NCAA Football News

Auburn Football: Realistic Expectations for Will Muschamp's Tigers Defense

Auburn producing a stifling, hard-hitting defense seems more like a story you would find in the fiction section rather than a story that's believable.

It wasn't always this way. 

The Tigers used to be known as a team that would not only shut down opposing offenses, but would make them hurt in the process with a physical brand of football that became synonymous with the SEC.

That hasn't been the case for the better part of a decade, though. It seems incredible, but Auburn hasn't finished in the top half of the SEC in total defense since 2007. The man who coordinated that defense, which gave up just 297.9 yards per game—sixth-best in the country—is back to fix the glitch.

New defensive coordinator and former Florida head coach Will Muschamp.

When Muschamp arrived on campus in December, he found that the cupboard was far from bare on the Plains. Veteran linebackers Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzy have returned after flirting with the NFL, Jonathan Jones has already established himself as an All-SEC-caliber cornerback, and Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams are potential stars up front.

So what are the realistic expectations for Muschamp's first year of his second stint as Auburn's defensive coordinator?


Top Half of the Conference in Total Defense

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

Auburn proved that in 2010 when it boasted the SEC's fourth-worst defense (368.4 YPG) but still ran the table and took home the crystal football. 

Its ranking within the conference wasn't great, but its total defense average was just fine. That figure—or a slight improvement—will likely get Auburn in the middle of the pack in the SEC, which is where Auburn needs to be to remain competitive.

With an offense that Auburn can and likely will boast in 2015, all it needs to be is adequate defensively. Auburn doesn't put too much emphasis on time of possession, and as long as the defense isn't giving up miles of offense, it'll be just fine.

Muschamp is no stranger to operating a defense that is complemented by an offense that doesn't put too much emphasis on time of possession. His Texas defense finished third in the nation in 2009 when the Longhorns played for the BCS National Championship (251.9 YPG) despite the offense holding the ball 30 minutes, 33.86 seconds per game—46th nationally.

If Auburn can finish in the top half of the conference in defense in this transition year, it'll be just fine.


Top Five In the Conference In Rush Defense

If Auburn is going to legitimately contend, the old adage holds true—"to win, you have to run the ball and stop the run."

It didn't do much of that last year. The Tigers finished 10th in the conference last year against the run after they gave up 168.77 yards per game. What's more, they regressed from month to month as the season wore on.

Auburn can get there with Muschamp in the house and the personnel on the roster. Adams can be a disruptive force in the middle of the line similar to what Nick Fairley provided for those 2010 Tigers, who happened to finish with the SEC's top run defense (109.07 YPG) despite being the punch line to bad defensive jokes all year.

Lawson is going to be counted on to provide a pass rush out of that "Buck" position that features a defensive end standing up and playing linebacker at times, but he's much more than just a pass-rushing specialist. The 6'2", 257-pounder established himself as a true three-down defensive end during his rotational snaps in 2013 and was the man who stopped Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon on 4th-and-inches late in the "Kick Six" Iron Bowl.

There's potential, too. 

Dontavius Russell, a 6'3", 295-pound redshirt freshman, impressed the staff this spring at defensive tackle.

"Russell up front had a really good spring—a guy who we redshirted last year," head coach Gus Malzahn said during his Tiger Trek stop in Atlanta in May. "He really could have played, but we had so many senior defensive linemen."

Toss in veteran, versatile linemen like DaVonte Lambert, Gimel President, junior college transfer Maurice Swain and incoming freshman defensive end Byron Cowart, and there's a solid core group of versatile defensive linemen up front who can stop the run.


Break the 30-Sack Plateau

Lawson was being counted on to provide the edge threat last year, and when he tore his ACL in the spring, there simply was no plan B. Auburn played "musical defensive ends" last year in the hopes of finding some way to get pressure on the quarterback.

"That was our Achilles' heel on defense," Malzahn said. "When you can't put pressure on the quarterback, it makes it tough on everybody."

Tough, it was.

Auburn finished with just 21 sacks, 11th in the conference, and routinely allowed quarterbacks time to stand in the pocket and go through all of their progressions (twice, if needed) before feeling threatened.

