NCAA Football

College Football's Best All-Time Buzzer-Beater Plays

As far as buzzer-beaters go, college basketball has earned a stronger reputation than college football.

But are we sure that should be the case? 

No one can deny the beauty of March Madness, but Fall Madness has enough last-second moments to compare. Even Christian Laettner, Tyus Edney and Bryce Drew can tip their hats to the drama of college football's best finishes.

One note before we begin: Because college overtimes are untimed, nothing that happens after regulation is a true buzzer-beater. Therefore, we've omitted certain famous walk-off finishes—Boise State's Statue of Liberty against Oklahoma, Michigan State's "Little Giants" against Notre Dame, et al.—if they failed to meet our criteria.

The eight plays that follow are true buzzer-beaters: historic, frenzied, indelible plays that happened as time expired.

Sound off below and let us know what you think.

Begin Slideshow

Alabama Football: Starters on the Hot Seat in 2015 Spring Practice

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — With Monday’s return to the practice field, Alabama football is officially back in full swing in Tuscaloosa. That means 13 more days of practice, including April 18’s A-Day game.

A lot will happen between now and then, but the biggest benefit is a camp-like setting that allows for more focus on development and growth instead of installing opponent-specific game plans like in the fall and during the season.

That means that young players have chances to really come into their own and show what they can do, rather than be relegated to scout-team duty.

It also puts some heat on current starters who don’t necessarily have the benefit of experience or knowledge of the playbook like they do during the season, when most young players are playing catch-up.

“I know you guys hate to hear this, but we really don't have a depth chart at this point,” Nick Saban said half-sarcastically last Friday after the first spring practice. “It's just for organizational purposes. We want to give everybody an opportunity out there. We want to coach everybody. We want to see who can make a contribution to the team. Our only expectation right now is that people play with the kind of effort that is our expectation, which I felt like at times we have not gotten in the past.”

It’s a Saban staple to avoid any talk of depth charts, in-season or out, but this is as close as he’ll get to actually meaning it.

Every spot is up for grabs. Which returning starters are in danger of losing theirs? Let’s take a look.

 

Denzel Devall

Devall will be a senior in 2015, and while his experience is as valid as anyone’s on the team, his production and playing time has slowly slipped since what many thought were breakout freshman and sophomore years at outside linebacker.

He appeared in every game his freshman year in 2012, notching three tackles for loss and two sacks as a rotational player. As a sophomore, he started three games and recorded five tackles for loss and three sacks.

Last year, though, he was all but invisible.

Devall started seven games and appeared in just one more as he battled an ankle injury suffered against Ole Miss. At season’s end, he had no sacks, just one tackle for loss and only 11 total tackles.

Meanwhile, others thrived in his place.

Sophomore Ryan Anderson recorded three sacks off the edge. Rashaan Evans lived up to his 5-star billing out of high school. And Tim Williams showed why Reggie Ragland said he “can be the best pass-rusher in the country.”

To compound matters, Devall is missing the entire spring after having surgery for that ankle injury. He’ll spend his practices doing conditioning work with strength coach Scott Cochran, watching while Anderson, Evans, Williams and the rest of that group get valuable reps in front of coaches.

Devall needs to come back strong in the fall to ensure he won’t get bumped from his starter status by a young stud.

 

Eddie Jackson

Jackson gets the starter designation at cornerback due to the number of games he's played, but this spot is very much up in the air.

Cyrus Jones was the only cornerback to start all 14 games in 2015, with Jackson starting opposite him for 11 of those. Bradley Sylve had a start, while Tony Brown got the other two.

Jackson enters spring as the favorite to lock down that No. 2 role because of experience, but it is very possible he'll be usurped by Brown or even Sylve by the time Auburn flies to Dallas to face Wisconsin.

There will be plenty of opportunities for all of them, and maybe even an outsider or two, to show what they can do this spring with Jones out after having offseason hip surgery.

Right now, Jackson and Brown are the first cornerbacks through drills, followed by Sylve and former 5-star Marlon Humphrey. Saban would refer to that order as being just for “organizational purposes,” but you can get an idea of where things stand.

Of all the returning starters, Jackson’s seat is probably the hottest.

 

Anyone on offense?

These first two were all on defense, because on offense, pretty much everyone will be a new starter.

Center Ryan Kelly and left tackle Cam Robinson are the only returning starters from a record-setting 2014 offense, and their seats are as cool as the other side of the pillow.

So on the offensive side, we’ll have to go with probable returning starters, but even then it’s difficult to find someone who could be in danger of losing a starting job.

Derrick Henry and O.J. Howard are really the only two that you can say for sure should be starters. And even if one or both don’t get a technical “start,” it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s because of performance.

Running back and tight end are two positions that are very situational and rotational. Kenyan Drake, for example, got the start at “running back” against Florida, because on the first play of the game, Lane Kiffin wanted to hit a home run and motioned him out to wide receiver.

But pretty much every other place—the remaining offensive line spots, wide receiver, quarterback—is wide open for competition with no presumptive starters.

So on offense, there are hardly any “starters” on the hot seat in 2015. But that says more about all of the new faces who will need to step up across the board rather than the ones already there.

 

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

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Football: Starters on the Hot Seat in 2015 Spring Practice

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — With Monday’s return to the practice field, Alabama football is officially back in full swing in Tuscaloosa. That means 13 more days of practice, including April 18’s A-Day game.

A lot will happen between now and then, but the biggest benefit is a camp-like setting that allows for more focus on development and growth instead of installing opponent-specific game plans like in the fall and during the season.

That means that young players have chances to really come into their own and show what they can do, rather than be relegated to scout-team duty.

It also puts some heat on current starters who don’t necessarily have the benefit of experience or knowledge of the playbook like they do during the season, when most young players are playing catch-up.

“I know you guys hate to hear this, but we really don't have a depth chart at this point,” Nick Saban said half-sarcastically last Friday after the first spring practice. “It's just for organizational purposes. We want to give everybody an opportunity out there. We want to coach everybody. We want to see who can make a contribution to the team. Our only expectation right now is that people play with the kind of effort that is our expectation, which I felt like at times we have not gotten in the past.”

It’s a Saban staple to avoid any talk of depth charts, in-season or out, but this is as close as he’ll get to actually meaning it.

Every spot is up for grabs. Which returning starters are in danger of losing theirs? Let’s take a look.

 

Denzel Devall

Devall will be a senior in 2015, and while his experience is as valid as anyone’s on the team, his production and playing time has slowly slipped since what many thought were breakout freshman and sophomore years at outside linebacker.

