NCAA Football News

What It's Like to Be Coached at Jim Harbaugh's Revolutionary Quarterback Camp

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Brandon Peters dropped back, wound up and fired a ball so fast you could hear it whizzing through the thick June air before firmly landing in the arms of its intended target.

Instantly, the 6'5", 205-pounder cocked his head back in disgust. At any other quarterback camp, the catch would have been a positive play.

At Jim Harbaugh's inaugural Ann Arbor Aerial Assault (A4) quarterback camp, the Michigan commit had just cost his team a man in a game of dodgeball.

Initially billed as a star-studded affair featuring Colin Kaepernick, Jameis Winston and Jay Cutler as guest instructors, Harbaugh's latest outside-the-box offseason tactic still lived up to the hype despite Kaepernick and Winston missing the event due to scheduling conflicts. A plethora of impressive quarterback counselors—Cutler included—still made their way to Ann Arbor for the camp, which drew close to 200 high schoolers last Saturday.

But while the presence of Cutler, Denard Robinson, Tyrod Taylor, Todd Collins, Elvis Grbac, Kyle Boller, Ken Dorsey, Zac Robinson, Devin Gardner and the Wolverines offensive staff still made for an unprecedented collection of qualified quarterback instructors, football seemed to take a back seat at the first edition of the A4 camp.


'What's Next?'

As the jugs machine on the Michigan Stadium field fired up just past 10:30 a.m., it wasn't footballs but round, white baseballs that were sent flying into the Ann Arbor sky. It may have been advertised as a quarterback camp beforehand, but Harbaugh was putting his campers through drills meant for the diamond, including pop flies and grounders.

Some campers clearly looked more natural than others when it came to fielding and throwing the baseballs, which Harbaugh said was the exact reason he incorporated it into his camp.

"You can see it, can't you?" Harbaugh asked reporters as the campers broke for lunch around noon. "Field awareness, spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination. Throwing is throwing, whether its baseball, football, basketball, a rock. It's the mechanics of throwing."

The former San Francisco 49ers head coach explained that his unique strategy for evaluating quarterbacks was the result of advice from legendary NFL coach Bill Walsh, who once told him that a signal-caller should be the best athlete in his high school. That's why soccer drills, too, soon became a part of the A4 camp, as well as jump-rope competitions that caught parents and campers alike off guard.

"What's next?" one camper could be heard asking to another as they walked to lunch. "Rollerskating?"

Not quite, although the aforementioned game of dodgeball highlighted the second half of the camp, which took place on the outdoor field right outside of the Al Glick Field House. Even the counselors seemed to not know what they were getting themselves into, admitting the A4 camp was unlike any they had ever taken part in.

"This is a little different," Cutler said, comparing Harbaugh's camp to the ones he attended as a prospect. "He keeps it interesting. You get to see what kind of athletes are out here, which is fun."

Harbaugh continued to insist that there's a method to his madness.

"There's a lot of ways to practice at football (other) than just taking a five-step drop and throwing into a net," said Harbaugh, who fielded throws from campers as the camp's de facto first baseman. "You could take athletic reps doing just about anything.

"You could climb a tree."

Campers, however, weren't asked to do that—at least not this year.

What they did receive, however, was up-close-and-personal instruction with several NFL-experienced quarterbacks, so much so that the camp's top prospects found themselves on a first-name basis with their counselors. With Michigan QB coach and passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch overlooking the operations of the camp, Cutler could be seen teaching five-step drops to players like Peters, while Dorsey—who was never known for his own arm strength—playfully teased prospects during the camp's long-throw competition.

The roster of instructors may not have been what was once expected, and the drills certainly weren't what was initially anticipated, but based on the smiles from campers and parents alike throughout the day, each appeared satisfied with the overall product.


Scoreboard Watching

It wasn't all fun and games, per se, at the A4 camp, as traditional quarterback drills did actually take place. In true Harbaugh fashion, results were monitored on the Michigan Stadium scoreboard, as the nine-hour camp doubled as a camp-wide competition.

For a camp that was light on elite talent from a prospect standpoint, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the star of the show was Peters, nor was it a coincidence that the only player in attendance committed to the Wolverines was marked as camper No. 1. The 2016 4-star signal-caller was the day's high scorer, earning an authentic Michigan helmet autographed by all of the counselors for his efforts.

"I know you," Harbaugh said with a smile as he presented Peters with the helmet at the end of the camp. "We didn't rig this thing."

Fixing the competition in Peters' favor simply wasn't necessary. The Avon, Indiana, native put on a clinic, posting 31.25 points in the camp's scoring system, which took into account football and non-football drills alike.

Perhaps Peters' most impressive moment of the day came when he effortlessly tossed the ball 65 yards in a long-throw competition, the best showing in a rotating pod that included the camp's other top prospects such as 2017 4-star quarterback Jake Allen, 2017 3-star prospect Jack Coan, 2017 3-star signal-caller Tyler Lyle and 2018 prospect Allan Walters.

