NCAA Football News

Penn State Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

Penn State's 2015 recruiting efforts are off to a terrific start and have the Nittany Lions sitting pretty with the second-ranked recruiting class, behind only Alabama.

Eleven of Penn State's 16 committed recruits are currently 4-star prospects, and a couple of them who aren't look poised for bumps in the ratings this summer.

It seems like James Franklin is landing every blue-chip prospect he targets, and that success is providing even more ammo when it comes to the head coach's recruiting pitch.

Recruits can't help but notice what's going on at Penn State, and several have admitted that it is something they want to be a part of.

Signing day is a long way off, but as we enter the summer, Franklin and his staff seem to be on their way to signing a top-notch class in 2015.

Here's how the current class grades out with the summer-camp season set to begin in a few weeks!

Begin Slideshow

Florida Football: Gators Must Be Careful in How They Handle Scheduling Miami

If you're looking for a scheduling guinea pig in the new era of the SEC, Florida is here for you.

The conference announced its cross-division schedule rotation through 2025 earlier this week, just one month after the conference announced that it was sticking to the eight-game conference schedule that features six division games, one permanent cross-divisional rival and one rotating cross-division opponent.

In addition to the games within the conference, the SEC will require each to play at least one team from a "power five" conference starting in 2016.

That's where Miami comes in.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and Miami AD Blake James are discussing the possibility of the Gators and Hurricanes getting together for a renewal of their rivalry. According to the report, Florida would only agree to the matchup as a neutral-site game.

Current Gator head coach Will Muschamp is game, according to Scott Carter of GatorZone.com.

"I think that would be really good for us and really good for the state of Florida,'' Muschamp said. "That's something Jeremy and I have talked about. We have been in such a holding pattern scheduling-wise for several years because of the unknowns of what our league was going to do."

Florida will meet its out-of-conference requirement every year thanks to its intrastate rivalry with the ACC's Florida State, so if this game is going to happen, Florida better be smart.

Luckily for Foley and the Gators, there's plenty of structure to work with now thanks to the SEC's long-term structure and the ACC's similar requirement to schedule a "power five" team.

Because of that structure, though, the Gators better pick and choose when they fit in the 'Canes—because there isn't much room.

They already have an out-of-conference neutral-site game scheduled with Michigan in the Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas, in 2017, according to FBSchedules.com, and play Florida State at home in odd-numbered years. 

Additionally, its out-of-conference slate is filled in 2015, and it's unlikely that Florida would agree to a neutral-site game with Miami in 2016—or any even-numbered year—since it already has to travel to Florida State in those years.

That gate revenue is important, and that's exactly why any neutral-site game between the two has to be strategically planned to make a splash on the national stage as well as at the gate.

Orlando is a perfect fit and a location James said could be a possibility.

“I would have to think about Orlando,” he told the Herald. “That’s not real neutral but it’s an easy distance to our campus.”

What do ya know...the Citrus Bowl in Orlando is currently undergoing a $207 million fast-track renovation that should have the facility ready to host games by late November 2014, according to Mark Schlueb of the Orlando Sentinel

This game has nothing to do with the "power five" requirement from Florida's perspective. As a result, Florida could conceivably buy out of one of its lesser out-of-conference games in 2015 against East Carolina or New Mexico State. 

But a matchup in 2019 is far more likely. According to FBSchedules.com, Miami's only scheduled out-of-conference game that season is at home versus Rutgers, and Florida would get Florida State at home. 

Whenever it happens, Florida and Miami need to get together. The two proud programs have only met six times since 1987, with the 'Canes winning five of those games. It seems like there's some hope for this rivalry to be renewed, but the challenges associated with Florida's schedule will make it difficult for the two to get together very often.

 

* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report.

 


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Florida Football: Will Muschamp's Biggest Challenges for the Gators in 2014

After a brutal 4-8 season last year, the Florida Gators and head coach Will Muschamp face a lot of challenges this season.

There’s an offense that can’t seem to get out of its own way. There are constant mistakes on the field that seem to get worse by the quarter. Oh, and there’s a Florida fanbase that isn’t used to losing and is rapidly losing its patience.