Florida hit the 30-sack mark twice during Muschamp's four-year stint as head coach, including in 2012 when it was in the national title picture up to rivalry weekend and played in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. He also hit that mark in both of his seasons as Texas defensive coordinator (2008 and 2009).

With Lawson demanding attention and serving as this team's version of former Florida standout Dante Fowler Jr., a solid threat inside in Adams and the potential for Cowart to be a star right away, getting to that mark should be the goal this year for Muschamp's Tigers.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of 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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Every College Football Playoff Contender's Most Difficult 2015 Stretch

Even with all the efforts programs make to doctor their schedules in order to give them the best chance at success, title contenders can't avoid streaks of tough games.

Difficult stretches on the schedule are realities for everyone fighting for a shot at the four-team College Football Playoff. Conference slates are locked into place without any wiggle room for schools. Rivalry games are set in stone for certain times of the season.

Let's take a look at the most difficult stretch of the season for the top college football playoff contenders heading into 2015. A "stretch" in this case is three straight games, as most teams can find a breather of sorts somewhere during a run of four contests.

We chose the contenders by using Bleacher Report's latest predictions for the preseason AP Top 25 poll. Teams outside the top part of this list definitely have a chance to contend for this year's College Football Playoff—they're just not top contenders during what Steve Spurrier calls "talking season."

Who do you think has the most difficult three-game stretch in college football this season? Let your voice be heard in the comments below.

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Notre Dame Football: Irish's Most Indispensable Players for 2015

Notre Dame is once again in the conversation for a College Football Playoff spot. However, the Irish hope to actually make good on those expectations, unlike last year when they started 6-0 and lost five of their final six regular-season games. 

Getting to the playoff is a combination of several factors. Notre Dame's best players have to play well, but also stay healthy and eligible, which has been an issue for the past two years. As we've seen, things can go south when things don't line up. 

Which players are the most indispensable for Notre Dame in 2015? We look at a handful in the following slides based on past production, talent and what they mean to the team. In other words, if Notre Dame were to lose any of these players, its playoff hopes could go out the window. 

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Auburn and Oregon Announce 2019 Season Opener at AT&T Stadium

Fans of offenses that are dangerous for the health and well-being of statisticians across the country, a dream matchup is happening—again—as Auburn and Oregon will open the 2019 season against each other.

Auburn and Oregon announced Tuesday they will square off in the 2019 AdvoCare Classic, which will take place Saturday, Aug. 31, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. 

"I’m thrilled that Auburn will face Oregon in an epic matchup of two elite programs on a big stage to open the 2019 season," Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said in a press release. "I know how much it means to our players to have an opportunity to play in high-profile games; it is one reason they choose to come to Auburn."

The game will only be the second meeting between the two programs and a rematch of the 2011 BCS National Championship Game. The Tigers won, 22-19, to capture their first national championship since 1957.

"An invitation to participate on a stage likes this speaks to the reputation Oregon football has earned, and we're excited to be part of such a prestigious matchup," Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said, according to the program's website.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich both were the offensive coordinators at their respective schools during 2011's duel in the desert.

While that national championship game only had a combined 43 points, the Tigers and the Ducks have some of the country's highest-scoring offenses with Malzahn and Helfrich.

With this announcement, the AdvoCare Classic now has high-profile matchups scheduled for the next five years:

The 2019 AdvoCare Classic will be one of several major nonconference matchups these two powerhouse programs have scheduled for the coming years.

Auburn will open this season against Louisville in Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic. The Tigers also have home-and-home series scheduled against Clemson and Cal.

Oregon wraps up a home-and-home with Michigan State this season and then starts one with another Big Ten school, Nebraska, next season. The Ducks will also play Ohio State in more national championship rematches in 2020 and 2021.


Quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.

Justin Ferguson is an on-call college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

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Report: Jim Harbaugh Recruiting HS Football Player He Once Babysat

If there's one thing professional Harbaughlogists can all agree on, it's that Jim Harbaugh's return to college football is the gift that continues to give.

