NCAA Football

Oregon Football Calls Police on Pac-12 Network TV Crew for Watching Practice

Police were reportedly called to an Oregon football practice last week after a Pac-12 Network television crew gained access to sight lines of a closed practice field.

Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports reports authorities were summoned after analyst Curtis Conway and other members of the staff were making their way to a production truck. A "standoff" occurred after a security guard asked them to move until police arrived to diffuse the tension.

The report notes the Pac-12 Network is owned by the conference, which makes the situation even more curious. Neither side has commented on the matter.

Of course, Oregon is known for its fast-paced playing style that features numerous different wrinkles to keep opponents off balance. It doesn't come as much surprise the coaching staff goes to additional lengths to ensure outsiders aren't allowed to get an early glimpse at those plans.

It's hard to imagine members of the Pac-12 Network would lead to such a stir, though. The Ducks must be working on something special to become paranoid enough to believe a television crew could pass around key inside information to other teams from a brief look at practice.

Perhaps everybody else will get to see what special gadgets Oregon was working on when it opens the 2015 campaign against Eastern Washington on Sept. 5.  

 

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Oregon Football Calls Police on Pac-12 Network TV Crew for Watching Practice

Police were reportedly called to an Oregon football practice last week after a Pac-12 Network television crew gained access to sight lines of a closed practice field...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

SEC Football: Biggest Injuries That Could Impact 2015 Season

Injuries are an unfortunate reality in football, and the old bug already has bitten several SEC football teams since last season.

Considering they can be the difference between wins and losses, it's at least worth mentioning several impact bumps and bruises, twists and tears that could keep a few league members from winning championships.

And there are more than a few.

From a superstar running back on a team built to overpower opponents with the rushing game, to several road-grading offensive line starters, to a trio of defensive leaders, it hasn't been a kind offseason for several SEC teams.

Some of those setbacks happened in fall camp, and a few more were known coming into the season.

For some teams, they've got personnel who can step in and fill the void. But, in a lot of cases, it's difficult to replicate the production of the missing players no matter how much you want to paint the pig's face in the wake of the injury.

Arkansas has a stable of talented runners, but replacing Jonathan Williams will be a chore. LSU may be the new "DBU," but you can't just plug and play somebody who will match Jalen Mills' production.

Let's take a look at a few injuries facing SEC teams and what the coaching staffs may do to combat their departures.

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Preseason College Football Rankings 2015: Release Time for Top 25 Standings

The debates surrounding which teams should be considered the top 25 in college football unofficially commenced with the release of the Amway Coaches Poll on July 30, but the gridiron discourse is set to ramp up again when the Associated Press releases its own rankings on Sunday, August 23.

According to a press release, the Associated Press will roll out its preseason ranking at 2 p.m. ET on CollegeFootball.AP.org.

The Associated Press and Amway Coaches Poll are more symbolic and ceremonial than anything with the advent of the College Football Playoff and its human selection committee, but for better or for worse, the polls will frame much of the discussion in college football week in and week out. Plus, they will serve as a point of reference until the CFP releases its first rankings on November 3, per CollegeFootballPlayoff.com.

For a guide to where you might see your favorite powerhouse team in the Associated Press rankings, here is the Coaches Poll preseason rundown.

The AP poll isn't exactly a well-guarded, sportswriter trade secret before its release. Gary Horowitz of the Statesman Journal provided a sneak peek as to how he voted on August 17:

Defending national champion Ohio State tops my top 25, followed by TCU, Alabama, Oregon and Michigan State. The Buckeyes are so loaded at quarterback that two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year Braxton Miller has moved to slot receiver.

If all goes according to form, TCU will have an opportunity to make amends for last season's College Football Playoff snub by playing Ohio State in the national championship game.

That's pretty well in line with the Coaches Poll, with Oregon and Michigan State bumped up a spot at Baylor's expense.

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News has Ohio State at No. 1 and, surprisingly, Notre Dame at No. 2 (Wilner's complete top 25 is in his column). He expects those two to be in the national championship game, with the Fighting Irish getting there in a true grind-it-out fashion:

I'm projecting Notre Dame to play Ohio State for the national title and have the Irish in the No. 2 slot. Their defense should be dominant (maybe better than '12). The schedule is challenging but manageable. If Malik Zaire is merely average, there's no reason they can't win every game 17-10.

Ohio State makes sense here, seeing as they're coming off a national championship, one that was thankfully decided in a rousing playoff format thanks to the CFP. Head coach Urban Meyer has the enviable dilemma of picking either Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett to start the season under center. His choice could've been between three superstar QBs, but Braxton Miller has moved to the wide receiver corps.

