NCAA Football News

Grading Penn State's Post-Spring Depth Chart

With the completion of Penn State's annual Blue-White game, head coach James Franklin has reached his first milestone as a Nittany Lion. 

While Penn State returned plenty of key contributors from the 2013 squad, there were also a fair share of newcomers who impressed during spring ball. With a new staff in place, it was a fresh start for everyone involved. 

How does each position group look after spring practice? 

Each group was assessed based on both talent and depth currently at the position. Freshmen who have yet to enroll were obviously not considered in the assessment process.

Here are the position grades for Penn State's post-spring depth chart. 

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Florida Football: Will Muschamp's Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice

Now that the Florida Gators' spring practices are over and players are on their own for a few months, coach Will Muschamp has nothing but time on his hands. Some of that time will be spent recruiting. Other hours will be used up on studying film and what not. The other days will be spent worrying about the lingering issues heading into fall camp.

Like any team, Florida has its fair share of concerns that need to be addressed before the opening kickoff against Idaho. But there’s really only a couple that should keep coach up at night.

The wide receiver rotation will figure itself out. The defense has the pieces to once again be one of college football’s best. And the offensive line looked promising in the spring game for whatever that’s worth.

Sure, the Gators have other areas that need answers, but it’s these two touchy subjects that are certainly playing in the back of Muschamp’s mind every time he steps in his office.

 

Health 

 

Forget the offensive concerns, depth issues, what the schedule looks like or anything else that is occupying your mind until the regular season arrives.

Florida has got to get healthy.

The Gators entered the spring the same way they finished last season: Banged up. Running back, defensive line and linebacker, many players who are expected to be key contributors weren’t even on the field during spring ball. While Florida had a ton of issues that led to last season’s failure, having players drop like flies certainly didn’t help.

Kurt Roper’s adjustments and the improvement of Jeff Driskel don’t matter much if half the team’s starters are holding a clipboard on the sidelines. Granted, it’s not that serious yet, but remember last season? Florida’s injury list was longer than many rappers' arrest records.

Forget how the team looked during the spring game. A successful offseason is having a team that’s 100 percent healthy when the games actually matter. This is the top priority with everything else taking a backseat.

 

Getting Driskel Comfortable 

 

You just can’t escape it. Like it or not, this season is going to come down to whether or not Driskel can take his game to another level under Roper.

Driskel looked OK in the spring game, completing 18 of 32 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown. Remember, that was his first game-like action since suffering a season-ending injury early last year. However, timing was clearly off and he still had trouble hitting open receivers.

Instead of hitting an open receiver down the sideline, the ball sailed out of bounds a couple of times. A few passes were thrown behind receivers or in the dirt, and the lone touchdown pass was due to Demarcus Robinson making a sweet move to shake a defender in the open field.

It’s fair to say backup Skyler Mornhinweg was the sharper quarterback of the two, but that’s for a different time and place.

While it’s way too early to bail on Driskel, and he’s sure to improve spending more time with the new offensive coordinator, there’s still a lot of progress that needs to be made between now and August.

If the players can get through these next few months without breaking any bones and Driskel irons out a few wrinkles, everything else for the Gators will fall into place for a bounce-back season. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Breaking Down Stephon Tuitt's Foot Injury, Jones Fracture and NFL Draft Stock

Last February, a broken foot prevented former University of Notre Dame defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt from participating in the NFL Scouting Combine.

According to NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah, doctors diagnosed a Jones fracture in his left foot during combine medical exams and, as a result, did not clear him to participate. At the time, Jeremiah's source projected a six-to-eight week recovery following surgery.

If such a timeline holds true, Tuitt may be returning to action very soon. However, even "small" Jones fractures require precise management and are at significant risk of complications, and as such, a six-to-eight week recovery may prove optimistic.

A closer look at the injury and its relevant anatomy shows why.

Within the foot, dozens of bones, ligaments and muscles coordinate the numerous complex motions of the toes, foot and ankle.

When an outside force applies too much stress to one of those structures, it incurs damage. Muscles and ligaments tear, and bones fracture.

