NCAA Football News

Notre Dame Football: Most Important Player at Each Position

Stop us if you've heard this before, but Notre Dame might actually be really good this season. We're talking about a possible playoff contender. 

(Stop laughing. Seriously. We mean it.) 

The Irish return a lot of stars, from linebacker Jaylon Smith to defensive tackle Sheldon Day and receiver William Fuller. If the quarterback situation with Malik Zaire can take off, this can be a scary-good team with NFL talent all over it. 

Certainly, how a player projects at the next level is a factor in determining the most important players for the Irish. However, so does productivity and a player's role. All of those things were taken into consideration in determining Notre Dame's most important players. 

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NFL Draft: Which College Football Running Backs Have 1st-Round Talent?

The number of college football running backs selected in the first round of the NFL draft has rapidly declined. Which college running back will be the next first-rounder?

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee discuss and answer that question in the video above.  

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No SEC Coaches Are on the Hot Seat in 2015, but What About 2016?

Unlike last offseason, when former Florida head coach Will Muschamp was sitting on the hottest seat in America, the summer of 2015 has been quiet on the coaching carousel front.

Newer coaches are still building programs, veterans have them cooking at a high level and the ones who don't still have plenty of time to turn things around.

But what if they don't?

The 2015 season will serve as the opening act to 2016, which could be one in which several head coaches within the SEC are coaching for their jobs.

Who could be wading into treacherous waters (this is a Mark Richt-free zone...he's not going anywhere)?


LSU Head Coach Les Miles

Let's get this out of the way as quickly as possible—I like Les Miles. The 11th-year head coach of the Tigers is always entertaining in press conferences, is honest and has a much better grasp on the English language than anybody else in American sports.

But if LSU struggles to another mediocre season after last year's 8-5 debacle, the 2016 campaign is going to get very interesting for Miles in Baton Rouge.

LSU's offensive struggles have progressed from being simply a liability to a full-fledged epidemic. The Tigers haven't finished higher than sixth in the SEC in total offense since 2008, have struggled to find stability at the quarterback position—save for Zach Mettenberger's senior season in 2013—and have become far too reliant on their defense carrying the load.

That caught up to them last year, when the defense failed to generate consistent pressure and was soft up the middle, as the Tigers sputtered to a .500 record in the conference.

If there's more of the same in 2015—and that's a distinct possibility considering the quarterback situation is essentially the same and the defense is undergoing a transition to new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele—Miles will and should be coaching for his job in 2016.

This is the same LSU team that's finished in the top six in the 247Sports recruiting rankings in each of the last three seasons, has virtually no in-state recruiting competition in a talent-rich state and is consistently sending players to the NFL through the draft.

There's simply no excuse for prolonged mediocrity at LSU.


Texas A&M Head Coach Kevin Sumlin

I'm pretty high on Texas A&M this year and think that the combination of John Chavis coordinating the defense and an offense that's loaded with veterans should keep the Aggies in SEC West contention into November.

What if I'm wrong, though?

If Chavis isn't the magic potion for the defense and the Aggies slide further into divisional anonymity, head coach Kevin Sumlin should get some heat in 2016. After all, the program has regressed every year in the win column—from 11 to to nine to eight—since he took over prior to the 2012 season. 

After the Aggies' 59-0 loss to Alabama last year,'s Travis Haney wrote that Sumlin's honeymoon is over in College Station. 

That's fine, and likely accurate.

But just because the honeymoon is over doesn't mean that you can't have a successful marriage. Keyword being "successful."

If the Aggies aren't successful in 2015, the following season could be big for the future of the marriage.


Vanderbilt Head Coach Derek Mason

To be fair to Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason, he inherited a different kind of Vanderbilt. 

Off back-to-back nine-win seasons under former head coach James Franklin, suddenly there were "expectations" in Nashville, and not the kind that end in the cellar of the SEC East. It was unfair to Mason to expect that kind of season in Year 1 in 2014, but it was also a little reckless to assume that he can get the Commodores back to bowl eligibility after his inaugural season at the helm.

The 'Dores rotated four starting quarterbacks, never settled into a groove and Mason looked like he wasn't prepared to coach in the SEC. Self-awareness showed in the offseason, when he bid farewell to both coordinators, took over the defense himself and hired accomplished offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig after he wasn't retained by the new Wisconsin staff.

That's a nice start to turning things around, but what if it spirals out of control in 2015 similar to 2014's struggles? I don't think Vandy would look for a new coach following this season, but Mason would certainly be on the hot seat entering 2016.


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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OSU Fact or Fiction: Will Buckeyes Make CFP? Bosa Best Player in Nation?