He appeared in every game his freshman year in 2012, notching three tackles for loss and two sacks as a rotational player. As a sophomore, he started three games and recorded five tackles for loss and three sacks.

Last year, though, he was all but invisible.

Devall started seven games and appeared in just one more as he battled an ankle injury suffered against Ole Miss. At season’s end, he had no sacks, just one tackle for loss and only 11 total tackles.

Meanwhile, others thrived in his place.

Sophomore Ryan Anderson recorded three sacks off the edge. Rashaan Evans lived up to his 5-star billing out of high school. And Tim Williams showed why Reggie Ragland said he “can be the best pass-rusher in the country.”

To compound matters, Devall is missing the entire spring after having surgery for that ankle injury. He’ll spend his practices doing conditioning work with strength coach Scott Cochran, watching while Anderson, Evans, Williams and the rest of that group get valuable reps in front of coaches.

Devall needs to come back strong in the fall to ensure he won’t get bumped from his starter status by a young stud.

 

Eddie Jackson

Jackson gets the starter designation at cornerback due to the number of games he's played, but this spot is very much up in the air.

Cyrus Jones was the only cornerback to start all 14 games in 2015, with Jackson starting opposite him for 11 of those. Bradley Sylve had a start, while Tony Brown got the other two.

Jackson enters spring as the favorite to lock down that No. 2 role because of experience, but it is very possible he'll be usurped by Brown or even Sylve by the time Auburn flies to Dallas to face Wisconsin.

There will be plenty of opportunities for all of them, and maybe even an outsider or two, to show what they can do this spring with Jones out after having offseason hip surgery.

Right now, Jackson and Brown are the first cornerbacks through drills, followed by Sylve and former 5-star Marlon Humphrey. Saban would refer to that order as being just for “organizational purposes,” but you can get an idea of where things stand.

Of all the returning starters, Jackson’s seat is probably the hottest.

 

Anyone on offense?

These first two were all on defense, because on offense, pretty much everyone will be a new starter.

Center Ryan Kelly and left tackle Cam Robinson are the only returning starters from a record-setting 2014 offense, and their seats are as cool as the other side of the pillow.

So on the offensive side, we’ll have to go with probable returning starters, but even then it’s difficult to find someone who could be in danger of losing a starting job.

Derrick Henry and O.J. Howard are really the only two that you can say for sure should be starters. And even if one or both don’t get a technical “start,” it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s because of performance.

Running back and tight end are two positions that are very situational and rotational. Kenyan Drake, for example, got the start at “running back” against Florida, because on the first play of the game, Lane Kiffin wanted to hit a home run and motioned him out to wide receiver.

But pretty much every other place—the remaining offensive line spots, wide receiver, quarterback—is wide open for competition with no presumptive starters.

So on offense, there are hardly any “starters” on the hot seat in 2015. But that says more about all of the new faces who will need to step up across the board rather than the ones already there.

 

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

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Injuries That Will Have the Biggest Impact This Spring

The term "spring-game stars" applies to anyone who breaks out in the offseason. Sometimes, though, it's out of necessity because, while spring is a time for optimism, it's also a good time to get healthy.

Depth issues are always a concern during spring because it's a unique period between the loss of departing players and the arrival of incoming freshmen. Sometimes, there aren't enough early enrollees and junior college transfers to offset that depth problem, and injuries only further those concerns. 

The impact of these injuries isn't always negative. In some cases, a player will be back by the time preseason practices start, giving someone else valuable practice reps. With that in mind, here are five injuries—one from each of the Power Five conferences—that will have the biggest impact this spring. 

Begin Slideshow

College Football Injuries That Will Have the Biggest Impact This Spring

The term "spring-game stars" applies to anyone who breaks out in the offseason. Sometimes, though, it's out of necessity because, while spring is a time for optimism, it's also a good time to get healthy.

Depth issues are always a concern during spring because it's a unique period between the loss of departing players and the arrival of incoming freshmen. Sometimes, there aren't enough early enrollees and junior college transfers to offset that depth problem, and injuries only further those concerns. 

The impact of these injuries isn't always negative. In some cases, a player will be back by the time preseason practices start, giving someone else valuable practice reps. With that in mind, here are five injuries—one from each of the Power Five conferences—that will have the biggest impact this spring. 

Begin Slideshow

Levonta Taylor Sets Decision Date: Where Will 5-Star CB Land?

April 3 is the big day for the state of Virginia's top-ranked college football recruit, 5-star cornerback Levonta Taylor, as the 2016 class Virginia Beach prospect announced on Twitter that he will reveal his college plans.

With more than 30 offers, Taylor will make one school very happy. He's a shutdown cornerback with 4.4-second 40-yard dash and a 40-inch vertical. At Ocean Lakes High School, Taylor's made it a priority to frustrate wide receivers bigger and smaller.

According to his Hudl page, Taylor had 61 tackles, four interceptions (three returned for touchdowns) and 11 pass breakups as a defensive back his junior year. He plays both sides of the ball in high school but is expected to flourish in the secondary in college.

But where will the frustration happen at the next level? Will the rich—Florida State—get richer, adding another pledge to a list already 12 strong that includes one 5-star player and nine 4-stars? Or will the hometown hopeful—Virginia—score one of its biggest commitments since another Virginia Beach defensive back, Quin Blanding, in 2014.

Or is there another player that Taylor purposely has kept a secret? Josh Newberg of 247Sports caught what appears to be a deleted tweet from Taylor, implying that a mystery team could be under review and consideration.

What we do know is that Taylor, the nation's No. 18 overall player and the No. 2 cornerback, according to 247Sports' Composite, thinks highly of both Florida State and Virginia. He took a two-day unofficial visit to Florida State last week and told Adam Friedman of Rivals.com that the campus is "somewhere I feel comfortable at."

This latest trip may be what separates Florida State from the rest of the competition. Taylor talked to Friedman about the facilities, how the Seminoles would use him in multiple sets on defense and how the program handles business off the field in the classroom. Taylor added that he's looking to play "at a great place with beautiful weather," which Tallahassee, Florida, has.

Taylor has made several reported unofficial visits to Florida State but not as many unofficial visits as he's made to Virginia. The campus, located in Charlottesville, is less than three hours away from Virginia Beach, and the Cavaliers have been on Taylor's radar almost since the beginning of his recruiting process. Virginia is expected to be Florida State's biggest challenger in the recruiting race until his announcement.

If anything, Taylor can see what Blanding did during his freshman year. In addition to starting at free safety, Blanding also was the team's leading tackler (123) and was named the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Blanding was the first Virginia freshman to win the defensive honor. The Cavaliers are hoping Taylor can be the second. That'll mean, however, that the 5-star 2016 recruit will have to choose the home team over the program many consider as the odds-on favorite.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Levonta Taylor Sets Decision Date: Where Will 5-Star CB Land?

