NCAA Football News

Katherine Webb Poses with AJ McCarron's Rings from Alabama

That's a whole lot of rings.

Former Miss Alabama Katherine Webb decided to post this picture of herself with a number of former Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron's rings from his very successful college career. 

McCarron received all of those rings thanks to three national championships, two SEC titles and one Capital One Bowl.

With so many rings, it looks like Webb is trying to give the likes of Bill Russell and Michael Jordan a run for their money.


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Power Ranking Penn State's 2014 Schedule from Easiest to Toughest

The college football season is just over two months away, and Penn State predictions are starting to formulate about the 2014 campaign. 

How many can they win? Can they upset the Buckeyes? Will UCF be as good as they were last season?

Here's a look at the 2014 schedule in order from the easiest opponents to the toughest to help you form an opinion of your own!

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Texas Football: Biggest Obstacles Each New Position Coach Faces in 2014

The Texas Longhorns will enter the 2014 season with a brand new face of the program and a revitalized group of assistant coaches. But the obstacles each coach will face cannot be overlooked.

Head coach Charlie Strong put together a solid group of assistants who have the goal of bringing pride back to Texas football. Unfortunately for Texas fans, the challenges that lie ahead may not be the easiest to overcome.



The first obstacle on more than likely every Texas fan's mind is the quarterback. The Longhorns have lacked effective quarterback play since Colt McCoy graduated in 2009. Four years have passed since the Longhorns had a solid option to lead the offense, and those woes could very likely continue in 2014.

Quarterback coach Shawn Watson has three scholarship options to work with: junior David Ash, sophomore Tyrone Swoopes and true freshman Jerrod Heard. The talent among the quarterback trio is there, but the development needs to follow.

One of the best-case scenarios for the Longhorns is that Ash can stay healthy, and Swoopes can learn to develop behind Ash—giving true freshman Heard a redshirt season to adjust to the college game. And the obvious worst-case scenario is Ash cannot stay healthy and either Swoopes or Heard are forced to take over the starting role when either of them may not be ready for it.

It is rare for a true freshman to take over the starting role once they arrive on campus, but it isn't unheard of. In fact, a prime example that comes to mind is former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who Watson coached for his four seasons with the Cardinals.

Does that mean Texas fans should expect Heard to develop at the rate of Bridgewater? Probably not.

All eyes will be on Watson to make something work with the options he has. And this story angle will likely not die down until results are seen from the quarterback position.

Next on the list is the offensive line.

Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Joe Wickline is widely regarded as one of the best O-Line coaches in college football, and he will have his work cut out for him in 2014.

The Longhorns are looking to replace one of the more veteran lines in college football from 2013. But the talent to replace the line may not currently be on the roster.

Aside from center Dominic Espinosa, Texas has a large group of inexperienced linemen. And the inexperience was extremely apparent in the spring game.

Wickline may be the best-of-the-best when it comes to coaching up the big guys, but he has a very limited amount of time to find four other linemen who will be able to protect whichever quarterback Watson puts on the field. 

The running back position is one of the more solid positions for the Longhorns in 2014. 

Between Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron and Johnathan Gray, running back coach Tommie Robinson inherited a loaded roster of backs.

The obstacle Robinson will face is not who's the best option but rather how to split the carries between the trio.

Brown and Gray carried the bulk of the load in 2013, but Gray's Achilles injury has left his status of returning to the field up in the air. If Gray returns to the team in time for the start of the season, Robinson will have to come up with the right solution to effectively distribute the carries among the backs.

Texas alum Les Koenning has a decent group of receivers, but the position remains a question mark as long as the quarterback position is not situated.

Putting the quarterback position aside, one of the bigger obstacles Koenning will face does not have to do with a lack of personnel but rather finding the best options to put on the field. Senior Jaxon Shipley has been one of the more consistent options for the previous three seasons while Kendall Sanders and Marcus Johnson picked up valuable playing time in 2013.

But Koenning has a decent group of receivers from last season's roster—in addition to the 2014 signing class—which included 4-star prospects Armanti Foreman and Lorenzo Joe.

Koenning will need to help develop Sanders and Johnson and find a solid group of backups to throw into the mix in 2014.



Surprisingly, the Texas defense will enter the season with less concern than the offense, which hasn't been the case in recent history.

Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford hit the nail on the head when he explained the defense's biggest issues during spring practice:

The biggest surprise for me is the confidence to go out there and make a play. In the game of football on the defensive side, those who play it safe are going to miss the bus. If you have confidence, you're going to be aggressive, and you're going to win. You don't play it safe.

You don't go to lose, but go to win. We have to get that back here, and that comes with confidence, understanding how to play the game, knowing what your job is, trusting your teammates and going out there and doing that job. When we get to that point of going to win, not just to survive, we will be headed in the right direction.

One of the biggest concerns for the Texas defense over the previous two seasons was with the linebackers. First-year linebacker coach Brian Jean-Mary inherited a distinguished group of talent that has been plagued by injuries.

The three projected starters are likely Jordan Hicks, Steve Edmond and Peter Jinkens. But Hicks is still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered in the Longhorns fourth game of the 2013 season. Hicks was also sidelined for the majority of 2012 with a lingering hip injury.

Considering his injury-prone past makes it difficult to expect a full, healthy season from Hicks, Jean-Mary's biggest obstacle will be to find a decent group of backups who can take over for Hicks if he spends another season on the sidelines.

