NCAA Football News

B/R Exclusive: 5-Star QB Malik Henry Plans to Enroll Early at Florida State

It's been an eventful offseason for 5-star quarterback and current Florida State pledge Malik Henry.

He's changed his address, moving from California to Florida powerhouse IMG Academy, and he earned MVP honors at the Atlanta Nike Opening Regional camp last month—which also resulted in him garnering an invitation to The Opening.

Now, Henry has more news that will undoubtedly excite Seminoles fans.

"I'm graduating early, so in a few months, I'll officially be a Seminole," Henry told Bleacher Report.

Henry confirmed those plans to Bleacher Report via text on April 8.

Florida State is seeking to replace Jameis Winston this fall, but Henry could eventually be the long-term answer for Jimbo Fisher's club moving forward.

The 6'3", 180-pounder is the nation's No. 9 player overall, the second-best pro-style passer in the country and the crown jewel of FSU's top-rated recruiting class

Getting him on campus early is sure to help him get adjusted to Fisher's offense and make the transition to the college level.

Henry—who is also a standout baseball player—has been busy adjusting to his new home since he arrived at IMG. In fact, he's yet to make it up to Tallahassee since he committed to the Seminoles last November.

However, according to Chris Nee of Noles247, that will change this weekend, as he's set to be part of a loaded visitor list heading to Tallahassee for FSU's spring game.

Accompanying him on that trip will be 4-star tight end and fellow new IMG product and FSU pledge Isaac Nauta.

Henry notes that he and Nauta, who is his roommate at IMG, have grown particularly close. The two have been working to develop a chemistry that Henry hopes will carry over to the next level.

His performance in Atlanta was one that Henry said is a reflection of the work he's put in over the offseason.

"I just want to go out there everyday and work hard to prove that I'm the best quarterback in the nation," Henry said. "That's what I look at myself as. It's not me being cocky, either. That's just the confidence I carry within myself. I'm very confident in my game. When I put my mind to something, I'm going to do it."

Henry said that he also remains in contact with Fisher and tight ends coach Tim Brewster. In particular, Fisher told him to enjoy his last few months on the prep level before he arrives in Tallahassee. 

"He was just telling me to enjoy my senior season and enjoy the time with my friends in high school," Henry said. "He also wants me to build that chemistry with Isaac since he's coming up there with me for sure. Otherwise, just have fun with it."

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand, and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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4-Star OL and Brock Lesnar Look-Alike Parker Boudreaux Boasts over 70 Offers

With 71 offers, 4-star offensive lineman Parker Boudreaux of Orlando, Florida, is having the time of his life with his recruiting process. In addition to making unofficial visits this spring, he's also having fun being an unofficial celebrity look-alike.

"Brock Lesnar. I probably get that one every day," Boudreaux said, referring to the popular professional wrestling and mixed martial arts athlete who recently re-signed with WWE. "I'll get [Ivan] Drago from Rocky. I'll get [Brian] Bosworth. Everybody has something. It's pretty funny."

Now standing 6'4" and 295 pounds, Boudreaux is one of the few who can actually stare Lesnar eye to eye size-wise. What college coaches like about the 2016 lineman is that he has a similar mean streak on the football field as Lesnar shows at WWE events. The attitude definitely works as an offensive lineman.

Boudreaux, 17, takes the celebrity comparisons all in stride (he likes the Lesnar comparison—see his Twitter page), much like the recruiting process in general. The nation's No. 9 offensive guard isn't in any rush to make a decision about his college future, but he is making the spring count with several visits around the country. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were his latest stops, as he was in Norman last Thursday and Friday, and in Stillwater last Saturday.

Entering the week, Ole Miss and Auburn had been among his favorite visits this spring. Boudreaux said Oklahoma is right up there with the others, as he is a fan of the overall campus environment and the coaching staff.

"Norman's really cool. The fans are awesome, really nice people," Boudreaux said. "There's like 40,000 students at Oklahoma, and the farthest walk is like 12 minutes from everything. The campus is real nice. It's a real college town. I'm loving it here."

Boudreaux added that he likes the fact that Oklahoma has a great academic support system. That's one thing he said head coach Bob Stoops and offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh have been stressing to him.

While it is still early in the process, Boudreaux said Oklahoma could be a strong contender when it's time to make his decision. One school to keep an eye on, however, is Oklahoma State, as he gave his trip to Stillwater high marks.

"Best facilities I've seen so far," Boudreaux said about Oklahoma State. "They have awesome, really straight-up coaches. The culture around the program is pretty cool. The campus is beautiful, and everywhere is walkable."

Recruited by Oklahoma State offensive line coach Greg Adkins and head coach Mike Gundy, Boudreaux considered the trip a pleasant surprise. He also likes the fact that early playing time in a high-octane offense is a possibility in Gundy's system.

"They only took a couple of offensive linemen for the 2015 class, so it is an amazing time to come in and play as a freshman," Boudreaux said. "I really enjoyed my visit at OSU."

Boudreaux said his final unofficial visit will be at Notre Dame this summer. In the month of March alone, Boudreaux, per his 247Sports timeline, made unofficial stops to South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama and Auburn. He also attended Clemson for a junior day.

Boudreaux said Ole Miss has a great tradition and overall culture that fit him. He said Alabama was "better than expected" and has solid facilities and friendly people. He's been to Auburn three times and said he enjoys the family atmosphere. Boudreaux said all three schools, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have genuine coaches who he can see himself playing for.

Boudreaux plays tackle at Bishop Moore Catholic, but he will line up at guard at the college level. He bench presses 365 pounds, squats 460 and deadlifts 535. The combination of early playing time, quality academics and overall comfort level with the coaching staff and the campus will help Boudreaux make a decision when that time comes.

For now, he said he's just having fun with it all. Much like he is with the celebrity look-alike chatter.

 

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

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Why Nick Chubb Will Make or Break Georgia Football in 2015

The fate of the University of Georgia's 2015 season falls on the legs of standout running back Nick Chubb following his superb freshman year in Athens, Georgia.

The Georgia Bulldogs finished 10-3 last season following a 37-14 victory over the Louisville Cardinals in the Belk Bowl. Chubb carried the ball 33 times for 266 yards and two touchdowns on that day.

