NCAA Football News

Big Ten Football: The X-Factors That Could Prevent Ohio State from Repeating

Ohio State successfully pulled off one of the most difficult tasks in modern athletics: winning a college football national championship.  What's more, the Buckeyes did it within the confines of the first-ever College Football Playoff.  

The accomplishment was no easy task, but at least one thing is more difficult: doing it again.

Ohio State wasn't supposed to be here.  Braxton Miller suffered a season-ending injury before the new season got underway.  J.T. Barrett led Ohio State to its first home-opening loss in nearly four decades—to a pretty bad Virginia Tech team.  We were supposed to crown Michigan State the champions of the Big Ten and whichever team won the almighty SEC the champions of the universe, right?

In the "good old days," the SEC was dominant, the Pac-12 and the Big 12 were on the rise, the ACC was top-heavy, and the Big Ten was awful.  Almost overnight, there has been a sea change in the college football landscape.  No matter the underlying reason, the Big Ten—specifically Ohio State—has benefited.

But can the Buckeyes continue to ride their amazing momentum?  With such a young roster, Ohio State looks poised to be an early favorite next season.  So what can derail the Buckeyes' run at back-to-back titles?

We're so glad you asked.

Begin Slideshow

Ohio State Football: Is 4-Star QB Torrance Gibson Wavering on Commitment?

Torrance Gibson is one of the prized recruits in Ohio State's 2015 recruiting class, but after a weekend visit to Auburn and a trip to LSU on the horizon, he could be wavering on his commitment to Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes.

The 4-star prospect out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is rated the fifth-best dual-threat quarterback and the No. 75 recruit overall. He verbally pledged to Ohio State in November over offers from a host of SEC schools, highlighted by Auburn, LSU and Tennessee. 

In a recent self-written blog posted by USA Today, Gibson wrote that his mother wanted him to explore other options to ensure he was 100 percent comfortable with his decision. He wrote that Ohio State fans "shouldn't worry at all," but after his visit to Auburn, Buckeye nation has plenty to be worried about.

According to Justin Hokanson of 247Sports, Gibson had a blast on his trip to Auburn over the weekend.

"It changed things a lot," Gibson said of his visit, via Hokanson. "Coming here and seeing all the players, I've played with some of these guys that go to Auburn, I've played high school ball with them. It's great seeing them again."

While his former teammates made an impression, Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn put it all on the line. 

"I sat in Gus Malzahn's office and he told me I'm his guy," Gibson said, according to Wesley Sinor of AL.com. "He wants me to come in and get a fair opportunity at playing quarterback. That's what he told me, and I believe him."

Gibson is a big fan of the spread offense Malzahn runs, and he's very aware of the success the coach has had with previous quarterbacks.

"Look what he did with Cam Newton in one year and Nick Marshall in two," Gibson said, via Sinor. "Imagine what he could do with me in three."

Of course, Meyer is no slouch when it comes to developing quarterbacks. Proof of that unfolded this season, as the Buckeyes replaced not one, but two Heisman Trophy-candidate quarterbacks with backups who were ready to fill the void.

But that fact also hurts the Buckeyes, because their current quarterback depth chart isn't appealing to a potential newcomer. With Cardale Jones (redshirt junior) and J.T. Barrett (redshirt sophomore) returning—not to mention the unknown status of Braxton Miller—it's easy to see why Gibson would want to explore other options. As one of the nation's top recruits, it wouldn't be ideal to ride the bench for multiple years.

"That's pretty tough," Gibson said of Ohio State's quarterback situation, via Sinor. "I would have no problem redshirting, but sitting two or three years -- that's not what I have to do. I want to come in, get a fair opportunity to play quarterback."

Will that opportunity be given to him by one of his SEC suitors? Auburn's depth chart is wide open with the departure of Marshall, and LSU's quarterback situation is in flux after Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris struggled this season.

The Buckeyes will have to prove to Gibson that he's their future, and more importantly, that his future won't be three years in the making. 

Meyer will get that chance. Gibson told Sinor that Ohio State will be making an in-home visit soon. That's when the Buckeyes will get their chance to solidify his commitment.

But with the Auburn visit last weekend and a trip to LSU coming, will it be too late?

 

All recruiting information via 247Sports.

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tennessee Football: The 5 Biggest Accomplishments for Butch Jones in 2014

With a recent bowl victory and another elite recruiting class on the way, the Tennessee Volunteers begin the offseason with as much hype and momentum as any program not named Ohio State—and a lot of that momentum is due to head coach Butch Jones.

In his first meeting with his new team on Dec. 7, 2012, Jones said he wanted to win championships at Tennessee. 

And to his credit, he's putting all of the pieces in place to make Tennessee a championship-level program. 

Jones' accomplishments in 2013 were essential to make the Vols a competitive team moving forward. He avoided a grades-related disaster by improving the team's APR, he locked down the state in terms of recruiting and he finally ended Tennessee's embarrassing losing streak to ranked teams.

Roster-wise, the 2014 season looked like it might be even worse than 2013 from a win-loss standpoint, but Jones exceeded expectations and got Tennessee back to the postseason for the first time since 2010.

While he didn't have the second-year on-the-field success of coaches like Urban Meyer, Nick Saban or Mark Richt, Jones did a great job winning the games he was supposed to and continuing to change the culture in Knoxville this past season.

Here are five of his biggest accomplishments in 2014 and a breakdown of how they will benefit the team in 2015 and beyond. 

Begin Slideshow

Texas A&M Football: 5 Things That Must Change for Aggies to Improve in 2015

The Texas A&M Aggies went 8-5 this season, which was a transition year for the program. There are multiple areas that need to change in order for the team to improve on that record in 2015.

The face of the college football landscape has changed with the advent of the College Football Playoff. It is no longer necessary to go undefeated in order to have a chance at the national title.

Now a one-loss team that is the conference champion will likely have a shot at playing for it all. The strength of the SEC means the winner of the conference title will qualify for the four-team playoff more often than not.

The Aggies need to focus on building a team that can compete for SEC titles every year. They are well on their way toward accomplishing this goal with a young team returning and some recent coachingchanges.

Here are a few areas that must change in order for the Aggies to compete for an SEC title in 2015.