The remaining defensive position coaches appear to have fewer obstacles to overcome in their first season in Austin, but that does not mean problems couldn't surface.

Bedford and secondary coach Chris Vaughn have a decent amount of talent to work with, led by senior Quandre Diggs. Bedford commended Diggs' attitude during spring practice and said Texas needs other defensive backs to have Diggs' attitude. Diggs plays with a will to win while some of the remaining DBs play timid.

What Bedford and Vaughn have to do is teach the defensive backs to play the game with the confidence that can be seen from Diggs.

That leaves the defensive line.

Similar to Robinson, defensive line coach Chris Rumph has a solid group of linemen to help lead the defense in 2014. Rumph inherited projected top-round 2015 NFL draft pick Cedric Reed and veteran defensive tackles Malcom Brown and Desmond Jackson. 

The biggest concern for Rumph will likely be who will play opposite of Reed, but on a scale from one to 10, that concern is probably a two compared to the rest of the issues on the team.

Rumph has options to work with and will add incoming freshman and former 4-star prospect Derick Roberson to the mix.

In other words, Rumph's concerns are far less than some of his fellow position coaches on defense.

It's very obvious that year one under Strong and his staff will not be a breeze. The Longhorns have lacked an identity and consistency for the last four seasons.

But with a new leader at the helm, Texas has the chance to build a new identity and bring pride back to Texas football—which is needed now more than ever.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.

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Big Ten Football's Best Candidates to Win 2014 Heisman Trophy

The Big Ten hasn't had a Heisman Trophy winner since Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith in 2006. Before that, you would have to stretch back to the end of the last millennium to find another player from the conference—Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne—who claimed the award.

No other "power" conference has had less than two Heisman winners since 2000, but being an underdog is part of the Big Ten's newfound charm. No longer a powerhouse, the conference has taken on the role of the plucky underdog and, in certain spots, played it quite well. 

But even if the league, as a whole, is considered a bit of an underdog, that doesn't mean the players and teams at the top are incapable of national recognition. Ohio State and Michigan State are expected to be Top 10 teams at the start of next season, and even beyond those two stalwarts, there are glimmers of hope throughout the Midwest.

Based on the body of work they have already put forth and the situations they find themselves in next season, at least four Big Ten players stand a realistic shot of contending for the Heisman Trophy.

Behind them, a deep class of dark horses could emerge. Johnny Manziel, after all, was not considered a "realistic" Heisman candidate when he took the reigns at Texas A&M two seasons ago.

Who says the next Johnny Football can't play in the B1G?

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The Opening 2014: Position-by-Position Rankings of the Invitees

The Opening is an annual summer event sponsored by Nike that now rivals postseason All-American games in terms of prestige and star power. The action returns to Beaverton, Oregon, on July 7-10, offering the country's premier collegiate recruits a chance to strut their stuff against their peers.

Throughout the country, 150 high school athletes have received invites to attend and test their skills. National bragging rights will be up for grabs as positional battles and seven-on-seven showdowns take center stage.

We surveyed the list of invitees, assessing and ranking the top players at each position in terms of talent and track record. These rankings apply as competition gets ready to commence at The Opening but could dramatically alter after the dust settles in Beaverton.

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Texas A&M Lands No. 1 2016 Recruit Greg Little, Tightens Grip on Lone Star State

Texas A&M is still more than seven months away from finalizing an inevitably outstanding 2015 recruiting class, but head coach Kevin Sumlin is already commanding massive headlines on the 2016 trail. Greg Little, the nation's No. 1 overall rising junior in 247Sports' composite rankings, committed to the Aggies on Friday.

The 6'5.5", 282-pound offensive tackle posted news of his pledge on Twitter:

Texas A&M is on a tear right now, picking up 5-star recruits on consecutive days. Wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge, rated No. 4 nationally among 2015 receivers in 247Sports' composite rankings, committed Thursday.

Little and Lodge hop on a bandwagon that continues to grow packed with blue-chip prospects.

Keaton Sutherland, a 4-star 2015 offensive tackle, joined the class Monday. Last month, 4-star receiver Kemah Siverand and 5-star quarterback Kyler Murray committed to the 2015 class.

Murray is teammates with Little at Allen High School, a two-time defending state champion in suburban Dallas. He collected 4,943 total yards and 65 touchdowns in 2013 with the sophomore anchored at right tackle.

Little, who transitioned from tight end after his freshman season, became a full-time starter last fall. He was an instant success, dominating defensive counterparts despite raw technique.

“He took to it very quickly," Allen offensive coordinator Jeff Fleener told Brian Perroni of 247Sports. "He definitely was able to use his leverage and wingspan to his advantage where he was probably still lacking a little bit in strength, just being a sophomore.”

It isn't easy to make a name for yourself as an underclassman in a locker room loaded with established state champions and Division I prospects. However, Little didn't waste time announcing his arrival to the Eagles lineup, as Fleener told 247Sports.

 When we first moved him to tackle, the very first day he went down to one-on-one pass rush, a lot of the older d-linemen started chirping at him a little bit. The very first time he goes, though, he grabs one of our d-linemen and throws him to the ground. He’s got an aggressive nature to him.