The Ohio State Buckeyes are a team loaded with talent and interesting storylines. They enter the 2015 season as the favorite to win the national championship.

Bleacher Report's Lead Big Ten writer Ben Axelrod joined Stephen Nelson to play a game of Fact or Fiction surrounding the Buckeyes.  

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What Are the Michigan Wolverines' Biggest Storylines Heading into 2015 Season?

The Michigan Wolverines enter the 2015 season under new head coach Jim Harbaugh with high hopes. 

What are the Wolverines' biggest storylines? Bleacher Report's Stephen Nelson was joined by College Football Analyst Adam Kramer to discuss all things Michigan football. 

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Who's the Real Favorite in Michigan's Quarterback Competition?

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Jim Harbaugh wasn't standing nearby, but had he been, it's a safe bet the new Michigan coach would have been impressed.

Shane Morris was a taking a break from his duties as an instructor at the Ann Arbor Aerial Assault quarterback camp to field questions from reporters when the subject of Michigan's impending quarterback competition came up.

The junior signal-caller is far from a stranger when it comes to the touchy topic, but last Saturday marked the first time Morris had met with the media since the arrival of Iowa graduate transfer Jake Rudock—his direct competition in this year's go-round.

Rather than dance around the Rudock-related questions, Morris spoke with a confidence reminiscent of his new head coach.

"He came here to take my job," Morris said of Rudock. "I'm just not going to let it happen."

If the quarterback competition three hours southeast at Ohio State is being billed by Urban Meyer as friendly, then this may be the furthest thing from it: two signal-callers who each feel they're fighting for their final shot to make an impact in their college careers.

Unlike Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett, Morris and Rudock have hardly been teammates for a month, and Morris has admitted the two haven't spoken much since Rudock's arrival in Ann Arbor.

That might be just the way the competition-driven Harbaugh likes it, with his NFL playing and coaching careers making him no stranger to quarterback quandaries. In 2012, the then-San Francisco 49ers head coach opted to stick with the hot hand in Colin Kaepernick over a more experienced Alex Smith who was returning from an injury, a move that was vindicated with the Niners' subsequent trip to the Super Bowl.

But unlike picking between Kaepernick and Smith, the battle between Morris and Rudock hardly presents Harbaugh with an equally intriguing set of options.

At least not at the midpoint of Morris' college career, which has largely been viewed as disappointing after he arrived at Michigan as the nation's No. 3 pro-style quarterback prospect in 2013. In two seasons, the 6'3", 209-pounder has completed just 43 of his 87 pass attempts, a stat line that also includes five interceptions and no touchdowns.

Nevertheless, Morris remains confident that he'll be the Wolverines' starting quarterback come the start of the season.

"I think I can win the starting job because I have the mentality to do so," he said. "It's my job to lose. I'm just going to keep working hard and fend off any competitors that are trying to take it away from me."

That may be easier said than done against Rudock, a fifth-year senior who has a stronger track record at this point in his college career than Morris. In two seasons as the Hawkeyes' starter, Rudock completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 4,819 yards, 34 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, good for a combined quarterback rating of 130.0.

Having been recruited out of high school by Michigan quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch, the 6'3", 208-pound Rudock cites his experience with a similar offense and familiarity with the Harbaugh staff as his advantages heading into this summer's competition.

"It's a pro-style offense, a little bit of West Coast. At Iowa, we ran a lot of pro sets," Rudock said at the A4 camp. "Just having done it before is definitely a lot of help."

Like any competition, both players have their respective strengths and weaknesses. Rudock will benefit from his safer style of play, while Morris' impressive arm strength and extra year of eligibility give him a potentially greater upside.

Those around the program insist there's a reason Harbaugh and Fisch recruited Rudock so heavily when he first announced he'd be leaving Iowa after losing his starting job to C.J. Beathard, but also admit Morris played better than expected throughout and since spring practice.

As for Morris' assertion that he's the front-runner in the race, most chalk that up to his personality, which stands in contrast to Rudock's quieter brand of confidence. Whether the difference in the players' approaches will mean anything to Harbaugh this summer remains to be seen, but right now, it's clear that Michigan's quarterback competition isn't as clear-cut as Morris would lead you to believe.

"I want to play. I think every guy in the locker room wants to go out there and play," Rudock said. "I'm not really focusing [on the competition] to be honest. I'm just focused on meshing with the guys, understanding them. Every guy responds differently. Some guys need a little encouragement, some need a kick in the butt."

Apparently, that holds true for quarterbacks as well.


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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Tennessee Recruiting: 5 Long-Shot Targets Vols Would Love to Land

With Tennessee's football recruiting class filling up and not expected to be as loaded rankings-wise as the past couple of years, the Volunteers would really like to add a big fish or two.