In order for the Bulldogs to finish above the Missouri Tigers in the SEC East and challenge for a spot in the College Football Playoff, Georgia needs the 5'10", 228-pound tailback to run rampant all season long.

Georgia returns an even more experienced and dominant defense with the return of stalwart linebackers Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins. Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt's side of the ball should continue to be at the top of the ranks in the SEC.

The real problem falls in replacing the production of several key offensive players who are no longer with the Bulldogs following the 2014 season. The man to fill these voids is the likely preseason Heisman Trophy candidate Chubb.

The Cedartown, Georgia, native showed explosion and power throughout his first season, which made college football fans' mouths water across the country. The halfback's ability to turn the corner and his determination to cross into the end zone were on clear display against Florida last year.

Under head coach Mark Richt, the Bulldogs average nearly 480 rushing attempts per year. Chubb received 219 carries in his freshman campaign, but that total is definitely going to increase next season with the departure of Todd Gurley. The likely future first-round pick compiled 123 carries in his suspension- and injury-riddled 2014 season.

Since Richt's arrival in 2001, there have only been two seasons in which one running back accounted for more than 50% of Georgia's team rushing attempts. However, when Gurley was out of the lineup last year, Chubb was responsible for just under 57% of the team's carries, and the workload is not likely to be any more balanced this upcoming season, according to Bleacher Report's Andrew Hall.

"The state of Georgia's backfield lends itself to a disproportionately large concentration on Chubb," Hall said. "Put bluntly: It's hard to quantify exactly how valuable Georgia's other options will be in 2015."

Fellow rising sophomore Sony Michel contributed 410 yards and five touchdowns in 2014 but appeared in only eight games for the Bulldogs.

The other running back likely to share some of work is Keith Marshall, but his health is far from reliable at this point. Marshall was the second-ranked running back in the 2012 recruiting class, the same class as Gurley, and rushed for 759 yards and eight touchdowns his freshman year. However, the talented prospect has not re-established himself in the Georgia backfield since suffering a knee injury in the middle of the 2013 season.

On top of replacing Gurley, the Bulldogs will also have to replace last year's starting quarterback, Hutson Mason. The graduating senior was the latest of a long line of stellar Georgia quarterbacks including Aaron Murray and Matthew Stafford.

There is no clear replacement for Mason, as Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta and Jacob Park are battling to become the team's head signal-caller. This transformation could affect the Bulldog's play-calling next season, but last year's Belk Bowl provided some insight into the mindset of Richt.

Mason left the game in the in the second quarter due to injury, leaving the Georgia head coach without a reliable quarterback. In this situation, he decided to go back to old faithful.

The Bulldogs ran the ball on 68 percent of their offensive plays and averaged 5.5 yards per attempt against Louisville's second-ranked rush defense, per Bleacher Report's Ben Kercheval.

"With a new quarterback under center—freshman Brice Ramsey filled in for an injured Mason—there should be a heavy lean on the run game," Kercheval said.

"It's what Georgia does best anyway. In fact, there's a case to be made that Georgia shouldn't attempt a pass under any circumstance. Ever.”

The Bulldogs ran the ball an astounding 555 times for 3,352 yards compared to throwing 322 passes to gain 2,599 yards in the air last season. With the uncertainty at quarterback, Georgia could rely even more heavily on the running game next year.

The question is whether Chubb can remain healthy throughout the entire season. The running back is working hard this offseason to best prepare his body for the punishment it will endure next year.

Based on the total number of carries for Georgia in 2014, Chubb will tote the rock an absurd 316 times if he continues to carry the ball 57% of the time in Gurley's absence.

Chubb underwent surgery last season to fix a broken thumb but remained relatively healthy otherwise. However, carrying the ball as many times as Richt and the coaching staff will probably like may be too much work for any running back to withstand.

Chubb's ability to continue to produce and remain healthy while his body racks up more miles will make or break Georgia's 2015 campaign. A standout season by the rising sophomore will help nullify the questions surrounding other positions for the Bulldogs.

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Texas Football: 5 Players to Watch in Texas' 2015 Spring Game

Spring ball reaches its end next weekend when the Longhorns kick off their spring game. No matter which team they work with, every Longhorn fan will have eyes on Jerrod Heard and Malik Jefferson.

Charlie Strong's second spring game is packed with intrigue. It will be the general public's first look at Heard and Jefferson in Longhorn uniforms, the new uptempo offense and an overhauled defense that lost no fewer than five of its best players.

Beyond the two former top recruits, the new offensive workhorses and the defense's unheralded top player will be must-see when the Horns take the field April 18.

 

1. QB Jerrod Heard

In all likelihood, Tyrone Swoopes starts this game with the first team. He has the most experience, has been consistent throughout spring practice and is taking a leadership role with the team.

It'd be great to see the junior play well. He just doesn't bring quite the same level of excitement to the field as Jerrod Heard, who ran for almost 5,000 yards during his high school career en route to two state titles.

Facing an uphill battle to start the spring, Heard has started to turn heads as a passer, and Strong said the redshirt freshman was the better player during Monday's practice. With reports emerging that he's progressing as a passer, the competition with Swoopes is getting closer.

Heard's improvement through the air will be interesting in the biggest scrimmage of the year, but his legs will bring the real excitement. After all, the Longhorns are now running an offense he ran to perfection in high school, and his explosiveness adds an element that gives defenses nightmares.

With some big runs and a couple of nice throws in a game setting, Heard can do himself a lot of favors to close spring practice.

 

2. LB Malik Jefferson

Malik Jefferson has been a college athlete for less than three months, and his coaches are already trying to find ways to put him on the field whenever possible.

The No. 1 recruit in the state this past cycle, Jefferson has lived up to the hype this spring. The remarkable young athlete looks no worse than the backup to Naashon Hughes at the hybrid "Fox" position, and he's been among the first players to get a look inside following Dalton Santos' injury.

To summarize, Jefferson is basically getting looks at three different positions within his first two weeks of collegiate practice. He's shown the size and strength to rush the passer, the speed to drop into coverage and the instincts to diagnose plays as a middle linebacker, though the latter hasn't come quite as naturally.

247Sports' Jeff Howe has more on Jefferson's recent work on the inside:

The biggest happening at linebacker was Malik Jefferson worked on the inside. He had been on the outside and worked behind Hughes at the Fox some, but the coaches wanted to get a look at him in the middle.