That attitude shined throughout the 2013 season, as did Little's athleticism. Coordination can be a shortcoming for many young players of his physical stature, but he moves smoothly and already exhibits tremendous reach while dealing with pass-rushers.

Little joins fellow 5-star Texan offensive tackle Patrick Hudson in Texas A&M's 2016 class. The massive bookends could stabilize the Aggies' front line for years to come, protecting Murray and 5-star 2014 quarterback signee Kyle Allen from fearsome SEC defenders.

College Station has become the place to be for in-state prospects during Sumlin's tenure.

The 2014 and 2015 recruiting classes feature the nation's top-rated pro-style passer (Allen) and top-rated dual-threat quarterback (Murray), two 5-star wide receivers (Lodge and Speedy Noil), two 4-star receivers (Siverand and Frank Iheanacho) and a 4-star tight end (Jordan Davis).

During that span, the Texas Longhorns have landed just two pass-catchers with 4-star credentials (Lorenzo Joe and Armanti Foreman), while adding a pair of 4-star passers (Jerrod Heard and Zach Gentry).

Little's commitment to Texas A&M continues a trend of recruiting dominance that's undoubtedly met with frustration in Austin. The Longhorns extended a scholarship in October and hosted him on campus for the team's spring game in April.

Auburn, Baylor, Georgia, Tennessee, Oregon, USC and Clemson were among more than 20 offers on Little's list.

Texas A&M currently holds five 5-star commitments between its 2015 and 2016 recruiting hauls. Coveted defensive tackle Daylon Mack committed in October and remains the top-rated player in 2015, ranked second nationally by 247Sports.

The addition of Little ensures a similar rise in rankings next year and provides the latest sign of a rapidly changing recruiting climate in College Station.


Recruit ratings and information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.


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Power Ranking Wisconsin Football's 2014 Schedule from Easiest to Toughest

After three straight Rose Bowl appearances, the Wisconsin football team came back down to earth last season.  While 9-4 is nothing to shake a stick at, the home loss against Penn State coupled with the debacle in the desert and an implosion in the bowl game gave Badger fans cause for pause.

Returning just 10 total starters from last year's team, including just three on the defensive side of the ball, while facing uncertainty at the quarterback and wide receiver position, the Badgers should still find themselves the favorites in most games thanks to a favorable schedule in the Big Ten.

After a season-opening tilt against LSU in Houston, the rest of the Badgers' nonconference schedule shouldn't trouble them too much as they continue to work out the kinks of their passing game while giving their relatively inexperienced front seven some much-needed playing time.

Once the Badgers get into the meat of their Big Ten schedule, save for a game at Northwestern, it takes until mid-November for things to really get more difficult, as the final trio of games against Nebraska, at Iowa and a season-ending matchup for Paul Bunyan's Axe against Minnesota will determine whether or not the Badgers can get back to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game.

Without further ado, here are the Badgers' opponents, ranked from worst to first.

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Damore'ea Stringfellow's Transfer Puts Nebraska Back at Square One

Damore'ea Stringfellow was supposed to fill the void left by Monte Harrison.

When Harrison decided to pursue a professional baseball career over attending college, fans were left wondering who the Huskers would recruit in his place. That's what made transfer wide receiver Stringfellow so appealing.

Stringfellow would likely have had to sit out his first year with the Huskers. That was no issue, though. With seniors Kenny Bell, Tyler Evans and Jamal Turner on the team, Stringfellow would have had a year to learn and prepare to take over in 2015.

Nothing was set in stone though, which allowed Stringfellow to change his mind. With that option still available, the former Washington wide receiver flipped his commitment from Nebraska to Ole Miss after visiting Oxford, Miss., as reported by 247Sports.

Unfortunately, his switch in commitment leaves Nebraska back at square one.

While the present is still secure at wide receiver, the Huskers' long-term future is now in question. This comes on the heels of also losing Spencer Tears.

What does that leave Nebraska with? Brandon Vogel of summed it up:

That leaves Nebraska with three underclassmen wide receivers — Jordan Westerkamp, Alonzo Moore, Kevin Gladney — on scholarship on the current roster, and three true freshman. Two of those, Demornay Pierson-El and Glenn Irons, are smaller slot-type receivers. The third, Jariah Tolbert, at least fits the mold of an outside wide receiver (6-3, 190) but his time in Lincoln didn’t get off to an ideal start after he was arrested last weekend.

That definitely puts the Huskers in a tough spot. So where does the team go from there?

"Obviously wide receiver is a big need," said JC Shurburtt, 247Sport's national recruiting director. "I expect them to go out and expand their board a little bit and maybe look into the JUCO ranks."

As far as who the Huskers should look for, Shurburtt thinks the Huskers just need to be patient.

"Last year we had a lot of big time JUCO guys out there like LaVon Pearson and Eric Lauderdale," he said. "This year it's not as deep but I do think there will be some guys that emerge."

Now it's just a matter of Nebraska finding those players as they come forward. Shurburtt is confident Bo Pelini and staff will.

"There's always good JUCO wide receivers all over the place," he said. "That's a position that's plentiful and I certainly think the Huskers will find their share and replenish their numbers."

Losing Stringfellow still hurts, though. With Harrison gone, he was expected to fill the missing void. Shurburtt acknowledged that. "It's a blow, not even so much for this season, but for future seasons."

Going forward, the Huskers will have to be focused on finding players to fill the position, especially ones that fit the mold of an outside wide receiver.