Begin Slideshow

NFLPA Collegiate Bowl 2015: Highlights, Top Performers Who Boosted Draft Stock

The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl—essentially the infant sibling of post-postseason college football all-star games—went through a growing-pains game on Saturday. The fourth edition of this nascent event was a drab, dour 17-0 victory by Mike Martz's National Team over Mike Holmgren's American Team.

The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl lacks the prestige of the East-West Shrine Game, as a sampling of the smaller universities represented—Northwestern State, Prairie View A&M and Wisconsin-Whitewater, to name a few—might tell you. At the very least, it serves as a chance for those players from overlooked schools to see a different level of coaching and rub elbows with prospects from bigger programs. 

It was a tough event for anyone who was looking to make a name for himself in the passing game. As a quick example of the game's turgid output, Marshall's Rakeem Cato, one of the biggest names participating in the contest, managed to complete just five of 10 passes for 31 yards. Truly, it was a quiet day for skill players all around, and defense ruled much of the afternoon.

And yet, the disappointing scoreline is not only purely academic (the game itself is just one small part of the job interview, and winning is immaterial in this contest) but actually not that discouraging considering the 2015 Shrine game ended with a 19-3 East squad win.

The biggest passing play of the day was a 25-yarder to Georgia's Chris Conley, one of the higher-profile players in the event, per the game's official Twitter account: 

The official Twitter account provided a look at some of the best photos from the first quarter, in which game MVP Terrell Watson—a running back out of Azusa Pacific—scored on a two-yard fumble pickup for his only score of the game:

NFLPA provided a link to a treasure trove of photos from the event:

At least one play will serve as a lasting impact from this game.

Bleacher Report CFB noted Syracuse running back Prince-Tyson Gulley nearly blinked out of existence after this crushing blow from Southern Miss defensive back Emmanuel Johnson:

The frustrating play couldn't stop the National Team members from enjoying their trophy, per the game's official Twitter account: 

The highlights were few and far between in this contest—you can blame the quarterback play for much of the difficulties—but the game still has merit as a showcase for some of college football's fringe stars who might have a shot at the next level. 

ESPN's Chris Mortensen noted one recent NFLPA Collegiate Bowl participant who made good on a strong performance:

Every NFL team has to search far and wide to find that nugget of talent that other franchises might have passed over. This contest didn't provide too many fireworks, but it could turn out to be a beneficial investment for a couple of players who stood out above the rest on Saturday.



NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Top Performers

Marcus Rush, DE, Michigan State

Some small-school players had a chance to shine on Saturday, but perhaps the best performance of the day came from a big program in Michigan State defensive end Marcus Rush, who—get ready for this—excels on the pass rush.

Rush picked up 7.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss in 2014, but teammate Shilique Calhoun, who could be a Day 1 draft pick, overshadowed him on the line. Rush dominated the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, starting with a sack of Clemson's Cole Stoudt early on, per SB Nation's Anthony Cosenza:

He showed off a great motor throughout the contest and handled his assignments well. Rush is CBS Sports' No. 405-ranked prospect in this year's class, but NFL Draft Guide's Thomas Melton sees him as a viable contributor at the next level:

Rush did well on Saturday to prove he knows what he does best and does it well. It's a great launching point for him heading into the remainder of the extended job interview that is the predraft circuit.

 

Zaire Anderson, OLB, Nebraska

Defense ruled the day in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, and no defender did more to patrol the field than Nebraska's Zaire Anderson, who finished with a game-high eight tackles:

He was all over the field, penetrating into the backfield, chasing down ball-carriers and just generally creating a ruckus.

The practices leading up to the game, where many of these players get a first taste of NFL-style coaching, are often more important than the game itself. Anderson didn't disappoint there either, per Cosenza: 

CBS Sports currently has Anderson ranked as the 536th best overall prospect in the 2015 draft. That's a steep, K2 North Ridge of a slope to climb, but an extra 60 minutes of stellar game film can't hurt the Cornhusker.

 

Terrell Watson, RB, Azusa Pacific

Watson didn't have to do much to win the game MVP award—all it took was a tidy 55 yards on nine carries and the aforementioned touchdown—but the event might have been a good investment of his time nonetheless.

"He belongs in the NFL," Martz said, via The Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). "I don't think there's any question in my mind after seeing him all week he belongs. Somebody in the league is going to get a terrific player."

Watson won't lack for highlight-reel plays from his Azusa Pacific days; the Oxnard High graduate racked up 2,212 yards and 29 rushing touchdowns on 319 carries in 2014. He's yet to develop a presence in the receiving game, but that's a common issue for collegiate running backs and shouldn't hold him back too much.

It's not easy to draw the attention of the NFL when coming out of a Division II school with little in the way of league pedigree, unless you're Christian Okoye aka The Nigerian Nightmare. But this performance, and the MVP award, will go a long way toward boosting Watson's Q rating heading into the draft. The former Kansas City Chiefs star even gave Watson a shoutout after the game:

A curious scout or two might be more inclined to go over his game tape after this performance. The game wasn't that special, but the chance to make a name for oneself and perhaps reach the NFL is—that's the dream, anyway.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

East-West Shrine Game 2015: Highlights, Top Performers Who Boosted Draft Stock

The East-West Shrine Game is an annual college football showcase pitting some of the best prospects in the nation against each other in a postseason exhibition that has now become perhaps an unofficial kickoff to the NFL draft season.

The 2015 version of the game was hardly an affair worth dwelling on, as a disjointed East team defeated the listless West 19-3 on Saturday. 

This is a game in which six total quarterbacks combined to complete just 26-of-50 passes for 185 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. The West averaged 2.3 yards per carry, while the East toted the ball for 3.5 yards per attempt. A kicker, South Florida's Marvin Kloss (playing for the East, naturally), won the offensive MVP award with four made field goals.

With little in the way of offense to speak of, the defensive players stood out during the game itself.

However, 95.7 The Game's John Middlekauff reminded us and all the nervous skill players who may feel a golden opportunity has passed them by that it's perhaps unwise to put too much stock into the 60 minutes of football played on Saturday:

The Houston Texans provide a link to the game highlights:

While Deadspin could find but one play worthy of distinction as a highlight:

Then again, this nifty first-down jaunt from shifty North Dakota State running back John Crockett was fairly noteworthy:

A contest bereft of highlights to be sure, but getting bogged down in the narrative of the game would lose sight of the ultimate purpose, which is giving players another chance to shine in front of NFL scouts and observers with a game and a few days of practice.