But while "Pod 1" garnered the most attention from both the Wolverines staff and onlookers throughout the day, they were still ultimately bested by Pod 2 in dodgeball—thanks in large part to Peters' errant throw.

"Watching them compete and how serious they are in doing that," Harbaugh said. "That's where my focus is."


Parental Guidance

The recruits weren't the only ones who received some coaching. 

"Last call!" Harbaugh could be heard shouting from outside a nearby conference room as lunch came to a close and campers returned to the Michigan Stadium field. "Rick Kaepernick and Jack Harbaugh on how to raise a quarterback. This is good stuff, you don't want to miss it."

As the second half of Harbaugh's unprecedented quarterback camp began, the new Michigan head coach slipped away, sitting alongside about 100 parents as his father and Colin Kaepernick's dad each gave presentations on what it's like to raise a player who plays football's most important position. Harbaugh nodded along as Rick recalled his son winning the 49ers starting quarterback job in 2012 and smiled as Jack—almost as equally as enthusiastic as he is—told stories of Jim's youth, college and pro careers.

The current and former NFL quarterbacks' serving as instructors outside was nice, but the parental seminar was just as big of a part of Saturday's appeal. Receiving nearly as much instruction as their children were outside, parents learned lessons about dealing with realistic expectations, bouncing back from injuries and what it's like to be the parent of players at both the college and professional levels.

With players coming to Ann Arbor from as far away as California and Florida, the parent seminar—and especially the stories from Jack Harbaugh—showed the level of attention to detail that made the attending of the A4 camp worth it. And if one thing was evident inside the room as parents—and even Harbaugh himself—asked questions, it was the restoration of the positive energy that's been missing from Michigan football for the past seven years.

"It's been difficult," said Collins, who played at Michigan from 1990-94 before spending 16 seasons in the NFL. "That turnover and that change, that's what's made it so difficult."

And now?

"If you want to get to the NFL and maximize your talent, where else would you want to go but here?" Collins said of his alma mater, before adding, "Obviously, I'm a little biased."

So too were many of the campers and parents in attendance, Michigan fans who came to Ann Arbor as much to snap a picture with Harbaugh as they did for the NFL-caliber instruction. That's just fine for the Wolverines, who continue to re-establish themselves on the recruiting trail with camps like Saturday's, which featured an interesting nugget from Jack Harbaugh on the eve of Father's Day.

"From the day that I can remember first looking into his eyes, what you vividly imagine, this guy was the all-time daydreamer," Jack Harbaugh said of his youngest son. "That's what we called him, 'The Daydreamer.'

"And sometimes we got called to class. 'Jim is looking out the window, staring out the window. He's a daydreamer.' And I told them, 'Thank God! He's a daydreamer!'"

Just outside—as one of the most unique camps in all of college football took place—that may have never been clearer. With just more than two months to go until the start of the season, Harbaugh's vision was on display, his one-of-a-kind personality accenting a competition-driven event aimed at raising his program's reputation.

"How much fun was that?" Harbaugh asked rhetorically as the nine-hour camp came to a close with his infamous "Who's got it better than us?" chant. "Name me a better camp. You can't, can you?"

Looking on, neither parents nor campers seemed to disagree.


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

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When Should Florida Realistically Contend for the SEC East?

When "McElwain Watch 2014" ended in early December, it was a breath of fresh air in Gainesville.

Gator Nation bid farewell to the days of inept offenses and welcomed with open arms McElwain—a highly accomplished offensive mind who's been successful at every stop, including as Alabama's offensive coordinator from 2008-2011.

But that 180-degree turn might take more time than it has for other coaches in the SEC.

While Florida does take up real estate in the SEC East, which is still building back to the behemoth it once was, there are still some major roster holes for McElwain to fill.

Most notably, at quarterback.

Sophomore dual threat and returning starter Treon Harris has the experience but doesn't necessarily fit the more pro-style system that McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier typically employ. Redshirt freshman Will Grier is a better fit for the system but doesn't have a college snap under his belt.

Up front, Florida has the third-most inexperienced offensive line in the country with just 10 starts with the program, according to Those 10 belong to guard Trip Thurman, who's nursing a shoulder injury and might not be ready for the fall.

McElwain had a plan, though.

"We were just thin at some areas, and that's pretty obvious," McElwain said in May. "That was the hand that we were dealt, and I look forward to piecing that thing together, and there are probably going to be some new names on the roster."

McElwain has brought in two transfers since spring practice came to a close in two-time FCS All-American graduate transfer tackle Mason Halter and freshman T.J. McCoy—who is eligible immediately after being granted a hardship waiver, according to Luis Torres of the Palm Beach Post.

