NCAA Football News

War Ram Eagle: How Auburn Is Becoming the St. Louis Rams' Developmental Team

The call was worth the wait for Tre Mason.

After watching four running backs come off the board on the second night of the NFL draft, Auburn's latest Heisman Trophy finalist stood by, waiting to be selected in a draft that had the latest first running back choice in NFL history.

Then, midway through the third round, he got a call from a voice familiar to the Auburn football program—St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher.

Mason was selected with the No. 75 overall pick by the Rams, an NFL franchise with a growing connection to the Tigers.

The Rams took highly touted Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. By choosing Mason the next day with their third-round pick, the Rams reunited an important pairing in Auburn's top-ranked rushing attack from its SEC championship season.

"We came in our freshman year talking about that we wanted to be three and out, and it's like a dream come true if we played together at the next level," Mason said as he was introduced in St. Louis on Tuesday. "God blessed us with the opportunity." 

After Mason ended his call with Fisher, he immediately called his former Auburn and new St. Louis teammate.

“When I first called him, he couldn’t believe it," Mason said. "He told me, ‘Stop lying.’ But I told him, just wait a couple minutes and you’ll see that I’m not playing."

As the Rams' selection of Mason was being announced in New York City, an emotional Robinson took to Twitter to show his excitement about the reunion in St. Louis:

The early selections of Robinson and Mason gave Auburn fans a connection to the Rams, but the relationship between the NFC West franchise and the SEC West school has grown over the last several seasons.

The Auburn-St. Louis connection started several years ago at the top of the organization with Les Snead, St. Louis' general manager.

Snead grew up in Eufaula, a small Alabama town 60 miles south of Auburn. After two years of playing for former Auburn assistant coach Larry Blakeney at Troy State, Snead chose to walk on at Auburn as a blocking tight end for the 1992 and 1993 seasons. 

Later, as a graduate assistant for the Tigers, Snead was exposed to the world of pro football scouting.

Snead spent more than a dozen years as a scout for both the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Atlanta Falcons. He would later become the director of player personnel for the Falcons, which led to him getting his current job in St. Louis.

The former Auburn tight end helped orchestrate the trade with Washington in the 2012 NFL draft that earned St. Louis the No. 2 pick this year. The Rams carefully scouted and researched all the available options for the highly valued draft position, and they decided to go with a player from Snead's alma mater.

"[Robinson is] who’s going to be there, he fits a big-time need, we really like this player," Snead said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. "We didn’t think that any trade that was going to come was going to outweigh Greg—no pun intended there.”

Snead and the Rams' second pick in the draft, Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, even had an Auburn flavor to it.

Current Tiger and cancer survivor Shon Coleman announced the newest pro teammate for Robinson—whom Coleman is looking to replace on the Auburn depth chart in 2014—in New York City:

Throughout the weekend's draft, Snead stood in the St. Louis war room with head coach Jeff Fisher, who also has a personal connection to the Plains.

Trent Fisher, the son of the former Tennessee Titans' head coach, was a former walk-on safety at Auburn who earned a scholarship at the beginning of the 2012 season. Fisher recorded one of the few highlights from the Tigers' dreadful 2012 when he returned an interception 60 yards against Alabama A&M.

Jeff Fisher came down to Auburn several times to watch his son play from 2011 to 2013, and he became familiar with the pro prospects on the Tigers' roster.

"Trent and I always talked about one day I'd maybe play for the Rams," Mason said Tuesday. "He'd always joke around like that. Come today, I'm sitting here a St. Louis Ram."

But even with Auburn's personal connection to the Rams' general manager and head coach, the move to pick Mason in the third round of the draft came as a surprise to the talented running back.

Mason neither visited with the Rams nor had a personal workout with the team, but St. Louis' front office was still comfortable with selecting a player it had become familiar with over the last season.

"We did our homework," Fisher said in a post-draft press conference last week. "We felt like we knew everything we needed to know about the kid. We just couldn't pass him up."

The Rams' familiarity with the Auburn roster was evident at this time last year. Although St. Louis did not select any former Tigers in the 2013 draft, they gave three former Auburn players—linebacker Daren Bates, wide receiver Emory Blake and tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen—undrafted free-agent deals.

Bates and Blake are still on St. Louis' roster, and former teammate Barrett Trotter now works as a scout for the Rams:

With Tiger connections in the front office, the coach's office and across the playing field, the Auburn Family will have a growing branch in St. Louis for seasons to come.

And Mason is glad to see those family bonds strengthen as the Rams continue to be a popular landing spot for Auburn players after their collegiate careers.

"Greg is my brother," Mason said. "We know each other’s tendencies and techniques and how we play, so it will be great to continue on with Greg."

 

Justin Ferguson is Bleacher Report's lead Auburn writer. Follow him on Twitter @JFergusonAU. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. 

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Brian Kelly's Wish to Continue Series vs. Michigan, Michigan State Has Obstacles

You don't have to be a traditionalist to realize conference realignment has altered college football in a way that nothing else has. 

The obvious example is that rivalries have been crumpled up, thrown out the window and onto the highway like a used piece of trash.

Notre Dame's future is still in football independence, but an agreement with the ACC has the Irish heading east a few times every year. Combine five ACC games for Notre Dame and the Big Ten's nine-game schedule beginning in 2016, and there simply isn't a lot of room on the schedule for games against Michigan and Michigan State to continue every year. 

Still, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly would like to see future games against the Wolverines and the Spartans. Here's what Kelly said earlier this week, via ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg and Matt Fortuna

When [athletic director Jack Swarbrick] and I sit down and we start discussing 'what do you want to do?' we don't start or end that without having Michigan or Michigan State part of that conversation, and there's an SEC school involved in that conversation, as well. I can assure you that Michigan, Michigan State and an SEC school is involved in those conversations. How that pans out, I'm telling you, it's a very complicated deal.

For what it's worth, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon told ESPN in the same article that he has had no conversations with Notre Dame about continuing the series. (Notre Dame's agreement with the ACC resulted in the school's decision to suspend the series.) 

According to FBSchedules.com, Notre Dame and Michigan will play for the final time in the foreseeable future this year (Sept. 6); Michigan State is sprinkled sporadically throughout the Irish's future schedules. 