A Jones fracture involves the fifth metatarsal—or the bone that connects the base of the little toe to the bones that make up the heel. Specifically, the break occurs in the proximal portion of the bone—or the part closest to the heel.

In football, an athlete may sustain a Jones fracture when a hit forces the front of the foot to suddenly and sharply turn inward while the toes are pointed downward.

Like all fractures, the amount of fracture displacement—or how much the broken pieces are misaligned—looms large when determining the proper treatment course. Additionally, the precise location of the fracture can also guide therapy, and in a Jones fracture, differences of mere millimeters can significantly alter management.

According to Dr. Adam Bitterman—an orthopedic surgery resident physician based in New York—it comes down to blood flow.

"A true Jones fracture occurs at the junction of the metaphysis and diaphysis (of the fifth metatarsal)," Bitterman explained. "Because this zone is a watershed area, meaning the vascular supply may be limited, it is prone to nonunion, and surgical treatment is indicated."

The term "diaphysis" describes the long, central part of a bone, and the "epiphysis" refers to the end of the bone. The "metaphysis" lies in between the two.

As Bitterman mentions, the point where the metaphysis meets the diaphysis does not carry a very robust blood supply—relative to other surrounding areas, at least. As a result, Jones fractures may not always heal well, as it's blood that transports the body's healing and repair cells to injury sites. In fact, in a significant number of cases, nonunion—where the broken bone does not heal back together—can occur.

That's where surgery comes in.

"Elite athletes choose surgery to limit the chances of nonunion by enhancing fracture fixation," Bitterman went on. "Surgical treatment is via intermedullary screw fixation. The athlete will remain non-weightbearing for approximately six to eight weeks."

In other words, by using a metal screw to secure one end of the broken bone to the other, a surgeon can fix the fractured metatarsal into place while it heals. The athlete must then avoid bearing weight on the foot, which could stress the healing bone and deter healing.

Bitterman added that in addition to minimizing the chance of a poor outcome, surgery sometimes allows earlier return to sport than nonoperative treatment. That said, he emphasized that even with surgery, radiographic images such as X-rays must demonstrate union of the broken bone before an athlete can safely return to play.

With that in mind, Tuitt and his medical team are surely proceeding with a conservative mindset. Fortunately, at this point, he is likely well on his way to recovery. Even better, no news of complications yet exists.

Nevertheless, as the draft inches closer, NFL medical staffs will certainly continue to pay very close attention to the former Fighting Irish lineman's medicals, and any sign of poor healing—or a setback in his rehab—will undoubtedly affect his medical grade.

After all, when a high draft pick rides in the balance—and possibly millions of dollars—a medical risk-versus-reward analysis may carry more weight than any other element of Tuitt's draft portfolio.

 

Dr. Dave Siebert is a resident physician at the University of Washington who plans to pursue fellowship training in Primary Care (non-operative) Sports Medicine. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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Kelcy Quarles and Victor Hampton Face Police Questioning over Nightclub Incident

Former South Carolina football stars Victor Hampton and Kelcy Quarles are reportedly wanted by the New York Police Department for questioning in connection with a nightclub beating. 

According to NYPD Lieutenant John Grimpel, via Jeremy Turnage of WIS News 10, the victim, who has facial fractures and was reportedly struck with a hookah pipe, claimed he was attacked by Hampton and Quarles at Greenhouse nightclub in downtown New York on April 11. 

For now, no charges have been filed, but detectives want to talk to everyone who was in the VIP room, where the alleged incident occurred. 

In a separate incident later that night, another former Gamecock player, Chaz Sutton, was stabbed in the shoulder by someone from behind. The wound was minor. 

Both Hampton and Quarles, who were in New York for a magazine shoot with ESPN, have hopes of being selected in the upcoming NFL draft. 

Quarles, a 22-year-old defensive tackle, is 6'3", 297 pounds and drew particular interest from the Chicago Bears during March's draft combine, per NFL.com. CBS Sports ranks him as the No. 10 player at his position, projecting him to be drafted in the second or third round. 