What's important to remember is what Shurburtt said. The wide receiver position truly is plentiful. While back at square one, that's good news for the Huskers.

Now Pelini and staff just have to find those players.


All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted.

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College Football Players Headed for Sophomore Slump in 2014

Freshman standouts turn into sophomore disappointments every season, even if they didn't necessarily get worse or hit the proverbial "second-year wall."

Take, for example, the best freshmen wide receivers in 2011 and 2012. Those players—Clemson's Sammy Watkins and Alabama's Amari Cooper—both put up considerably lower numbers in their second collegiate seasons, but a lot of that was out of their control.

For Watkins, the emergence of DeAndre Hopkins as one of the best wideouts in America played a large part. For Cooper, Alabama's desire to spread the ball around (and some questionable play-calling) kept the ball out of his hands more often than he might have liked.

The following players won't be worse in 2014 than they wore in 2013. But because of the personnel, coaching or situational changes around them, they might find it difficult to put up as good of numbers as they did as freshmen last season.

Sound off below, and tell me who I missed.

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How 4-Star QB Blake Barnett Will Impact Lane Kiffin's Career at Alabama

The rich just keep getting richer.

Alabama has been a recruiting machine over the last four years, winning the recruiting national championship in each of those years.

It got its quarterback of the future this week, as 4-star dual-threat Blake Barnett from Corona, California, committed to the Crimson Tide Wednesday on B/R's Team Stream Now with Adam Lefkoe.

Barnett told Lefkoe:

I think being paired up with good coaches like [offensive coordinator] coach [Lane] Kiffin, he's developed great quarterbacks in the past at USC. I think that can put me at an advantage being with a good coach like that and running a good offense with a good scheme. Hopefully it will bring me to the next level.

There's a little bit of a problem, though. Alabama already got its "quarterback of the future" in 2013 with 4-star Cooper Bateman and again in 2014 with fellow 4-star David Cornwell

But Barnett is different. He's a Kiffin guy brought in by the new offensive coordinator specifically to run his offense.

What offense is that?

That remains to be seen. Kiffin could dial back the creativity a bit and run a more conservative style thanks to the presence of a small village of talented running backs. But where's the fun in that?

The one thing Kiffin was brought in specifically to do was develop a more creative offensive scheme that can adapt if Alabama finds itself in trouble in games.

"He is an outstanding and creative offensive coach who has great experience both at the college and NFL level," head coach Nick Saban said in a release when Kiffin was introduced. "He has a very good understanding of the game and I have always been impressed with what I saw in the games he called."

He was brought in to challenge Saban's philosophies, which is exactly what he can do when Barnett takes the reins.

Let's get this out of the way right now: Florida State transfer Jacob Coker is going to win the quarterback job this year. If he succeeds, then it's reasonable that he could jump to the NFL after his junior season. That would give Barnett the chance to start right away or redshirt. Either way, though, he could play as a freshman in Kiffin's system.

That system should get a boost from Barnett, who's a dual-threat quarterback by trade but really is more of a passer who can run. In other words, he gives Kiffin the option to spice up the offense without changing the fundamental scheme.

As you can see in the video above, he has tremendous arm strength and accuracy downfield. That will allow Alabama to continue to do what it has done throughout the Saban era, taking the top off of a defense that creeps up to stop the run.

But Barnett brings something more. His quick release and accuracy on short and intermediate routes will allow Kiffin to use his full West Coast playbook and incorporate some new-school spread elements with Barnett's legs.

If Coker doesn't revitalize Kiffin's career, the former USC, Tennessee and Oakland Raiders head coach can re-invent himself with Barnett in the talent-rich SEC, which could land him another big-time college head coaching gig in a hurry.

While Alabama's approach to pretty much everything is old school, Barnett can offer a blend. He can bring a new-school, dual-threat approach to an old-school style. On an overly simplistic level, that's exactly why Kiffin was hired.

It's fair to assume that, due to Coker's presence on the roster, Kiffin wasn't thrilled with his quarterback options when he arrived in Tuscaloosa. Or, at the very least, he needed competition to up the ante for all of the contenders.

Barnett is his guy, and he holds the keys to Kiffin's future employment—as long as Kiffin doesn't jump ship in the near future.

If Barnett succeeds, Kiffin's career will rebound. If he fails, the "Lane Kiffin experiment" at Alabama may follow suit.

No pressure, kid.


* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All recruiting rankings are courtesy of, and all stats are courtesy of


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Predicting Where Oregon Football Will Finish in 2015 Recruiting Ranks

Oregon football recruiters have ground to make up in the 2015 signing cycle. With five verbal commits in the fold, the Ducks currently check in at No. 5 in the Pac-12 and No. 51 nationally, according to 247Sports. 

The good news? Head coach Mark Helfrich and his staff have almost eight months until national signing day. The bad news? Early into the process, the Ducks have had to readjust their plans after losing prospects. 

Blake Barnett, the 4-star dual-threat quarterback from Santiago High School in Corona, California, tweeted his commitment to Alabama on Wednesday. 

Barnett is the second quarterback Oregon lost to an SEC program in as many months. Kyler Murray, a 5-star prospect, committed to Texas A&M on May 28. 