Barrett broke scoring records in his redshirt freshman season with 45 total touchdowns (34 passing, 11 rushing), but a late-season ankle injury paved the way for Jones to acquire instant folk-hero status, as he led the Buckeyes to wins over Wisconsin, Alabama and finally Oregon on the way to the national championship. 

Don't expect them to split snaps, though.

"I don't think it would be as efficient," Barrett said of a two-QB system, via ESPN.com's Austin Ward. "I did that in high school and switched every series...and that's kind of tough to do being that you can't get into a rhythm, get a real vibe off the defense."

Both the Associated Press and Coaches Polls will see a ton of churn and turnover as the season progresses. Injuries, upsets, fluke plays and meltdowns can (and, in many cases, will) derail a team's run to College Football Playoff glory. Also, nobody has yet seen the 2015 version of these programs playing full speed, 100 percent against real competition from another university.

It may be a fool's errand to pick a top 25 right now—and can probably lead to some primacy effect biases when top-ranked teams maybe don't plummet down the rankings as far as they should because people remember them as a preseason list-topper—but the trash-talking and debate has to start somewhere.

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Notre Dame Football: 2015 Game-by-Game Schedule Predictions

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Set aside all the talk about conferences, independents and 13th games, and Notre Dame's 2015 football schedule stands out for its difficulty.

The Irish clash with Texas, Georgia Tech, Clemson, USC and Stanford, and there are few true cupcakes on the docket.

Let’s take a game-by-game look at the schedule and offer our early predictions for each matchup.

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Art Briles Denies Knowing of Sam Ukwuachu's Past, Baylor Holds Internal Inquiry

Baylor Bears head football coach Art Briles has denied having any knowledge of the circumstances regarding the transfer of former defensive end Sam Ukwuachu from Boise State.

According to Briles, then-Broncos head coach Chris Petersen never mentioned the allegations of past violence. Briles also had a discussion with Ukwuachu's high school coach, who spoke of Ukwuachu in glowing terms.

ESPN.com's Jake Trotter provided Briles' full statement:

Baylor released a copy of Ukwuachu's official transfer request, which seems to show Ukwuachu wasn't dismissed for disciplinary reasons (via Trotter):

The school also announced Friday it will launch an internal investigation into the details surrounding its inquest into the sexual assault allegations leveled against former defensive end Sam Ukwuachu.

Shehan Jeyarajah of the Dallas Morning News provided the official statement from the school:

Baylor President Ken Starr posted a letter, which included Baylor's stance on sexual violence:

Acts of sexual violence contradict every value Baylor University upholds as a caring Christian community. In recent years we have joined university efforts nationally to prevent campus violence against women and sexual assault, to actively support survivors of sexual assault with compassion and care, and to take action against perpetrators. We have established and fully staffed a Title IX office that employs a Title IX Coordinator and two full-time investigators. Maintaining a safe and caring community is central to Baylor’s mission and at the heart of our commitment to our students, faculty and staff.

A judge in McLennan County, Texas, sentenced Ukwuachu to 180 days in county jail and 400 hours of community service Friday after he was found guilty of second-degree sexual assault, per Tommy Witherspoon of the Waco Tribune. Ukwuachu will also remain on felony probation for 10 years.

Writing for Texas Monthly, Jessica Luther and Dan Solomon first broke that Ukwuachu had been indicted for sexual assault on June 25, 2014, a fact which had gone unreported for over a year. Luther and Solomon detailed the circumstances of the case and the potential shortcomings in Baylor's investigation of the claims.

Based on Tommy Witherspoon's Waco Tribune report, Deadspin's Diana Moskovitz wrote about the aspects of the case overlooked by Bethany McCraw, Baylor's associate dean for student conduct administration. McCraw failed to obtain the results from a sexual assault exam on the victim in question, and she never spoke with a university psychologist who diagnosed the victim with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Another critical question asked both of McCraw and Briles is whether they knew the facts regarding Ukwuachu's transfer from Boise State.

Friday morning, Briles told reporters he was unaware of any significant issues Ukwuachu had before his departure.

"No mention of anything beyond Sam being depressed and needing to come home," he said, per ESPN.com's Max Olson and Mark Schlabach. "So that was our information. And that's what you go by."

Petersen then released a statement in which he claimed to have called Briles and "thoroughly apprised (him) of the circumstances surrounding Sam's disciplinary record and dismissal."

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Former Baylor DE Sam Ukwuachu Sentenced for 2013 Sexual Assault of Soccer Player

A judge in McLennan County, Texas, sentenced former Baylor and Boise State defensive end Sam Ukwuachu to 180 days in county jail Friday after he was found guilty of second-degree sexual assault from an October 2013 incident. Ukwuachu will also remain on felony probation for a period of 10 years, per ESPN.com's Max Olson.