Hampton, also 22, is rated by CBS Sports as the 16th-best cornerback and potentially looking at a second- or third-day selection. He has been attempting to shed a negative reputation as a player with a checkered past, which he recently discussed in an interview with WIS News, via WorldNow.com's Joe Gorchow:

"It's kind of rough because people put me on a reputation or labeled me at a young age before I really even knew exactly what was going on," he said. 

We won't know how this incident will truly affect the duo's draft stock until more details are discovered, but this certainly isn't going to put Hampton and Quarles in a positive light during the most important time of their lives. 

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC Football: Cody Kessler Starting QB, Why It Was the Right Choice

USC's most important position battle has finally been decided, with head coach Steve Sarkisian announcing on Tuesday who will be the Trojans' signal-caller in 2014:

Sark addressed the media after Tuesday's practice in USC's final week of spring camp. Last Saturday, the head coach had backed off from saying he would name a starting quarterback soon, but clearly, things have changed in Troy. 

While this ruling comes as no surpriseKessler started nearly all of USC's games in 2013, giving him a significant advantage over his main challenger, Max BrowneSark's decision to name a quarterback early is the right choice not only for the fans' sake, but also for that of the quarterbacks themselves:

Last season, the Trojans struggled to have an identity in the early weeks of the season because they didn't know who their true quarterback was. As we know, things came together in the end, but it was an unnecessarily bumpy start.

Having Kessler know in April that he will be starting in August gives him the confidence to know he can lead the Trojans yet again, and it gives the rest of the team and the coaches a focal point around which to build. 

It's important that Sarkisian, already facing all the challenges inherent to being a new head coach, makes his first offseason as seamless as possible. Naming a quarterback before the spring game helps accomplish that goal, and it's the right move considering the training wheels are still on the uptempo offense.

All that said, Sark left the door open for Browne to still have an opportunity to change things come the fall:

Even if a battle reopens, it's likely that Kessler starts on August 30, and that prevents a cloud of uncertainty from hanging over USC through the offseason. 

For Browne, it means another year of sitting on the sidelines, but when it was his turn to address the media, he made it clear that he intends for those sidelines to remain cardinal and gold:

Quarterback competitions are nothing new at USC, with former Trojan stars like Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez and John David Booty all having gone through them. For Browne, this is just another stepping stone:

Coach Sarkisian will certainly continue to push and challenge Kessler through this final week of spring camp, and now that he knows he's won the job, we can expect that Kessler's performance on Saturday will be even further evidence that Sark made the right choice.  

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Grading Ohio State's Post-Spring Depth Chart

At Ohio State, most position battles are won or lost in the spring, when the coaches have the time to really evaluate the roster and identify their playmakers.

With spring practice in the books, Urban Meyer's Buckeyes are starting to take shape.

While a number of starting spots remain open as the Buckeyes work to replace 10 starters, the top contenders have been identified. Safety Tyvis Powell emerged as a contributor, and he knows where he stands going into summer conditioning, according to Ari Wasserman of The Plain Dealer:

The way they treat it here, spring is the opportunity to go earn a position. When summer camp comes around, they pretty much got who they want in. There aren't too many changes made, so what you see right now is kind of what it is going to be.

Of course, there are exceptions. Last year, Joey Bosa and Dontre Wilson arrived in the fall and earned a spot in Ohio State's two-deep rotation as true freshmen.

But the depth chart's foundation is set in the spring. Here's a detailed look at each position group after spring practice.

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Grading Nebraska's Post-Spring Depth Chart

Nebraska football fans got to see the annual Red-White spring game last weekend—a final glimpse of the players before they break until August. With the spring game not using split squads this year, we got a close look at the offensive and defensive units as a whole.

As a result, we have a slightly better idea of what the post-spring depth chart will look like for Nebraska. Of course, it’s still guesswork in many areas. For the most part, this will also exclude players who missed the spring due to injury, as well as those who were not on campus.

Caveats fully applied, let’s take a look at our best guess of Nebraska’s post-spring depth chart, and how it grades out going in to the summer. 

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Miami Football: Al Golden's Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice

The Miami Hurricanes concluded the 2014 spring session with a offense vs. defense scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium, and head coach Al Golden certainly left with a few concerns.

