NCAA Football News

5-Star QB Ricky Town Wants to Be Next Andrew Luck, Reveals Hidden Talent

2015 5-star quarterback Ricky Town has already committed to play his college football for USC. The 6'4", 205-pound athlete has a phenomenal arm and the ability to use his legs when necessary.

Town is the No. 2 pro-style QB in his class, according to 247Sports, and he will compete immediately for the starting job come 2015.

Bleacher Report caught up with Town, who discusses his USC commitment, dishes on Andrew Luck and reveals his hidden talent.

Watch the video to find out what that talent is.


Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Tennessee Football Fans Paint Football Field for the Ultimate Vols Wedding

There’s crazy and then there’s “model the biggest moment of my life after a sports team” crazy. Robby Lowe falls into the latter of these two categories.

A Tennessee Volunteers superfan, Lowe created a miniature replica of the field at Neyland Stadium for his wedding ceremony—a strictly all-Tennessee-everything event.

Clay Travis of spotted pictures of Lowe’s wedding setup, which included goal posts, pylons and seats in the red zone. It puts all other weddings to shame.

Lowe also tweeted, "say I do. and go vols" at the Volunteers football program.

The couple even went as far as modeling their invitations after game tickets, which should be mandatory for all weddings from now on.

The only thing that concerns me here is “Lowe vs. Humphrey.” It’s a bit early in the going to be setting up for the big showdown, isn't it? That matchup should be six years from now, when their kid shoves his PSP in the garbage disposal.

Either way, the Volunteers just laid down the thunder on fan weddings. Your move, ‘Bama.


On the Twitters.

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Why ACC Football Will Soon Catch Up with the SEC

The 2014 NFL draft gave the SEC plenty of attention, and with good reason; the conference was home to the No. 1 overall pick—South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney—and the most players selected overall (49). It marked the eighth consecutive year that the SEC has led the nation in NFL draft selections, dating back to 2007. 

What you might not have noticed, however, was the ACC’s draft success. The conference had 42 players selected this year, the second-most in ACC history behind the 51 who were selected in 2006.

It was the most visible sign yet that the ACC is closing the gap on its bigger, more successful regional rival. Over the last two seasons, ACC football has made big changes and gains that show that it will catch up with the SEC in due time.

Two years ago, few would have predicted it, but rumors surrounded the conference on what seemed like a daily basis. Clemson was going to the Big 12. No, Florida State was. No, Miami was. No, Clemson and Florida State were going to the SEC. It was like a game of “Telephone” gone horribly wrong.

But when the smoke cleared, the ACC had positioned itself as one of the best conferences in the reshaped college sports landscape. In one fell swoop, it poached Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East—one of a series of moves that led to the Big East’s ultimate demise, forcing the conference to split into football-focused and basketball-focused factions.

Charter member Maryland surprised many by bolting for the Big Ten, but the ACC upgraded itself by plucking Louisville as the Terrapins’ replacement. In fact, had the Cardinals been in the ACC this past season instead of Maryland, the conference would have had 45 overall selections and eight first-round picks featured in this year's draft—and those eight first-rounders would have ranked second to the SEC’s 11.

Both Clemson and Florida State—two long-time ACC members—have made a strong commitment to football in recent years, with sparking new facilities and salaries for coaches.

Per USA Today, Clemson paid its coaching staff a total of $4.2 million in 2013, which ranked third nationally, and Florida State spent $2.87 million, coming in at No. 16 nationally.

The Tigers spent $70 million on the WestZone addition to Memorial Stadium, which added club seats and a team facility and locker rooms among other bells and whistles. Last year, they opened a $10 million indoor practice facility, and plans are in place for a new team facility which will be built next to the indoor practice facility.

Florida State also just opened a $15 million indoor practice facility and is renovating its football locker room and team offices.

The investment is paying off. Last year, the Seminoles won the BCS national title, breaking the SEC’s seven-year hold on the national crown. Clemson broke through with an Orange Bowl win over Ohio State, which was the Tigers’ first-ever BCS bowl win. Together last season, Florida State and Clemson matched the ACC’s BCS bowl-win total from the previous 13 seasons combined.

Under head coach Dabo Swinney, Clemson is 6-6 against SEC schools, including wins over LSU, Auburn and Georgia. The only stumbling block has been South Carolina, as Swinney is 1-5 against the Gamecocks.

Under Jimbo Fisher, Florida State is 5-1 against the SEC, with their only loss coming to Florida in 2012.

Louisville’s addition will only help the conference. The Cardinals have won multiple BCS bowl games, including 2013’s Sugar Bowl thumping of Florida. Louisville has shown its commitment to football by building excellent facilities and hiring proven winners like Bobby Petrino (how long Petrino stays at Louisville is another question entirely).

If Miami can find its former glory under Al Golden, the league will have a quartet of teams that can compete with the top of the SEC as well as improved depth with the likes of Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Duke, a team that won the Coastal Division in 2013 and gave Texas A&M a major scare in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Notre Dame’s arrangement as a partial ACC member (the Irish will play five games per season against league schools) only adds to the league’s credibility.

Recruiting is improving as well. Florida State and Clemson have each had top-20 classes in each of the last four seasons and will look to once again in 2015. In 247Sports' latest composite rankings, the Tigers 2015 class ranks fourth nationally, with the Seminoles coming in at No. 13. In addition, Miami is No. 11.

Swinney believes the ACC can compete against the SEC, and compete well. He said as much on national signing day in 2013, per Kerry Capps of

You just want great players. The SEC would maybe want you to think that, and that they invented football, and that you just can't be successful if you don't play in their league. We don't buy that. And thankfully, the recruits that we've been bringing in for three years in a row don't buy that lie either. They're more focused on bringing a championship back to Clemson. That's all we're focused on, just trying to get the best players.

Fisher doesn’t buy into the ACC-SEC rivalry hype, however, telling Fox Sports' Bob Ferrante before the national title game:

I built our program like I thought we needed to build it to win a championship. We don't model ourselves after nobody. We're Florida State, we do things the way we do them and the way I think you have to play to win a championship.

