isn't worried about what you can do on the field. They're scared to death by another public relations nightmare. The league took hit after hit because of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and others. Green-Beckham isn't exactly entering the league at the best time based on his past history. 

Some team will eventually take a chance on a truly talented player, but it will only do so once it's completely comfortable with the person more so than the player. 

Brent Sobleski covers the NFL draft for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.

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College Football Players Who Could Lose Their Starting Jobs in Spring Practice

During spring practice, some players move up the depth chart into starting positions. The most common reason for this is because the previous starters have left their programs.

Another reason is because the previous starters aren't the best options for their programs anymore. We'll take a look at a few situations in which the latter may apply.

The players in this slideshow were starters for their teams in 2014. Therefore, players who could be considered starters heading into 2015 but did not start in 2014 are not included.

If there are other cases in college football where you believe this will happen, please include them in the comments section below.

With that, here's the list.

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Ranking Every SEC Coach by Their Recruiting Skills

Ranking each SEC coach by his recruiting prowess is like ranking each All-American by his numbers: No matter which order you choose, quality candidates will place near the bottom.

Such is the curse of being the most dominant recruiting conference in the country—and maybe of all time. The SEC's average grade in the 247Sports composite team rankings (244.4) over the past four cycles is almost 35 points higher than the second-best conference (Pac-12, 209.6) and over 40 points higher than No. 3 (Big 12, 199.6).

To grade this list, then, we had to make some subjective calls. But most of it was grounded in numbers.

How have head coaches recruited at their current schools? How did they recruit before that? And almost as important, how did their current schools recruit before they got there?

Sample size was also a heavy factor, so newer head coaches have a chance to ascend as they spend more time in the SEC.

Sound off below and let us know what you think.

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Texas Longhorns' Aggressive 2016 Recruiting Approach Key to Landing a Top QB

In the search for a quarterback commit, the Texas Longhorns' 2015 class ended with last-minute dramatics. Head coach Charlie Strong and his staff are making sure that doesn't happen in 2016.

In the past week, the Longhorns offered a scholarship to seven quarterbacks—in-state prospects Tristen Wallace, Zach Smith and Bowman Sells; Minnesota's top-ranked player Seth Green; and the Florida trio of Feleipe FranksXavier Gaines and, most recently, Ervin Barrett.

All but Sells are 4-star prospects; Sells is a 3-star talent with a strong arm.

Texas now has offered 11 quarterbacks in the class.

The Longhorns previously offered 5-stars Malik Henry and Shea Patterson, who have committed to Florida State and Ole Miss, respectively. They also offered 4-star, in-state talent Shane Buechele and 4-star Dwayne Haskins, the No. 2 overall player from the state of Maryland.

The aggressive approach is warranted after the team watched Zach Gentry flip his commitment from Texas to Michigan and then missed out on flipping Texas A&M signee Kyler Murray.

Entering the final week of recruiting, the Longhorns only had a pledge from Matthew Merrick, who agreed to a grayshirt offer.

It was two days before signing day when Strong was able to flip Kai Locksley from Florida State. The 11th-hour scenario worked out in Texas' favor. This time.

Strong and his staff want to make sure last year doesn't happen again.

It'll be tough to flip Franks (LSU commit), Smith (Baylor), Green (Oregon) and Wallace (Texas Tech), but the coaching staff is confident it can land one of the players on its board. Additionally, Barrett, Gaines and Buechele all are uncommitted, and the Longhorns are working hard to get their pledges.

Of these names, Haskins and Buechele are two who can be intriguing as recruiting continues.

Both have great arms and solid footwork. Haskins is a great athlete who focuses on being technically sound. He also throws well on the run. Buechele loves to extend plays by running out of the pocket and giving extra effort. He is the son of former pro baseball infielder Steve Buechele, so he understands poise and letting the game come to him.

The Longhorns under Strong seem to have everything going at every position except for quarterback. Tyrone Swoopes threw for only 57 yards in a Texas Bowl loss to Arkansas in December. He threw for more than 2,400 yards and 13 touchdowns last season but also had 11 interceptions.

Will Texas fans see Swoopes again as the starter? Or does 2015 begin with the era of redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard, who, according to Chris Hummer of 247Sports, is ready to accept the responsibilities of being a starter?

Whatever the case, look for the team to build depth at the position. The 2016 class will need a reliable quarterback, and there are plenty of names out there. The good news for Texas fans: The Longhorns coaches are on the prowl.

It's just a matter of Texas landing one. Or flipping one.


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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3 Alabama Players Who Can Help Themselves the Most at the 2015 NFL Combine

You probably already know all of the big names in Alabama’s 2015 NFL draft class.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper, safety Landon Collins and running back T.J. Yeldon all decided to forgo their senior seasons to enter the draft and should be the first three Alabama players off the board. expects Cooper and Collins to go in the first round, while Yeldon is projected as a second- or third-round pick. Those three are at the NFL Scouting Combine this week and will likely solidify their standing as some of the top players in the draft.

But there are eight other former Crimson Tide players in Indianapolis this weekend who aren’t necessarily slam-dunk prospects.

There’s a lot of room for growth for several Alabama players. Here are three who can make a big difference in their draft stock with strong showings.