Yes, Notre Dame, Michigan and Michigan State could just agree to continue home-and-home games, but scheduling is rarely, if ever, that simple. Other nonconference games are already in place, and there's always the pressure to have seven home games. 

Michigan and Michigan State will be in the Big Ten's new East Division and host five home conference games on even-numbered years. That means two nonconference games would have to be home games in those years. During odd-numbered years, the goal would be to have all three nonconference games played at home. 

"We have situations where we can't play them, they have situations where they can't play us," Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis told Joe Rexrode of USA Today, "and it's just kind of the roadkill of conference expansion that's (forced) these close rivalries to…we both want to play each other, we just can't."

The other thing to consider is that teams don't want to schedule themselves out of a College Football Playoff spot. With the ACC and the SEC remaining at eight conference games, conferences are showing they are unwilling to change their format unless they absolutely have to.

Strength of schedule is becoming a facade. The "requirement" of scheduling one Power 5 opponent a year as a strength-of-schedule argument is a fallacy, as that opponent could be Indiana or Kansas (sorry, Indiana and Kansas). 

Whether there's active communication or not, there are simply too many factors in the scheduling puzzle for Notre Dame to play Michigan and Michigan State on a continuous basis. 

Kelly's wish is noble and something fans of both sides would probably like to see happen. They just shouldn't count on it. 

 

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

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Notre Dame Football Recruiting: 4 Biggest Position Needs for Class of 2015

We’re quickly nearing the summer, and recruiting is picking up around the nation. Notre Dame’s class of 2015 consists of eight commitments.

The Fighting Irish have already landed a quarterback (Blake Barnett), two wide receivers (Jalen Guyton and C.J. Sanders), three offensive linemen (Tristen Hoge, Trevor Ruhland and Jerry Tillery) and two safeties (Nicco Fertitta and Prentice McKinney).

Notre Dame has addressed needs thus far, especially at wide receiver and safety. But what other positions do the Irish need to target when rounding out the class of 2015?

In determining these position needs, we’ll consider the current depth on the roster, remaining eligibility and recent recruiting classes.

Let’s get to it.

Begin Slideshow

Rice Lands QB Recruit by Writing Letter to His Cat

Some schools are forced to win over mothers and fathers in order to land a football recruit. In the case of 3-star quarterback J.T. Granato, it was his cat that needed convincing.

The Rice Owls were very serious about landing the Kinkaid (Texas) quarterback, so co-offensive coordinator Billy Lynch penned a letter to his cat. 

According to Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle, coach Lynch wrote: 

As you know we’re trying to convince J.T. Rice is the place for him. I know you’d like to keep him close so he can feed you and change the litter box. Please help us to get him to choose us. Paw me if you have any questions.

Well, it worked, as J.T. committed to the Owls.

Nice work by the Rice coaches. It's the cat's world—J.T. is just living in it. 

[Twitter, h/t Houston Chronicle]

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Your Best 11 Mailbag: Freshman QBs, Randy Gregory, Wes Lunt and News

Folks, I am back in North Carolina following a week in New York City for the draft in which I learned, work or play, my nearly 30-year-old body can still see four in the morning. We've got a gang of questions to answer today, but first, there's a bit of housekeeping to handle on my end.

At the end of business today, Michael Felder will no longer be a writer here at Bleacher Report. I love the team that I've worked with and truly believe that the college football writers here are going to keep crushing it going forward. Obviously, I've enjoyed delivering dope content here for all of you to read, especially the mailbag that has been, as best as I can describe, super fun.

Do not weep for me. In fact, you will not even miss me. While I will no longer be a writer at B/R, I am still a part of the college football team, moving from a Lead National College Football Writer into my new role as a National CFB Analyst. Basically, a fancy way of saying that instead of writing, I'm going to become a full-time video contributor here at B/R.

We're going to be delivering a lot more content on recruiting, pushing to give deeper dives into X's and O's and working to bring everyone great news, insight and opinion. Also, you will get to see my sweet, sweet face a lot more. I am excited, I hope you all are as well, and I am already trying to find a way to turn the mailbag into a video spot, somehow!

OK now, here are the questions.

 

Do not fret Patti, one of my favorite question-askers, I'll still be on the Twitter and videos. 

As for my ultimate team-building move, I think it is tough to top cooking class. Obviously, there are more meaningful things that can be done like donating time and energy to grounds beautification, visiting the hospital and adopting a needy family. All of those are things that every team around the nation does in some capacity and are all well worth the time and effort because they help improve the community as a whole.

Other team-building activities, like basketball teams or tournaments, ultimate frisbee, tubing, rafting, bowling and the like are fun to do, and everyone gets a chance to compete in some regard. However, all of those mean some manner of sweating to me, even bowling, and sweating just seems like more work that I have to do.

Although, like any good home chef, I do sweat in the kitchen, that is, from the heat of the oven and the nerves of making sure I get it right, not because I am lifting heavy things or exerting physical energy. You do enough of that with football; give me the knives, a mandolin, a Microplane plus some high-quality mise en place and the ability to instantly go from a middling football player at best to the tops on the team in something, and I'll take it.

 

I have a confession: In the age of Spotify and iTunes and all that jazz, I am not a big playlist guy. In fact, the only time I consistently use a playlist is when I brunch on Saturday or Sunday mornings and I have a nice little "Saturday Chill" mix that I play. Otherwise, I am a whole-album guy.

Lately, for my working out, I've gone one of two ways: Iggy Azalea or Kanye West. When I'm in the mood to, in the words of Bubba Sparxxx, "get it right, get it tight," from a body standpoint, I go Azalea's newest album and just get after it. For those times that I am dreading sweating it out, I go with Yeezus and just let his words fuel me.

 

Michigan State is absolutely for real. They will have one of the nation's best offenses this year with so much balance it will be tough for defenses to play them on a down-to-down basis. Obviously, Jeremy Langford on the ground is a problem, but Connor Cook grew up into a high-quality QB last season, and they have receivers just waiting to catch the ball. I'm excited to see what DeAnthony Arnett, the transfer from Tennessee, brings to the table.

As for the Big 12, I am penciling Oklahoma in at the top. Trevor Knight has to play as he did in the Sugar Bowl for that to happen, but at least we saw, against a good opponent, that playing like a madman was within his scope of possibility. Baylor is the other team that should be right there at the top. Shock Linwood should come out balling, Bryce Petty stabilizes the passing game and Shawn Oakman can be a man on defense.