In the last six months, he's helped the victims of a car wreck, basked in Judge Judy's success and made this face while playing shirtless Peruball with high schoolers in Alabama.

Harbaugh's work also includes piecing together a strong, 20-man recruiting class for the 2016 season, and judging by recent reports, recruiting investments the Michigan Wolverines head coach made decades ago are beginning to pay dividends.'s Jared Cohen (h/t Detroit Free Press' Mark Snyder) published a piece about Harbaugh's peculiar recruitment of Connor Murphy—a 4-star defensive end, per 247Sports, at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix.

In a recent interview, Connor and his father, Jerry, told Cohen about Harbaugh's recruitment—specifically, how the process unwittingly began years ago when the coach assumed the role of pinch babysitter during a Murphy family crisis.

As the story goes, Harbaugh and D.J. Durkin—then staff members with Stanford football—stopped by the Murphy household for a recruitment visit with Connor's older brother, Trent. Instead of the full family, however, Harbaugh stumbled upon a Lord of the Flies-ish scenario where Connor and his siblings were left to their own devices while Jerry and Mrs. Murphy were at the hospital dealing with pregnancy complications.

Instead of offering a "welp, see ya later" and leaving, Harbaugh and Durkin decided to stick around until Mr. and Mrs. Murphy returned. It was a solid block of babysitting time, according to Jerry:

A few hours before we were gonna go home, my wife went into labor was either go home and get ready for Jim Harbaugh or take my wife to the hospital. Well, my wife's gonna win, so we went to the hospital. We thought it would just be a routine visit, just go there and leave. But by the time we left the hospital, we were there for a good five hours.

Back at the Murphy house, Harbaugh was entertaining the kids by playing chess and drinking milk on the living room floor. Seriously.

"[Harbaugh and Durkin] kind of babysat us kids," Connor said. "Not many people can say that they sat down on the living room floor with Jim Harbaugh and D.J. Durkin and just played chess and drank milk with them."

This is true. Not many people can say they've drank milk with Jim Harbaugh, noted dairy enthusiast.

"Jim Harbaugh's a big milk man," Jerry said. "So the fact that us Murphys had a lot of milk—we actually had cows in our backyard—he was pretty impressed with our house."

I believe we can all agree that if the phrase "big milk man" isn't seared into Harbaugh's headstone when all of this is done, we're just wasting our time.

So there you have it— Jim Harbaugh: good babysitter, big milk man and an innovative recruiter years ahead of the game.

Harbaugh's making moves with his eyes set decades down the road, and all the rest of college football can only hope to keep up.

Dan is on Twitter. He's been described as a "big orange juice guy."

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Which Recruit Will Break the Most Ankles at the Opening 2015?

There are tons of exciting running backs heading to The Opening next week in Oregon. Each possesses a skill set that makes them part of the nation's elite. 

Which of these young players will break the most ankles at The Opening? 

Bleacher Report's Stephen Nelson and Michael Felder answer that question in the video above. 

Check out this video and let us know! 

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Georgia QB Commit Jacob Eason Will 'Rise to the Occasion,' Dominate Elite 11

Georgia is looking to rebound after a disappointing 2014 season, as the Dawgs narrowly missed the SEC Championship Game, getting edged out by Missouri. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder talks about a huge Georgia commit leading up to The Opening. 

How good can Jacob Eason be in 2015? Check out the video and let us know!

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De'Andre Johnson Charged with Misdemeanor Battery in Alleged Bar Incident

Less than a week after getting suspended indefinitely for violating team rules, Florida State freshman quarterback De'Andre Johnson has been charged with misdemeanor battery.  

According to's Mark Schlabach, the charge stems from an incident during which Johnson allegedly hit a woman at a bar. The charge was filed after the Florida state attorney's office reviewed video of the alleged incident, per Schlabach.

ESPN's Randy Scott seconded Schlabach's report and added that a warrant has been issued for Johnson's arrest.

Johnson was expected to compete with Sean Maguire and Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson for the starting quarterback job vacated by Tampa Bay Buccaneers No. 1 overall draft pick Jameis Winston.