The ACC has established itself as one of the “Power 5” leagues in America, and recent decisions show that it is mirroring the SEC with its philosophy.

At last week’s spring meetings, league athletic directors voted to keep the ACC slate at eight games, as opposed to expanding to nine, while also requiring teams to play at least one “Power 5” non-conference opponent (Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) per season.

Who else made the same decision recently? The SEC.

If Florida State and Clemson can maintain their nationally prominent positions and be joined by Louisville, Miami and perhaps Virginia Tech, there’s no reason that the ACC can’t rival the SEC as the best conference in college football and find a way to become the most prominent league on NFL draft weekend as well.


Connect with Greg via Twitter: @gc_wallace

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Top 2014 Candidates Capable of Ending the Running Back Heisman Drought

It’s been five years since a running back has won the Heisman. Somehow it feels like the drought stretches even further back, an era that feels lost in a new age of the sport.

In this time, the running back has been de-emphasized and the quarterback bias surrounding college football’s most prestigious award has only gained momentum. The position you once fought over as a child is under siege, especially when it comes to highlighting greatness.

Whether it’s the lack of presence in the NFL draft, the plummeting value at the next level or the air-attack offenses that are impacting how the game is played, the running back is no longer worshiped like it once was. The lack of Heisman presence is alarming. It's also not shocking.

That could all change in 2014, although “could” cannot be emphasized enough.

At the very least, there are a handful of runners—some obvious, some poised to become obvious—who could put an end to the drought and the stigma that the position no longer is worth considering. It will take a dream season, likely a stat-heavy campaign, an undefeated team (or perhaps both), but it feels more than possible given the talent in place.

Here are some of the names to keep an eye on.


The Obvious (and Appropriate) Favorite: Todd Gurley, Georgia

He’s the best running back in college football, and there really isn’t much back and forth necessary to confirm this.

At 232 pounds, Georgia running back Todd Gurley is one of the most physically impressive players the position has seen in the last five years. Because of this—and the prospects of playing in the SEC—he has the makeup to be the back that breaks through. His head coach certainly thinks it’s possible.

"If he's in great condition and he stays healthy, I think he can't help but to have a tremendous amount of production and be a very strong candidate for the Heisman Trophy,” Mark Richt told Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee.

Health will be critical. Gurley has averaged more than six yards per carry for his career, and there’s no reason to see a dramatic change in this if he stays on the field. He will be productive, and he will get the ball plenty as Georgia adjusts to life after Aaron Murray.

The other matter to be conscious of is Georgia’s prospects entering the season: Can the Bulldogs win enough games to keep their star player in the Heisman conversation?

This, more than anything, will be what sinks or swims his campaign. And as strange as it might seem, the Georgia defense and likely QB starter Hutson Mason could be more important to keeping Gurley in the running.


To Be Determined: an Alabama Running Back

This is a much different situation than Georgia, although don’t dismiss the scenario despite the haziness of the intro. 

Alabama running backs T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry should have your full Heisman attention heading into next season despite how counterintuitive that may sound. The classic scenario is such: Both running backs get ample work, ample touchdowns and kill the other’s Heisman hopes in the process.

That might be the case—in fact, it likely will be—but if one back steals the workload, it could change the perception entirely.

What’s working in their favor—more than playing in an offense that is conducive to ball-carriers—is the name on the front of the jersey. Heisman voters will recognize Alabama because it’s Alabama. And having an abundance of talent on both sides of the ball will help when the Heisman voters get to the "what's their record?" portion of the debate.

They are different runners with different styles, but Yeldon and Henry both have 1,500-yard, 20-touchdown seasons in them. It boils down to who’s delivering the production and if there’s enough of a case to be made for one over the other.


The Most Explosive Talent in the Sport


That number just so happens to be what Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon has averaged per carry for his college career. That’s startling and yet somehow not all that shocking if you’ve watched him work. There might not be a more dangerous back from a play-to-play standpoint than Gordon.

Unlike some of the names mentioned above, he’s not this enormous physical specimen. He’s special (obviously), but his game is built on getting to the second level and then just running past everyone.

(He does this frequently.)

Last season, Gordon delivered more than 1,600 yards while getting less carries than James White. White, of course, is off to the NFL, which means Gordon’s touches should increase. You can expect Corey Clement—another incredibly different runner for the Badgers—to take on some carries, but Gordon will shine as the starter.

If you were asked to attach your wagon to one runner capable of breaking the 2,000-yard barrier this year, this would be the guy. And if he gets close to that, he’ll be on plenty of ballots regardless of how close Wisconsin is to the College Football Playoff.


Other Backs That Fit the Bill

Mike Davis, South Carolina

If the Heisman were handed out based off facial expressions made as a running back destroyed hopeful tacklers, this would be a runaway winner. There simply is no tougher back in all of college football than Mike Davis.

He turns five-yard gains into works of art, and he did this all the way to more than 1,100 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns last season. He also caught 34 passes. Davis doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves, but perhaps that will change in time. If it does, he could (and should) get Heisman buzz.


Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska

Nebraska’s feature back ran for more than 100 yards in all but two games last year, and even in those contests he finished with a combined 256 yards from the line of scrimmage. In total, Ameer Abdullah rushed for nearly 1,700 yards and finished with 11 scores. 

The biggest question for him isn’t actually something he can completely control. Can Nebraska win enough games for him to be a factor in the award?


Karlos Williams, Florida State

As it stands, you know him as Florida State’s third running back from a season ago. He might have been the most physically gifted ball-carrier on the team, though.

With Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. off to the NFL, Williams should cruise past his 730 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns from last year. Running behind the nation’s best offensive lines—and playing for a team that will open at No. 1—has all the makings of a Heisman run.

Well, if his quarterback doesn't win it again.


Jeremy Langford, Michigan State

From October on—when Jeremy Langford’s workload increased dramatically—there might not have been a better running back in college football. His 1,422 and 19 total touchdowns simply weren’t celebrated enough, although he will be going forward.

Whether such celebrations come in the form of Heisman buzz is another story, although he’ll be a key cog on a team that should be in the thick of things for a College Football Playoff spot.