Conversely, the most highly touted recruit pledged to the Ducks for 2015 is someone they plucked from SEC country. Taj Griffin, a standout from McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Georgia, is one of two 247Sports composite 4-stars currently on board. According to 247Sports' own metrics, Griffin is actually a 5-star prospect, and continues the program's run of recruiting top-tier ball-carriers.

The other 4-star is offensive lineman Zach Okun, who will pave the way for Griffin in the years to come. 

The Ducks are playing catch-up behind the Pac-12 pace-setters. USC, for example, has as many 4- and 5-star prospects committed as Oregon has total pledges. 

Pinning down the majority of the top-rated targets on Oregon's list will be critical to their future success. After losing out on Barnett, the focus is on quarterbacks. 

The position may come down to Deondre Francois, s 4-star prospect from Orlando, Florida. Oregon is also a leading contender for 3-star athlete Stephen Johnson, who plays quarterback for San Leandro High School in San Leandro, California. However, according to 247Sports' JC Shurburtt, Johnson would likely play either wide receiver or defensive back at the next level. 

Further 4-star reinforcements look promising in offensive lineman Zack Bailey and athlete Donte Jackson. Both reside in the SEC geographic footprint, with Bailey in South Carolina and Jackson in Louisiana. 

Bailey could be a cornerstone of what is shaping up to be the strongest area of this class. Along with Okun and committed 3-star lineman Shane Lemieux, the Ducks are in the hunt for 4-star lineman Andre James, as well as 3-stars Cody Creason, Mason Walter and Connor Williams

Conversely, Oregon's 2015 class is lean on defensive players, even after adding 3-star cornerback Jihree Stewart last week.  

The biggest defensive target is 5-star defensive end Byron Cowart. The defensive end from Seffner, Florida, will be in Oregon for The Opening next month. 

Fellow The Opening participant and 4-star safety Marvell Tell is also on Oregon's radar. 

Solidifying the defensive class is paramount, and likely the difference between the Ducks falling in the middle of the pack among conference counterparts, and rising to the top three. 

Oregon faces an uphill climb to break into the top 20 of the national rankings. The coming months will be crucial to shaping this recruiting class. 


Recruiting rankings and information culled from composite scores. 

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Notre Dame Football: How Brian Kelly Is Changing His Recruiting Strategy in 2014

From "Pots of Gold" to graphic arts, Notre Dame football has been shifting its recruiting ways over the past year or so.

The newest development is this weekend’s Irish Invasion summer camp, an invite-only event that puts a new spin on the traditional summer camp for current Notre Dame commitments, targets and yet-to-be-offered prospects.


Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) June 20, 2014


— Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) June 20, 2014

"Irish Invasion is a primetime camp...that’s designed to attract top talent to South Bend in an atmosphere that’s going to be exciting and show off all the cool features and parts of the program that would be attractive to recruits visiting the campus," said Steve Wiltfong, 247Sports’ director of recruiting.

The event is something new for Notre Dame, with the camp running Friday night.

"They’ve done camps in the day. But a camp in the evening on Notre Dame’s campus—great weather, the sun setting on the Golden Dome, just the serene setting and a chance for an awesome atmosphere," Wiltfong said. "Anytime you do something in the evening, you’ve got a chance for a better atmosphere."

Wiltfong pointed to Florida as the first program to turn a summer camp into a marquee event, as the Gators did with their "Friday Night Lights." Though other schools have followed suit, Wiltfong said Notre Dame—like other elite programs—has the ability to lure bigger names and higher-profile prospects to its campus.

So why, all of a sudden, is Notre Dame branding its summer camp as the Irish Invasion and going as far as to open up the two-hour Friday-night session to media? As Megan Whitt, Notre Dame’s coordinator of recruiting operations, mentioned Thursday night, the idea just came about recently.

Three short months ago this was just an idea; now these butterflies finally tell me it's about to become reality! Bring on Irish Invasion! 🍀

— Megan Whitt (@MeganWhitt1) June 20, 2014

"You always want to try to keep up with the curve and be a trendsetter,” Wiltfong said. “Notre Dame is just keeping up with the Joneses in this regard."

In part, yes, the Irish are simply keeping up. But Wiltfong reiterated that Notre Dame generates a certain buzz that not all schools can.

"Again, anytime Notre Dame does something—and it’s not just Notre Dame, but a high-profile program like Notre Dame—it certainly attracts more attention and eyes than when other BCS programs that aren’t as highly regarded do the same thing," Wiltfong said.

Wiltfong added that Notre Dame will be calling on that high-profile stature throughout the camp:

"Notre Dame will bring these kids in before the camp and they’ll get a chance to get a taste of Notre Dame and learn about the school," he said.

A host of commitments in the class of 2015 will also be on hand to aid in the recruiting efforts. The Irish recently landed six commitments over a 17-day span, a surge that should help the recruiting efforts with some of the top targets in town for the Irish Invasion, according to Wiltfong.

“Now you’ve got more spokesmen in the trenches with the prospects on the field helping sell your brand and your program and talking to the kids about why they committed to Notre Dame,” Wiltfong said.

Such is the cyclical nature of recruiting.

But this weekend, Notre Dame will attempt something new, marking a progressive change in its recruiting strategy.

“Notre Dame continues to make statements and do things that are attractive to recruits,” Wiltfong said. “And this is certainly one of them.”


All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Mike Monaco is a lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco_ on Twitter.