They're legitimate contenders for so many wide receivers that even though it's arguably the team's biggest need from a depth standpoint, there isn't urgency in recruiting that position.

UT will almost certainly get at least two more elite receivers in this class to go along with Jeff George and Corey Henderson. Given that GoVols247's Ryan Callahan listed at least 15 players recently who have mutual interest with the Vols, the need may be dire, but the quality of quantity is abundant.

Other areas such as the defensive line, offensive line and running back are where coach Butch Jones is really fishing.

With the way UT has recruited since Jones took over and with more time to spend on fewer prospects between now and 2016's national signing day, it would be unwise to rule out the Vols swaying a big name or two.

So, who are some options that may be in play?

If Tennessee is listed in a player's top group (such as Mecole Hardman, Kyle Davis, Landon Dickerson, Donnie Corley, Nigel Warrior and Joejuan Williams), he doesn't qualify for this list.

Instead, let's take a look at some national names who have at least expressed interest in the Vols and would be "takes" for anybody. Here are five marquee guys that UT would love to lure to Knoxville.

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Ohio State Football: Buckeyes' Most Important Players at Each Position

There wasn't a team in the country that showcased the importance of depth better than Ohio State during its historic championship run in 2014.

The Buckeyes entered last season trying to replace four elite offensive linemen, their leading rusher (Carlos Hyde), receiver (Corey Brown), tackler (Ryan Shazier) and cornerback (Bradley Roby), and that was all before they lost Braxton Miller (the team's offensive engine) and Noah Spence (who was expected to be the team's best pass-rusher) for the season.

But none of those hits kept head coach Urban Meyer and Ohio State from marching through the first-ever College Football Playoff and capturing the team's first national title since 2002.

This fall, the Buckeyes return much more talent and experience than they did the year before. But even still, Meyer knows the important balance between setting his starters up for success and preparing his backups for any worst-case scenario.

Here's a breakdown of the most important player at each position.

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Michigan Football: How Tim Drevno Can Retool the Wolverines' Offensive Line

Tim Drevno’s current contract with the Michigan Wolverines expires five days after the final game of the 2017 season is played—meaning that he has just enough time to show off his expertise prior to potentially renegotiating for something a little sweeter than $800,000 per year (plus healthy bonuses).

That’s assuming he does what everyone thinks he’s going to do, and that’s assuming he wants to stick around Michigan for an extended period of time. The components are there for Drevno; he just has to assemble them by the time the Wolverines head west to take on the Utah Utes on Sept. 3 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

Ideally, Drevno has his starters and two-deep roster in mind. If not, he’ll have a better idea after playing Utah.

According to Football Outsiders’ advanced metrics, Michigan quarterbacks were sacked during roughly 14 percent of plays in 2014, ranking No. 74 overall. The O-line only allowed 2.73 standard-down line yards, ranking No. 94 in the land.

In terms of adjusted line yards, a measure weighed in the NFL, Michigan ranked No. 50 in the FBS this past season. Basically, Football Outsiders asserts that anything above a rating of 100 is “good”—the Wolverines finished at 104.9.

Also a positive for Drevno, Michigan’s “power success” was a staggering 71.9 percent, good enough for No. 32 in the nation.

That’s a workable scenario for Drevno, a proven craftsman of the trench-dominating types. By following Football Outsiders’ numbers, and by mentally reliving 2014, it's safe to say that the Wolverines’ O-line must better protect during passing downs and make sure to maintain its growing push when it comes to running the ball.

During an 11-year co-coaching relationship, he and Jim Harbaugh had forged stout and sustainable offensive lines along the West Coast, most notably with the Stanford Cardinal and then again with the San Francisco 49ers. In 2014, Drevno left the Bay Area for USC, where he coached All-American Max Tuerk Jr., who was one of three Trojans to earn first-team league honors on offense. 

Today, Drevno’s job is to recreate that past success, in some shape or form, in Ann Arbor, a city that hasn’t seen an elite O-line in roughly seven years. 

Most—if not all—Michigan fans are expecting something similar to what was done at Stanford. They wouldn’t snub their nose at the idea of an NCAA’d version of a 49ers-like O-line, either. If all goes as planned for Drevno, the Wolverines should, at the very least, land somewhere in the middle of that range. If things unfold in a more favorable manner, Drevno could end up having the finest O-line he’s ever had and possibly one of the best at Michigan.

Yeah, ever.

In short, things can get retooled quickly if he keeps doing what he’s doing and builds upon his current roster—one of his guys, if not the majority, should pan out down the road and evolve into an every-Saturday star. That’s the idea, anyway.


