NCAA Football News

Naseir Upshur Releases Top 13: Which Schools Hold Edge for 4-Star?

One might think a football player with the nickname of "Pop" earned it delivering the vicious hit on the football field.

That's not so much the case for 4-star tight end Naseir Upshur, a North Philadelphia prospect with 40 offers. He said his nickname came from his mother, with a slight remix from his late uncle.

"My mom used to call me Poppy Seed, but my uncle didn't like it," Upshur said. "He called me Pop, and I just ran with it."

Watch Upshur's highlight film, and the nickname, when defining him as a bruiser on the football field, would make sense. The 6'3", 233-pounder is an aggressive athlete who, at the next level, can be either a punishing blocker or a flex option lined up wide to create passing mismatches against smaller defenders.

Upshur earned the 40 offers because of his versatility, but on Tuesday, the 4-star athlete announced via social media that he has trimmed his list to 13.

Those schools, in alphabetical order: Alabama, Arizona State, Florida State, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Temple, USC and Wisconsin.

"Basically, [I] talked it over with my parents and friends, and they are the schools I am in contact with the most," Upshur said.

For those keeping score, Upshur's top 13 includes six Big Ten schools and two representatives each from the SEC, Pac-12 and ACC. Temple, a school he lives blocks away from, represents the American Athletic Conference and is the lone non-Power Five school to make the cut.

It's been a busy 2015 for Upshur, as he's made unofficial visits to Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland and Miami since the start of the new year. He was at Penn State's annual Blue-White scrimmage on Saturday.

In fact, of the 13 schools, only Florida State, Wisconsin and USC have yet to receive a visit from Upshur. He hopes to take in those three schools before the end of the summer.

So which school is the best fit? Let Upshur tell it—that answer may be too early to determine. He said he would like for his mother to visit all of the schools before he decides.

Upshur, however, also said that if he feels comfortable with a school before visiting all 13, he wouldn't be against shutting down his recruiting process prematurely. Currently, Miami leads the race in his 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions.

A place such as Miami would make sense for Upshur, as the Hurricanes have a rich tradition of producing versatile tight ends. Jimmy Graham, Kellen Winslow Jr. and Jeremy Shockey are three former Hurricanes who are well-known names around Miami and around the NFL.

Upshur was at Miami for a junior day in January. And while Penn State received the latest visit, schools such as Rutgers and Maryland have received multiple visits from Upshur during his recruiting process. Both schools have to like where they are in the race. 

A winning school will have a specific combination he's looking for.

"A great education and me being very comfortable where I am at," he said. "I'm the type of person that feels as though every [recruiting] class is not for me if I'm not comfortable.

"I also want to go somewhere where I have a good opportunity of playing. I'm not trying to redshirt anywhere, because at the end of the day, I'm trying to get to the next level."

Upshur added that he wants to be in a program that utilizes tight ends in the passing game. He caught 22 passes for 640 yards as a junior, but it was his reliability that made him such a favorite passing target. Of his 22 catches, 11 went for touchdowns.

Trimming his list down from 13 is his next step. He said he doesn't have a timetable set, but he's hoping to make strides with his process at a respectable pace.

 

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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LSU Insider: No End in Sight for QB Battle, Fournette Set for Sophomore Encore

LSU is coming off a bit of a disappointing season by SEC standards, but the Tigers absolutely killed it on the recruiting trail. 

LSU beat writer T-Bob Hebert joins Bleacher Report's Stephen Nelson to discuss his takeaways from the Tigers' spring game. 

How good can LSU be next season? Check out the video, and let us know!

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Texas Football: Will QB Decision Make or Break Charlie Strong's Second Season?

Texas head coach Charlie Strong doesn't sound too worried about his quarterback situation. Whether he actually is or not is probably something only he and a select few know, but to the masses, he sounds confident. 

Following the Longhorns' spring game on April 18, Strong said junior and incumbent starter Tyrone Swoopes has the edge over redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard in the quarterback battle. That competition has been ongoing throughout spring and will continue into preseason camp. Though Swoopes is the No. 1 guy for now, word from Strong last week was that Heard was "closing the gap" on Swoopes, per 247Sports' Jeff Howe. 

During a Tuesday teleconference with reporters, Strong noted that he wasn't exactly losing sleep over the lack of a surefire starter. 

In some ways, that's to be expected. Plenty of other programs are in similar situations with no starting quarterback named exiting spring. That does not, however, mean Strong doesn't have a crucial decision ahead of him. 

Put simply, the importance of having a quality quarterback in the Big 12 can't be stressed enough. Yes, quarterbacks often get more praise and blame than they deserve, but there is an influence the position has on team success in the conference. 

Let's start inward and work our way out. The Longhorns can't be as inefficient as they were a year ago on offense. The results could be even worse than 6-7 if that happens again. 

Texas has moved to a more wide-open offense that should appeal to in-state recruits and put players in open-field situations in which they can make plays. While a solid running game can be part of that philosophy, good quarterback play is important as well. That's something Texas hasn't had in almost six years. 

It's bad enough that the flagship program in one of the most talent-rich areas in the country can't produce on offense, but it's even worse that Texas has missed out on several quarterback recruits who have gone on to have success elsewhere. All the while, the Horns have never quite recovered from putting all their eggs in the Garrett Gilbert basket.  

