NCAA Football News

Is Steve Spurrier's Cinderella South Carolina Story Nearing Its End?

South Carolina entered the 2014 season with high hopes not just for the SEC East title, but for the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Head coach Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks were picked to win the division at SEC Media Days last July, hosted Texas A&M on opening night with a Top 10 ranking and were set up to build upon three straight 11-win seasons.

Then Kenny Hill happened, the Gamecocks were run out of their own building and sputtered to a 7-6 record that included home losses to Missouri and Tennessee, as well as the first loss to Clemson since the month when Barack Obama was elected President...the first time.

Spurrier and Co. struggled to replace former defensive end Jadeveon Clowney—a once-in-a-generation monster whose presence made life much easier for the entire defense. It struggled to replace quarterback Connor Shaw—perhaps the best quarterback in program history.

It struggled to recapture the magic that Spurrier had when he ushered in the golden age of South Carolina football.

Was last season the anomaly or the start of a trend?

"The divide between winning and losing is extremely small and when there's so much turnover from season to season in college football," Wes Mitchell of GamecockCountry.com told Bleacher Report. "We've seen successful programs have a down year and then bounce right back the following year with a successful season. I don't think we'll truly know until 2015 if 2014 was a down season or the beginning of a downward trend, but Spurrier seems committed to making sure it's the former."

If South Carolina is going to prevent it from becoming a trend, Spurrier needs some of his veterans to grow up fast.

Inexperience up front and at the back end of the defense were the two main problems last year, and while many of those players will be back with more games under their belts, the roster as a whole looks to be following in last year's footsteps.

GoGamecocks reported on Tuesday that linebacker Marcquis Roberts is transferring from the program. Roberts finished 11th on the team with 31 tackles in 2014 and started nine games in 2013.

A huge loss? Maybe. He would have been fighting for a starting job this year, and whether he won it or not, his experience would have been invaluable for a defense that is desperately craving a leader.

Not to be outdone, Josh Kendall of The State reported on Wednesday that defensive lineman Blake McClain—who has not logged a snap for the program—is also moving on.

When compounded with what else has gone on in Columbia this offseason, though, Gamecock fans should be very concerned.

As Kendall pointed out, McClain is the 10th scholarship player to leave the Gamecocks since the end of the season. Michael Haney of 107.5 The Game noted that this move leaves inexperience littered all over the roster:

For reference, Tennessee—which was one of the youngest teams in the country last year—played 32 newcomers out of 71 players who logged at least one snap in the season opener vs. Utah State. Of those newcomers, 21 were true freshmen, according to its game notes.

The Vols' percentage of first-year players was never lower than 40 in any game during the 2014 season.

South Carolina looks like it's heading down the same path.

The front seven was gashed last year to the tune of 212.23 rushing yards per game and only managed 14 sacks. Gerald Dixon, Gerald Dixon, Jr. and several other veterans need to take a step forward and be pushed by a bevy of newcomers who were brought in specifically to be instant-impact guys.

"The first thing that South Carolina absolutely had to do was upgrade the talent on the defense, particularly on the defensive line," said Mitchell. "With the additions of Marquavius Lewis, Dante Sawyer and Quandeski Whitlow, they've certainly added some talent to the defensive end position and it wouldn't be a shock to see both Lewis and Sawyer as starters in 2015."

If the defense only takes a small step forward and not a giant leap, can the Gamecocks be consistent enough offensively to dig out of holes dug by the defense?

That's very much a concern in Columbia.

I have six fewer passing attempts than the most experienced quarterback on the roster, Connor Mitch, who was 2-of-6 last year.

Whether it's Mitch, Perry Orth or new signee Lorenzo Nunez, South Carolina will enter the 2015 campaign with inexperience at quarterback. Also, it won't have Mike Davis to rely on at running back, while Corey Robinson and A.J. Cann are gone off of last year's offensive line.

The new-look South Carolina offense will be looking to build around all-everything wide receiver Pharoh Cooper.

If Spurrier can find somebody to get him the ball consistently and take some of the pressure off the rest of the offense, the Gamecocks should be able to move the football as long as running backs Brandon Wilds and David Williams stay healthy.