Blake Sims

There isn’t much doubt in the top two. Florida State's Jameis Winston and Oregon's Marcus Mariota are a cut above the rest in this year’s quarterback class.

The rest is a little convoluted.

UCLA product Brett Hundley is probably the No. 3 quarterback, though after a little bit of a drop-off. Then there’s a group that includes Baylor’s Bryce Petty and Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson.

Simply put, Sims can make some moves.

The biggest concern with Sims is obviously his size. He stands 6'0" tall, and while that isn’t a death knell for quarterbacks anymore, it still doesn’t help.

Otherwise, Lance Zierlein of mentioned some of his weaknesses like accuracy and decision-making.

If Sims can impress scouts when he throws, he could make a team with a mid-round quarterback need rethink its pick. He isn’t going to overtake Winston or Mariota, but he can still make things interesting after those two are off the board.

Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean notes he’s not lacking for confidence either:


Austin Shepherd

Shepherd may suffer from the curse of the tweener.

With an arm length of 32.875 inches, he isn’t quite long enough to be an elite tackle, where he played in college. But at 315 pounds, he may be a little too small to be a guard.

Right now, Zierlein pegs him as “an NFL backup with the potential to become a starter.” Shepherd can show that he can be a starter this week.

So far, Draft Breakdown's Joe Marino suggests he hasn’t exactly impressed:

Still, Shepherd is relishing his role as one of the draft’s more unknown prospects.

“You just have to go out there and show what you’re made of,” Shepherd said Wednesday, according to Marq Burnett of The Anniston Star. “There’s really no pressure. You just have to go out and perform and get someone to notice you. Just one team has to call your name so get someone to notice you and call your name.”


DeAndrew White

White was a valuable weapon at Alabama.

He benefited from playing next to a superstar wideout in Cooper and could make defenses pay when they keyed too heavily on No. 9.

But a season-ending knee injury in 2012 is giving NFL teams pause over whether he will be able to make the jump to the next level and be an effective player there.

At 5’11”, White’s size won’t help him stand out in the least. Therefore, displaying his speed will be key.

"I just have to go out there and show what I can do," White said, according to’s Michael Casagrande. "People might think I can't run or I can't do this, I can't do that. I guess we'll see. I don't have anything to say back to it. Just watch the film."

The 40-yard dash can be an overrated event, with teams putting too much stock into how slow or how fast a guy runs (see: Raiders, Oakland). For White, however, it will be critical in his evaluation.

His speed made him a track star in high school. Now, he needs to prove that it can help him carve out a successful career in the NFL.


Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes and reporting were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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5 Nonconference Home-and-Home Series College Football Fans Want to See

Yes, it's a couple of months late, but you have another Christmas gift. Surprise, it's a handful of exciting nonconference college football games!

OK, not really. I don't have that kind of scheduling power.

But it is the offseason, which means we're counting down the days to actual football and wondering what life would be like if we could craft the perfect games. That got us thinking about the nonconference games we'd love to see.

Which five nonconference home-and-home games would pique the most interest from fans everywhere? The answers are in the following slides. 

Note: These selections are matchups that cannot already be scheduled as home-and-homes, as recorded by

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2016 Recruits Who Are Better Than Their 2015 Counterparts

Each college football recruiting class carries a unique identity.

Sure, the same powerhouse programs produce an abundance of talent on an annual basis and certain states consistently cultivate more prospects than others, but it's important to press the reboot button every year before scouting a new crop of recruits.

We began extensive 2016 film study early in the cycle and have continued to monitor America's next wave of playmakers through their junior campaigns. As usual, certain standouts seem to trump positional counterparts of the past cycle, while others don't quite measure up to the same standard. 

Based on their progression to this point, here's a look at the top-rated 2016 players who seem to set the bar higher than premier positional predecessors of the 2015 class. 


Prospects listed are No. 1 at their respective position in 247Sports' composite rankings.

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Predicting the Top 20 Defenses of the 2015 College Football Season

Does defense really win championships?

Reigning national champion Ohio State finished 19th in total defense last season, while semifinalist Alabama was 12th overall. The other playoff teams, Florida State and Oregon, finished 63rd and 89th, respectively.

Unlike a strong offense, which seems to be easier to maintain, keeping together a consistent defensive unit from one year to the next is much tougher. Only seven schools that finished the 2014 season ranked in the top 20 in total defense were also at that level in 2013, but six of those finished in the top 20 in 2012 as well.

Being able to sustain a strong defense, year in and year out, can go a long way toward ensuring long-term success. But can the programs that have managed to do so the last few years continue with this trend, or are they in line for a setback next season? And who will take their place among the top 20 defenses in college football?

Click through for our predictions on the 20 best defenses in 2015.


NOTE: Number of starters returning is based on whether teams list 11 or 12 starting positions, because of lineup variation, on

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Odds on Where Monster 5-Star DT Rashan Gary Lands at Next Level

Rashan Gary, a 5-star defensive tackle, per 247Sports' composite rankings, is still searching for the college of his dreams. The talented defender from New Jersey has offers from all of the top programs, but where will he go?

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer handicaps the odds on where he will land in the video above. 

Where will Gary play at the next level? Check out the video, and let us know! 

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CFB Bracketology: Which 2015 Class Will Have Biggest Impact This Season?

The brackets aren't just for college basketball anymore. College football is putting the top eight classes from this past recruiting cycle and pitting them against one another. 