It's no secret that Texas won six games and became bowl-eligible last year because of its defense. Guys like defensive end Cedric Reed, defensive tackle Malcom Brown, linebacker Jordan Hicks and cornerback Quandre Diggs always had talent, but now they had a coaching staff that put them in positions to be successful.

Those impact players are gone, which means a new crop of defenders will have to pick up the slack. If Swoopes or Heard still can't move the sticks, trying to recover is going to be brutal for the defense. Three times last year—against BYU, Baylor and Oklahoma—Texas entered halftime down by no more than seven points. And lost all three games.

Another loss, to Kansas State, was a 13-point halftime deficit. That's not great but not insurmountable either. A fifth loss against UCLA actually saw the Horns up at halftime. 

The defense did the best it could, but even the best players can only do so much in bad situations. It's tough to imagine putting up the same fight for as long. 

At this point in time, Strong feels his team could achieve a greater level of success if either Swoopes or Heard improves to game manager status. The concern is whether Swoopes or Heard can be more. 

To be fair, the term "game manager" has taken on a negative connotation. It conjures up visions of someone who hands the ball off 40 times a game, doesn't put up flashy numbers but doesn't make a lot of mistakes either. 

That certainly can be the case, but it doesn't have to be either. A game manager can move the offense effectively with his arm and legs, make great throws and protect the football. It doesn't have to be a detriment. 

The latter description is probably more along the lines of what Strong meant. There's still an important question, though: Is having a game manager as a quarterback enough to win the Big 12, let alone a shot at a national championship?

Sweeping narratives can be tired and out-of-date. The idea that the SEC is the only conference with fast athletes isn't true, just as it's true that the Big Ten isn't full of players running a five-second 40-yard dash. 

That said, there's some truth to the notion that the Big 12 is a quarterback conference. At the very least, history shows that if you want to have a shot at winning the Big 12, you need a top-end quarterback starting. 

Below is a list of every Big 12 champion (and divisional champion back in the day when the conference had, you know, 12 teams) since 2008 and all their respective starting quarterbacks. 

(*Note: Collin Klein also had 925 yards and 23 touchdowns rushing in 2012.) 

As you can see, game managers are nowhere to be found. In 2006, Oklahoma's Paul Thompson, who went back and forth between quarterback and receiver, was the closest thing a Big 12 conference champion has come to a game manager in a long time. 

Having a game manager as a quarterback just isn't going to get the job done.  

To be clear, Strong is a smart, outstanding coach, and there's still plenty of time for him to turn Texas back into a national contender. However, one of the knocks on him was whether Texas could succeed with his style of football. 

After all, some of the best defensive minds in the Big 12, namely TCU head coach Gary Patterson and Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, found success through innovative offensive hires and great quarterback play. There's nothing to say Strong can't do the same. 

If history is to repeat itself, a game manager might get Texas back to bowl game and maybe upset a better team. One won't, however, win the Longhorns a Big 12 title or get them to the playoff. 

And that's what Strong was hired to do. That might not happen in Year 2, but it will have to happen eventually. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com

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Watch Football Ricochet off Defender's Head and Go Through Uprights for Crazy FG

In addition to physical strength and athleticism, in football, you must also use your head. But sometimes, that can come back to bite you.

That was the case for a Milbank High School defender, as Keegan Hemeway, a kicker from Dell Rapids High School in Dell Rapids, South Dakota, sent a field-goal attempt booming off the defender's head and through the uprights for an improbable conversion.

Was this the craziest field goal you've ever seen? Check out the video and let us know!

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QB Dominoes Leave Dwayne Haskins as Most Coveted Uncommitted 2016 Passer

The quarterback carousel continues to gain momentum in the 2016 recruiting class—including three 4-star commitments at the position last week—and no prospect currently commands more attention than Dwayne Haskins.

The 6'3", 198-pound Maryland passer claims nearly 40 scholarship offers. He is still considering several college programs while working his way toward an announcement.

Haskins told Bleacher Report he expects to reveal a decision this spring. He is targeting late May/early June as a time frame to declare his pivotal pledge.

"I definitely want to be committed before I go out to the Elite 11 finals," Haskins said.

He qualified for the event on Sunday by performing well at The Opening Washington, D.C. regional. Haskins became the fifth quarterback invited to the Elite 11 finals, which begin on July 5 at Nike's world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.

Past competitors include Andrew Luck, Teddy Bridgewater, Tim Tebow, Matt Stafford and Jameis Winston.

"It's a dream come true," he said. "I didn't think I was going to get invited at first, to be honest. It's a great opportunity to join the people who have gone out to the Elite 11 and the people who are going there now. It's great to go out there and compete."

Haskins claimed quarterback MVP honors at the regional camp. He separated himself from the pack of contenders with consistency throughout the day.

"Dwayne is very smooth. He's got a great stroke," Nike coach Matt James said. "The ball comes out of his hand very nicely. It finishes down the field and doesn't get hung up. They're catchable passes that are on kids in a hurry. He's very knowledgeable as far as defensive reads and understanding where to go with the ball. He didn't force things and just made smart decisions all day long."

