NCAA Football News

Alabama Football: Analyzing Why Crimson Tide Will Win the SEC

Alabama is the gold standard when it comes to college football. The Crimson Tide have won three of the last five national championships, including back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012.

Interestingly, SEC championships have been harder to achieve than crystal balls. Since coach Nick Saban’s arrival in 2007, Alabama has won only two conference crowns (2009, 2012), indicating that finishing on top of the SEC, widely regarded as the most competitive conference in the country, is no simple feat.

With the 2014 college football season fast approaching, here are three reasons why the Crimson Tide will win the SEC.


Favorable Schedule

Last season, Alabama started the season 11-0 and ranked No. 1 in the nation. However, the team’s SEC championship and BCS national title aspirations were halted thanks to Auburn’s thrilling 34-28 victory in which senior Chris Davis returned a missed 56-yard field-goal attempt 109 yards for a touchdown as time expired.

In 2014, the Crimson Tide’s schedule is extremely favorable. In terms of strength of schedule, calculated by adding up every team’s total wins and losses from a year ago, Alabama is the only SEC team to have less than .500 opponents’ winning percentage, according to Saturday Down South's Jon Cooper, as its opponents combined to go 71-79 in 2013.

In addition, Alabama gets Florida, Texas A&M and Auburn at home and avoids playing Georgia or South Carolina during the regular season. The toughest tests for the Crimson Tide will come on the road against rival LSU and at home to Auburn in the Iron Bowl. If Alabama can take care of business at home and manage a victory at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, it will be in good shape to win Saban’s third conference title.


Returning Starters

Although Alabama loses its decorated quarterback in A.J. McCarron, as well as a number of defensive players to the NFL, the team does return 12 starters from a year ago, including several key contributors on offense.

Most notably is junior running back T.J. Yeldon, who has amassed 2,343 yards and 26 touchdowns in two seasons. It won’t be a surprise if the team leans on the third-year back, especially early in the season when easing in a new signal-caller.

Alabama also returns four of its five leading pass-catchers in Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White, Christion Jones and tight end O.J. Howard. The quartet combined for 1,888 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

This offensive continuity will undoubtedly help whoever starts the season at quarterback. Senior Blake Sims has performed well this spring, completing 40-of-62 passes for 515 yards and five touchdowns through two scrimmages, according to Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee. However, Sims will be pushed by junior Jacob Coker, who will join the team this summer after transferring from Florida State, where he was a backup to Heisman winner Jameis Winston.


Nick Saban

During his tenure at Alabama, Saban has accumulated an impressive 74-15 record, including 61 victories in 68 games over the last five seasons. According to Alabama's official team website, with four national titles, Saban joins Frank Leahy, Bear Bryant and John McKay as the only coaches to accomplish such a feat.

He has also proven to be a master recruiter, as the Crimson Tide have had the nation’s top recruiting class four years in a row. They have the top class again this season, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.

But like every year, Saban will have to mold a talented, but young roster to play his brand of tough, disciplined football. But if any coach is up for the challenge, it's Saban. With an 8-1 all-time record in conference or national championship games, his track record speaks for itself.

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Alabama Football: What Will Derrick Henry's Role Be in 2014?

From the moment the clock struck zero in Alabama’s disappointing Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma, Tide fans looking ahead to the upcoming fall knew they had at least one big reason to smile—the breakout performance of running back Derrick Henry.

After racking up 161 yards of total offense and two touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving) on only nine touches against the Sooners, the biggest question entering spring practice was how Henry’s role would increase in 2014.

According to John Zenor of the Associated Press (h/t Florida Times-Union), Nick Saban is pleased with the rising sophomore’s improvement this spring.

“Derrick Henry has had a fabulous spring,” Saban said. “He picked up right where he left off at bowl practice last year. He works really hard. He runs really hard. He plays with a lot of toughness. He gets it. Very conscientious guy. He sets a great example. “

That endorsement from his head coach speaks volumes about his potential to become an impact player this season.

However, with junior T.J. Yeldon—who has piled up 2,343 yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground over his first two years—established as one of the nation’s top rushers, it will take a monumental effort for Henry to take over the starting role.

But as Alabama has proven throughout Saban’s tenure in Tuscaloosa, its ground game has been at its peak efficiency when relying on a two-headed monster in the backfield.