There are so many question marks around the league that those two teams are the ones that stand out the most as contenders for the Big 12 title.

 

This is a tough question because there are a few different layers. At Texas A&M, a true freshman likely is the starter out of the gate, so he doesn't actually count as taking reps from anyone. Miami's Kevin Olsen is poised to start the year, but that is due in part to Ryan Williams going down with a knee injury during spring ball.

I know a lot of people are pointing at Jeff Driskel as a possibility, because he has struggled at times and freshman Will Grier was an early enrollee. That is a spot with a legitimate shot of it happening, but for me the answer has to be North Carolina. 

Marquise Williams finished the 2013 season as the starter and looked strong running Larry Fedora's offense. This spring he found himself locked into a furious battle with Mitch Trubisky for the lead job. That battle will carry over into fall, and both guys are targeting the position. Williams, the redshirt junior, showed how versatile he could be and has game experience.

However, Trubisky is thought to be the quarterback of the future, and as they get closer to running neck-and-neck Fedora may pull the trigger on youth. I think that's the best answer to this question.

 

Sort of? Kind of?

Here's the thing, I thought Gregory was a phenomenal player a season ago, but I also thought Noah Spence and Shilique Calhoun were on his level, and I am surprised neither is being mentioned nearly as much. Gregory does bring a bit more physical maturity than Spence and more versatility than Calhoun, but he also does not stand up nearly as often as the Ohio State hybrid player.

For Gregory to make good on the projections, I think it will be a blend of getting help from some other Nebraska defenders and his defensive staff getting creative with his athleticism. More standing up, more rushing from the outside to the inside, stronger push from the linebackers in run defense to force the bounce to Gregory, and his doing a more solid job of holding the edge.

The kid has a ton of skills and a wealth of talent. Right now, to go from a nobody in 2013 to a projected top-five pick in 2015 is a big jump, and he has to grind to keep his name as hot as it is right now.

 

Oh, this is a no-brainer. Give me guys who do their jobs. Pass-rushing defensive tackles are nice and can be a tremendous benefit, especially on third downs, but if the interior of the defensive line is weak in assignment, ability and consistency against the run, why would a team ever throw the ball?

Shove that ball down those suckers' throats and then line up and do it again. Trap-block them because all they want to do is get up the field. Run zone and push them totally out of the play since they don't want to anchor down the line.

It is easier to generate a pass rush than it is to get consistent interior defensive-line play. I'll take the stout bodies who do their jobs any day. I can blitz, run stunts and bring in package players to generate a pass rush on passing downs. There is nothing I can do if my defensive tackles are pass-rushers who are weak against the run.

Now, in a year, after those DTs get their behinds whipped against the run and I have time to teach them technique? Give me the athletically explosive youth who have it figured out.

 

There is no shot we see an under-three-hour game on the SEC Network. That is an area that the Big Ten Network has on lockdown, and I love every second of those short games. Football is a 60-minute game; whether that 60 minutes takes three hours or four hours is entirely up to the networks and the teams involved.

 

Man, this is a tough one to wrap up on this week. Wes Lunt, for those who do not know, is the former big-time quarterback who enrolled at Oklahoma State, was named the starter in 2012 and then lost the job, leading to a transfer to his home-state team of Illinois. Todd Monken, now the head coach at Southern Miss, was the offensive coordinator for Lunt's year with the Poke; Bill Cubit fills that same position at Illinois.

Honestly, I do not think it is Lunt's skill set that is going to be the measure of his success. Monken and Cubit, although different in philosophy, have both employed shorter passing games to set up longer tosses and have shifted to an individual quarterback's abilities and strengths.

The reason I am excited for Lunt and think he can be successful is the circumstance. Cubit is getting a kid who has already been about as low as a highly touted quarterback can get. Lunt got the starting job, then not only got hurt and lost the job but dropped to third-string. Then, when he elected to transfer, Mike Gundy attempted to block him from 40 schools, making the process absolutely miserable.

Lunt's had a year to get healthy, sit and wait in the shadows and spend time with Cubit working on the offense and showing skills that have his new staff excited. Lunt is back in his home state, which is a point of comfort, and instead of playing for a team coming off a BCS Bowl win hoping to stay at the top, he's playing for a squad that's dreaming of getting to six wins. 

Less pressure in a more forgiving environment is what I think will help translate to success for Lunt at Illinois. 

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Ohio State Football: Realistic Expectations for the Buckeyes' 2014 Season

Every time the Ohio State football team gathers for practice at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, the Buckeyes' mantra is featured prominently on an enormous sign overhead.

"The Chase..."

It represents Ohio State's pursuit of a national title—a journey that started in 2012, when Urban Meyer took over the team and rattled off a school record 24 consecutive victories.

The Chase got derailed by Michigan State in last year's Big Ten title game. Another loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl knocked the Buckeyes even further off course.

But after signing the nation's No. 3 recruiting class, reevaluating the leadership structure and finishing up a productive spring camp, Ohio State is back on track. 

Meyer feels that Ohio State has unfinished business.

“We’re teaching people to be unit leaders," Meyer said, according to Chris Vannini of 247 Sports. "We’ve got a systematic approach to how we’re going to fix this thing. It’s not broke. We didn’t finish The Chase.”

Should Ohio State fans expect another title run this season?

Last year, Ohio State marched its way to Indianapolis unscathed—fueled by a weak schedule, a veteran offensive line and the bullish abilities of Carlos Hyde.

None of those advantages will be available in 2014.

The Buckeyes' did catch a few breaks on their schedule. The Big Ten's realigned divisions take effect this season, and Ohio State won't have to play Wisconsin, Nebraska or Iowa—three of the top teams from the West.

That could change if the Buckeyes were to meet one of those squads in the Big Ten title game. To do that, they'll have to navigate  a conference slate that includes road games against Penn State and Michigan State. Then, of course, there's the season finale against Michigan in Columbus.

Ohio State will also have to overcome a much stronger nonconference schedule. The Buckeyes open the season in Baltimore against Navy before coming home to host Virginia Tech, Kent State and Cincinnati in consecutive weeks. Bleacher Report's Brian Leigh ranks Ohio State's nonconference slate the fourth toughest in the country. 

The Buckeyes will attack that schedule without the heart and soul of last year's team. 