April 3 is the big day for the state of Virginia's top-ranked college football recruit, 5-star cornerback Levonta Taylor, as the 2016 class Virginia Beach prospect announced on Twitter that he will reveal his college plans.

With more than 30 offers, Taylor will make one school very happy. He's a shutdown cornerback with 4.4-second 40-yard dash and a 40-inch vertical. At Ocean Lakes High School, Taylor's made it a priority to frustrate wide receivers bigger and smaller.

According to his Hudl page, Taylor had 61 tackles, four interceptions (three returned for touchdowns) and 11 pass breakups as a defensive back his junior year. He plays both sides of the ball in high school but is expected to flourish in the secondary in college.

But where will the frustration happen at the next level? Will the rich—Florida State—get richer, adding another pledge to a list already 12 strong that includes one 5-star player and nine 4-stars? Or will the hometown hopeful—Virginia—score one of its biggest commitments since another Virginia Beach defensive back, Quin Blanding, in 2014.

Or is there another player that Taylor purposely has kept a secret? Josh Newberg of 247Sports caught what appears to be a deleted tweet from Taylor, implying that a mystery team could be under review and consideration.

What we do know is that Taylor, the nation's No. 18 overall player and the No. 2 cornerback, according to 247Sports' Composite, thinks highly of both Florida State and Virginia. He took a two-day unofficial visit to Florida State last week and told Adam Friedman of Rivals.com that the campus is "somewhere I feel comfortable at."

This latest trip may be what separates Florida State from the rest of the competition. Taylor talked to Friedman about the facilities, how the Seminoles would use him in multiple sets on defense and how the program handles business off the field in the classroom. Taylor added that he's looking to play "at a great place with beautiful weather," which Tallahassee, Florida, has.

Taylor has made several reported unofficial visits to Florida State but not as many unofficial visits as he's made to Virginia. The campus, located in Charlottesville, is less than three hours away from Virginia Beach, and the Cavaliers have been on Taylor's radar almost since the beginning of his recruiting process. Virginia is expected to be Florida State's biggest challenger in the recruiting race until his announcement.

If anything, Taylor can see what Blanding did during his freshman year. In addition to starting at free safety, Blanding also was the team's leading tackler (123) and was named the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Blanding was the first Virginia freshman to win the defensive honor. The Cavaliers are hoping Taylor can be the second. That'll mean, however, that the 5-star 2016 recruit will have to choose the home team over the program many consider as the odds-on favorite.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tennessee Football: Complete 2015 Spring Practice Primer

The last team to kick off spring practice might be the most interesting this spring.

The Tennessee Volunteers, fresh off of a 7-6 campaign and a bowl win over Iowa in their first bowl appearance since 2010, take the field Tuesday with hope, talent and youth ready to shine on Rocky Top.

Are the Vols contenders or pretenders? There's firepower on both sides of the ball, but head coach Butch Jones, as B/R Tennessee Lead Writer Brad Shepard notes, is dealing with a laundry list of injuries this spring.

 

What to Watch on Offense

It's all about the offensive line.

The Vols were inconsistent up front in 2014 as Jones broke in five new starters. The good news, though, is that four of those starters—center Mack Crowder, tackle Kyler Kerbyson, and guards Marcus Jackson and Jashon Robertson—return, although Jackson will miss spring practice.

What's the cure for the offensive line blues? Time, and the experience the starters gained last year coupled with an entire offseason of development will help them develop the trust that's necessary to win at an elite level.

As for the vacant tackle position, keep an eye on Dontavius Blair. The 6'8", 300-pounder redshirted last year after transferring from Garden City (Kansas) Community College and is battling for the job this spring up front.

"Tremendous opportunity," Jones said of Blair in quotes emailed by Tennessee. "And we won't really know until the pads go on. Playing offensive line is like a fist-fight in a phone booth although kids don't know what a phone booth is today, so I had to educate them what a phone booth is. But you know, the fine details, the fundamentals, the quick thinking part of it, the toughness, mentally, physically that goes into it."

The rest of the offense is basically set.

Quarterback Joshua Dobbs won MVP honors in the TaxSlayer Bowl win over Iowa when he accounted for three touchdowns (two rush, one pass). That's important, because for the first time in his career with the Vols, Dobbs received true first-team snaps in a camp-like setting leading up to that game, and he now has an entire offseason of the same to get even better.

Plus, he has plenty of help at the skill positions.

Jalen Hurd will be non-contact this spring, according to a release from Tennessee, which means junior college transfer running back Alvin Kamara will get plenty of experience within the system this spring. Hurd's injury is a blessing in disguise, because Kamara will act like the No. 1 back this spring, which gives Jones two true No. 1 backs once toe meets leather this fall.

"I see an individual who is very elusive, very light footed, very quick and explosive," Jones said of Kamara in quotes emailed by Tennessee. "I am really excited to see what he can do when we get the pads on and get the ball in his hands. But I have been very impressed. Not only with his work ethic and his mentality but also the way he has come into our football program."

Wide receiver Jason Croom will miss spring and Marquez North will be limited, but there are still plenty of wide receivers for Dobbs to work with. Pig Howard and Von Pearson—the Vols' two leading returning receivers—are back, along with potential superstar Josh Malone and the ultra-reliable Josh Smith.

If Tennessee can get consistency up front, this offense is going to be terrifying.

 

What to Watch on Defense

Depth issues have ravaged the Vols up front this spring, as star defensive end Derek Barnett, fellow defensive ends Corey Vereen and Kyle Phillips, defensive tackle Danny O'Brien and hybrid defensive end/linebacker Curt Maggitt are all either out or limited this spring, which presents a numbers problems up front for the Vols.

"We really only have five true healthy defensive linemen, and not only does that hurt your development as a defense, but it really sets back your development as an offense in terms of our offensive line and being able to play football, play situational football and do the things that it takes to really develop an identity and develop a football team in the spring," Jones said in quotes emailed by Tennessee.

That could be a blessing in disguise. 

Early enrollee defensive end Andrew Butcher and defensive tackle Shy Tuttle will earn valuable reps in their first practice sessions, and junior LaTroy Lewis and sophomore Dimarya Mixon will also get looks with the first team.

"Now is your time," Jones said in the release. "I told them that in our team meeting last night. This is a big, big spring for Dimarya Mixon. We moved him back to defensive end, his natural position. LaTroy Lewis, he has been in our football program now for a number of years, he will never have a better opportunity than what he is presented with this spring."