Players such as Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and Yeldon each thrived as the change-of-pace back to the touted rushers in front of them, yet each capitalized on the move to the lead role when their time came.

However, as talented as those backs were, Henry is a rare breed.

Dealing with a 240-pound player blessed with vision, power and breakaway speed, new Tide offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is charged with the task of making sure Yeldon, Henry and the rest of the Tide’s talented stable of backs get their touches.

Coming off his bowl performance and a strong display during spring practice, Henry appears to be in a strong position to hold off Kenyan Drake for the backup job.

If he does earn that job, expect him to see significantly more carries than the 36 he logged as a freshman.

Since 2008, Alabama’s lead back has season averages of 226 carries, 1,359 yards and 15 touchdowns. Over the same period, the No. 2 back has averaged 127 carries for 776 yards and nine touchdowns.

Regardless of how the depth chart shakes out, Henry will exit spring with a ton of ammunition for his case to become one of the Tide’s most trusted offensive weapons this fall.

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Auburn to Receive 2013 SEC Championship Rings at A-Day

The Auburn Tigers will be the proud owners of a new set of championship rings at halftime of A-Day on April 19. 

Auburn players, coaching staff and administrators will receive the 2013 SEC Championship rings featuring a simple, blue Auburn logo in the center with "2013 SEC CHAMPIONS" written along the side at halftime of their A-Day game, according to coach Gus Malzahn's Twitter

Auburn beat Missouri 59-42 in the SEC Championship on Dec. 7.

[Gus Malzahn's Twitter, h/t]

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Former Clemson QB Chad Kelly Has Skills to Be Successful If He Matures

The Clemson Tigers dismissed quarterback Chad Kelly on Monday. Kelly is the nephew of former NFL star QB Jim Kelly. The No. 5 dual-threat QB of the class of 2012 was a highly recruited prospect who chose the Tigers over offers from Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State and others. 

What's next for him? What does he have to do to show coaches that he is a viable option to lead an offense?

Roy Philpott from broke down the latest on Kelly and what's next for the former Clemson Tiger. 


Highlights courtesy XOS Digital.

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Rutgers Runs Special Trick Play for Wheelchair-Bound Fans in Spring Practice

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights ended their spring practice in the best possible way.

Eleven-year-old Danny Garofalo and 16-year-old Matt DeRiggi have both been confined to wheelchairs the past three years due to Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), according to's Dan Duggan. DMD progressively breaks down the muscles and eventually weakens the heart and lungs.

The two boys have attended Rutgers practices in the past. However, Saturday's practice was a completely new experience. Instead of just watching the team, the boys were able to participate in a special play.

Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova handed the ball off to DeRiggi, who got the ball to Garofalo on the reverse. With the help of blockers, Garofalo took the ball to the end zone for the touchdown.

Once the ball crossed the goal line, it was time for celebration.

[Rutgers Football, h/t USA TODAY's FTW]

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Texas A&M Football: What We Learned About Kyle Allen in Spring Practice

The Texas A&M football team's spring season is complete, but the competition for the starting quarterback job will continue into the fall. True freshman Kyle Allen exceeded expectations early in his Aggie career and is widely considered the leader in the competition to replace Johnny Manziel

Allen graduated from high school early and enrolled at A&M in January. Instead of getting ready for his senior prom, he has been trying to complete passes against SEC defenders. 

Allen is competing with sophomore Kenny Hill and fifth-year senior Matt Joeckel for the starting quarterback job. Allen and Hill were thought to be ahead of Joeckel in the competition, but then Hill was suspended after being arrested for public intoxication. 

Whether or not Allen will start his first career collegiate game will be decided about two weeks before the Aggies' season opener on August 28.

This is a look at what Allen showed the coaches and fans during spring practice. 


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Pac-12 Football: 5 Teams Having the Best Spring Camp

Having a great spring camp is sort of like starting a puzzle by completing the outer ring; you have a solid foundation for completing the project, but it's not the most essential aspect of the process.

For Pac-12 teams, improving during spring and maintaining health are key goals but not entirely crucial for success in the 2014 regular season. That said, you'd rather be drawing rave reviews and running crisp practices than look sloppy and be dealing with injuries.

There's no perfect formula to judge how well a team is doing, especially if fans and media aren't allowed to watch, as is the case with some programs. But we'll do our best based on practice reports, overall health of the team and, admittedly, gut feelings.