According to Tommy Witherspoon of the Waco Tribune, the jury recommended an eight-year probated sentence for Ukwuachu.

Little was known about why Ukwuachu had yet to appear for the Bears after transferring from Boise State. He was eligible to play during the 2014 season but failed to see the field.

In July, Bears defensive coordinator Phil Bennett told reporters Ukwuachu could soon be joining the team.

"Ukwuachu is a guy we’re expecting to be back," Bennett said, per Shehan Jeyarajah of the Dallas Morning News. "We expect him to be eligible in July. That gives us probably five or six guys we can play at end."

Then came a report on Thursday by Jessica Luther and Dan Solomon for Texas Monthy. Luther and Solomon detailed the sexual assault allegations leveled against Ukwuachu by a former member of the Baylor women's soccer team, stemming from an incident Oct. 19, 2013. Ukwuachu was subsequently indicted June 25, 2014.

The Texas Monthy report raised questions about the investigation carried out by Baylor and whether the school was aware of the circumstances leading to Ukwuachu's departure from Boise State, which reportedly included an act of punching "through a window while drunk."

Baylor head coach Art Briles denied he had knowledge of Ukwuachu's past indiscretions.

"No mention of anything beyond Sam being depressed and needing to come home," Briles said, per Olson. "So that was our information. And that's what you go by."

Olson and ESPN.com colleague Mark Schlabach then provided a statement from Washington head coach Chris Petersen, who coached the Broncos at the time of Ukwuachu's transfer, which seemingly contradicted Briles' story: "After Sam Ukwuachu was dismissed from the Boise State football program and expressed an interest in transferring to Baylor, I initiated a call with coach Art Briles. In that conversation, I thoroughly apprised Coach Briles of the circumstances surrounding Sam's disciplinary record and dismissal."

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Alabama Requests Media to Stop Reporting What They See at Practice

Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide aren't taking any chances when it comes to maintaining a tactical edge this season. 

According to the Tuscaloosa News' Aaron Suttles, "Alabama has requested that the media not report on what is seen at practice." Suttles added the Crimson Tide's desire revolves around reporting injuries, although it's not restricted to such narrow criteria.

Alabama's request makes sense from a competitive standpoint, as limiting the dissemination of injury reports through the media could keep opponents guessing as they attempt to game-plan for the reigning SEC champions. 

However, the other side of the issue has to do with the media's ability to do its job properly and without obstructions.

Since reporters have an obligation to keep fans and readers up-to-date with pertinent information, constraints on publishing crucial elements of the team's well-being stand to impact how much detail they can divulge.

As the season approaches, it will be fascinating to observe how specific the program gets when it discloses injury-related updates—particularly during the weeks leading up to some of Alabama's biggest SEC clashes.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bold Predictions for Every Top 25 Team's 2015 Season

Soon, bold predictions won't matter because actual college football games will be played and results will speak for themselves. 

Oh, who are we kidding? Piping hot takes will always be part of the game. But now is as good a time as any to get one last good dose of bold predictions in before the 2015 season gets under way. So, we've listed off things that could happen in the right circumstances, good or bad, for each top 25 team as determined by the preseason USA Today Amway Coaches Poll

(As a reminder: The Associated Press preseason Top 25 will be released at 2 p.m. ET Sunday, Aug. 23.) 

With that, let's get to those predictions and throw all caution out the window. Mmmmmm....bold flavor.

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Ohio State Hydrates Players with 'Club Buckeye,' Hands out Shots of Gatorade

Most college football programs would probably want their players to stay away from the club scene.

Far, far away.

But Ohio State does things a bit differently. On Friday, OSU opened its own “club”—Club Buckeye—featuring Gatorade shots, some throwback dance music, a top-notch security team and overall good vibes.

It was basically a creative way for the strength and conditioning staff to get players hydrated for practice:

Hey, whatever works.

[Twitter, Instagram]

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Kevin Sumlin Aiming for Texas A&M to Be Tougher, More Physical in 2015

There aren’t too many college football coaches who can send a loud, distinct message without saying a word, but Kevin Sumlin recently pulled it off at SEC media days.

When the Texas A&M coach walked through the front door of the Wynfrey Hotel, he was accompanied by approximately 900 pounds of players, easily making the Aggies this year's biggest contingency.

Specifically, representing the Aggies were Germain Ifedi, Mike Matthews and Julien Obioha, who are all linemen. Not making the trip were the young quarterback, any of the speedy receivers or even the pass-rusher who set the program record for sacks last season.