If the defensive line can evolve into a strength this spring, that will give Jones and defensive coordinator John Jancek the depth necessary to compete at an elite level this fall once injured players get healthy and incoming defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie arrives on campus.

At linebacker, the Vols are loaded with potential stars including the versatile Maggitt, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, edge threat Chris Weatherd, sophomore Jakob Johnson and Dillon Bates, who is back after a torn labrum cut his 2014 campaign short.

"He will be day-to-day, but Day 1, he's full go, 100 percent," Jones said in quotes emailed by Tennessee. "Dillon is very instinctful, but he is also a very intelligent player. We will mix him around at the 'Mike' spot and also the 'Will' spot as well."

The secondary should be a strength, with veteran safeties Brian Randolph and LaDarrell McNeil being joined by superstar corner Cam Sutton, sophomore Emmanuel Moseley and a host of reserves who could push the starters for playing time. Watch this group this spring because while most won't talk about it, it could develop into one of the best secondaries in the SEC.

 

Freshman to Keep an Eye On

True freshman early enrollee Andrew Butcher.

The 6'2", 245-pound freshman from Alpharetta, Georgia, is strong, polished and fully capable of making an immediate impact on Rocky Top.

What's more, the injuries up front will give him plenty of reps this spring as he develops into a rotational player this fall.

"Now go take advantage of your hard work," Jones said in quotes emailed by Tennessee. "So I am excited to see what these guys can do. With Andrew Butcher coming in, is another individual who is going to get premium repetitions. So this is going to be a great opportunity for everyone at the spot."

Butcher likely won't be a starter, but he's a monster off the edge and technically sound enough to be an every-down end right off the bat. That will undoubtedly earn him playing time and will help the Vols if injuries ravage the defensive line again this fall.

 

Coach Jones' Toughest Task

Managing the injuries. 

The list of players who are out this spring reads more like a novel than a press release, which will make it hard for Jones and his staff to get true reps for this players on a practice-to-practice basis.

"I want it to be extremely competitive, but we may have to back off as spring ball continues to progress," Jones said in the release. "We have thought about all of that, and there is always a plan in place. But we never want to be on the football field, total of more than two hours, and that includes stretch, that includes walk-thru, that includes everything."

Not only must the staff keep an eye on everybody and keep them fresh, but they have to make sure that the players who are banged up don't stay out there out of a numbers necessity and take an unnecessary health risk.

If Jones and the Vols stay healthy this spring and continue to develop, a run to the SEC East title this fall won't be too far behind.

 

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

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tennessee Football: Complete 2015 Spring Practice Primer

The last team to kick off spring practice might be the most interesting this spring.

The Tennessee Volunteers, fresh off of a 7-6 campaign and a bowl win over Iowa in their first bowl appearance since 2010, take the field Tuesday with hope, talent and youth ready to shine on Rocky Top.

Are the Vols contenders or pretenders? There's firepower on both sides of the ball, but head coach Butch Jones, as B/R Tennessee Lead Writer Brad Shepard notes, is dealing with a laundry list of injuries this spring.

 

What to Watch on Offense

It's all about the offensive line.

The Vols were inconsistent up front in 2014 as Jones broke in five new starters. The good news, though, is that four of those starters—center Mack Crowder, tackle Kyler Kerbyson, and guards Marcus Jackson and Jashon Robertson—return, although Jackson will miss spring practice.

What's the cure for the offensive line blues? Time, and the experience the starters gained last year coupled with an entire offseason of development will help them develop the trust that's necessary to win at an elite level.

As for the vacant tackle position, keep an eye on Dontavius Blair. The 6'8", 300-pounder redshirted last year after transferring from Garden City (Kansas) Community College and is battling for the job this spring up front.

"Tremendous opportunity," Jones said of Blair in quotes emailed by Tennessee. "And we won't really know until the pads go on. Playing offensive line is like a fist-fight in a phone booth although kids don't know what a phone booth is today, so I had to educate them what a phone booth is. But you know, the fine details, the fundamentals, the quick thinking part of it, the toughness, mentally, physically that goes into it."

The rest of the offense is basically set.

Quarterback Joshua Dobbs won MVP honors in the TaxSlayer Bowl win over Iowa when he accounted for three touchdowns (two rush, one pass). That's important, because for the first time in his career with the Vols, Dobbs received true first-team snaps in a camp-like setting leading up to that game, and he now has an entire offseason of the same to get even better.

Plus, he has plenty of help at the skill positions.

Jalen Hurd will be non-contact this spring, according to a release from Tennessee, which means junior college transfer running back Alvin Kamara will get plenty of experience within the system this spring. Hurd's injury is a blessing in disguise, because Kamara will act like the No. 1 back this spring, which gives Jones two true No. 1 backs once toe meets leather this fall.

"I see an individual who is very elusive, very light footed, very quick and explosive," Jones said of Kamara in quotes emailed by Tennessee. "I am really excited to see what he can do when we get the pads on and get the ball in his hands. But I have been very impressed. Not only with his work ethic and his mentality but also the way he has come into our football program."

Wide receiver Jason Croom will miss spring and Marquez North will be limited, but there are still plenty of wide receivers for Dobbs to work with. Pig Howard and Von Pearson—the Vols' two leading returning receivers—are back, along with potential superstar Josh Malone and the ultra-reliable Josh Smith.

If Tennessee can get consistency up front, this offense is going to be terrifying.

 

What to Watch on Defense

Depth issues have ravaged the Vols up front this spring, as star defensive end Derek Barnett, fellow defensive ends Corey Vereen and Kyle Phillips, defensive tackle Danny O'Brien and hybrid defensive end/linebacker Curt Maggitt are all either out or limited this spring, which presents a numbers problems up front for the Vols.

"We really only have five true healthy defensive linemen, and not only does that hurt your development as a defense, but it really sets back your development as an offense in terms of our offensive line and being able to play football, play situational football and do the things that it takes to really develop an identity and develop a football team in the spring," Jones said in quotes emailed by Tennessee.

That could be a blessing in disguise. 

Early enrollee defensive end Andrew Butcher and defensive tackle Shy Tuttle will earn valuable reps in their first practice sessions, and junior LaTroy Lewis and sophomore Dimarya Mixon will also get looks with the first team.

"Now is your time," Jones said in the release. "I told them that in our team meeting last night. This is a big, big spring for Dimarya Mixon. We moved him back to defensive end, his natural position. LaTroy Lewis, he has been in our football program now for a number of years, he will never have a better opportunity than what he is presented with this spring."

If the defensive line can evolve into a strength this spring, that will give Jones and defensive coordinator John Jancek the depth necessary to compete at an elite level this fall once injured players get healthy and incoming defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie arrives on campus.