That’s got to be worth something.


If Things Go Well…

Shock Linwood, Baylor

For starters, he has a Heisman name. He also plays in an offensive that is kind to Heisman pushes. And much like Florida State’s situation with Karlos Williams, Shock Linwood will get plenty more chances this season.

Last year he filled in for Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin as the third back. Even with limited chances, he still managed to rush for nearly 900 yards and eight touchdowns.

Can he outperform Bryce Petty and garner more Heisman buzz than his teammate? That’s where this gets tricky.


Thomas Tyner, Oregon

He only carried the ball 115 times as a freshman, but his off-the-chart potential is simply too great to leave off this list. Also, he did this to a teammate this spring.

Thomas Tyner trucks a DB#GoDucks #SaluteTheDay

— Oregon Football (@WinTheDay) May 3, 2014

Perhaps this is a year too early for Tyner, who will be taking his handoffs from Marcus Mariota—a Heisman favorite. Whether it’s early or not, you’ll need to learn his name for Heisman considerations at some point.


Leonard Fournette, LSU

The ultimate wild card, although Leonard Fournette will enter his first season of collegiate football with one distinct advantage: All eyes will be on him, and the hype will be enormous.

This can be both good and bad, but this kind of presence could be exactly what pushes the award back in the running back’s corner. Production is another story entirely, and Fournette will be vying for carries in a backfield with plenty of returning talent.

Stay tuned.

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Notre Dame Football: Brian Kelly's 5 Biggest Challenges in 2014

As much optimism as there is surrounding Notre Dame football with a new season on the way, there’s plenty of uncertainty, too.

Along with new coordinators, there’s young talent, and there’s a high level of excitement for the 2014 campaign. But what will be the biggest challenges that Irish head coach Brian Kelly must face this season?

These hurdles could be repeated flaws from recent years or large question marks specific to this year’s team.

In judging the magnitude of both forms of challenges, we’ll consider their importance in guiding Notre Dame to a successful 2014 season.


Unless otherwise noted, all stats courtesy of and all quotes were obtained firsthand.

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5-Star DE Josh Sweat Reportedly Sets Visits to Tennessee, UGA and FSU

Virginia sensation Josh Sweat remains one of the country's most compelling uncommitted members of the 2015 class. The scope of this dynamic defender's recruitment extends throughout college football, with more than two dozen scholarship offers in the mix.

The 5-star prospect is still exploring his options, and a pair of SEC programs will have an opportunity to gain ground next month. Sweat plans to visit Tennessee and Georgia in June, according to reporter Michael Clark:

The two-day span in Knoxville and Athens provides two contenders with a chance to leave Sweat setting up plans for a return trip to campus. With no imminent decision date, both the Bulldogs and Volunteers will attempt to line up official visits this fall.

Each team can set itself up for future success with Sweat by laying down a strong foundation in June. The challenge for both coaching staffs is to establish a legitimate rapport with a player and family who've already spent more than a year hearing sales pitches from countless head coaches, coordinators and assistants.

"When I take a visit I want to make sure I am feeling them, like the coaches, I want to understand what they are talking about and all of that," Sweat told 247Sports reporter Evan Watkins in December.

Florida State also aims to gain separation atop Sweat's leaderboard this summer. The Seminoles are set to host him on July 18, according to 247Sports reporter Ryan Bartow (subscription required).

Sweat is rated No. 1 nationally among weak-side defensive ends in 247Sports' composite rankings, listed at No. 13 overall in the 2015 class.

The 6'5", 237-pound standout at Oscar Smith High School (Chesapeake), held an expansive array of offers prior to a dominant junior campaign. Tennessee and Florida State were among multiple teams (Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, Temple and North Carolina included) that reached out during Sweat's sophomore year.

Georgia joined the race in early December, in the aftermath of his monstrous 2013 season that featured 94 tackles, including 31 for loss. He tallied 22 sacks, playing alongside 5-star defensive tackle Andrew Brown (2014 Virginia signee) and landed on the MaxPreps Junior All-American Team

His pile of offers continued to grow through the winter and into spring. South Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State, Texas A&M, LSU, USC and Oregon are each involved in this pursuit.

Sweat would instantly strengthen the defensive front for whichever team ultimately lands him. He's a college-ready prospect who should command consideration for early playing anywhere, regardless of a program's positional needs.

Florida State has found plenty of talent for its defensive secondary during this recruiting cycle. Top-ranked safety Derwin James joins fellow in-state commits Tyrek Cole and Calvin Brewton, who each carry 4-star ratings.

The reigning national champions remain in search of explosive edge players who can disrupt the backfield on a regular basis. Sweat would certainly fit the bill for a class that ranks 10th nationally in 247Sports' composite team rankings.

Georgia holds pledges from a duo of 4-star in-state defensive ends (Natrez Patrick and Chauncey Rivers), but neither prospect is an automatic plug-and-play prospect like Sweat. The Bulldogs' class currently rates eighth among SEC members and 14h overall.

Offense remains the strength of Tennessee's latest recruiting haul, though it does include 4-star Georgia defensive end Andrew Butcher. The need for a disruptive pass-rusher remains paramount in a class that rates seventh among conference foes and ninth overall.

With multiple high-profile visits reportedly looming, expect coaching staffs to treat Sweat as a primary priority. The pressure is on each team to deliver a clear vision of its future and explain why he fits perfectly within those plans.

Sweat has already decided to spend one of his official visits at Virginia Tech, per 247Sports reporter Evan Watkins. For other programs, the scramble is well underway to get Sweat on campus as signing day approaches.


Recruit information via 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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Michigan Football: 9 Former Top Recruits Who Will Finally Shine in 2014

The Jabrill Peppers hype has reached a fever pitch in Ann Arbor, but Michigan will need big performances from these former top recruits to compete for the Big Ten title.

Big opportunities exist on offense, where offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier is rolling out a new scheme which fans hope will lead to a Big Ten championship.

Here are nine former top recruits who will finally make good on their promise in 2014.


All season statistics from, official University of Michigan athletic department web site.