Remember that these rankings are strictly based on how a team is faring during spring practice and have no correlation with perceived order of finish in 2014. Also, being excluded from this list doesn't necessarily mean spring practice is going poorly for those teams. The five listed programs have just generated more buzz for one reason or another.

Take a look at these five Pac-12 squads that are happy about their offseason progress so far.

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Kerryon Johnson Commits to Auburn: Where 'Bama, FSU Turn After Missing on 4-Star

The trio of college football programs fortunate enough to remain in the picture for a commitment from Kerryon Johnson on Tuesday would qualify as dream finalists for many prospects in America.

The coveted recruit weighed offers from Florida State, Auburn and Alabama—teams that combined to claim the past five national titles while boasting three Heisman Trophy winners along the way. Johnson, a scintillating 6'0", 200-pound athlete from Madison, Ala., chose the reigning SEC champions from an elite mix of contenders:

He announced his decision to commit to Auburn during a ceremony at Madison Academy. It's another testament to the rapid turnaround under second-year head coach Gus Malzahn.

Florida State was the opponent who spoiled a potential championship party in Southern California three months ago. The Seminoles still couldn't sway Johnson, who visited Tallahassee 10 days ago.

Alabama is a program that prides itself on being the football flagship of its home state. Nick Saban provided a gut-punch on signing day when he pried top-ranked linebacker recruit Rashaan Evans away from Auburn High School.

In the latest tussle for a common in-state target, Auburn gained the edge.

The final stretch of his recruitment was viewed as an incredibly tight race with three powerhouse programs in play for a prospect who could potentially contribute on either side of the ball. He spent time on each campus during the past month but didn't provide a strong indication of any significant lean toward one team. 

He was projected to commit to Auburn by 76 percent of experts in 247Sports' Crystal Ball. Florida State followed with 16 percent of predictions, while Alabama held eight percent.

Johnson is rated No. 2 nationally among athletes and No. 37 among all recruits in 247Sports' composite rankings. He's considered the consensus No. 2 prospect in Alabama.

His pledge to the Tigers gives Auburn six commits in its 2015 class. Johnson is the highest-rated member of Malzahn's current prospect haul.

He burst onto the scene as one of Alabama's top players as an underclassman. His three-touchdown performance in the 2012 state title game punctuated a dominant sophomore season with MVP honors.

Johnson sprinted 43 yards for a score in the 2013 championship game as Madison Academy captured another championship. He is already committed to play in the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

His dynamic skill set and speed make him a versatile option at the next level.

Johnson is a star at running back, exhibiting elite acceleration and balance as a runner. His downfield vision shines as he maneuvers through rushing lanes and bursts along the sidelines.

His length and speed serve him well in the defensive secondary where some coaches envision him as a high-ceiling safety prospect. However, it appears his future lies in the offensive backfield.

"From Day 1, Auburn has recruited him at RB, which is what he sees himself as being," 247Sports analyst Keith Neibuhr told

Alabama and Florida State, freshly spurned by a key recruit, must look elsewhere to address roster needs.

The Crimson Tide already hold a commitment from impressive 4-star running back Desherrius Flowers but may look to bring another rusher on board. Top-ranked junior college recruit Jovon Robinson, a former Auburn signee, presents a strong possibility.

Alabama may have viewed Johnson as a safety more than his other two finalists. Saban will seek help at the position by targeting Jamal Peters (Mississippi) and Tavarus McFadden (Florida).

Florida State is still searching for a running back in this recruiting cycle. The Seminoles hope to rein in Orlando product Jacques Patrick or Georgia standout Taj Griffin, both 4-star options.

The team will also attempt to flip Fort Lauderdale running back Jordan Scarlett from FAU, along with several other suitors.

There's plenty of work ahead for Florida State, Alabama and Auburn on the way to national signing day. Today, however, Malzahn and the Tigers coaching staff can rest a tad easier knowing Johnson is on board.

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Kerryon Johnson to Auburn: Tigers Land 4-Star ATH Prospect

Auburn is on its way toward even more success in the future after grabbing a commitment from 4-star athlete Kerryon Johnson.  

Keith Nieburh of revealed the news of the young player's decision on Tuesday:

The Madison, Ala., native is clearly one of the top playmakers in the 2015 class, starring for Madison Academy as both a running back and a safety. He helped lead the school to the last two state championships and will hope to earn another one in his senior year.