Adam Lefkoe sits down with Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder to break down which school got the best class for its needs in 2015.

Who got the best class based on its immediate needs for 2015?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Why JT Barrett Has Medical Advantage over Braxton Miller in Ohio State QB Battle

COLUMBUS, Ohio — With three high-profile players each at different points in their college careers vying for one starting spot, Ohio State's star-studded quarterback competition isn't going away anytime soon.

In fact, it's even made its way to the NFL Scouting Combine.

Former Buckeyes in attendance have been asked who they think will start for their alma mater next season—Jeff Heuerman no-answered, while Devin Smith predicted Cardale Jones—and Braxton Miller's personal quarterback coach, George Whitfield, has been making the media rounds. 

Speaking to Dave Briggs of The Toledo Blade, Whitfield propped up his client, proclaiming that if he were healthy, Miller would be one of the top quarterbacks at the combine this year.

“There have been very talented guys and very prolific guys. Jameis [Winston] has been very prolific and Marcus [Mariota] is very talented," Whitfield told Briggs. "But Braxton is a super hero.”

The only problem with that is Miller's not healthy at the moment, still working his way back from a torn labrum suffered in his throwing shoulder last August. Whitfield, however, claims Miller's not far off, proclaiming the two-time Big Ten MVP will be full-go by the start of the summer and prepared to play quarterback for the Buckeyes.

That's good news for Miller, but despite Whitfield's optimism, it hardly settles who will be starting at quarterback for Ohio State come Sept. 7 at Virginia Tech. In fact, the only member of the Buckeyes' "Magnificent Three" who's yet to be mentioned here yet—redshirt sophomore-to-be J.T. Barrett—could very well be the one who's on the field in Blacksburg next fall.

With nearly six months to go until Ohio State's season opener, how does the most talked-about quarterback competition in the country stack up? Here's a look at where each competitor stands.


J.T. Barrett

The case for

Like Miller, Barrett's status remains up in the air as he deals with an injury, although the reigning Big Ten Quarterback of the Year's health issue isn't nearly severe as his predecessor's.

Fracturing his ankle in the Buckeyes' regular-season finale against Michigan last year, Barrett has been out of commission for the past three months, having the screws stemming from surgery removed this past week. That's a positive sign for Barrett's progress, although he'll likely be limited at best come spring practice.

Nevertheless, Barrett is expected to be full-go by the start of the summer, which was enough time a year ago for him to surpass Jones on the Ohio State depth chart before Miller's injury. Even with little-to-no on-field activity in the spring, fall camp should be plenty of time for Barrett to show that he's back in his freshman season form.

And what a season it was.

Rewriting the Buckeyes' record book while leading Ohio State to an 11-1 record and the Big Ten Championship Game, Barrett showed a strong command of the OSU offense as a true dual-threat quarterback.

As a result of his stellar campaign, the Wichita Falls, Texas, native earned honors as the Big Ten Quarterback of the Year, Big Ten Freshman of the Year, CFPA National Freshman of the Year, third-team AP All-American as well as a fifth-place Heisman Trophy finish.

Should Barrett's health progress as expected, he simply may be the Buckeyes' best option from a talent standpoint. It also wouldn't hurt that as the youngest of OSU's three competing quarterbacks, Urban Meyer knows that he could continue building with Barrett in the future. 


The case against

Or maybe Barrett's age could come back to bite him.

Despite coming off the best statistical season by an Ohio State quarterback, the 6'1", 225-pound Barrett has become somewhat of an afterthought in the upcoming signal-caller derby. Some of that has to do with the fact that regardless of who plays for the Buckeyes in 2015, Barrett seems to be a lock to be OSU's starter in 2016.

And while that could work in his favor, it could just as well work against him, as Meyer may be apt to go with either Miller or Jones, each of whom will presumably leave the Buckeyes program the following year.

Add in that Jones will see a majority—if not all—of the first-team reps this spring, and there's certainly a compelling case that the nation champion-winning quarterback could build an insurmountable lead on Barrett and Miller.

While he may be the best blend of what both Jones and Miller and bring to the table, Barrett's relative youth could certainly relegate him back to again waiting his turn. It's hard to imagine a player of his caliber sitting on the bench after the season he just enjoyed, but that's just how crazy the quarterback situation in Columbus is at the moment.


Braxton Miller

The case for

As Whitfield said, Miller is a "super hero." And while that might be a bit of hyperbole on his part, Miller's stats sure do seem super human.

Prior to last year's season-ending injury, Miller was poised to break nearly every Ohio State career passing record and could very well have finished second in career rushing. In three seasons, the Huber Heights, Ohio, native has accumulated 8,346 total yards and 84 total touchdowns, earning two Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year awards, two Chicago Tribune Silver Footballs and a 2012 fifth-place Heisman finish in the process.

On a Buckeyes team that went 24-2 from 2012-2013, Miller was the best player and the only reliable offensive weapon in Ohio State's undefeated 2012 campaign.

And although Miller's on-field accomplishments speak for themselves, you could also make the case that Meyer owes it to the fifth-year senior to get him back on the field, if healthy.

After all, Miller originally injured his shoulder attempting to lead the Buckeyes to an Orange Bowl victory over Clemson at the end of the 2013 season and re-injured it rushing back for the 2014 campaign. When healthy a year ago, Miller's status as OSU's starter was never in question.