On one hand, the defense has shown improvement once again, but it can be difficult to accurately gauge the unit's progression, which is a result of quarterback struggles.

With inexperienced youth under center, the playmakers are forced into a larger role than once expected, which also places more pressure on the offensive line.

Though being critical of one spot can ultimately result in a slippery slope, the 'Canes have numerous areas that demand extra attention from the coaches over the summer.

 

Quarterback Progression

After Ryan Williams tore his ACL, redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen and redshirt sophomore Gray Crow were thrown under the microscope.

Combined, the young quarterbacks completed 16 of 41 passes for 128 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions during the 11-on-11 portion of the scrimmage. After seeing the rough performance, offensive coordinator and QB coach James Coley must develop Olsen or Crow into a serviceable starter before the opener at Louisville.

However, I won't belabor the point here. Following the spring game, the concern at the quarterback position was discussed in more detail.

Williams returning quickly from his injury is a wild card worth remembering, but the senior will likely not be ready until the middle of the year, so it's up to Olsen and Crow now.

Additionally, temper expectations about Brad Kaaya earning the starting job. While not impossible, it is extremely difficult for a non-early enrollee true freshman to be the No. 1 by the season opener.

 

Skill Positions Stepping Up

Consequent to the struggles of Olsen and Crow, Miami needs Duke Johnson and Stacy Coley to play up to their lofty talent levels. The Hurricanes are expecting the terrific running back and wide receiver to break huge runs and stretch the defense, opening up each other for huge gains.

The duo is not alone, of course, with early enrollee Joe Yearby and an upgraded version of Gus Edwards occupying complementary roles to Duke.

On the outside, Phillip Dorsett and Herb Waters have game-breaking speed, Rashawn Scott is a superb possession receiver and Malcolm Lewis is regaining pre-injury form.

Throw in Clive Walford, who had the second-most receptions last year, and the Miami offense has plenty of talent to guide its young signal-caller.

Golden needs the skill-position players to create open passing lanes and simplify reads for Olsen and Crow, because not every quarterback is capable of consistently throwing a receiver open. And sometimes, like Duke against Wake Forest and Dallas Crawford at North Carolina last year, the running game must carry the team.

 

Offensive Line Becoming a Top Unit

For the playmakers to step up, Olsen or Crow—as part of the learning curve—will need extra time to make the proper decision. Plus, the running backs are completely reliant on the run-blocking ability of the men in the trenches.

A great offense starts with a great offensive line, which is what Golden needs Ereck Flowers, Jon Feliciano, Shane McDermott, Danny Isidora and Malcolm Bunche (or Kc McDermott) to be.

Between Gus Edwards and Walter Tucker, Miami rushed for 106 yards on 30 carries (3.5 yards per attempt). Plus, Jelani Hamilton and Ufomba Kamalu both tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage, and seven defensive players earned a tackle for loss.

It was far from an embarrassing performance, but it wasn't a great one, either.

The elder McDermott, Shane, being unavailable for the last couple months while he recovers from surgery on his left foot definitely impacted the unit. According to Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post, McDermott suffered the injury against Florida and it did not properly heal.

Though sophomore Alex Gall had never played center, he temporarily replaced the senior. Per David Lake of 247Sports, Golden said, "Alex gives us versatility. He is intelligent and strong. … We are working him at center right now and he has done a good job."

Gall takes over Jared Wheeler's role as reserve utilityman, capable of playing all three inside positions. Consequently, Miami will once again boast sufficient depth on the line, but the 'Canes—who only surrendered 17 sacks last year—must be even better in 2014.

 

Exactly How Good is the Defense?

The Hurricanes defense had a fantastic scrimmage, tallying three interceptions during the 9-on-9 and 11-on-11 sessions. Crawford, Tracy Howard and Juwon Young each picked off a pass, and five more were broken up in 11-on-11.

As mentioned earlier, seven different players made a stop in the backfield, including Kamalu and Anthony Chickillo making one sack each. Overall, the defense's collective spring game performance was encouraging, but poor quarterback play was an undeniable factor.