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College Football Playoff Selection Committee Releases Tiebreaker Details

Unlike the BCS algorithm, the College Football Playoff selection committee will not use arcane formulas and power numbers to rate which four (not two) teams deserve a shot to play for a national championship.

But that doesn't mean that the system is without its tiebreakers. According to Daniel Uthman of USA Todaythe CFP sent out a document from 2012 outlining its process for differentiating between "teams with similar records and similar pedigree."

"Strength of schedule, head-to-head competition and championships won must be specifically applied as tie-breakers between teams that look similar," the document reads, per Uthman. Those are some of the tangible factors that will come into play during the process.

This document provides a slightly less abstract criteria system than selection committee chairman Jeff Long put forth in late April, when he said the committee was looking for the "best" instead of the "most deserving" teams in the country for the playoff.

"We don’t think in terms of most deserving on the resume,” Long said, according to Chuck Carlton of The Dallas Morning News. "We’re focused on the best four teams and the best ranking in the [playoff] top 25. Again, our focus is the best, not deserving."

This most recent announcement would seem to run contrary to Long's statements, as it appears the committee does have some quantifiable things it is looking for. The chairman of the committee said he is not looking for "most deserving on the resume," but this document lists a number of tiebreakers that are resume-related.


What this means, for us, is that the CFP selection process will continue to be shrouded in doubt until the first few polls are released—and, to be completely honest, until the four teams are selected. 

What this means, for college football, is that FBS Independents such as Notre Dame and BYU might be in for a little bit of trouble.

Let's pretend, for example, that Notre Dame and Oregon have similar resumes in a given year. They both finished 11-1 in the regular season and beat some quality teams. The only major difference is that Notre Dame did not get to play a conference championship game, but Oregon beat, say, USC to claim the Pac-12 title.

Based on this most recent release, Oregon would get the benefit of the tiebreaker because it had won a championship. In a vacuum, that seems fair. But as Notre Dame is not even competing to win a regular-season championship, it would be met with much contention.

Is there a better solution out there? I am not exactly sure. Perhaps these new ordinances will finally force Notre Dame into a conference affiliation. It's already beginning its partial ACC membership next season, after all. Might that be the first step toward something bigger?

At this point, who really knows?

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Auburn Fan Trolls Alabama with License Plates Celebrating "1 Second" Left

The one second that Alabama wanted to stay on the clock at the end of the 2013 Iron Bowl will never be forgotten by Auburn fans.

With one second left on the clock, the Crimson Tide attempted a 57-yard field goal that would've given the team the victory and a berth in the SEC title game. Instead, Alabama allowed Auburn's Chris Davis to return the missed field goal more than 100 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

Ever since then, Tigers fans have done their best to troll the Crimson Tide.

Even an Alabama fan had to give the creator of the above license plate credit:

Of course, this isn't the first time that we have seen a creative license plate celebrating the "one second":

[Twitter, h/t Lost Lettermen]

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Brady Hoke Hints Jabrill Peppers Will Play Offense, but How Should He Be Used?

Incoming freshman Jabrill Peppers is the biggest recruit Michigan has landed in quite some time, and thanks to his timing at the (current) apex of the Internet Age, he comes to Ann Arbor with more hoopla and higher expectations than perhaps any player in Wolverines history.

The nebulousness of his position has only increased his mystique. Is he a cornerback? Is he a safety? Is he a running back or a wide receiver instead? Where will he line up as a freshman (and beyond)?

Head coach Brady Hoke gave a little bit of insight—if that's what you want to call it—in an interview with Campus Insiders Friday, saying that Peppers will begin his career as a nickel cornerback. But when asked if Peppers could also see the field on offense, Hoke's poker face betrayed him and gave way to a coy sort of smile.

"We'll see...," he told CBS' Bonnie Bernstein with a sheepish grin on his face.

Here. Check it out for yourself:

Peppers was the No. 3 overall player on the 247Sports Composite, slotting in behind LSU running back Leonard Fournette and Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. Because he can play both ways, he has often been likened to former Michigan great Charles Woodson, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1997 and went on to become a seven-time All-Pro and future first-ballot Hall of Famer in the NFL.

But how often should Peppers be used on offense as a true freshman next season? Should it be in a steady capacity, or should he only be featured in select packages as he focuses more on playing defense?

The safe approach would probably be the latter.

Cornerback is a difficult position to master, despite what Vernon Hargreaves III (Florida), Kendall Fuller (Virginia Tech) and Brandon Facyson (also Virginia Tech) did as true freshmen in 2013. It is hard to reach one's potential at that spot without one's full, undivided attention.

Even Peppers himself, who is noted for charisma bordering on arrogance, spoke humbly about his freshman expectations and the learning curve before him in his most recent blog post for USA Today:

I just want to be as prepared as possible going into my freshman year because I know a lot will be expected from me. I've always had that, but I always say, "To whom much is given much is required."

I'm not going into Michigan thinking about expectations or worrying about doing certain things to live up to expectations. I know there's a huge transition from high school to college and I'm just going in focusing on learning the defensive schemes. Once you understand the schemes and the plays you can just play without worrying about making a mistake.

Peppers can learn large chunks of the defensive and offensive schemes in time for his freshman season, but it is absurd to think that he can master either while studying both. And mastery of the defense as soon as possible is the best thing that Peppers can do for himself, his career and the next three-to-four years of Michigan football.