"Braxton is our quarterback," Meyer said on Sept. 29, a statement he would later go back on. "To be fair to Braxton, [he's the] Big Ten Player of the Year."

If truly back at full strength, there are few players in the country as electrifying as Miller. And the Buckeyes may just owe it to him to let him try to prove it once again. 


The case against

While what Whitfield says about Miller's recovery sounds good in theory, it should be taken with a grain of salt.

According to Meyer, the originally planned recovery time for Miller was close to 12 months. And while each injury heals at its own respective rate, extra caution was to be taken with Miller this time around considering his shoulder was initially re-injured while rehabbing from an injury.

Add it all up and it's hard to imagine Miller really being 100 percent by the start of June as Whitfield claims. It's also worth noting Whitfield's biases could very well be in play here, as he is Miller's paid personal trainer.

Given that Miller has gone the longest without playing, is dealing with the most serious injury for a quarterback and likely will be the last one at full strength, the odds seem to be stacked against Miller. If he truly is a super hero, as Whitfield claims, this summer may be the time to show it.


Cardale Jones

The case for

The most recent of Ohio State's highly hyped trio to play, Jones has momentum on his side. And as Meyer often likes to tout, in college football, momentum is everything.

Leading Ohio State to wins over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and Oregon in the national championship game, Jones stepped up in Barrett's absence when it mattered most.

More than that, he added a new dynamic to the Buckeyes offense, his cannon of an arm providing a consistent downfield threat while opening lanes for running back Ezekiel Elliott, who rushed for 200-plus yards in each of Jones' three starts.

"All three of those guys are very good deep ball throwers," Meyer said of his quarterbacks. "But Cardale is the first guy I've had, I want to say since [former Utah quarterback] Alex [Smith] that is up there that can high-low a pass over the top of a defensive line and that's rare. That's hard to find those guys."

At 6'5" and 250 pounds, Jones isn't as elusive of a runner as Miller or Barrett, but he did show a power running style that gained critical yards throughout the Buckeyes' postseason run. Jones was so impressive in his three starts that many thought he would enter this year's NFL draft, where some projected him to be a first-round pick.

"It's everybody's dream and goal when they play football or any collegiate sport to make it to the next level," Jones said. "But at my point in my career, I feel like it's best for me to go back to school, and one of the most important things for me to do is to graduate. When I make that decision to play in the NFL, I want to be done with school."

Ohio State's undisputed No. 1 quarterback heading into spring practice, Jones insists Meyer didn't promise him a starting role upon his return. But it's hard to imagine that he isn't aware that with his current head start, he could build an insurmountable lead on his two talented teammates. 


The case against

While Jones' three starts were certainly impressive and came on college football's biggest stage, they still were just three starts.

Between himself, Miller and Barrett, Jones has by far the smallest resume and may have ultimately benefited from not having any extensive film for opponents to study. While that shouldn't necessarily be held against Jones in his quest to hold on to his starting spot, it may give him a shorter leash than Barrett and Miller.

With so much unknown about Jones still, it remains possible his three standout games could prove to be an aberration. Even more likely, while talented, he could still be beaten out by one or both of the players who used to sit ahead of him on the OSU depth chart.

Of course, the Buckeyes' quarterback competition still contains questions about all three competitors, and until they are answered, this conversation will continue. But with nearly six months to go until the season opener, it continues to take shape, Whitfield's update on Miller being just the latest twist.


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

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Nebraska Football: Position-by-Position Grades for the 2015 Recruiting Class

Nebraska Cornhuskers football fans have now had a couple of weeks to digest the 2015 recruiting class and see how it fits into the overall roster makeup—with great thanks to the Omaha World-Herald. We’ve already looked at the Super Six of this class, but now it's time to take a step back and see how the class as a whole looks, position by position.

The overall class grade for each position will consider two factors. First, it will look at how much raw talent was brought in at each position. Second, it will look at the team's needs at each position and how the incoming class fills those needs.


All measurables and rankings from 247Sports.

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2016 Recruits Most Likely to Turn Down the SEC

Many in the college football world say the SEC is the most talked-about conference of the Power Five.

With seven of the last nine championships, the conference has reason to proclaim itself as college football's elite conference. But those national titles, the bowl victories and the multiple success stories don't always mean a recruit is an automatic get.

Ohio State, a Big Ten school and the defending national champion, will support that—as would Oregon, a Pac-12 school and the national runner-up. And don't forget TCU, which made its case as a Big 12 powerhouse.

And then there's last year's champion, Florida State, an ACC representative. And let's not forget Boise State, which quietly does its thing in the Mountain West Conference only to dazzle fans with bowl-game performances—particularly the Fiesta Bowl.

Recruits have their choices of where they want to play college football, and while the SEC is still an attractive conference, it definitely has its competition. Many elite players in the class of 2016 could end up playing football in other conferences.

Here are 10 5-star recruits to keep an eye on.

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Which College Football Conference Will Be the Best in 2015?

The SEC is the safest bet to rule college football next season, no matter how deep the Pac-12, how top-heavy the Big Ten and Big 12 or how underrated the ACC.