“It’s kind of cool, he brought the fat kids,” offensive tackle Obioha said. “That’s really, really nice.”

Although Sumlin isn’t about to ditch the spread or make major wholesale changes to the program, he does want this year’s team to develop a different personality. In short, he wants them to toughen up both mentally and physically.

“We need to be better and tougher,” Ifedi said. “Five losses is unacceptable.”

But if you look at the Aggies' recent draft history, the offensive line is where the program has really made its mark (minus Johnny Manziel). This last draft tackle Cedric Ogbuehi was the 21st selection, by the Cincinnati Bengals, and guard Jarvis Harrison was taken in the fifth round by the New York Jets.

In 2014, Jake Matthews was the sixth-overall pick, by the Atlanta Falcons, and in 2013, Outland Trophy winner Luke Joeckel went second to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

So that’s three straight first-round draft picks in the same number of years, and yet the Aggies still developed a reputation as not being tough enough, especially when it counted the most.

Last season Texas A&M averaged 4.6 yards per carry on just 421 attempts. This resulted in 149.9 rushing yards per game, which ranked 12th in the league. Against SEC opponents the average dropped down to just 3.8 yards per carry.

It gave up 26 sacks and was 13th out of 14 teams in turnover margin at minus-seven. Texas A&M converted 40.78 percent of its third-down opportunities, which put it in the middle of the league (73 of 179 attempts), yet the more the season progressed, the more the Aggies struggled to run for a first down on third-and-short or in goal-line situations.

“At times last year, it seemed like we didn’t have the tools together to run the ball,” Ifedi said.

Thus, Sumlin made two important additions to his coaching staff with the aim of improving the Aggies’ biggest concerns. The first was veteran SEC defensive coordinator John Chavis, who had previously had the same role at LSU and Tennessee.

The other was to hire former Wyoming coach and Utah assistant Dave Christensen as offensive line coach and run-game coordinator. His addition made nowhere near the same splash with fans as Chavis, but it could have a huge impact in this fall.

What makes Christensen such an interesting addition was that even though he was an offensive lineman himself at Washington (1980-82), he was Gary Pinkel’s offensive coordinator when Missouri adopted the spread.

While at face value Pinkel and the spread would seem to go together about as well as chocolate and anchovies, what spurred the switch were back-to-back losses to Bowling Green in 2001-02—and some coach named Urban Meyer. When Meyer moved on, Pinkel asked his replacement Gregg Brandon to teach the Tigers offensive staff the scheme.

Missouri ended up playing in the Big 12 Championship Game in both 2007 and 2008, quarterback Chase Daniel finished fourth in voting for the 2007 Heisman Trophy and Christensen was on the short list for assistant coach of the year honors including the Broyles Award. Not surprisingly it led to a head coaching opportunity, and from 2009-13 his teams went 27-35 at Wyoming with two bowl appearances.

“Schematically, I think he brings attitude and experience to the table,” Sumlin said. “It gets back to what I said. We've had to change our practice style. I think we came into the SEC with an attitude that, hey, we want to win right now, and the best way to do that is by scoring points and then building off of that with recruiting and generating excitement and doing those things. We've done that. Now let's take the next step and, from a recruiting standpoint, develop a depth standpoint that we need.

“I've said it before. The SEC is not only a line of scrimmage league. It's a line of scrimmage and depth league.”

Christensen arrived at College Station with a reputation of being as straightforward as demanding and not hesitating to be brutally honest with his players.

So his initial message would be important, and sure enough it was that the line had to be tougher and more physical.

“I think everybody bought into that,” Matthews, a senior center, said. “We understand that maybe we were a little softer than we needed to be. Being offensive linemen, you have to be really physical guys, and he’s really pushing on that.

As for Matthews’ reaction to that first position meeting, he said, “I loved that. That’s the stuff I wanted to hear.”

Since then, Christensen has told his linemen they’re the most talented group he’s ever had and the Aggies should be able to do what they want up front. He has also tweaked their approach, installing more zone-read and inside zone plays and putting a heavy emphasis on attention to detail.

The players say nothing is drastically different, maybe the hand placement on a certain block or the way someone steps, but they know those small alterations can potentially lead to much bigger things.

Like having more confidence in the running game, which can only make the Aggies offense more challenging and unpredictable.

“You want to see that look on defensive linemen’s faces… “ Ifedi said.

  

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

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How Tate Martell's Commitment Shakes Up 2017 QB Recruiting Class

Less than two weeks shy of his junior season, 5-star quarterback prospect Tate Martell committed to Texas A&M on Thursday evening. 