Because of those two glaring weaknesses and uncertainties, it's unrealistic for the Gators to expect to contend for the SEC East title in 2015.

After all, Missouri has proved that it can be the class of the division in spite of major roster holes of its own over the last two seasons, Tennessee has had a three-year head start on rebuilding its program, and Georgia will—at the very worst—be in the mix.

The 2016 season, though, should be one in which the Gators are legitimately in the mix well into November.

The young offensive line—which will include six freshman enrolling this summer, including 5-star stud Martez Ivey—will have plenty of experience under its belt, the quarterback situation should be somewhat stabilized, and the defense should keep the Gators in plenty of games, just as it has while the offense has struggled over the last few years.

Sure, stud cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III probably will jump to the NFL after this year, linebacker Antonio Morrison and defensive lineman Jon Bullard will exhaust their eligibility, and there might be some other unexpected turnover based on stars who emerge in 2015.

But cornerback Jalen Tabor will still be there, as will running back Jordan Scarlett, defensive end CeCe Jefferson and versatile defensive back Duke Dawson.

Will there be questions in 2016?


But a one-year acclimation process should get everybody in Gainesville on the same page, the youngsters familiar with the speed of the SEC and the quarterback at least consistent enough to help the Gators make a title run within the division.

McElwain is the right guy to get Florida back to division prominence, but the circumstances he was dealt this year will briefly delay that process. Once he gets the roster stocked and those players get experience under their belts, look out.


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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Jim Haslett's NFL Influence Can Push James Franklin, Penn State over the Top

Between Urban Meyer's rings, Jim Harbaugh things and everything that Mark Dantonio brings to the table, the Big Ten East has not only evolved into one of college football's top divisions, but a constant game of catch-up between the the league's top coaches.

That's why when Penn State announced its hiring of former NFL head coach Jim Haslett as a consultant on Wednesday, it was tough not to think about how it would affect the Nittany Lions' place in the Big Ten's pecking order.

It remains unclear just how involved Haslett will be and how much input he will have on the Nittany Lions' day-to-day operations, but based on a statement released by Penn State head coach James Franklin, the role appears to be significant:

We are very excited to have Jim with our program. Jim has an outstanding football mind and invaluable experience that will be a tremendous resource. He has great knowledge of the game at the next level, and we plan to put that to good use. He will work with our offensive, special teams and defensive coaches and will be a fantastic sounding board for our staff.

Haslett will have direct contact with members on both sides of the ball for the Nittany Lions, bringing 20 years of NFL coaching experience to the second-year staff.

A native of Pittsburgh, Haslett appears to be a natural fit on a Penn State staff that was looking to increase its NFL experience.

Having most recently served as the defensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins from 2010-2014, the 1979 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year has spent 12 years in professional football as a coordinator, as well as six seasons as the head coach of the New Orleans Saints from 2000-2005.

Having yet to venture back to the college level since a three-year stint as an assistant at Buffalo from 1988-1990, Haslett's impressive resume should bode well in a Big Ten that is being influenced by the NFL more with each passing day.

Especially in the East Division, which currently boasts three potential first-round quarterbacks—including Penn State's Christian Hackenberg—and a coach who was one of the NFL's best as recently as last year.'s Todd McShay currently projects Michigan State's Connor Cook and Ohio State's Cardale Jones as top-10 picks in the 2016 NFL draft, while The MMQB ranked Harbaugh as the 87th-most influential man in the NFL earlier this month, despite the former San Francisco 49ers head coach now calling Ann Arbor home.

With an October prime-time date with the Buckeyes and games against the Wolverines and Spartans to close the regular season, it will be impossible for the Nittany Lions to avoid the NFL's influence on the Big Ten in 2015.

Which is what makes the hiring of Haslett in Happy Valley so intriguing, as the Nittany Lions are not without professional prospects of their own.

Not only could Haslett help prepare Hackenberg for defenses he may face both this season and at the next level, but if you're looking to get the most out of defensive tackle Anthony Zettel, linebacker Nyeem Wartman-White, safety Jordan Lucas and four new starters on the defensive side of the ball, there are worse places to look than the 2000 NFL Coach of the Year.

"I am thrilled to join the Penn State football family," Haslett said. "James is one of the great, young head coaches in the collegiate game today, and he is leading this Penn State program in the right direction. The future is very bright for Penn State football, and I am excited to be a part of it."

It remains to be seen just how much a part of that future Haslett will be, whether he'll remain satisfied with his role as a consultant or look to return to the NFL as he did after his last one-year hiatus from the league in 2009, which he spent winning Coach of the Year honors in the UFL.

But should he remain in the college ranks, his presence will be nothing but a positive for Penn State on the recruiting trail.

With the real possibility that Big Ten players will make up one-third of next year's first round, it won't just be on the field that NFL experience matters.