"While the defense should be improved, there are question marks on the offensive side at both quarterback and offensive line," said Mitchell. "That's not a good combination. In order for South Carolina to get back to the type of season it became accustomed to those three straight 11-win seasons, it will need to answer the questions there."

The window for Spurrier to win the East is closed, but not locked. Is a roster loaded with youth and uncertainty at key positions going to be what prevents it from becoming locked?

Probably not.

With Tennessee reeling in a second straight top-10 recruiting class, Florida moving in a more offensive direction with new head coach Jim McElwain, Missouri doing Missouri things and Georgia routinely being competitive, it's hard to imagine South Carolina recapturing the magic and contending for the SEC East in the near future.

 

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.

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

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Georgia Will Play North Carolina in 2016 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game

Georgia and North Carolina will open the 2016 season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt issued the following statement, per Seth Emerson of The (Macon, Georgia) Telegraph:

I know our team, coaches, and fans will be looking forward to playing a quality opponent like North Carolina in Atlanta. It will be a national stage for a season opener and generate a lot of excitement for fans not only of both schools but college football fans around the country.

Georgia last played in the Chick-fil-A game four years ago, when it lost 35-21 against Boise State.

Unless Georgia makes the 2016 SEC Championship Game, this will be its last chance to play in the Dome, which is being replaced by the Atlanta Falcons' new home stadium in 2017.

The Dome has become something of a curse to the Bulldogs, who lost the SEC title there to LSU the same year it lost to Boise State and again to Alabama in 2012. Ideally, it would make one more trip to Atlanta after playing the Tar Heels, but that cannot be guaranteed.

The game itself renews a rivalry on a 40-plus-year hiatus. Georgia and North Carolina have met 30 times, but the last meeting came in the 1971 Gator Bowl, which Georgia won 7-3.

With Richt and UNC head coach Larry Fedora (presumably) on the sidelines, though, it's safe to say the 2016 meeting will feature more than 10 points. It should definitely be a fun one to watch.

Georgia has now completed its 2016 nonconference schedule, which also includes Nicholls State, Louisiana-Monroe and Georgia Tech.

The Tar Heels are a step up from Georgia's soft 2015 schedule, which along with UL-Monroe and Georgia Tech features Southern and Georgia Southern, but no one has a right to complain about the Bulldogs' scheduling. They played a home-and-home against Clemson the past two seasons and have another planned with Notre Dame in 2017 and 2019.

North Carolina is a fine, respectable, above-average opponent for the Dawgs to play on a neutral field, especially since they already have one ACC team on their nonconference schedule. They continue to test their team more than they have to outside of SEC play.

This is good news for everyone—fans especially.

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Reloading for a Playoff Run: The Notre Dame 2015 Recruiting Class Hype Tape

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish had a disappointing 2014 season, failing to live up to the lofty expectations placed on them. But with a good core of players returning, and a stellar incoming recruiting class, the future looks bright for the Irish. 

Check out this hype tape of the 2015 recruits that will take Notre Dame by storm. 

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Meet the Headliners of Tennessee's 2015 Recruiting Class

The Tennessee Volunteers are excited about 2015, and they should be. They landed a great recruiting class, and they are looking to build off the success of last season. 

Watch this hype tape for the 2015 recruiting class for the Tennessee Volunteers heading into next season.

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Deontay Anderson Reveals Top 10: Which Teams Hold Edge in Race for 5-Star DB?

 

Texas 5-star defensive back Deontay Anderson is one of the most coveted athletes in the Class of 2016. He's a top-five safety nationally, and his efforts over the spring could make him a top-25 player overall (he's currently No. 31 in the 247Sports composite ratings).

More than 30 schools reportedly have offered, but Anderson announced his top 10 on Wednesday. According to his tweet, Anderson is leaving his options to four of the Power Five conferences, choosing not to play in the Big Ten:

The list may or may not change as the spring approaches, but of the 10 schools, four will be watched closely. If Anderson chooses to stay in the Lone Star State, expect another recruiting battle between bitter rivals Texas and Texas A&M.

