NCAA Football News

The Opening 2016: Predicting Where All Uncommitted Recruits Will Land

The country's most coveted college football recruits assemble at Nike's world headquarters July 5-10 when The Opening takes center stage in Beaverton, Oregon. Quarterbacks and receivers step into the spotlight through the first three days of action before they're joined by premier prospects throughout various positions, pushing the competitor total to 166 athletes. 

Among this talent-laden collection, a large volume of players remain undecided about their collegiate future. While many marquee recruits have already announced intentions to attend an array of universities, intrigue abounds as others work to find an ideal fit.

Working our way through The Opening roster position by position, here's a glimpse at where we project each uncommitted attendee to play college football. 

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Dameon Pierce to Alabama: Crimson Tide Land 4-Star RB Prospect

Continuing the Alabama Crimson Tide's tradition of finding and developing elite running backs, prized 2018 recruit Dameon Pierce gave the defending national champions an early commitment.  

Tim Watts of 247Sports and Drew Champlin of AL.com confirmed that Pierce verbally committed to Alabama on Friday. 

Even though Pierce is two years away from college, he's already regarded as one of the nation's best prospects for 2018. 

Per 247Sports, he is rated as a 4-star recruit. He's the No. 7 running back and No. 7 player from the state of Georgia and the No. 66 overall talent. He changed his Twitter bio, calling himself a "4(-star) Bama commit."

The scouting report at Scout.com makes Pierce sound like the perfect Alabama running back to follow T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry:

Pierce is a force in the offensive backfield. He is a very strong, powerful running back with deceptive speed. He is more quick than he is fast and he flashes those quick, subtle moves to make defenders miss while moving the pile forward. He is a force when running downhill and he breaks tackles, gets yards after contact, and falls forward when finishing the run.

Hank South of 247Sports noted that Pierce's commitment jumps Alabama up to No. 8 in the 2018 recruiting rankings with a class that already includes tight end Malcolm Epps. 

There may be flaws in some Alabama teams in the years since Nick Saban took over, but two things are certain: The Crimson Tide will run the ball and play elite defense. 

Pierce doesn't arrive on campus for two years, but his early commitment ensures that Alabama will be loaded in the backfield for a long time to come and continue to make life miserable for the rest of the SEC. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Brandon Martin to Auburn: Tigers Land 4-Star WR Prospect

Auburn picked up a commitment from Brandon Martin, the top JUCO wide receiver in the 2017 recruiting class, on Friday afternoon.

Martin confirmed his choice of the Tigers on social media. He's a 4-star wideout who ranks as the sixth-best junior college prospect overall and the second-best one from the state of Texas, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.

It sounds like Auburn's Big Cat Weekend last month sealed the deal. Jeffrey Lee of AuburnSports.com passed along comments from the wideout after he spent three days at the program's event with his parents and coach.

"I think they loved it, too," Martin said. "I was happy to see my mom and dad smiling and having fun. I think they would really be with (my decision) if I came to Auburn."

The Prime Prep Academy standout is already an imposing figure on the outside at 6'4" and 205 pounds, though he could benefit from adding more muscle to his frame. Otherwise, he has all the physical tools that coaches want to see from an incoming receiver.

Tigers fans will get a chance to track Martin's progress with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College this fall. Bulldogs coach Chad Huff explained what makes him a special prospect, per Patrick Ochs of the Sun Herald.

"I think he's a big kid who can stretch the field. Long with good speed," Huff said. "We're looking for good things out of him. He'll definitely allow us to do some things down the field as well as with his ability to block on the perimeter."

He could end up make a quick impact with Auburn next year, assuming he's able to continue making positive strides at the JUCO level. Two wide receivers who are expected to see plenty of playing time for the Tigers this season, Tony Stevens and Marcus Davis, are both seniors.

Ultimately, the early Martin signing is even more impactful when you factor in Auburn's need to fill those voids after the 2016 campaign. The Tigers will probably still emphasize adding a few more top receiver targets to the class, though.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

14 College Football Players Who Will Reach Elite Status in 2016

The word "elite" gets thrown around a lot these days in sports, from constant talk show discussions to hilarious Twitter jokes featuring a certain NFL quarterback. 

When it comes to college football, a player becoming "elite" is a unique situation. Since players only get four years of eligibility, they often turn pro right after breaking out as some of the best of the best. Those who can turn heads early as underclassmen and continue to deliver, such as LSU's Leonard Fournette and Clemson's Deshaun Watson, are truly elite.

With that in mind, let's take a look at 14 players who should break through and reach elite status in the 2016 college football season. Most of them have already broken out as starters and key players for their respective teams. But none of them have been named to their conference's first or second teams, and they aren't considered to be among the top 10 players at their respective positions.

All 14 of these players—two for every position group on offense and defense—have the abilities and the opportunities to cross that threshold into elite status this fall. The supporting casts around them and their team's chances at success in 2016 play a large role in determining who can become elite, too.

Keep in mind that this isn't a complete list of players with elite potential in 2016. These are a handful of selections who seem like they have the best chances at getting into consideration for All-American teams and awards this fall. Tell us who you think will become elite in 2016 in the comments below.

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Ranking 25 Most Dominant Defenders Heading into the 2016 College Football Season

The 2016 college football season will treat the sport's viewers to a tremendous collection of dominant defenders who are spread all over the country.

However, the following players are not always the best or most versatile, this group identifies the talents offensive players simply don't want to be lined up against.

Performance relative to competition was considered, though a majority of names are familiar.

Be warned: There's a healthy dose of Alabama standouts. But when a defense is as stacked as the Crimson Tide in 2016, they're going to leave a major impression on a list.

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Big Ten Q&A: Who Will Be the First B1G Player Picked in the 2017 NFL Draft?

June has come to a close. Satellite season is just about over. Before you know it, there will be actual college football to talk about once again.

In the meantime, however, you'll have to settle for this week's Big Ten Q&A, where we'll tackle which player in the conference will be drafted first next spring, Ohio State's recruiting class, Michigan's pursuit of becoming the Big Ten's best and predictions for every individual Big Ten award.

As always, you can send me your questions each week on Twitter @BenAxelrod.

Let's get started.

 

Looking at the plethora of way-too-early mock drafts that are currently available, there shouldn't be any shortage of Big Ten options at the top of teams' draft boards in 2017. In Bleacher Report Lead Draft Writer Matt Miller's latest projections, four Big Ten players find themselves selected in the first round, although a lot can obviously change between now and next April.

But while Miller currently favors Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan to be the first player from the conference taken, I'm turning my attention up north. He may have only played one season, but in his lone year Jabrill Peppers has shown the potential to be a dynamic prospect—the type a team would be willing to take with a top-five pick.