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How Big Ten Continues to Be College Football's King of Cash

The Big Ten pays Jim Delany nearly $2 million a year for his work as conference commissioner, and he's worth every penny.

Under Delany's stewardship since 1989, the Big Ten has been and continues to be the richest conference in college athletics. Even though it has not won a national championship in football since 2002, the Big Ten still rakes in more cash than any other conference, including the SEC.

According to tax returns made available to USA Today, the Big Ten brought in $318.6 million in revenue for fiscal 2013. Nearly $298 million of that was distributed to its 12 members, with each school receiving between $23-$26 million (except Nebraska, which won't receive full shares until 2017-18). 

Contrast that with the SEC, which is the second-richest conference despite being far more accomplished on the football field. In fiscal 2013 the SEC made $314.5 million, with its 14 member schools each receiving around $21 million (and a bit less for newcomers Texas A&M and Missouri).

So how did Delany get his conference schools more money than anybody else? And how did he do so despite a 1-2 record in BCS championship games and a losing record (13-15) in BCS bowl games during the 16-year run of the BCS?

The simple answer is television. Delany figured out how to leverage the large viewership of his popular conference to bring in money.

The 12 Big Ten schools occupy 10 of the 35 largest media markets in the United States (according to the 2013-14 Nielsen Media Research)—as compared to six for the SEC, which includes the marginal SEC markets of Houston and St. Louis. All Big Ten schools except Iowa and Nebraska dominate at least one, sometimes several of these top-ranked markets.

Delany's decision to launch the Big Ten Network in 2007 also turned out to be a stroke of genius, even if he was second-guessed at the time—especially after the BTN failed to corral all the cable providers in its first year. The BTN has grown to be a model for all other conferences, with the Pac-12 following suit two years ago and the SEC due to begin its own in August.

That's why while Delany's decision to add Maryland and Rutgers was met with widespread derision—especially given those schools' complete lack of athletic prowess in recent years—it might turn out to be another shrewd maneuver.

With Maryland and Rutgers in the fold (beginning this fall), the Big Ten adds three more top media markets (No. 1 New York, No. 8 Washington, D.C. and No. 27 Baltimore) into its already formidable lineup. This will force television providers in these markets to add BTN into the basic tier while allowing the conference to establish a firm presence on the densely populated eastern seaboard.

Delany is already looking ahead. After alternating the Big Ten basketball tournament between Chicago and Indianapolis, the 2017 tournament will be played at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. Don't be surprised if the Big Ten's football title game shows up at either FedEx Field in Maryland or MetLife Stadium in New Jersey sometime soon.

“Moving into the eastern corridor, that’s the new Big Ten,” Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez told CBSChicago's Chris Emma. “We all have to accept it, and our fans have to accept it. We want to welcome our two new members in Rutgers and Maryland, and we want a presence in the East. We want to take advantage of us expanding into the East.”

That's why as much as Maryland and Rutgers are the butt of jokes in college football, fans only laugh at Delany and his vision at their own peril. He and the Big Ten are laughing all the way to the bank.

Follow on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru

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Georgia Football Recruiting: 5 Former Blue-Chippers Who Will Shine in 2014

A consistent power in the national recruiting scene, the Georgia Bulldogs are no strangers to witnessing the collegiate success of former high school stars.  Stars during the Mark Richt era like Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno, A.J. Green, Alec Ogletree and Aaron Murray were all highly coveted recruits when they signed with the Dawgs.

But on a roster regularly inundated with talent, some stars take longer to break out in Athens, Georgia.

Here are five former blue-chippers (listed by recruiting class, oldest to newest) who will finally shine for the Bulldogs in 2014.

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Mike Leach Says He Has Asked the Janitor for Football Advice

Advice about how to win football games—sound or potentially otherwise—comes from a variety of sources. During last week's NFL draft, for example, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio about a homeless man convincing him to draft quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Washington State head coach Mike Leach is a similar type of eccentric, and he is similarly prone to taking advice from anyone.

According to Chris Vannini of Coaching Search, he appeared on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly this weekend and explained how often (and with whom) he sometimes talks about football:

I’m one of those guys that, football-wise, I’m thinking about it all the time. I might ask the janitor or whoever’s just in the hall. They might throw something out like, "Your linemen are playing real high." All of a sudden, I’ll get conscious of it. Once in a while, they’re right. Once in a while, it drags my attention to something that needs to be addressed. As a coach, you’re always too close to it and may not see everything.

You get some nonsense, there’s no question. But the nonsense, you have to sift through it quickly. Once in a while, a fresh set of eyes will see something where, in the back of my mind, I’m going, "I’m sitting here watching it every day. How did I not see that?"

Leach has always been a little bit different than other coaches. 

He has a documented fascination with pirates, he blithely ignores the running game for weeks at a time and he just co-authored a bookGeronimo: Leadership Strategies of an American Warrior—about an Apache tribe leader from the late 1800s.

For some reason, all of those things make this new bit of information make sense. He would be the type of guy who asks a janitor for football advice, hoping, with time and enough shots in the dark, that he stumbles upon the football version of Will Hunting, the overlooked savant with the answer to how one might stop Oregon's offense.

Aside from his off-field idiosyncrasies, Leach is famous for his on-field obsession with the passing game. He made the Air Raid offense a national threat in his previous job as head coach at Texas Tech, and within two years of taking over at Washington State, he had the Cougars leading the nation with 58.2 pass attempts per game.

He also had them back in the postseason for the first time since 2003.

Perhaps those janitors are smarter than we give them credit for.


Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

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Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt Talks Hutson Mason, New Defense and More

Just 18 short months ago, Georgia has posted back-to-back SEC East titles and was on the brink of winning the SEC Championship Game and securing a spot in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game versus Notre Dame.

One year later, the Bulldogs are coming off an injury-riddled 8-5 season that served as the swan song for record-setting quarterback Aaron Murray and another reminder that Georgia's talented, yet under-achieving defense needs help.