Haskins, rated fifth nationally among pro-style quarterbacks in 247Sports, threw for 3,066 yards and 36 touchdowns during the past two seasons. He tossed just 11 interceptions on 387 pass attempts during that span, per MaxPreps.

Haskins will command quite a spotlight this fall as a senior at The Bullis School.

"I'm a game-changer whenever I have the ball in my hands, whether it's first down or third down," he said. "I'm going to get the job done. I don't make too many mistakes, and if I do make a mistake, there won't be one the next play. It's about making sure I capitalize on everything around me."

That skill set has led plenty of collegiate coaching staffs to pursue him during the course of his recruitment. Haskins understands he's now considered one of the top 2016 recruits who remains uncommitted.

Three coveted quarterbacks—Jarrett Guarantano (Tennessee), Tristen Wallace (Ohio State) and Devon Modster (Arizona)—announced their respective commitments on April 15.

However, Haskins isn't allowing other players' pledges to dictate his decision or put pressure on him.

"It's crazy to think that people are committing like flies. Every day, there's something new going on," he said. "I'm just taking my time with it. I'm not too worried about who commits now or who commits later. The spots are definitely filling up, but the schools I'm interested in don't have a quarterback."

The final stretch of this frenzied recruitment is likely to feature at least four more campus visits. Haskins shared plans to attend spring games at Virginia Tech and Rutgers this upcoming weekend.

He also aims to spend time at Notre Dame and Florida before determining which university is the right fit. Haskins previously visited both schools and likes them enough to return for another look.

"Those will be the last few schools I'm visiting before a decision," he said.

Maryland has continuously shown Haskins immense interest. The Terrapins know a commitment from a quarterback of his caliber could create a rewarding chain reaction for in-state recruiting efforts.

Although he made a name for himself in Maryland, Haskins grew up in Highland Park, New Jersey—just minutes away from Rutgers. His choice could ultimately center on the pair of Big Ten newcomers.

Other teams to keep an eye on include Alabama and LSU, though the Tigers already hold a commitment from top-rated dual-threat quarterback Feleipe Franks.

Another intriguing element of Haskins' recruitment is his close relationship with third-rated Maryland wide receiver Trevon Diggs.

The 4-star athlete also earned an invitation to The Opening on Sunday after coming up big on both sides of the ball. Diggs recently trimmed his list of college options to a top 12.

Alabama, LSU, Florida, Rutgers and Maryland are programs of interest that overlap with Haskins' potential landing spots. Diggs named the Crimson Tide his leader at this point and wore Alabama gloves during the regional camp:

Haskins confirmed he considers himself and Diggs a "package deal" when it comes to college. They could form a dangerous duo for years to come.

"He's just a playmaker," he said. "Tre and I go way back since freshman year. We definitely learned how to play with each other. I feel like I know when he's open and when he's looking for me to throw him the ball. The relationship I've built with him at receiver, I want to continue that in college."

Haskins admits he's likely to commit before Diggs, so that decision could tip off the receiver's ultimate intentions. We've seen "package deals" disintegrate on the recruiting trail in years past, but this pair seems rather adamant about its plans.

We'll learn more about the quarterback's possible destinations in upcoming weeks, as visits and final sales pitches should shape the outcome.

Expect the fun-loving Haskins to head to the Elite 11 finals representing a school's recruiting class, ready to encourage fellow elite talents to join him.

"It's an exciting time right now," he said.

 

All quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Miami Hurricanes Release Hype Tape for Sun Life Stadium Renovations

The Miami Hurricanes are preparing for all of the insanely expensive and awesome things that will soon be added to Sun Life Stadium as part of a $400 million renovation funded by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

For the first time, the public is now seeing the proposed digs in three-dimensional glory thanks to a new hype tape released Monday by The U.

The video features 3D mockup footage of what the venue will look like come 2016 once pumped to the gills with giant flat screens, leather-appointed bars and more flat screens.

However the final product shakes out, I pray they preserve Kellen Winslow II's locker for posterity.

Keep that part exactly the same, Miami—out of respect for a soldier.

 

Dan is on Twitter. It’s about this U, man.

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Programs Poised to Surprise on 2016 College Football Recruiting Trail

A few days are left until the beginning of May, which means college football coaches should be in full swing with their recruiting big boards for the 2016 class. And while some classes are revved up, others are still in first gear—and some are stuck in neutral.

Florida State is a team that doesn't seem to have any troubles for now. The Seminoles are sitting atop the 2016 team rankings with 14 commits, including two 5-star and nine 4-star players. Miami is ranked No. 2, and the Hurricanes surprised many with their lightning-fast start. Miami is hoping to remain a top-five program once national signing day comes.

There's still plenty of time remaining for teams to turn things around. Keep an eye out for these seven programs—in alphabetical order—that could make surprising splashes in the 2016 recruiting cycle in the remaining time frame.

 

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Should Auburn Be Concerned About the Defense Following 2015 Spring Game?

Defense doesn't win championships anymore, "just enough defense" does.

Will Muschamp was hired as Auburn's defensive coordinator to help head coach Gus Malzahn break through that glass ceiling and find "just enough."

The Tigers were 13 seconds away from a title two seasons ago despite posting the SEC's third-worst defense (420.7 yards per game), and then stumbled last year when they finished the season with just 21 sacks—fourth-worst in the conference.