"Get ready for the comparisons between Jabrill Peppers and Jalen Ramsey. At 6'1", 210 pounds, Peppers is a mix between a cornerback and a safety and he makes some ridiculous plays in the Michigan secondary," Miller wrote of Peppers, who he currently slots 10th to the Miami Dolphins. "The former 5-star recruit has been turning heads since high school, and now that he's unleashed in Jim Harbaugh's system, Peppers is making NFL-level plays."

As he takes over a new role at outside linebacker in first-year Wolverines defensive coordinator Don Brown's system, Peppers is only diversifying an already versatile skill-set. Considering the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Jalen Ramsey fifth overall this past spring, a top-10 selection certainly isn't out of the question for Peppers, given his ability to impact games from multiple positions on either side of the ball.

Other candidates for the first Big Ten player selected next spring include McMillan, Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell, Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis, Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner and Iowa cornerback Desmond King. Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett is the wild card of the bunch, given his natural passing prowess, but untypical size at his position.

For now, however, it's Peppers who has the biggest upside of the bunch. And the Michigan safety could very well find himself reaching that potential in the coming year, as he adds yet another tool to his already impressive repertoire.

 

Earlier this week, I wrote that Ohio State's 2017 class has the potential to be the best in Urban Meyer's career.

And given some of the hauls the three-time national champion head coach has produced throughout his time at Florida and in Columbus, that would certainly give the Buckeyes' 2017 class a chance at being remembered as one of college football's best ever.

The problem, however, is that while Ohio State's upcoming class won't be short on talent, it will likely be short on numbers. At the moment, the Buckeyes lay claim to 14 commits and, given the current scholarship situation on the OSU roster, that number probably won't get any higher than the low-20s, if that.

That could make it tough for the Buckeyes to hold onto their No. 1 ranking, let alone have a class that's considered the best in college football history. But from a quality of player standpoint, Ohio State's 2017 class will certainly be in the conversation—so long as its highly touted prospects live up to the hype.

The key to how the Buckeyes' current recruiting cycle will be remembered will be the performance of Tate Martell, the top-ranked dual threat quarterback in the 2017 class. While Ohio State's quarterback depth chart is currently stacked—as is the rest of its 2017 class—Martell will arrive on campus with no shortage of expectations, with the possibility to succeed Barrett's time behind center in Columbus.

If Martell proves worthy and 5-star prospects Josh Myers, Shaun Wade and Wyatt Davis serve as cornerstones of the Buckeyes program moving forward, Ohio State's 2017 class will have secured a spot in history.

But as impressive as the star rankings of the class are now, it will ultimately be performance that determines how this class is remembered.

 

This question has been asked several times this offseason and the thing about it I always find funny is this: While there's certainly a strong case to be made for Ohio State to be considered the top program in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes aren't even the reigning Big Ten champs.

In fact, not only did Michigan State win last year's conference title, but the Spartans have won two of the past three—beating Ohio State twice in the past three years in order to do so.

Yet, I agree that it's the Buckeyes who are the current cream of the crop in the conference, with Michigan seemingly not far behind. In the 2016 recruiting cycle, the rival programs recruited head and shoulders above the rest of the conference and their 2017 classes appear to be following a similar trend.

Recruiting, however, is one thing. It's another to actually obtain on-field success.

Meyer has obviously done that, at a level higher than anybody else in the Big Ten and while his 10-3 debut was a solid start, Harbaugh still has work to do in Ann Arbor.

For now, I'd have to give Ohio State the nod as the conference's top program, with Michigan State not far behind based on on-field accomplishments alone. Michigan is obviously trending upward and how it performs in the coming year will be telling. But until the actual results are there, it's hard to move them past the Spartans, let alone the Buckeyes.

 

A quick rundown of my Big Ten individual award predictions, with a brief explanation on each:

 

Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year, Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year: Ohio State's J.T. Barrett

With Ohio State's starting quarterback spot no longer left to debate, look for Barrett to bounce back from his up-and-down 2016. The absence of Ezekiel Elliott should only boost the numbers of the junior signal-caller, who will serve as the primary offensive option on the Big Ten's top team.

 

Nagurski Woodson Defensive Player of the Year, Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year: Michigan's Jabrill Peppers

While his position may be tough to nail down, Pepper's impact in the coming year will be apparent. Given the numbers past players have put up in the same spot in Brown's system, the Wolverines sophomore should have no problem compiling eye-popping statistics, regardless of where he's lining up.

 

Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year: Ohio State's Pat Elflein

While centers rarely receive acclaim worthy of individual awards, Pat Elflein has already proven himself capable of playing at an All-American level. Shifting from right guard to center, Elflein will provide a steadying force up front for what should be one of the conference's top offenses.

 

Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year: Michigan State's Malik McDowell

Shilique Calhoun may have received the acclaim, but by season's end, it was McDowell making the biggest impact on the Spartans' defensive line. With the versatility to play both inside and out, the former 5-star prospect should wreak havoc in opposing backfields while solidifying his status as a potential first-round pick.

 

Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year: Ohio State's Nick Bosa

With Joey Bosa headed to the NFL, the Buckeyes find themselves replacing one of college football's most dominant defensive players from the past three seasons. Luckily, Meyer has recruited the perfect replacement in Joey's younger brother, Nick, who some believe has the potential to be even better than this year's No. 3 overall pick.

 

Dave McClain/Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year: Nebraska's Mike Riley

Despite last season's disappointing 5-7 regular season record, the now low bar in Lincoln could actually work in Mike Riley's favor in terms of coach of the year voting. If the Cornhuskers can stay in contention in the Big Ten West throughout the 2016 campaign, Riley should receive credit for his quick turnaround.

 

Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year: Wisconsin's Corey Clement

Injuries and off-field issues prevented Corey Clement from filling the void left by Melvin Gordon III a year ago, but now he's back in Madison for his senior season. With a new outlook and approach, Clement could find himself one of the top running backs in the Big Ten after rushing for more than 900 yards as Gordon's backup two years ago.

 

Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year: Nebraska's Jordan Westerkamp

If Nebraska's going to make some noise in the Big Ten West, it's going to need to do so through Riley's pro-style passing game. And if the Huskers can do that, it would mean big numbers for Jordan Westerkamp, who could go down as the most accomplished wideout in Nebraska history by season's end.

 

Tatum–Woodson Defensive Back of the Year: Iowa's Desmond King

After winning the Thorpe Award in 2015, King became the first recipient of said honor to bypass the NFL draft and return to school. In doing so, he reclaims his mark as not only the best defensive back in the Big Ten, but the entire country.

 

Kwalick–Clark Tight End of the Year: Michigan's Jake Butt

After winning the award a year ago, Jake Butt opted to return to Ann Arbor for his senior season. With the Michigan offense only improving in Year 2 under Jim Harbaugh, there's no reason the Pickerington, Ohio, native shouldn't be able to go back-to-back.