Players such as William & Mary wideout Tre McBride and LSU running back Terrence Magee certainly stood out during the week of practice leading up to the event, but the game tape could go a long way toward determining the fate of some of these mid-tier prospects. Here is a look at three players who did themselves a favor with strong performances in the Shrine Game. 

 

2015 East West Shrine Game Top Performers

Za'Darius Smith, DE, Kentucky

Alvin "Bud" Dupree will likely be the first Kentucky product to hear his name called on draft day, but fellow pass-rusher Za'Darius Smith and his high-motor playing style might not be far behind after an excellent Shrine Game showing.

Smith elicited praise from multiple observers for his pass-rushing acumen. Bleacher Report's Dan Hope noted his strong work prior to the game, while NFL Network's Charles Davis praised his performance in the first half of the Shrine Game:

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah put himself in an NFL scout's shoes and singled out Smith as the player to take note of from this contest:

Smith was a disruptive force on the edge all game long—just like he was during the 2014 season. Smith racked up 34 tackles (seven for a loss) and 4.5 sacks as a senior. His long arms help him to maintain leverage and bully the opposition.

He could be a bit undersized as an NFL 4-3 defensive end, but if he can add some muscle and maintain his explosiveness there is nothing to hold him back from becoming a solid NFL rotation player.

CBS Sports currently has Smith projected as a third or fourth-round pick but don't be surprised if the Wildcat builds on this star turn in the Senior Bowl and the NFL combine.

 

Anthony Chickillo, DE, Miami (Fla.)

Smith wasn't the only standout East pass-rusher garnering praise during this contest. Miami's Anthony Chickillo put on the type of display that could have scouts wondering why his college numbers were so pedestrian. 

Like Smith, Chickillo made his presence felt on several first-half plays. NBC Sports' Josh Norris noted he got some help from Smith on a first-half sack:

CBS Sports' Rob Rang passed along an interesting comparison for Chickillo:

The 6'4", 282-pound Chickillo hasn't received too much attention coming into the draft; not an unsurprising development considering he registered just three sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss in 2014. There could be a place for him in the NFL, however, if he is drafted into the right scheme.

Chickillo seemed grateful for the opportunity to perform in a 4-3 system that is best suited to his skill set, per South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly: 

At Miami, he was perhaps miscast in a shifting, 3-4-based scheme. Chickillo had a fifth- to sixth-round projection from CBS Sports coming into this weekend. Look for him to scale the rankings after an excellent Shrine Game showing.

 

John Miller, OG, Louisville

In a game where the trench battles were often the the only part worth watching, Louisville guard John Miller had himself a fine day of run blocking.

DraftBrowns.com's Justin Higdon and SB Nation's Jason Marcum noted Miller's strong work in the trenches on the day:

Miller's solid work wasn't enough to spring too many big runs in this contest—the East offense spun its wheels for the majority of the afternoon—but he likely did enough to prove his grit and determination will translate well to the NFL. 

CBS Sports has Miller as the ninth-rated guard in a fairly weak draft class for the position, but his nasty streak and ability to bulldoze a path in the running game could prove to be a nice pickup for a team looking to get younger and add depth to the interior of the offensive line.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

10 Most Difficult College Football Players to Replace in 2015 Season

The offseason can be a disappointing time for college football programs around the nation. When a year ends, key players run out of eligibility or star underclassmen declare for the NFL draft, leaving a noticeable hole on a team they once filled.

Organized by school, this list focuses on talents who—while they aren't necessarily irreplaceable—cannot be replaced without much difficulty.

Inclusion is not always the result of a single standout season, because overall contributions are the major factor. Oftentimes, the mentioned players hold career records at the school, in the conference or, most impressively, on the national level.

If you feel another player is deserving, please add the athlete in the comments section.

 

Note: Each player is accompanied by his respective standing on B/R NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller's latest big board. Every reference to an "All-American" award reflects the AP teams.

Begin Slideshow

Mique Juarez to USC: Trojans Land 4-Star ATH Prospect

USC Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian added to what is becoming a loaded 2016 recruiting class late Saturday night.

247Sports' Ryan Bartow reported that the Trojans got a commitment from 4-star linebacker/quarterback Mique Juarez. According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Juarez is ranked as the 150th-best recruit in the country and listed as a dual-threat quarterback.

Given the fact that USC secured a commitment from Ricky Town for 2015 and already has Max Browne on the roster, playing time at QB would be hard to find for Juarez.

According to Bartow, he will make a more permanent shift to linebacker upon his arrival in Los Angeles. Gerard Martinez of USCFootball.com added that Juarez could be an option to play safety as well:

"Linebacker, defensive end, he can even go out and play corner and safety at times, so he'll be all over the place," said Juarez's high school coach, Todd Croce, back in August, per Dave Thorpe of the Daily Breeze in Torrance, California. "By the time he graduates, he will have done every single thing on the field—we may even get him on the O-line at some point."

Juarez is extremely athletic, which is always a plus at linebacker, but splitting time at two positions almost always means sacrificing a bit of technique. Now that he's more locked into one position, he might be able to more finely tune his game before he comes to USC.

In addition to his supreme athleticism, Juarez knows how to lay the lumber, which can be good and bad. Being too aggressive can lead to needless flags.

USC has produced quite a few great linebackers over the years, and should he fulfill his potential, Juarez will be the next guy on that list.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

East-West Shrine Game 2015: Score and Twitter Reaction for College All-Star Game

The biggest takeaway from this year's East-West Shrine Game is that offensive players need work, and defense is leading the way early in the 2015 NFL draft process. In what turned out to be an ugly matchup, the East came out on top 19-3. 

Mike Singletary, who coached the East squad, raved about the talent he saw during the week leading up to the game, via Greg Auman and Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times.

"In all honesty, this is the best group of kids I've seen at an all-star game since I've been coaching, and I'm including the Senior Bowl," Singletary said. "There are so many kids out here that are impressive, that have high ceilings."

It wasn't an outlandish assessment, as there was plenty of talent on display. Most of it came from the defensive side, though there were some offensive standouts. 