Meyer and Dantonio should only add to their already-impressive resumes of developing pro prospects at their respective schools in the coming year, while Harbaugh's primary recruiting pitch has centered around his four years with the 49ers and the development of star quarterback Andrew Luck at Stanford.

"I think it does help that there has been NFL experience in our coaches' background," Harbaugh said on national signing day. "A lot of our players, that's one of their goals, to make it to the NFL. We don't discourage that. In fact, we try to teach it."

That rings true for most college staffs, including Penn State's, with Franklin having spent a season with the Green Bay Packers as a wide receivers coach in 2005.

But outside of Franklin's lone season as an assistant a decade ago, the Nittany Lions' staff lacks NFL experience, most of the coaches having worked their way up through the college ranks before teaming up with Franklin at either Vanderbilt or Maryland, which ran a pro-style system under head coach Ralph Friedgen.

Adding Haslett—even if just as a consultant—changes that, both for the present and potentially the future.

Penn State may not have a staff as experienced as Michigan's is at the next level or with a track record of developing players as strong as Ohio State and Michigan State do, but Haslett helps bring legitimacy to a college world where NFL pedigree matters more now than ever.

And when playing catch-up, every edge matters.


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

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4-Star Jared Mayden Announces Top 7, Reveals What He's Looking for in a Program

On his 17th birthday, a day when he should have been receiving all the presents, 4-star cornerback Jared Mayden gave the followers of seven schools a small gift of his own.

Early Wednesday evening, Mayden announced via social media his top seven schools, consisting in alphabetical order of Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon and UCLA. The announcement was big considering the Sachse, Texas prospect entered the day with 45 offers, the latest coming from Georgia on Tuesday.

Wednesday's announcement is the first of two between now and the second week of July for Mayden. The cornerback will cap his recruiting process with a verbal commitment to one of the seven schools at The Opening next month in Beaverton, Oregon.

Mayden said the seven finalists benefited from having great coach-recruit relationships. He's a player who didn't have one in-state school make his top seven, so having strong relationships with the coaching staffs was key.

"Those seven have been recruiting me since freshman year," he said. "I've been to most of the schools, and the visits have been really good. I feel really comfortable with all the coaches. I got a chance to meet a lot of people, and that's helped me in deciding where I want to go."

Mayden said of the seven schools, four have yet to be visited but will receive a visit between now and the end of the fall—UCLA, Michigan, Florida and Florida State. He will be a welcomed addition, wherever he ends up, as a 6'1" 190-pound cover corner.

And what will separate the eventual winner from the rest of his finalists?

"I think there are going to be more questions being asked, harder questions," Mayden said. "I want to see what the coaches are saying now. I want to see which coaches still really want me."

Mayden added he's called on his older brother, Rice wide receiver James Mayden, for advice regarding a decision. A couple of conversations with his big brother were rewarded with simple advice: Do what's best for you.

"He said to make the decision for myself, that's it," Mayden said. "The family won't be at college with me doing all the reps and going to school. You have to make the best decision for you."

Mayden admitted he is ready to end this process. He said the process, although fun, has made his days overwhelming. A player with 45 offers, Mayden said things got hectic after the first three or four.

But the stressful time is almost over, and at The Opening, Mayden said he'll be able to simply focus on enjoying his upcoming senior year. He's looking to choose a major in college; he said he wants education to be a minor.

"I'm just looking for a school that has a good tradition and stable coaches," he said. "I'm trying to go somewhere and win, but it's really going to depend on how I feel about the coaching staff."


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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Auburn Football: Most Important Player at Each Position

Believe it or not, Auburn's 2015 season is almost two months away from kicking off in the Georgia Dome. The long offseason wait is hitting the home stretch.

The Tigers are itching to hit the field again after a 2014 campaign that finished well short of a repeat SEC title at a disappointing 8-5.

Still, big moves were made in the offseason with assistant coaching changes and decisions by top players to stay in school, and those developments mean the buzz is back on the Plains.

Who are some of the biggest names and faces behind all this preseason hype for Auburn? Here's a look at the most important player for the Tigers at each position, which was determined by potential, experience and the ability to play multiple roles.

Let us know who you think will be Auburn's most important players on offense and defense for the 2015 season in the comments below.

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Best College Football Coaches Under Age of 40

Coaching is a profession of paying dues and working hard, long hours. It can take years—decades—before someone can climb to head coaching status. 

Others, however, have found the coaching fast track and have thrived in a short amount of time. These are the brightest, youngest minds that college football has to offer. 

Being a head coach at a young age isn't easy. It's as much about being the CEO of a program and handling all of its details as it is about coaching football. In the following slides are head coaches—and some assistant coaches—who have done a noteworthy job. 

Records, accolades and in some cases, assistant coaching history, were taken into consideration. And, of course, everyone on here is under 40. 