Recruiting Staples

Right now, Michigan is in possession of one of the top OL classes in modern history. Four of its top six commits for 2016 are O-linemen, and they’re four of the best in the nation, per 247Sports. Michigan also has its hooks in a few of the best available for 2017, namely 5-star OT Wyatt Davis of California, who has a longstanding relationship with Drevno.


In Running Condition

In the past, recruiting only supplied hope for better days—but then, later in the season, it dumped a cold glass of reality on Michigan fans, who were left unsatisfied with high-ranking classes that didn’t perform.

Today, a true turnaround seems likely under the new guy in town, and the transition is going “smoothly,” according to former starting center Jack Miller, who spent four practices with Drevno before leaving the game to pursue other personal interests this past spring.

Still in contact with many of his former teammates, Miller has heard “very good things” in regard to the Wolverines’ progress.

In 2013, the line allowed 34 sackings of its starting quarterback, Devin Gardner. In 2014, the line allowed 26, making Gardner, who is now pursuing an NFL career as a receiver, one of the most touched signal-callers in college football for two years running.

Was it due to poor coaching? Was it poor effort on the part of the players? Someone had to be blamed for an ineffective offense, right?

“Well that’s a really hard question to answer, because I don’t think it’s as black and white as that,” Miller said with a laugh. “In your guys’ [the media] world, you’re fortunate that it gets to be, right? And that’s what people want to hear. But the reality of it is that there is no right or wrong answer. It is no one’s fault at all times, at least in our situation during the previous years [under former OL coach Darrell Funk].”

During stretches, the left side would look great, but the right side would flounder. During other times, the middle and right would be serviceable, but the left would struggle. But there were times when everyone was in sync.

There is work to do everywhere, probably more so at the right tackle and right guard positions, but for the most part, everyone upped their level of play this past fall. The 5-7 finish overshadowed those steps, but Drevno isn't inheriting an inept bunch of Joes. 

“Last year in particular we really improved, and it didn’t go noticed—and that’s OK—but it didn’t go noticed as much because of our offensive struggles throwing the ball, which resulted in defenses playing just to stop the run and safeties being able to play up in the box and stuff like that,” Miller said.

“I don’t think it was the coach’s fault, but I would say that it was a player thing at times. I would say for some of the struggles that we had, it was a lack of experience—but I think that this is the first year in how many ever years that Michigan will finally have it to where everybody has played football before, and we haven’t been able to say that for a while.”

With the likes of left tackle Mason Cole—who started 12 games as a true freshman in 2014, heading a group of hungry athletes—Miller sees nothing but forward motion for the O-line in 2015. Although no longer a member of the team, Miller, who is aware of the flood of commitments from recruits, is quite confident that the Wolverines—particularly their O-line—will land on their feet this season.

As a rule, most OL coaches want the same thing. They want to see players improve leverage skills, blocking, footwork and hand placement. None of that should be a problem this fall—at least not as much as it had been in the past, says Miller.

But most of all, they want tough guys.

“Funk wanted that, and Drevno wants that,” Miller said. “They have pretty similar philosophies in terms of technique.”


The Makings

Two weeks ago, Erik Swenson, the first to commit to Michigan’s 2016 class, was at church when he ran into a family friend who used to work for the Philadelphia Eagles. As it turned out, that friend offered sound advice—the same things mentioned by Miller and the same things taught by Funk and, more importantly, Drevno.

“He said that you have to be tough,” said Swenson, the No. 19-ranked OT and No. 177-ranked overall player of his cycle. “Nowadays, everybody’s big, everybody’s good at what they do. There’s so many top-ranked tackles. But some guys can’t handle it mentally or physically—being tough and wanting to grind it out and earn your spot. That can really make a difference between good offensive linemen and average offensive linemen.”

At 6’7” and 285 pounds, Swenson is one huge target for those looking to make a name. Playing for Downers Grove South, an Illinois powerhouse, only increases the opposition’s desire to check him.

That rarely works out as planned, though.

“My freshman year, I was blocking a guy, and I hit him so hard, I threw him to the ground, and as his back hit the ground, he coughed up blood all up into my eyes and all over my nose; it was running down my face—and I didn’t even notice it until I got to the sidelines and my whole white uniform was covered in blood,” said Swenson, who says there are plenty more like him in Illinois—the home of high school lineman combines and the home to six of the top 50 offensive linemen of 2016.

“I’m used to the tough mentality,” he said. “I love run blocking; it’s actually my personal favorite, to be honest with you. There’s nothing more fun than pancaking a guy.” He then followed with a line that every O-line coach would love to hear: “You’re putting him in the dirt or keeping him away from the quarterback.”

Again, on the surface, the “tough” mentality seems pretty cut-and-dried—of course coaches want those guys. They’re not out looking for those who shy away from contact or those who cower from a challenge.