Kentucky defensive end Za'Darius Smith drew praise for his ability to get after the quarterback, as NFL Network's Charles Davis wrote on Twitter:

Davis also mentioned Anthony Chickillo from Miami as the another standout pass-rusher. One reason he performed so well, per Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel, is Singletary put him in a scheme that takes advantage of his talents:

The only bad news for Smith and Chickillo is this year's draft class is loaded with pass-rushers, so they won't hear their names called for a long time. However, that does mean teams will be able to find great value outside of Day 1.

While the score is indicative of what these two offenses looked like, it wasn't entirely unexpected coming into the game. Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com noted on Twitter that there was only one quarterback playing who might be worth drafting:

That's been a big topic in this year's draft. Everyone knows that Florida State's Jameis Winston and Oregon's Marcus Mariota will be the first two quarterbacks taken, though the order won't become clear until they go through the predraft process. The third quarterback is a mystery.

UCLA's Brett Hundley could have been that guy, but he did not participate in this game and declined an invitation to the Senior Bowl on January 24. 

Even though points were hard to come by, there was quality talent on offense. One of the standouts was William & Mary wide receiver Tre McBride, who dazzled at times with his electric speed. Alex Dunlap of Rivals.com had this to say about the unknown wideout:

On the broadcast, via College Football 24/7, Mike Mayock said McBride was one of the players who earned a little extra cash this week:

That lines up with what analysts were saying about McBride in the practice sessions leading up to the game, with Steve Muench of ESPN Insider offering a lot of praise (subscription required):

He's (sic) gets off the line quickly, he accelerates out of breaks and he's looked explosive after the catch as well as running reverses. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound McBride has smaller hands (9-inch), which is a concern considering that he put the ball on the ground after one catch.

However, he's caught the ball with his hands away from his frame for the most part, and he's flashed the ability to make contested catches.

Another offensive standout from the game was Louisville running back Dominique Brown, who scored the game's only touchdown with 27 seconds left. He's a bigger back at 6'2" and 232 pounds, but he has surprising quickness out of the backfield. His most impressive run was a 14-yard romp in which he bowled over defenders in the fourth quarter. 

Brugler noted on Twitter that Brown was a standout in the workouts this week:

Muench added that he saw what he wanted to see from Brown during the game:

One of the most intriguing prospects in the game was Michigan's Devin Gardner. He became a pariah in Ann Arbor for the way he played quarterback, but he switched to wide receiver for the Shrine Game. It seems to have paid off for his draft stock. 

Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com didn't provide a glowing report of Gardner's effort but noted he held his own:

Gardner should have had a touchdown catch in the second quarter, as he got around a defensive back on a crossing route, but the quarterback threw behind him, and the pass was intercepted. The former Michigan star looked the part of a wideout with his speed and size (6'4" and 217 lbs). 

There's going to be a lot of work for Gardner and an NFL team to do before he makes any kind of contribution as a pro, but the raw ingredients are there for him to carve out some kind of career. 

Ultimately, this showcase game did exactly what it was supposed to do. Some players elevated their draft stock, either through the game or in workouts leading up to Saturday, but they all got to work in front of NFL scouts. 

It's a job interview where the smallest mistake on the field can completely change what a team thinks of you. The good news is, players will have time to make additional impressions before draft day on April 30. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

NFLPA Collegiate Bowl 2015: Score and Twitter Reaction for College All-Star Game

Saturday's NFLPA Collegiate Bowl offered opportunities for lesser-known college players hopeful to make it in the pros to showcase their skills and receive counsel from proven NFL stars and coaches.

The National team defeated the American team 17-0 on the strength of a superior rushing attack. Southern Illinois product Malcolm Agnew led the way for the winners with 53 yards on eight carries, but Terell Watson scored the first touchdown on an alert play and wound up with the game's MVP award.

Watson recovered a fumble by UTEP quarterback Jameill Showers and took it two yards to paydirt at 7:32 in the first quarter. Sports on Earth's Jason B. Hirschhorn was impressed by Watson's skill set:

Kyle Glaser of the Riverside Press-Enterprise also praised Watson, who finished with 55 yards on nine carries:

There's at least some pedigree to suggest Watson could be on the right track to the NFL:

Quarterback play was not exemplary on both sides, despite head coaches—Mike Holmgren (American) and Mike Martz (National)—known to produce big results at the highest level.

Holmgren discussed before the game how he believes it takes until the third year to see if a QB can thrive in the NFL, offering some silver lining for the young men he coached this week, per ESPN's Dari and Mel:

Part of the lackluster form under center is due to the condensed practice time and adaptation to learning a new offense and establishing chemistry. Nevertheless, it resulted in poor overall execution.

The American side converted just two of 12 third-down chances, while the National team wasn't much better at 3-of-13.

One of the bigger names in action was Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato, whose slender frame has been criticized while intangibles and collegiate production have been praised. Cato underwhelmed, completing just two of four passes for two yards before garbage time.

Eastern Kentucky was proud of fullback Channing Fugate reaching the end zone from one yard out to show NFL evaluators he's a capable runner in addition to his serviceable blocking:

A great way to put something on tape in a game that featured aesthetically unpleasing offenses is to make an impact on special teams.

Southern Miss defensive back Emmanuel Johnson did just that, which the NFLPA Bowl Game made sure to highlight:

It's hard to expect many of the prospects on display in this contest to get a real shot in the NFL. Limited reps are available, so getting a shot as undrafted free agents will require these players to delve into playbooks and fully capitalize on any glimmer of a chance they have.

The players who opted to play in this All-Star game of sorts—though not as high in profile as the Senior Bowl, as a prime example—are at least a little more prominent on NFL teams' radars.

Based on the shaky offense from both teams, this contest didn't feature a ton of clear standouts.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Emmanuel Johnson Lays the Wood on Prince-Tyson Gulley at NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

That looks like it hurt.

During the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, Southern Miss defensive back Emmanuel Johnson leveled Syracuse running back Prince-Tyson Gulley, knocking him off his seat as he ran down the sideline.

That's one way to get NFL scouts to notice you.

[Bro Bible]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

NCAA Vote Expands Athletic Scholarships: Latest Details and Reaction

Concluding what has been a busy week for the NCAA, a momentous vote has changed what a scholarship will cover for student-athletes. 