According to 247Sports' composite rankings, he is the No. 37 player in the class as well as the No. 2 prospect in the state of Alabama.

At 6'0", 200 pounds, Johnson has the size to run over smaller players while also using the speed and agility to get beyond anyone bigger than him. On the defensive side, he is a ball-hawking safety who knows how to make game-changing plays for his team.

Unsurprisingly, he also is extremely dangerous when he gets the ball in his hands and can take it to the house on offense, defense or special teams.

Josh Bean of described how dominant the versatile player has been throughout his career:

Johnson has been the best player on the field in last three AHSAA Class 3A state title games, starring as a runner, defensive back, receiver and kick returner. He really can do it all and has the size to be a difference maker on either side of the ball. His blend of size, speed and elusiveness has drawn comparisons to 2011 Mr. Football T.J. Yeldon.

As a result of his production, Johnson had the opportunity to play for virtually any college football team in the country. He had narrowed it down to the last three teams to win a national championship: Alabama, Auburn and Florida State.

When discussing his finalists, he gave insight into what he was looking for in a school. Johnson told Mike Herndon of, "They're all great schools, they have winning traditions, they do a good job of developing players -- but also, they're all good academic schools."

By the time he was set to make a decision, there was plenty of excitement all around:

In the end, he chose the Tigers, giving the already talented squad yet another elite player that will be able to contribute early in his career. Considering his size and skill, he might not even need to redshirt.

While he appears more likely to be a running back at the next level, he certainly has a talent to succeed at safety. It will probably just come down to what the coaching staff is looking for at the time. This versatility is another reason he becomes such a valuable commitment.

It will still be a while before the 2015 star steps onto campus, but fans should already start getting excited about the possibilities.


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

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No. 2 ATH Kerryon Johnson Commits to Auburn, How Malzahn Will Use Him in Offense

4-Star ATH Kerryon Johnson has committed to play his college football for Auburn. The 6'0", 200-pound athlete is an aggressive runner with phenomenal leaping ability.

Johnson chose the Tigers over multiple schools, headlined by Alabama and Florida State.

B/R's Barrett Sallee breaks down how Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn will use Johnson in the future and also compares him to a former SEC running back who was a ferocious runner in his own right.

Watch the video, and see how Johnson will be used and who his player comparison is.

Highlights courtesy of

Standings courtesy of

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Best Fits for the Top 10 Uncommitted 2015 Defensive Recruits

Several of the nation's premier defensive prospects have been selective when it comes to deciding on their desired collegiate destination. Less than 10 months shy of national signing day 2015, elite playmakers remain up for grabs and continue to garner interest from college programs.

We dissect the mounting list of options for each defender, with an eye on which squads may have the advantage when an announcement arrives.  

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Tennessee Football: Butch Jones' Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice

Various buds of optimism sprouted throughout Tennessee head coach Butch Jones' post-Orange and White Game press conference.

Unfortunately for the young Volunteers, the words were surrounded by the weeds of worry.

The 2014 season is going to be like that for the Vols—full of hope as inexperienced players thrust into important roles all over the field grow and shine, and full of frustration, as they inevitably struggle adjusting to the rugged SEC.

For every emerging playmaker on offense or the vast improvement from the quarterback position Jones touched on Saturday, there were caveats.

The team's stars are young. The mistakes are abundant. The defense has holes. The offensive line is undeveloped. The depth has not yet arrived.

Questions abound. The stark reality is Jones, his staff and his young team have a lot of work to do in the next five months to get ready for a ridiculous schedule. This is a Vols team that will get a lot better throughout the course of the season. But what do they need to focus on foremost?

Let's take a look at the biggest concerns facing UT this offseason.

All quotes obtained firsthand.

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9 College Football Quarterback Battles That Will Last Through Fall Camp

Footballs are no longer in the air, music isn't blasting from speakers and coaches aren't barking out instructions anymore. Yes, that's right, the annual rite that is spring football is over for most colleges across America. 

That means it's time for us to assess where the state of college football is across campuses nationwide. It also means the spotlight shines on the most important position on the field—quarterback. 

While some programs got the answers they were seeking at quarterback, others have a rough and tumble battle ahead of them. 

Let's take a look at nine quarterback battles that will likely last the distance. 