Why? Because in college football, past results predict future performance. The relationship isn't causal, but there is a strong correlation (.76) between the five-year F/+ program ratings at Football Outsiders and how a team fares the next season.

This concept can be extended to conferences—or at least it can in theory—so we've collated the average F/+ ratings from 2010 to 2014 and sorted by league.

The higher the F/+ rating, the better that conference has been than the FBS average (0.0). The next four columns show the percentage of each conference that falls in the top quartile, second quartile, third quartile and bottom quartile among Power Five teams:

Statistically, the SEC has been roughly twice as good as the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 the past five seasons.

The Big 12 has been comparable, especially with regard to distribution, but its top-tier teams (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU) have been far worse than those of the SEC (Alabama, LSU, Georgia).

Why is this important? Again, because as strange as it feels, looking backward is a big part of looking forward. It might even be the biggest part. Football Outsiders elaborates on this point:

The strongest indicator of how a college football team will perform in the upcoming season is their performance in recent seasons.

It may seem strange because graduation enforces constant player turnover, but college football teams are actually much more consistent from year to year than NFL teams. Thanks in large part to consistency in recruiting, teams can be expected to play within a reasonable range of their baseline program expectations each season. Our Program F/+ ratings, which represent a rolling five-year period of play-by-play and drive efficiency data, have an extremely strong (.76) correlation with the next year’s F/+ rating.

If you disregard advanced stats, that's fine; you're well within your rights. And at least you have Charles Barkley in your corner! But in many ways you're arguing that two and two make five.

The SEC has been the best conference since 2010—and not by an insignificant margin—which gives it the best chance to be the best conference in 2015. Is it guaranteed? No. But it's probable.

And that's not even where the argument ends.

After past performance, the next strongest indicator of success is recruiting. How much talent has each conference signed?

Here's a look at the four-year recruiting averages, courtesy of the 247Sports composite rankings:

The validity of star ratings is a popular argument, but again, as Matt Hinton of Football Study Hall explained last February, the numbers suggest they matter. They matter a lot.

There are obvious exceptions (Oregon, Michigan State, et al.), but in general the teams that recruit better play better.

"Arguably, [Alabama has] the greatest collection of football players ever assembled for a college team if the recruiting services are correct," South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said ;at SEC media days last summer. "And they're pretty much correct."

But even if you're dubious of recruiting rankings, the margin by which the SEC dominates should mean something. The table above is persuasive, but here are some additional fun facts:

  1. Seven SEC teams (Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Texas A&M and Tennessee) land in the top 13. No other conference boasts more than two. The Big Ten and Big 12 boast one apiece.
  2. TCU and Arizona would be the No. 13 recruiting school in the SEC. Wisconsin and Georgia Tech would rank last. All four won either their division or their conference last season. 
  3. The No. 11 SEC recruiting school (Arkansas) would be No. 3 in the Big Ten and Big 12, No. 4 in the ACC and No. 5 in the Pac-12.

The extent of the SEC's talent advantage can be argued, but the existence of said advantage cannot. Or at least it can't be argued rationally.

This year, unlike previous years, the SEC combines that talent advantage with coaching stability, too. Twelve of 14 teams (86 percent) have head coaches entering at least their third seasons.

No other league has more.

In the past, predicting the SEC to be the best league in America was so obvious you didn't need to write it. It was like saying after the 2013 NBA Finals that LeBron James was the best player in basketball.

That the Big Ten (Ohio State) and ACC (Florida State) won the past two national titles has stained the SEC's luster, but it hasn't changed reality. Predicting the SEC to be the best league next season is like saying LeBron James is still the best player in basketball: no longer accepted as fact, but still almost definitely true.

Earlier this offseason, I collated the way-too-early rankings from multiple media outlets. The consensus had 10 SEC teams (Alabama, Ole Miss, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Texas A&M) inside the top 28.

For emphasis: Ten inside the top 28!

It's not blind faith or SEC BIAS! informing those opinions, either. It's logic derived from some form of the numbers above.

The SEC has played like the best conference and recruited like the best conference, which gives it the best chance to stay the best conference, even if it didn't (and doesn't) win the national title.

Sometimes simple answers are the best.


Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeigh35.

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10 SEC Players Primed to Be the Stars of the Spring

It seems like only yesterday when we were discussing weekly College Football Playoff rankings and preparing for bowl season. Soon, though, a new season will begin.

Spring practice is just around the corner around the SEC and, in the case of Vanderbilt, already underway. With that comes breakout stars, prospects finally reaching their potential and depth charts that begin to take shape.

Which players in the SEC will emerge as the stars of spring practice?

Our picks, based on talent, opportunity and experience, are in this slideshow.

Begin Slideshow

Brian Kelly Has Learned His Lesson When It Comes to Hiring at Notre Dame

You can forgive Brian Kelly for not wanting to start spring practice in 10 days. Not just because the snow keeps falling on South Bend, but because he just spent one of the slowest months on the football calendar rebuilding his football program. 

While Notre Dame has yet to make any of the moves official (blame a glacially slow HR process put into place after the embarrassing George O'Leary resume fiasco), the Irish will open spring practice—now set for March 18—with a transformed coaching staff. 

Those changes on the coaching staff likely gave Kelly a reminder how the other 99 percent of head coaches live. The first week of February might be a paradise for college football fans, but it's turned into moving day for a slew of assistant coaches. 