Meyer is still scraping the pieces together to replace four senior starters along the offensive line. The Buckeyes have a deep stable of running backs—Ezekiel Elliott is primed for a breakout season—but they'll miss the steady production of Hyde, who put up historic numbers despite starting the year with a three-game suspension.

But Ohio State could be strong where it was weak last year.

Meyer brought in co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash to overhaul the Buckeyes' much-maligned secondary. Ohio State gave up an average of 268 passing yards per game, ranking 110th in the country, which ultimately cost the Buckeyes a chance to play Florida State in the national title.

Early returns from the spring game showed that the Buckeyes have resolved those issues.

It also doesn't hurt to have Braxton Miller—one of the most lethal dual-threat quarterbacks in college football—back to run the offense.

So what should Ohio State fans expect for the upcoming season? Will the Buckeyes make a run at the first ever college football playoff?

Just like last year—the Buckeyes will be legitimate contenders in the national title race. Barring significant injuries, Ohio State should overcome its tough nonconference schedule without a blemish. 

The November 8 matchup against Michigan State looms large, though. With the game in East Lansing, the Spartans have an advantage that will be very tough to overcome. 

With a young defense and an even younger offensive line, it wouldn't be surprising if Ohio State was upset at some point in the year—perhaps by Penn State or Michigan.

A 10-2 regular-season campaign is a safe, realistic expectation for the Buckeyes' upcoming season. 

Meyer, however, has overachieved in Columbus before. In 2012, most experts felt a nine-win season was a feasible forecast. The Buckeyes went on to beat everyone on their schedule.

It's safe to assume that Ohio State isn't worried about expectations. They're too preoccupied with The Chase.

 

All recruiting information via 247 Sports. Stats via NCAA.com.

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

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Michigan Football Recruiting: The Biggest Difference Between Nussmeier & Borges

This week Michigan received its first quarterback commitment since offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier replaced Al Borges. Quarterback Alex Malzone announced that he had committed to Michigan during a recent visit.

The commitment is the first sign that Nussmeier's experience as a former collegiate quarterback and recent success at Alabama is paying dividends on the recruiting trail for Michigan.

Malzone cited Nussmeier’s track record and his plans for the Michigan offense to Nick Baumgardner on MLIVE.COM:

He just wants to help bring Michigan back to the great football its used to. He's had great success at Alabama and at Washington and also at Michigan State. I know he'll have the same at Michigan.

I went to a spring practice and got to see him coach, he's upbeat, he never stops and he tries to get the most he can out of every single one of his players. ... I feel great about it, and coach Nussmeier thinks I'm a great fit as well. He's bringing Alabama's offense with a few tweaks, he wants a quarterback who can make all the throws. I feel like I'm that guy.

Besides a stellar collegiate playing career, Nussmeier carries with him the luster of Alabama’s recent national success. He helped Alabama set offensive records during the 2012 season for touchdowns (68), total points (542), total offense (6,237) and passing touchdowns (31) when the team went 13-1 and won the national championship. His most recent quarterback protege AJ McCarron was taken during the fifth round of last week’s NFL draft.

Contrast Nussmeier with Borges’ recent track record of declining offensive consistency at Michigan, his transformation of quarterback Denard Robinson from Heisman candidate to mediocre drop-back passer and that his greatest team success (Auburn, 2004) was when the current class of recruits was in grade school.

Nussmeier is a prime example of how an assistant coach can leverage recent accomplishments to impress recruits—something that Borges lacked.

Michigan players have been guarded in their comments about Borges but the enthusiasm for the new offense is palpable. Current players such as quarterback Devin Gardner, pass-catcher Devin Funchess and running back De’Veon Smith have all endorsed the new offense and Nussmeier’s drive for offensive precision.

“He demands perfection,” said Gardner. “Even when you have a big play he finds something that can be improved.”

There hasn’t been much perfection in Ann Arbor during the last two seasons but many forget that Borges was hailed as a genius after Hoke’s 11-2 first season.

For now, Nussmeier represents the best hope for Michigan fans that Brady Hoke will lead Michigan back to the top of the Big Ten.

Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via Press Conferences or in person.

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Underdogs No More, Auburn Now a Popular Selection in Vegas and Beyond

Value is a preferred term within Vegas walls, the Holy Grail for Sin City voyagers looking for a score.  As is usually the case, however, you never truly appreciate value until it’s gone. At that point, it's no longer value.

At 1000-1 to win the BCS National Championship last year, the Auburn Tigers had more value than just about any other team in the history of the sport. There weren’t many 1000-1 tickets printed, but they were out there. Unfortunately, now they’re just a good story rather than a down payment on a home.

While some had to settle for 500-1, it didn't make their eventual demise and less easier to digest. What a run it was, though.

So long little buddy. It was a fun ride. pic.twitter.com/AI2udwzZvy

— Mark Skiba (@markjskiba) January 7, 2014

Such betting promise carried over game-to-game along the way, too. Gus Malzahn’s team covered the point spread in 12 of 14 games overall, including the final 11. The victories weren't always anticipated, some of which came down to one time-warping play. If you backed the Tigers all year, however, you’re probably still paying for meals with loose change.

That magical run has completely altered the perception of the program. Expectations have seemingly flipped in only six months, and they’re not expected to change course anytime soon. The 0-8-conference mark from 2012 is a distant memory, a forgotten time under forgotten leadership.

The days of 1000-1 are gone. The extra zeroes are a thing of the past.

Despite a daunting SEC slate and a handful of key roster losses, the Tigers opened up with 20-1 odds to win the national championship at the LVH Sportsbook. Galaxies away from 1000-1, even this new and improved assessment didn’t last long.

After ample offseason betting, the Tigers are now behind just a handful of power programs at 12-1.

“Fifty percent more money had been bet on the Tigers than the No. 2 team at the LHV Sportsbook,” said David Purdum, who has covered the sports betting industry for five years at multiple outlets. “What’s interesting is that Auburn is No. 1 in money wagered—by a considerable amount—but not even in the top five in number of bets taken at the LVH.”

What does this mean? For starters, the larger wagers—which could be viewed as “important” wagers, depending on who you ask—are in the Tigers’ favor. That’s telling. It’s these kinds of wagers that move odds quicker than Joe Football Fan taking a $10 flier on “that team that runs a lot of plays.”