The 5'11", 180-pound prospect picked the Aggies over fellow finalists Michigan, Washington, Alabama and USC. He'll join top-ranked 2014 quarterback recruit Kyle Allen and Texas high school legend Kyler Murray on a crowded depth chart in 2017:

Rated 12th overall in 2017 composite rankings and first among dual-threat talents, Martell is one of the most impressive players in America. He collected nearly 3,000 total yards and 45 touchdowns in 2014, leading Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas) to its sixth straight state title and national championship consideration.

He joins TCU pledge Shawn Robinson as the only 5-star quarterbacks to announce their collegiate decision in the 2016 cycle. Martell actually first committed in middle school, accepting a verbal scholarship offer from Washington before eighth grade.

Robinson and Martell boost the future fortunes of two Texas programs, while sending other coaching staffs searching elsewhere for options behind center. They have company when it comes to contemporaries who also puled the trigger on early pledges.

Danny Clark (Ohio State), Jake Allen (Florida), Sean Clifford (Penn State), Kellen Mond (Baylor), Chris Robison (Oklahoma), Bailey Hockman (Georgia), Braxton Burmeister (Arizona) and Lowell Narcisse (Auburn) are each 4-star quarterbacks in the 2017 class who already announced collegiate intentions.

Among the 22 total 4- and 5-star quarterbacks in this cycle, 10 are set to start their junior high school campaign already committed to a college team.

The situation at quarterback becomes convoluted earlier every year. If your program doesn't land a top-tier passer at least 12 months shy of national signing day, that player could be difficult to find.

Of course, each of these commitments is strictly verbal and non-binding. It's almost a guarantee at least one 2017 quarterback will change his decision before signing day because of coaching changes, depth-chart concerns or alternative opportunities that appear more ideal. 

With Martell off the board, it forces a few marquee teams to re-establish 2017 recruiting priorities. His announcement immediately impacts Alabama, Michigan and USC.

The Trojans were runner-up in this race and tugged on his heartstrings as a former Southern California resident. Martell's longstanding relationship with head coach Steve Sarkisian wasn't enough to seal the deal days after it was announced 4-star 2015 signee Ricky Town opted to leave the program midway through his first college training camp.

USC still has true freshman Sam Darnold and 4-star 2016 commit Matt Fink to provide youth at the position. Former top-rated quarterback recruit Max Browne, now a redshirt sophomore, is likely to ascend into the starting role once senior Cody Kessler departs.

Keep a close eye on Hawaiian standout Tua Tagovailoa, who also holds an offer from Oregon. He is the top-rated dual-threat quarterback who remains uncommitted, though USC could also target in-state talent such as Los Angeles-area 4-star Tristan Gebbia.

Michigan is sure to remain a team in the spotlight for quarterbacks, considering head coach Jim Harbaugh's history at the position. The new Wolverines staff is on track to sign its third 4-star quarterback since arriving, as long as Indiana product Brandon Peters remains on board.

Dylan McCaffrey is probably the most notable fallback option in Ann Arbor. The son of former Stanford and Denver Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey threw 22 touchdowns as a sophomore, per MaxPreps, and is rated fourth nationally among pro-style passers.

Alabama never appeared primed to land Martell, so this shouldn't be seen as much of a blow in Tuscaloosa. Head coach Nick Saban signed 5-star California quarterback Blake Barnett in February and holds a commitment from 4-star 2016 Texas dual threat Jalen Hurts.

Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin seems motivated to infuse his attack with increased mobility behind center. Martell certainly would've fit the bill there, but other options are in place.

Alabama is always selective at quarterback, but early offers went out to a small collection of 2017 prospects. Georgia recruit Jake Fromm may be the most viable candidate to land in a Crimson Tide uniform, though Saban must contend with South Carolina and Ole Miss.

Martell's commitment leaves Indiana product Hunter Johnson as the only 5-star passer who enters his junior season undecided. Tennessee and Notre Dame are top contenders.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

The Ballad of Chad Kelly's Last Chance

OXFORD, Miss. — The only thing that's certain for Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly is that this is it. This time there won't be any more "second chances," not with his checkered past.

Like it or not, Kelly is poised to become the most interesting man, or at least the most intriguing man, in the Southeastern Conference in 2015. And while his character may be up for debate, his resume is not. When it comes to football, he's always won. High school state titles, JUCO national titles—he even won the Punt, Pass & Kick competition four times.

Don't think for a moment that he couldn't do the same with Hugh Freeze's stacked Ole Miss offense. If he can just beat out reigning backup Ryan Buchanan and dual threat DeVante Kincade to start at quarterback.