It goes without saying that this is a big season for Florida and a lot of these challenges need to be faced head on.

Here are the biggest obstacles Muschamp has to deal with.

Begin Slideshow

The 10 Most Dominant Defenders Heading into the 2014 College Football Season

It's not hard to spot a dominant defensive player in college football. Just watch for the looks of fear all focused in one direction.

Though the jersey is the same style and color as the rest of his teammates, there's a certain aura around a stud defender. No matter where it's found on the field, dominance can be seen even before the snap. There are 11 defenders waiting to react to the hike, but the dominators are so ready it's like they know the play before it's been called.

And sure enough, the whistle blows and there they are, making the sack, the tackle for loss and disrupting the pass play, maybe even hauling it in themselves. And if the ball comes loose, odds are they'll be involved in knocking it out or scooping it up.

Defense isn't appreciated nearly as much as offense is in college, but we do love our dominant defenders. So do NFL teams, which was why Jadeveon Clowney was the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft and half of the first-round selections don't generate offensive stats.

As we creep slowly but surely toward the 2014 season, here's a look at college football's most dominant players heading into the fall.

Begin Slideshow

Miami Football: Al Golden's 5 Biggest Challenges for Hurricanes in 2014

Head coach Al Golden and his Miami Hurricanes will face many challenges during the 2014 season on both sides of the football.

Breaking in a new quarterback while awaiting a senior's return, the 'Canes offense will be reliant on a pair of playmakers throughout the early games.

Meanwhile, Golden is expecting the Miami defense to be a consistent threat and not suffer from the same issues seen in previous years.

On paper, the Hurricanes look prepared for the challenges, but they need results. Their final conference record will show if they overcame those hardships or not.

Begin Slideshow

Notre Dame Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

In each of the past two recruiting cycles, Notre Dame has landed a top-10 class. The Irish ranked 10th last year and fifth two classes ago.

As it stands right now, Notre Dame has eight commitments and its class is slotted 17th in the nation. With recruiting heating up, let’s take a moment to grade the class of 2015 at each position.

The grades will primarily be determined by the eight commitments. It’s too difficult to speculate specifically where Notre Dame stands with certain targets and then evaluate those positions, so we won’t factor uncommitted players into each letter grade.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting stats and information courtesy of 247Sports.com. Star ratings reflect 247Sports Composite Rankings.

Begin Slideshow

Ohio State Football: Urban Meyer's 3 Biggest Challenges for Buckeyes in 2014

After faltering down the stretch of the 2013 season, Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes have a lot to prove this season.

The Buckeyes were riding a 24-game winning streak going into the Big Ten title game against Michigan State last year. That streak—and Ohio State's title hopes—were completely dashed by a green-and-white blur of defensive dominance.

If Meyer wants to make a run at college football's first-ever playoff, he and the Buckeyes will need to overcome a number of hurdles. Whether it's reshaping a unit that lost talented players, conquering struggles from last year or surviving a tough road test, Ohio State has a lot of obstacles to overcome in 2014.

Here are the three biggest challenges facing Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes this year.

 

Rebuilding the Offensive Line

Ohio State's strength in 2013 was its offensive line, which featured four multiyear senior starters. 

That unit paved the way for Carlos Hyde and the Buckeyes' potent rushing attack. Ohio State averaged 308.6 yards per game, which ranked No. 5 in the country.

With Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley, Andrew Norwell and Marcus Hall all gone, Meyer and the Buckeyes have a big issue to address.

That process started in the spring when Taylor Decker, the sole returning starter, flipped from his right tackle spot to left tackle. The only other starter to emerge was Pat Elflein, who is set to replace Hall at right guard.

The left guard, center and right tackle positions remain open. Alabama transfer Chad Lindsay and a host of talented freshmen are expected to come in and compete for spots in the two-deep depth chart this fall.

 

Regain a Defensive Edge

Ohio State's defense didn't play at the championship level its offensive counterparts did in 2013.