If he chooses to leave the state, however, keep your eyes on LSU and Alabama. Both schools have had success in recruiting top defensive backs from Texas. For many defensive backs, playing in the SEC means lining up against some of the best receivers.

Texas A&M has seen Anderson on two unofficial visits since October, most recently at its junior day on Jan. 25. Anderson has built a good relationship with the Aggies coaching staff. Texas also is an option, as his relationship with the Longhorns coaching staff is solid. Additionally, Anderson's high school teammate and 4-star receiver Reggie Hemphill-Mapps is already a commit and will be doing some player recruiting within the Manvel High School locker room.

And then there are LSU and Alabama. Both teams each year are grouped in the usual suspects competing for a national championship. In addition, early playing time has been good to Texas defensive backs at both schools. Anderson watched players like Tony Brown and Maurice Smith (Alabama) and Jalen Mills and Jamal Adams (LSU) get decent minutes in 2014.

If there's a wild card of the bunch, you have to look at TCU. With the explosive year the Horned Frogs had in 2014—particularly the dominant performance against Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl— more of the best in-state players are giving the program a second look.

Anderson is aware of what the TCU coaching staff does with its defensive players, and the prospect of working with head coach Gary Patterson, safeties coach Chad Glasgow and the rest of the staff could be a positive.

Additionally, Anderson has another teammate committed to TCU. D'Eriq King, a 4-star quarterback/athlete, gave his pledge to the Horned Frogs on Jan. 17.

There's still plenty of time for Anderson to make a decision—and he definitely has options. All 10 schools are considered contenders right now, but look for the spring season to separate the contenders from the pretenders.

 

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

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Florida RB Kelvin Taylor Is the Ultimate Sleeper for the Heisman Trophy

When you peruse through preseason Heisman lists, you'll undoubtedly see a few running backs listed among the small village of talented quarterbacks (looking at you, Ohio State) coming back for the 2015 season.

Players like Georgia running back Nick Chubb, LSU running back Leonard Fournette and Alabama running back Derrick Henry will be featured prominently on preseason watch lists.

One player who may be down in the second tier in the SEC could be the ultimate Heisman dark horse.

Florida tailback Kelvin Taylor.

As a sophomore in 2014, Taylor rushed for 565 yards and six touchdowns as the "1B" behind Matt Jones in a painfully one-dimensional Gators offense. At 5'10", 210 pounds, Taylor has proved during his first two years in Gainesville that he's big enough to take the pounding between the tackles but also has the burst to make one cut and run away from opposing defenders.

What's more, he has competition to be "the man" this year despite being the favorite for the top spot on the depth chart during the offseason.

Adam Lane emerged as a contender for carries in the Birmingham Bowl, when he rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown. How much can you take away from a bowl game? It depends on the situation, but even though he wasn't coaching, it was Jim McElwain's first glimpse of his team as Florida's head coach.

That has to count for something and, as I wrote last month, will put pressure on Taylor in the offseason.

McElwain then flipped 4-star Miami commit Jordan Scarlett leading up to national signing day. The 5'10", 202-pounder is similar to Taylor in that he's a true all-purpose back who has the jets to leave opposing defenders in the dust.

"With Matt Jones and Mack Brown gone, Kelvin is set up to take the bulk of the carries McElwain's offense," Nick de la Torre of GatorCountry.com told B/R. "Taylor had a hard time earning the trust of the previous staff, but with a clean slate and Scarlett there to push him, Taylor is poised to have a breakout season."

If he wins the job and becomes the No. 1 running back on the depth chart, he's in a system that will revolve around him and lead to some video game numbers. 

Former Alabama running back Dee Hart was buried on the Crimson Tide depth chart when he left the program last offseason. He made his way to Colorado State to join McElwain, his former offensive coordinator, and ripped off 1,275 yards and 16 touchdowns before declaring for the NFL draft.

That was with Garrett Grayson—a known commodity who posted back-to-back 3,500-yard passing seasons—at quarterback for the Rams. Florida doesn't have that kind of threat, which means even more chances for running backs to shine.