According to Steve Berkowitz of USA Today, representatives from the Power Five conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) overwhelmingly voted to adopt a new policy that dramatically increases all of the items covered by a traditional scholarship:

The vote, taken during the NCAA's annual convention, redefines an athletic scholarship so that it can cover not only the traditional tuition, room, board, books and fees, but also the incidental costs of attending college. That means a scholarship will now be able to pay for items including transportation and miscellaneous personal expenses.

Berkowitz notes that the vote was 79-1 in favor of the new policy, with the 80 voters being made up of the 65 Power Five schools and 15 athlete representatives, three from each conference.

Prior to the convention, Berkowitz spoke with South Carolina president Harris Pastides about what the NCAA was looking to accomplish.

"I think it's an opportunity to, if I may say, re-plant the flag and say that the NCAA is an organization of universities that know what they're doing and can come together even with diverse perspectives and do what's right for student-athletes," Pastides said. 

Changes include a loss-of-value insurance, which "can help athletes if an injury while playing college sports results in an athlete getting less money from a professional contract than they might have otherwise gotten," per Berkowitz. There's also a new policy that prohibits schools and coaches "from choosing not to renew an athlete's scholarship for athletic reasons."

Per Ralph Russo of The Associated Press, two conferences were against the policy of guaranteeing four-year scholarships:

ESPN's Joe Schad noted this change may not be completely positive, at least from the perspective of the coaches and schools:

Berkowitz notes that these changes will go into effect on August 1, 2015. This is a huge change for the NCAA, and it's a positive one for student-athletes. It's not exactly paying players for what they do on the field or courts, but it's as close to that as this organization has ever been. 

Scholarships do cover the tuition costs to attend college, but according to the National College Players Association, athletes on a full ride still face a $3,000 annual shortfall. Credit the Power Five voting representatives for recognizing this reality and taking necessary steps to help.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Florida State's Jameis Winston Hangs out with Ducks, Claims They Love Him

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston's last college game was a 59-20 blowout to the Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl, so you'd think that he's not a big fan of ducks.

Apparently, that's not the case.

The soon-to-be NFL quarterback posted a video on Instagram of himself hanging out with some ducks. At the end of the video, Winston can't help but crack a smile as he says, "I guess that's just how it is. The ducks love me."

[Instagram, h/t College Spun]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

East-West Shrine Game 2015: Schedule and Players to Watch in All-Star Contest

The list of former players and coaches alone should be enough to entice you to watch the East-West Shrine Game this season. 

After all, names like Don Shula, Paul “Bear” Bryant, Tom Brady, Brett Favre, John Elway and Walter Payton are all part of this game’s storied history, and who could have guessed they would become some of the most legendary names in the sport at the time?

Perhaps some of the next greats are on the 2015 East-West Shrine Game rosters.

This is the longest running college all-star game in the nation (started in 1925) and is sure to feature some thrills along the way. Here is a look at the essential information for the contest, as well as some prospects the more than 300 NFL scouts will have their eyes on.

Full rosters can be found here, courtesy of NFL.com.

 

2015 East-West Shrine Game

Date: Saturday, Jan. 17

Time: 4 p.m. ET

Where: Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. 

TV: NFL Network

 

Prospects to Watch

WR Devin Gardner, Michigan

There aren’t many players at the Shrine Game transitioning from one position to another, but that is exactly what former Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner is trying in an effort to boost his draft stock.

These reps that Gardner is getting at wide receiver are monumentally important because he only has limited experience at the position (he played there some at Michigan when Denard Robinson was quarterback). If Gardner can make plays in traffic and prove to coaches that his route-running ability is solid and his hands are passable, he could hear his name called on draft day.

Plus, he has raw physical skills at 6’4” with speed that can make for difficult matchups downfield.

Gardner discussed the move, via Mike Huguenin of NFL.com: "This is fun for me. I'm excited to be able to compete."

That’s all anyone can ask for at this point.

 

WR Tre McBride, William & Mary

Tre McBride is one of the better prospects at the Shrine Game, but this entire process is more important for him than many Power Five conference players because he has not had the opportunities to play in front of a national audience at William & Mary.

If he can put up formidable numbers against quality competition at the game, it will validate what he did throughout his career at a smaller program. 

Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com had nothing but praise for McBride:

Entering the week, McBride was my highest-rated Shrine Game prospect and after a full week of practice, that hasn't changed. At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds with 4.50 speed, he doesn't have imposing size or blazing speed, but he prides himself on the details, selling routes and using his foot quickness in his breaks to create just enough separation. McBride did an excellent job attacking the ball in the air with his quick eyes and hands, also taking reps as a punt returner. He is more smooth than explosive, reminding me a lot of Pierre Garcon when he entered the NFL out of Mount Union.

Blazing speed or not, McBride is a solid route-runner who has the versatility to be a returner as well. He finished his career with 196 catches for 2,753 yards and 19 touchdowns and will look to move that production to the next level with an impressive predraft performance that starts with this game and finishes at the NFL Scouting Combine.

 

RB Malcolm Brown, Texas

Malcolm Brown finished with 708 rushing yards and six touchdowns as a senior and 904 rushing yards and nine touchdowns as a junior at Texas, but even those numbers are a bit misleading.

The stats are more impressive when you consider the fact that the Longhorns offered virtually no threat of a downfield passing game in the latter stages of Brown’s career. It will be interesting to see how he performs when the defense isn’t necessarily keying in on stopping just him.

After all, Brown was one of the most highly touted running backs in the country as a recruit and hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to show what he can do outside of Texas’ lackluster offense. 

Saturday represents one of those chances.

 

Follow me on Twitter:

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Projecting Every Big Ten Team's Quarterback for 2015 Season

Not many quarterbacks are leaving the Big Ten next season, thanks in large part to the decisions of Connor Cook and Cardale Jones to bypass the NFL draft.

Devin Gardner is gone from Michigan, Gary Nova is gone from Rutgers, C.J. Brown is gone from Maryland, and Trevor Siemien is gone from Northwestern, but other than that, every starting QB returns (not counting part-time starter Reilly O'Toole at Illinois). 

Despite that, the Big Ten still has plenty of quarterback battles to keep an eye on, most notably at Ohio State but also at Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and more.

Here's a pre-spring practice guess at who wins each job.

Begin Slideshow

NFLPA Collegiate Bowl 2015: Schedule and Players to Watch in All-Star Contest

The national championship was won, the confetti fell, and the college football season came to an end.