 

Bakken–Andersen Kicker of the Year: Indiana's Griffin Oakes

As a sophomore, Griffin Oakes finished second in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (82.8) and first in field goals made (24). With another year of experience under his belt, he should only get better while kicking for one of the conference's most explosive offenses.

 

Eddleman–Fields Punter of the Year: Ohio State's Cameron Johnston

Throughout his career, Cameron Johnston has served as one of the Big Ten's best punters. Back in Columbus for his senior season, the Australian native will have one last chance to showcase his booming leg, along with the athletic ability that makes him a threat to take off running any time he's on the field.

 

Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year: Maryland's William Likely

Despite only playing in 11 games, William Likely led the nation in combined return yards in 2015 with 1,197, taking back three kicks for scores. The inaugural winner of the Return Specialist of the Year award in 2015, Likely should be looking at a repeat performance in the coming season.

 

 

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. Recruiting and class ratings courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Football: Just How Difficult Will It Be to Replace Derrick Henry?

Alabama has beefed up its resume for the "Running Back U" moniker during head coach Nick Saban's first nine years in Tuscaloosa, producing two of the three running backs to win the Heisman Trophy this century (Mark Ingram in 2009 and Derrick Henry in 2015) and six different players who have topped the 1,000-yard mark.

A seventh could be quite a challenge for Saban and third-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

The Crimson Tide enter the 2016 campaign with the most inexperienced running back corps that it has ever had under Saban's watch, with Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris serving as the two likely contenders to earn first-team carries.

The Scarbrough-Harris combination amassed just 261 total rushing yards a year ago. The only other time Alabama's top two returning rushers combined for less than 1,000 rushing yards in the previous season under Saban's watch was in his first year, when Jimmy Johns and Roy Upchurch combined for just 330 under former head coach Mike Shula in 2006.

In the past, Saban has done a fantastic job of mixing in a "1A" and a "1B" back throughout the season, while also getting another player—typically a youngster—significant carries as a primary No. 2.

That didn't happen last year.

Scarbrough was suspended early in the year and was coming off of a torn ACL suffered last spring, while Harris wasn't ready to handle the load. Veteran speedster Kenyan Drake was Henry's primary backup as he evolved into the first true work horse Saban has used in Tuscaloosa.

Even when Ingram won the Heisman Trophy in 2009, then-true freshman Trent Richardson racked up 749 yards and eight touchdowns in a reserve role that properly prepared him for more responsibility in 2010 and beyond.

Can Scarbrough and Harris handle it?

Las Vegas certainly thinks Scarbrough is ready.

The 6'2", 230-pound local Tuscaloosa product is as close to a Henry clone as there is on campus, and has 20/1 odds to win the Heisman Trophy, according to Oddschecker.

Like Henry, Scarbrough is a power rusher who might not have the pure strength as Henry, but he has a bit more wiggle in space than the single-season SEC record holder for rushing yards.

Harris, a 5'11", 214-pounder, struggled with the transition to the college game as a true freshman, but reeled off 114 yards on 20 carries in the Alabama spring game. That was the first glimpse Alabama fans got of the former 5-star prospect from Kentucky.

"Damien Harris had a really nice day," Saban said according to RollTide.com. "[He] looked quick and explosive and he did a really nice job."

While the two sophomores are talented, things are quite different this year than in past seasons. 

On top of running back questions, Alabama is saddled with a quarterback battle for the third straight year, lost an ultra-important piece of the offensive line in center Ryan Kelly and last year's line—which somehow won the Joe Moore Award, given to the best unit in the country—struggled mightily at times, including the first half against Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship. 

What's more, the neutral site opener against USC and road trip to Ole Miss—which holds a two-game winning streak over the Tide—in Week 3 present the toughest early-season stretch Saban has had during his nine years running the program.

With that said, Alabama will be fine. 

There's a reason Harris and Scarbrough were both highly-touted running backs coming out of high school. They are both incredibly talented and, as Saban said in 2014 according to Michael Casagrande of AL.com, adjusting to the college game as a running back is easier than most positions:

I always say that the two positions I feel like a guy can play at more quickly than others is probably running back and receiver. I mean, I think if you're an instinctive player and you have the skill set there's not a whole lot to learn. And those are the two positions that, yeah, technique's important, running the plays right is important, but no coach teaches you how to make a guy miss.

It won't look the same in 2016 as it did in 2015 at the running back position at Alabama. After his work as a true freshman in 2013 and team-high 990 rushing yards in 2014, the college football world knew Henry was ready for superstardom entering the 2015 season.

It's more of a "confident hope" in Scarbrough and Harris entering 2016, which will likely resemble typical Alabama production at the running back position with a "1A" and "1B" rotating to keep each other fresh and take advantage of specific situations that call for more power (Scarbrough) or speed (Harris).

Alabama will be fine during its quest to replace Henry. It just will look a little different than it did last year.

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State Football: How Many 5-Stars Can Buckeyes Realistically Land in 2017?

Ohio State has a firm grasp on the country's No. 1 recruiting class, and with the momentum gained from winning the first-ever College Football Playoff in 2015 and an epic NFL draft class last May, the Buckeyes are chasing a historic haul of 5-star talent. 

Urban Meyer already has a trio of 5-star prospects in the fold with commitments from offensive tackle Josh Myers, cornerback Shaun Wade and offensive guard Wyatt Davis. Even if Ohio State closed out with just those three in its class, it would equal or eclipse the 5-star talent that the Big Ten signed as a conference in three of the last four recruiting cycles.

Simply put, the Buckeyes already have a wave of talent coming to Columbus that the Big Ten hasn't seen in a very long time.

And with the targets still left on Meyer's recruiting board, that wave could turn into a tsunami by national signing day.

It starts at wide receiver, where the Buckeyes have three big-time playmakers on their radar.

There's Trevon Grimes, the No. 5-ranked wide receiver out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who's almost unanimously picked to land with the Buckeyes, per 247Sports Crystal Ball Predictions. That same feature gives Ohio State a 68 percent chance of landing Tyjon Lindsey, the No. 4 receiver in 2017 and former high school teammate of 4-star quarterback and Buckeyes commit Tate Martell.

And a small possibility exists that Meyer could reel in Donovan Peoples-Jones, the country's top-rated receiver, to join Grimes and Lindsey in Columbus.

Shifting to the backfield, Ohio State is trying to get a workhorse to put behind its 5-star combo of Myers and Davis along the offensive line. That process led Meyer to Cam Akers, a Clinton, Mississippi product who's rated the No. 2 running back nationally and the No. 16 player overall. 

Akers, a one-time Alabama pledge who was on the Ohio State campus just days after decommitting from the Crimson Tide, is high on the Buckeyes. His interest in heading north has surged since reopening his commitment, and now Ohio State sits as co-leader in his recruitment with home-state Ole Miss, per 247Sports.