While the charge against Johnson is serious, Justin Barney of the Florida Times-Union, who covered Johnson during his high school playing days in Jacksonville, Florida, still believes in the embattled quarterback as a person:

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the alleged incident, Johnson is in a difficult spot in terms of regaining the trust of his teammates and coaches.

After Winston's myriad off-field issues during his time at FSU, one can only assume that head coach Jimbo Fisher and Co. will take personal misconduct matters very seriously moving forward.

Maguire and Golson figure to be the primary options at quarterback in 2015, but Johnson's absence will certainly hurt the team's depth, provided his suspension is a long-term situation.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Clemson Commits Ready to Prove Tigers Are Among Top 2016 Classes at the Opening

The Clemson Tigers have done a great job on the recruiting trail, locking up some of the best talent in the country. 

How will their commits fare at The Opening in Oregon? 

Bleacher Report's Michael Felder answers that question and more in the video above. 

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Ohio State Fans Will Get a Glimpse of the Future at The Opening 2015

Ohio State won the national championship in 2015, and it is continuing its success on the recruiting trail by landing some top recruits. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder gives his expectations for Ohio State's 2016 commits. 

How good will the Buckeyes' 2016 recruiting class be? Check out the video and let us know!

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Florida State Offensive Commits Set to Turn the Opening Garnet and Gold

Florida State is trying to replace one of the best, and most polarizing, quarterbacks in the recent memory of college football. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder discusses who he thinks can step up for the FSU offense. 

How good will Florida State be next season? Check out the video and let us know!

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Ranking the Top 5 Big 12 QBs of the 21st Century

It has been 15 years since the turn of the century, and we have seen plenty of highly talented quarterbacks come and go in college football.

Watch as Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer ranks the top five Big 12 quarterbacks in the 21st century.

Who do you think should have made the list?

Watch the video, and let us know!

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LSU Football: Dismissal of DT Trey Lealaimatafao Hurts LSU's Depth Up Front

What seemed like an inevitability became a reality Monday night. LSU defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao was dismissed from the program by head coach Les Miles.

The 6'0", 300-pound redshirt freshman was arrested this month for simple battery and simple robbery for allegedly hitting a woman after she tried to stop him from robbing her unconscious boyfriend, according to Ross Dellenger of the Advocate.

"Trey is no longer a member of our football team," Miles said in a statement emailed by LSU. "We have gathered information on this incident, and we feel it's best for us to part ways."

While Lealaimatafao was an unknown commodity on the field, he was being counted on to provide quality depth for a Tigers defense in transition.

New defensive coordinator Kevin Steele comes from a 3-4 background but, for the most part, has 4-3 personnel up front in Baton Rouge, with Lealaimatafao being one of those guys who could have played significant rotational snaps behind tackles Davon Godchaux and Christian LaCouture.

He had one tackle playing with the White team defense in the spring game, according to stats released by LSU, and had the size to be a solid option for Steele as a space-eater in the middle of a Tigers defensive line that was inconsistent a year ago.

That problem is only exacerbated by the indefinite suspension of Maquedius Bain, a  6'4", 299-pound defensive lineman who was arrested with quarterback Anthony Jennings and cornerback Dwayne Thomas for unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling on the same day Lealaimatafao was arrested, according to David Ching of

Bain, a natural defensive tackle, had been cross-training at defensive end and would likely have earned playing time at both, especially at end when LSU goes 3-4.

Suddenly, LSU's defensive line—which already had to deal with the loss of starting defensive ends Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter to the NFL—is losing players who, at the very least, could provide the quality depth in the trenches needed to be a contender.

As Ben Love of notes, the dwindling defensive tackle depth has put a ton of pressure on redshirt senior Quentin Thomas. At 6'4" and 303 pounds, Thomas has battled injuries throughout his career in Baton Rouge and took a back seat last year after Godchaux emerged as a starter. 

It also puts pressure on Travonte Valentine, a 6'4", 350-pound 4-star prospect in the Class of 2014 who sat out last season with lingering eligibility issues. According to Terrance Harris of, he's in line to be eligible this fall as long as he takes care of himself in the classroom, but that story has been repeated in Baton Rouge for going on 12 months now.