Dozens of recruits built relationships with coaches they expected to be working with, only to see them hightail it for another program before the fax machine finished chirping. That attrition even hit Notre Dame, with Tony Alford, Kerry Cooks and Matt LaFleur all departing. 

In Alford and Cooks, two seemingly universal truths played out at Notre Dame. Two assistants passed up for coordinator jobs (Kelly chose Mike Denbrock to run his offense over Alford and brought in Brian VanGorder instead of promoting Cooks) left only a year later. 

Alford joined Urban Meyer at Ohio State, putting Notre Dame's best recruiter in the hands of another Midwestern power. Cooks left to join Bob Stoops, moving closer to his roots in Texas and leaving a big hole in the Irish's recruiting efforts in the Longhorn state. 

In LaFleur, we saw Kelly's familiar formula of rehiring past assistants get overruled by the power of the NFL. After spending six years coaching professionals, LaFleur was quick to jump back, another reminder that coaching—and recruiting—at the college level is a very different beast. 

Making any judgments on Kelly's new staff—especially considering the group hasn't even been announced, let alone coached a practice—is a tad premature. But there's reason to be optimistic.

And proof that Kelly has learned some important lessons. 


Lesson One: Get Your Offense Right 

It appears Kelly has taken last year's performance personally. After watching Everett Golson regress throughout the season and the Irish offense perform well below his expectations, he's looked outside his office walls to solve the problem. 

Enter former Boise State offensive coordinator Mike Sanford. Multiple reports, including Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman, have Sanford taking over as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. 

Sanford has no connection to the Kelly coaching tree. He's young, just turning 33, and just finished his first season as a top-tier coordinator, steering Boise State's offense to a Fiesta Bowl victory and 12-win season. 

While Kelly and Sanford share some spread offense DNA, Sanford ran the football 57 percent of the time last year at Boise and came up coaching under David Shaw at Stanford.

With Notre Dame's offensive line expected to be the strength of the offense and Malik Zaire showing himself to be a handful as a runner, incorporating some principles from the Stanford power attack couldn't hurt. 


Lesson Two: Sell the Best of Notre Dame

In Todd Lyght and Autry Denson, Kelly has brought in two coaches who can speak very specifically to what Notre Dame can do for student-athletes. While neither has been announced, Lyght has already been on the recruiting trail and has an official Twitter handle set up. 

Multiple media outlets have reported that Denson has joined the staff as the running backs coach. He's Notre Dame's all-time leading rusher and spent four seasons in the NFL.

In Lyght and Denson, both players and recruits can see two former stars who embody the best in Notre Dame. Lyght was a first-round draft pick after being a two-time All-American and national champion in South Bend. He was a Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion during his 12-year career.  

Denson stands atop the record books at a position that's had plenty of impressive players come through the program. While he certainly has less experience than Alford, he'll have a better story to tell recruits in the state of Florida, having lived the Notre Dame success story.


Lesson Three: Build Coaching Depth and Make Tough Decisions

An early knock on Kelly's coaching staff was his reliance on coaches he'd worked with at previous stops. While that's certainly the case with defensive line coach Keith Gilmore (also reported by multiple outlets to be heading to South Bend), Kelly's willingness to bring in Sanford, Lyght and Denson seem to pound a few more nails in that coffin. 

Maybe more important was the difficult decision to make hires that shook up the status quo. Giving Sanford the coordinator job meant reassigning long-time lieutenant Mike Denbrock after just one year on the job.

If Gilmore does in fact come to South Bend, Kelly will have brought in one more new coach than positions open. That requires the move of veteran assistant coach Bob Elliott to an off-field role.   

Keeping Elliott on staff while moving him to the administrative side continues a trend that allows Kelly to flex some of Notre Dame's institutional muscles. It's also likely the role for former Kelly offensive coordinator and Buffalo head coach Jeff Quinn. 

Building the staff behind the staff is part of what makes Nick Saban's Alabama machine continue to hum. And Kelly has done a nice job building organizational depth, adding former UCLA star Johnathan Franklin to the student welfare and development earlier this year as well. 

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Is Alabama's Slow 2016 Recruiting Start a Cause for Concern?

Anytime fans glance at the recruiting rankings and see a team other than Alabama occupying the No. 1 spot, it’s a bit of an unfamiliar feeling.

Never mind that the dust just recently settled on the 2015 class—which marked the Tide’s fifth top-rated class in a row—earlier this month. 

In the early stages of the 2016 cycle, the Tide have gotten out of the gates slowly. 

They earned their most recent pledge on Thursday, when 3-star in-state receiver T.J. Simmons gave Nick Saban and his staff their fourth commitment in a class that currently checks in at No. 16 in the 247Sports 2016 team rankings.

Should the Tide's start to the 2016 class become cause for concern among Alabama faithful?

Absolutely not.

Getting early commitments has become a trend, one that works for a lot of schools around the country.

Miami currently has the nation's No. 1 class with 18 commitments, but it remains to be seen whether the 'Canes can keep their class together over the next 11 months. 

However, Alabama is one of very few programs—perhaps the only one—that can afford to be more selective in its recruiting process.

During the Tide’s Junior Day last month, a bevy of top prospects made their way to Tuscaloosa. From a recruit’s perspective, Saban’s program has all of its bases covered, and in an impressive way.