Muschamp got his first chance to show fans the new-look defense during Saturday's A-Day game, and the reviews were mixed.

The Tigers second-team defense gave up 252 passing yards to starting quarterback Jeremy Johnson in the first half, and running back "Roc" Thomas sliced and diced the front seven, which suggests that the depth isn't there yet for Muschamp's Tigers.

Spring-game success is always a double-edged sword, because when one unit succeeds, it could be used as an indictment of another.

As Cole Cubelic of the SEC Network and WUMP 730 in Huntsville noted during the game, Muschamp was getting after it up front despite the success of the offense.

That's not the most concerning thing in the world, though.

Muschamp was without stud defensive end Carl Lawson and coaches second-team All-SEC cornerback Jonathan Jones for the spring game, which impacted the depth of both the first- and second-team defenses.

There were still plenty of bright spots for Auburn's defense—particularly up front.

Each unit managed three sacks on the afternoon. Sure, quarterbacks aren't live and sometimes sacks are called when the breeze of a passing defensive lineman hits the quarterback. But defensive end Gimel President and defensive tackle Montravius Adams routinely moved second-string quarterback Sean White off of his point and impacted the pocket.

That's important news for Auburn and will only help once Lawson is at full speed after suffering an ACL injury last year, and stud defensive end Byron Cowart arrives on campus. Great defenses can rotate eight or nine players up front, and Auburn looks like it can do that in 2015.

At the back end, Auburn desperately needs to find a ball-hawking safety that can take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.

Enter: Tray Matthews.

The transfer from Georgia is now eligible after sitting out last year and made his presence felt in the spring game. The Newnan, Georgia, native had five tackles, a forced fumble and an interception in the end zone for the first-team defense, according to stats released by Auburn, earning defensive MVP honors in the process.

Matthews commented on the potential of the 2015 Tigers defense after the game: "It’s scary how much potential this team has. I can’t stress enough the potential of this team. People ask me all the time how I’m doing, and I say, ‘I’m doing great, but I have so many good players around me.’ Our defensive line is awesome. The linebackers have great communication with us."

Auburn's defensive performance in the spring game is best described as either a "work in progress" or "incomplete."

There were plenty of positives that went along with the negatives, and the return of Lawson and Jones—two bona fide stars—certainly will give Muschamp's group a boost during fall camp.

Plus, it's not like Auburn needs to lead the conference in defense. In fact, that's not a goal at all.

"Defensive-wise, I just expect us to be a top-5 defense in the SEC and the nation," Adams said in quotes released by Auburn.

The nation may be a stretch, but the SEC would certainly be "just enough" defense. Auburn hasn't finished in the top half of the conference in total defense since Muschamp's final season of his first stint as defensive coordinator in 2007.

It certainly looks capable of doing that in 2015 once its best players get healthy, and that might be all Auburn needs to reach the College Football Playoff.

 

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

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

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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The 10 Most Impressive Freshmen Performances in Spring Games so Far

Experience matters? Tell that to the standout freshmen in college football. 

Spring games are a good way to get a snapshot into where things stand with a team. It doesn't tell the whole story of what has happened so far and won't necessarily determine the final depth chart. However, it can show which freshmen are on their way to being impact players. 

There can be a variety of reasons a freshman plays well (or a lot) during a spring game. Injuries can play a role, but sometimes, young players are simply ready for the challenge. However it works out, here are 10 freshmen who impressed in their spring game performances. 

This list includes early enrollee freshmen and redshirt freshmen. The only thing that really matters is that they played in the spring game, and they maintain that classification. How that player stood out during regular spring practices was taken into consideration, as well. 

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Ohio State Football: Urban Meyer's 5 Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice

COLUMBUS, Ohio — After Ohio State held its annual spring game in front of a national record crowd of 99,391 fans on Saturday, Urban Meyer had a surprising assessment of his team's spring session.

"That was not a good team out there," Meyer said. "We did not improve as a team."

That may seem strange for a team that's not just the defending national champion, but one that will bring back a combined 14 starters on offense and defense from a season ago. With so many experienced players returning, the fourth-year Buckeyes head coach opted to rest many of his veterans throughout the spring, in favor of getting quality reps for his less-established players.

The result was not necessarily unexpected for Meyer, but one that left him troubled nonetheless.

"How do we get better as a team after we get them out here for a couple of weeks?" Meyer asked rhetorically. "This is a critical offseason for us. This is really critical."

Ohio State possesses talent aplenty and will likely enter the season as the nation's No. 1 ranked team, but that doesn't mean the Buckeyes aren't without their issues. Not the least of which is who will play quarterback in Columbus, as Meyer embarks on an offseason unlike any other in college football.

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Alabama Football: Projecting Crimson Tide's Post-Spring Two-Deep Depth Chart

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Spring is officially over, and the long march to August has begun.

We learned a lot about the 2015 Alabama football team over this last month or so. Favorites emerged at some positions, while depth was created at others.

Let’s take a look at where the Crimson Tide stand by taking a stab at the depth chart now that spring ball has wrapped up.

 

Note: The depth chart does not include 2015 signees who were not on campus for spring practice.

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Which Team Has the Best DB Corps in College Football?

Defense wins championships, and those on the other side of the ball rely heavily on the defensive backfield. College football is loaded with talent this year in this department, but which team has the best?