Fortunately, save for Jameis Winston, the Hurricanes will not face elite gunslingers during the upcoming season. However, Miami has a recent tendency of making mediocre quarterbacks appear above average.

Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald notes Golden said improvement by the linebackers and safeties were among the most notable positives from spring ball. Of course, the 'Canes were a much-improved defense after a few games last season before relapsing into 2012 form—or better known as awful.

Golden can ill afford to have the same ol' song and dance in 2014, lest Miami be entirely dependent on its offense. And currently, that's not a pleasant thought.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Cody Kessler Named USC Trojans' Starting QB for 2014 Season

For now, the starting quarterback job at USC belongs to junior Cody Kessler. 

New head coach Steve Sarkisian announced the news on Tuesday, via the Trojans' official athletics Twitter feed: 

Sark seemed to leave the door slightly ajar for heralded redshirt freshman Max Browne to continue to fight for the starting job in the summer and fall, however: 

Still, that's probably more just something that a head coach has to say, and judging by Sarkisian's praise of Kessler, via the above Twitter account and 247 Sports' Mike Piellucci, it sounds as though it will be difficult for Browne to overtake the "veteran" on the depth chart: 

After winning a QB battle with Max Wittek that extended into the start of last year's regular season, Kessler went on to complete 65.4 percent of his throws for 2,968 yards, 20 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. 

In what was a chaotic season that featured a midseason coaching change, Kessler provided a calm presence under center, helping the Trojans to a 10-4 record while continually getting better as the year wore on. 

After a 14-10 loss to Notre Dame on October 19, Kessler threw 12 touchdowns and two interceptions in the final seven games of the season. 

He may not have the raw talent or potential that Browne possesses, but he has the experience, and as college football writer Bryan Fischer noted, this was the expected decision: 

Still, don't lose track of Browne. The No. 1 quarterback prospect from the 2013 class has prototypical size and impressive physical tools, and presence won't likely let Kessler have a long leash. USCFootball.com's Ryan Abraham noted how things can change, while the incumbent knows he has to continue to get better: 

With anticipated improvement after an encouraging sophomore season for Kessler and a new coaching staff in Los Angeles, expectations will only continue to grow for the Trojans.

Still, with one of the most promising backups in the country, don't expect this to be the last you hear of USC's quarterback situation.  

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Jared Lorenzen Cracks Joke About NCAA's New Unlimited Meals and Snacks Policy

Former University of Kentucky signal-caller Jared Lorenzen earned the nickname "Hefty Lefty" during his playing days for his enormous size, especially for a quarterback. Lorenzen recently reemerged in the public eye after videos showed he was still playing football despite weighing approximately 320 pounds. 

In light of the recent development that the NCAA would allow Division I student-athletes to receive unlimited meals and snacks, Lorenzen chimed in with a wisecrack about his weight:

Never change, Pillsbury Throwboy. Never change.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Scouting Report, Video Highlights and Predictions for 5-Star LB Jeffery Holland

Among the best defensive players in the 2015 class is 5-star linebacker Jeffery Holland. From Florida, Holland is a fantastic player who can do an array of things on the field.

His talent and skills have attracted many of the nation's best programs, as the Sunshine State recruit is awfully impressive on tape. Holland has a ton of potential, plus he could be ready to contribute as a true freshman.

He warrants a more in-depth look as a prospect.

All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports. Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

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Georgia Football: 5 Things We Learned from the Bulldogs' Spring Game

The Bulldogs are in their final week of spring practice before they break for the summer. Last Saturday, the Bulldogs took part in their annual spring game to show the fans an early look at the 2014 squad.

Like any spring game there were some good things to take away from the game, and there were some things the Bulldogs need to work on during preseason practice. The two practices after the spring game are beneficial because they give the coaches the opportunity to focus on some areas of weakness before the team takes some time off.

So here are five things we learned from the spring game.

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Alabama Football: Analyzing Why Crimson Tide Will Win the SEC

Alabama is the gold standard when it comes to college football. The Crimson Tide have won three of the last five national championships, including back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012.