So while it may be tempting to put Peppers on offense as often as possible next season—especially since the defense (and the secondary in particular) is the stronger part of the team—doing so would run the risk of stunting his development in the secondary. And like Woodson, that is ultimately where his future is going to lie.

Which isn't to say he shouldn't see the field at all on offense in 2014. He should. When the Wolverines are looking for a spark plug, Peppers should be it. There are things he can do on the outside, in the slot and—as Hoke intimated Doug Nussmeier is lobbying for—out of the backfield of which nobody else on the team is capable.

But those reps should be limited to things that take advantage of his athleticism. They should be the same type of reps Patrick Peterson took on offense with the Arizona Cardinals in 2013.

Peppers cannot waste time in practice learning the intricacies of pass-blocking out of the backfield or run-blocking on the outside and in the slot. Those are things that all freshmen struggle to pick up, even when they are dedicating a full course load to do so.

He will get his hands on the ball on offense a couple of times per game, as well he should, but don't expect Peppers to displace Derrick Green or consistently catch passes from Devin Gardner. He will be more of an offensive wild card than an offensive king or queen.

But with three defensive positions—nickelback, outside cornerback and safety—to potentially learn next season, it is asking a little too much of a true freshman to add more than a couple of offensive packages to his repertoire. Even if that freshman is Peppers.

And even if Peppers is Woodson reincarnate.

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Which Big Ten Powerhouse Will Land 'Mr. Everything' CB Brian Cole?

Cornerback Brian Cole, a Michigan native, has everything you want in a recruit: He is a versatile threat who plays on both sides of the ball with big-time athleticism. 

Cole has offers from all over the country but has decided to keep it close to home with either Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State. Will he keep his talents in state?

Watch as College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down this stud.


Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital. Rankings from 247Sports Composite.

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Tennessee Football: 5 Potential All-SEC Players in 2014

Inexperience and lack of depth abound the Tennessee Volunteers 2014 roster, but there are a handful of players in the mix who could earn All-SEC honors at the end of the upcoming season.

There are many reasons for Tennessee's downfall in recent years. Coaching changes. Roster attrition. Increased competition in the SEC. All of these are valid reasons, of course, but the most telling statistic comes from glancing at the lists of All-SEC teams during the past five or six years.

During the 90s and early 2000s, Tennessee players littered All-SEC and even All-American rosters, with representatives from Rocky Top filling several positions on the first and second teams.

Lately, All-SEC honors for the Volunteers have been few and far between, which is a direct reflection of the team's talent level on the field. 

However, with the influx of new talent from the 2014 recruiting class, along with the return of a familiar face and the maturation of young playmakers, Tennessee has its best chance in years to see multiple players recognized as the SEC's cream of the crop after this upcoming season.

Here are the five Tennessee players who are most likely to be named to the 2014 All-SEC team. 

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SEC Football Q&A: Can an SEC RB Win the 2014 Heisman Trophy?

It's Friday, and that means it's time to answer your SEC questions. 

Fall camp is right around the corner, which means position battles are near, unknown players are on the brink of becoming superstars and the seats of coaches are about to heat up. Thanks for your questions, and if they weren't answered this week, I'll be sure to save them for the future.

And we're off!


@BarrettSallee How close is the SEC to having a Heisman winning RB? Since 1960, just FOUR RB from the current SEC have won.

— Dan Vasta (@CI_StatsGuru) June 10, 2014

Those four, of course, are Alabama's Mark Ingram, Auburn's Bo Jackson, Georgia's Herschel Walker and South Carolina's George Rogers (South Carolina wasn't a member of the SEC at the time).

As far as the running back crop this year in the SEC, this is as good as it has been in a long time. Georgia's Todd Gurley, South Carolina's Mike Davis and Alabama's duo of Derrick Henry and T.J. Yeldon will be featured prominently on Heisman watch lists and Las Vegas odds boards this summer. All of them are not only immensely talented, but will be catalysts for their respective offenses, even if Alabama goes more by committee.

So from that perspective, the SEC is set up well. The combination of extremely talented running backs and offensive coaches who know how to feature them will allow several SEC running backs to put up gaudy numbers.

The problem is that it's also blocked by quarterbacks who are going to light up opposing defenses with video game stats. That will play well in the race to win what has become a quarterback-driven award. UCLA's Brett Hundley, Florida State's Jameis Winston, Ohio State's Braxton Miller and Oregon's Marcus Mariota are just a few of the talented quarterbacks in college football who will benefit from high-profile games and video game statistics.

With that said, though, this is probably the best shot SEC running backs have had to win the Heisman since Ingram won it in 2009. It's going to be a little more of a run-heavy league in 2014, and while there are quarterbacks around the country blocking the SEC's running backs, offensive coordinators around the country are becoming more creative with their schemes, allowing quarterbacks to put up video game statistics and make it difficult for running backs to claim college football's greatest individual prize.

Simply put, if you're thinking about going to Las Vegas and placing a Heisman bet on an SEC running back this year, just send your money to me instead. I'll go buy some ribs for the smoker this weekend.


@BarrettSallee Who will become the number 1 running back for Auburn this year?

— Mitchell Tate (@Mitchell_Tate4) June 6, 2014

Speaking of Heisman Trophy running backs, Auburn's looking to replace a Heisman finalist from a year ago at the position.