Big bets aren’t always smart bets, but they often gain attention.

At the Golden Nugget, another Las Vegas sportsbook with college football future wagers available, the action on Auburn isn’t quite as fierce as it has been at LHV. Still, the national championship bets have been pouring in on the runners-up from earlier in the year. And it is expected to carry over into the regular season.

“UCLA, Oklahoma, Oregon have all taken more money, but Auburn has taken a decent amount of action,” Golden Nugget oddsmaker Aaron Kessler said on the Tigers' national championship wagers. “I anticipate Auburn to be public this year.”

“Public” is a term that implies interest in the Vegas world, a way to qualify what kind of money is coming in on a particular team. Regardless of the quality of opponent for a particular week, people will bet Auburn because, well, it’s Auburn. This mentality will be fairly prevalent this season, which is no surprise after a spectacular year.

Such movement and mindset has been seen in the online realm as well. The sportsbook Bovada.lv offered Auburn at 20-1 to win the championship at one point, but like the Hilton, those odds have been bet down to 12-1 since January.

Bettors aren’t just backing the Tigers at Bovada, either. The team’s quarterback has also garnered a significant amount of betting interest when it comes to Heisman wagering.

“Auburn has taken the third-most money behind Florida State and Alabama to win the College Football Playoff,” said Bovada.lv Sportsbook Manager, Kevin Bradley. “Interestingly enough, Nick Marshall has taken two times more money than anyone else for the Heisman. He’s now 20-1 after initially being as high as 40-1.”

Todd Fuhrman has seen such movement from both sides. A former Caesars bookmaker, Fuhrman now assesses the action for Donbest.com as a market analyst. When it comes to Auburn, he's seeing the movement although he's not ready to join the masses just yet.

 “They won't sneak up on anyone—especially oddsmakers—and I really believe there will be a weekly premium attached to them based off how good they were against the spread last season,” Fuhrman said. “They've definitely been a popular future pick from the people I've spoken to and will be an interesting team to watch. But 12-1 seems a little extreme.”

Get used to the extreme. Auburn has been deemed a 22-point favorite over Arkansas by the online sportsbook 5Dimes, a line that is robust and somehow right where it needs to be. 

All signs from Vegas—and those who have taken full advantage of these numbers—point to Auburn taking yet another enormous leap forward. Whether this confidence translates to a national championship, or a Heisman or another marksman-like performance against the spread will be realized in time.

It may not be 1000-1, but perhaps 12-1 won’t be too shabby come January.

 

Adam Kramer is the College Football National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand.

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Georgia's Mark Richt: Gurley Is "a Very Strong Candidate" for the Heisman Trophy

The Heisman Trophy has evolved into a quarterback-driven award in modern day college football, relegating players at other positions to the backseat in the quest for college football's top individual prize. Only two running backs have won the Heisman Trophy since 2000; and one of those winners, USC's Reggie Bush in 2005, was forced to give his back following his NCAA troubles.

If a running back is going to break out the Heisman pose in 2014, Georgia's Todd Gurley is a strong candidate.

The junior for the Bulldogs has rushed for 2,374 yards and 27 touchdowns during his two years at Georgia, despite missing three games in the middle of last season with an ankle injury and playing hurt for the final six games of the year.

He's healthy again, and his head coach thinks he's ready to make a run at the Heisman.

"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," head coach Mark Richt said.

Gurley can make a strong case for being the top running back in the SEC and the country. According to VegasInsider.com, he's fourth on odds boards to win the Heisman at 9-1, and is tops on the board among running backs.

During his first two seasons, he had record-setting quarterback Aaron Murray handing off to him. This year, more of the offense will fall on him as first-year starter Hutson Mason, a redshirt senior, takes his one and only shot at SEC glory. 

If Mason keep defenses honest—and with a talented receiving corps, that's a reasonable assumption—that will open up those holes for Gurley, who will take advantage for a big year. 

The 6'1", 232-pounder has the size to run through defenders, is light on his feet, can make defenders miss and when he gets in space, he's taking it to the house.

Is he the best running back Richt has had at Georgia?

Musa Smith, Thomas Brown, Knowshon Moreno, Washaun Ealey and Isaiah Crowell are just a few of the talented running backs who have toted the rock between the hedges under Richt.

"You know, there's been some good ones," Richt said. "I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, but this guy [Gurley], I'll just say, he is a very special talent." 

A special talent, indeed. According to his bio on Georgia's website, Gurley was an accomplished track star in high school and competed in Europe as a member of Team USA in the spring and summer of 2011.

Despite being a special talent, Georgia won't be running a Heisman campaign for Gurley in 2014, according to Seth Emerson of the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer. That's par for the course for Georgia, which chose to let the numbers do the talking last summer with then-senior quarterback Aaron Murray, according to Emerson.

If he stays healthy, Gurley's numbers will likely speak loudly in 2014. 

He'll be fighting an uphill battle with star quarterbacks, but if they speak loudly enough, they could earn him a trip to New York City in early December as a Heisman finalist.

 

* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted, and all stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com. The full Q&A with Georgia head coach Mark Richt will be published next week.

 


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Eric Swinney to Ole Miss: Rebels Land 4-Star RB Prospect

Ole Miss has added another impact player to its 2015 class in the form of 4-star running back Eric Swinney. 

Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger provided news of the prospect's decision:

His coach, Chip Walker, provided posted an image to Twitter of the announcement:

The Georgia native is one of the best running backs in his class thanks to his physicality. He might not have elite speed, but he hits the holes hard and punishes defenders who try to tackle him.

Walker explained it best to Todd Holcomb of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Swinney is a downhill, hit-it-hard guy that’s going. Both can run around you and make you miss, and both can catch the ball really good, but Swinney is very physical when he runs the football. You can see times on tape last year in big games late where it looks like they don’t want to tackle him anymore.

The young player also has impressive vision that allows him to find the opening anywhere on the field. He follows his blockers well, which enables him to pick up more yards on plays than most other running backs would in similar situations.

Finally, Swinney has great hands that and is a useful receiver out of the backfield. Jeremy Crabtree of ESPN.com noticed this ability first hand:

In 2013, Swinney totaled 1,149 yards and 22 touchdowns rushing. He added 325 yards and four scores receiving as he continued to develop his game.