Finding more players with Swenson’s blend of competitiveness, handle and knowledge of the game and willingness to sacrifice limbs for wins will only benefit Drevno as he refurbishes existing parts and orders new ones.

“I really like how they’re trying to bring it back to ‘old Michigan,’” Swenson said of discussions with Harbaugh and Drevno. “Drevno is recruiting really well, the right kinds [Michael Onwenu, Ben Bredeson, Devery Hamilton, etc]. If we can’t run and we can’t just stuff it down their throats, we can’t win a football game—I kind of like the idea that they have, and I’m excited to see how it turns out this season and during the upcoming seasons as well.”


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 via press conference, press release or other media availability. All recruiting information comes by way of 247Sports. 

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De'Andre Johnson Suspended Indefinitely by Florida State: Details and Reaction

Freshman quarterback De'Andre Johnson, who is in the mix for Florida State's starting job in 2015, was suspended indefinitely for a violation of athletic department policy Thursday.

According to, Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher announced the punishment, although he didn't elaborate on the nature of Johnson's transgression.

Per's Mark Schlabach, however, the Jacksonville, Florida, native allegedly punched a woman in a bar.   

According to 247Sports, the former First Coast High School standout was a 3-star prospect who was rated as the No. 11 dual-threat quarterback in his class.

Following a practice in March, Fisher made it clear he had high hopes for Johnson moving forward, per Brendan Sonnone of the Orlando Sentinel:

"I thought De'Andre Johnson had a really nice day today—does a lot of things very instinctively, man, I think that guy's gonna be a really good player," Fisher said

Johnson may have had an uphill battle in terms of becoming the Seminoles' starting signal-caller this season anyway since he is competing with junior Sean Maguire, who started a game in place of current Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston last year, and Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson.

Although the length of Johnson's punishment is unclear, one can only assume that it will put him well behind Maguire and Golson in the quarterback competition.

FSU's quarterback battle is wide open now that Winston has moved on to the NFL, but Johnson likely moved himself out of the conversation for the time being.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Ron Johnson Commits to Michigan: What 4-Star DE Brings to Wolverines

Michigan remains America's hottest college football program on the recruiting trail, further fueled Thursday afternoon by a commitment from dominant New Jersey defensive end Ron Johnson.

The 4-star prospect shared his decision on Twitter after spending time on campus:

Johnson, a 6'4", 240-pound rising senior at Camden High School near Philadelphia, traveled to Ann Arbor this week along with a few other area standouts. He was accompanied by 4-star wide receiver/defensive back Ahmir Mitchell, 4-star tight end Naseir Upshur and 4-star offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz, a 2017 recruit and high school teammate.

Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh now holds 20 total commitments in his latest class, including 14 new pledges this month. It's been a remarkable stretch for a program that failed to produce a single 2016 commit during the first 14 weeks under a new regime.

This could be the first of several impactful players from New Jersey to join the group.

Mitchell is seriously considering Michigan, along with Ohio State and Rutgers. Wide receiver Brad Hawkins, a fellow 4-star talent from Camden, and 5-star defensive tackle Rashan Gary are among other top options in the state who may also further bolster this class.

Gary, the top-rated overall recruit in 2016, plays at Paramus Catholic High School. It's the alma mater of prized 2014 prospect Jabrill Peppers, who took delight in Thursday's development:

Johnson is the team's top-rated 2016 defender to this point, joining a group that already features four 4-star offensive linemen. Harbaugh has placed a high value on gaining depth in the trenches, and Johnson adds yet another intriguing player up front.

Rated 14th nationally among weak-side defensive ends, Johnson recorded 144 tackles and 14 sacks during the past two seasons. He is still expanding on an impressive physical frame, but already feels confident in his abilities to play balanced along the edge.

"People look at me as a pass-rusher, but I'm a big run-stopper too," Johnson told Bleacher Report. "I can sit on the outside and help shut things down."

He throttles lead blockers with explosiveness produced by a powerful lower body and displays excellent lateral agility while pursuing ball-carriers through traffic, flashing a mean streak in the process.

"Ron is a great competitor and teammate," Hawkins told Bleacher Report. "He's a huge part of our defense because he control things up front and plays very aggressive. Plus, he's a great athlete."

Johnson chose Michigan over an expansive offer list that includes Alabama, Miami, Michigan State, Missouri, Rutgers, Penn State and Wisconsin. His father played college football for the Badgers.

He fills a position of need for the Wolverines, who missed on top in-state defensive end target Khalid Kareem earlier this week. He surprised many Wednesday with a commitment to Alabama.