At linebacker, the Vols are loaded with potential stars including the versatile Maggitt, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, edge threat Chris Weatherd, sophomore Jakob Johnson and Dillon Bates, who is back after a torn labrum cut his 2014 campaign short.

"He will be day-to-day, but Day 1, he's full go, 100 percent," Jones said in quotes emailed by Tennessee. "Dillon is very instinctful, but he is also a very intelligent player. We will mix him around at the 'Mike' spot and also the 'Will' spot as well."

The secondary should be a strength, with veteran safeties Brian Randolph and LaDarrell McNeil being joined by superstar corner Cam Sutton, sophomore Emmanuel Moseley and a host of reserves who could push the starters for playing time. Watch this group this spring because while most won't talk about it, it could develop into one of the best secondaries in the SEC.

 

Freshman to Keep an Eye On

True freshman early enrollee Andrew Butcher.

The 6'2", 245-pound freshman from Alpharetta, Georgia, is strong, polished and fully capable of making an immediate impact on Rocky Top.

What's more, the injuries up front will give him plenty of reps this spring as he develops into a rotational player this fall.

"Now go take advantage of your hard work," Jones said in quotes emailed by Tennessee. "So I am excited to see what these guys can do. With Andrew Butcher coming in, is another individual who is going to get premium repetitions. So this is going to be a great opportunity for everyone at the spot."

Butcher likely won't be a starter, but he's a monster off the edge and technically sound enough to be an every-down end right off the bat. That will undoubtedly earn him playing time and will help the Vols if injuries ravage the defensive line again this fall.

 

Coach Jones' Toughest Task

Managing the injuries. 

The list of players who are out this spring reads more like a novel than a press release, which will make it hard for Jones and his staff to get true reps for this players on a practice-to-practice basis.

"I want it to be extremely competitive, but we may have to back off as spring ball continues to progress," Jones said in the release. "We have thought about all of that, and there is always a plan in place. But we never want to be on the football field, total of more than two hours, and that includes stretch, that includes walk-thru, that includes everything."

Not only must the staff keep an eye on everybody and keep them fresh, but they have to make sure that the players who are banged up don't stay out there out of a numbers necessity and take an unnecessary health risk.

If Jones and the Vols stay healthy this spring and continue to develop, a run to the SEC East title this fall won't be too far behind.

 

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

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

10 Biggest College Football Recruiting Storylines This Spring

Enjoying the path college football recruiting has taken so far? It's only just begun.

Recruiting has given college football fans tons of commitments, a few decommitments, not enough pledges for some schools and more than most expected for others (Miami, we're looking at you). The recruiting circuit for the 2016 class has been entertaining to say the least—and we're only a little more than six weeks past national signing day for the 2015 class.

The next 11 months should have their share of stories that will shake, excite and surprise the die-hard recruiting followers. Expect something crazy to happen in and out of the Power Five.

As for now, let's focus on 10 of the biggest college football recruiting storylines for the spring.

Begin Slideshow

10 Biggest College Football Recruiting Storylines This Spring

Enjoying the path college football recruiting has taken so far? It's only just begun.

Recruiting has given college football fans tons of commitments, a few decommitments, not enough pledges for some schools and more than most expected for others (Miami, we're looking at you). The recruiting circuit for the 2016 class has been entertaining to say the least—and we're only a little more than six weeks past national signing day for the 2015 class.

The next 11 months should have their share of stories that will shake, excite and surprise the die-hard recruiting followers. Expect something crazy to happen in and out of the Power Five.

As for now, let's focus on 10 of the biggest college football recruiting storylines for the spring.

Begin Slideshow

10 Under-the-Radar College Football Players Who Will Be Stars in 2015

Who will play the role of TCU’s Trevone Boykin in 2015?

Boykin came into last season battling for the starting quarterback job with Matt Joeckel and finished as the No. 4 guy in the Heisman race.

How did it happen? Boykin took a squad that returned 15 starters from its four-win team in 2013, including the top four receiving targets, and led it to a 12-1 finish.

Not many people saw that coming.

Here are 10 names to keep in mind in 2015. They may become Heisman short-listers before November rolls around.

Begin Slideshow

10 Under-the-Radar College Football Players Who Will Be Stars in 2015

Who will play the role of TCU’s Trevone Boykin in 2015?

Boykin came into last season battling for the starting quarterback job with Matt Joeckel and finished as the No. 4 guy in the Heisman race.

How did it happen? Boykin took a squad that returned 15 starters from its four-win team in 2013, including the top four receiving targets, and led it to a 12-1 finish.

Not many people saw that coming.

Here are 10 names to keep in mind in 2015. They may become Heisman short-listers before November rolls around.

Begin Slideshow

DeVante Parker Hype Is Too High, Louisville WR Still Well Behind Cooper, White

Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker has been a hot name as the 2015 NFL draft approaches. The 6’3”, 209-pound receiver is coming off a spectacular but shortened season where he posted 855 yards in just seven games. He’s widely regarded by draft experts as a first-round pick.

He’s often listed as the third receiver behind Alabama receiver Amari Cooper and West Virginia receiver Kevin White. But is he being pushed up behind those two elite prospects because of class depth, or is he deserving of that company? I dove into Parker’s film to find how he wins and what skills translate best to the NFL.

It’s important to properly value Parker because of how the NFL is evolving. Receivers must be effective playmakers, but of the last five Super Bowl winners, only Hakeem Nicks of the New York Giants was a first-round pick. Unless a receiver is going to be an elite difference-maker, a first-round selection seems rich for the return.

By comparing what Parker does well against each White and Cooper, we can determine whether he is talented enough to be in that conversation. Even if he isn’t, he can certainly be a great NFL player. But we are looking to evaluate how good of a prospect he is and how he projects at the next level.

 

Where Parker Wins

Parker is certainly an explosive athlete. His combine measurements were very good overall. His best athletic comparisons include Cincinnati receiver A.J. Green, Jacksonville receiver Justin Blackmon and Minnesota receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.

The most notable measurement is his leaping ability. At 6’3”, Parker posted an impressive 36.5” vertical jump. That explosiveness in his lower body is critical for him to win jump balls. He showed that ability on film as well, so the combine was able to check the box.

Winning at the catch point and reacting well to inaccurate throws is a must in the NFL. Even the elite quarterbacks struggle with ball placement on some passes, and receivers that can adjust mid-air are very valuable. Parker has the physical traits to execute on these plays.

There are times when Parker is absolutely brilliant as the ball arrives. Like the play above, Parker properly tracks the ball and leaps as it arrives into his catch radius. The throw was good, but Parker made sure the defender wouldn’t break up the pass.