Interestingly, SEC championships have been harder to achieve than crystal balls. Since coach Nick Saban’s arrival in 2007, Alabama has won only two conference crowns (2009, 2012), indicating that finishing on top of the SEC, widely regarded as the most competitive conference in the country, is no simple feat.

With the 2014 college football season fast approaching, here are three reasons why the Crimson Tide will win the SEC.

 

Favorable Schedule

Last season, Alabama started the season 11-0 and ranked No. 1 in the nation. However, the team’s SEC championship and BCS national title aspirations were halted thanks to Auburn’s thrilling 34-28 victory in which senior Chris Davis returned a missed 56-yard field-goal attempt 109 yards for a touchdown as time expired.

In 2014, the Crimson Tide’s schedule is extremely favorable. In terms of strength of schedule, calculated by adding up every team’s total wins and losses from a year ago, Alabama is the only SEC team to have less than .500 opponents’ winning percentage, according to Saturday Down South's Jon Cooper, as its opponents combined to go 71-79 in 2013.

In addition, Alabama gets Florida, Texas A&M and Auburn at home and avoids playing Georgia or South Carolina during the regular season. The toughest tests for the Crimson Tide will come on the road against rival LSU and at home to Auburn in the Iron Bowl. If Alabama can take care of business at home and manage a victory at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, it will be in good shape to win Saban’s third conference title.

 

Returning Starters

Although Alabama loses its decorated quarterback in A.J. McCarron, as well as a number of defensive players to the NFL, the team does return 12 starters from a year ago, including several key contributors on offense.

Most notably is junior running back T.J. Yeldon, who has amassed 2,343 yards and 26 touchdowns in two seasons. It won’t be a surprise if the team leans on the third-year back, especially early in the season when easing in a new signal-caller.

Alabama also returns four of its five leading pass-catchers in Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White, Christion Jones and tight end O.J. Howard. The quartet combined for 1,888 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

This offensive continuity will undoubtedly help whoever starts the season at quarterback. Senior Blake Sims has performed well this spring, completing 40-of-62 passes for 515 yards and five touchdowns through two scrimmages, according to Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee. However, Sims will be pushed by junior Jacob Coker, who will join the team this summer after transferring from Florida State, where he was a backup to Heisman winner Jameis Winston.

 

Nick Saban

During his tenure at Alabama, Saban has accumulated an impressive 74-15 record, including 61 victories in 68 games over the last five seasons. According to Alabama's official team website, with four national titles, Saban joins Frank Leahy, Bear Bryant and John McKay as the only coaches to accomplish such a feat.

He has also proven to be a master recruiter, as the Crimson Tide have had the nation’s top recruiting class four years in a row. They have the top class again this season, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.

But like every year, Saban will have to mold a talented, but young roster to play his brand of tough, disciplined football. But if any coach is up for the challenge, it's Saban. With an 8-1 all-time record in conference or national championship games, his track record speaks for itself.

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Alabama Football: What Will Derrick Henry's Role Be in 2014?

From the moment the clock struck zero in Alabama’s disappointing Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma, Tide fans looking ahead to the upcoming fall knew they had at least one big reason to smile—the breakout performance of running back Derrick Henry.

After racking up 161 yards of total offense and two touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving) on only nine touches against the Sooners, the biggest question entering spring practice was how Henry’s role would increase in 2014.

According to John Zenor of the Associated Press (h/t Florida Times-Union), Nick Saban is pleased with the rising sophomore’s improvement this spring.

“Derrick Henry has had a fabulous spring,” Saban said. “He picked up right where he left off at bowl practice last year. He works really hard. He runs really hard. He plays with a lot of toughness. He gets it. Very conscientious guy. He sets a great example. “

That endorsement from his head coach speaks volumes about his potential to become an impact player this season.

However, with junior T.J. Yeldon—who has piled up 2,343 yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground over his first two years—established as one of the nation’s top rushers, it will take a monumental effort for Henry to take over the starting role.

But as Alabama has proven throughout Saban’s tenure in Tuscaloosa, its ground game has been at its peak efficiency when relying on a two-headed monster in the backfield.

Players such as Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and Yeldon each thrived as the change-of-pace back to the touted rushers in front of them, yet each capitalized on the move to the lead role when their time came.