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4-Star DE Khalid Kareem Opens Up on Why He's Leaving Michigan for Alabama

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. — Standing with an ear-to-ear grin, and flanked by a pair of satisfied parents, Farmington Hills Harrison senior-to-be Khalid Kareem just knew; it was a surprising move, but he knew that he had just made the correct choice.

Widely considered a Michigan lean throughout his recruiting process, the 6’4”, 260-pound, 4-star defensive end threw everyone for a loop Wednesday by committing to Alabama—and not Michigan—in front of friends, family, teammates and local media on the football field at Harrison High School.

For weeks, 247Sports’ Crystal Ball had given the Crimson Tide less than a 10 percent chance of landing Kareem, the No. 10-ranked SDE of the 2016 class. At one time, the Crystal Ball had given Michigan an 89 percent chance.

“I think it was 95 percent, actually,” said Khalid with a laugh. “[Picking Alabama] was kind of a surprise.”

To an extent, Ken Kareem, Khalid's father, was surprised. But then again, he wasn't that much. He and Khalid speak about everything, so when the Crimson Tide became more of a possibility, dad was right there to listen and assist. 

“I knew it was Alabama last night. I knew last night…I knew last night,” said Khalid’s father, Ken. “But the problem was last night, we weren’t 100 percent. So when he told me he wasn’t 100 percent, I stopped everything. That’s why we stopped talking last night. We said, ‘We’ll finish this up tomorrow.’ This morning, he said, ‘I really like [Alabama]. I think I can play the position there.’”

And that was it.

Contrary to popular belief leading up to his decision, the Wolverines were never a sure thing—they were there, yes, and they were certainly in contention until the end. But the idea of a “silent commit” or otherwise was “100 percent false,” according to the Kareems.

At one point, Khalid had considered staying home, but Ken wanted to make sure his son felt that way for the right reasons. He didn’t want him sticking around to make others happy.

“I told him to follow his heart,” Ken said. “Know what you’re doing. He looked at me said, ‘You know what? I’m going to go to Alabama.’”

Staying home “was an idea, but I did want to go out—see a change of scenery,” said Khalid, who sees a better chance of immediate success in Tuscaloosa than he does in Ann Arbor.

Simply put, Alabama is ready to win now. Playing for Nick Saban, who has recently won three national titles (2009, 2011 and 2012) was an opportunity of a lifetime, one that deserved serious consideration.

“Michigan’s going through a rebuild,” said Khalid. “They’ll be good in a couple of years, I have no doubt, but Alabama is Alabama—the best team in the country.”

Humble and pretty even keeled, Khalid wasn’t overcome with emotions on Wednesday. Those around him were overjoyed—his friends, teammates, parents and coaches—but he was rather stoic, handling his commitment get-together as more of a formality than a party.

He’s been like that during his entire commitment, really—very little talk, mostly action. About a year ago, Khalid began to receive considerable interest from programs across the country. On Jan. 15, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh paid a visit and extended an offer, which Khalid “was blessed to have received.”

“Michigan is a great program, it has a great coaching staff, but I’m very happy with my choice of Alabama,” Khalid said while embracing his mother and father, who followed with a "Roll Tide!"


Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and references were obtained firsthand by the writer

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Devery Hamilton to Michigan: Wolverines Land 4-Star OT Prospect

Michigan's offensive line just got a whole lot stronger, as 4-star tackle Devery Hamilton announced his intention to become a Wolverine on Wednesday.

He took to Twitter to share the news:  

Proud to say that I'm officially committed to the University of Michigan!!

— Devery Hamilton (@D_Hamilton19) June 24, 2015

Hamilton, a breakout star at Gilman High School in Baltimore, chose Michigan over Stanford, Maryland and Wisconsin, according to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports.

"Really just sitting down with my parents and talking with my coaches," Hamilton said, when asked about his decision process, according to Wiltfong. "Last night I decided it was the right decision for me."

Stanford and Michigan have been the favorites throughout the process, with the Cardinal receiving a 40 percent chance of landing Hamilton before the announcement, per 247Sports' Crystal Ball rankings. Michigan tied with Stanford at 40 percent, and Maryland rounded out the festivities with the remaining percentage.

The Wolverines were trending upward close to the announcement, thanks in part to being the only school to host Hamilton for an unofficial visit thus far. Hamilton went to Ann Arbor in April, where he was sold on a revamped program led by Jim Harbaugh. 

It was more than a little ironic that Harbaugh wound up fighting Stanford, the team he coached before heading to the San Francisco 49ers, for Hamilton's services. The Cardinal have largely stayed near the top of the Pac-12 since Harbaugh's departure and have a steady hand in David Shaw leading the way.

Jim Harbaugh wound up getting one over on his contemporary with Hamilton, who is ranked 23rd among offensive tackles in the 2016 class. Listed at 6'6" and 290 pounds, Hamilton already has major college size that could make him an instant asset.