Four-star receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe described his Junior Day experience to Shane Youngblood of BamaOnLine:

Their facilities are so nice. This place has very little flaws and they have everything for their players. I can’t think of a negative thing you could say about Alabama. If you buy into their program, then your goals are going to be actualized and they will bring out the best in you and that is something that is really important to me.

The Tide appear to be focusing on quality over quantity in their early recruiting efforts for the 2016 cycle.

Two of the Tide’s current commitments—5-star corner Shyheim Carter and 4-star athlete Demetris Robertson—rate among the nation’s top 40 overall prospects in the 2016 cycle.

Additionally, Alabama is in the hunt for several big-name talents and 5-star prospects, such as in-state linebackers Lyndell Wilson and Ben Davis, defensive end Marlon Davidson, defensive tackle Derrick Brown and offensive lineman Willie Allen.

The recruiting process is more of a marathon than a sprint. Given the Tide’s clout with recruits and the group of top-shelf talent interested in heading to Tuscaloosa, expect Alabama’s time outside of the top 5 in the rankings to be short-lived.


Sanjay Kirpalani is a national recruiting analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. 

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Big Ten Would Be Signing Death Contract If It Makes Freshmen Ineligible

On Sept. 6, 2014, the Big Ten died. On Jan. 1, 2015, nearly four months later, it came back to life in dramatic fashion. Naturally, now that the conference has momentum, the quintessential Big Ten thing to do would be to keel over again from a self-inflicted wound. 

And freshman ineligibility would be the ricin in the tea.  

On Thursday, Aaron Kasinitz and Ellie Silverman of The Diamondback, the University of Maryland's independent student newspaper, reported that the Big Ten wants to lead a "national discussion" about making freshmen football and men’s basketball players ineligible their freshman year. The primary talking point revolved around graduation rates and Academic Progress Rate scores in those respective sports: 

Men’s basketball and football players lag behind other sports in terms of academics, according to data provided in the document. Among the 34 sports listed in the Graduation Success Rate data, football and men’s basketball ranked last in the 2004 to 2007 cohort, according to the document. Among the 38 sports listed in the Academic Progress Rate data from 2009 to 2013, those two sports also ranked last.

The proposal examines “the imbalance observed in those two sports” and cites that football and men’s basketball student-athletes account for less than 19 percent of Division I participants, yet they account for more than 80 percent of academic infraction cases.

First, a couple of key points: Freshman ineligibility, should it ever pass, would have to be done at the Power 5 conference level for the Big Ten to go through with it; the whole "A Year of Readiness" concept is what's being examined at the conference level. That proposal would act as a mandatory redshirt for freshmen, essentially reinstating a previous NCAA rule which was eliminated in 1972. 

There's a reason that rule has been defunct for more than 40 years. 

To understand why the idea is getting resistance from guys like Tom Dienhart of the Big Ten Network—who lives in the conference's own back yard—you have to understand that freshmen are an important part of college football. They have been for some time.

Last season, two big-name running backs—Samaje Perine of Oklahoma and Nick Chubb of Georgia—finished in the top 20 in rushing, according to Both were freshmen. One of the more dynamic pass-catchers in the Big Ten, Mike Dudek of Illinois, was a true freshman. 

Even if they're not stars right away, freshmen have their place as key reserves and special teams contributors. As Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood noted, via Chris Vannini of, the college football season got longer with the playoff and the 85-man scholarship limit isn't about to be raised any time soon.

Now imagine being, say, a Big Ten coach on the recruiting trail, going into living rooms and telling potential freshmen contributors that they'll have to wait a season before seeing the field. 

It's not just coaches who would be hesitant to get on board. Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee, who played in limited time as a freshman but made a huge impact last year as a redshirt freshman, doesn't see the logic: 

To be clear, the Big Ten is not on an island in this endeavor. Jon Solomon of reported a week ago that Bob Bowlsby, John Swofford and Larry Scott—the commissioners of the Big 12, ACC and Pac-12, respectively—were among those who were, at the very least, interested in vetting the possibility. 

Still, this is the kind of thing that further pushes the narrative that the Big Ten is determined to live in the past. 

But Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany isn't dumb. In fact, simply saying Delany is smart does him a disservice. He's brilliant. Don't ever let the Big Ten jokes—though there are many—allow you to think otherwise. 

Consider the following: There's an academic redshirt coming in 2016, as determined by the NCAA. That applies to '16 freshmen who meet the NCAA's old academic requirements but not the new ones. Almost for that reason alone, it behooves conferences to wait and see how new academic standards affect eligibility before proceeding with a solution for something there's not a problem with. 

So why is there suddenly pressure to take something that would apply to only part of a freshman class and make it widespread?

Because admins are so concerned over men's college basketball and the one-and-done rule, eliminating freshmen eligibility is on the table. Never mind that only a minuscule number of freshmen percentage-wise declare for the NBA draft after one year. It's the textbook definition of overkill.  

College football is different because athletes have to wait three years before they can declare. Thus, the impact of freshman ineligibility relative to going pro early decreases some. Still, it's being looped into the discussion.

Why are those two sports being cherry picked and not men's lacrosse or women's gymnastics? Don't they all face the same challenges as freshmen student-athletes?