The Buckeyes could surge in front for good next month, when Akers visits Ohio State again for its signature recruiting event—Friday Night Lights.

On the defensive side of the ball, Ohio State is looking south at a pair of Texas standouts in Jeffrey Okudah and linebacker Baron Browning.

Okudah is the nation's top safety and No. 5 player regardless of position, and he's had Ohio State at the top of his list for months. That's why 247Sports gives the Buckeyes a 59 percent chance of landing the ball-hawking defensive back, who would join Wade in a formidable secondary.

Browning will be tougher to land, but there is a small window of opportunity there. The No. 2 outside linebacker and No. 8 prospect overall, Browning was warm enough to the Buckeyes to visit in late May, and the trip went so well that he'll be joining a host of recruits at Friday Night Lights in Columbus on July 22.

If Meyer aces that visit, Ohio State could be a real factor in his recruitment moving into the fall.

That brings us to the defensive line, where Ohio State's top remaining target—5-star Chase Young—is trending the Buckeyes' way. 

The weak-side defensive end was leaning toward staying home with the Maryland Terrapins for a long time, but Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson has done a fantastic job in his recruitment. He helped the Buckeyes pull ahead as the favorite, per 247Sports, and established that he's their priority with no current defensive ends committed for 2017.

In total, that's eight 5-star prospects that Ohio State is very much in the running for as the recruiting cycle hits the summer camp circuit. As things stand now, the Buckeyes are either favored or co-leaders to land five of those players: Grimes, Lindsey, Akers, Okudah and Young.

If Meyer can gain commitments from those five, it would give Ohio State eight 5-star commitments for the class of 2017—more than any single class in recruiting history.

Pete Carroll never did that during USC's dynasty. Nick Saban has gotten close with six 5-star pledges at Alabama (2013, '14), but no one has ever signed eight.

And if Meyer can close the deal, he'll be in a league of his own on national signing day.

 

All recruiting rankings and information via 247Sports.

David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tennessee Football: 5 Most Underrated Players on the Vols Roster

Everybody by now has heard plenty about Joshua Dobbs, Jalen Hurd, Alvin Kamara, Cameron Sutton and Jalen Reeves-Maybin. The Tennessee football stars are bountiful in 2016, and that's why there are so many people predicting big things for the Volunteers.

But there are other key players who don't get as much publicity.

These are guys who may not be stars and certainly aren't household names, but that doesn't diminish their value to the Vols. If coach Butch Jones' team is going to make some noise in the SEC this year, these players need big years.

From a once-maligned offensive line where several stalwarts perform on a weekly basis to a defense where there are a couple of senior leaders ready to break out, UT's experience could be a major reason for its success this year if it comes together.

Receiver Josh Smith's reliable work is rarely appreciated because of the receiving corps' recent struggles and the other, more athletic players getting more attention.

"I think Josh is a leader because he has some clout, has some experience and has made some big plays, does everything right for me," UT passing game coordinator Zach Azzanni told SEC Country's Dave Hooker this spring.

Then, there are other guys who have grown into their roles such as defensive end Corey Vereen.

No team can win with just star power. The role players are vital, too. When it comes to those, Tennessee has more than its share, and that is directly attributed to the recruiting victories Jones experienced the past three years and some low-rated diamonds the staff developed.

Let's take a look at some players who won't get the headlines in 2016 but will be just as big to Tennessee's hopes for success as the guys named Dobbs and Hurd.

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Deshaun Watson on How Elite 11 Changed His Life: 'Like a Family to Me'

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — After a year in which he burst onto the national scene in leading Clemson to a berth in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, Tigers All-American quarterback Deshaun Watson has had a busy offseason.

His time is in demand, but he made sure to clear his schedule to attend the Elite 11 finals in Los Angeles last month to help Trent Dilfer and his staff as a college counselor for the event. 

His reasoning was simple.

“Elite 11 is like a family to me. It’s a fraternity,” Watson told Bleacher Report. “No matter what age you are or what position in life you are at, you can always relate to each other and talk to one another. It’s not just about learning about football. It’s learning about life and your experiences.” 

After making the Elite 11 finals in 2013, Watson noted he’s leaned on the guidance he receives from Dilfer and his staff—most of whom have been through similar experiences in their playing careers.

“Elite 11 is one of those things that prepares you for the journey you are about to go through in college and beyond,” Watson explained. “The things you are going to go through, the guys here have already done it. I always come back because it’s fun and you always learn something new from these guys.

"They have already taught me so much, and that’s why it’s always fun to come back and see everyone whenever I have a chance."

There’s another component for Watson that makes this trip special. As ESPN.com’s David M. Hale detailed, his journey to Clemson has had its share of bumps in the road. Watson has tattoos emblazoned on both forearms to remind him of the troubles in his old neighborhood he escaped. 

But that’s precisely why he feels it’s important for him to be there. He wanted to share his story with 24 quarterbacks who represent the game's future.

“I just want to try and set the example of how to balance out football, life and school,” he explained. “Being able to give back and show how I’ve been able to do things, it’s just special to be able to show them what happens when you try to do things the right way. I’m here because I want to teach these guys how to do it the right way.”

Dealing with adversity and success on and off the field was another topic he mentioned to the group. He talked of having to rehab from a torn ACL this time a year ago then emerging as a Heisman finalist by the end of the 2015 season.

“Adversity will hit you eventually, whether it’s with injuries, life in general or socially,” Watson said. “You have to be able to handle that, but you also have to be able to handle success. There’s great times when you are having success, especially at the collegiate level. You are exposed to so many things, so you are able to see more things and do things you never thought you would be able to do.

"You just have to make sure you handle those things the right way, too. One mistake could cause a lot of problems for your family, your school and your teammates. Handling success is just as tough as dealing with adversity.”

According to 4-star passer and Tigers pledge Chase Brice, Watson’s message carried a lot of weight considering his achievements on and off the field.

“To see where he’s been and the success he’s had, he shared his journey through Elite 11 last night in his confessional. He’s had so much success on the field and he’s on track to graduate in December, so for him to speak with us and teach us, it’s just been a really neat thing,” Brice said.

Watson, who figures to be a prime contender for the Heisman again this season and a potential first-round pick if he enters next year’s NFL draft, acknowledges the importance Elite 11 has had during his journey.

“The main impact Elite 11 has made on me is that it has changed the way I see things now, on and off the field. It’s changed my perspective and shown me how to approach things as I get older and experience new things. It’s had a great impact on how I play the position of quarterback and the way I go about my life socially.”

Among the things he stressed to the group were handling the pressures and responsibilities that come with playing the most important position on the field.