If the Buckeyes want to compete for a national title this year, that will have to change.

Ohio State struggled immensely on defense, particularly against the pass. While the Buckeyes ranked No. 46 in total defense—allowing 377.4 yards per game—the pass defense surrendered an average of 268 yards per outing, which ranked 110th.

That's why Meyer brought in Chris Ash from Arkansas to replace Everett Withers as co-defensive coordinator. Ash is known for his aggressive 4-3 scheme that aims to limit the holes an opposing offense can expose, especially through the air.

Meyer knows that his pass defense cost him a shot at playing Florida State for a national title. He doesn't want the same issue to arise this season.

 

Michigan State

Ultimately, it was Michigan State who halted the Buckeyes' run to a national title last year. That same giant could stand in the way of Ohio State's title run this season.

With the Big Ten's realigned divisions, Ohio State and Michigan State are now slated in the new-look East Division. The Buckeyes travel to East Lansing, Michigan, on November 8 for a titanic matchup with the Spartans.

Martin Rickman of Sports Illustrated produced an early ranking for the 2014 season and tabbed Michigan State as the No. 8 team. That's the top-ranked opponent on Ohio State's schedule. The Buckeyes came in at No. 4 behind Florida State, Alabama and Oregon.

With the matchup in enemy territory, the Michigan State game looks like Ohio State's toughest test of the season. If the Buckeyes survive it, there's a good chance they could redeem last year's letdown.

 

Stats via NCAA.com.

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

4-Star Isaiah Langley Opens Up on College Choices, Decision Timetable and More

Four-star cornerback Isaiah Langley spent his Sunday participating in Oakland's Nike Football Training Camp, and it was a very productive weekend for the highly coveted recruit. 

The Foothill High School (Pleasanton, Calif.) star put on a show at NFTC. He lined up exclusively at cornerback and made several remarkable plays throughout the day.

As expected, Langley has some big decisions to make while he transitions into his senior year of high school. 

“I'm just taking it all in, the whole process,” Langley said of the 30 offers he holds. He's considering USC, California, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Oregon and Ole Miss the most, but for now, he's remaining mum on who the true favorite is. 

That said, he spoke very highly of Cal while at NFTC. 

“Cal’s my first offer. That’s home," the Bay Area native said. "They offered me first. I just have to consider them. Twenty minutes from home, I know the staff there…Cal’s just home.”

Cal's struggles were well documented in 2013, as the Golden Bears lost 10 straight games in Sonny Dykes' first season as head coach. But Langley doesn't see that as a major reason to count them out entirely.

“I mean, as long as they have my best interests on and off the field, they’re all good with me," Langley said." But you know, they were definitely hit with adversity, so now it’s about what they will do to surpass that.”

After all, all it takes is one strong recruiting class to start an upward trend in productivity. 

Langley said he's paying attention to the other athletes Cal is recruiting, though that also won't be a major factor in his ultimate decision.

“That’s not going to make or break if I go to a school or not. I feel like if it’s the best fit for me, I don’t care who goes there. I’m going to compete and do my best,” he said.

Langley sees himself as a corner at the next level, though some schools are giving him the option to play both ways. While it's not necessarily what he's known for, he's lined up at wide receiver during his high school career and wouldn't mind getting to do so in college. 

“I want to play as much as I can and showcase my talents, whether on offense on defense,” he said. 

As a defensive-minded player, Langley intends to spend the offseason and next season getting stronger as a corner. In particular, he said he wants to work on keeping his eyes on his man. 

At NFTC on Sunday, he didn't struggle at all in that facet of his game. He tightly locked up his receivers and didn't let any field a single catch while he covered them. He also made a head-turning play on the ball, a very athletic interception, pictured above. 

Langley's goal at NFTC was to get an offer to this summer's The Opening, and by the end of the day, he met that goal:

And that makes his recruitment now a lot more interesting, as Langley had a particular plan for if he did, in fact, receive an invite.

"If I do [get an invite], it looks like a commitment will be coming out of me," he said. "I just hope that I get that opportunity."