Despite all the winning, Kelly is known throughout college football as "that kid who gets in trouble." Through a roller coaster six-year stretch leading up to his arrival in Oxford, his highs and lows can only be described as extreme.

It began at Red Lion High School in Pennsylvania, where Kelly was suspended for seven games as a freshman and then kicked off the team as a sophomore for reasons that were never publicly disclosed. After moving to the Buffalo area, where there is no bigger last name in football, since his uncle Jim Kelly led the Bills to four straight Super Bowls, Kelly turned things around at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute.

Not only did Kelly became the region's top quarterback prospect since Don Majkowski (who played in the NFL from 1987 to 1996) and Ron Jaworski (1973-89), but as a junior, he was named a captain of both the football and basketball teams.

"Obviously he was a phenom," said Dennis Gilbert, the Marauders' football coach whose primary job is being a full-time police officer. "To me, the thing that set him apart was his level of competitiveness. Everything was competition to him, whether it was diagramming plays or getting water, he wanted to be the first to get water.

"He's a guy who practiced the same on Monday and played in games on Friday. It didn't matter what it was, even basketball or lacrosse, he competed like crazy."

Kelly's ultra-competitive nature has proved to be both the angel and devil on his shoulder. It helped drive him to 3,050 passing yards, 991 rushing yards and 41 total touchdowns as a high school senior, but it also led to his downfall at Clemson.

It didn't culminate until after Kelly redshirted, suffered a torn ACL in the 2013 spring game and feverishly worked to get back ahead of schedule. The spark was a decision not to go for it on fourth down during the 2014 spring game, a decision the competitive Kelly just couldn't let go. He yelled and screamed and even got into Dabo Swinney's face in front of 33,000 witnesses. Shortly after, he was dismissed from the program due to a "pattern of behavior."

A few days later, Kelly was at East Mississippi Community College, located just across the Alabama border in the small town of Scooba. It's a wrong-turn destination where there's no downtown, no luxuries and no distractions.

While running a spread offense like he did in high school, Kelly passed for 3,906 yards and 47 touchdowns, and the Lions averaged 539.1 yards, including 358.8 in the air, and 55.5 points per game. While posting an undefeated record, EMCC won by scores of 83-7 and 65-7, and the final five games of the regular season saw a combined 269-0 score.

"We threw it around a good bit," offensive coordinator Marcus Wood said. "He was a dynamic player all around. Good leader for us, did a good job. He came in with a chip on his shoulder and with a lot to prove.

"He's a very heady kid, kind of your gym rat kid. All he wants to do is study tape. He's always asking questions."

And just like that, Chad Kelly's football career was back from the dead. But for how long?

After the season, LSU, Indiana and even Alabama checked him out, but Kelly had been talking to Freeze even before unpacking in Scooba. The combination of the Rebels' pass-friendly offense and the open QB spot made Ole Miss a very attractive option for Kelly, but the clincher was the relationship that started developing with the coach.

Kelly needed a coach who could also provide fatherly influence. Freeze was up for the challenge and vowed to keep a closer eye on him off the field than on.

Kelly described their early conversations as having as much to do with life in general as ways to get the football to players like wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and tight end Evan Engram. The coach and quarterback watch film—a lot of film—but also attend church and Bible study together.

"We both had faith in God, first of all," Kelly said. "He's pushing me on and off the field a tremendous amount. I'm just so thankful that he gave me an opportunity."

However, true to his tumultuous past, Kelly almost blew that opportunity less than two weeks after he signed to play with Freeze, when he was arrested following a 3 a.m. altercation at a downtown Buffalo bar and restaurant, according to the Buffalo News' Joseph Popiolkowski. He faced numerous charges after allegedly punching a bouncer and scuffling with police.

Kelly didn't provide any details about what his subsequent conversation with Freeze was like, only describing it as an extremely uncomfortable phone call. But when they hung up, the coach still stood behind the transfer. Freeze told Houston Sports Zone he and Kelly would "give it a go together." Kelly enrolled in January and eventually accepted a plea agreement to a non-criminal charge of disorderly conduct and 50 hours of community service.

"I've been through a lot, that I have," Kelly said about what he's learned. "You have to approach every day and try and get better on and off the field. You need to keep looking forward, don't ever look back."

So far, he's done just that.

At the urging of his coach, Kelly went on Freeze's now annual spring break mission trip to Haiti, where they and numerous other people in the Ole Miss program helped build a reservoir to provide clean drinking water for thousands of people.

Kelly also put real effort into his classes instead of just getting by, and described his offseason routine as watching film, working out, watching more film, studying and then watching even more film.