“It’s a different world when you play quarterback. We aren’t the regular college student on campus or even the average football player on campus,” Watson explained. “Being an Elite 11 quarterback, you represent your family, your school and all of the other guys who came before you in this fraternity. There’s only one quarterback on the field, and he’s usually the guy that is responsible for the team’s failures and successes.

"Elite 11 has taught me about the responsibilities you have as a quarterback, and how to deal with the pressures of being a leader on and off the field.”

Still, giving back is something that brings joy to the Gainesville, Georgia, native. His journey through the Elite 11 fraternity is something he speaks about with pride, and he feels that will be the case when he looks back on it after some years have passed.

“It’s going to bring me a lot of joy when I look back on it 10 years from now, when this fraternity and camp will still be going on. When I reflect on it and think about my times, it will be cool to see how the Elite 11 has continued to grow through the years.”

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

FBS Teams on Upset Alert vs. FCS Opponents in 2016

College football's top division split into two in the late 1970s, and ever since it's been the drive of FCS teams to show they can still compete with the big boys. They don't happen often, but whenever a lower-division team is able to knock off an FBS opponent, it's cause for celebration.

Last year saw FCS teams go 9-96 against the FBS. Though most of the victims were from the bottom of the FBS barrel—Washington State lost at home to Portland State to open the season and went on to win nine games. That was one of two FBS teams that Portland State knocked off, also beating North Texas four weeks later by a score of 66-7.

The Big Ten is eliminating games against FCS opponents and other power leagues are moving away from such matchups, but plenty still litter the 2016 schedule. All told, 49 power-conference schools and dozens of non-power teams will play at least one FCS squad this fall, and as is the case every year a few of them will end up getting felled by the little guy.

Which ones should be on the highest upset alert? We've got some likely possibilities to ponder.

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The Opening 2016: Ranking the Top 25 Recruits in Attendance

The premier showcase on the college football recruiting summer camp circuit is set to get underway next week when the The Opening kicks off at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.

The event will feature more than 160 of the nation’s top recruits in the country. A majority of them are in the 2017 cycle, but a handful of elite underclassmen will also compete against one another.

Additionally, the dozen Elite 11 finalists tabbed earlier this month will all be on hand.

Overall, 75 of the nation’s top 100 overall prospects in the 247Sports composite rankings will be in attendance. 

So which players should fans be paying close attention to next week during the competition?

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10 Best Live College Football Mascots

Entertainment value is the primary reason for every sport, and mascots help enhance the experience at college football games.

But in some cases, the mascot has a storied tradition, fascinating history, unique game-day routine or, quite simply, is flat-out awesome.

The list is subjective, like any ranking of this subject would be. 

Additionally, human mascots were not considered. Yes, they are alive. But there's real people in any costume, too, and those aren't included. In other words, let's enjoy college football's best animals.

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Ranking the Top Elite 11 Alums of All Time

Since 1999, when the likes of Brock Berlin, Casey Clausen and Matt Cassel dominated the recruiting circuit, the Elite 11 quarterback competition has showcased the nation's top high school passing talent every single summer.

Next week, a dozen of the best passers in the class of 2017 will descend on Nike's headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, for this year's Elite 11 competition at The Opening recruiting combine. Hunter Johnson, Dylan McCaffrey and Tate Martell will be among those joining a truly legendary group of modern quarterbacks who are Elite 11 alumni.

But which former Elite 11 quarterbacks are the best of the best in the competition's history? Several have gone on to win Heisman Trophies, become No. 1 overall picks in the NFL draft and rack up countless records in both the college and pro levels. 

Here are the picks for the 11 best Elite 11 alumni of all time. These selections are based on a player's overall football career to date, combining accolades in both college football and the NFL into a total reflection of his success since being selected to the Elite 11.

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Jordan Thomas Arrested: Latest Details, Mugshot and More on Oklahoma DB

Oklahoma junior cornerback Jordan Thomas was arrested on Thursday by the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office. 

Per the official Cleveland County Sheriff's Office website, Thomas was arrested on charges of public intoxication and assault and battery. 

The Fulmer Cup tweeted the full police report and Thomas' mugshot:  

Thomas has been in trouble with the law previously, spending a night in jail in January when an arrest warrant was issued after he didn't appear in court for traffic violations stemming from a speeding violation the previous summer. 

The 20-year-old Thomas emerged as one of Oklahoma's best defensive backs last season. He appeared in 12 of the Sooners' 13 games and finished second on the team with five interceptions and tied for second with four passes defensed. 

For his efforts on the field, Thomas was named to the All-Big 12 second team by the Associated Press. His role on the defense in 2016 figures to be more prominent after Zack Sanchez entered the NFL draft in April. 

The Sooners are not lacking for talent on either side of the ball with quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Samaje Perine back on offense. Thomas is undeniably a talented player and key member of the defense, but his off-field exploits are quickly becoming a distraction for the program.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SEC Extra Points: Should Ole Miss Be Worried About Latest NCAA Info?

Nothing spices up SEC media days like a scandal, and the wheels of Ole Miss' NCAA scandal kept spinning this week when Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated dropped his feature on the depth and potential ramifications of the Rebels' current situation, including quotes from NCAA legal experts and former offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil's stepfather, Lindsey Miller.

In it, Miller claimed that he spoke with NCAA investigators for around 100 total hours and provided electronic communication between him and Ole Miss staffers and boosters that eventually led to impermissible payments from boosters and impermissible lodging.

Should Ole Miss be worried about this?

The answer is no. Well, at least not any more or less worried than it was last week or last month.

As Thamel noted in the story and Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze stated in Destin, Florida, last month at SEC spring meetings, the program is only disputing one charge in the Notice of Allegations, and it has nothing to do with Tunsil:

There were four [allegations] that preceded my tenure at Ole Miss and there were nine that were under my watch. We’ve been as honest as we can throughout the process. [AD] Ross [Bjork] made a public statement that says many of those allegations date back to a former football staff in 2010 and the withholding and re-instatement process around Laremy Tunsil in the fall of 2015. To be exact, nine is the total for that. So [Bjork's] statement is very accurate. Of the nine that occurred under my watch, four are Level 1s. Of those four, three have zero staff involvement. One has a staff involved in it that we look forward to sharing our view of exactly what the facts are in that case when the time is appropriate. The others are secondary, or Level 2s and 3s in the new penalty structure.

As Thamel noted, three of the four Level I violations that are tied to Freeze's tenure are related to Tunsil. Keep in mind, Tunsil was suspended for seven games—more than half of the 2015 regular season, and reinstated by the NCAA in October. 

So while Miller, who is suing Tunsil for defamation of character and hoping to depose Freeze in the case, has spilled the beans, it likely won't matter, considering Ole Miss not only self-reported and self-imposed penalties tied to his portion of the case, but also that Tunsil was reinstated by the NCAA itself based on the information that Miller provided.