These are deliberate moves, and it's enough to warrant a side-eye glance. As Zach Barnett of points out, the timing of this discussion shows admins are still fighting the fight about academic prioritization in the post-Ed O'Bannon antitrust ruling:  

The timing of these discussions is curious at best and disingenuous at worst. The NCAA’s hallowed amateurism model has been under serious attack through lawsuits filed by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon and antitrust lawyer Jeffrey Kessler. Northwestern football players appealed for the right to unionize less than a year ago. The door has felt the force of the battering ram, and it isn’t going to hold.

The following quote from Maryland President Wallace Loh to the The Diamondback seems to corroborate as much: 

"What I like about the concept of the proposal is it puts right up front the basic issue: Are we basically a quasi-professional activity or primarily an educational activity?" Loh said. "And if you support it, you are basically saying very clearly the No. 1 priority is the education of the students."

In other words, college admins would have you believe that the bubble in which they live is still based in academics, not big-time athletics, and they're willing to come up with some wild ideas to prove it. The last thing NCAA members would ever want to do is admit they created a marketplace that serves as a de facto minor league for pro sports. 

Do that and prepare to pay out to football and men's basketball players. 

Sure, eliminating freshman eligibility is an answer. It's just not the right one because it doesn't serve athletes on a widespread basis nearly as much as it serves college admins. 

What those admins should focus on is not taking away a year of playing time, but adding to the overall number. That's something Mississippi State athletics director Scott Stricklin suggested on his Twitter account:

By doing so, freshmen retain their eligibility, provided they meet the academic standards and move forward with confidence that they have five years to complete their degree. 

For as much chatter as the Big Ten generates about academic integrity, removing freshmen from the field could have significant negative affects on the recruiting trail. That's the bread and butter to building championship teams. 

Is the Big Ten, or anyone else in the Power 5 for that matter, willing to lose out on that? The honest answer is probably no. 


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand.  

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Randy Shannon Proving to Be Valuable Recruiting Resource for New Florida Regime

Jim McElwain gained more than just a bright defensive strategist when he signed Randy Shannon to the Florida Gators staff earlier this winter.

The former Miami head coach carries significant recruiting clout in the Sunshine State. His roots as a player and coach are firmly entrenched in Florida.

Shannon, a Miami Norland High School graduate, started at linebacker for the Hurricanes during a 1987 national championship run. After a short stint with the Dallas Cowboys, he launched his coaching career in South Florida, serving in various roles with both the Dolphins and the University of Miami.

His 28 victories in four years as the Hurricanes coach weren't enough to provide job security, and he was ultimately replaced by Al Golden following the 2010 season. However, Shannon's accomplishments with the program—particularly as defensive coordinator in the early 2000s and his early tutelage of Ray Lewis—shouldn't be overlooked.

He returned to an assistant role in 2012, serving as linebackers coach at TCU before joining Arkansas.

McElwain pried him away from Fayetteville in late December, landing Shannon as linebackers coach, co-defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator.

"This is a home run hire for Florida," noted Andy Hutchins of Alligator Army at the time.

It was McElawin's first position coach decision in Gainesville—one that's already paid off for the new Gators regime.

Shannon has helped the team secure nine South Florida commitments since he assumed responsibility for the region, including a pair of 2016 pledges earlier this week.

Linebacker Vosean Joseph and defensive end Eric Mitchell both joined the class Wednesday:

The tandem formerly played together at Norland, Shannon's alma mater, though Mitchell transferred to Miami Central High School. They tripled the Gators' current recruiting haul, which featured just one commitment entering this week.

"Dream school," Mitchell told Ryan Bartow of 247Sports. "Always wanted to go there. I told coach Shannon. He was excited for me. He's gonna talk to my mom tonight about it. He accepted my commit."

Back on home turf, Shannon is clearly in his comfort zone:

Florida is in the process of reinventing its image after a disheartening conclusion to the Will Muschamp era. Visions of success with Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow continue to fade further into the rear-view mirror.

"I grew up a pretty big fan of Florida, but the team isn't where it used to be," coveted Naples High School running back Carlin Fils-Aime told Bleacher Report. "But I can tell they're working hard to build things back up and make it a place where top players want to go. That's from what their coaches have been telling me since the new group took over."

Shannon will be a pivotal part of that process.

Florida finished strong in the 2015 cycle, rising more than 50 spots in 247Sports' composite rankings during an extremely busy last week. The Gators class sat at 21st overall on national signing day, bolstered tremendously by a late surge in South Florida.

The haul included a pair of 4-star talents (running back Jordan Scarlett and athlete Jordan Cronkrite) who had previously committed to Miami. Florida also edged out the Hurricanes for impressive Miami wide receiver Antonio Callaway on signing day.

Even Gators recruiting targets from beyond state borders have noticed Shannon's efforts. His success reflects well on the entire Florida staff.

"This staff is very enthusiastic about recruiting, which I feel has steered them to developing trust with their recruits," 4-star Georgia wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, younger brother of 2015 Florida signee Daniel Imatorbhebhe, told Bleacher Report. "I haven't really had much contact with coach Shannon, but from what I hear he is an excellent coach and an efficient recruiter."

That description is exactly what McElwain was looking for when he made Shannon a top priority while assembling his staff. Through less than two full months, the move is already paying immediate dividends. 


Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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