Taylor seems excited about the future.

"It's like a new fresh start," Taylor told GatorZone.com in December. "[McElwain] told us he is going to coach us hard, help turn this thing back around and just try to be the best coach he can be. We're just ready to go."

Don't sleep on Kelvin Taylor.

He's cleverly disguised as "field" on Bovada's Heisman odds, but once he starts running up and down football fields this fall, he could shoot up those lists and become a bona fide star. 

Only two running backs have won the Heisman since 2000, and in today's game with diverse offenses and quarterbacks who light up stat sheets, any running back who's going to evolve into a serious contender will have an uphill battle to fight.

Taylor has the talent and the opportunity to do it as long as he can help the Gators climb back into the national picture.

 

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.

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

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Which Teams Are Set to Stun College Football in the 2016 Recruiting Cycle?

This past season's national signing day was full of surprises. Now, we turn our attention to the 2016 cycle of college football recruiting, which will be just as entertaining. 

Bleacher Report's Stephen Nelson sits down with 247Sports Recruiting Analyst JC Shurburtt to discuss which class will surprise us in 2016.

Which team will surprise you in 2016?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Jameis Winston Causing Florida State Headaches Even After He Leaves

If the NFL doesn't work out for former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, he'll be welcome at the University of Michigan as the Wolverines' recruiting coordinator. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, too.

Winston and Petty, of course, spent some time in Ann Arbor with new Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh this week preparing for the NFL combine. It's not an unprecedented move; players meet up with new coaches all the time in advance of big events. It's a great way to expand their football palates, and Harbaugh is regarded as one of the best football coaches in the country. 

However, it's what Winston said while working out at Michigan that grabbed headlines. And if you only read those headlines, you'd think Winston regretted his two phenomenal years at Florida State and wished could have played at Michigan under Harbaugh instead.  

Winston on Michigan's facilities: "We don't have this" at Florida State

Jameis Winston on Jim Harbaugh: "I Wish I Could Have Played for Him." 

That has to make you feel low if you're Florida State or follow the Seminoles, right? Yes, Winston loves Florida State and Florida State nation loves him, but it's never fun seeing those types of comments.

There's a certain "What the hell, man?" element to them. Not enough to be angry, but just enough to toss your arms up. 

However, when presented altogether and not in money quotes, Winston's comments aren't that big of a deal. Here they are below as broadcast on the MGoBlue.com website.  

On Harbaugh: 

It's a blessing to meet a guy like that [Harbaugh]. I made a reference back to when he was in Indianapolis in 1995. He had a great year that year. It was an honor to meet him. And all of his accomplishments and the type of coach he is, I wish I could have played for him.

On Michigan's facilities: 

These guys don’t know how blessed they are to have this type of facility. Florida State, we’re a very prestigious school, we have nice stuff, but we don’t have this. I love Florida State, I mean, go ‘Noles 'til the day I die, but they’re so much advanced than us.

Are those slights at Florida State and head coach Jimbo Fisher? No; it's possible to love where you came from and still be impressed—and more impressed in some aspects—with something else. 

Here's another way to think about it: Remember every time a coach said "X player is the best/easiest/fastest I've ever coached." It's hyperbole meant to prop up that one individual player, not necessarily discredit everyone else. 

And, in fairness to Winston, Petty raved about Michigan's facilities as well. The difference is Winston is a Heisman Trophy winner whose every word and action has been on trial in the court of public opinion. 

Why Winston and Petty propped up Michigan is easy to answer: They were featured in a video on Michigan's official website, likely being asked about what it was like to work with Harbaugh and what they thought of the things they saw.

Those are puff questions designed to generate puff answers. The only thing missing was coupling the video with "Everything is Awesome." 

The result is a free recruiting tool for the Wolverines. How much do you want to bet that the phrase "Even Heisman winner Jameis Winston wishes he could have played for us at Michigan" will be uttered by Harbaugh multiple times on the recruiting trail?

Since Florida State and Michigan battle nationally for blue-chip recruits, the Wolverines are going to get a lot of mileage out of that quote. The face of the Seminoles is talking up someone else. 