Parker has the speed and frame to put cornerbacks in an impossible position. His 4.45 speed at the combine seems much faster than he plays, but Parker is quick off the line. Below is a good example of his quality quickness.

Parker’s go-to move with tight coverage is the stutter step. It was highly effective in college because he has the ability to get across the face of the defender and go over the top. His combination of speed and size was too much for many cornerbacks to handle.

He can shield the ball away from defenders with his length. Once he has that step on the cornerback, a pretty accurate throw is likely to be hauled in. Parker does struggle dealing with physicality, though, so a roaming safety can influence the play.

The most impressive aspect of Parker’s game comes after the catch. He is powerful as a runner and takes long strides. He eats up yards in a hurry and can move as well horizontally as he does downfield.

Defenders have to take great angles to keep up with Parker, and then usually struggle to bring him down. His field vision is obvious and natural. He’s a major weapon once he gets into space because of the broken tackles he creates.

 

Compared to Amari Cooper and Kevin White

Both Amari Cooper and Kevin White bring unique skill sets to the table. Cooper is a much quicker player who relies on perfect routes and great acceleration. His top-end speed is good, but it’s precision that creates his separation.

It doesn’t take long to find Cooper’s excellent route running in his film. Even when facing zone coverage, Cooper can isolate matchups and destroy one-on-one matchups he created. Defensive coordinators have to scheme for Cooper’s whereabouts every play, or else one coverage gaffe can lead to a touchdown.

White is the bigger, faster and more physical player of the three. He’s the least experienced but the most dangerous downfield because of his tracking ability. He’s an elite playmaker in the mold of Julio Jones.

White’s ability to play the ball is unrivaled in this class. He has great vision and hands. His timing on jump balls is also standout. The consistency in which he plays is astonishing considering he has just two years of FBS experience.

Parker’s most dominant trait, his yards-after-catch ability, is not nearly as valuable as Cooper’s and White’s. He will be playing in less space in the NFL than he did in college, and defenders are better athletes. In terms of valuable traits, Parker just doesn’t have the top-tier consistency as a receiver to compete with Cooper and White.

 

Where Parker Struggles

According to Chris Brown of Smart Football, all receivers must master at least two moves that can break press coverage at the line of scrimmage. He recommends having three or more. Hand usage is also critical.

One of the biggest differences from college to the NFL is the level of professionalism. NFL cornerbacks study tendencies for hours so they can predict your route before it is fully underway. That’s why Parker must improve his release at the line of scrimmage.

Nearly every route I charted from five games that featured Parker facing on-man coverage, he tried the stutter step. He doesn’t use his hands at all. Instead he relies on going with some outside-to-inside foot pattern that is dependent on the cornerback guessing incorrectly.

Above is a good example of why Parker must learn to vary his moves. Although he does get on top of the cornerback with his acceleration, the cornerback correctly plays the trail position. The breakup that happens in the end zone occurs because Parker didn’t give himself enough space to come back for the ball. He couldn’t give his quarterback a big enough bucket to throw into since his release wasted too much time.

Another area Parker trails behind Cooper and White is route running. His routes are very inconsistent. He often produced on slant routes when facing off-coverage. Of all routes charted in five games, he faced off-coverage 64 percent of the time. That is highly unlikely to happen in the NFL.

It’s very easy to feast on slant routes. But when Parker was asked to do more, he struggled to create downfield separation. Part of that reason is Parker likes to tip his routes with his body.

Take a look at the play above. Parker lines up at the top of the screen and will run a simple curl route. But the cornerback easily smothers it and basically runs it for him.

It is easy to see why. Parker slows down a full three yards prior to reaching the apex of his route, and his body is halfway turned to the ball before he fully plants. This is an obvious route for even collegiate cornerbacks to defend.

There are many examples of Parker’s average route running in his film. Sometimes he is just blatantly passive in effort. See below for an example of where Parker doesn’t cut hard to the inside on his slant route.

The final area where Parker trails behind the elite two receivers in the class is his downfield receiving ability. Being a vertical threat is about so much more than speed. Tracking the ball, then competing for it are two huge factors for success once the ball goes further downfield.

Notable NFL receivers with great vertical ability include Dallas Cowboys’ receiver Dez Bryant, Washington Redskins’ receiver DeSean Jackson and Green Bay Packers’ receiver Jordy Nelson. Pro Football Focus’ signature statistics has each as a top-five deep threat. New Minnesota Vikings’ receiver Mike Wallace, Oakland Raiders’ receiver Andre Holmes and Tennessee Titans’ receiver Justin Hunter are among the league’s worst vertical receivers, per Pro Football Focus.

Parker struggles to play the ball downfield. He doesn’t locate the ball and will slow down at various points of his route. This is a major concern as he looks to become a downfield threat. If a quarterback cannot count on the receiver to get to the catch point, then chemistry will be next to nil between the two.

 

Compared to Amari Cooper and Kevin White

I previously evaluated Kevin White’s immense talents, and his biggest weakness right now is his route running. But, it is a different concern than Parker’s routes. White simply wasn’t asked to be a master of the route tree in West Virginia’s spread, and he only played two seasons.

Parker was a four-year contributor who was able to play with Teddy Bridgewater for three of his years. He was in a pro-style system that asked him to be a precise runner, and yet he is at best average there. That’s not an area we should assume would improve because he’s already had the repetitions needed to develop more.

Amari Cooper’s biggest weakness is that he is an “on the ground” receiver. He is not the type you’d throw many jump balls for. He isn’t very physical by nature and his leaping ability is poor. Thus, he wins on the ground.

Since Parker is bigger and has better leaping ability, he has the edge in terms of competitiveness in-air compared to Cooper. But, Parker is not nearly as explosive or consistent overall. He’s just bigger and can leap higher.

That’s not enough for Parker to bridge the gap between he and Cooper. Even if Cooper is more of a Jeremy Maclin-type, he brings immense value to any offense because he has near-elite traits like quickness and route precision.

 

Outlook

DeVante Parker is a great athlete and solid football player, despite being picked apart in the previous sections. When comparing him to the top two receivers of the 2015 draft class, he’s not quite the same caliber. The level of consistency as a playmaker is yet to be proven.

When talking top-15 picks in the draft, receivers should be bona fide stars. Parker has the makeup of a star, but he hasn’t proved he is that reliable No. 1-type receiver. Thus, he shouldn’t be pushed up into the conversation with two potential stars like Kevin White and Amari Cooper.

 

All stats used are from sports-reference.com.