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael FelderBarrett Sallee and Adam Kramer debate which team has the best group of defensive backs in the country.

Who do you think has the most talent? Check out the video and let us know!

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LSU Football: Despite Spring Performances, Tigers Still Have a QB Problem

"When you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks."

It's an old cliche that's not often applicable in this day and age of college football, where quarterbacks get injured and coaches are well-schooled at using signal-callers with different skill sets.

For LSU in 2014, though, it was a 100 percent accurate description of the state of the quarterback position.

Anthony Jennings completed just 48.9 percent of his passes on the season, lost his job to Brandon Harris and was forced back into action after Harris completed just three of 14 passes in just over two quarters in his only career start—a road matchup vs. Auburn in early October 2014.

At the spring game over the weekend, though, the two quarterbacks gave the staff and Tigers fans a little glimmer of hope.

Jennings completed 13 of 20 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns while Harris completed 11 of his 17 passes for 178 and two touchdowns of his own.

"We threw the football much more in spring ball," head coach Les Miles said in quotes released by LSU. "We did the same in the spring game. I felt that both quarterbacks really executed their throws at a very high level."

The same kind of confidence resonated among the entire offense, as wide receiver Malachi Dupre stated, according to LSU:

I feel like they've both improved mentally. It's never been a physical problem. They've both become much better leaders and have just taken charge. I think it's shown. Moving forward, we have a lot of work we still have to do, but I feel confident and am looking forward to the season.

Progress of any kind is earth-shattering news in Baton Rouge, but there's still a quarterback problem.

As Russ Mitchell of CFN points out, most of the damage done by the quarterbacks came against the second-team defense—which was clearly a tremendous step back from the first-teamers.

The fact that, for the most part, the Tigers' No. 2 offense was on the field when facing the first-team defense can certainly be used to explain some of the struggles. It's still a major concern to see the quarterbacks go through many of the same issues they went through last year.

One of Jennings' major issues last year was indecisiveness in the pocket, and he took three sacks on the afternoon while playing with the purple team (second team). It was for that team that Harris threw the only interception of the afternoon—to true freshman Kevin Toliver II.

As Hunter Paniagua of TigerSportsDigest.com points out, even third-string early enrollee Justin McMillan lit up the second team like a Christmas tree on Saturday afternoon.

Spring game success is always a double-edged sword regardless of team. If one unit looks great, it can easily be used as an indictment on the other side of the ball. LSU's second-team defense has major issues and is a big reason why the quarterbacks looked good on Saturday.

Does that mean a sequel to last season's box-office flop is in store for the Tigers in 2015?

Not necessarily.

Both quarterbacks looked in control with the first-team offense, appeared capable of making the tough throws and helped more weapons—like Dupre and spring phenom D.J. Chark—develop over the course of the 15 practice sessions.

As a result, LSU now has something it hasn't had in a long time at the quarterback position—hope.

Let's hold off on closing the book on LSU's quarterback issues, though.

Hope is great, but now both quarterbacks have to build off that foundation during summer workouts and fall camp—something they were unable to do last year. 

This spring was a small step forward, but now the real challenge begins for Jennings, Harris and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

 

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

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

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Notre Dame Football Recruiting Offers of the Week

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame football directed last week’s attention toward Saturday’s spring-ending Blue-Gold Game, and the Fighting Irish had another opportunity to continue their recruiting efforts.

Each week, we’ll be keeping tabs on the new scholarship offers sent out by the Notre Dame coaches, tracking the recruiting process as the Irish focus their attention toward the classes of 2016, 2017 and maybe even 2018. The staff was quiet in dishing out offers this week with all the other activity.

Though the Notre Dame staff welcomed a double-digit combination of recruits and signees to campus for the weekend, Notre Dame’s biggest recruiting victory of the weekend came from the state of Ohio.

 

Isaiah Pryor

Class of 2017 safety Isaiah Pryor visited campus for the spring game and left with an offer.

The No. 2 safety and No. 28 overall player in the country, Pryor is a 6’2” 190-pounder from Lawrenceville, Georgia. The elite prospect’s offer list includes South Carolina, Stanford, Clemson, Florida State and Michigan.

“Coach Kelly offered me,” Pryor told Irish247’s Tom Loy. “They had a written scholarship offer for me and everything. It was crazy. Obviously, they couldn’t give it to me yet, since I’m only a sophomore. But it was amazing nonetheless.”

Pryor received the offer from Kelly before the game, per Loy.

“It’s very special,” Pryor said. “This place has everything. The academics are really the big selling point. You won’t find better than here. Then, with football, I liked what they did defensively, and the guys played hard. I could see myself playing in this scheme.”

 

News and Notes

Maybe more important than Notre Dame’s two-hour tussle Saturday was the news that followed roughly 24 hours later.

Class of 2016 offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg announced his commitment to Notre Dame on Sunday afternoon.

The No. 11 offensive tackle and No. 83 overall player in the nation, Eichenberg visited South Bend on April 10 and was deciding between the Irish and Ohio State, where the Cleveland native visited at the beginning of the weekend. Eichenberg spoke to Loy about his decision:

My parents had sent me to a college prep school for high school and it seemed like I didn’t really have a choice of where I was going to school at the time. If I went where I wanted to go for high school, I would've never become the player or person I am today. The immature thing to do is focus your college years only on the game of football and not care about academics. I'm not saying that I can't play beyond college football, but there is always a chance that I won't.