The comments themselves may not have been a big deal, but rest assured someone else at Michigan, or maybe elsewhere, will make them one. That's why that deep sigh heard from Tallahassee has echoed all the way up the country and into your living room. 

 

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

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How the Unnamed NFL Scout Became College Football Fans' Worst Nightmare

They tear down giants with a single sentence. They make their presence felt without ever announcing their presence at all. They tell you everything you’ve seen over the past three or four years is a gigantic farce, a football mirage constructed purely for your entertainment. They are superpowered supervillains capable of mass destruction, and they operate while keeping their identities concealed.

They are anonymous NFL draft scouts—nameless, faceless lightning rods of negativity—and we can no longer allow them to run our lives.

The NFL Scouting Combine is the unofficial start to NFL draft season. It makes no difference that the actual draft is still months away. Scouts, people dressed as scouts, scouts operating in secret, NFL officials and television viewers will spend the better part of the next week explaining why [insert player here] won’t succeed at the next level because of how high his feet left the ground on a single jump.

Straight-line running will be worshiped and celebrated. The winners will be deemed "gods of speed" and honored with sports cars. Dropped passes and overthrown footballs will be greeted with deafening doom. Characters will be judged, and personalities will be dissected based on the briefest of press encounters.

The entire charade will be eagerly consumed by the masses. Given other viewing options and the overall compelling nature of the broadcast, the combine will likely find its way onto my television over the weekend. I’m not immune to the infectious nature of the broadcasts; the entertainment is undeniable.

Football is still football, even in packaged, helmet-less, overserved form. Like every other desperate fan seeking a quality fix, I’ll let the madness of the draft season wash over me like a warm shower. I’ll embrace the hysteria triggered by the sight of a 300-pound human running the 40-yard dash in under five seconds, which is something that should be celebrated regardless.

That is not the problem with the predraft hysteria as it stands now. There’s a mutual understanding, even with those less consumed by the madness, that physical attributes and measureables only tell you so much about the actual recipe.

The reaction and opinion that spring from the combine and NFL workouts—particularly of the nameless variety—are where the ritual plunges head first into a case of Peach Schnapps and refuses to come up for air. Some have already left their feet.

The most popular name you will hear over the next few months won’t be Jameis Winston. It won’t be Marcus Mariota. It won’t be Leonard Williams or any of the disruptive edge-rushers this class has to offer.

No, the most popular name you will read about over the weeks to follow will be Anonymous Scout. His friends call him that. You can call him Mr. Anonymous Scout. You are not friends.

Like he does every year, Mr. Anonymous Scout will announce his presence and wait for outrage. He will tell you why Mariota is too nice to play in the NFL, which has, unsurprisingly, already happened.

"Like if you punched him in the stomach, he might apologize to you," a scout told SI.com's Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans. "I just don’t know if he’s that alpha male that you’re looking for. This kid’s a kind of fly on the wall kind of guy."

Oh, but he’s just warming up.

Eventually, he will give you more. Perhaps he’ll explain why Ameer Abdullah doesn’t have the mass to play at the next level, or why Shaq Thompson won’t succeed because he can’t find a position suitable to his talents, or why Amari Cooper’s gravity-defying pull-ups lack technique and discipline.

“The player you worshiped over the past three seasons? He’s a third-down back,” the scout will say. “And I’m not sure he really loves football,” he might add.

On top of being an expert on straight-line running and a film wizard, Mr. Anonymous Scout is also an expert on body language and has a doctorate in psychology. That’s partly why he has to remain anonymous, you see. No one this gifted could possibly reveal his or her true identity. Just imagine if this power got into the wrong hands.

It’s the kind of power that college football fans are helpless to combat. Their favorite players—regardless of how pristine their football resumes might be—will be dismantled and sold for parts by a faceless, nameless, all-knowing sorcerer.

After all, just listen to what an anonymous scout had to say about a promising college quarterback just a little while back. (I would have given him credit, but he forgot to leave his name.)