Redshirt senior Hutson Mason will step in for Murray in 2014 and find a wealth of talent to work with on the offense. Meanwhile, new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was lured away from Florida State after Todd Grantham bolted for Louisville and found eight returning starters on defense, including the first- and-third leading tacklers in the SEC—Ramik Wilson (133) and Amarlo Herrera (112).

What will 2014 look like between the hedges? Georgia head coach Mark Richt went one-on-one with B/R to discuss the season.


Bleacher Report: You mentioned in your press conference after your spring game that quarterback Hutson Mason, who went 18-of-27 for 241 yards and a touchdown, actually looked better in the other scrimmages. Just how good can he be?

Mark Richt: Well, surrounded by outstanding teammates, I think he can be very good. He made a comment to somebody in the media that I was really impressed with. They were talking about following Murray and all the records he broke and all of that. Mason said, 'You know, I can't really break any records, but the one thing I can do is win a championship.'

He wasn't saying anything bad about Murray, he was just saying that his goal isn't to break records, it's to win a championship. I think that's his mindset. He has nothing else going through his mind other than doing what he can do to help the team win. That's pretty impressive.


B/R: In the spring game, he looked very much like Aaron Murray, especially on the back-shoulder fade. How much did Murray rub off on him?

MR: We train our quarterbacks to put the ball where our receiver has the best chance of winning. You have to gauge that by what you see, and if you see our guys two yards past the guy, obviously you try to lay it out. If our guy's inside, we're going to throw it inside. If our guy is on the outside and the DB has him cut off, we're going to throw the back-shoulder ball. We're constantly coaching and teaching that.

He has a really good feel for it as well. He's seen a lot of it with the games with Murray, but we've been doing it as a group for a long time.


B/R: How much will that veteran group of wide receivers help Mason, and what do you expect from Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley coming off of injuries?

MR: He has a veteran receiving corps and those guys really understand the system. They're good route-runners. They're strong ball-catchers. Mason's going to have some running backs who are just...tremendous. The O-line will do a very good job. And then, we believe that our defense and special teams are playing better than a year ago, so he's going to be surrounded by a lot of really good players I think he'll do a good job of handling that responsibility of getting the ball to the right guys in the right place.


B/R: You mentioned the running backs. No Heisman campaign for Todd Gurley this year, which is the way you've approached star players for a few years. Is he the best running back you've had at Georgia?

MR: You know, there's been some good ones. I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. This guy, Gurley, he's a very special talent. If he's in great condition and he stays healthy, I just can't help but think he'll have a tremendous amount of production and be a very strong candidate for the Heisman Trophy. 


B/R: One of the guys you have coming in is true freshman Nick Chubb. I'm not sure if you saw the pictures of him from last week at the state of Georgia track championship, but he looks like a man right now. What are the chances of Chubb and fellow freshman Sony Michel playing this year?

MR: Oh yeah, I think there's a good chance. Anybody who can go out there and be productive for us, we want to get them in the game and find a way to help us win. We can't wait to see what they can do and give them the opportunity. I saw the picture of Chubb running and I tell you, he looks like a track guy. Giant...I'm not really sure what he looked like...but it was impressive.


B/R: Obviously your defense has been hit or miss these last few years, but now Jeremy Pruitt is stepping in. What were some of the things he did this spring that really changed, and what pieces of that puzzle are left to put together this fall?

MR: I won't talk so much about change as much as how he goes about his business. He's a very good teacher, and all of our defensive coaches—we have four new ones including Jeremy—they've all coached high school ball, and they've all coached on a national championship collegiate football team as well. They're very good teachers of fundamental football, and that's a big part of what's important to us as a defense. The hustle is very important as well, as well as trying to be very sound schematically.

The big thing is fundamentals and really playing hard.


B/R: Your linebackers may be the best in the country with the leading tackler and third-leading tackler in the SEC coming back. How has Pruitt's arrival impacted what they do, and what do you expect from your guys this year?

MR: Well, quite frankly, I'm not all that concerned if our guys lead the league in tackling, because that means they're playing a lot of defensive plays. If we move back in the pack, that probably means some good things for our defense in terms of getting off the field. 

I think those guys will come back with a lot of experience. Leonard Floyd obviously made an impact as a freshman for us. Jordan Jenkins, on the other side of him, a lot of times, has had his moments. Our linebacking corps in general, inside and out, we have a pretty good batch of guys who will hopefully lead us to a really stout D.


B/R: Shaq Wiggins transferred after spring, and you recently moved defensive back Brenden Langley to wide receiver. What's the story behind that move?

MR: He's very fast and athletic. We felt like he might be able to make a bigger impact for us at wide receiver than at defensive back.


B/R: Is it safe to assume that, since some pieces are moving around to other positions and schools, that some of the pieces of the secondary are falling into place?

MR: Yeah, I think so, but we don't have anybody who's nailed down a spot in the defensive backfield right now, quite frankly. We're going to see what these new arrivals can do. We have four defensive backs coming in who we feel can compete right away and give us a chance to get better. 

Gosh, I tell you, I'll bet we don't know who's starting in the defensive backfield until maybe a week prior to the first game would be my guess. It will probably be pretty deep into camp.


B/R: You have the strictest substance abuse policy in the SEC, and your AD Greg McGarity told me a few months ago that he wants a uniform policy within the conference, but that it likely won't happen. Because of that, sometimes your program gets branded as a little lax on discipline. Does that bother you?

MR: We're comfortable with our policies here at Georgia. You know, we want our guys to know there's accountability when it comes to that. We want our guys to be healthy and we want our guys to do right. We're going to hold them accountable. Sometimes, in doing so, if you use playing time as a way to discipline, then it becomes a very public thing. Because of that, you may take a [perception] hit.

The bottom line is that we love our guys and we want them to do right. We're willing to discipline them with the thing that means the most to them, and that's their playing time. 


B/R: We're entering a new era this year with the four-team College Football Playoff. Is there anything that you're overly excited about regarding this new format, or anything that you're apprehensive about?

MR: I'm excited about it. I think it's going to bring a tremendous amount of excitement. With it being a four-team playoff, I don't think it will disrupt much of what's going on with the bowl system. There's a lot of good in the bowl system. I'd be concerned about going too deep in terms of number of teams in a playoff, but right now, four is tremendous and I think it will be highly successful.