Tre Mason is gone at Auburn and takes his 1,816 yards and 23 touchdowns from 2013 with him to St. Louis to play on Sundays. In his place, seniors Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant will get the first crack at the top spot on the depth chart, with redshirt freshman Peyton Barber and true freshman "Roc" Thomas vying to unseat them.

They won't.

While head coach Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee will give Grant—who thrived as an edge rusher last year—to win the job outright, Artis-Payne will win the "1A" role, be the feature back and thrive in that role. Grant will settle back into his role from last year as a weapon off the edge, and Barber and Thomas will be relegated to backup duties.

Whether I'm right or wrong, the running backs at Auburn will move the football. Malzahn has produced 11 1,000-yard rushers in eight college seasons, and with quarterback Nick Marshall and four offensive linemen returning, they'll move it on the ground again in 2014.

Don't be surprised if Artis-Payne—or whoever emerges as the No. 1 running back—gets some Heisman love this season.


@BarrettSallee Could you please compare Arkansas' and A&M's RB talent? I actually think it's comparable.

— Carlos Toraño (@catorano) June 7, 2014

Initially, people will look at this question and say "no way" and that it's not comparable.

Well, maybe not before the season. Arkansas returns sophomore Alex Collins and his 1,026 yards and junior Jonathan Williams and his 900 yards, and sophomore Korliss Marshall has big-play ability. On paper, Arkansas boasts one of the nation's top rushing attacks and is coached by a head coach in Bret Bielema who likes to feature a small village of running backs.

But after the season, it wouldn't shock me at all if Texas A&M jumps into that discussion.

Tra Carson is more than just a bruiser and will emerge as one of the top backs in the SEC now that he's likely going to be the feature back. Trey Williams is dangerous in space, Brandon Williams has a ton of upside as long as he holds on to the ball and redshirt freshman James White should provide quality depth.

Couple that with the flexibility of the offense that head coach Kevin Sumlin has demonstrated throughout his college coaching career, and you have a recipe for success.

Sumlin plays to his strengths, and with uncertainty and youth at the quarterback position whether sophomore Kenny Hill or freshman Kyle Allen wins the job, his most reliable move would be to focus more on the running backs—especially early—and allow the eventual winner at quarterback to settle in to the new role.

The gap is pretty wide between Arkansas' running backs and Texas A&M's right now, but that won't last for long once toe meets leather in 2014.


Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC Lead Writer Barrett Sallee on Twitter at @BarrettSallee

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All recruiting rankings are courtesy of, and all stats are courtesy of


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Michigan Football: Is Brady Hoke Losing the State to Michigan State

Since 1969, Michigan has dominated its in-state nemesis Michigan State by a margin of two-to-one. But in recent seasons Michigan State has turned the tide. Now with the Wolverines slated to face the Spartans in East Lansing for the second consecutive season, Brady Hoke’s squad will need a victory to compete for the Big Ten title and stop a six-year slide that began under previous coach Rich Rodriguez.

Prior to Hoke and Rodriguez, Michigan owned Michigan State—winning 77 percent of its games versus the Spartans under previous coaches Bo Schembechler (17-4), Gary Moeller (3-2) and Lloyd Carr (10-3). Michigan’s record could have been even better if not for two controversial losses in 1990 (the infamous mugging of future Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard in the end zone) and 2001 (questionable clock management).

But Michigan’s dominance of the rivalry evaporated with the hiring of Rich Rodriguez (0-3) and his eventual replacement Brady Hoke (1-2). Michigan’s sole victory since Carr’s retirement was on a 38-yard game-winning field goal as time expired in 2012. During that six-season stretch Michigan State has outscored Michigan 162-90.

When Michigan was beating Michigan State nearly 80 percent of the time, fans could chalk up the occasional loss to bad officiating or rough play, but for the last six seasons there’s one easy explanation—the Spartans have simply been better.

While Michigan fans can point to highly ranked recruiting classes and a BCS victory in Hoke’s first season, Michigan State can list chapter and verse its success since 2008—a .713 winning percentage, 5-1 record versus Michigan, two Big Ten championships and a Top 10 national finish last season. Michigan has a .539 winning percentage over the same period.

In 1999, Nick Saban abandoned Michigan State, irked by always being in Michigan's shadow as reported by USA Today. ”At Michigan State, we were never Number 1 [in the state],” Saban told reporters after accepting the job. “That was always Michigan. It was always, ‘UM this and that.’

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio is on the verge of doing something that eluded Nick Saban— surpassing Michigan as the preeminent power in the state.

Under Hoke, Michigan has been manhandled by Michigan State 28-14 in 2011 and 29-6 in 2013. After last season’s game Hoke denied the apparent widening gap between the programs.

"I don't think there is a gap, I think they played awfully well,” said Hoke. “They executed awfully well. I don't think we did.”

If Michigan can’t find a way to win this season, the gap that Hoke denies is in danger of becoming a chasm. 


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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Will Baylor QB Bryce Petty Surpass RG3's Monster Heisman Year

The Baylor Bears relied heavily on star quarterback Bryce Petty during their 11-2 run in the 2013 season. With many offensive weapons returning to this high-powered offense, Petty has a chance to throw up some big numbers.

Petty is effective on the ground and through the air, giving him the ultimate skill set to succeed. Do you think his numbers will improve?

Watch Barrett Sallee and Michael Felder discuss his potential.


Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

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