Ole Miss doesn't want this case—which is in the midst of its third year—to drag on any longer than it has to. The lawyers that Thamel spoke with in his story agreed that the program did what they called a "thorough job" with its self-imposed punishment—which included the loss of 11 scholarships over three years, recruiting restrictions to assistants Chris Kiffin and Maurice Harris, a fine and the disassociation of several boosters.

We're left wondering what's to come for Ole Miss.

If the one Level I violation that includes connecting players to boosters is what Ole Miss claims should be a Level II.

"The one that is serious that has a staff member involved in it, we differ on the view of it," Freeze said in Destin. "I know the facts. Hopefully we’ll be able to share that in due time."

If the NCAA is right, Ole Miss is likely looking at a few more scholarships being tacked on and/or those staff members involved receiving further discipline. 

The elephant in the room is Tunsil's draft-night debacle, which, in addition to video of him smoking a bong through a gas mask appearing on his own Twitter account, also included screenshots of electronic communication that appear to be between Tunsil and an Ole Miss football staff member arranging small payments to cover Tunsil's mother's electric bill.

Is Ole Miss that dumb?

Would it really set up a system for small payments through the football offices knowing that a similar system could already be in place through boosters—something that both the program and the NCAA agree on based on the suspension and subsequent reinstatement of Tunsil?

If you think it is, then more hits could be coming for Ole Miss. If you don't, then it likely won't get much worse than what was already self-imposed.

Either way, though, you shouldn't feel any differently about the case today than you did last week or last month. Miller has been in a rather public dispute with Tunsil, Freeze and the program ever since he was arrested (along with Tunsil) last summer for domestic violence following an altercation between the two.

That apparently will continue while Ole Miss waits to find out its NCAA fate.

 

Cause For Concern?

Phil Savage of Alabama's radio network and the Reese's Senior Bowl appeared on the Opening Drive on WJOX in Birmingham on Monday and commented on Crimson Tide quarterback Cooper Bateman—who was a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy last week in Louisiana.

"The short-to-intermediate stuff he seems to be pretty good at," Savage said (via Kevin Flaherty of 247Sports). "Anything beyond 25 yards though, the ball seems to come apart on him for whatever reason. I don’t know technically why that would happen, I’ve never worked closely enough with him to know."

That's concerning, considering Bateman is a redshirt junior whose time in the system should have helped him be a little more consistent downfield. 

What isn't concerning, though, is the progress of redshirt freshman Blake Barnett. 

Listed at 6'5", 200 pounds, the ultra-athletic California-native with a rocket arm and deceptive speed has been busy bulking up this offseason.

That's tremendous news, considering one of the two primary concerns with Barnett entering the 2016 season is his size (along with some spring turnovers, as Matt Zenitz of AL.com noted this spring). If Barnett can pack on 10-15 pounds without losing his ability to create with his speed, he should be in prime position to take the job.

At this point, if Bateman is still struggling downfield, it's unlikely that it will click. That leaves the door wide-open for Barnett, redshirt sophomore David Cornwell and true freshman Jalen Hurts. None of those three players have ever attempted a collegiate pass. 

Don't be surprised if that changes in the season opener against USC, and if Barnett gets the first snap.

 

Chubb Back In The Mix

As Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph noted, all signs are pointing to the return of running back Nick Chubb for Georgia's season-opening showdown with North Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.

But what exactly will Chubb 2.0 look like?

It's unlikely that he will look the same as he did prior to tearing ligaments in his knee on his first carry of the Tennessee game in early October 2015.

Part of the reason is Sony Michel.

Michel rushed for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns in essentially two-thirds of a season as Georgia's starting running back, averaging 5.3 yards per carry in a decidedly one-dimensional offense in the process. That's what new head coach Kirby Smart and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney should build on.

Michel proved that he can be a true No. 1 running back in difficult circumstances last year, which is what Chubb did as a true freshman in 2014 when he rushed for 1,547 yards in essentially a half-season as the true No. 1 back in Athens.

Two No. 1 running backs is better than one.

Because of Michel's impact last year and Chubb's status coming off injury, Georgia doesn't need Chubb topping 30 carries per game on a regular basis. Chubb's long-term future and Georgia's offense would be better off if both primary running backs share the responsibilities and hover around 15-20 carries per game. 

If that happens, it will take pressure off the eventual winner of the quarterback battle and land Georgia in the mix for the SEC East title.

 

Coaches, Please Be Better

Twitter is a dangerous place.

The moment you hit "send"—often without thinking about all of the short- and long-term ramifications—your reputation is in the hands of how people interpret what you said in those 140 characters. Over the course of the offseason, there have been several instances of coaches subtweeting high school prospects after missing out on their commitments or seeing them flip to other programs.

Add Oklahoma assistant inside receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Cale Gundy to the list of coaches who should learn to hit the "pause" button.

After losing 4-star center and Oklahoma-native Creed Humphrey to Texas A&M, Gundy sent a tweet (which was later deleted) discussing championships.

"Piece of advice to recruits," Gundy tweeted (via @DecadePlan), "It's real simple. Schools are winning championships or talking about winning championships. Do your homework."

Come on.

While Oklahoma has a Big 12 title to brag about and Texas A&M hasn't been in contention for a division title in the SEC since November 2012, coaches need to be the bigger men in this situation. Gundy, who is listed as one of Humphrey's recruiters according to 247Sports, should recognize that acting like the jilted lover in a public fashion only reflects poorly on himself and the program.

For A&M, Humphrey's commitment is huge.

Not only is he a player whom a regional recruiting rival clearly wanted, but he's a big, physical center who can help the Aggies be more physical in the trenches, as Billy Liucci of TexAgs.com noted.

According to 247Sports, the program has earned eight Class of 2017 commitments in this month alone. That includes Humphrey, 4-star quarterback Kellen Mond and 4-star linebacker Santino Marchiol.

That "College Station is crumbling" narrative seems like a bit of a stretch at this point.

 

Quick Outs

  • It appears that former LSU quarterback and 2014 starter Anthony Jennings is on the brink of landing at Louisiana-Lafayette, according to Luke Johnson of the Advocate. LSU announced his intent to transfer long ago, so this is far from breaking news. The Ragin' Cajuns are likely getting a former 4-star prospect and SEC starter, which will certainly help their chances in the Sun Belt.
  • Former South Carolina quarterback Connor Mitch announced his intent to transfer this spring and announced on Twitter this week that he will land at James Madison.
  • Former Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper appeared on a celebrity edition of Family Feud, and it didn't go well, according to a pre-released clip.

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Dylan Moses' Quest to Reclaim No. 1 Ranking

The scene at The Opening Houston regional was routine for Dylan Moses. As he entered the Delmar-Tusa Athletic Complex, he immediately garnered stares from other athletes.