B/R: Clearly your charity work is something that means a lot to you and you devote a lot of your time to. What does your future look like from a philanthropic standpoint and how busy does your offseason calendar get?

MR: Well, coaching is a mission. Coaching is a way to influence young people in a positive way. It helps people grow into becoming good husbands and fathers and leaders. It's a tremendous honor and opportunity, and I think we have a responsibility as coaches to make a difference in the lives of these guys. I can't really think of a better thing to do with my time with that.

We're not going anywhere this year, but we've been to Honduras on a few occasions and done some mission work there. One offseason I did a USO-type tour. Myself and a few other coaches went to Southeast Asia to visit troops and just let them know that we love them, appreciate them and we believe, as coaches, that they're the true heroes and not so much the athletes of our sport. They get the hero designation sometimes for doing something great on the field of play, but nothing like what our troops do for our country.


* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand, and all stats are courtesy of

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Which Big Ten School Needs Ex-USC RB Ty Isaac the Most?

Where former USC running back Ty Isaac lands has yet to be determined, but he certainly has options. 

The former 4-star recruit left the Trojans after one season to move closer to his hometown of Joliet, Illinois, because of a family issue. Speaking to Mike Helfgot of the Chicago Tribune, Isaac said his mother's phone has been "blowing up" with messages from schools interested in him. 

With only Notre Dame all but officially out of the mix—the Irish are on USC's nonconference schedule every year—Isaac said he's looking at nearby Big Ten schools. 

"I wouldn’t say I have a top three, but I’m looking at Big Ten schools that are close to where I live," Isaac told Helfgot. 

Isaac, who rushed for 236 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman, is waiting to hear back on a waiver that would grant him instant eligibility for the 2014 season. Regardless of whether he plays this year, which Big Ten schools could use Isaac the most? Below are some possibilities: 



Of all the problems Illinois has, running back actually isn't one of them. Josh Ferguson returns after leading the team with 779 yards and seven touchdowns. Ferguson started slow, but he averaged well over five yards per carry in the final four games of the season. He's also a dangerous pass-catcher out of the backfield. 

Still, the Illini need weapons beyond Ferguson. Whether Isaac plays this year or next, he would be an upgrade for the backfield. Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit is one of the more underappreciated minds in the game. With Oklahoma State transfer Wes Lunt at quarterback, Illinois could put together some nice pieces on offense. 



Sophomore Derrick Green will slide into the feature-back role this season after picking up 270 yards and a pair of touchdowns as a freshman. Who complements him or otherwise completes a one-two punch in the Wolverines' backfield remains to be seen, though De'Veon Smith would probably assume that title. 

Per Helfgot, Michigan was in the mix for Isaac when he was coming out of high school, so heading to Ann Arbor could be a realistic option. Even if it's not as the feature back right away.  



Beyond Treyvon Green, Northwestern doesn't have a lot of size or experience at running back, and Green is going to be a senior this year. 

The Wildcats did sign a few running backs this past recruiting class, including 4-star athlete Justin Jackson. Still, Isaac would be a powerful back who would be a great change-of-pace in Northwestern's spread offense. 



Melvin Gordon, the Big Ten's second-highest returning rusher, will be Wisconsin's No. 1 running back again this season.

Beyond that? Wisconsin could use some reinforcements. Corey Clement did some damage as a freshman with 547 yards and seven touchdowns. He looks like he will be the next between-the-tackles bruiser for the program. The Badgers also signed a couple of running backs for the 2014 class.

But there's plenty of room for Isaac to make an impact. 


Others: Iowa, Indiana, Michigan State. 


So, which team needs Isaac the most? From a sheer talent standpoint, it's hard to argue against Illinois. Put simply, this offense is in search of playmakers. Isaac would be a huge addition to that side of the ball. And with inexperienced wide receivers, look for Illinois to rely on its run game this season. 

The Illini have the luxury of four starters coming back along the offensive line. If Lunt secures the starting job at quarterback, Isaac would add more intrigue to the Illini's offense—if he's able to play right away.

If Isaac has to sit a year to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, he could be in a position to be Illinois' workhorse. Whether he would opt to do that for one season before departing for the NFL, or for another three, remains to be seen. 


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. All stats courtesy of

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Darrin Kirkland Jr. to Michigan: Wolverines Land 4-Star LB Prospect

One of the top linebackers in the 2015 class has come off the board, as Darrin Kirkland Jr. has committed to Michigan. 

Kirkland announced the decision on Twitter on Sunday:

According to his 247Sports profile, Kirkland is a 4-star inside linebacker that measures in at 6'2", 228 pounds. He's ranked by the site's composite rankings as the No. 5 inside linebacker in the country, the No. 2 prospect in the state of Indiana and the No. 194 prospect in the entire country.

He was a force for Lawrence Central in 2013, finishing with 110 tackles and eight sacks. According to his 247Sports profile, he was named an Indiana Football Coaches Association Top50 All-State Selection, to the Indianapolis Super Team, the First Team MIC All-Conference and was an All-Marion County selection.

Not a bad collection of hardware. Here he is at an award dinner, as tweeted by his head coach at Lawrence:

Strength certainly shouldn't be a weakness for Kirkland. He tweeted out his bench press routine in early March and, well, it was impressive:

The one thing that really pops on tape when watching Kirkland is the burst he shows once he makes his read and identifies the play. He is very quick for a young man his size. He also does well to scrape off blocks and chase down plays horizontally or quickly fill in the interior gaps. 

Kirkland is athletic enough to drop into coverage without being a liability, and he's quite proficient at rushing the passer. He often came off the edge for Park Tudor in 2012 (he transferred to Lawrence Central this past season) and used his burst and leverage to get after the quarterback. 

Here's his tape from his sophomore season.

Kirkland looks like a player that could be very productive at the college level. He'll need to continue to grow as an inside linebacker, but he also has the skill set to be utilized as an outside linebacker if called upon to do so. 

As he continues to grow into his frame, he should only improve on the field too. His natural athleticism and ability to play more than one linebacker position should bode well for him as he continues his football career.