Ian Wharton is an NFL Draft Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

DeVante Parker Hype Is Too High, Louisville WR Still Well Behind Cooper, White

Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker has been a hot name as the 2015 NFL draft approaches. The 6’3”, 209-pound receiver is coming off a spectacular but shortened season where he posted 855 yards in just seven games. He’s widely regarded by draft experts as a first-round pick.

He’s often listed as the third receiver behind Alabama receiver Amari Cooper and West Virginia receiver Kevin White. But is he being pushed up behind those two elite prospects because of class depth, or is he deserving of that company? I dove into Parker’s film to find how he wins and what skills translate best to the NFL.

It’s important to properly value Parker because of how the NFL is evolving. Receivers must be effective playmakers, but of the last three Super Bowl winners, only Torrey Smith of the Baltimore Ravens was a first-round pick. Unless a receiver is going to be an elite difference-maker, a first-round selection seems rich for the return.

By comparing what Parker does well against each White and Cooper, we can determine whether he is talented enough to be in that conversation. Even if he isn’t, he can certainly be a great NFL player. But we are looking to evaluate how good of a prospect he is and how he projects at the next level.

 

Where Parker Wins

Parker is certainly an explosive athlete. His combine measurements were very good overall. His best athletic comparisons include Cincinnati receiver A.J. Green, Jacksonville receiver Justin Blackmon and Minnesota receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.

The most notable measurement is his leaping ability. At 6’3”, Parker posted an impressive 36.5” vertical jump. That explosiveness in his lower body is critical for him to win jump balls. He showed that ability on film as well, so the combine was able to check the box.

Winning at the catch point and reacting well to inaccurate throws is a must in the NFL. Even the elite quarterbacks struggle with ball placement on some passes, and receivers that can adjust mid-air are very valuable. Parker has the physical traits to execute on these plays.

There are times when Parker is absolutely brilliant as the ball arrives. Like the play above, Parker properly tracks the ball and leaps as it arrives into his catch radius. The throw was good, but Parker made sure the defender wouldn’t break up the pass.

Parker has the speed and frame to put cornerbacks in an impossible position. His 4.45 speed at the combine seems much faster than he plays, but Parker is quick off the line. Below is a good example of his quality quickness.

Parker’s go-to move with tight coverage is the stutter step. It was highly effective in college because he has the ability to get across the face of the defender and go over the top. His combination of speed and size was too much for many cornerbacks to handle.

He can shield the ball away from defenders with his length. Once he has that step on the cornerback, a pretty accurate throw is likely to be hauled in. Parker does struggle dealing with physicality, though, so a roaming safety can influence the play.

The most impressive aspect of Parker’s game comes after the catch. He is powerful as a runner and takes long strides. He eats up yards in a hurry and can move as well horizontally as he does downfield.

Defenders have to take great angles to keep up with Parker, and then usually struggle to bring him down. His field vision is obvious and natural. He’s a major weapon once he gets into space because of the broken tackles he creates.

 

Compared to Amari Cooper and Kevin White

Both Amari Cooper and Kevin White bring unique skill sets to the table. Cooper is a much quicker player who relies on perfect routes and great acceleration. His top-end speed is good, but it’s precision that creates his separation.

It doesn’t take long to find Cooper’s excellent route running in his film. Even when facing zone coverage, Cooper can isolate matchups and destroy one-on-one matchups he created. Defensive coordinators have to scheme for Cooper’s whereabouts every play, or else one coverage gaffe can lead to a touchdown.

White is the bigger, faster and more physical player of the three. He’s the least experienced but the most dangerous downfield because of his tracking ability. He’s an elite playmaker in the mold of Julio Jones.

White’s ability to play the ball is unrivaled in this class. He has great vision and hands. His timing on jump balls is also standout. The consistency in which he plays is astonishing considering he has just two years of FBS experience.

Parker’s most dominant trait, his yards-after-catch ability, is not nearly as valuable as Cooper’s and White’s. He will be playing in less space in the NFL than he did in college, and defenders are better athletes. In terms of valuable traits, Parker just doesn’t have the top-tier consistency as a receiver to compete with Cooper and White.

 

Where Parker Struggles

According to Chris Brown of Smart Football, all receivers must master at least two moves that can break press coverage at the line of scrimmage. He recommends having three or more. Hand usage is also critical.

One of the biggest differences from college to the NFL is the level of professionalism. NFL cornerbacks study tendencies for hours so they can predict your route before it is fully underway. That’s why Parker must improve his release at the line of scrimmage.

Nearly every route I charted from five games that featured Parker facing on-man coverage, he tried the stutter step. He doesn’t use his hands at all. Instead he relies on going with some outside-to-inside foot pattern that is dependent on the cornerback guessing incorrectly.

Above is a good example of why Parker must learn to vary his moves. Although he does get on top of the cornerback with his acceleration, the cornerback correctly plays the trail position. The breakup that happens in the end zone occurs because Parker didn’t give himself enough space to come back for the ball. He couldn’t give his quarterback a big enough bucket to throw into since his release wasted too much time.

Another area Parker trails behind Cooper and White is route running. His routes are very inconsistent. He often produced on slant routes when facing off-coverage. Of all routes charted in five games, he faced off-coverage 64 percent of the time. That is highly unlikely to happen in the NFL.

It’s very easy to feast on slant routes. But when Parker was asked to do more, he struggled to create downfield separation. Part of that reason is Parker likes to tip his routes with his body.

Take a look at the play above. Parker lines up at the top of the screen and will run a simple curl route. But the cornerback easily smothers it and basically runs it for him.

It is easy to see why. Parker slows down a full three yards prior to reaching the apex of his route, and his body is halfway turned to the ball before he fully plants. This is an obvious route for even collegiate cornerbacks to defend.

There are many examples of Parker’s average route running in his film. Sometimes he is just blatantly passive in effort. See below for an example of where Parker doesn’t cut hard to the inside on his slant route.

The final area where Parker trails behind the elite two receivers in the class is his downfield receiving ability. Being a vertical threat is about so much more than speed. Tracking the ball, then competing for it are two huge factors for success once the ball goes further downfield.

Notable NFL receivers with great vertical ability include Dallas Cowboys’ receiver Dez Bryant, Washington Redskins’ receiver DeSean Jackson and Green Bay Packers’ receiver Jordy Nelson. Pro Football Focus’ signature statistics has each as a top-five deep threat. New Minnesota Vikings’ receiver Mike Wallace, Oakland Raiders’ receiver Andre Holmes and Tennessee Titans’ receiver Justin Hunter are among the league’s worst vertical receivers, per Pro Football Focus.