Michigan will look to maintain momentum moving forward through the summer. The Wolverines now claim five 4-star prospects from five different states in the past three weeks.


Recruit rating courtesy of 247Sports.

Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue.

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2015 College Football QBs with the Strongest Arms

Having a strong arm isn't the most important part of being a quarterback, but it is a luxury. Sometimes, there's nothing more beautiful than watching a quarterback spin it 50 or 60-plus yards downfield. Of course, arm strength isn't just about heaving it downfield; it's also about putting the ball on a rope to the sideline or squeezing it into tight coverage. 

This is an appreciation of those skills, if you will. 

The list is self-explanatory. These are the strongest arms in college football—and that's it. In the following slides are both starters and quarterbacks still in a position battle. Things such as accuracy and decision-making aren't under consideration. Can you sling it? That's the primary question. 

Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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Louisville Cardinals Unveil Fierce New Uniforms for Season Opener vs. Auburn

When Louisville's football team takes the field in its season opener against the Auburn Tigers on September 5, it is going to be sporting a fierce new look.

Thanks to Adidas, Louisville will be wearing a new set of white uniforms. The biggest change to the duds is a very fierce cardinal.

Putting the school's logo on the gloves is nothing new. However, with these uniforms, players can form a cardinal with the backside of their hands.

[Louisville Cardinals, Adidas Football US]

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Every Top 25 College Football Team's Most Valuable Asset

Each top team in college football has that one defining characteristic that makes it dangerous.

For some, it's a head coach who has built the program into what it is. For others, it's a recruiting advantage or a well-known booster.

Some schools have massive amounts of name recognition and tradition, while others are rolling off the momentum of recent victories.

Here is the most valuable asset for each program in Bleacher Report's Post-Spring Practice Top 25. These selections are what defines their status as a ranked team right now and what will continue to guide them in the seasons to come.

Sound off on this list in the comments below and submit your own picks for the most valuable assets in all of college football.

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What Is Notre Dame's 'Do-or-Die' Game of the 2015 Season?

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish enter the 2015 season with high hopes. After a disappointing 2014 campaign, their sights are set on the College Football Playoff. 

Bleacher Report college football analyst Adam Kramer joined Stephen Nelson to pinpoint which game could turn out to be the most pivotal. 

Will the Irish crack the College Football Playoff? Check out the video, and let us know! 

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Ranking the Top SEC Running Backs of the 21st Century

The SEC has produced some of the best offensive players in college football over the years. In addition to the quarterback position, the power conference has also yielded some top running backs.

Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee ranks his top SEC running backs since 2001 in the video above. 

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Allowing Early Entrants Back to College Football Tricky, but Worth Exploring

Greg Sankey has only been on the job as SEC commissioner for less than a month, and he's already stirring the pot.

First, Sankey laid down what can only be viewed as a threat to conferences that allow satellite camps during the SEC's spring meetings in Destin, Florida, saying the conference will allow its coaches to do the same in 2016 if the SEC's current ban isn't adopted nationwide this year.

On Wednesday, Sankey dropped another potentially game-changing idea.

According to Matt Hayes of Sporting News, Sankey suggested that college football should look at mirroring the potential rule in college basketball that would allow players to return in late May after declaring for the draft.

"It’s not something that has been made portable for other sports," Sankey said according to Hayes, "but I would not forgo that that direction could be pursued."

That could open the door to a wide variety of possibilities ranging from players coming back only if they haven't signed with an agent, to a new "underclassmen draft combine" to, as Jon Solomon of notes, something as extreme letting them come back after they've been drafted.

It's something that needs to be considered.

According to's Dane Brugler, 24 of the 84 underclassmen who declared for the 2015 draft weren't selected. The previous season, 36 of the 98 underclassmen who declared—nearly 40 percent—didn't hear their names called.

While many of those players have found homes as undrafted free agents and are learning on the job while making a good chunk of change, the finality of having to make a decision based on the NFL's grading system of "first round," "second round" or "neither"—which essentially is a suggestion to go back to school—makes it a risky proposition.

"That would be interesting," said former Texas A&M running back Trey Williams, who left College Station after his junior season and signed with the Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent. "If I could do that, I wouldn't right now just because I feel like I'm ready for the NFL. But I'm sure there are a lot of guys who wish they could go back. Once you decide, it's a do-or-die and you either make it or you don't."

Plus, there's the added weight of deciding to leave your team only to come back later in the offseason.

"It'd be kind of awkward coming back, because you already left the team," Williams said. "But it's what's best for you, and I do feel like people deserve a second chance."

That doesn't necessarily mean players who weren't drafted regret their decisions.

Williams signed on as an undrafted free agent with the Washington Redskins and has impressed in the short time he's been with the organization. That didn't come as a surprise to him.