He's a bit raw from a skill-set standpoint, but that's largely because he played both sides of the ball in high school. Once coaches get with him and he commits to the offensive side full time, he can get to work on building a more consistent skill set to go with his body type. His development might mirror that of Andrus Peat, whose physical tools wound up getting him drafted in the first round in April.

At the very least, he's a moldable piece of clay who could even be a long-term defensive lineman if the whole tackle thing doesn't work out. With Harbaugh starting to build a recruiting class that will restock the talent cupboards, Hamilton is a good early coup.


Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Khalid Kareem to Alabama: Crimson Tide Land 4-Star DE Prospect

Khalid Kareem, a 4-star defensive end from Harrison Community High School in Farmington, Michigan, announced his decision Wednesday to play college football at Alabama, per Nick Baumgardner of MLive Media Group.  

Kareem is the 10th-ranked strong-side defensive end in the class of 2016, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. The 6'4", 260-pound prospect racked up 85 tackles and 18 sacks as a junior, and he seems keen to make the leap to the NCAA level with an early commitment.

Before bulking up and moving into the trenches, Kareem showed the ability to play well in space as an outside linebacker. That offers an idea of the type of athleticism he possesses.

The highlight video below shows what Kareem did as a sophomore, prior to packing on a considerable amount of weight for his junior campaign:

In addition to having a quick first step that allows him to create leverage and be a tough task for blockers as a pass-rusher, he has a knack for disengaging blockers and setting the edge even when he is still fighting. That makes him a force to be reckoned with against the run as well.

The recent move to defensive end and the production therein suggests Kareem has plenty of upside still to explore. It will be an adjustment to play against much stiffer competition, but Kareem has the natural football instincts and the physical tools to make the jump and make an impact at an early stage of his collegiate career.

Alabama could even take advantage of Kareem's quickness for his size, try to bulk him up even more and give him a shot at the interior of the defensive line. He could be a matchup nightmare if he can strike a balance between functional strength and still maintain the skills that have made him an exciting 4-star recruit.

The more likely scenario is for Kareem to stay at his current position and compete for snaps there as he figures out what his niche for the Crimson Tide will be. By the time he's a junior, don't be surprised to see him crack the starting lineup and be a prominent contributor for Alabama.

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What Are the Biggest Surprises of the 2016 Recruiting Class?

Although the summer has just begun, the college football season is right around the corner and showing no signs of cooling down. 

Stephen Nelson sits down with Bleacher Report recruiting analyst Tyler Donohue to discuss the biggest surprises in recruiting. 

Who will finish with the top class for 2016? Check out the video, and let us know!

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Tyrie Cleveland Tweets Top 10: Which School Has Best Odds to Land 4-Star WR?

Tyrie Cleveland, another one of the 2016 class' rising stars from the Houston area, has narrowed his list of future destinations down to 10.

The 4-star wide receiver and former Texas A&M commit tweeted his top 10 Tuesday night. The list, which Cleveland said was in no particular order, includes four schools from his home state, four SEC programs, Arizona State and his hometown Cougars.

The No. 15 wide receiver and the No. 98 overall player in 247Sports' composite rankings, Cleveland caught 53 passes for 1,105 yards and 13 touchdowns last season as a junior. He is set to attend The Opening in Oregon later this summer.

He is teammates at Westfield High School with 5-star Houston commit Ed Oliver and 4-star quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole, whose recent top-eight list also included Houston, Florida, Texas A&M and Arizona State.

Which school from Cleveland's wide range of interests has the best odds of landing his signature on signing day? Here are five programs to watch.


1. Florida (2-1)

The Gators have made great strides with Cleveland since his decommitment from Texas A&M, and they look to have the best shot at landing the 6'2 ½" receiver.

According to 247Sports' Thomas Goldkamp, Cleveland has some ties to the program and is interested in returning to his former home state.

"I'm originally from Florida, so as a Gator, it ranks very high," Cleveland told Goldkamp during his visit to Gainesville last month. "I have a couple family members that like the Gators."

If Cleveland and Sterling-Cole decide to sign with the same college as a receiver-quarterback package deal, that gives the Gators an additional advantage. Florida needs a signal-caller in this 2016 class and is currently one of the front-runners for Sterling-Cole.

The Gators offense could use an injection of speed and skill, and Cleveland can offer that right away for new head coach Jim McElwain and his staff down in the Sunshine State.


2. TCU (2-1)

TCU might not be recruiting his teammate Sterling-Cole at quarterback, but the Horned Frogs are still big-time favorites.

According to an interview last month, TCU appears to be neck-and-neck with Florida at this point for Cleveland. 

"Their offenses, coaching style and performances on the field, great atmosphere and their fanbases are incredible," Cleveland told 247Sports' Taylor Hamm last month. "[TCU and Florida] are ones I'm looking at hard."

With their new explosive offense, TCU looks set to be a contender in the Big 12 and the College Football Playoff race for the next few seasons.