It was a learning day for Jefferson, who got consistent feedback from Brian Jean-Mary. Jefferson got barked at a few times for being out of position or missing an assignment, but it clearly looks like the staff is pushing him as hard and as fast as they can knowing they're going to need him to play this fall and possibly multiple positions.

Few of these 5-star, can't-miss recruits have panned out for Texas of late. Rest assured that Jefferson is already too good with too much remaining upside to disappoint like Garrett Gilbert or Taylor Bible.

Watch this guy go to work every chance you get or else you'll regret it.

 

3. WR Dorian Leonard

Dorian Leonard validated his coaches' praise with a ridiculous one-handed grab in drills. However, it's what got him noticed in the first place that should intrigue Longhorn fans.

Strong has mentioned Leonard's work in all three of his press conferences this spring, and it's easy to see why. At 6'3", 203 pounds, he's one of the few receivers on the roster with the length and size to play every down on the outside. 

Even with only one career reception under his belt, those traits give Leonard a great chance at being a key contributor this season. Anyone who doubts Texas' desire to feed receivers of his type should note that 1,000-yard wideout John Harris only had nine catches before last season.

Leonard will compete with Lorenzo Joe all offseason, but he's been the guy so far this spring and looks like a starter. Expect some big plays from Texas' next No. 1 receiver against a depleted secondary in the spring game.

 

4. S Jason Hall

If you're a fan of old school, hard-hitting football, then Jason Hall should be one of your favorite Longhorns. He's also one of the most talented players on the team in spite of those who have forgotten what he brings to the table.

As noted by Howe, a healthy Hall was a freshman All-American. He wasn't as productive as Virginia's Quin Blanding, but his numbers were right on par with LSU's Jamal Adams despite being hampered by a knee injury for the second half of the season.

When he's at full speed, there's nothing Hall can't do from the safety position. He's solid in coverage, and anyone who was on the business end of his aggressive style will check the closet for him next time they square off. 

Seriously, Strong had to tell him to stop hitting his teammates so hard on Monday.

Horns Digest's Chip Brown thinks Hall could lose his job to incoming freshman DeShon Elliott. Don't count on it, because Texas needs a fiery leader like this on the field as much as possible, and Hall has too much talent to be written off like that.

He'll make a play or two that will have you aching for real football. That you can count on.

 

5. RB Johnathan Gray

The last time we saw Johnathan Gray going to work in an uptempo offense, he was slicing and dicing his way to a 1,000-yard season. Behind an improved offensive line, he should be even better as a senior.

Gray just wasn't right for most of 2014. The Achilles tear he sustained in late 2013 robbed him of his trademark acceleration and agility, making him an undersized straight-line runner for much of the year.

The speedy back eventually found his wheels against Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma State, but poor play from his blockers kept him under wraps thereafter.

This season, Gray gets back to the scheme he excelled within, telling the media, "I love this offense." What should really excite Longhorn fans is he believes in his offensive line, stating the following in that same interview:

Those guys have shocked me, actually. They don't need any motivation. They go out there and work 100 percent. They work hard, too. That's what you want to see in young guys, and I think they know what they're supposed to do and what we're trying to get done and accomplished. Those guys are ready, I think.

Per CFBstats.com, Gray's 86.7 yards per game were among the nation's top 50 in 2013, all while working in tandem with Malcolm Brown. While there are some intriguing talents battling it out for starting jobs at receiver and along that improving offensive line, Gray's the workhorse the offense will lean on.

He's second only to the quarterback in terms of importance to this revamped attack.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all stats and information courtesy ofTexasSports.com.

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Georgia Football: 4 Players to Watch in Bulldogs' Spring Game

Saturday in Athens is back, as the Bulldogs will take part in the G-Day Game this Saturday.

This is only a small taste of what to expect from the Bulldogs this upcoming season, but that doesn’t mean fans aren’t excited to see the Bulldogs banging heads at Sanford Stadium.

What fans are the most excited about is the new players who will take the field on Saturday. The Bulldogs have some talented incoming freshmen playing in the game, and this will be the first time those players will get a taste of what Athens will be like in the fall.

However, there are also some players to watch who have been on the roster and are either looking to make a comeback or earn a starting spot after being a reserve.

So, who are the players fans need to keep an eye on as they watch the spring game?

 

Jacob Park, QB

Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta are looking like they have the edge on Jacob Park when it comes to the starting quarterback competition.

But Park could be the most talented of the three, and he will get a chance to prove it on Saturday.

Park worked with the scout team last year, and the coaches loved the way he was able to simulate the opposing quarterbacks. Now that he’s a redshirt freshman, Park is battling Ramsey and Bauta for the No. 1 quarterback spot.

Park has the arm and mobility to be a great quarterback for the Bulldogs. He may be down on the depth chart, but there is still plenty of time for him to move up, and it starts with a strong G-Day performance.

 

A.J. Turman, RB

There is no question the depth at running back is deep. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will be leading the charge this season, and Keith Marshall will also be in the mix.

With that said, fans should keep an eye on A.J. Turman because he’s having the best spring out of all the running backs.

Turman has not played in a football game since his senior high school season in 2012 because he redshirted in 2013 and was sidelined all of last season with a foot injury. But now he’s 100 percent, and he’s been playing like a guy who wants to steal carries from Chubb, Michel and Marshall.

In the second spring scrimmage last Saturday, Turman rushed for 140 yards on 22 carries and scored twice with the second-team offense.

With the coaches limiting Chubb’s work this spring, and both Marshall and Michel nursing different injuries, Turman will have a chance to show the fans what he’s made of.

 

Jonathan Ledbetter, DT

If there is a true freshman to watch this Saturday, it would have to be Jonathan Ledbetter from Tucker, Georgia. According to Jake Rowe of 247Sports, the defensive tackle has been impressing the coaching staff.

Ledbetter may not be a starter this season because of the depth on the defensive line, but he has proven that he can play at the college level this season and should be part of the defensive line rotation this fall.

Fans will not be disappointed when they watch Ledbetter on Saturday.

 

Jake Ganus, LB

The fans will also not be disappointed when they see linebacker Jake Ganus in action. The transfer from UAB has been making plays all throughout spring and is really making a case to be the starter at inside linebacker.