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Penn State Football: 5 Former Blue-Chippers Who Will Finally Shine in 2014

In college football, there is no free agency. There are no trades between schools that drastically change rosters from year to year or even week to week.

Instead, the college game offers an evolution of sorts—a constant transition of high school athletes becoming ex-college football players and, hopefully, college graduates.

Each year at every school across the country, players move on, leaving room for new players to grow and blossom on the field. 

Recruiting is essentially the stockpiling of talent as insurance against this natural evolution.

While Allen Robinson and DaQuan Jones have moved on to the NFL, Penn State has been preparing each year by recruiting new athletes who will eventually fill those voids. 

Their time is now.

Which former high school standouts will shine in blue and white this fall? 

Let's take a look at five former blue-chip recruits who are primed for a breakout season in 2014.


All star ratings and position rankings are courtesy of 247Sports Composite ratings.

All stats courtesy of

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Florida Gators Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

As we enter the summer, college football recruiting is about to heat up more than ever. Kids are taking more visits, trimming their lists and some are even committing this early in the process.

Right now, the Florida Gators have seven early commitments, putting them in decent company. However, those recruits are really nothing compared to the truckload of uncommitted talent that’s out there just waiting to find the right school.

Florida will have its say with several quality players before it’s all said and done.

So, let’s take a look at the committed recruits and the possible players who may commit later on and see how Florida stacks up at each position at this very moment. 

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Arkansas Football: Who Is Replacing Former Razorbacks Taken in 2014 NFL Draft

Despite a very rough 2013 season for the Arkansas Razorbacks in head coach Bret Bielema's first year, the Hogs did very well in the 2014 NFL draft.

Overall, Arkansas had four players drafted in the seven rounds, which included kicker Zach Hocker, fullback Kiero Small, defensive end Chris Smith and center Travis Swanson. Considering the Hogs didn't win a single game in SEC play and finished 3-9, having four players taken in the draft was a win for the program.

However, as awesome as it is for these guys who got to hear their names called, it leaves Bielema and his staff with the task of replacing these starters without seeing a big drop-off in production.

Here, we'll go over who will replace each of the former Razorbacks now in the NFL.

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SEC Football: Every Team's Dream 2015 Recruit

In the SEC, it’s never too early to think about next year.

Winning championships is nice and all, but the true objective is to step into dynasty territory. To do that requires excellence not only on the field during the fall, but also throughout the year on the recruiting trail.

The push for even heralded 5-star prospects to commit—and stick with their commitments—earlier means waiting until January is often far too late.

Landing a big commitment early can potentially pay tremendous dividends for the remainder of the recruiting class as well.

When the prospect carries enough clout and is solid enough in his pledge, he can become an extra recruiter—with no real regulations.

Today we take a look at each team in the SEC and determine who the “dream” prospect to land might be.

To do so, we weigh a number of considerations, including in-state rank, positional need, competition for the prospect and overall splash.

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4-Star QB Travis Waller on Alabama: 'They're Definitely High on My List'

Four-star quarterback Travis Waller attended Oakland's Elite 11 and Nike Football Training Camp this weekend, and in addition to shining on the field, Waller received some exciting news on Saturday morning.

The Alabama Crimson Tide extended him an offer, and it's one he's pretty thrilled about. 

“Oh it’s definitely a big offer; a powerhouse team like Alabama is really big," Waller said before Sunday's NFTC event. "[They run] a pro style offense, so that’s a plus for me. A lot of their quarterbacks tend to go to the NFL, and the NFL likes pro style offenses, so they’re definitely high on my list.”

Alabama is Waller's most recent offer, with California, Fresno State, Tennessee and Penn State also offering him in May, among other universities. 

The Servite High (Anaheim, California) quarterback got the call from the Crimson Tide around 7 a.m. on Saturday, and though it was an early wake-up call, it was a welcome surprise, he said. Among other things, Waller learned a bit about what Alabama's plan for him would be, should he commit there.

“I think they would redshirt me," he said. "But the year after that I could compete for a starting job.”

And it's not so far-fetched to think Waller could see playing time after just one season in college, as he already is shaping up to be one of the top quarterbacks in his class.

After Friday's Elite 11, Waller earned a coveted gold shirt, and with it, a place in the Elite 11 finals. He showed quick feet and a strong pocket presence and connected with nearly all of his wide receivers. He's incredibly athletic, and though he's still filling out his frame, he proved that he can sling the rock like some of the bigger quarterbacks present.

On Sunday, Waller put on a similar show, but this time his targets were often shrouded in coverage. It didn't seem to phase him, however, and he had one of the strongest showings of all the quarterbacks present. 

The dual-threat quarterback also got to show off a little bit of both facets of his game on Sunday, though he isn't too fond of that particular label.

“A lot of people consider me a dual-threat quarterback but I want to be known as a pocket passer that can run if he has to," Waller said. "I don’t really like the term ‘dual-threat’; it makes it seem like you’re just a running quarterback. I want to be known as a passing quarterback.”

Which is another reason why Alabama has such a strong appeal to the 6'3", 190-pound Waller. 

While AJ McCarron showed a little bit of mobility throughout his Crimson Tide career, Alabama didn't sink or swim by how well he used his legs. Rather, Bama relied on him to be an accurate, powerful passer, and he delivered

That said, McCarron took some shots this past offseason when he declared for the NFL draft, as many felt like the talent around him made the difference, not his quarterbacking. Waller doesn't see that as a reason to turn his attention away from the Tide. 

"AJ McCarron is a very good quarterback. I believe if I go there and make things happen, the NFL would notice," he said.

Waller plans to visit Alabama in late June or early July. 

He doesn't yet have a list of top schools, as he is still waiting on offers from programs such as Oregon and Ohio State. If and when those offers come, Waller will have a better sense of what his future college choices are looking like.

“Me and my mom are talking about it a lot but we will have to see how that plays out,” he said.

Now that Alabama has offered, it's possible that the Ducks and the Buckeyes will start courting him more aggressively, as competing with Alabama for top talent is anything but easy. 