Of the teams leading the way for his commitment, the Horned Frogs give Cleveland the best chance of being part of a championship team from the start of his collegiate career.


3. Houston (4-1)

Although he's receiving offers from schools all over the country, there's a great chance Cleveland—and even Sterling-Cole—stay in Houston and sign with the Cougars.

Houston currently holds 36 percent of the 247Sports Crystal Ball Predictions for Cleveland, tying Texas A&M for the lead. However, Texas A&M hasn't gotten a prediction since Cleveland's decommitment earlier this year.

New Houston head coach Tom Herman is making huge strides in recruiting the talent-rich local area. The Cougars have already landed a surprise commitment in Oliver, a 5-star defensive tackle whom 247Sports rated as the No. 14 overall player in the country.

"A major X-factor in this case is Corby Meekins, Cleveland's recruiting contact," Bleacher Report's Damon Sayles wrote in April. "The Houston tight ends coach is the old head coach at Westfield, so Cleveland knows him well."

Familiarity with the staff and location makes Houston a solid contender for Cleveland's signature and an excellent package deal of stars from Westfield.


4. Baylor (9-1)

As one of the fastest-rising teams in the race for Cleveland, Baylor has all the momentum to contend for his commitment.

The Bears were one of the last teams on Cleveland's list to offer him a scholarship, but their presence in his top 10 show they are very much in the hunt.

According to Goldkamp, Cleveland mentioned Baylor "repeatedly" during their interview and hopes to take a visit to Waco this summer.

Like TCU, Baylor's offense is a great fit for a player of Cleveland's size and speed, and Art Briles' team also has a chance to contend for titles in 2015 and beyond.


5. Texas A&M (9-1)

Cleveland has continued to say that he is still considering the Aggies even after he decommitted from them in April.

While the list he tweeted out is "in no specific order," it's still worth noting that Texas A&M was at No. 1.

Texas A&M is also recruiting Sterling-Cole, whose father played wide receiver for the Aggies, bringing a potential package deal back in play.

Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies have been successful with top receiving recruits in recent seasons, and Cleveland could be the next to join that trend in College Station. Even though he reversed his earlier pledge to the school, don't count out A&M—especially when it comes to in-state recruiting.


Recruiting information courtesy of ;247Sports.

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

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Notre Dame Fact or Fiction: Will the Irish Make the College Football Playoff?

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are coming off an up-and-down 2014 season, which ended with a victorious bowl appearance. What does the 2015 season hold? 

Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Adam Kramer was joined by Stephen Nelson as they played a game of fact or fiction. 

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Staff Raises Further Proof That Alabama Has Lane Kiffin at a Bargain

Call it a raise, call it a market adjustment or call it "the offseason," but June is the time where assistant coaches learn just how much they're worth for the upcoming football season. 

In Alabama's case, the assistants are worth quite a bit.

According to's Michael Casagrande, six of the Crimson Tide's seven returning assistants got extensions and raises approved. Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart jumped from $1.35 million to $1.5 million per year (thanks in part to the beefy contracts of John Chavis and Will Muschamp), offensive line coach Mario Cristobal jumped from $500,000 to $515,000 and new defensive backs coach Mel Tucker saw his new $500,000 deal finalized.

Who's the one assistant who didn't get a bump?

Oh, just the guy who helped set the program record for total offense in 2014 with 484.5 yards per game—offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

Kiffin's salary won't budge from last season's figure of $680,000. That's neither a big deal nor an indication of Kiffin's relationship with head coach Nick Saban or Alabama. 

As Casagrande notes, Kiffin is still being paid his buyout as head coach from USC, and whatever Alabama pays him will only cut away at what USC is paying him so long as his Alabama salary doesn't exceed his buyout figure. 

What. A. Bargain.

According to last year's USA Today assistant coaching salary database, that figure put Kiffin behind former Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder—who coordinated the worst defense in the conference (450.8 YPG), former Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper—who coordinated the SEC's third-worst offense (367.6 YPG) and wasn't retained by the new staff, and current LSU defensive coordinator Kevin Steele—who was a position coach on the same staff as Kiffin in 2014.

Not only is Alabama benefiting from Kiffin's USC buyout, but it isn't forced to give him market corrections based on success or the going rate of top-tier offensive coordinators.

Does Kiffin deserve some heat for what happened in the Allstate Sugar Bowl national semifinal loss to Ohio State?


It might have been a smart idea to run a little bit more in the second half, but the Blake Sims-Amari Cooper connection worked well all year, so why not try to keep it going on the game's biggest stage. Frankly, it'd have been much more helpful that night for Saban and Smart to figure out a way to slow down Ohio State's offense.

Kiffin is a lightning rod and will take the blame. But you can't deny just how good he was last year for the Tide. After all, why else would he be named a finalist for the Broyles Award given to the best assistant in college football?