You simply cannot pass up a Notre Dame education. I chose Notre Dame because of the academics. Football played a factor, but the majority of my decision came down to academic reasons.

Eichenberg joins fellow class of 2016 offensive tackle Tommy Kraemer in Notre Dame’s class. Kraemer, the No. 3 tackle and No. 25 prospect in the class, became the first member of Notre Dame's 2016 class when he pledged to the Irish in October. The Cincinnati native also chose Notre Dame over Ohio State, among others.

Earlier in the week, the Irish received a commitment from class of 2016 defensive end Julian Okwara, the brother of current Notre Dame defensive end Romeo Okwara.

In other recruiting news, Notre Dame cracked the top 10 for two targets from the class of 2016. Offensive lineman Parker Boudreaux slotted the Irish among his top 10 teams Wednesday night.

Boudreaux is the No. 8 guard and No. 233 overall player.

The Irish also landed among safety Craig Watts’ top teams Thursday.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting stats and information courtesy of 247Sports.com and all quotes obtained firsthand. Star ratings reflect 247Sports' composite rankings. 

Mike Monaco is a lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco on Twitter.

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Cal Football Coach Pierre Ingram Arrested for Soliciting Prostitute

Pierre Ingram, the California Golden Bears football team's recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach, was reportedly arrested during a prostitution sting by authorities in Oakland, per Jeff Faraudo of the Bay Area News Group.

Oakland police allege that Ingram solicited online and then met an undercover officer at a Motel 6 on April 16. They then arrested Ingram, and he was cited for misdemeanor solicitation of a lewd act.

Mike Vernon of the San Francisco Chronicle provided a statement from Ingram's attorney:

The school has placed Ingram on administrative leave. In a statement provided to Faraudo, the school said:

We are aware of the situation and at this time the University is in the process of gathering more information. We were first made aware of the situation prior to the spring game. Coach Ingram did not participate in the spring game (Saturday) and has been placed on administrative leave while the University looks into the matter.

Once that process is complete and the situation has been fully assessed, we will be in a position to comment further.

Ingram is entering his third year with the Golden Bears. He worked with the running backs in 2013 and 2014 before being moved to wide receivers in 2015. Before arriving in Berkeley, he spent three years with current Cal coach Sonny Dykes at Louisiana Tech.

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Inside the Pulse of the Defending National Champion Ohio State Buckeyes

COLUMBUS, Ohio — I am standing in front of a church; only it is no longer a church. It’s now a makeshift Ohio State merchandise store with "Clinton Predestinarian Baptist Church" still etched in stone above its arched doorway.

Right now, 15 hours before Ohio State plays a scrimmage in front of nearly 100,000 people, four middle-aged gentlemen are sitting in front of a makeshift store, drinking makeshift drinks while sitting in makeshift chairs. National championship T-shirts, flags and swag hang proudly behind and above the magnificent architecture—the red brick matching the bright scarlet paraphernalia up for sale. The stadium is a little less than a mile away.

It is an unusual place to sell jerseys and other pieces of memorabilia, although in many ways it’s football poetry. It’s also an extension of the program it proudly backs: unexpected, magnificent and calm before a tremendous, inevitable storm eventually breaks up the celebration.

For at least one weekend, however, none of that mattered. Not the quarterback quandary. Not the inevitable No. 1 ranking. Not the hopeful rebirth of a rival. Not even the future, which is remarkably bright. This was a time for everyone—from the fans to the man overseeing it all—to catch his or her breath.

It’s why 99,391 people willingly gave up their Saturday afternoon and watched a spring football game.

That warrants repeating. Nearly 100,000 people made the pilgrimage to Columbus to watch its football team, even without many of its superstars in action. The warm sun and high 70s didn’t hurt this effort, although giving credit to local meteorologists and Mother Nature would be an injustice to their dedication.

Scalpers circled the stadium like sharks as an ancillary ticket market took shape—for a spring game. Ticket lines wrapped around buildings. Parking lots overflowed, and the traffic pattern looked more like that of a Michigan game than spring. Some said it was even worse.

Tailgates were fully functional, and the intoxicating smell of grilled meats clouded the sky. A sea of bodies dressed in red consumed all lines of sight, while hot-air balloons hovered overhead.

This was no spring game; this was a statewide holiday. Actual football was, in fact, secondary.

“Ninety-nine thousand people,” head coach Urban Meyer said following the game. “I think I heard that over the P.A. system. Not surprised but extremely grateful to come watch a scrimmage, at times not a very pleasant scrimmage.”

As I made my way toward the stadium, I spoke with fans about the upcoming season ahead. Some were still puffy-chested; others were still levitating. Confidence and optimism oozed out of each and every corner of the stadium.

When the topic turned to the quarterback, the conversation switched gears. It didn’t turn negative—not in the least bit—but it was the only thing the 100,000 people in attendance didn’t see eye-to-eye on, at least not yet. Even local media members chimed in, struggling to reach a consensus.

You have to play Cardale.

J.T. Barrett is the best quarterback on the roster.

Play them both.

Don’t count out Braxton Miller.