New #UGA inside linebacker Jake Ganus has led both of Georgia's scrimmages in tackles. Has racked up 19 tackles this spring.

— Radi Nabulsi (@RadiNabulsi) April 4, 2015

Ganus is coming off a scrimmage where he led all defenders with 10 tackles. That is not a surprise because he led the Blazers in tackles over the last two seasons.

With this being his senior season, Ganus wants to finish his college career in strong fashion—especially with him leaving UAB due to the school shutting down the football program. He has had the best spring out of everyone on the roster, and he’ll shine again in the spring game.

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San Francisco 49ers Draft Countdown: Making the Case for Dorial Green-Beckham

If the San Francisco 49ers spend their first-round draft pick on a wide receiver, they should spend it on Dorial Green-Beckham.

Green-Beckham almost certainly will drop to the Niners at the No. 15 pick. Police arrested him twice for incidents involving marijuana while he was at the University of Missouri—once in 2012 and once in 2014, according to USA Today

On April 11, 2014, Missouri’s football team dismissed him after he allegedly broke into an apartment and pushed a woman down a flight of stairs, although, as NFL.com notes, the district attorney never charged him with a crime. Green-Beckham transferred to the University of Oklahoma in 2014 but never played a game for it.

Some teams probably will remove Green-Beckham from their draft board for his off-field issues. The Niners might not be one of those teams.

Based on the Niners' history, they seem very forgiving. They recently signed wide receiver Jerome Simpson, who has been involved in two marijuana-related incidents in his career. Niners fullback Bruce Miller allegedly pushed his fiancee to the ground on March 5. The district attorney hasn’t filed charges against Miller, and the Niners haven’t cut him.

If the Niners tolerate Miller’s and Simpson’s off-field issues, why would they object to Green-Beckham?

They most likely will focus more on Green-Beckham’s actions on the field than his past issues off it. Green-Beckham is a rare athlete—6’5”, 237 pounds, 4.49 40-yard dash, 6.89 three-cone drill. He’s a giant red-zone target with speed to be a deep threat too.

To put him in perspective, let’s compare him to other top wide receivers.

 

1. Kevin White vs. Green-Beckham

In 2013, Green-Beckham caught 59 passes for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns at the University of Missouri. He was 20.

When White was 20, he played in junior college. When he was 21, he caught only 35 passes at West Virginia. He didn’t dominate until he was 22. Maybe he’s a late bloomer, or maybe he’s a one-year wonder.

If he and Green-Beckham were in last year’s draft, teams would have picked Green-Beckham way before White.

Advantage: Green-Beckham

 

2. DeVante Parker vs. Green-Beckham

Parker and Green-Beckham both were 20 in 2013. Compare their numbers from that season.

Parker: 55 catches, 885 yards, 12 touchdowns.

Green-Beckham: 59 catches, 883 yards, 12 touchdowns.

Their numbers practically are identical. Now, factor in their quarterbacks. Parker played with Teddy Bridgewater, a first-round pick. Green-Beckham played with James Franklin, an undrafted free agent. Franklin’s arm was weak and inaccurate. Green-Beckham’s numbers would have improved had he played with Bridgewater.

Now, factor in their injury histories. Green-Beckham hardly has one. He sprained his ankle in 2013 but didn’t miss a game. Parker broke his foot last season and missed six games.

The Niners spent their first-round pick last year on a player recovering from a broken foot—Jimmie Ward. He re-broke it midseason and spent the final seven weeks of the season on the injured reserve list. The Niners can’t afford to spend another first-round pick on player with a bad wheel.

Advantage: Green-Beckham

 

3. Breshad Perriman vs. Green-Beckham

Perriman is hot because he ran a 4.24 40-yard dash at his pro day. He is faster than Green-Beckham but not better.

In 2012 and 2013, Perriman made just seven touchdown catches, while Green-Beckham made 17. Perriman’s quarterback those years was Blake Bortles, a first-round pick. Perriman was a complementary receiver, a deep threat. Bortles threw him an occasional deep pass. Three of Perriman's teammates caught more passes than him in 2013.

Green-Beckham is a deep threat, but he’s more than that. He is a threat to score from anywhere on the field.

Advantage: Green-Beckham

 

4. Kelvin Benjamin vs. Green-Beckham

Green-Beckham and Benjamin produced similar numbers in college. Benjamin caught 84 passes for 1,506 yards and 19 touchdowns in two seasons at Florida State, and Green-Beckham caught 87 passes for 1,278 yards and 17 touchdowns in two seasons at Missouri.

Draft experts downgraded Benjamin for the same reason they downgrade Green-Beckham—pour route running. Which is strange. If you’re looking for a good route-runner, draft a small receiver. Very few 6’5” receivers who are nearly 240 pounds run good routes.

Benjamin’s poor routes haven't hurt him in the NFL. He caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie, and he made the Pro Bowl. He will be the Carolina Panthers' go-to player on offense for years. So much for the experts’ critique of him.

What’s the difference between him and Green-Beckham? Green-Beckham is faster (he runs a 4.49; Benjamin runs a 4.61) and more than two years younger.

Advantage: Green-Beckham

 

5. Brandon Marshall vs. Green-Beckham

Marshall (6'4", 230 lbs) might be the best comparison for Green-Beckham. Neither has the advantage over the other. They're both big, fast and quick.

The Niners should value receivers like them. Marshall scored three touchdowns in one game last season against the Niners. He beat their first-round pick, Jimmie Ward, every time. Jay Cutler just threw the ball up, and Ward had no chance to defend the pass. Ward is five inches shorter than Marshall.

Imagine if Colin Kaepernick could have thrown the ball up to Green-Beckham instead of Michael Crabtree at the end of the Super Bowl. The Niners might have won. They’ve needed a receiver like Green-Beckham for years, and finally they will get one.

 

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Matthew Falcon to Michigan: Wolverines Land 4-Star RB Prospect

Jim Harbaugh's first full recruiting class at Michigan continues to impress, as touted running back Matthew Falcon committed to the Wolverines on Wednesday.

Falcon, a 4-star recruit out of local Southfield High School, chose the Wolverines over a list of offers that also included Tennessee, Oregon, Arkansas and Arizona State. He previously announced his final five earlier this week, and momentum has been trending in Michigan's direction for months.