However, as talented as those backs were, Henry is a rare breed.

Dealing with a 240-pound player blessed with vision, power and breakaway speed, new Tide offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is charged with the task of making sure Yeldon, Henry and the rest of the Tide’s talented stable of backs get their touches.

Coming off his bowl performance and a strong display during spring practice, Henry appears to be in a strong position to hold off Kenyan Drake for the backup job.

If he does earn that job, expect him to see significantly more carries than the 36 he logged as a freshman.

Since 2008, Alabama’s lead back has season averages of 226 carries, 1,359 yards and 15 touchdowns. Over the same period, the No. 2 back has averaged 127 carries for 776 yards and nine touchdowns.

Regardless of how the depth chart shakes out, Henry will exit spring with a ton of ammunition for his case to become one of the Tide’s most trusted offensive weapons this fall.

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Auburn to Receive 2013 SEC Championship Rings at A-Day

The Auburn Tigers will be the proud owners of a new set of championship rings at halftime of A-Day on April 19. 

Auburn players, coaching staff and administrators will receive the 2013 SEC Championship rings featuring a simple, blue Auburn logo in the center with "2013 SEC CHAMPIONS" written along the side at halftime of their A-Day game, according to coach Gus Malzahn's Twitter

Auburn beat Missouri 59-42 in the SEC Championship on Dec. 7.

[Gus Malzahn's Twitter, h/t AL.com]

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Former Clemson QB Chad Kelly Has Skills to Be Successful If He Matures

The Clemson Tigers dismissed quarterback Chad Kelly on Monday. Kelly is the nephew of former NFL star QB Jim Kelly. The No. 5 dual-threat QB of the class of 2012 was a highly recruited prospect who chose the Tigers over offers from Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State and others. 

What's next for him? What does he have to do to show coaches that he is a viable option to lead an offense?

Roy Philpott from Scout.com broke down the latest on Kelly and what's next for the former Clemson Tiger. 

 

Highlights courtesy XOS Digital.

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Rutgers Runs Special Trick Play for Wheelchair-Bound Fans in Spring Practice

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights ended their spring practice in the best possible way.

Eleven-year-old Danny Garofalo and 16-year-old Matt DeRiggi have both been confined to wheelchairs the past three years due to Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), according to NJ.com's Dan Duggan. DMD progressively breaks down the muscles and eventually weakens the heart and lungs.

The two boys have attended Rutgers practices in the past. However, Saturday's practice was a completely new experience. Instead of just watching the team, the boys were able to participate in a special play.

Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova handed the ball off to DeRiggi, who got the ball to Garofalo on the reverse. With the help of blockers, Garofalo took the ball to the end zone for the touchdown.

Once the ball crossed the goal line, it was time for celebration.

[Rutgers Football, h/t USA TODAY's FTW]

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Texas A&M Football: What We Learned About Kyle Allen in Spring Practice

The Texas A&M football team's spring season is complete, but the competition for the starting quarterback job will continue into the fall. True freshman Kyle Allen exceeded expectations early in his Aggie career and is widely considered the leader in the competition to replace Johnny Manziel

Allen graduated from high school early and enrolled at A&M in January. Instead of getting ready for his senior prom, he has been trying to complete passes against SEC defenders. 

Allen is competing with sophomore Kenny Hill and fifth-year senior Matt Joeckel for the starting quarterback job. Allen and Hill were thought to be ahead of Joeckel in the competition, but then Hill was suspended after being arrested for public intoxication. 

Whether or not Allen will start his first career collegiate game will be decided about two weeks before the Aggies' season opener on August 28.

This is a look at what Allen showed the coaches and fans during spring practice. 

 

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Pac-12 Football: 5 Teams Having the Best Spring Camp

Having a great spring camp is sort of like starting a puzzle by completing the outer ring; you have a solid foundation for completing the project, but it's not the most essential aspect of the process.

For Pac-12 teams, improving during spring and maintaining health are key goals but not entirely crucial for success in the 2014 regular season. That said, you'd rather be drawing rave reviews and running crisp practices than look sloppy and be dealing with injuries.