"All I can tell you is to this point I cannot be more pleased," Freeze said as training camp opened earlier this month. "The guy had a 4.0 GPA this summer, a 3.6 in the spring. One of the strength staff's favorite kids, finishes first in every drill.

"He's just like a lot of us, he's made some mistakes in the past and he's ready to move beyond them. I think he deserves that opportunity now."

Yet the coach wasn't going to just hand Kelly the starting job. It took Buchanan a year to start getting comfortable in Freeze's spread scheme, and only then did he win the job as Bo Wallace's backup last season. Just the pre-snap reads alone can take a long time to get down.

"Honestly there are about three or four things that happen in about a second, and sometimes right as I get the ball it happens in a heartbeat," said Buchanan, who ended the spring with a slight lead in the quarterback chase.

"It's who is more consistent and more comfortable [who will win the job]. It's being able to move the ball and not take the negative plays."

The opportunity is there for the taking. It's now on Kelly to earn the starting job and write the happy ending to his redemption saga.

"I'm ready to go," Kelly said.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

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QB Ricky Town Adds New Dimension to Arkansas' 'Ground-and-Pound' Offense

Former 4-star quarterback Ricky Town has transferred to Arkansas, according to ESPN's Joe Schad. The No. 6 pro-style QB of the 2015 class, according to 247Sports, enrolled at USC in January but decided to transfer after fall practice started. 

What does the stud QB bring to the Arkansas Razorbacks? Watch Michael Felder break down what this means for Bret Bielema's squad. 

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Stock Rising for Tramonda Moore; 4-Star OT Has Nearly 20 Offers Since June

Two months ago, Tramonda Moore didn't have an FBS offer.

That's hard to believe when it's reiterated that he's 6'5", a deceptive 350 pounds and a two-way starter at offensive tackle and defensive tackle for John Marshall High School in Oklahoma City. It's also hard to believe considering Moore is a 4-star athlete—the only 4-star player in the state of Oklahoma, per 247Sports' composite rankings.

Moore picked up his first FBS offer from Oklahoma State in June. Fast-forward to now, and Moore is pushing toward 20 total offers and has the opportunity to play in the Big 12, SEC or ACC if he chooses. On Friday, Moore picked up his latest offer from Florida State.

Among the other schools that have offered: Oklahoma, Alabama, TCU, Georgia and Missouri.

"It's all kinda jumped out of nowhere with Oklahoma State and then Oklahoma," Moore said. "I was surprised when Alabama offered, then Georgia, then Missouri...it's been crazy, but I'm blessed to know I have the opportunity to play at a major college.

"I can't say I expected this, but my family and friends always say to keep working and keep grinding. They push me to work hard in the weight room and the classroom. I know the coaches want to see my work ethic and what you do when nobody's watching. I know I have to be better than good."

Ranked as the nation's No. 32 offensive tackle, Moore has the skills to play offensive tackle, offensive guard and defensive tackle at the next level. Moore said he has a preference to play tackle in college, but he is open to playing anywhere on the line in an effort to see early playing time.

"I know at defensive tackle, I can move around and make a lot of plays," Moore said, "but a lot of coaches say my career is at left tackle. I want to play left tackle at the next level."

At 350 pounds, Moore definitely has the mass to play tackle or guard. He's a streamlined 350-pounder, which makes him look closer to 310, and he has very strong legs that are huge. Moore bench presses 405 and squats 585.

The national hearsay on Moore didn't skyrocket until after he competed at a one-day camp at Alabama last month. He was offered a scholarship after the camp and has seen his stock rise ever since.

Friday's Florida State offer is huge, as he called Florida State a "dream school" as a kid.

Still, Moore said he doesn't plan on making a verbal commitment until national signing day. Weighing all of his options is a priority, and he said he doesn't want to make any decisions before first taking all of his official visits. A decision on signing day also gives him a chance to focus on his senior year at John Marshall.

"I've talked to my family and friends, and I'm going to take my time with everything," he said. "I really want to look at the depth at my position. I don't want to go somewhere where there are 10 or 12 guys already there. I want to go somewhere where I can get on the field immediately and be an impact on offense."

As for upcoming official visits, Moore said he is still in the process of finalizing the five schools. He doesn't have a clear favorite, but he said every school that has offered has a shot.

And what is Moore looking for in a winning program?

"I'm looking at the coaching staff. My position coach, can I relate with him?" he said. "How many players have been to the league? What is that program's winning percentage? I'll be looking at stuff like that.

"I also will be looking at depth, the players and just being around the campus. I want to see myself being there for the next four to five years. You want to see yourself comfortable, and I want to be able to be comfortable in finding a university."