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Florida Football: Gators Achieved Their Primary Spring Goal; Find an Offense

Florida's mission this spring was not only to install new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper's hurry-up, no-huddle offense; it was to find the primary players who will make that offense click.

Mission accomplished.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel completed 19-of-33 passes for 171 yards and one touchdown in the spring game, adding 27 yards on the ground.

Is that efficient enough? Not really.

In fact, the 5.2 yards-per-attempt average is downright mediocre. But there was a silver lining, because Florida made a concerted effort to spread things around and play fast. As a result, several key pieces of the wide receiving corps stepped up.

Demarcus Robinson had 45 receiving yards, including a 31-yard touchdown reception. Quinton Dunbar had 42 receiving yards, including a 22-yarder. Chris Thompson had 31 yards and a touchdown, and Ahmad Fulwood had 32 receiving yards.

Florida found options at wide receiver and picked up on the new scheme well, which pleased head coach Will Muschamp.

“I'm extremely pleased with the day offensively with 15 practices and how far we've come," he said in quotes released by Florida. "I think you can attribute all that to Kurt Roper and the offensive staff and the job they've done.”

That is what Florida needed to do. Spring was the time for installation with fall camp becoming the "fine-tuning" phase of the offense. Driskel and the wide receivers picked up on the offense and what its goals were this spring, and they can tweak as needed this summer.

What will some of those tweaks be?

The return of slot receiver Andre Debose to full speed will be one. The 5'11", 189-pounder has largely been a disappointment since signing with the Gators in 2009, but Roper's track record of success with smaller slot receivers bodes well for Debose to shine as a sixth-year senior if he stays healthy. Two Duke receivers under Roper who were similar in stature to Debose—Jamison Crowder (2012, 2013) and Donovan Varner (2009)—topped the 900-yard receiving mark in those seasons.

Add in running back Matt Jones, who could be used either as a pure running back or as an H-back, and Roper's options will grow during fall camp. With Jones, sophomore Kelvin Taylor and senior Mack Brown, they could turn to more of a hurry-up power attack like Gus Malzahn's Auburn Tigers if they want to.

However the offense evolves, the foundation has been laid. Players have grasped the tempo and the scheme, and they now have the opportunity to fine-tune the offense when the next practice session starts in August.

Does Florida have to post one of the top offenses in the conference?

No. The bread and butter of the Gators will be a stout defense yet again. As long as Roper can get them moving the ball consistently, it's all they'll need to get back into the SEC East discussion.


* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All spring statistics are courtesy of the University of Florida, and all college statistics are courtesy of


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Everett Golson vs. Malik Zaire: Who Will Start for Fighting Irish in 2014?

Everett Golson is back in South Bend and the Notre Dame QB battle intensified after the spring game. Sophomore Malik Zaire excelled in spring practice while Golson was shaking off the rust after a year away from football. 

Golson is known for his ability to extend plays and get out of the pocket, but Zaire also has great playmaking skills. Which QB has what it takes to start for the Fighting Irish in 2014?

Check out JJ Stankevitz from CSN Chicago break down Notre Dame's QBs and who should start in 2014. 


Highlights courtesy XOS Digital

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2015 4-Star RB Recruit Derrius Guice Names Top 5

Derrius Guice is one of several elite 2015 running back recruits who remain uncommitted. The Louisiana standout revealed where his process currently stands by sharing a top-five list with reporter Jason Howell.

"The order would be LSU, Southern Miss, Texas, Georgia, and Alabama," Guice told Howell.

The 5'10", 195-pound junior stars at Catholic High School in Baton Rouge. He rushed for 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2013 during a trip to the postseason.

LSU has to like its chances of landing Guice, who received an offer from head coach Les Miles last April and frequents the campus. He told Howell the Tigers are "always going to be my No. 1."

If that sentiment holds true through national signing day, expect Guice to join an LSU offensive backfield already brimming with talent. It's notable Alabama ranks fifth on his short list, signifying an uphill climb in this competition for the Tigers' bitter rival.

This top five is significantly different from the list of four favorites Guice mentioned in March. Alabama, LSU and Texas remain in the picture, but Tulane has dropped off.

The Green Wave gave way to Texas and Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles may appear as a serious underdog given their comparative national status, but Guice has spent time on campus during multiple visits and is apparently impressed enough to consider the team a serious contender.