However, the football is long from over for some of the nation's top NFL draft prospects, with a number of all-star contests on the immediate horizon. One of those games is the 2015 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, where invited players will have the chance to improve their draft stocks under the tutelage of experienced coaches.

Mike Holmgren and Mike Martz will be on opposite sidelines in Saturday's game and will attempt to pass along some of their knowledge to the prospects. 

Here is a look at the essential information for the contest before looking at a couple of the top players to watch.

 

2015 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

When: Saturday, January 17, 2015

Where: StubHub Center, Carson, California

Start Time (ET): 4 p.m. 

TV: ESPN2

 

Team Rosters

Note: Game rosters are courtesy of the NFLPA official site.

 

Prospects to Watch

Cornerback Troy Hill, Oregon

Oregon's Troy Hill was thrown into the spotlight in the initial College Football Playoff this season when star cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was lost for the season to a torn ACL before the semifinal against Florida State.

Hill helped keep the Seminoles' star wide receiver, Rashad Greene, in check with only 59 yards and zero touchdowns on six catches. What's more, Ohio State's top deep threat, Devin Smith, only caught one pass in the national championship game—although it went for 45 yards.

Hill's late-season production was partially a result of top-notch experience throughout the year, as Oregon defensive coordinator Don Pellum noted, via Tyson Alger of The Oregonian:

You have to have confidence in your ability and confidence in the system. He's been on the other side of Ifo. He got challenged early on. He got a lot of action. He didn't see it as, 'Uh oh, they're attacking.' He saw it as, 'This is an opportunity to prove what I can do.'

Now, Hill will have the opportunity to continue the individual momentum he has from his extended role late in the season in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. An impressive performance here will help solidify Hill as a serious draft candidate in the eyes of some coaches who may not have paid as much attention to him while scouting Ekpre-Olomu. 

No pressure or anything.

 

Quarterback Rakeem Cato, Marshall

The term "video-game numbers" was invented to describe the box score of Rakeem Cato's games this season. He threw for a ridiculous 3,903 yards and 40 touchdowns and added 482 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. Amazingly, Cato threw for more yards in his sophomore and junior seasons than he did in his senior campaign in 2014.

All-star games like this are more important for players like Cato who played at schools that are not in the Power Five conferences because they have to prove to doubters that the inflated numbers aren't simply the result of easy competition.

Marshall played in Conference USA this season and didn't exactly face an SEC, Big Ten or Pac-12 type of schedule. That's not even mentioning the fact that Marshall's offense is a wide-open spread attack that virtually begs the quarterback to put up big numbers. 

Perhaps the best thing about this entire process is the invaluable experience Cato is picking up, as Anish Shroff of ESPN pointed out:

These types of games are more like the cherry on top of the sundae that is the career body of work for these players. We have the tendency to overreact to them one way or the other, but Cato rarely got the chance to impress against elite competition during his career. 

Now, he has one before the draft.

 

Follow me on Twitter:

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

East-West Shrine Game 2015: Breaking Down Most Intriguing Prospects to Watch

There are several postseason All-Star games designed to help college football players boost their NFL draft stock, but few are as intriguing as the East-West Shrine Game.

Part of that game's charm is the fact that it usually doesn't involve top stars with first-round grades. Most of the players set to compete in Saturday's East-West Shrine Game are pretty unheralded, which means they view it as an opportunity to get noticed.

With practices having reached their conclusion and the game on the horizon, here is a breakdown of the top prospects worth keeping an eye on during the 2015 East-West Shrine Game.

*East roster and West roster courtesy of ShrineGame.com.

 

Taylor Kelly

Perhaps the biggest name playing in this game from a quarterback perspective is Arizona State's Taylor Kelly. He was a three-year starter with the Sun Devils, and although he had a great deal of success, observers are seemingly bearish on his NFL chances after a rough senior season.

After topping 3,000 passing yards in both 2012 and 2013, and throwing for a total of 57 touchdowns over that span, Kelly's production fell off in 2014. He barely topped 2,000 yards and completed a career-worst 59 percent of his passes. He did throw for 22 touchdowns, though, despite missing three games with a foot injury.

Kelly may not be highly touted in the 2015 draft class, but he could potentially change that in the East-West Shrine Game. According to NFL Draft Blitz, Kelly looked sharp during Monday's practice session:

Damond Talbot of NFLDraftDiamonds.com wasn't quite as blow away, although he went out of his way to compliment Kelly regardless:

Kelly stepped up at the end of the season as he turned in one of his best performances against Duke in the Sun Bowl. He threw for 240 yards and two touchdowns in the 36-31 victory, and head coach Todd Graham had nothing but good things to say about him after that, per Justin Janssen of The State Press.

"(After) the game I told Taylor Kelly (the) best decision I ever made obviously was making you the starting quarterback and believing in you and everybody in that room agreed," Graham said. "There's not a person on our team that has any regrets about Taylor Kelly playing any snaps this season."

Kelly is clearly respected by his coaches and teammates, but now he must prove that he has what it takes to be an NFL quarterback from a physical perspective. If he can put together a good showing for the West team, perhaps he will become a draft commodity.

 

Devin Gardner

Many prospects are willing to do almost anything to make it to the NFL, and Michigan's Devin Gardner is a perfect example of that. Although he mostly played quarterback for the Wolverines, he has moved back to wide receiver in hopes of getting drafted.

According to ESPN.com's Cecil Lammey, Gardner got off to a strong start in terms of his measurables:

Lammey also reports that scouts are impressed with the former signal-caller's willingness to become a wideout rather than stubbornly staying under center:

Playing wide receiver isn't exactly a foreign concept to Gardner as he spent much of the 2012 season at that spot. Gardner caught 16 passes for 266 yards and four touchdowns in that role, so the ability is definitely present.

With that said, it has been a while since Gardner has had to focus on being a pass-catcher. Because of that, he didn't get off to an ideal start in the East-West Shrine practices, per Dan Brugler of CBSSports.com:

That is to be expected, and it certainly doesn't mean that Gardner can't be a solid receiver at the next level. He has all the physical tools and athleticism needed to thrive in the NFL at a different position, just like another former Michigan quarterback in Jacksonville Jaguars running back Denard Robinson.

If Gardner is able to show some flashes and make some plays in the East-West Shrine Game, then he figures to draw the attention of some NFL talent evaluators.