"I was confident in what I was doing," Williams said. "I had confidence in myself, so it was a lot different for me. I came in thinking that it either was going to happen or it wasn't, and I gave my all. I know that if I give my all, I can't complain in the future. If my all wasn't enough, I would have been cool with that. I wasn't really worried about it. I kept giving my all, and here I stand right now."

The draft process for early entrants isn't just hard on the player. Trainers who get players prepared for the NFL draft would have to alter they way they go about their business.

"If a kid wants to train, you're depending on that kid to pay you," said David Irons Sr., owner of Georgia Training Alliance in Lawrenceville, Georgia. "When the agents pay for training, they pay at least a week or two before the kid comes and our training starts. If a kid declares and doesn't sign with an agent, if you're at that level and unsure, you really shouldn't come out."

The specifics of how and when early entrants return to college could be the trickiest part.

"Underclassmen have until January 15, and most colleges are out during that time," said Irons. "From January to May, when the draft comes, if you wait until then you've missed spring practice. Football's not like basketball. A seven-footer is going to be a seven-footer whether he skips two weeks or not. In football, installation, new playbooks and everything else is done during that time. If you miss spring practice, somebody else, a freshman or whoever could come take your job."

Then, of course, there's the elephant in the room—how to prevent players from declaring and taking money from agents without signing with them?

Some sort of fall-back plan, though, would reduce the finality and the speed in which college players must make their decisions on their football future. 

Whether it's mirroring the current plan in college hoops and allowing players to declare and explore their options without signing with agents, or something more extreme like Solomon mentioned (which the NFL likely wouldn't sign off on, but it's at least a thought), the number of underclassmen going undrafted in a professional sport in which careers are short and contracts aren't guaranteed has reached epidemic levels.

In a world where college athletics is increasingly putting the well-being of the student athlete at the forefront, allowing a return to college football for players who want to test the NFL draft waters in a more complete fashion than a simple talent evaluation by the league is necessary.

It would give the player more information on what he needs to work on, reduce the stress of making a potentially life-changing decision in a short period of time and benefit both levels of football.

It's a no-brainer to at least explore different options and put them all on the table.


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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Nebraska Football: Incoming Freshmen Most Likely to Start This Season

Nebraska football fans already know they are in for big changes with the arrival of new head coach Mike Riley. But after being caught in a Groundhog Day type of almost-but-not-quite-good-enough seasons in the past, it’s a legitimate question to ask why fans should expect a breakthrough in 2015.

One reason for optimism might be true freshmen seeing the field and making a difference. Last year, we saw what a difference De’Mornay Pierson-El made for Nebraska. Here are five (well, not exactly) true freshman who could see themselves as starters in 2015.

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Damion Miller Commits to Texas: Longhorns Land 2017 4-Star WR

While the current focus in recruiting right now is on the class of 2016, Charlie Strong and his Texas staff are already building their 2017 haul with its latest in-state commitment.

Four-star wide receiver Damion Miller, who is currently ranked as the No. 41 receiver and the No. 246 overall player for the class of 2017, committed to Texas on Thursday morning.

The news was announced on the Twitter account of his high school team, John Tyler HS in Tyler, Texas:

Miller is the first pickup of the 2017 class for Texas. He recorded 614 receiving yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore for the Lions, who made it all the way to the Texas state semifinals last season.

According to 247Sports' Brian Perroni, Miller averaged more than 23 yards per catch in 2014 and also played safety for the Lions.

The 6'2" wideout impressed during a minicamp at Texas earlier this month and was offered a scholarship June 14.

"I love Texas," Miller told Horns247. "It’s really close to home, and the education is great. I also really like Coach Strong. He’s a disciplined coach and challenges his players."

The young receiver also holds offers from Baylor, Houston, Kansas, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Miller ran his 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds at a Texas A&M camp earlier this month.

He told 247Sports' Taylor Hamm after the Aggies' camp that he would probably commit after his junior season, but the recent interest from Texas has caused him to make a quick-fire pledge to the Longhorns.

Miller's size and speed make him a great receiver prospect for the Longhorns. As a member of the class of 2017, he also has plenty of time to grow his game and his ratings over the next two seasons at John Tyler.

Texas will hope Miller's commitment is the start of a hot streak on the recruiting trail.

The Longhorns capped their 2015 class Wednesday with a commitment from Australian punter Michael Dickson and picked up the sixth 2016 pledge last week in 3-star defensive tackle Gerald Wilbon.


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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If Big 12 Expands, Which Teams Should Be Added?

And here we go. Again. 