Play all three.

For those keeping score at home, Cardale Jones came away with a slight edge in this informal public poll. But even with a flood of unique answers and differing stances, one constant remained: what a magnificent problem Ohio State has on its hands, at least right now.

The inquiries and observations trickled into the stadium as Ohio State’s lacrosse team was wrapping up its undercard performance against Maryland. At first, it looked like the Buckeyes were in line for an impressive showing—maybe 80,000 people.

As the scoreboard countdown began and lacrosse gave way for football, however, the emptiness of a stadium that sits 100,000 easily began to dwindle away. Red consumed all.

“The crowd today was unbelievable,” senior defensive lineman Tommy Schutt said. “Ninety-nine thousand was just 'wow!' Having that many people at a spring game is really special.”

The game that followed wasn’t exactly revolutionary in nature, although expectations were reserved. Only one of the three primary quarterbacks suited up. Ezekiel Elliott, perhaps the Heisman favorite, spent much of the day on the sideline with a selfie stick and a GoPro rather than logging carries.

The rosters weren’t without star power, although this was a watered-down, lite version of the product that will take the field in Blacksburg, Virginia, on September 7.

That was not unexpected. The head coach—who has openly expressed his moderate displeasure with these games—essentially stated as such beforehand. Still, this was a day that was not absent of excellence.

Cardale Jones flashed moments, uncorking more than 40 passes. He threw downfield often—cutting through the air with ease. Each time he did, an active crowd seemingly grew silent.

While more than half of his throws hit the turf, Jones provided a reminder of just how powerful and rare his right arm is, and more importantly, why he will be tough to beat out. He put an exclamation mark on this thought by unleashing a 74-yard throw to win a quarterback skills event over J.T. Barrett at halftime—along with former Buckeyes great Troy Smith.

“My arm was kind of tired,” Jones said. “I probably throw it a little further.”

Although Braxton Miller was idle during the throw-off as he works his way back from a shoulder injury, he did participate. During the game, he was standing 10 yards behind the offense, often times shoulder-to-shoulder with Meyer or Barrett. At the half, he also provided a reminder that he still has incredible athletic gifts.

Miller joined Elliott in the intermission in the annual race against the fastest students. Both prepared by removing their shirts and tossing them aside—a sign of business—which drew a massive applause. When the sprint had ended, Elliott barely edged the quarterback, who made up ground late. Both gobbled up open field with ease.

The second half featured a running clock as a full stadium leisurely began to lose its red. As the fourth quarter began, the excitement moved back outdoors—back to the tailgates and the cooked meat and the open air.

Gray edged Scarlet 17-14, for those interested in such things. Those in attendance weren’t the least bit flustered or consumed by the score. This was never about points or even final spring impressions; this was about staying healthy—above all—and celebrating a historic time for the program.

It was a day when the nation’s most discussed quarterback competition—one that will pick up intensity as August nears—took a backseat in the name of entertainment. And somehow, in some unusual and unfamiliar way, it all made perfect sense.

At some point in the next six months, the gluttony of quarterbacks will reach a boiling point. But on Saturday, the three showcased a wide range of potential while doing so with smiles.

“There's going to be a lot of people interested,” Meyer said on the quarterback race. “I know you [media], but the families and the player, much more. I want to be able to look those people in the eye and say this is where we’re at and not be a shocker when it happens.”

As I walked out of the stadium and past the sea of red—past the areas where scalpers unexpectedly clustered just a few hours earlier—the celebration began to slow. Sunburn showed on those who had refused to take the April sun seriously. Cars chugged along in game-day traffic.

I migrated back to where I started, to the redbrick structure with "Clinton Predestinarian Baptist Church" plastered on the front and “O-H-I-O” embedded on the side.

The crowd had grown in size since the night before as a tailgate broke out. Buyers shuffled out of the front doors, national championship merchandise in hand. Like the stadium only hours earlier, open seats were hard to come by.

Sitting in makeshift chairs, enjoying makeshift drinks, the group in place didn’t talk about the impending quarterback dilemma. It didn’t strain over the expectations to repeat. Jim Harbaugh’s name never surfaced.

Those moments are coming. They are unavoidable. The burden that comes with being king will hit the head coach and work its way down to the quarterbacks and eventually to the 100,000 people who visited the Horseshoe on an April afternoon.

But not then, not on Saturday. It was a celebration, after all.

 

Adam Kramer is the College Football National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

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Inside Ohio State's Championship Trip to the White House

WASHINGTON — Adept at time management as any president past the halfway point of his second term would be, Barack Obama managed to fit plenty into his ceremony with the Ohio State football team on Monday.

Hosting the reigning national champions at the White House three months after the Buckeyes captured the college football crown in Dallas, the 44th President of the United States imitated Joey Bosa's signature shrug, compared his arm strength to that of Cardale Jones and even teased Ezekiel Elliott about college football's banning of the crop top.

But before Urban Meyer and the Ohio State captains presented Obama with his own custom No. 44 scarlet and gray jersey, the leader of the free world had one last overarching message:

"You're welcome, America."

Obama said it somewhat in jest as laughter filled the room, referring to his open campaigning for college football to adopt a playoff system. But the president also made sure to note that if you check his track record of promises kept on PolitiFact.com, his cry for a playoff is met with a green check mark.