 

Blake Bell

With no true studs available at the tight end position in the 2015 NFL draft, players like Oklahoma's Blake Bell have a great chance to improve their stock at the East-West Shrine Game.

Like Gardner, Bell is a former quarterback, but he enters the draft process with a bit more polish since he spent the entire 2014 season at tight end. Bell's numbers didn't jump off the page as he caught just 16 passes for 214 yards and four touchdowns; however, he is oozing with potential.

According to Lammey, the lack of quality tight ends in the 2015 draft has scouts extremely intrigued by Bell's NFL prospects:

As a quarterback, Bell rushed for a total of 24 touchdowns in his first two seasons with the Sooners. He is a true bruiser, and he has the athleticism to make big plays once he has the ball in his hands.

That was on full display Monday, when Bell dazzled scouts with his raw ability, per NFL.com's Gil Brandt:

Perhaps more so than any other player at the East-West Shrine Game, Bell could improve his draft stock significantly. The competition isn't overly fierce at his position, which should help him immensely.

His experience at tight end may be somewhat limited, but that hasn't stopped the likes of Antonio Gates and Julius Thomas from becoming NFL stars. While Bell may not be at that level, he definitely has a great deal of promise.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

What the Oregon Ducks Must Do to Get Back to Title Game in 2016

As disappointing as the result of Monday’s National Championship was for the Oregon Ducks, the program as a whole has never been in a better place.

For the Ducks to reach the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship in Glendale, Arizona, in 2016, they must continue to build on the foundation that has been set over the past 20 years.

While the Ducks will lose their best player, Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, they’ll be bringing back a large portion of a team that won the Pac-12 title and Rose Bowl in 2014. Moreover, Oregon may have the best group of playmakers in the entire country in 2015. 

Oregon’s running backs—Thomas Tyner, Royce Freeman—will both return and should be expected to each have 1,000-yard seasons.

At wide receiver, the Ducks will return Byron Marshall—Oregon’s best receiver in 2014—along with Darren Carrington, Charles Nelson, Dwayne Stanford and Bralon Addison—who was one of Oregon’s best weapons in 2013. They’ll also have the services of two solid tight ends in Evan Baylis and All-Pac-12 first-teamer Pharaoh Brown, assuming he’s healthy by September. 

Defensively, the Ducks will lose some major players such as Erick Dargan, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Arik Armstead, Troy Hill, Derrick Malone and Tony Washington. However, due to Oregon’s tempo on offense, the defense is forced to face more snaps, meaning the younger players have played more than they would at other schools. That will benefit the Ducks as they attempt to replace some of their best defensive players. 

The Ducks are well-positioned to make another run at the title; however, they must first find their quarterback for next season and get him ready to shoulder the burden of replacing an all-time great.

 

The Future Quarterback

As chronicled in Wednesday’s article, the Ducks have a history of being able to move on from quarterback to quarterback and still improve as a team. While filling Mariota’s shoes is an unenviable task that should come with tempered expectations, it is possible.

Oregon has seamlessly shifted from Dennis Dixon to Jeremiah Masoli to Darron Thomas to Marcus Mariota since 2007. The program as a whole is more prepared now than ever to move on from the best player in school history.

The Ducks aren’t short on options at QB next season. Within the program, the Ducks could turn to Jeff Lockie, Morgan Mahalak, Ty Griffin, Taylor Alie or incoming freshman Travis Waller. While Lockie, a redshirt sophomore, seems to be the prohibitive favorite, he’s not a sure thing. In fact, if we’re using past results to predict what will happen this time around, Lockie may actually be the underdog.

If the Ducks decide to go outside of the program, they could try to snag Braxton Miller from Ohio State. As Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee explained recently, Miller could be the perfect fit in Eugene. 

In three seasons for the Buckeyes, Miller has thrown for 52 touchdowns and has rushed for 32 more. In short, he’s one of the best QBs in the nation. While Miller is recovering from shoulder injury he suffered before the 2014 season, his presence in Eugene would vault the Ducks into national title contention.

Another name that may be in play is Eastern Washington’s Vernon Adams Jr. Adams, who graduates in the spring and has one more year of NCAA eligibility, threw for 35 touchdowns in 10 games this season after throwing 55 in 15 games in 2013. He’s also rushed for 10 touchdowns over the past two years and has completed 66 percent of his passes along the way.

Oregon will have options at QB and will hold an open competition to find the best man for the job. With the amount of weapons at Oregon’s disposal next season, it’s possible that the Ducks' QB job may be the best in the country.

Oregon’s next QB has to keep it simple. Get the ball in the hands of the playmakers and don’t turn the ball over. If he does that, the Ducks offense should continue to zip along swimmingly.

 

Win the Trenches

It was thought that the Ducks may have turned over a new leaf when they beat the likes of Michigan State and Stanford this season. Oregon went face-to-face with the nastiest defenses in college football and was more physical on both sides of the ball. The Ducks had finally shed the "soft" label

Well, they may have shed the soft label, but they haven’t earned the tough label quite yet. That was most evident against Ohio State, as the Buckeyes throttled Oregon in the trenches. It wasn’t just a decisive victory; it was a Mike Tyson-style knockout.

As Aaron Fentress of Comcast Sportsnet Northwest opined, the Ducks have the focus on recruiting the trenches in order to finally bring home a title to Eugene: 

If Oregon wants to improve its chances of winning a national title - especially in the post-Marcus Mariota era - it had better improve recruiting in three key areas: offensive line, defensive line and linebacker.

That's where the Buckeyes did a number on the Ducks. Ohio State rushed for 296 yards and five touchdowns while holding Oregon to 132 yards and zero touchdowns on the ground. 

People can talk all they'd like about dropped passes, missed tackles, injuries and suspensions. But the national title game at AT&T Stadium came down to simple rushing statistics.

OSU had them. Oregon did not.

The Ducks are going to have to find some replacements along both the offensive and defensive lines. On offense, Oregon will be without Hamani Stevens, three-time All-Pac-12 first-teamer Hroniss Grasu and Jake Fisher, who may have been Oregon’s most important player outside of Marcus Mariota this season.

Due to the amount of injuries Oregon suffered along the O-line this season, a lot of the Ducks backups saw significant playing time in 2014. Players like Cameron Hunt, Doug Brenner, Tyrell Crosby, Matt Pierson and Jake Pisarcik were thrust into action and should be ready to hit the ground running come spring ball.