"He's a system quarterback. 3-, 5-, 7-step guy. Can’t create on his own. Panics under pressure,” an AFC scout told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “Gets flustered easy. I don't think there's a quarterback in the draft worthy of a first-round pick. I'm dead serious. None of them are worth it."

This comment was made back in April 2005. The quarterback was former Cal product and renowned system QB Aaron Rodgers. If only the Green Bay Packers listened.

There are benefits of remaining anonymous.

It’s not a matter of missing on certain players and opinions. I miss on predictions weekly during the season. That’s part of the business. It’s enviable if you take enough swings. There’s an understanding—even among the most demanding readers—that not all prognostications will pan out.

Taking that uncertainty one step further, forecasting quarterbacks is a lot like trying to hit a dartboard from 35 feet away in a monsoon, especially when there’s no Andrew Luck to pick from. There usually isn’t.

It’s the secretive nature of these C-4 statements that add absolutely zero to the conversation. It’s sprinting into a room, lobbing a flaming stink bomb and running out, only to wedge a chair against the door so those inside can’t follow. And the only thing worse than offering up cryptic, “He’s just too nice to throw a football where it’s supposed to go” slosh is not owning this magnificent travesty of commentary.

Admittedly, it is personal. I cover college football. I have invested hours—no, days—in covering individual players who will be assessed on a far different curve. I have watched many of them make the sport look easy at a level suitable for this viewer’s taste buds.

When these memories are tainted through criticisms—many of which seem destined for a headline in a story and nothing more—one can’t help but feel his insides start to turn. Fans with their own individual worshipping habits likely know the same feeling. At some point, just about every talented player—product of the system or not—will endure the wrath of an anonymous scout.

That’s not to say some criticisms aren’t warranted. Going on record to express concerns over Mariota’s transition to a pro-style offense is a legitimate talking point. Hiding in obscurity and saying that his overall friendly demeanor could somehow hinder this transition is not.

And yet, despite this being mutually understood by all, this will not change. The anonymous scouts will still fire off scouting takes of the hottest variety. So, speaking for each and every college football fan bracing for another round of venomous drivel, let’s fire back.

“The anonymous scout lacks character and integrity and is someone I don’t believe can be trusted,” said an anonymous sports blogger. “To me, the concealment is deeply concerning. What else is this person hiding? When you consider how little is being added to intelligent draft conversation, I believe it’s only reasonable to ignore these comments moving forward.”

You heard it here first, from an anonymous professional no less.

Don’t let the anonymous scout tear down your favorite players this season. Just remember what an anonymous sports blogger told you and embrace the maddening stupidity of it all.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas Football: The Longhorns' Top 5 2015 NFL Draft Prospects

Five Texas Longhorns take the field this week at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine to make a case for their professional futures. Meanwhile, one of the Longhorns' best prospects will have to bide his time until his pro day to prove his worth.

Malcom Brown, Jordan Hicks, Quandre Diggs, Cedric Reed and Malcolm Brown all received invites to this year's combine. The first three are almost locks to hear their names called in the spring, while injury may keep Reed from ever quelling the doubts about his athletic ability.

The latter Brown told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he enters this process with a big chip on his shoulder. Given that he only busted three runs of over 30 yards for his career, per SB Nation's Wescott Eberts, Brown is correct.

With that, the fifth Longhorn to hear his name may just be one-year wonder John Harris.

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CFB Future 100: Top 5 Athletes in Class of 2016

After thorough study using specific scoring criteria, Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analysts Damon SaylesSanjay Kirpalani and Tyler Donohue have graded the top 100 players in the 247Sports composite rankings and provided in-depth analysis on each young athlete. Bleacher Report will run a position-by-position breakdown series of the best college football recruits in the class of 2016. Here we present the Top Athletes.  

Other Positions 

With the spring and summer camp circuit set to begin, there will be some movement among players in the 2016 class. 

A handful of talented recruits have gained the interest of top colleges, despite the fact that they have yet to settle on a true position heading into their senior seasons. 

For example, 4-star standout and current Alabama commitment Demetris Robertson has the tools to excel as a receiver or defensive back at the next level.