Charlie Strong is attempting to make inroads in SEC territory at Texas. The Longhorns hold commitments from running back prospects Jordan Stevenson and Tristian Houston, members of a nine-player class that strictly features in-state recruits.

Guice told Howell he plans to visit Texas and Georgia during spring break, while leaving the door open for other possible collegiate destinations during his time away from school.

This latest list of favorites provides momentary insight, but it's certainly subject to change again.

"I haven't really eliminated anyone because everything can change and I can change my mind," Guice told Howell.

Guice is rated No. 6 nationally among running backs in 247Sports composite rankings. He has yet to provide a timetable for his decision date.

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Clemson Football: Is Cole Stoudt Ready to Lead Tigers in 2014?

If Cole Stoudt wasn't already the front-runner to be Clemson's starting quarterback, he certainly is now. 

On Monday, fellow quarterback Chad Kelly was dismissed from the program due to "conduct detrimental to [the] program." 

"He has had a pattern of behavior that is not consistent with the values of our program," head coach Dabo Swinney said in a university statement. "I hope he will mature and grow from this and become the man and player I know he can be. I wish him nothing but the best in the future academically and athletically."

Regardless of what ultimately led to Kelly's dismissal, the Tigers now have a two-man quarterback race between Stoudt and freshman Deshaun Watson.

Stoudt brings a cool head and leadership qualities to the Tigers offense. According to Aaron Brenner of The Post and Courier, Kelly was benched during Clemson's spring game and reportedly got into it with members of the coaching staff. 

The coaching staff wasn't having it. 

"The biggest thing is he got frustrated. Maturity, leadership, that's a huge part of that position," Swinney said, via Brenner. "Those are two things he's got to continue to work on. It's a lot more than just the skills."

Now, compare that to what Swinney and Morris said about Stoudt, per Brenner.

"(Stoudt) has been very consistent the entire spring," Morris said. "He's been that steady Eddie type of guy, never too high, never too low. So it was good to see that with him today."

And Swinney: "Cole Stoudt had the better day, was the better leader, was more poised, handled the situation that was in front of him better. Everybody can see that today."

Watson wasn't available for comparison. A cracked collarbone he sustained earlier this month kept him out of the spring game and will keep him out of the remainder of spring practice, as reported by Mandrallius Robinson of The Greenville News

Watson—a 4-star dual-threat prospect, per 247Sports—enrolled early with a ton of hype. He will be able to resume throwing later this summer and should be good to go for preseason camp.

Obviously, the quarterback situation has changed since his injury. As Tigers offensive coordinator Chad Morris previously told David M. Hale of, "We’d love to redshirt him [Watson], but if he’s given the opportunity to play, he’s a guy that if the door opens for him, he may never look back.”

That door just cracked open a little wider with Kelly's departure. However, Swinney told Fox Sports' Coy Wire on Tuesday that Stoudt would be the starting quarterback.

"It should be pretty obvious that he won the job,” Swinney said. “He's a great leader who is highly respected by his teammates. He never once complained. He was always ready when we needed him. He's earned it and he will be named the starter."

This is the opportunity Stoudt has waited for since serving as a backup behind Tajh Boyd. This is Stoudt's time to take the reins. He's wanted the job, but he didn't have a real chance of getting it until this year.

He's ready to lead, and he's proved that this spring. There may come a time this year when Watson proves to be the better option if Stoudt can't get it done. Until that happens—if it happens at all—this looks like Stoudt's team. 


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


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Nick Saban Awkwardly Poses for Photo with Alabama Gymnastics Team

Alabama coach Nick Saban knows what he is doing on the sidelines of a football field, but he could learn how to look more natural in photos.

The 62-year-old recently stopped by to talk to the Crimson Tide gymnastics team. No matter how the talk went, the photo definitely could have been better.

[Alabama Gymnastics, h/t The Big Lead]

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Oklahoma Football: Top Performers from the Sooners' Spring Game

An air of optimism surrounded the Oklahoma spring game Saturday, which saw the White team beat the Red team, 28-13, in a (comparatively) normal scrimmage format.

According to Brandon Chatmon of, a school-record 43,500 fans flooded Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, up more than 14,000 patrons from last year's attendance. After watching the Sooners beat Alabama in the 2014 Sugar Bowl, OU fans could not wait to see them in action once again.