That's a lot of uncertainty in the middle of a defensive line that really doesn't need any more uncertainty.

Sure, players such as Frank Herron and Greg Gilmore can step in and provide that depth. At this point, though, they might have to step in and provide that depth via rotational snaps to give the starters a break. 

At the very least, the dismissal of Lealaimatafao, combined with Bain's indefinite suspension, chips away at the depth Miles desperately needed up front as the Tigers transition to the new regime of Steele and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron.

Don't be fooled by the lack of stats next to Lealaimatafao's name. His absence adds even more uncertainty to an already unstable defensive line.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of 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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10 College Football Players Who Will Exceed Preseason Expectations

Coming into 2014, who had TCU’s Trevone Boykin as the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year?

Not many.  In fact, his name wasn’t even mentioned anywhere on the 2014 Preseason All-Big 12 Team, which named Baylor’s Bryce Petty for player of the year and quarterback.

Once the dust finally settled, not only did Boykin capture both titles, but he also finished No. 4 in the Heisman voting.

Though he did improve from one year to the next, it didn’t hurt that TCU returned the third-most starters in the Big 12 and the 26th most in the FBS.

Exceeding expectations isn’t just about having talent—it’s about having lots of talented guys playing around you as well.

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Meet Eddy Pineiro, the Alabama Commit Who Can Make a 73-Yard Field Goal

The man likely to be tabbed with solving Alabama's placekicking woes wasn't even playing the sport when the Tide lost to archrival Auburn in the infamous Kick Six game some 19-plus months ago. 

In fact, two years ago as a senior at Miami’s Sunset Senior High School, Eddy Pineiro was making a name for himself as one of the top soccer players in South Florida.

Things have changed pretty quickly for the 6'1", 180-pounder. 

Even though he’s yet to make an actual field goal in a real football game, video of his successful 73-yard field goal over the weekend is setting the internet on fire. 

To put that in perspective, Pineiro's boot is nine yards longer than the current NFL record set by Matt Prater in 2013, as noted by's Chase Goodbread.

The 3-star kicker, who is currently enrolled at ASA Community College in Miami, committed to Alabama earlier this month after wowing head coach Nick Saban at the Tide’s summer camp.

If there were any doubts about his credentials and lack of experience, one boot with a thunderous boom appears to have silenced any lingering critics.

But if you dig a little deeper into his introduction to the game of football, his lengthy blast wouldn’t come as a total shock.

After being recommended to the football coach at Sunset by his soccer coach, Pineiro—who scored 28 goals as a forward in soccer during his senior year—walked out to the field for his first kick from the 50-yard line and calmly buried it.

“I told my dad that I just kicked a 40- or 50-yarder because I didn’t really know how football worked at that time,” Pineiro told Bleacher Report. “Then my coach came out and told me that I just kicked a 60-yarder. I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ That’s kind of how it started.”

However, there were still a few bumps in the road for Pineiro before he became serious about committing to playing football.

He only played in seven games at Sunset during his senior season, with his sole duty being to handle the team’s kickoff duties.

“I only did kickoffs for five or six games,” Pineiro explained. “It was nothing serious. I was a big soccer guy who was just trying to help out our football team.”

As’s Drew Champlin notes, Pineiro wound up going to ASA College in Miami after a soccer scholarship to FAU fell through due to an NCAA clearance issue.

His rise in football came shortly after he started working with kicking coach Brandon Kornblue.

According to the Kornblue Kicking website, Pineiro joined Kornblue’s training program in February and proceeded to blast a record 86-yard kickoff at the company’s spring kicking challenge. Additionally, he hit all seven of his field-goal attempts from 50 yards and in, nailed a 60-yarder in the long-ball competition and had one kick from 71 yards bounce off the crossbar.

He made a 60-yarder again in front of the coaches at ASA College, and that’s when his prep soccer coach told him that he could have a future in the game of football.