These skills have helped the 5'10", 188-pound prospect become the No. 12 running back in the country and the No. 12 overall player in the state of Georgia, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.

Swinney received scholarship offers from virtually every school in the Southeast and eventually narrowed his choice down to Florida State, Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss and Tennessee in March. After much thought, he decided that he was going to play for the Rebels.

The running back has the talent to step in immediately for his new team, but he might be redshirted in his first year to put on a bit more weight and strength. With his style of play, getting some extra time in the weight room is vital.

Still, Swinney has the skill to break into the starting lineup before too long and become one of the best running backs in the conference. If he can continue to improve and he gets productive blocking in front of him, he will be a star at the next level.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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Penn State Football: Versatility Will Be Key for Linebackers This Season

For the first time in several years, Penn State will return just one seasoned vet among its linebacker unit and this time it will be without longtime respected position coach, Ron Vanderlinden.

What the Nittany Lions do have is a group of fast, athletic, versatile backers who are preparing for multiple roles in a new defense.

Mike Hull will be playing for his fourth defensive coordinator in as many seasons and he has been moved to the middle linebacker spot, a role usually reserved for big, run-stopping 'backers. At 6', 232 pounds, Hull doesn't seem to fit the mold.

Don't expect it to be a big hurdle for the team's most tenured linebacker.

According to Hull, the new staff doesn't approach the position much differently than his previous coaches. "This coaching staff emphasizes more blitzing techniques, getting downhill, making tackles for losses and big plays," Hull says, adding "It's still about getting proper leverage and staying inside out on the ball carrier."

Flanking Hull will be a diverse group of players that challenge the coaches to find their best roles. 

Veteran Ben Kline (6'2", 238 lbs.) is ready for whatever comes, saying "At the end of the day, football is football. We're all playing the same game."

Last season, Kline saw time on the outside but after missing time this spring he isn't sure where he'll be in 2014. "That's something we'll look at, have some meetings and talk about where I best fit in and see where it heads."

Nyeem Wartman has seen snaps inside and out the last two seasons and is a favorite to start at one of the outside spots in 2014. He agrees with Hull about the new staff's approach:

"I wouldn't say there's a different approach. I'd say they expect the same thing out of a Penn State linebacker. They expect a relentless pursuit to the ball and they expect us to pretty much be the heart of the defense It's really about the linebacker brand that we have here."

As for where he'll end up this season, Wartman just wants to play, saying "I'm really willing to play anywhere the need me. Right now they have me at the Will (weak outside linebacker) spot but I'm willing to play anywhere that they put me. Wherever I can get the most snaps or give my team the best opportunity to win."

True sophomore Brandon Bell made waves late last season and will likely be in the mix on the outside, as well.

The linebackers will be a favorite story for Penn State fans as the staff becomes more comfortable with the individual players. 

 

Great meeting Coach Pry today the new LB coach at #PennState . #LinebackerU will be in good hands

— Troy Reeder (@troyreeder9) January 18, 2014

 

Don't be surprised to see each linebacker play multiple positions during a game with Hull sliding outside on passing downs and Wartman or Kline manning the middle.

Incoming freshman Troy Reeder and sleepers Gary Wooten, Matthew  Baney and Von Walker could also be in the mix and they fit the bill when it comes to versatility.

Reeder was a star lacrosse player who was All-State at both linebacker and running back while Wooten is a former defensive end and Walker was moved from offense to defense this spring. 

There will probably be some growing pains this September as the players grow comfortable in their new roles but whatever mistakes are made will be made fast and aggressively. 

It's a new era at Linebacker U but this group has the tools to carry on the brand...regardless of where they line up on Saturdays. 


All quotes obtained firsthand.

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Florida Football: Realistic Expectations for the Gators' 2014 Season

It’s difficult to draw a pulse for realistic expectations for the Florida Gators this season. Yes, this is an extremely talented team with overwhelming upside and could end up legitimately competing for an SEC East crown. But following those thoughts, last year’s 4-8 record and no bowl appearance smacks you in the face.

Do the Gators really make an Auburn-like jump and go from worst to first in one season? Do things stay the same as last year and Florida fans take to the streets? Maybe somewhere in between?

Finding a happy medium isn’t always easy and can be even tougher for a Florida fanbase that usually has high expectations for its team.

With that said, here are five realistic expectations that should keep Florida fans happy if they are met.

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Georgia Football: 3 Freshmen Who Could Become Household Names in 2014

Back in 2012, Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley ran wild on SEC opponents as true freshmen and were big reasons why the Bulldogs won the SEC East.

Last year, J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas filled in for both Gurley and Marshall, as both players were injured, and earned the respect of their teammates and fans.

Those four players became very popular to Bulldog Nation because they produced as freshmen. And in order for the Bulldogs to have a great 2014 season, there will have a to be a few freshmen who not only contribute but also play at an All-SEC level if they want to win the conference.

Here are three freshmen that could be household names in 2014.

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Nebraska Football Recruiting: NFL Draft Results Should Be Boon for Bo Pelini

This year's NFL draft results will likely give Bo Pelini a little extra recruiting help, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

In fact, if any recruit interested in playing defense had any doubts about what Pelini's capable of, they just need to take a quick look at Stanley Jean-Baptiste.

Those are not bad statistics for Nebraska and Pelini. They're also numbers that Pelini and his staff should be mentioning while on the recruiting trail.

For many young athletes, the possibility of making it to the NFL weighs heavily in their decision to attend one school over another. When they see a particular program churning out results, it will at least spark their interest.

For Nebraska, the seven defensive backs drafted is creating buzz. It's not just because they were drafted either. It's because they typically go on to earn some serious playing time in the NFL.

Take Prince Amukamara, for instance. When the cornerback first arrived at Nebraska, he made an impact quickly by starting as a true freshman. And Pelini definitely saw the future potential for Amukamara.

By the time he graduated, Amukamara helped lead the Husker secondary to be one of the best in the country. Per Huskers.com, he limited opponents to only 18 pass completions in 52 attempts against him. His numbers were impressive, and the New York Giants took notice. Amukamara was drafted at No. 19 in the first round of the NFL draft in 2011.

Since then, Amukamara has made an impression in New York, earning a fair amount of playing time. 

And Amukamara and Jean-Baptiste aren't the only two Pelini can brag about, though. According to Nebraska Athletics, the Huskers have had 27 defensive backs drafted since 1990, not including Jean-Baptiste.