247Sports' Crystal Ball predictions gave the Wolverines a 64 percent chance of landing the commitment. Nearly all experts who made their prediction over the last couple months gave the Wolverines the nod. 

"It was pretty sweet. He came from Stanford and then the 49ers. He has that thing about him where you know you are talking to someone that's big-time," Falcon said of Harbaugh, per Andrew Nemec of The Oregonian. "It was pretty sweet getting the offer from him and getting to talk to him personally."

Falcon joins offensive tackle Erik Swenson and quarterback Brandon Peters as the most high-profile players in Michigan's growing class. The Wolverines are currently ranked No. 20 on 247Sports' overall team rankings despite Harbaugh being on the job for only a few months.

In Falcon, they'll be getting an impressive prospect who already looks ready for the next level. Listed at 6'1" and 215 pounds, he has a ready-made build that might be able to pack more weight without losing his explosiveness. It's not hard to envision him stepping right into a role similar to the one Frank Gore occupied under Harbaugh in San Francisco. 

Either way, Falcon's signing is a loud-and-clear message to the rest of the Big Ten that Michigan is on an upward trajectory.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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Schools to Watch After Decommitment of 4-Star DT Jordan Elliott

When news broke Monday about 4-star defensive tackle Jordan Elliott decommitting from Baylor, one question surfaced.

Will he stay in state, or will he play college ball far from home?

A 4-star lineman, Elliott is inching closer to 30 offers, and while the 6'4", 305-pound Houston product has the opportunity to play close to home, he has intriguing offers out of state that he will consider.

Which offers? That's the big question, as he chooses not to be specific. Elliott has offers from Alabama, Florida State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, USC and others—including his most recent offer from Miami.

The out-of-state schools will be a competitive battle with those in the Lone Star State. Elliott has Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, Houston and North Texas—in addition to Baylor, a school he said he still has admiration and respect for.

"I totally respect Baylor as a whole," Elliott said. "It was a long, tough decision."

There's an aura of mystique that makes Elliott such a wanted target. He's run the 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds, blazing for a 300-pounder. He is expected to be most effective at defensive tackle, but he is capable of lining up as a defensive end if necessary. He had 12 sacks as a junior, proof that he's quick off the ball.

Although he's adamant about being wide open, Texas has been one of the schools high on his radar. Elliott visited the Longhorns a couple weeks ago after picking up an offer in February.

Elliott's 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions have him going to Texas, but Texas A&M is a school to keep an eye on. Elliott told Bleacher Report after announcing his decommitment that he would take a trip to College Station this weekend. He was offered by the Aggies last month after their junior day.

There are those who believe the race for Elliott will come down to the two Texas rivals, but the good news for all of the schools is that he said he doesn't have a favorite. He added that he wants to set up unofficial visits throughout the spring and the summer.

Additionally, Elliott has said he doesn't have a problem playing college ball out of state.

Elliott is the nation's No. 12 defensive tackle. According to 247Sports, he finished his junior season with 78 tackles (31 for loss), along with his 12 sacks, for Westside High School.

No timetable has been set on a new decision date, but Elliott said he will take his time with the recruiting process the second time around. Look for his stock to rise as he continues to impress scouts during the spring.

 

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

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Mike Krzyzewski vs. Nick Saban: Who Is the Better College Coach?

Mike Krzyzewski, fresh off his fifth national title at Duke, is being mentioned among the greatest coaches of all time, in any sport. On the gridiron, Nick Saban is a coach who has enjoyed unparalleled success winning four national titles in his 20 seasons as a head coach. 

Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe was joined by Barrett Sallee as they debated which is the better college head coach. 

Simple question: Who is the better college coach? Check out the video and let us know! 

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Boise St. Recruit Raymond Sheard Arrested for Bringing Unloaded Gun to School

Boise State lost a running back signee from its roster before he even stepped on the field.      

Alyssa Parrish of The Dallas Morning News reported that Raymond Sheard was arrested "for bringing an unloaded gun to school" and will no longer be attending Boise State for football:

Raymond Sheard, 19, was sent to the school office Tuesday where his suspicious behavior prompted school officials to search his backpack. They found an unloaded gun, non-prescription drugs and marijuana, Arlington police spokeswoman Tiara Richard said.

Sheard has been charged with possession of a prohibited weapon, possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and tampering with an ID, according to jail records.

Sheard was a highly regarded recruit who tallied 1,502 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in his senior campaign, per Parrish.   

Boise State won plenty of games last year on the back of a strong rushing attack, as Jay Ajayi tallied 1,823 yards and 28 touchdowns on the ground. However, he declared for the NFL draft, which opened up the spot for other contributors.

Sheard was expected to at least compete for playing time as a freshman once he arrived on campus, especially after Ajayi’s departure. That clearly is no longer the case, and someone will have to step up as a result.

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Ohio State's Curtis Samuel Is Urban Meyer's New Next Percy Harvin

COLUMBUS, Ohio — "The Percy Harvin role."

It's a phrase that's been thrown around—almost recklessly—ever since Urban Meyer arrived at Ohio State in 2012. Otherwise known as the "H-back" or "Pivot" position in Meyer's spread offense, it's a spot that was made famous by Harvin during Meyer's time in Gainesville, where the wide receiver/running back played a prominent role in Florida's national championships in 2006 and 2008.

Originally, it was supposed to be Corey "Philly" Brown, but the now-Carolina Panther proved to be much more of a receiver than he was a viable ball-carrier on a consistent basis. Dontre Wilson brought the Harvin hype with him when he signed with the Buckeyes in 2013, but injuries and inconsistency have hampered the DeSoto, Texas, native in the first two years of his college career.

Jalin Marshall showed flashes of such versatility late last year but is now spending the spring practicing as a pure wide receiver. That move, however, was made possible by the emergence of another player who will try his hand at being the next Harvin, as Curtis Samuel has been the star of Ohio State's spring.

A 4-star prospect by way of Brooklyn, New York's Erasmus Hall, Samuel arrived in Columbus a year ago unsure of what position he'd play. The state of New York's top-ranked player primarily played running back during his prep days in the Empire State, but at 5'11" and 185 pounds, most recruiting sites projected him to play wide receiver at the next level.