As previously noted, Langley spent a lot of time talking about Cal while at NFTC, but according to the recruiting analysts at 247Sports.com, he looks to be a USC lean. He didn't name any other Pac-12 schools outright, but he did say there were a few he is high on. 

Though this is the plan he has laid out for himself, Langley knows that recruiting is a fickle mistress.

“I would like to know where I’m going before my senior season, but you know, the recruiting process doesn’t always work like that," he said. "You get ready to commit to a school and then another five schools offer you.”

Also while looking ahead, Langley discussed his intentions after he completes his senior season.

"I’m looking to graduate early in January. So I have to take a couple college courses here [at Chabot College in Hayward, Calif.] and just get that knocked out early," he said.

If he does end up going that route, he would be an excellent early addition to whichever team ultimately earns his signature. 

 

All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise stated. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

LSU Football: Les Miles' 5 Biggest Challenges for the Tigers in 2014

The 2014 season could be the toughest one yet for Les Miles.

Miles lost arguably his best quarterback, running back and pair of receivers he has ever had at LSU. Overall, the Tigers had nine players selected in the NFL draft and a few key starters that went undrafted. 

But the departed players are now in the rearview mirror. Miles is now focused on getting back to the SEC Championship Game for the first time since 2011. 

The roster turnover is a hurdle Miles must overcome. Here are five more challenges he will face this season. 

 

Who Will Play Quarterback

Miles has probably lost some sleep on whether to start sophomore Anthony Jennings or freshman Brandon Harris.

Jennings played sparingly as Zach Mettenberger's backup last season. He led LSU to a miraculous win over Arkansas, but he was below average, albeit in victory, in his only start against Iowa in the Outback Bowl. 

Harris had a spectacular spring, especially considering the short amount of time he had to learn Cam Cameron's offense. He shined in the spring game, combining for four touchdowns. Jennings was less than spectacular, throwing two interceptions returned for touchdowns. 

Miles and Cameron both said they are in no rush to name a starter. Expect both to play in 2014, but the decision to name a starter for the season opener against Wisconsin will be a tough one.

 

Managing True Freshmen

LSU fans can't wait to see Harris and the rest of the 2014 recruiting class in action, especially 5-star prospects Malachi Dupre, Jamal Adams and Clifton Garrett

Oh yeah, and this dude named Leonard Fournette was the No. 1 prospect in the country. 

The four 5-star prospects headline Miles' most highly touted class ever. He had four 5-star prospects in the previous four seasons combined. 

Dupre, Adams, Garrett and Fournette aren't the only freshmen that will see the field next season. LSU will also look to 4-star talents Trey Quinn, Travonte Valentine, Ed Paris and others to play right away as well.

Miles has a tough task ahead of him. He must find the right mix of youth and experience for the team to be successful. 

 

The Schedule 

The SEC is nation's undisputed toughest conference. The SEC West is the nation's undisputed best division. LSU belongs to both exclusive clubs. Thus, an argument could be made for the Tigers having the toughest schedule in the country. 

Bleacher Report's SEC Lead Writer Barrett Sallee ranked LSU the fourth-best team in the SEC West behind Alabama, Auburn and Ole Miss in his post-spring rankings. The Tigers not only have to play them and the three other SEC West schools, but also a brutal permanent cross-divisional rival in Florida. Miles has let it be known how he hates the scheduling format.  

The Tigers are fortunate the only other SEC East school they must play is Kentucky, but that is offset by facing Wisconsin to open the season.

The depth of the Tigers will be tested. Fatigue and injury will require a multitude of players to play big. Miles and the rest of the coaching staff must have his team prepared for the tough road ahead. 

 

The Defense

LSU's defense finished a respectable fifth in scoring defense against conference opponents last season, holding them to under 25 points per game. But in their four road games, the Tigers allowed on average over 33 points per game. Three of those games were losses. 

LSU's secondary will be rejuvenated, led by super sophomore Tre'Davious White at cornerback. The pass rush should be better with experienced defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco.  