The latest batch of Bleacher Report’s CFB Future 100 series will focus on athletes, projecting them at the position we believe they will play at on the college level and scoring them on their ability to develop when they focus on one spot full time. 

How does the 2015 group of athletes measure up, and where will these standouts line up at the college level?

All analysis provided by B/R National Recruiting Analyst Sanjay Kirpalani

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Oregon Football: Tracking 2015 NFL Combine Results for Former Ducks Stars

Coming off a 13-win season that saw the Oregon Ducks reach the second national-title game in school history, it should come as no surprise that seven players were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine.

While each of the seven Ducks come into the combine with something to prove, it is 2014 Heisman winner Marcus Mariota who will be under the most scrutiny. That being said, Mariota is a sure-fire top-10 pick in the 2015 NFL draft.

The other six Oregon players—Jake Fisher, Hroniss Grasu, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Troy Hill, Tony Washington and Arik Armstead—need to show out over the next week and establish themselves as true pro prospects.

Oregon’s seven combine prospects each played an integral role in the Ducks’ 2014 season, which will be considered as one of the best in school history. However, the NFL is a completely different beast. Their time to prove themselves to NFL executives begins now.

Here’s a look at how the Ducks are fairing at the 2015 NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Check back throughout the week as this slideshow will be updated with the players' results.

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Early Predictions of the 2015 SEC All-Conference Team

So many elite college football players call the SEC home. Only a handful of these players are good enough to make the all-conference team, though. In this article, I've predicted which players will have the best seasons among their peers in the SEC at their respective positions.

The positional breakdown:

  • Quarterback
  • Running Back (2)
  • Tight End
  • Offensive Line (4)
  • Center
  • All-Purpose Offense
  • Defensive Line (4)
  • Linebacker (3)
  • Defensive Back (4)
  • Kicker
  • Punter 
  • Return Specialist

These are the players I expect to be on the SEC All-Conference Team in 2015.

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Nebraska Football: Tracking 2015 NFL Combine Results for Former Cornhusker Stars

The Nebraska Cornhuskers have a small turnout for the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. Only three former players will be participating, but they're each hoping to improve their draft stock by the end.

Running back Ameer Abdullah, wide receiver Kenny Bell and defensive end Randy Gregory all want an NFL team to take notice. However, each is going to have to step up to make it happen.

Each player will have to run the 40-yard dash and bench press 225 pounds as many times as he can. They will also have their vertical and broad jumps measured and will be asked to participate in a series of drills specific to their position.

How will the three former Huskers fare in the NFL Scouting Combine? Let's take a look at each player and what he needs to do to move up on the draft boards, as well as how he performs in the combine.

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Does Ohio State or Michigan Have Early Upper Hand in 2016 Recruiting Rivalry?

When Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh moved into the Big Ten neighborhood last December, national attention quickly focused on his impending rivalry with three-time national champion Urban Meyer.

Both men are among the most recognizable figures in football—at any level—and will now battle for potential postseason opportunities at the end of each regular season. But we don't need to wait until Nov. 28 to watch Meyer and Harbaugh go head-to-head for the first time.

The turf war between these titans of the sport is already taking place on the recruiting path, evidenced by the recent drama surrounding Detroit running back and Buckeyes signee Michael Weber. Ohio State and Michigan routinely clash over top talent on the way to national signing day.

Meyer has enjoyed a stronger start to the 2016 cycle with a class rated fifth overall in 247Sports' composite rankings, but Harbaugh has had significantly less time to work on a group that ranks 35th.

Here's a look at how each team is faring so far in the pursuit of common 2016 targets.

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UCLA Football: Tracking 2015 NFL Combine Results for Former Bruins Stars

Five UCLA Bruins will aim to impress NFL scouts and other personnel at this weekend's NFL combine. 

UCLA has some high-potential prospects who are participating in Indianapolis, headlined by three-year starting quarterback Brett Hundley. 

Hundley's combine performance is among the most anticipated heading into the weekend, but each of his UCLA teammates has his own opportunities to wow. 

Follow the developments throughout the event. 

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Will Florida State Land Commits During Seminoles' Huge Junior-Day Visits?

Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles will look to add to their 2016 recruiting class after hosting a number of top recruits for their upcoming junior days, according to Chris Nee of Noles247.

The ‘Noles will have top prospects from the 2016, 2017 and 2018 classes on campus over the next two weeks.

But will any of these visits lead to eventual commitments?

It’s certainly a possibility.

A pair of recently offered defensive backs in 4-star corner Chauncey Gardner and 3-star defender Jamel Cook will be in attendance for this weekend’s session.

It will be interesting to see if either Sunshine State product jumps on an offer from the ‘Noles.

Another prospect who could hop on board, pending an offer, is 4-star offensive lineman Baveon Johnson.

According to Josh Newberg of Noles247, the 6’4”, 275-pounder already sports a Seminoles tattoo on his shoulder. Additionally, Johnson has been a frequent visitor to the FSU campus, as documented by Nee.

Nee notes that Johnson—who holds offers from programs such as Kentucky, Miami, Mississippi State, Nebraska and Wisconsin—has the physical skill set and the mean streak necessary to be an elite lineman at the next level.

A pair of receivers in 5-star and current Auburn pledge Nate Craig-Myers and 3-star Keyshawn Young plus 4-star linebacker Jaquan Yulee highlight the crop of visitors for next weekend’s junior day.

While none of those players are on the verge of committing, their visits could lay the groundwork for the ‘Noles to become players for those elite talents down the line.

Although he’s not 100 percent confirmed to make it in for the second junior day, the best bet for a commitment could be 4-star linebacker Devin Bush Jr., whose father was a standout defensive back for the Seminoles in the early '90s.

In the 2016 class, the ‘Noles already have seven commitments headlined by 5-star quarterback Malik Henry.

As Dustin Tackett of the Tallahassee Democrat notes, the ‘Noles will only lose nine scholarship players off the 2015 squad, with other spots potentially coming open through attrition or early entries to the NFL draft.

That probably means FSU’s numbers for the 2016 class will be tight.

Considering that Fisher and his staff are heavily involved with premier talents such as 5-star defensive end Shavar Manuel, 5-star corner Saivion Smith and 5-star defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence among others, FSU is likely to be very selective in taking commitments at this stage.

The better odds of landing a commitment may come from players in the 2017 or 2018 classes.

Regardless, the festivities over the next two weekends should allow the ‘Noles to make a favorable impression on a number top-flight recruits.

 

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

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Texas Football: Tracking 2015 NFL Combine Results for Former Longhorns

Five former Texas Longhorns will have the chance to display their skills to all 32 NFL teams during the 2015 NFL combine. 

The 2014 NFL draft went by without any former Texas players selected, and those in attendance at the combine will do everything possible to not continue the draftless streak.

The positive news for the Longhorns is there's a very good possibility history will not repeat itself in 2015, mainly because of headliner Malcom Brown, who is projected as a first-round draft pick in various mock drafts.

But Brown is only one of the former Longhorns who will be able to increase his draft stock at the NFL combine.

Here's a closer look at the Longhorns' performances and results in the 2015 NFL combine, and make sure to check back as the week continues to track the progress of the Texas players.

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USC Football: Tracking 2015 NFL Combine Results for Former Trojans Stars

The road between USC's Los Angeles campus and Chicago, home of this spring's NFL draft, takes a detour to Indianapolis. 

Seven former USC football stars converge on Indianapolis for this week's NFL combine. For defensive lineman Leonard Williams, the combine is an opportunity to solidify his place as potential top-five pick. 

For a sleeper like running back Javorius "Buck" Allen, this week is a chance to turn the heads of team scouts and general managers. 

Keep tabs here on the progress of USC's combine participants throughout the week. 

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Florida Gators 2016 Dream Recruiting Class

The Florida Gators were able to crack into the top 25 recruiting classes after CeCe Jefferson and Martez Ivey signed on the dotted line. But what is Jim McElwain doing for the 2016 cycle? 

Bleacher Report's Stephen Nelson was joined by Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee to discuss Florida's 2016 dream recruiting class. 

Can McElwain lock up these studs for 2016? Check out the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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