Meyer had different ideas, sticking Samuel behind Ezekiel Elliott at running back in his first spring on campus a year ago. Gaining 10 pounds by the start of the season, Samuel remained the Buckeyes' second-string running back throughout their run to the national title, rushing for 383 yards and scoring six touchdowns in his debut campaign.

Samuel's start to his college career showed plenty of promise, but with Elliott emerging as the front-runner to win the Heisman Trophy heading into 2015, it was tough to tell where his touches would come from as a sophomore. That was until Ohio State opened the doors on its first practice of the spring, where Samuel could be seen being featured prominently as a wide receiver.

"He’s a guy that we’ve ID’d as a top-five playmaker right now in our program," Meyer said of Samuel. "The days of Curtis Samuel playing 10 plays [a game] are over."

That's just about what Samuel would have done had he remained purely a running back, spelling Elliott with most of his carries coming in blowouts. With his playmaking abilities, that would have been a waste of a year of eligibility, which is one of the biggest reasons why his move to the Pivot was made.

"He's a really good one," Meyer said. "With Zeke coming back healthy [from offseason wrist surgery], to see him stand on the sideline and watch Zeke play a bunch is not right."

It also doesn't hurt that of all of the players Meyer has tried in the Harvin role, Samuel might be the best fit.

Listed at 5'11" and 200 pounds on the Ohio State spring roster, Samuel is the same height and five pounds heavier than Harvin was in his final season at Florida in 2008. While he may not be as fast as Harvin—few in college football history have been—he does possess the same ability to change direction in the open field and versatility as both a pass-catcher and ball-carrier.

That's the key part when it comes to playing Meyer's version of the H-back, which lines up in the slot and can either run a route for a potential pass or motion into the backfield for a carry. While they each showed flashes, neither Wilson nor Marshall was able to do both on a consistent basis, but Samuel just might be the man for the job.

“Curtis is really talented,” Buckeyes wide receivers coach Zach Smith said. “He can play a lot of different spots. There are very few that he couldn’t."

While he still sees the occasional snap at running back, the majority of his time has been spent at receiver this spring in an effort to prepare him to play the hybrid role this fall. The plan is that by the time Ohio State opens up the season at Virginia Tech on Sept. 7, Samuel will be able to line up at either running back or wide receiver with the ability to motion to whichever spot he doesn't, creating mismatches for opposing defenses.

Exploiting such matchups has been a staple of Meyer's spread offense throughout his coaching career.

"The four or five wide receivers are constantly in motion, trying to create confusion for the defense and find that perfect mismatch in talent or opening in the defense that they then can exploit," American Football Monthly's Terry Jacoby wrote in 2006—Harvin's freshman season.

Among Samuel, Elliott, Marshall and Wilson, Meyer may have his largest collection of players capable of creating such offensive opportunities. That's before even factoring in the potential emergences of other players who have been enjoying big springs according to the OSU coaching staff, such as Noah Brown and Parris Campbell.

And while Ohio State will have options, all it takes is one player with multiple skill sets such as Samuel to provide the versatility—and speed—Meyer so desperately covets. He may not be as highly touted as Elliott heading into the season, but if Samuel makes the most of his new role, Meyer may have finally found his new Percy Harvin.

"We have to find ways to get him the ball in his hands," Meyer said. "Obviously Zeke Elliott's way high on the list, but Curtis Samuel is not far behind."

 

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

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Watch High School Football QB Do Full Flip over 2 Defenders for Incredible TD

Ross Bowers, a 3-star pro-style quarterback, per 247Sports, headed to Cal, will do anything to score a touchdown. If that means going fully head over heels, then he'll do it.

Check out this video in which Bowers does a full front flip into the end zone for a touchdown.  

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Complete Previews for Top 15 College Football Spring Games This Weekend

This weekend marks the earnest beginning of spring football games. Relevant teams such as Baylor and Michigan have already completed theirs, but those were anomalies.

This weekend, we get our first loaded schedule.

Six FBS teams will run their spring games on Friday, with 26 following Saturday. Included among those teams are five conference champions, 25 bowl participants and 15 bowl winners from 2014.

To help sort through the madness, here's a preview of the 15 biggest spring games on the schedule. Apologies to those we left off; we'll be watching you too, rest assured.

This is, after all, our last gasp of football until August.

Might as well breathe all the air we can.

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Ranking the 5 Best NFL Prospects on Ole Miss

Head coach Hugh Freeze has been stockpiling talent at Ole Miss over the last few recruiting cycles, and now that talent is starting to really take over for the Rebels.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down the top five NFL prospects for the Rebels.

Who is the best prospect on Ole Miss' roster this season? Check out the video and let us know!

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Morgantown Bans Patio Furniture Because WVU Students Keep Burning It All

We need to talk, West Virginia University.

You have some good things going for you, namely a football program that doesn't incite paralyzing depression and a beautiful college town full of fine locals who are probably very nice and say things like, "Supper's ready."

But you are hurting yourselves and the people of Morgantown, Mountaineers. It started with your smack-talking basketball team feeding its flailing, ineffectual limbs into the Kentucky log chipper, and now your penchant for postgame arson is infringing on the personal liberties of the citizenry.

According to WVPublic.org's Jesse Wright (h/t Laken Litman of For The Win), the city of Morgantown, West Virginia, is banning all patio furniture within city limits due to the unabated burning of said furniture by students after football and basketball games. 

Morgantown City Manager Jeff Mikorski said the ban is a stopgap in the veritable forest fire of less-than-controlled burns initiated by students over the past decade.

"Over the last 10 years, we've had over 3,000 street fires because of the quick ability to bring furniture from porches and put it into the streets and put them on on fire," Mikorski said. 

The law was passed April 7 and covers "upholstered furniture...in yards or unenclosed porches."

What this amounts to is a ban on a fixture of unleveled college patios everywhere—the outdoor moldy couch. You'll find one of these peeling, half-rotten mammoths moldering next to a beer pong table on the majority of campus live-outs, and most of them go neglected but unmolested for years.

Of course, there must certainly be a cross section of locals who also own these swampy things. What are they to do? College kids aren't the only people in the world who enjoy sinking into a mildewing loveseat and feeling the crinkle of last fall's leaves as they open another Keystone. What of their loss?

It's really quite simple, West Virginia. 

Get it together—for your hosts and for yourselves.

 

Dan is on Twitter. A rain-soaked porch-couch is a privilege, not a right.