Defensive coordinator John Chavis will look to get his squad's swagger back. Miles knows his two national championship game appearances were spearheaded by dominant defenses. He will need them to return to elite form to help carry a young offense that will go through growing pains. 

 

Himself 

Miles had a good, but not great, year coaching the Tigers in 2013. 

Going 10-3 is never a bad thing. Miles has won at least 10 games in all but two years of his illustrious LSU career. But his performance last season was not his best. 

The Tigers were underdogs in two games last season. In both games, LSU suffered defeats on the road against Georgia and Alabama. Miles was not expected to win either of the games, yet great coaches find ways to win some games they are not supposed to.

Miles had a forgetful game against Ole Miss. The Tigers were favored by more than a touchdown, and the Rebels were missing five defensive starters. LSU only lost by three but were certainly outplayed

Miles said after the defeat he deserves blame for the loss, per Jim Kleinpeter of The Times-Picayune. While that is respectable, the loss ranks amongst his worst.

But Miles was not done.

LSU was a 24-point favorite against Arkansas in the final home game of the season. The Razorbacks, who did not have a win in SEC play, outplayed the Tigers. It took an amazing 99-yard touchdown drive and a genius performance from Jarvis Landry to win it.  

There is no denying Miles is a championship-caliber coach. Yet with a rather young team next season, he, along with the rest of his staff, will have to be at their best. 

 

*Stats, rankings and game odds provided by 247Sports, LSU Sports Information, cfbstats.com and scoresandodds.com and quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Carter Bryant on Twitter @CarterthePower.  

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

There is never an end to recruiting season, and the Bulldogs are already hard at work to put together a strong 2015 class.

After putting together a top-10 class, according to 247Sports Composite Rankings, the Bulldogs are putting the pieces together for another top-10 class in 2015.

Right now they are at No. 14 overall, but they have only eight players committed. By the end of the year, the Bulldogs hope to have some of the top players in the state, including defensive tackle Trent Thompson, who is considered the No. 1 prospect in the country according to 247Sports.

Here are summer grades for the 2015 recruiting class.

Begin Slideshow

Tennessee Football: New Playmakers Transforming Vols' Offensive Identity

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — If everything goes according to plan in 2014, Tennessee football fans won't recognize the Volunteers offense from a season ago.

The scheme hasn't changed, but head coach Butch Jones didn't mince words when discussing how much healthier the Volunteers' power spread offense will look with an injection of all the young talents who enrolled mid-term.

"Really, what you saw this spring was the same offense, just different individuals," UT's second-year head coach told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview.

"I think we’ve taken great strides in moving forward and building our own offensive identity with the addition of Von Pearson, Josh Malone, Jalen Hurd, Coleman Thomas and the two tight ends.

"Those individuals changed our offense the minute they walked in."

During a woefully inept offensive campaign in 2013, the Vols averaged 23.8 points per game while finishing 12th in the SEC in total offense.

The only player on UT's offense with real game-breaking talent was true freshman receiver Marquez North. Now, thanks to a stacked recruiting class, the Vols have surrounded him with potential playmakers who should make an immediate impact.

The best thing for the Vols is they already have a spring practice logged beside the classes on their syllabus.

Former elite prospects such as running back Hurd, receivers Malone and Pearson and tight ends Ethan Wolf and Daniel Helm have revitalized a stagnant offense.

As a result, the timing and tempo of Tennessee's offense improved noticeably this spring. The Vols simply didn't look anything like the team from a season ago, especially during a highlight-reel spring game.

They were crisp. They were sharp. They scored points and moved the ball.

It was more like the offense Jones grew accustomed to seeing during stints at Central Michigan and Cincinnati.

Jones wants UT to establish a tempo-dictating offensive mentality that leans toward speeding up the game. It just hasn't had the horses to do it, but may now.

"Every great team has its own unique style of play," Jones said. "We've talked to our players about building our own identity and unique style of play. But we do want to play uptempo, and we weren't anywhere near where we need to be. Of anywhere else we've been, [2013] is probably the slowest that we've played.