“I really decided to take football seriously,” Pineiro said. “[Kornblue] got a video together of me when I started working with him. I started getting better. That’s pretty much how everything started happening.”

Florida became the first school to offer in early June. That tender was followed up by an offer from the hometown Miami Hurricanes.

However, Pineiro had his sights set on a different powerhouse program out of the SEC—Alabama. He wasted little time in making an impression on Saban.

“We were out there kicking and coach called for four of us to go in the indoor facility to kick for Coach Saban,” Pineiro told Champlin. “I won the kicking competition and felt like I was the best one on there. I handled the pressure and I'm ready to kick at the next level. The pressure didn't bother me. I just went in there and did what I was supposed to do.”

After earning a scholarship offer from Saban, he chose to commit to the Tide.

“I like the tradition they have there at the school and their history,” Pineiro said of his attraction to Alabama. “They are always going to compete for a national title. I love the school, the facilities, the locker room, the weight room, the indoor facility, the outdoor facility and things like that. It was awesome. I completely fell in love when I was there. I felt at home.”

Pineiro mentioned Florida State All-American kicker Roberto Aguayo—who also has a background as a soccer player—as someone he’s paid close attention to as he’s made the transition from soccer to football.

“I was looking at Roberto Aguayo from FSU,” Pineiro said. “The way he kicks and the way his attitude is toward the game, I really like that about him. A lot of people tell me the ball makes a similar sound when I kick it as it does with him.”

For now, Pineiro said his main focus is on getting to Alabama and helping the Tide make sure that their recent place-kicking woes are a thing of the past.

“I want to go there and I want to break records at Alabama,” Pineiro said. “I want the fans to feel comfortable when I go out on the field for a kick. I want to be the best kicker in the nation and that’s what I’m training hard for right now. That’s what I want to do. I want to change the kicking game there.”


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

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Texas Tech WR Dylan Cantrell Displays Array of Backflip Catches, Leaps off Couch

Making backflip catches has become a part of football culture.

Some attempts have gone tremendously well, while others have gone painfully wrong.

File Texas Tech wide receiver Dylan Cantrell’s display under the former. The last snag in the clip above was particularly wild.

If a couch ever finds its way onto the gridiron, we know who’ll use it to his advantage.


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5 CFB Programs Most in Need of a Bowl Appearance in 2015-16

A bowl appearance for any program is an accomplishment. 

This postseason game offers plenty in the way of incentive. The university benefits monetarily from the contest. It also offers the program an extra 15 practices—which can often aid in the development of younger players. 

Additionally, the mere appearance can theoretically save the job of a coach on the proverbial hot seat. 

This piece will look at five programs in desperate need of a bowl appearance at the conclusion of this coming year. These factors include keeping up with rival schools, the prevention of a stagnation within the program's fortunes going forward and the potential saving of a head coach's job. 


Note: Programs included within the slideshow did not make a bowl game last season.

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Tre Lamar Reveals Top 3: Which Schools Hold the Edge for 4-Star LB?

Linebacker Tre Lamar has narrowed his college choices to three southern options, a trio that have spent plenty of time with the 4-star Georgia prospect.

"These three schools offer the qualities I'm looking for," Lamar said of Alabama, Auburn and Clemson, per Wesley Sinor of

According to Sinor, Lamar has visited Clemson five times—with another trip scheduled there for the July 17 "All-In Cookout"—and been to both Alabama and Auburn four times. They are three of the 36 schools that have offered the 6'4", 240-pound prospect from Roswell, Georgia.

Rated by 247Sports as the No. 153 overall prospect in the 2016 recruiting class, Lamar is considered the nation's eighth-best inside linebacker and the No. 15 prospect in Georgia.

Lamar had positive things to say about all three finalists, telling Sinor his relationship with Clemson's coaches is very strong. He cited Alabama's tradition of developing inside linebackers, such as C.J. Mosley and Dont'a Hightower, and noted that Auburn's engineering department appeals to his academic interests.

Clemson has the edge in 247Sports' Crystal Ball predictions, collecting 60 percent of the 10 projections made so far. Alabama and Auburn are tied at 20 percent. But if Lamar is looking to be the guy at his school, Auburn figures to be his best bet.