"I don't want to stir up controversy. You guys are the national champions—I'm not backing off the fact we need a playoff system," Obama said when Meyer visited the White House with his 2008 national champion Florida team. "We'll see how that plays itself out.”

While a playoff system back then may have prevented Meyer from capturing his second national title, he wouldn't have won a third last season without one, as the Buckeyes entered the sport's first-ever, four-team playoff as the No. 4 seed. In previous years, Ohio State would have been on the outside looking in at the national title game, unable to play its way in and peak at the right time as the 2014 Buckeyes did.

"I'm glad he's a sports fan," Meyer said of Obama on Monday. "He made the point several times, but it's true—he jumped right in the middle of the conversation about the College Football Playoff, and we obviously benefited."

It remains unclear how much Obama actually had to do with making the playoff possible—he had previously promised the "throw his weight around" when it came to the issue—but without its inception, many of Monday's memorable moments wouldn't have been possible. Obama likely wouldn't have been able to trade shrugs with Bosa or tease him about his recent haircut, to which the All-American defensive end responded, "I had to look good for you."

Nor would Obama have been praising Elliott for his 1,878-yard, 18-touchdown season, moments before thanking him for not wearing his signature crop top to the White House. When Elliott pleaded with Obama to convince the NCAA to reinstate his recently banned preferred style of jersey, the president said he was done campaigning on the Buckeyes' behalf.

"Look, I got you the Playoff, OK?" Obama said with a smile. "I got other things to do now."

And what would an Ohio State event be without a mention of the quarterbacks, as Obama praised Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett, before turning his attention toward Jones. Obama not only compared his own arm strength to that of the strong-armed signal-caller but made note of his unique nickname, which has gone viral since his insertion into the national spotlight.

"Anybody with a nickname like '12 Gauge' has to be taken seriously," Obama said. "Cardale Jones is not your average third-string quarterback."

Obama didn't offer a solution to Meyer's impending conundrum of whether to start Miller, Barrett or Jones for the 2015 season, although the Buckeyes head coach joked he might seek one. "I'm going to meet with him again and ask him some questions. That was my fault. I forgot to ask," Meyer said.

Jokes aside, Ohio State's presence in Washington was palpable before the Buckeyes even took center stage in the East Room just before 3 p.m. ET.

Buckeye greats Cris Carter and Archie Griffin were in attendance, as well as Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and former Ohio State Senior Vice President for Outreach and Engagement and U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty. The group joined in as the room broke out in a "O-H, I-O!" chant before Obama's arrival alongside Meyer, Ohio State president Michael Drake and athletic director Gene Smith.

Perhaps most telling of the pro-Ohio State atmosphere in the White House on Monday was that Obama drew the most laughs and biggest applause of the day when he made reference to Barrett breaking his ankle against "a certain team up north," much to Meyer's approval of the president's reluctance to mention rival Michigan by name.

"Obviously we were in the spotlight a lot towards the end of the year," tight end Jeff Heuerman said. "We know he keeps up on sports, so it wasn't that surprising."

The Buckeyes made the most of their visit to the nation's capital, arriving in the morning before sandwiching tours of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and Capitol Building around their trip to the White House. In addition to the since-departed seniors who are now training for the NFL draft, Ohio State was joined by another familiar face in former offensive coordinator Tom Herman, who is now the head coach of Houston.

With the Buckeyes having just ended their spring practice session, Monday's trip to Washington served as one last celebration of last year's special season. In 2009, Meyer was the first college football coach to visit Obama in the White House, and next year he'll attempt to become the last.

Whether or not the playoff will be to his benefit or detriment this time around remains to be seen.

"Coach Meyer and his coaching staff, they'll do a great job of keeping the guys motivated and keeping them ready to go for next year," said Heuerman, who is now preparing for the NFL draft. "It will be special things again, I'm sure."

On Monday, the Buckeyes and Obama set a pretty high bar for what "special" means.

 

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.

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Expect New Auburn Starter Jeremy Johnson to Put Up 'Heisman-Caliber' Numbers

The Auburn Tigers have their new starting quarterback. According to head coach Gus Malzahn's official Twitter account, Jeremy Johnson is the man who will lead the Tigers offense in 2015.

Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee and Stephen Nelson break down Johnson's game and project what type of numbers he can put up in Malzahn's uptempo offense.

How will Johnson perform for the Tigers? Check out the video and let us know!

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Dakota State Football Coaches Entertain Players by Playing Game of 'Dizzy Punt'

After Dakota State's football players put in work during a recent practice, two of the team's coaches entertained them by playing a game of "Dizzy Punt."

The participants: Trojans head coach Josh Anderson and defensive coach Cory Miller.

The two coaches made themselves dizzy by spinning around a golf club 12 times before giving punting a shot. The results wound up being as hilarious as one might expect.

[YouTube, h/t The Big Lead]

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Alabama Spring Buzz: Offensive Weapons Filling the Void Left by Amari Cooper

Alabama has been one of the most dominant teams in all of college football over the past 10 years. The Crimson Tide are looking to get back to their national championship ways.

Adam Lefkoe sits down with Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee to discuss the reaction to the Alabama spring football game. 

How good can Alabama be this fall? Check out the video and let us know!

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