"We have to take monumental strides moving forward in terms of our overall speed and tempo. I thought we did it this spring, but we're still nowhere near where we need to be."

Even though the Vols aren't where Jones envisions his offense yet, the infusion of talent is making a profound difference.

He noted he was "absolutely" more confident in his quarterbacks now than at any point last season, and while they've made strides in leading the offense, a weaponry upgrade is the biggest factor.

"I also think that, again, they're a byproduct of improving overall speed-wise," Jones said. "At times last year, our quarterbacks had to play perfect. We had very little big splash plays, and it's hard to play perfect. This year, they can throw the ball up and have trust that when you play a jump ball, we're going to go up and get it.

"I think our quarterbacks now have great confidence with the players on the perimeter, so I think their overall improvement of the position is a byproduct of the improvement of the running back, receiver and tight end positions."

A study of statistics posted on UT's official site showed that, a season ago, the Vols had just 69 offensive plays go for 15 or more yards. Only 46 went for 20 or more.

Jones expects improvement, but also cautioned against anointing high school stars like Hurd and Malone All-Americans right away. Their ceilings are limitless, but they will be thrown to some of the nation's top defenses all season.

"We have to make sure we don’t place too much pressure on them right away or put too many high expectations on them right away," Jones said. "They’re going to be great football players. They’re going to help Tennessee win because they have great competitive character, are great individuals, they take ownership of representing their home state, they're very, very talented and gifted players and they're hungry.

"They want to be the best. But they should be finishing up high school right now. Fortunately for us and for them, they graduated and have that spring football under their belt."

 

Brad Shepard is the Tennessee Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Brad on Twitter here: 

@Brad_Shepard

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Nebraska Football: Coach Pelini's Biggest Challenges for Cornhuskers in 2014

Nebraska football fans know that head coach Bo Pelini will have a number of challenges coming in to 2014. Overall, of course, the biggest challenge will be figuring out how to lose fewer than four games next season. But what is standing between Nebraska and that goal? Here are five things that may be keeping Pelini up at nights this summer.

 

All stats are from the incomparable cfbstats.com.

Begin Slideshow

Michigan Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

During the late springs of 2012 and 2013, Michigan’s recruiting was running at full tilt—it seemed as if every 4- and 5-star recruit in the land was pledging to Wolverines coach Brady Hoke.

This year, as you’ve certainly noticed, hasn’t been anything remotely in the ballpark of the past two “second seasons.” In fact, this latest period of scouting prospects has been incredibly slow—almost too slow.

However, at one time, Team 136 had early promises from two of America’s premier high-schoolers: Damien Harris, a 5-star running back, and George Campbell, a 5-star receiver. After a short honeymoon, they revoked their verbal commitments and reopened their recruitments. 

Harris, though, remains an option, while Campbell occupies wish-lister status. Recruits will come and go, so don’t spend a whole of time worrying about the quality of the upcoming haul—it has started strong and the process will finish with emphasis.

As of May 20, Hoke’s seven-man group is the No. 24-ranked class in college football, according to 247Sports, which will serve as the guide for rankings, statistics and other related information throughout this piece.

Entering late May, Hoke has two corners, a safety, a quarterback, an inside linebacker, an offensive tackle, and a kicker scheduled to sign letters of intent for next year. This slideshow will grade the position groups—although there are five areas to summarize—based on talent, need, fit and the almighty “potential.”

Begin Slideshow

Scouting Report, Video Highlights and Predictions for 5-Star DE Josh Sweat

Josh Sweat is a 5-star defensive end who is surging up many recruiting boards. He is a fantastic player who has yet to come close to reaching his peak on the field.

The Virginia native has many schools trying to convince him to join their programs, as his high ceiling has college coaches dreaming of tutoring him. If things go right, he will be a star early in his career at the next level.

Sweat warrants a closer look as a prospect.

Begin Slideshow

Virginia Tech Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

Now that spring practice is over, the Virginia Tech football team is solely focused on assembling the 2015 recruiting class, but it has yet to make much progress.