Media members quickly gravitated to him as he walked from one side of the field to the other. Fans whispered, "There's Dylan Moses."

For four years, that's been his life. Now attending IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, Moses has been in the recruiting limelight since he was a middle school phenom in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Few athletes can say they hold football offers from LSU and Alabama midway through their eighth-grade years.

"Sometimes, it feels like I'm a professional athlete—but I'm not," said Moses, who put on his cleats to prepare for the Houston regional workouts as media representatives stood in line waiting their turns to chat with him.

For the longest time, Moses was considered the athlete to catch in the 2017 class, but he is now the nation's No. 2 player and the top-ranked linebacker. Moses will be in the spotlight next week, as he will travel to Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, to compete at The Opening as one of 166 of the nation's top high school athletes.

Moses is one of the few in attendance who will make the trip for the second consecutive year. And because of his No. 2 ranking, as well as him being a veteran of The Opening, expect Moses to have a target on his back. He's been the face of the 2017 class for so long, and he understands that competitors are ready to challenge him.

Luckily for the self-proclaimed perfectionist, he can be both the hunted and the hunter. As he chases the No. 1 spot, being the latter is what drives him.

 

Gunning for No. 1

Four years ago, Moses was a 6'1", 215-pound bruiser who made plays at both linebacker and running back. As a freshman at University High School in September 2013, he made national headlines by verbally committing to play college ball at LSU.

Now, he's a 6'2", 220-pound machine with 40 reported offers. He backed off his LSU pledge right before the start of his junior year to explore other options. Since then, he's been a priority get for a myriad college programs.

The initial 247Sports Top 247 in April 2015 featured Moses at the No. 1 spot in the 2017 class. The same can be said for the initial Scout 300, released in June 2015. Moses was No. 2 in the initial Rivals Top 100, released in July 2015.

The first 247Sports composite ranking—the industry-driven ranking created as a consensus from the four national recruiting sites of 247Sports, Scout.com, Rivals.com and ESPN—had Moses at No. 1 in 2015, and he kept that ranking until February 2016. Running back Najee Harris, an Alabama commit, took over the top spot and dropped Moses to No. 2. That's where the two athletes have remained in the rankings.

"That No. 1 spot is the toughest move to make every year. It's why it doesn't change very often," Barton Simmons, director of scouting for 247Sports, said. "It doesn't represent anything negative on Dylan's part. This was more about a guy who took it from him. Najee has done so much that he earned that spot."

Simmons' comments are fair, as Harris is an absolute beast at 6'3" and 226 pounds. He's a running back who can be a bully between the tackles or moonlight as a shifty scatback in the open field. Harris also has outstanding hands and runs great routes as a pass-catching option out of the backfield.

The respect is there with Moses, as both he and Harris were among the handful of underclassmen competing at The Opening last year. And as Moses prefers to perform on the field versus reading about where he ranks, all he processes is that another athlete is ranked ahead of him.

"As far as I'm concerned, I know I'm No. 1," Moses said. "I try not to pay attention to where I am in the recruiting sites. If they think I'm No. 2, only numbers and stats will speak for themselves. It's like they're trying to test me, and I love being tested."

For Moses, The Opening provides an opportunity to be tested. As a linebacker, he'll have the chance to line up against running backs like Harris, Cam Akers and USC commit Stephen Carr. He'll also have the chance to show his coverage skills against some of the nation's best wide receivers, such as Donovan Peoples-JonesJoseph LewisTee Higgins and Tyjon Lindsey.

Simmons called The Opening "the best opportunity Dylan can get in the offseason" to reclaim the top spot in the 2017 class.

"You have the best players there, and you have the chance to prove yourself," Simmons said. "There's no better opportunity in the spring or summer to do it."

Moses' quest for No. 1 would be something no linebacker has accomplished since the inception of the composite ranking. Per Simmons, former Notre Dame standout Jaylon Smith, a second-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in April's NFL draft, was the closest to finishing No. 1 in his recruiting class. He was the nation's top-ranked outside linebacker but finished No. 2 in the composite rankings in 2013.

Moses is in the same situation, but playing phenomenally at The Opening or in the regular season could separate him and once again put him atop the 2017 class. He will play linebacker for a team that, on paper, is one of the most talented, heavily recruited teams in the country.

"The best shot for him is when he dons the pads for IMG and plays national-level competition and gets to eat up ball-carriers," Simmons said. "It's going to be fun to see him go out and compete, because I know he's hungry."

 

'The hype is real with him'

In April, Moses announced a top five of Texas, Alabama, UCLA, LSU and USC. On June 16, he tweeted that every school "will have a chance" until his final decision scheduled for December.

Moses told Sports Illustrated in May that he's been focused on spring training and adjusting to the culture at IMG. He plans on being an early enrollee at the college of his choice.

On Monday night, Moses announced his official visit plans:

The winning school will get a playmaker at both the inside and outside linebacker positions. Moses has the size, lateral movement and strength to play middle linebacker, but it's his speed and instincts that project to outside linebacker.

Tight end Tre' McKitty, a teammate with 32 reported offers who will also be joining Moses in Oregon for The Opening, immediately noticed Moses' talent upon his arrival to IMG. McKitty has seen Moses' work ethic and has been excited about the competitive practices with him on the other side of the ball.

"The hype is real with him. That dude's a man, for real," McKitty said. "He's an animal out there. He's fast, and he's strong."

Moses added: "Every time I step in that weight room at IMG, and every time I step on the field, it just drives me even more to become the best of the best. That's what's been driving me my whole process, ever since I was in the eighth grade when I first got this attention."

Moses' junior stats further support his argument for the top spot. Per The Advocate, he had 104 tackles and two forced fumbles for University High—and that was done with him sidelined with injuries for two games. Moses was also voted the defensive MVP of his district before announcing he was transferring to IMG in January.

Kevin Wright is preparing for his second season as the head coach at IMG. Since his arrival from Baton Rouge, Moses has been impressive on and off the field, and the ceiling remains high for an elite-level athlete who trains as if he's someone looking to prove his worth.

"The thing about Dylan that's intriguing [is] he's an in-the-box guy that has the speed, athleticism, strength and size to play all over the field," Wright said. "I can see him potentially as a 'Mike' [middle] linebacker in the days where Mike doesn't have to look like Dick Butkus. Nowadays, the Mike has to be a big, fast guy and not just a bruiser.

"He has a lot of athletic ability. I think he can be an every-down guy who's not a liability in coverage. That's something not easy to find with a player with all those attributes; when you find him, you know he can be special."

 

Finding his niche

For some, it may be hard to believe Moses' recruiting stardom began four years ago. On July 15, 2012, he received his first offer from LSU. Seven months later, Alabama gave him an offer. From there, offers from Ole Miss, Florida, UCLA, Florida State and Nebraska followed.

Fast-forward to now, and Moses is in a position to write his own ticket.