On defense, Oregon will have to find a replacement for Armstead who declared early for the 2015 NFL draft. The Ducks will lean on multiple defensive linemen to make up for this loss, including 247Sports 5-star recruit Canton Kaumatule.

In order for the Ducks to finally get over the top and win a title in 2016, they’re going to need to win the trenches and become one of the most physical teams in the nation.

Oregon took a step forward in this department against teams like Michigan State, Stanford, Utah and Washington. However, as Ohio State proved, the Ducks can still be beaten with physicality. That can’t be the case going forward.

The Ducks are never going to be Alabama. They’re never going to run a ground-and-pound-type offense like Stanford. But in order to bring home a title, they’re going to have to be able to fend off more physical opponents and impose their own will.

 

Keep Swinging

Despite the fact that the Ducks are 0-2 in national title games, it’s still impressive that Oregon has been able to reach the national championship twice in five years. Only Alabama and Auburn have played in as many title games over that span.

The Ducks are clearly on the right path, and Oregon is one of the finest programs in the country. With the College Football Playoff in place, there will be more opportunities for the Ducks to play for a national title, especially if they continue to win Pac-12 titles.

What Oregon needs to focus on is continuing to build on their past success. That means recruiting the right players and putting those recruits in a position to succeed. The Ducks didn’t take a step back after the 2010 BCS Championship game. The program used it as a launching pad.

Now, after playing in two of the three most watched cable programs in history, the Ducks have a similar opportunity to capitalize on their success.

There’s no reason for the Ducks to change up their philosophy at this point. Clearly, it’s working. Yes, the Ducks have struggled at times against physically demanding opponents; however, the program is still in a better place than it’s ever been.

In order for the Ducks to reach the College Football Playoff next season, the Ducks must stick to their guns, develop the next “franchise” quarterback and get just a bit tougher.

In other words, Oregon needs to continue to live by the sword and die by the sword. Keep knocking at the door, it's bound to open at some point.

 

Statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com unless otherwise stated. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise stated.

Jason Gold is Bleacher Report’s lead Oregon writer. Follow Jason on Twitter @TheSportsGuy33.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Projecting Every SEC Team's Quarterback for 2015 Season

It wasn't a particularly landmark season for quarterback play in the SEC in 2014. It wasn't horrible, but it fell far short of what we saw from the league's passers in 2013.

What will come from the 2015 SEC quarterback club? It depends on who ends up winning the many open jobs across the conference.

Only half of the quarterbacks who started their teams' final games are back, but not all of those starters are guaranteed to be in the same spot on the depth chart when next season begins in September. We're expecting several wide-open competitions, a few including players who've yet to even practice with their new teams, and are projecting only five repeat starters.

Who will those be, and who will be starting elsewhere in the SEC? Check out our projections for every team's starter, then give us your thoughts in the comments section.

Begin Slideshow

Senior Bowl Rosters 2015: Team Selections, Top NFL Prospects, Game Time and More

With the college football season officially over, NFL teams now shift their focus to the Senior Bowl as they scout the upcoming draft class. 

Although some of the top stars won't be heading to Mobile, Alabama, this year, plenty of big names will be present. In addition, the practices leading to the game itself are a great time for some of the more overlooked prospects to jump a couple of rounds.

The Senior Bowl is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET on Jan. 24, so fans still have a few more days to read up on some of the players involved.

Here's a look at the full rosters for the North and South teams.

 

Draft Prospects to Watch

Danny Shelton, DT, Washington

If you aren't familiar with Danny Shelton's game, then you will be over the coming weeks and months. The Washington defensive tackle is among the top players in the 2015 draft at any position.

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah listed Shelton as the fifth-best prospect overall yesterday:

In his most recent mock draft, Bleacher Report's NFL draft expert Matt Miller had Shelton going fourth overall to the Oakland Raiders.

Miller also provided an in-depth scouting report of Shelton writing in part that Shelton "shows rare athleticism playing the nose and can move around the defensive line" and "can mix up speed and bull rushes without losing a step."

On the basis of his skill against the run, Shelton is a surefire first-rounder. Put that together with his potential to disrupt the passing game, and you've got an All-Pro defensive tackle in the making.

 

Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor

Beyond Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, the 2015 draft doesn't look to be flush with great quarterbacks. As arguably the best quarterback at the Senior Bowl, Bryce Petty has a chance to really shine.

Petty only started in his final two years at Baylor, but he still managed to rack up 8,195 and 62 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions.

In Mobile, Petty will have a chance—albeit a brief one—to show that he can work in a pro-style offense. Quarterbacks coming back from spread offenses always have a bit of a transition when they hit the NFL. Some eventually work it out, while others can never make the jump.

Derek Carr used last year's Senior Bowl to silence a few of his critics. Although he still went in the second round, he was arguably the most productive rookie quarterback in 2014.

Petty isn't on the same level that Carr was entering the draft, but the Bears star could see his stock rise at the event.

 

T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh

In 2013, Eric Fisher looked great at the Senior Bowl, not only bolstering his first-round status but also setting in motion a chain of events that saw him selected No. 1 overall by the Kansas City Chiefs.

T.J. Clemmings heads to the Senior Bowl as a perceived lock for the first round but still a little rough around the edges given his somewhat recent move to offensive tackle. Because of that conversion, Clemmings is still a work in progress with his technique.

Athletically, Clemmings is a freak for somebody of his size. Because of his combination of strength and agility, he has the most upside of any offensive tackle in this year's draft.

In an interview with the Senior Bowl's website, Clemmings said that he's looking to put some more substance behind all of his first-round hype:

How does it sound? It sounds pretty cool but like you said it’s just a little bit of buzz and I still have to prove myself. So that’s why I’m coming down to the Senior Bowl to play against the best seniors and that’s what I’m looking forward to—to show coaches why that buzz is out there.

CBSSports.com's Dane Brugler listed the Pittsburgh offensive tackle among those players he expects to look good in Mobile:

NBC Sports' Josh Norris added that Clemmings should thrive in strength drills:

Plenty of teams near the top 10 are looking for offensive tackles, and without a can't-miss prospect at the position, Clemmings could easily surge up draft boards as a result of his Senior Bowl performance.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pages