Even more impressive? "Nebraska has had a defensive player taken in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft in 23 of the last 29 years," per Nebraska Athletics. 

That's quite the talking point for recruiting purposes. With Nebraska's new secondary coach, Charlton Warren, still settling in, it definitely does not hurt to have these statistics to share.

As of now, the Huskers have one defensive back committed to the 2015 class. However, plenty more have been offered. And Warren must be saying the right things. Per 247Sports, he is now ranked No. 18 in recruiter rankings.

As Pelini and Warren work on finding the next big stars at defensive back for Nebraska, they have the NFL draft results to point to. After all, what recruit wouldn't be impressed by the pipeline of defensive backs the Huskers have sent on to the NFL?

It's a position Pelini knows well, and it shouldn't be a difficult position for the Huskers to recruit either.

 

Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.com.

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UCLA Football: Brett Hundley's Position on First 2015 NFL Draft Big Boards

In 2015, quarterback Brett Hundley could possibly be the highest draft choice for the UCLA football team since Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jonathan Odgen was taken fourth-overall in 1996. 

There's considerable buzz in regards to the quarterback position for next year's draft. Hundley, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Florida State signal-caller Jameis Winston will all likely enter, and that doesn't even account for the likes of Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty or Oregon State signal-caller Sean Mannion. 

In short, it will be a far deeper and more talented group than the 2014 quarterback class. 

There are multiple Bruins with the potential to being drafted next spring. Malcolm Bunche and Eric Kendricks are likely mid-round picks. One sleeper to watch is Fabian Moreau, a cornerback out of Florida who has considerable upside. With a strong junior campaign, he could shoot up draft boards and become a potential high draft choice. 

ESPN analyst Todd McShay and Walter Cherepinsky of Walterfootball.com both recently released early mock drafts for 2015. Hundley was the only Bruin mentioned in either. 

McShay (subscription required) has Hundley going 16th overall to the Tennessee Titans. Similarly, Cherepinsky had the UCLA product going to the Titans at pick No. 18

The jockeying between Hundley, Mariota and Winston will last the duration of this upcoming season. With the quarterback position being such a vital entity in the NFL, it's very possible to think all three could be drafted in the top 10. 

Both Mariota and Winston are rated ahead of Hundley at this point. That's not to say Hundley can't be drafted ahead of either once the 2014 college football season plays out.

The Bruin signal-caller does have room for improvement, first and foremost his accuracy. Also, if the first option on a play is covered, he has the propensity to take off and run. Hundley can't necessarily do that at the next level. Going through his progressions will be an area on which he needs to work.

And his pocket awareness needs to be enhanced. In his two years as the UCLA quarterback, Hundley has taken some bad sacks on dropbacks where he should have thrown the ball away. 

He still has time to improve in those specific areas. For all of the nitpicking, Hundley does bring a lot to the table. It will be fascinating to see his development in the upcoming year. 

 

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Pros and Cons to 4-Star OLB Osa Masina's Top Schools

Osa Masina is a versatile 4-star athlete who can play several different positions. While the Utah native projects best as an outside linebacker in college, he can also play running back, defensive end, tight end and even receiver.

Masina, who is 6'4" and 218 pounds, has many schools after him. However, he narrowed his choices to a group of eight schools in April, according to Justin Hopkins of 247Sports

As Masina goes through the recruiting process and examines the eight programs in contention for him, he will need to weigh the pros and cons of each school.

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What Wisconsin Football's 2014 Recruits Will Bring to the Team

Coming on the heels of a 9-4 season last year, the Wisconsin football team looks to build off last seasons' success while figuring out a new identity under coach Gary Andersen.  Andersen is faced with the task of replacing nearly the entire front seven, including Big Ten Player of the Year Chris Borland, while also dealing with uncertainty at quarterback, wide receiver and on special teams.

While Andersen swung and missed on a number of extremely high-profile recruits, he brought in a talented recruiting class, which features numerous players that can step in and contribute early in their collegiate careers.

The keystone of the recruiting class is offensive tackle Jaden Gault.  The top-ranked player in the state of Wisconsin who was the 10th-ranked offensive tackle, according to ESPN, was an important get for Andersen as in-state players have long been a focus when it comes to recruiting for the Badgers.  While Gault may be the highest-rated player, the freshman with the best chance of seeing snaps is Michael Dieter.  

With Dan Voltz and Dallas Lewallen missing the spring due to injuries, it was Dieter who stepped up and will likely compete for playing time along the crowded, experienced line.  In a February 2014 interview with Fox Sports Wisconsin's Jesse Temple, offensive line coach T.J. Woods said:

You look at a guy like Michael Dieter, who was going to get maybe half the reps with the twos.  Now all of a sudden he's getting all the reps with the twos and half the reps with the ones. That's a huge bonus for him. It turns the heat up on me and him both to make sure he's ready and make sure he can handle that.

Another 4-star recruit, the Badgers reeled in was quarterback D.J. Gillins out of Ribault High in School Jacksonville, Fla.  Gillins, who enrolled in January, was the first quarterback Andersen recruited himself and shows a shift in the philosophy of who will be playing quarterback for the Badgers while Andersen is coaching.  

Gillins, ranked the 17th dual-threat quarterback by ESPN, provides an aspect of mobility that few Badgers quarterbacks have had of late as Curt Phillips' numerous ACL surgeries negated much of his running ability, while Danny O'Brien and Joel Stave never looked to their feet as a weapon.  

Gillins will likely redshirt, something he told Luke Mueller of Bucky's Fifth Quarter in an April 2014 interview he'd be fine with.  "If I redshirt, I'll be satisfied," Gillins said. "It doesn't really matter. I wouldn't want the coaches to throw me out there if I don't know what I'm doing. Whatever coach Andersen and coach Ludwig have for me is fine with me."

The last spot on the offensive side of the ball where freshmen could step in right away is at wide receiver.  In the wake of Jared Abbrederis' departure to the NFL, this position group is certainly a spot where the Badgers will need more production.  With the top three receivers all departing, only one of whom was a wide receiver, look for the five freshman class of receivers to step in and play from Day 1.