Parker struggles to play the ball downfield. He doesn’t locate the ball and will slow down at various points of his route. This is a major concern as he looks to become a downfield threat. If a quarterback cannot count on the receiver to get to the catch point, then chemistry will be next to nil between the two.

 

Compared to Amari Cooper and Kevin White

I previously evaluated Kevin White’s immense talents, and his biggest weakness right now is his route running. But, it is a different concern than Parker’s routes. White simply wasn’t asked to be a master of the route tree in West Virginia’s spread, and he only played two seasons.

Parker was a four-year contributor who was able to play with Teddy Bridgewater for three of his years. He was in a pro-style system that asked him to be a precise runner, and yet he is at best average there. That’s not an area we should assume would improve because he’s already had the repetitions needed to develop more.

Amari Cooper’s biggest weakness is that he is an “on the ground” receiver. He is not the type you’d throw many jump balls for. He isn’t very physical by nature and his leaping ability is poor. Thus, he wins on the ground.

Since Parker is bigger and has better leaping ability, he has the edge in terms of competitiveness in-air compared to Cooper. But, Parker is not nearly as explosive or consistent overall. He’s just bigger and can leap higher.

That’s not enough for Parker to bridge the gap between he and Cooper. Even if Cooper is more of a Jeremy Maclin-type, he brings immense value to any offense because he has near-elite traits like quickness and route precision.

 

Outlook

DeVante Parker is a great athlete and solid football player, despite being picked apart in the previous sections. When comparing him to the top two receivers of the 2015 draft class, he’s not quite the same caliber. The level of consistency as a playmaker is yet to be proven.

When talking top-15 picks in the draft, receivers should be bona fide stars. Parker has the makeup of a star, but he hasn’t proved he is that reliable No. 1-type receiver. Thus, he shouldn’t be pushed up into the conversation with two potential stars like Kevin White and Amari Cooper.

 

All stats used are from sports-reference.com.

Ian Wharton is an NFL Draft Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SEC Football: 10 Juniors Who Will Declare for the 2016 NFL Draft

Three years after he graduates high school, a college football player can declare for the NFL draft. Whether they're ready or not, a good amount of players take advantage of this opportunity.

Many of the players who decide to come out early are from the SEC. Nineteen juniors and one redshirt sophomore from the SEC have waived their remaining year of college eligibility and entered the 2015 NFL draft.

Which rising juniors in the SEC will undoubtedly do the same in 2016?

The total might be higher or lower 10 months from now, following the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft, but the 10 players mentioned here are the safest bets to make the jump. There will probably be more than 10 SEC juniors who do declare early, but with the NFL Draft Advisory Board changing how they do things last year, we won't get near the record for underclassmen in the draft anytime soon.

 

Begin Slideshow

SEC Football: 10 Juniors Who Will Declare for the 2016 NFL Draft

Three years after he graduates high school, a college football player can declare for the NFL draft. Whether they're ready or not, a good amount of players take advantage of this opportunity.

Many of the players who decide to come out early are from the SEC. Nineteen juniors and one redshirt sophomore from the SEC have waived their remaining year of college eligibility and entered the 2015 NFL draft.

Which rising juniors in the SEC will undoubtedly do the same in 2016?

The total might be higher or lower 10 months from now, following the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft, but the 10 players mentioned here are the safest bets to make the jump. There will probably be more than 10 SEC juniors who do declare early, but with the NFL Draft Advisory Board changing how they do things last year, we won't get near the record for underclassmen in the draft anytime soon.

 

Begin Slideshow

Texas Football: 4 Longhorn Starters on the Hot Seat in 2015

Charlie Strong addressed the media Monday, using one last formality to update the status of the team following winter workouts. The quarterback battle keeps the headline, but far more stands to be settled before the summer.

With the teaming having to replace 10 starters, not many incumbents stand to lose their jobs. More so than anything, the team needs the next guy to step and take over for those who have moved on.

For the most part, it sounds like that's happening. Strong was complimentary of running back Johnathan Gray, receiver Daje Johnson and his linebacking corps. That's great news in three areas that will be relied upon heavily.

But coming off a 6-7 season, there must be casualties. The quarterback battle is fully on between junior Tyrone Swoopes and redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard, and it sounds like Strong is especially fond of his new offensive linemen. 

Before too long, he might feel the same way about another redshirt freshman on the opposite side of the ball.

Begin Slideshow

Texas Football: 4 Longhorn Starters on the Hot Seat in 2015

Charlie Strong addressed the media Monday, using one last formality to update the status of the team following winter workouts. The quarterback battle keeps the headline, but far more stands to be settled before the summer.

With the teaming having to replace 10 starters, not many incumbent starters stand to lose their jobs. More so than anything, the team needs the next guy to step and take over for those who have moved on.

For the most part, it sounds like that's happening. Strong was complimentary of running back Johnathan Gray, receiver Daje Johnson and his linebacking corps. That's great news in three areas that will be relied upon heavily.

But coming off a 6-7 season, there must be casualties. The quarterback battle is fully on between junior Tyrone Swoopes and redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard, and it sounds like Strong is especially fond of his new offensive linemen. 

Before too long, he might feel the same way about another redshirt freshman on the opposite side of the ball.

Begin Slideshow

Lokeni Toailoa to UCLA: Bruins Land 4-Star LB Prospect

UCLA added some punch to its defense and 2016 recruiting class on Monday in the form of linebacker Lokeni Toailoa.

Greg Biggins of Scout.com reported the news and pointed out that it was a particularly difficult decision for Toailoa between two local schools:

According to 247Sports’ composite rankings, Toailoa is a 4-star prospect and the No. 1-rated inside linebacker in the nation. The 6’1”, 212-pound recruit is the No. 6-rated player in the state of California and No. 59 player in the nation.

Not surprisingly, Toailoa received plenty of interest from West Coast schools in the Pac-12 throughout the recruiting process, including UCLA, USC, Oregon and Arizona State, among others.

Notre Dame and Oklahoma were also squarely in the mix as national powers and recognizable football schools with recruiting footprints throughout the country.

Ultimately, he chose to stay home for a Bruins squad that finished 10-3 last season and beat Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl.

Toailoa has a number of strengths, but his ability to defend against the run is what immediately stands out.

He is a physical force who loves to pursue running backs in space and deliver a big hit when he gets there. He sheds blocks with relative ease and uses his athleticism to get involved in pass coverage as well, but his playmaking abilities against the run will help him earn playing time right away.

There may be plenty of pressure as the top-rated inside linebacker in his class playing near home, but he has the talent to deliver on the big stage.

The Bruins certainly hope that is the case.


Unless otherwise noted, recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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