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Georgia Football: Former Backups Ready to Emerge as Stars in 2015

The Georgia Bulldogs are ready to return to the top of the SEC and contest for a spot in the College Football Playoff. With key upperclassmen moving on, which backups are ready for more prominent roles in 2015?

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee breaks down the roster and pinpoints which players he believes will break out next season for the Bulldogs.

How will Georgia fare next season? Check out the video and let us know!  

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College Football Teams Whose Next QB Will Be Better Than Current Starter

We're still months away from the 2015 college football season, but some teams with uncertain quarterback situations probably wish they could skip ahead to 2016. Others might be in good shape this fall, but the future holds far more promise. 

No matter what a team's current quarterback scenario is, the possibility of what is coming down the pike are hard to ignore. Whether it's a player set to come in as part of the 2016 recruiting class or who on the roster is in line to be a backup or be redshirted this season, the next great thing at quarterback is among the most exciting concepts in college football.

And in some cases, a future quarterback is apt to be better than who is running the offense this season. This isn't necessarily a knock on the quarterback some teams plan on going with in 2015; it's more of an endorsement of their next great thing.

We've identified some teams that figure to have a much better quarterback in 2016 than this year, though this list is limited to schools that have a clear choice for next year that's different from this season's top candidates.

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Is LSU Head Coach Les Miles Really on the Hot Seat in 2015?

The LSU Tigers are a perennial contender in the SEC who are always in the hunt, but with their success come lofty expectations. Head coach Les Miles is constantly under scrutiny in Baton Rouge. 

Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee discusses whether or not Miles is on the hot seat at LSU. 

Should Miles be worrying about his job? Check out the video and let us know!

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Alabama Football: How Much Faster Can Lane Kiffin's Offense Be in 2015?

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — In a lot of ways, year two of Lane Kiffin is going to be more interesting than year one, where he caught lightning in a bottle with a lot of little things coming together for Alabama's record-setting year.

He installed a higher-tempo offense while Blake Sims turned into one of the SEC's best quarterbacks, Amari Cooper had a career year, and T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry came together to form a terrific tandem in the backfield.

Year two, though, brings yet another quarterback battle among an unproven group. Gone is Yeldon along with Alabama's top three receivers and number one tight end. It's also replacing three offensive linemen.

The learning curve will be even steeper.

So it was curious when tight end O.J. Howard mentioned a "different" offense during spring break.

"Kind of more shotgun, more high-tempo, so you have to learn the plays really fast and get off the ball really quick," he told reporters on Monday.

It's hard to imagine much more tempo for Alabama, a team traditionally known for running the ball and controlling the clock than scoring quickly. But Howard says it can be.

So how much faster can Alabama actually be in 2015?

For the first four of the last five years, Alabama more or less hovered around the same 65- to 67-plays-per-game mark under offensive coordinators Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier, according to TeamRankings.com.

But as college football got faster and faster, that meant the Crimson Tide fell further and further behind in national rankings.

Not that it hurt them all that much. Alabama won two more national titles in that span using a punishing ground game and a stifling defense to win instead of offense.

Last season, though, Kiffin came in and gave Alabama a noticeable shot in the arm on the offensive side of the ball in terms of tempo, and it led to the most prolific offense in Crimson Tide history:

Alabama's seven-plays-per-game jump is significant. Over a 14-game season, that's 98 more plays than it would have ran last year.

But on the national level, Alabama is still below the midline in terms of tempo. It’s far below the blistering 90.3 plays per game that Baylor ran last year.

So there is still plenty of room for improvement in the tempo department. How does Alabama do it?

It starts, like it always does, at quarterback.

Sims was suited to play at that tempo for a couple of reasons. He had an entire offseason to digest and immerse himself in Kiffin's new playbook. His experience gave him a rapport with his teammates to make calls on the fly. And his five years on campus meant Saban had a level of confidence in him already to trust him with all of that responsibility.

There isn't a quarterback like that on the roster right now.

Saban praised Jacob Coker after Friday's scrimmage and said he had been working in more shotgun than before. He has some mobility, too, so he'll be able to do a lot of things that Sims was able to do.

If not Coker, one of Alabama's other four options will have to prove he can step up and at least maintain what Sims was able to do.

Whomever the quarterback ends up being, he won't have a safety net like Amari Cooper to throw to. Cooper is gone along with DeAndrew White and Christion Jones, leaving a batch of talented but unproven receivers at Kiffin's disposal.

At running back, Alabama seems to be dropping guys like flies. But the top two options remain the same, with Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake assuming top-of-the-rotation duties.

But their usage and styles of play may result in a handful of more plays per game.

Henry is expected to be the No. 1 back, but behind him, Drake should be used in a myriad of ways, much like he was last season. Drake has actually taken some reps at wide receiver in practice, which you would expect means more passes coming his way.

It's a skill set that keeps a defense on its heels but also would seem more prone to explosive passing plays rather than the methodical clock-churning of Alabama running backs in the past.

So while it's a little strange to think of Alabama playing much faster, there definitely is room for improvement.

If a few things come together the right way again, Howard's prediction could become reality.

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes and reporting were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Note: Players are referenced by fall 2015 eligibility.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Former Michigan Stars Say Jim Harbaugh Is Bringing Bo Schembechler Era Back

With an estimated attendance of 60,000—including 320 former players—the atmosphere in Ann Arbor for Jim Harbaugh's first spring game as Michigan's head coach was impossible to ignore last Saturday.

But it wasn't very difficult to explain.

"Everybody is definitely supporting Coach Harbaugh," former Wolverines linebacker and president of the Letterwinners M Club, Bob Stites, told Bleacher Report. "He’s one of us."

That's a sentiment that's not only been shared by former teammates of Harbaugh's like Stites, but generations of ex-Michigan players who are eager to see the Wolverines return to national prominence after an eight-year hiatus. Even the most optimistic of U-M alums know that only so much can be accomplished in one session of spring football, but you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone associated with the Wolverines who didn't notice the dawning of a new era in Ann Arbor on Saturday.

“Obviously we have to wait and see what happens on the field," said Chris Howard, the leading rusher on Michigan's 1997 national championship team. "But what you do see and what you do get a sense and feel for is that the team seems very energetic. They seem to have bought into what Harbaugh is selling them."