The Badgers are bringing in 4-star athlete Dareian Watkins and four three-star receivers, Natrell Jamerson, Krenwick Sanders, Chris Jones and George Rushing.  While Watkins carries the most stars, it is likely Sanders who will compete for catches early on.  The former Georgia commit recorded 65 catches for 1,483 yards and 26 touchdown receptions plus 463 rushing yards and six touchdowns, according to the Badgers' site.  With limited experience returning, Watkins, Jamerson, Sanders or Rushing could come in and vie for snaps.

On the defensive side of the ball, two players have the potential to step in and contribute right away.  The first is Jeremy Patterson, a 3-star defensive tackle out of Georgia.  While it is unlikely he will play immediately, his size—he's listed at 315 pounds, according to Rivals.com—will make him a candidate to help plug the massive hole left by the departure of Beau Allen, who was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the seventh round of the NFL Draft.

The other player who can contribute early in their career is Austin Hudson.  Hudson, who enrolled early—there is a trend here—got valuable snaps in the spring as last year's safeties either graduated (Dezmen Southward) or moved positions (Michael Caputo to linebacker and Tanner McEvoy to quarterback).  

Hudson, who was a 3-star safety only held offers from Florida Tech, Holy Cross and Jacksonville State.  Hudson's appearance on this list is indicative of his strong Spring as well as the relative dearth of returning talent to the secondary.

With the 34th-ranked class, according to ESPN, the Badgers addressed major needs at stocking their offensive line, loading up on talent at wide receiver and bringing in a number of other key contributors who can step in over their Badger careers and make an impact on the field.  

While very few of these players will see the field in their season-opening tilt against LSU at Reliant Stadium, don't be surprised if by the time the Big Ten season rolls around, Sanders or Dieter have made an impact.

 

Recruiting information courtesy of ESPN, unless otherwise noted. 

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Power Ranking the Top 10 2015 In-State Commitments So Far

When full recruiting classes are announced by head coaches in February of 2015, the bulk of each class will be made up of in-state commitments.

Among the first rules of recruiting for a program is to lock down its own state. With the 2015 class, some of the nation's best recruits have already chosen to stay home and play for programs inside their native borders.

A trio of elite quarterback recruits aren't going too far from home, while an SEC school has a pledge from a 5-star defensive tackle from inside its state. Also, a 4-star running back in Florida is staying inside the Sunshine State, but he's actually not going to one of the three powerhouse programs.

All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Rankings.Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

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5-Star DE Jashon Cornell Talks Recipe to Success

Jashon Cornell can’t help but laugh as he talks about his gameday superstitions.

Highlights include his lucky pair of socks, and the same breakfast and pregame meals every week. The pregame meal is a Chipotle burrito, chips with guacamole and coconut water.

But it’s his choice of pregame music that is perhaps most unusual.  What gets Cornell into a rhythm gives quarterbacks the blues.

“I usually listen to some R&B songs to get me hyped,” Cornell said. “I just love R&B music and that’s what gets me in my zone.”

It’s a recipe that has helped him become one of the nation’s most sought-after defensive ends. Over the last two years, Cornell has racked up 122 tackles, 29 sacks and five forced fumbles. Also an accomplished student with a 3.5 GPA at prestigious Cretin-Derham Hall High School in Saint Paul, Minn., Cornell aims to major in international business.

Although he dabbled with basketball and lacrosse in high school, Cornell’s passion for football was developed at an early age. It was the only sport he played from kindergarten until the sixth grade.

While his love affair with the game began early, his journey to becoming a 5-star recruit was far from smooth. As detailed by Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports, Cornell’s drive and work ethic—traits he inherited from his mother—are what turned a raw athlete into a powerful force as a pass-rusher.

Cornell chuckles as he recalls playing receiver simply because his coaches felt he was faster than everyone else.

“When I was at receiver, I was like, ‘yeah, this is not going to work for me.’” Cornell said. “I think around eighth grade, I decided to play defense. I knew I’d rather hit somebody than to get hit.”

His transformation into the hulking 6’4”, 255-pound defensive end with a 40-inch vertical and a 40-yard dash time of 4.6 seconds began a year after his epiphany to focus on defense.

That’s when, as a freshman in high school, he decided to go to a camp at Notre Dame with friends and fellow recruits such as Jeff Jones, James Onwualu, Khairi Bailey and Demetrius Cooper.  

“Watching those guys go through the process, I looked up to them,” Cornell said. “It made me want to become one of those players and become that prestigious athlete that every college in the country wants. I feel like ever since that first camp my freshman year, hopping in that car to go to camp with them, it was like my eyes opened wide to the college football world.”

It didn’t take much longer for the rest of the nation to take notice. Prior to the start of his junior season, ESPN tabbed him as the top overall prospect in the 2015 class, according to Marcus R. Fuller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Now, schools such as Notre Dame, Michigan State, Michigan, and Penn State are among the schools fighting to earn his commitment—which will come on Aug. 28.

Cornell realizes the hype and pressure that comes with such accolades.

Furthermore, since he hails from the same school that produced Chris Weinke, Michael Floyd and former No. 1 recruits like Joe Mauer and Seantrel Henderson, he wants to establish a tradition of excellence on the defensive side of the ball.

“CDH is known for their offensive players, so for me to be one of the top defensive players to come out of CDH, I feel like it’s my responsibility to show my talent and be the best player I can be,” Cornell said.  “I try to stay in the weight room and do all the little things and make sure that I’m not taking days off.

With that mindset fueling him as he approaches his senior season, his next challenge will be trying to help Cretin-Derham Hall capture its first state title since 2009.

“It’s my last high school season,” Cornell said. “As a team captain this year, I feel like it’s my duty to lead our team to a state championship. That’s the main goal.”

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand. 

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Top 5 QB Recruits to Watch For at Oakland Elite 11 Regional

The Elite 11 Quarterback Camp rolls into Northern California on Friday, May 16, allowing another crop of premier passers to compete against their top contemporaries. The action features several standouts from the 2015 recruiting class, including a few who have already accepted collegiate scholarship offers.

The latest Elite 11 regional event also presents an opportunity for elite performers to advance into the national phase of competition. Notable Elite 11 alumni include eventual No. 1 overall NFL draft picks Matthew Stafford and Andrew Luck, along with reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.

With the Oakland roster unveiled, we highlight the top five quarterbacks to keep an eye on, ranking them in regard to skill set and high school success.

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