Consider it all due diligence for someone who has watched his recruiting hit race car speeds in only a few weeks.

 

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

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Ricky Town Transfers to Arkansas: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Quarterback Ricky Town was once a highly regarded member of the USC Trojans' 2015 recruiting class, but he transferred to Arkansas Friday, per Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman.

Town was a 4-star recruit and rated as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the 2015 class, per 247Sports’ composite rankings. He verbally committed to Alabama during the recruitment process, but eventually elected to enroll early at USC. Alas, he is now a member of the Razorbacks as their potential quarterback of the future.

The California native chose to stay close to home at USC, but the fact that the Trojans also brought in fellow quarterback Sam Darnold in the same recruiting class likely contributed to Town’s decision to transfer.

Garry Paskwietz of WeAreSC.com (h/t ESPN.com) commented on the youngster’s decision to leave USC and look for a new school:

For a young man like Ricky who grew up as an USC fan, it appears from the outside looking in as if he didn't give himself a chance to live out that part of his dream…

And at a school such as USC, Town not only found himself with another good quarterback in his own class but good quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart and more scheduled to arrive in the coming years.

It's also understandable if a big-time quarterback has at least one eye on a future professional career where the money being thrown around is substantial.

There didn’t appear to be any ill will within the USC program when Town elected to leave even though there was a chance he could develop into a future star under center. Coach Steve Sarkisian understood Town made an individual decision with his future in mind, per Paskwietz:

Everybody approaches it differently. It takes a certain type of make-up to envision three or four years down the road, it's not always about what is happening right now. Cody [Kessler] is a good example of that, he was third string once and now he's on the cover of every magazine in America. But hey, I transferred when I was in college so I don't judge anybody for staying or leaving, you have to make the decision that's in your best interest.

USC’s loss is Arkansas' gain because Town has the makeup to be a collegiate star and eventual NFL quarterback.

His footwork in the pocket immediately jumps out on film because he can evade pressure, plant and fire downfield with his quick release all in one fluid motion. He also boasts a strong arm that will help him beat cornerbacks in single coverage once he eventually sees the field.

Town probably won’t run for 100 yards a game, but he boasts impressive accuracy when throwing on the move and will keep drives alive with his ability to evade pass-rushers.

While Town will need to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules, starting quarterback Brandon Allen is a senior, meaning Town will have an excellent chance to earn the starting gig as a redshirt freshman. Given that there isn't a current frontrunner to earn the position once Allen graduates, Town may have chosen Arkansas in part with the knowledge that he could potentially be starting next season.

From a pure talent perspective, Town is a future star in the making. Now all he has to do is prove it on the field for his new school.

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2015 High School Games Featuring Must-See Recruit Matchups

The 2015 high school football season starts across America in upcoming weeks. Most programs begin competition by Labor Day weekend, embarking on long journeys in search of state championships.

Many of last fall's most dominant high school players are now on college campuses, which sets the stage for a new crop of star prospects to rise to prominence. A highly competitive recruiting landscape also includes a wave of unknown underclassmen who are aiming to claim their piece of the national spotlight.

A fresh slate of high-profile games features several showdowns between elite playmakers on both sides of the ball. Here's a look at some of the marquee matchups to monitor, highlighted by athletes determined to someday make an immense impact in college and beyond.

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Dear Football: The 2015 Elite 11 Story

Uninterrupted is a platform that allows personalities to connect with fans on a much deeper level, with insight and content not fit for other platforms, media outlets or channels.

Interested fans get a unique perspective that brings them closer than ever to the personalities they care about.

The Elite 11 camp brings together the top high school senior quarterbacks in the country in search of the best 11.

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Will Inexperienced Georgia Defense Push Dawgs to Top of SEC East?

The Georgia Bulldogs are gearing up for the upcoming 2015 season, but a young Bulldogs defense has to mature quickly to carry its weight on the gridiron. Bleacher Report's Stephen Nelson and College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee discuss the Dawgs' readiness come this September.

How well do you think the Bulldogs defense will do this year? Hit up the comments section below.

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5 Best Ways to Use Jabrill Peppers on Offense

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is considering using Jabrill Peppers in all three facets of the game, and the sophomore could bring much-needed versatility to the Wolverines offense.

Peppers can line up in multiple positions and fill a variety of roles, something he showed during his high school days. Consequently, Peppers can be more than a gadget player who only enters in specific formations.

That being said, Harbaugh has not committed to using Peppers on offense. Per MLive's Nick Baumgardner, the first-year coach said he's exploring the option.

If Harbaugh ultimately elects that it's a solid choice, he should be looking at a few particular ways to utilize Peppers.

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