About two weeks removed from the five-year anniversary of realignment-palooza, Oklahoma president David Boren took a match to the college football offseason and lit the whole thing on fire.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday following a meeting of the board of regents, Boren reiterated that the Big 12 should "strive" for 12 teams (h/t Ryan Aber, the Oklahoman): 

I think it’s something we should strive for while we have the time, stability, all of that to look and be choosy. (We) can be very selective about who we want to add. It would have to add value to the conference. I think we should.

How many years can this go on? Finally, it just gets to be really debilitating. I worry about that. That’s something I just worry about long-term about the conference, not short-term.

Just like that, college football Twitter went nuts

This isn't new, though. Getting back to 12 teams has been Boren's stance before, and it's not going to change. But, OK, it's nearing July, and college football is in hibernation mode, so we'll play along. 

If the Big 12 was to expand—more later on why this is a complicated matter—who would it target?

This is tricky. By Boren's own admission, extending invites to other schools has to be done "scientifically—not emotionally" with a focus on "the right partners" (h/t Guerin Emig, the Tulsa World). 

Who are those "right partners"?

This isn't 2011, when the Big 12 was on the verge of collapse thanks to the departures of Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC (ironically enough, as Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated noted, "Boren’s flirtation with the Pac-12" played a role in those departures). 

Adding teams now is about ensuring stability as much as it is about growing either the brand or geographical/television footprint (or both). It's not about having 12 teams for the sake of 12 teams, as David Ubben of Fox Sports Southwest wrote about the matter last December. 

"You don't add teams to a conference so you can hold a championship game," Ubben wrote. "You do it if it makes fiscal sense and doesn't water down your product on the field."

Here's what matters in expansion: television money. That's it. Not academics, which is the biggest lie in realignment, and not anything else.

Here's what has to be asked: Does adding teams help the bottom line so that existing members aren't taking a pay cut? Boren claims the conference's media rights deal prevents this, but there's bowl money involved as well. 

The problem is pickings are slim. The window to pluck Clemson and Florida State from the ACC, for example, has passed. Realignment among power conferences is likely done for the time being with so many leagues in the middle of multi-billion-dollar television contracts with grant-of-rights agreements. 

That leaves few realistic options: Boise State, BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Memphis. With apologies to the respective fanbases, none of those are great options. 

Boise State has a great following. As far as Group of Five teams go, the Broncos are easily the most recognizable. But expanding north into smaller TV markets is counterintuitive to what realignment has been about lately. 

BYU is the best pure fit. As Staples noted, "BYU is to Mormons what Notre Dame is to Catholics. Of all the remaining expansion candidates, the Cougars probably are the most viable from a brand-name standpoint." It's no secret either that the Cougars are desperate to join the Power Five ranks. However, refusing to play on Sunday is a roadblock.

Central Florida is a great up-and-coming program. Baylor knows all about what the Knights can do after losing to them in the Fiesta Bowl in 2014. It's a huge school, too—about 60,000 students—which will pay off in alumni interest down the road. 

Cincinnati has been a steady program over the past several years in a nice TV market. The problem is the Bearcats aren't a huge draw. 

Memphis has experienced a recent surge in football under head coach Justin Fuente. The program is also investing in facilities and opening up a new footprint. Additionally, for selfish reasons, the city has great barbecue.

(Note: This won't be taken into consideration, but maybe it should be. For that matter, why aren't we discussing programs in destination cities? Add Miami, Tulane and San Diego State, and enjoy the annual trips.) 

Of all the options, BYU and Central Florida make a lot of sense, especially if expansion isn't imminent. Chances are both will be exactly where they are in three, five or 10 years from now.

The thing about expansion/realignment, though, is that it seems like it's one step away from happening all over again. 

The Big 12 has held firm that it has no plans to expand. In response to Boren's comments, conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby told Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News that he's not under "the indication that the majority of our presidents feel that way." 

What causes the friction—public, private, imagined, real or otherwise—is that Boren supposedly speaks with the Big 12's collective brain trust in mind, as noted by Jake Trotter of 

All of this only pushes the narrative that it's nothing short of a miracle that the Big 12 can put one foot in front of the other without tripping. Couple that disconnect with Boren's quote about the Longhorn Network, which he referred to as "the elephant in the room... that has struggled," and there could be conference network discussions driving things in the next decade. 

Will the Big 12 expand again? Perhaps; no one is ever sure when the landscape will change again, but no decisions have to be made tomorrow, either. The Big 12 can be more diligent about this. Since there aren't any great options, it's unlikely that anything is imminent. 

The more interesting question, frankly, is whether the Big 12's deep-rooted dysfunction will come back into play in the next 10 years or so, regardless of whether it's a 10-member conference or a 12-member one. That seems more likely to affect the league's future. 


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. 

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