There's no timetable yet on when he could make an announcement, so the summer will really start to heat up for Waller.

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Miami Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

Before hectic summer months officially begin for class of 2015 recruits, it's a perfect time to hand out positional grades for the Miami Hurricanes' current haul.

According to 247Sports, head coach Al Golden and his coaching staff have amassed the No. 12 unit in the nation, including the third-best in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Miami's 11-man, offense-heavy group is highlighted by a pair of gifted in-state running backs, and the top defensive pledge is a legacy player.

Level of need, committed talent and how much a positional unit can be upgraded are main factors in deciding a given grade.



The newest commitment as of this writing, 4-star Dwayne Lawson is the lone quarterback in Miami's class. Lawson hails from the same school that produced defensive tackle Earl Moore, Tampa-area Hillsborough High.

As a junior in 2013, Lawson completed 52.5 percent of his passes for 2,120 yards, 22 touchdowns and just six interceptions. The 6'5" gunslinger also added 1,068 yards and nine scores on the ground.

The 'Canes are content with Lawson, but they'll save room for Torrance Gibson—however unlikely it may be to convince the local 5-star to stay home.

Grade: B


Running Back

Dexter Williams committing to Miami was a bit of a surprise, and his skill set in the backfield is on the verge of elite. With that being said, Williams is being contacted by the likes of Florida, Michigan, Ohio State and Notre Dame, and it won't be easy to keep his pledge.

Jordan Cronkrite was added to the class about a week after Williams, but the 4-star winding up at "The U" is a pretty safe bet. Per David Lake of 247Sports (subscription required), Cronkite is very strong in his commitment to Al Golden and Co.

There's certainly some room to add more players, but the 'Canes are off to a great start at running back.

Grade: A-


Wide Receiver and Tight End

One of the earliest commitments, wide receiver Emonee Spence has snagged 80 passes for 815 yards and 10 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Lake (subscription required) notes the 6'2" wideout is focusing on route running and attacking cornerbacks this offseason, trying to become a more aggressive receiver.

Tight end Bowman Archibald gave his pledge to Miami in March, and he is definitely the flier in the class. Archibald's numbers from his junior season (eight receptions, 134 yards, two touchdowns) are far from gaudy.

Miami will lose Clive Walford and Beau Sandland after the 2014 season, however, so adding Archibald addresses the impending depth issue.

Considering the Hurricanes are holding out for names such as Calvin Ridley, Devonaire Clarington, Deon Cain and Devante Peete, the lack of commitments is not a sign of worry just yet.

Grade: C-


Offensive Linemen

In 2014, Miami signed Kc McDermott, Trevor Darling and Nick Linder, easing the necessity on targeting offensive linemen during a skill-position-heavy class. Of course, it didn't stop the 'Canes from adding some more bulk.

A 6'9" tackle from Golden's home state of New Jersey, Kevin Feder was the first to announce his collegiate intentions. He will play as a junior at the earliest, so O-line coach Art Kehoe has plenty of time to refine Feder's technique.

Surprisingly enough for a 3-star in South Florida, Leeward Brown is considered one of the better prospects at his position in the talent-rich area. Given his 338-pound stature, Brown projects as a guard at the next level, which Miami will be needing in a couple of years.

Golden reached back into the Northeast and plucked 3-star tackle Hayden Mahoney, who committed during a visit to the campus in late March, from Pennsylvania.

Even if the Hurricanes do not bring in another lineman, given the current depth, the trio would be a respectable haul.

Grade: B


Defensive Linemen

Scott Patchan, whose father played at Miami in the mid-1980s, pledged to Golden on the same day as Williams. In 2013, the 3-star registered 56 tackles (24 for loss, 8.5 sacks) as a defensive end.

At 6'4" and 295 pounds, defensive tackle Ryan Fines has the frame to become a prototypical-sized interior lineman during his college years.

Though Quentez Johnson spent only 10 days before decommitting in early May, the 'Canes are not backing off the defensive tackle. Granted, The U has already dropped to No. 2 on his list, per Ryan Callahan of 247Sports (subscription required).

California 4-star Khalil McKenzie represents the top remaining target, but 4-star Joseph Wicker and 3-star Elijah Taylor are other priorities.

Like the offensive line, the Miami coaching staff did a great job with the 2014 haul, so more attention can be given elsewhere this year.

Grade: B-



Had Raphael Kirby, Alex Figueroa and Jermaine Grace not stepped up this spring, linebacker would be an extreme position of need in 2015. However, consequent to their collective emergence, the Hurricanes will not be forced to reach for linebackers in a thin talent pool.

The first commit for the current class by nearly six months, 3-star athlete Charles Perry is approaching one calendar year as a prospective Hurricane. Last season, Perry tallied 78 tackles, seven sacks and one interception that he returned for a touchdown.

Miami should be looking into grabbing a commitment from one more linebacker, and bringing in any of Sh'mar Kilby-Lane, Tevon Coney and Dominic Sheppard would be a solid boost to the position.

Grade: C+



Currently, the Hurricanes do not hold any commitments from prospects who play in the secondary, but there is a collection of skilled defensive backs they are targeting.

Jaquan Johnson, Tim Irvin, Tyrek Cole and Shawn Burgess-Becker are just a handful of players to keep a close eye on throughout the summer workouts and camps.

Grade: Incomplete


Note: All recruit information courtesy of 247Sports. Star ratings reflect 247Sports Composite Rankings.

Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

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Big Ten Football: Ranking the Top 25 Players Heading into 2014

Spring football is now in the rear-view mirror, and fans have set their sights on the opening of fall camp in early August.  In the meantime, we have a better idea about which teams and which players will rise to the top come the fall.

When it comes to ranking the 25 best players heading into any given season, it's important to remember that comparing a cornerback to a left tackle is a little like comparing a Ford pickup truck to a tomato; don't read too much into a player ranked at No. 20 and a different player at a different position ranked at No. 19.

When it comes to the best of the best the Big Ten will offer this season, however, we're pretty sure that the 25 players on this list will figure into the equation from Week 1 all the way through the College Football Playoff in January.

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