There's no perfect formula to judge how well a team is doing, especially if fans and media aren't allowed to watch, as is the case with some programs. But we'll do our best based on practice reports, overall health of the team and, admittedly, gut feelings.

Remember that these rankings are strictly based on how a team is faring during spring practice and have no correlation with perceived order of finish in 2014. Also, being excluded from this list doesn't necessarily mean spring practice is going poorly for those teams. The five listed programs have just generated more buzz for one reason or another.

Take a look at these five Pac-12 squads that are happy about their offseason progress so far.

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Kerryon Johnson Commits to Auburn: Where 'Bama, FSU Turn After Missing on 4-Star

The trio of college football programs fortunate enough to remain in the picture for a commitment from Kerryon Johnson on Tuesday would qualify as dream finalists for many prospects in America.

The coveted recruit weighed offers from Florida State, Auburn and Alabama—teams that combined to claim the past five national titles while boasting three Heisman Trophy winners along the way. Johnson, a scintillating 6'0", 200-pound athlete from Madison, Ala., chose the reigning SEC champions from an elite mix of contenders:

He announced his decision to commit to Auburn during a ceremony at Madison Academy. It's another testament to the rapid turnaround under second-year head coach Gus Malzahn.

Florida State was the opponent who spoiled a potential championship party in Southern California three months ago. The Seminoles still couldn't sway Johnson, who visited Tallahassee 10 days ago.

Alabama is a program that prides itself on being the football flagship of its home state. Nick Saban provided a gut-punch on signing day when he pried top-ranked linebacker recruit Rashaan Evans away from Auburn High School.

In the latest tussle for a common in-state target, Auburn gained the edge.

The final stretch of his recruitment was viewed as an incredibly tight race with three powerhouse programs in play for a prospect who could potentially contribute on either side of the ball. He spent time on each campus during the past month but didn't provide a strong indication of any significant lean toward one team. 

He was projected to commit to Auburn by 76 percent of experts in 247Sports' Crystal Ball. Florida State followed with 16 percent of predictions, while Alabama held eight percent.

Johnson is rated No. 2 nationally among athletes and No. 37 among all recruits in 247Sports' composite rankings. He's considered the consensus No. 2 prospect in Alabama.

His pledge to the Tigers gives Auburn six commits in its 2015 class. Johnson is the highest-rated member of Malzahn's current prospect haul.

He burst onto the scene as one of Alabama's top players as an underclassman. His three-touchdown performance in the 2012 state title game punctuated a dominant sophomore season with MVP honors.

Johnson sprinted 43 yards for a score in the 2013 championship game as Madison Academy captured another championship. He is already committed to play in the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

His dynamic skill set and speed make him a versatile option at the next level.

Johnson is a star at running back, exhibiting elite acceleration and balance as a runner. His downfield vision shines as he maneuvers through rushing lanes and bursts along the sidelines.

His length and speed serve him well in the defensive secondary where some coaches envision him as a high-ceiling safety prospect. However, it appears his future lies in the offensive backfield.

"From Day 1, Auburn has recruited him at RB, which is what he sees himself as being," 247Sports analyst Keith Neibuhr told AL.com.

Alabama and Florida State, freshly spurned by a key recruit, must look elsewhere to address roster needs.

The Crimson Tide already hold a commitment from impressive 4-star running back Desherrius Flowers but may look to bring another rusher on board. Top-ranked junior college recruit Jovon Robinson, a former Auburn signee, presents a strong possibility.

Alabama may have viewed Johnson as a safety more than his other two finalists. Saban will seek help at the position by targeting Jamal Peters (Mississippi) and Tavarus McFadden (Florida).

Florida State is still searching for a running back in this recruiting cycle. The Seminoles hope to rein in Orlando product Jacques Patrick or Georgia standout Taj Griffin, both 4-star options.

The team will also attempt to flip Fort Lauderdale running back Jordan Scarlett from FAU, along with several other suitors.

There's plenty of work ahead for Florida State, Alabama and Auburn on the way to national signing day. Today, however, Malzahn and the Tigers coaching staff can rest a tad easier knowing Johnson is on board.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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