He took a quarterback in Sims—who once played running back during his time in Tuscaloosa—and made him a bona fide weapon, essentially on the fly, as the season progressed.

He helped launch Cooper, who was already one of the best wide receivers in the country, into a Heisman Trophy finalist. That's an enormous leap for a wide receiver for the increasingly quarterback-driven award.

You might hear over the next few days or weeks that the absence of a raise for Kiffin is a sign that there's trouble in paradise or that Saban doesn't have faith in his second-year offensive coordinator. Don't be fooled by the noise.

Alabama is getting Kiffin at a bargain.


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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Fact or Fiction: Answering the Most Burning Questions for the Clemson Tigers

The Clemson Tigers are returning a solid team from last year, with a fantastic 2015 recruiting class and a possible Heisman contender in quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Stephen Nelson is joined by Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer to discuss the burning questions for Clemson heading into 2015. 

Will Deshaun Watson win the Heisman Trophy next season? Check out the video and let us know!

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College Football's Most Expensive Ticket Prices for 2015 Season

From massive TV deals all the way down to stadium souvenirs, college football is a big-money sport—and the cash flow seems to be increasing by the day.

One of the biggest examples of the lucrative world of college football can be found in ticket prices. Season and individual-game tickets for powerhouses sell out in minutes, and the resale marketplace explodes with activity months in advance.

With a couple of months to go before the start of the 2015 season, let's take a look at how much fans will have to spend in order to lock down tickets for some of the biggest games of the year.

These are the 10 most expensive 2015 regular season games in college football, ranked by the cheapest ticket currently available online from StubHub.

Secondary market prices will fluctuate in the coming weeks and months—more tickets are set to become available for some of these games. However, if fans want to go ahead and guarantee a seat at these matchups now, this is the bare minimum they will have to pay.

(Note: The Shamrock Series game between Boston College and Notre Dame at Fenway Park has been omitted from this list because of the small amount of tickets that have been released. The cheapest of the 33 tickets currently available online comes in at $1,005.60.)

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Fact or Fiction for Florida State Seminoles Heading into 2015 Season

The Florida State Seminoles finished last season as one of the four teams represented in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

What are their expectations for 2015?

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer joined Stephen Nelson to play a game of "Fact or Fiction."

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Insider Buzz: Will Charlie Strong Turn Texas' 2016 Recruiting Class Around?

The Texas Longhorns are attempting to fight their way back to the top of the Big 12 and beyond, but they will have to turn it all around on the recruiting trail before that progress can begin. 

Watch as Stephen Nelson is joined by Bleacher Report Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue to discuss how Texas plans to save this 2016 class.

What kind of recruiting class can the Longhorns have? Check out the video and let us know! 

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SEC Football: Dark-Horse All-American Candidates for Every Team

By now, you've probably picked up at least one college football magazine and perused the preseason All-American lists to find the usual suspects listed on the first or second teams.

Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, Georgia running back Nick Chubb, Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott are just a few of the stars who will undoubtedly be featured. 

But what fun is that?

It's college football, and it's unpredictable. Let's dig a little deeper for some dark-horse All-American candidates for every SEC team based on talent, scheme and opportunity.

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Which Team Has the Most Dominant Defense in College Football in 2015?

Defense wins championships. The defensive side of the ball affects the game drastically, and it can be the difference in some of the biggest games. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer debate who has the best defense in college football. 

Which team will have the best defense in 2015? Check out the video and let us know!

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Ammon Lakip, Clemson Kicker, Arrested: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Clemson kicker Ammon Lakip reportedly was arrested in early June in South Carolina and faces charges of cocaine possession and driving under the influence.  

Phil Kornblut of the Sports Talk Radio Network reports the incident occurred in Pickens County, and the charges are listed as first offenses against the Tigers starting kicker. It's also noted that no action has been taken publicly by the school in response to the situation.

TigerNet obtained the police report and provided further details about the June 6 incident from the arresting officer:

It should be noted that the vehicle was leaving an area of several bars at a time when bars are usually closing. As I watched the vehicle pass by I noticed that the driver had a fixed blank glassy glaze about his face and had the appearance of someone who may be under the influence. I began to follow the vehicle and observed as it drifted left several times as well as impede upon the boarded dotted line to its left.

After pulling over the car, the officer states Lakip had trouble following simple requests and was arrested after performing poorly in the field-sobriety tests. A search of the vehicle led to the discovery of a white powder consistent with cocaine.

The police report notes he was booked at Clemson city jail. Larry Williams of Rivals passed along the booking information regarding the case:

Lakip took over the starting kicking job for the Tigers last season. He converted on 21 of 28 field goals (75 percent) and made all but one of his 44 extra-point attempts.

His status with the program could now be a question mark. Redshirt freshman Alex Spence would likely be the next man up if Lakip is suspended or released from the program.


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