It's not just the current Michigan players who have done so.

 

The Harbaugh Effect

Michigan may still be in the early stages of its overhaul on the field, but off it, the program has done a complete 180 from where it stood just months ago.When Harbaugh accepted the head-coaching job at his alma mater at the end of 2014, it sent a shockwave not just through Schembechler Hall, but through all of Ann Arbor. Immediately, his arrival was met with a "khaki out" at a Michigan basketball game, an enthusiasm that hasn't died in the months since.

"It is amazing what an impact he’s made," Stites said. "I talked to some people who worked at the M Den [bookstore] and they were definitely selling more items for it. Even around town, real estate developers and real estate people are saying condos are selling a little bit faster and they think think there’s a ‘Harbaugh effect.’ It’s definitely taken over the area as far as the optimistic attitude of having a new coach here."

That attitude has extended to Michigan's strong alumni base, which was evident by the presence of former players in Ann Arbor over the weekend. Even if the product on the field hasn't changed just yet, the Wolverines' mindset has, after a near-decade-long deviation from their typical status as one of college football's elite programs.

"When you can create an atmosphere of competition and not an atmosphere of entitlement, only good things can happen," Howard said. "I see guys competing, I see guys loving to compete, I think everybody understands that nothing’s going to be given to them, they understand there’s no such thing as job security, and you have to fight for everything you say you want. And quite honestly, that’s the way it should be.”

Of course, attitude and optimism can only take you so far, and sooner rather than later, Michigan and Harbaugh are going to need to win football games. But that doesn't mean last Saturday's atmosphere or the current excitement surrounding the Wolverines is unwarranted, as there's certainly something sentimental to be found in the journey on which Harbaugh's currently embarking.

"He played on the same field, the same grass as they do now. He’s one of us. So that’s the exciting thing," said Jamie Morris, who played running back beside Harbaugh in the Michigan backfield. “He’s one of us."

 

"Bo-esque"

He may be just a little more than three months into the job, but Harbaugh's ties to the Michigan program have been long documented. The son of former Wolverines assistant Jack Harbaugh, Jim spent his formative years in Ann Arbor around legendary head coach Bo Schembechler before Jack's career took the family out West.

“He’s a coach’s kid. His dad and his brother [Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh], there’s pictures of them running around the stadium here," said Stites, who lives in Ann Arbor. "[Bo] was a father figure for Jim."

After starring at Palo Alto High School in California, Harbaugh would return to Ann Arbor to play quarterback for Schembechler from 1983-86. A three-year starter and eventual first-round pick in the 1987 NFL draft, Harbaugh left a legacy that spoke for itself, winning Big Ten Player of the Year honors while leading the Wolverines to a Big Ten championship in his senior season.

"You always hear the stories, you always hear the folklore about some of the former players," Howard said. "Jim’s heroics are no different.”

But even with all he was able to accomplish on the field, Harbaugh built a reputation for his leadership off of it. His upbringing as a "coach's kid" showed up in the huddle, where he was determined to prove that Michigan's best players were on offense—and not defense, as Schembechler claimed.

He also routinely challenged teammates, unafraid to be disliked but demanding to respected. Those who spent time with him in those huddles viewed him as an extension of Bo on the field and now find it unsurprising that he's roaming the same sidelines that his mentor once did.

"It’s surreal for me because I played beside this guy," Morris said. "I see him, but I see Bo’s teachings in him too."

That means a greater emphasis placed on the team as opposed to individuals and an atmosphere where competition is not just encouraged, but a requirement. After Saturday's spring game, the winning team feasted on steaks, while the losers were left with little more than pasta.

According to Stites, that was a page straight from the Schembechler playbook, which Harbaugh has carried with him throughout his climb up the coaching ranks from San Diego to Stanford to the San Francisco 49ers. Having remained close to the Michigan program, Stites says he's already seen other similarities between his former head coach and quarterback, including the abolition of preferred parking for football players.

"He’s cut things down, he’s actually trying to make it simpler: Just football, just school, just the basics. Trying to get rid of some things that maybe were distractions in the building and around it," Stites said. "He’s just getting back to the basics and treating them all the same just like Coach Schembechler did. We were all dogs and in the doghouse all the time, so he treated everyone the same.”

That was apparent in the spring game, where hitting was live—including on the quarterbacks. That sort of toughness may have been missing from Michigan as of late, but it wasn't unfamiliar to those who had been around Schembechler.

"The things he does, the things he says, is definitely Bo-esque," Stites said. "It’s good to see.”

 

"It's been brutal"

In order to understand why there's been so much excitement in Ann Arbor for Harbaugh's arrival, all one must do is ask about the last seven seasons.

Since losing to FCS school Appalachian State in the 2007 season opener, the Wolverines have been largely irrelevant, save for an 11-2 Sugar Bowl-winning season in 2011. After moving on from Lloyd Carr, Rich Rodriguez was fired after three seasons, and Brady Hoke lasted just four before Harbaugh's hiring at the end of 2014.

Under Rodriguez and Hoke from 2008-2014, Michigan compiled a 46-42 record, a far cry from the standard that was previously set by college football's all-time winningest program.

“It’s been brutal. You’re watching a program that you love, that you bled and sweated for, it’s been brutal to kind of watch the program fall to where it is," Howard said. "It’s no fun going into the gym and seeing people with Ohio State shirts on and Michigan State shirts on and you just not being able to say anything.”

It's now been 10 years since the Wolverines' last Big Ten championship, a drought that would have been unheard of under Schembechler, who won 13 conference titles in his 21 seasons as Wolverines head coach. For a program whose goal is to compete for the Big Ten championship every season, Michigan hasn't done so since 2007, nor won one since 2004.

Meanwhile, rival Ohio State has risen to the top of college football under Urban Meyer, while Michigan State can make a legitimate claim to being the Wolverine State's premier program. Having previously saved his 1986 conference championship ring as a keepsake, Stites now wears his around town as both a motivational and teaching tool.

"People need to see it," Stites said. "They need to see that it’s possible, that people have been there and done that. These kids just need to see that. They need to see that those are the expectations that we have here. At Michigan we play for the Big Ten title and that’s what we need to win. These kids need to see those rings and see people that have done it before and see how they act, see what they do, see what they say."

They'll now not have to look any further than their head coach to do so.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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