Sugar Bowl hero Trevor Knight struggled at quarterback, completing just five of his 14 passes. Defense dominated, for the most part, the entire afternoon, which is to be expected at this time of spring (and in general with OU returning so much on that side of the ball).

But at least one offensive player—and a "newcomer" to Oklahoma, at that—made headlines with the strength of his performance, along with a couple of stars in the linebacking corps.

Here's a look at Saturday's three best performers.


Third Star: LB Jordan Evans

With Frank Shannon's mysterious absence up the middle, OU's depth at inside linebacker was and will continue to be tested. On Saturday, true sophomore Jordan Evans answered the call.

Evans was flying to the ball all afternoon, routinely finding himself in the offensive backfield. He showed a willingness to be physical and played with excellent instincts, which is rare in such a young linebacker.

He also almost murdered K.J. Young, blowing up a wide receiver screen for what turned into a diving interception by defensive tackle Jordan Wade:

Evans has been coming on strong all spring, and Saturday was a fitting way to punctuate that improvement. Bob Stoops said so himself, according to OU Football's official Twitter account:

Of Shannon, Stoops said he's "not at liberty to discuss" the absence and noted that the Sooners need to build some depth at linebacker, according to Eric Bailey of the Tulsa World

That is not news anybody wants to hear, and Shannon is wished the best. After leading the team with 92 tackles in 2013, his return would obviously help this football team a great deal.

If he's gone, however, at least there's a capable player behind him. 


Second Star: LB Eric Striker

Evans' development was a welcome sign at inside linebacker, where, as mentioned earlier, Stoops knows the team could use some help.

At outside linebacker? Not so much.

Eric Striker resumed his dominant form on Saturday, looking every bit the unblockable edge-rusher he did in the Sugar Bowl, when he had three sacks and forced the game-clinching fumble against Alabama.

He had another multi-sack game on Saturday, this time racking up two on his teammate, Knight. Seizing the moment after sack No. 2, he paused and took a bow to the crowd:

Striker has been among the standout performers of spring camp, which was to be expected. He is looking at an expanded role in 2014, playing a lot in open space and even in coverage nickel packages.

Bob Stoops and defensive coordinator Mike Stoops alluded to these changes after Saturday's game, while also lauding Striker's instincts:

Entering his junior season, Striker has the look of an early-round NFL draft pick in 2015. Sooners fans would hate to see him go, but if he does, it would likely mean an All-Big-12 and maybe even All-American performance this season.

And honestly…that might be worth it.


First Star: QB Baker Mayfield

How could it be anybody else?

Sooners fans came out Saturday, in large part, to see how Knight performed. If you told them a different QB who started multiple games in the Big 12 last season would steal the show, they likely would have pointed toward new tight end Blake Bell.


Baker Mayfield, who transferred this winter from Texas Tech, where last season he threw for more than 2,300 yards and 12 touchdowns as a platooning freshman, finished the scrimmage 9-of-9 passing with 125 yards and two touchdowns. Especially considering the way Knight struggled, his performance became the story of the day.

This postgame photo from Bailey says it all:

Because of NCAA transfer rules, Mayfield is not eligible to play in 2014. Even if he was, he would not be a legitimate threat to Knight's Week 1 job. However, he would have provided a nice insurance option if Knight struggles in the short term (which has happened in the past) and will be ready in 2015 if Knight struggles in the long term.

Mayfield has experience starting a season hot. As a true freshman walk-on at Texas Tech last season, he threw for more than 400 yards and had five total touchdowns in Week 1 against SMU:

This is the part of the season where Mayfield shines, although fellow Red Raider freshman Davis Webb eventually took his job, which prompted his transfer to Norman. If he continues to improve this season—enough so that he can be trusted on a week-in, week-out basis—Knight may have some quality competition on his hands.

Of course, after last season, it's not like he isn't used to that.

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Odds on Where 2015 No. 1 Dual-Threat QB Torrance Gibson Lands at Next Level

2015 5-Star dual-threat quarterback Torrance Gibson is being courted by pretty much all of the top programs in the country. The 6'4", 200-pound lefty has the legs to make highlight-reel plays on the ground but also has the arm to make all the necessary throws.

B/R's Adam Kramer goes to the odds board to try to decipher which school will ultimately land Gibson's talents.

Who is the favorite?

Watch the video to find out.


Highlights courtesy of

Ratings courtesy of

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