It may be early yet, but so far the Hokies have just four hard commits in this class, and the staff is surely working feverishly to catch up to other ACC schools.

The conference has become a lot more competitive in the recruiting game recently, spurred on by the rise of Florida State, and Tech will need some big wins to keep pace with the other major ACC programs.

Read on for a look at how the Hokies are fairing at each position as they recruit for 2015.

Begin Slideshow

Ohio State Offers 2018 DB Tyreke Johnson, America's Latest Middle School Star

The future is now...at least in college football recruiting departments.

Tyreke Johnson, an eighth-grade student at Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida, remains months away from his first freshman quiz but already holds more college scholarship offers than the majority of opponents he'll face this fall.

Ohio State is the latest in a long line of programs to extend an offer to the 6'1", 175-pound athlete, according to ElevenWarriors.com reporter John Brandon. Johnson is the latest in a long line of junior high students being swarmed by coaches fishing for a signed letter of intent four years down the line.

There are hundreds of rising seniors across the country who've won state titles and set school records without even a glance from Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer.

Johnson, a gifted playmaker who is closer to elementary school than his senior year, can now boast he has an open opportunity to compete for the two-time national champions.

These days, he's hardly alone as a football phenom who arrives at the high school educational level with at least a few offers in hand. Sure, these stories remain relatively rare, but the shock value has steadily decreased in recent years.

Ohio State is one of several squads that opted to enter this particular recruiting race at an incredibly early stage. Florida State, Miami, UCLA, Virginia Tech and LSU are among a growing list of schools already keeping tabs on Johnson as a primary target.

Think these programs are getting a little ahead of themselves and giving into hype?

Verlon Dorminey, the head coach at Trinity Christian, believes it's been validated since Johnson's seventh-grade season.

"Honestly, you could see this kid in the Heisman Trophy race," Dorminey told MaxPreps reporter Stephen Spiewak in March 2013.  "He's that type of kid. He's somebody's poster child for a program. He's somebody you want out front, portraying what your program really is."

It's lofty praise for a prospect who is currently viewed as a safety but could certainly grow into a linebacker—heck, even an edge-rusher—by the time he finishes physically maturing in high school.

Admittedly, the potential is clearly in place when you watch the video highlights Johnson has created so far during his small sample size of a football career.

He follows in the footsteps of older brother De'Andre Johnson, a four-year starter at First Coast High School in Jacksonville. De'Andre, a member of the 2015 class, committed to Florida State before his sophomore season.

Big bro may have hit prime time early, but Tyreke is approaching practically uncharted territory with his rare and rapid collection of scholarship offers at this stage.

Still, he has company, and the crowd is likely to grow exponentially in coming years.

USC quarterback commit David Sills, who will be a senior this fall, pledged to the Trojans in seventh grade. Four years and one regime change later, USC is looking toward a future with 5-star commit Ricky Town and Sills is exploring alternatives.

Louisiana linebacker Dylan Moses held six SEC offers before he played a high school snap. He became the first member of LSU's 2017 class less than a month into his freshman season.

And now here we are, ready to watch the dominoes fall for a 2018 class that is largely still wrapping up its final stretch of eighth-grade events.

Even if Johnson chose a university today, he wouldn't be the first member of the 2018 class to commit. Eighth-grade Texas quarterback Zadock Dinkelmann already committed to LSU in February.

However, it's vitally important to remember that verbal commitments are non-binding for both parties.

Dinkelmann could commit to 20 universities during the next four years, and only No. 20 would reap the benefits. Life as an LSU pledge could become just another adolescent phase.

Immense uncertainty defines college football recruiting today.

It's tough enough to keep a 3-star senior cornerback in your class until signing day. Now try to maintain a solid pact with a celebrated 14-year-old who's set to receive countless campus invites throughout his high school career.

College football's hierarchy could look completely different in 2018, particularly when you consider the high turnover rate among college football coaches.

Will Les Miles be at LSU in 2018?

Strike that.

We don't even have an idea of who the President of the United States—well underway with their second full year on the job by then—will be when members of the 2018 class move into their college dorms.