Clemson already has a commitment from Rahshaun Smith, the nation's top-rated inside linebacker, while No. 5 ILB prospect Jaquan Yulee has committed to Alabama and is in pursuit of fourth-rated Dontavious Jackson. Auburn hasn't landed an inside 'backer yet, and Lamar is considered the Tigers' top target at that position.

Alabama could lose junior Reuben Foster to the NFL draft after this season, but the Crimson Tide have plenty of depth at the position and signed three linebackers in the 2015 class. Auburn doesn't have as much behind senior Kris Frost, while Clemson has a pair of freshmen who redshirted in 2014 and are waiting to step in for senior B.J. Goodson.


Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

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4-Star Diondre Overton Opens Up on Top 5 and Chances of Being a 2-Sport Athlete

There was a time when 4-star wide receiver Diondre Overton once thought his future in college athletics would be courtesy of the basketball court. At 6'5" and 194 pounds, he would have been a solid option at the combo guard spot for a program.

As the days go by, Overton's hoop dreams are turning more and more into a gridiron fantasy. And that fantasy inched closer to reality status on Friday when the Greensboro, North Carolina, standout announced his top five.

"These five have pretty much been recruiting me the hardest and showing me the most love," Overton said. "I like the facilities and the coaching staffs. Some of the other colleges that offered backed off, but these five contacted me the most."

Last month at The Opening Charlotte regional, Overton told Bleacher Report that he was strongly considering playing football and basketball in college. The idea still is with Overton, but football holds the edge if he chooses to play one sport.

"It's something I've thought about," he said. "If I focus on one sport, I'll have more opportunity to improve and work on my game. Plus, it will relieve a lot of stress. I know it takes a lot to do both."

As a wide receiver for Walter Hines Page Senior High School last season, Overton caught 62 passes for 1,187 yards and 11 touchdowns, according to his page. He then switched his attention to basketball and, according to MaxPreps, averaged 14.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game as a junior.

For now, Overton is leaning toward playing football only—and he likes all five programs on his list for various reasons. He said he's a fan of Nebraska wide receivers coach Keith Williams.

"The wide receivers coach at Nebraska is pretty cool. He tells me a lot of interesting things and has convinced me to give them a chance," Overton said. "N.C. State is the home school. I've been around it my whole life. I've been there several times, and I love the environment.

"I was at UNC's Freak Show [camp], and it really impressed me a lot, way more than I expected. The whole atmosphere is nice there. With Tennessee, I like that they're producing good wide receivers. The campus is nice, and I like the weight room there."

Of the five schools, Clemson may be the school to watch. Overton's 247Sports Crystal Ball points unanimously to Clemson, and he's made a few unofficial trips to the campus.

"Every time I go there, I like it more and more," he said. "It's always been near the top for me. I like the wide receiver coach [Jeff Scott], and I like how they're producing more and more wide receivers each year."

Whether or not Overton chooses to play basketball at the next level is up to him. Although he doesn't have a basketball scholarship offer for his top five, he's been in contact with the basketball coaches to discuss the possibility of being a two-sport athlete.

For now, he is focusing more on finding a football home and a place where he can get the best education. He's looking to major in sports medicine. No timetable has been set, but Overton said he will continue keeping all options open.

"I definitely want a good coaching staff, a good environment and a place where I can study my major," he said. "Plus, I want to be a part of a great team that has a lot of history. I'm looking for a great school where I can fit in."


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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Winners and Losers from College Football Recruiting Trail for the Month of June

The mass high school student exodus known as summer beak has finally swept across the country, creating opportunities for prized football prospects to truly explore their collegiate possibilities.

Competitive camps, multi-university road trips and long-awaited campus visits allow coaching staffs and recruits to spend time in the same vicinity while figuring out whether an ideal fit might be found. June welcomed a new phase of the recruiting cycle, setting the stage for frenzied developments as many players approach the final campaigns of their respective prep careers.

Here's our monthly examination of which college programs picked up the pace and those that must regain momentum moving forward.

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