"My philosophy is easy: I want to make sure I do what I have to do, stay focused and keep working hard," Moses said. "I want to stay close to God and keep praying to him. As far as the recruiting process, it's going to take care of itself."

Ask him about his favorite player, and he'll talk about Ryan Shazier, an inside linebacker and former Ohio State standout who is entering his third year with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Moses is a fan of Shazier's sideline-to-sideline speed, his ability to make plays in open space and his aggressive nature.

He will have his chance to be a premier linebacker and have similar success. If all works out, Moses also could have some college success a la Myles Jack, a Jacksonville Jaguars rookie linebacker who saw time at running back in college at UCLA.

Once considered a potential running back recruit, Moses is hoping to get an offensive package or two in college. Long term, however, Moses will thrive as a linebacker.

"I know he likes being on the field as much as possible, but he's a natural at linebacker," said Michael Fletcher, linebackers coach at The Opening. "It seems like he just has more fun attacking people. He really embraces the coaching there, and you can tell he's gravitating to that side of the ball.

"He can play both, but as a linebacker, he can be special. He's the hunter instead of being the hunted."

Wright said Moses' football IQ and businesslike manner on the field meshes well, but it's his humility that makes him stand out. Wright described him as "unassuming," someone who doesn't act like a player who's been in the recruiting spotlight for four years.

"I kind of wish he'd be a little more vocal at times," Wright said, "but he is who he is, and with how hard he works, the kids follow that. He's not a rah-rah guy or does a lot of talking. He's about action, and he's very focused on being the best he could be. He's a very driven young man."

December will be a huge month for one lucky school. Moses said he's looking to play at a college where he can have a great relationship with teammates and coaches and a place that will prepare him to be a force in the pros.

But as he focuses on the upcoming season with IMG and his future college plans, the No. 2 player ranking will always hold a place in the back of his mind. 

"Nobody plays to be No. 2," Moses said. "You play to be No. 1."

 

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings. Follow Damon via Twitter @DamonSayles.

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Creed Humphrey to Texas A&M: Aggies Land 4-Star Center Prospect

Creed Humphrey, a 4-star center from Shawnee High in Oklahoma, committed to Texas A&M on Wednesday.

He released the following statement on Twitter: 

Humphrey, who stands 6'4" and weighs 301 pounds, is considered the No. 3 center, the No. 4 prospect from the state of Oklahoma and the No. 300 player in the class of 2017, according to 247Sports.

Greg Powers of Scout.com broke down Humphrey's game:

While rated as a center Humphrey is big enough and powerful enough to be considered as an option to play either guard position in college as well. He is quick off the ball and very powerful at the point of attack. Once he gets his hands on you it is pretty much over as he plays with balance and leverage giving him even more of an advantage because he is usually so much stronger than the man across from him. On tape, Humphrey is very effective as a run blocker and he generates a lot of strength from his lower body, which allows him to finish blocks with authority.

That combination of versatility and power should make him a valuable addition to the Aggies offensive line down the road. 

And his commitment continues what has been an excellent recruiting class for the program, which ranks No. 7 in 247Sports' composite rankings. Humphrey will join fellow 4-star recruit Grayson Reed (offensive tackle) and 3-star additions Carson Green (tackle) and Adrian Wolford (tackle) in a strong offensive line class

The Aggies are expected to have two seniors on the offensive line for the 2016 season—Avery Gennesy and Jermaine Eluemunor—which means there will be openings immediately for Texas A&M next season.

While more experienced players will be expected to fill those voids, the Aggies' young crop of offensive linemen could make a quick impact if they impress heading into the 2017 season.

 

You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.

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The Opening 2016: Each Top 25 Team's Most Important Target at Beaverton

College football recruiting is a never-ending process, but there are some key moments in the timeline that all fans should pay attention to. The most notable of these are national signing day, which isn't until February, and the summer showcase known as The Opening.

The weeklong event at Nike's headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, set to begin July 5, will feature a who's who of the top prospects from the 2017 recruiting class. A fair number of these players have already committed, but quite a few remain undecided and thus will be closely monitored by coaches.

Using Bleacher Report's most recent Top 25 as a guide, we've identified the top target that each school will be keeping its eye on during The Opening. These are the players programs will be regularly checking in on to see how they perform but also to make sure the recruits know those schools are still interested.

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Laremy Tunsil's Stepfather Speaks on Alleged Ole Miss Violations in SI Exclusive

Lindsey Miller, the estranged stepfather of Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, spoke with Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel about alleged recruiting violations the Ole Miss Rebels committed during Tunsil's time with the school. 

"It's like that movie Blue Chips with Nick Nolte, with Shaquille O'Neal in it," Miller said. "It really is."

Thamel outlined some of the allegations Miller has made to the NCAA regarding Ole Miss:

During a recent meeting with SI, Miller detailed the extent of the extra benefits that he claims Tunsil and his family received. Miller, a first-hand witness and aggrieved party, says he laid everything out for the NCAA during more than 100 hours of interviews. Among the things Miller says he told the NCAA: Ole Miss had an intricate system in which the school arranged for Tunsil and his family through boosters to get loans, money and free lodging at hotels and residences around Oxford, Miss. He claims he told the NCAA of benefits that spanned nearly three years.

Included among them: Miller says he told the NCAA that he and Desiree Polingo—Tunsil's mother and Miller's now-estranged wife—moved from Lake City, Fla., to the Oxford area in 2014 along with Miller's two sons from a prior relationship thanks in part to financial assistance from Ole Miss coaches and boosters.

Tunsil's mother, Desiree Polingo, provided a statement to Thamel through her lawyer: "[Miller] continued receiving his pension, child support and military benefits. Why he keeps telling people that Ole Miss promised us something or did something wrong is beyond me, and frankly makes me very angry."

Last October, the NCAA suspended Tunsil for seven games after finding he accepted impermissible benefits. On the night of the 2016 NFL draft, the details of Tunsil's college life in Oxford, Mississippi, were again thrust into the national spotlight.

Somebody hacked into Tunsil's Instagram account and posted a text correspondence that appeared to be between he and John Miller, Ole Miss' assistant athletic director for football operations. Busted Coverage posted screenshots of the Instagram posts (Warning: screenshots contain NSFW language) :

After initially denying he had ever accepted money from an Ole Miss coach, Tunsil reversed course and said, "I'd have to say yeah," per Hugh Kellenberger of the Clarion-Ledger.

Lindsey Miller is currently in the process of suing Tunsil, alleging defamation of character, assault and battery and emotional distress stemming from an incident in June 2015.

Oxford authorities arrested Tunsil on charges of domestic violence. A source told ESPN's Brett McMurphy that Tunsil punched Miller after Miller shoved Polingo. Tunsil and Miller agreed to drop the charges last August.

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