Still, it's compelling to watch a collection of the game's great coaches clamoring for attention from an athlete who just recently received the right to attend PG-13 movies without adult supervision.

The recruiting trail continues to stretch further, making a committed high school sophomore practically seem like a seasoned veteran of the process.

Maybe Tyreke Johnson will ultimately win that Heisman Trophy, capping off nearly a decade of involvement with the team he eventually chooses and leads. Then again, maybe he won't.

As surreal as it all seems, wouldn't you rather be the coach who took a chance on the wunderkind from junior high than the coach who joined the pursuit too late to be relevant?

That's the question now facing the men who receive multimillion-dollar contracts to deliver programs to the promised land. So far, their responses have swiftly ushered college football into a new, bizarre and still-growing recruiting era, for better or worse.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Notre Dame Football: WInners and Losers of the Brian VanGorder Hire

Frequent scheme overhauls are not uncommon in today’s nomadic nature of college football coaching. After three different coordinators during the Charlie Weis tenure, Notre Dame ran a conservative 3-4 defense for four seasons under Brian Kelly.

When coordinator Bob Diaco left for Connecticut in December, Kelly tabbed former colleague Brian VanGorder to direct the Irish defense. VanGorder, the 2002 Broyles Award winner at Georgia for the nation’s best assistant coach, has transitioned Notre Dame to a 4-3 alignment.

Much of Notre Dame’s defensive roster was recruited for specific positions in the 3-4, so many players spent the spring adjusting to new roles. Others who were recruited more for their raw athleticism have found the system change more to their liking.

Which Irish defenders will be most impacted by VanGorder’s arrival? Let’s look at the winners and losers of the move to a 4-3 defense.

Begin Slideshow

Predicting the Winner of Each College Football Conference in 2014

It is never too early to look ahead to college football season, but now that we are officially within 100 days of opening kickoff between Abilene Christian and Georgia State—get hype!—we might not need to explain ourselves as often for doing so.

So much can and will change between now and fall practice, and between fall practice and the season, that predicting who will win each conference is difficult. Part of it requires living in the moment, but another requires looking ahead to the future.

With that in mind, these predictions were based more on my gut than my final predictions before the season are likely to be. There is less information to go on now than there will be then, so consider this a countdown-to-the-season version of my picks.

There are, of course, some substantive reasons behind them, but more than anything, these are the teams I would pick if my life depended on it—the ones that the little voice in my head keeps telling me will win.

Chime in below and let me know where you disagree.

 

Note: All returning-starter information courtesy of Phil Steele.

 

Begin Slideshow

Alabama Football Recruiting: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

With summer rapidly approaching, the main focus for Nick Saban and his staff will turn to building on Alabama's 2015 recruiting class.

The Tide already have 15 commitments—with potential difference-makers already in the fold at nearly every position.

How does the Tide's class shake out heading into the summer?

*Unless otherwise stated, all recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

Begin Slideshow

Texas A&M Football: Kevin Sumlin's Biggest Challenges for the Aggies in 2014

The Texas A&M football team has a lot to prove in 2014. Head coach Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies have a number of obstacles to overcome in order to prove they can be an elite SEC program. 

The Aggies have won 20 games during their first two seasons in the league. That is a solid start for any program that is transitioning from one league to another. 

Since college football realignment began in 2010 with Nebraska's decision to join the Big Ten, the Aggies have the best winning percentage in their first two years in their new conference of any program that moved to a major conference. 

The Aggies went 20-6 for a winning percentage of .769. Nebraska is next at .703, followed by Missouri (.654), Utah (.520), West Virginia (.440), TCU (.440) and Colorado (.166). Critics will point out that Sumlin's early success in the SEC was mainly due to quarterback Johnny Manziel's presence on the roster when Sumlin arrived.

The task for Sumlin and the Aggies going forward is to prove that their early success in the Southeastern Conference was not a fluke and that they have staying power in the league of champions.

This is a look at the biggest challenges facing Sumlin and the Aggies in 2014.  

Begin Slideshow

Pages