NCAA Football News

Humanity Finally Scores a Victory over Football with Art Briles' Firing

Art Briles is a good ol' boy coach, deeply embedded in all levels of the religion of football in the state of Texas.

He built Baylor into one of the nation’s top programs and wooed boosters into huge amounts of money and a new stadium. That’s why it is so shocking that he was fired Thursday following an investigation into the acts of his football players terrorizing women on campus.

Not that it’s a surprise that football players acted that way. We keep hearing that same story all over the country again and again. And then we see the same coverup and excuses from some people while hearing the same outrage from others. Rinse and repeat. It’s disgusting.

But now Art Briles was fired. His power, his success did not save him. Here’s the thing:

Humanity just beat football.

Football always seems to find a way around the pain that it causes. Not this time. This time, football was sacked.

Someone took a hard action and so many next time won’t be the same.

And it’s going way overboard to say this, but I think that women on campuses around the country just became a little bit safer. I’m not going to pat Baylor on the back here. It did the right thing—you could argue the only thing—but it has loads of problems. It covered things up. It pretended. It loved its football more than it loved the safety of its women.

Yes, it finally go around to firing Briles and to demoting President Ken Starr, but that took too long.

I’m not sure whether Baylor was shamed into firing Briles, but it’s a good bet that the big money there wanted Briles to stay. Maybe Baylor came down with a severe case of conscience? Whatever the means, whatever happened, it gave enough weight to the side of the equation that always loses to football.

You can’t celebrate justice over monstrous acts because the monstrous acts were still committed. Some of those acts at Baylor have led to convictions and some just to allegations.

Baylor had an independent body, the lawfirm of Pepper Hamilton, conduct an investigation, and people will parse the results of that for a while now. And even early on, some of the findings are damning.

What did Briles know? How much did he cover up when he heard reports of football players assaulting women? How much detail can a football coach really know about every single player on a football team? It’s hard enough to know what your own kid is doing all the time.

But that’s really the point. Enabling doesn’t have to be that direct.

It is a culture. If you look to the University of Texas, you’ll see that football coach Charlie Strong has set the tone, defined the culture of good behavior and treating women right. He has found a way to meld caring for young men with a hard line on their behavior. That doesn’t mean monstrous things won’t happen there, but it means that a leader is leading.

That is the demand. Maybe Thursday’s actions just made it the new standard.

The required standard.

Baylor football tried to self-police. (You can’t see my snicker as I write that). It’s another way of saying cover up. Football on so many campuses is a fiefdom, so why wouldn’t the coaches think they should be the police?

Football has just become too important to too many people. Too much money and adulation. But every time another player is accused of hurting a woman, someone says that same thing, while certain others find a way to blame the woman or cast suspicion on her.

It shouldn’t be this hard to treat other people well, to treat them decently and with respect. Call me a sucker, but I still believe that sports and coaching can instill values when done right. It is about developing bodies and minds, increasing confidence, which should lead to treating people well and not feeling an entitlement and the ability to overpower other people’s bodies.

Coaching and education are bigger than reaching the College Football Playoff.

You wouldn’t think it would take this long for a private Baptist university in Waco, Texas to do the right thing. Ultimately, real religion won out over fake religion. 

Well, hell, if you’ve been paying any attention to football, then yes, you would. Ten years ago, my alma mater, Colorado, had a horrific scandal involving, what else, sexual assault, and the coach was fired. But not right away. Not until a year later and following a 70-3 loss to Texas. A strong conscience can usually beat losing football.

But Baylor is one of the best programs in the country. It was, anyway. It will now start a serious decline.

That’s actually a good thing when priorities are put in order. Maybe the culture of the whole sport is starting to turn.

Greg Couch covers college football for Bleacher Report. Follow him at@gregcouch.


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Michigan Football: Former Top Recruits Who Will Finally Shine in 2016

Recruiting classes spark hopes of a bright future, but some former highly regarded prospects haven't yet made a significant impact for the Michigan football program.

In some cases, though, that will change in 2016.

Whether because of a crowded depth chart, multiple injuries, slow development or a combination of those factors, several prospects—who carried at least a 4-star billing—needed extra time.

The possibility of setbacks always lingers, but the following five players are finally in favorable spots to stand out.

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Michigan Commit Josh Ross Aims to Follow, and Pass, His Brother's Footsteps

A super-competitive nature and the feeling of never being satisfied—two characteristics of 4-star linebacker and Michigan commit Josh Ross that not only helped him land 17 reported offers but also have some Michigan fans prematurely viewing him as one of the next great linebackers in the Big Ten.

Those characteristics may have got their wheels thanks to an unseasonably hot day in the greater Detroit area roughly four years ago. Ross remembers making a decision that ultimately changed his life athletically.

"I was around 12, and my brother was a senior in high school," Ross said. "I was playing Little League, and we were at practice one day. It was too hot, like 90 or 95 degrees, and the heat index was over the limit where we couldn't practice, but my brother wanted me to still get some drills in.

"I told him I didn't want to do it. I remember he didn't talk to me for about a month after that. That still bothers me."

The older brother, former Michigan linebacker James Ross, knew the talent level his little brother had on the football field. All he wanted to do was take that talent to another level. It helped that little brother hated disappointing big brother at anything.

And when Josh finally began to listen and do the things his brother asked as a football player, the transformation from Josh being good to great—then great to elite—was noticeable.

Fast-forward to now. Josh, a standout at St. Mary's Prep in Orchard Lake, Michigan, is the nation's No. 6 inside linebacker and a top-200 player nationally in the 2017 class. He is the Wolverines' top-rated defensive pledge of a 12-player class currently ranked ninth among all 2017 recruiting classes.

He's also someone hoping to successfully follow in the footsteps of his brother. James was a major contributor for the Wolverines from 2012-16, starting 21 games at linebacker. On Tuesday, James fulfilled a dream of his own by signing with the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent.

But if you ask James, Josh has the tools to write his own ticket when the time comes. In James' eyes, Josh can be an all-conference linebacker, an NFL draft pick and one of the best linebackers Michigan's ever seen.

"I'll be totally honest. I really feel like he's going to be way better than me," James said of his brother, a 6'1 ½", 221-pound linebacker who recently was invited to The Opening, which will take place in July in Beaverton, Oregon.

"In some ways, I didn't reach my potential at Michigan, but I'll never complain; everything happens for a reason," James said. "I feel like with the position he's in, he's going to have the opportunity to see how things go and really have a lasting career at Michigan. He can be one of the best."

Ross, according to the Detroit News, finished his junior season with more than 100 tackles and seven forced fumbles. He led St. Mary's to a second consecutive Division 3 state title in November.

The Opening linebackers coach Michael Fletcher, who played at Oregon and won two Grey Cup titles in the CFL, called Josh "a cerebral player" and the type of player Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh enjoys recruiting. Ross is a smart player who rarely makes the same mistake twice.

"He's improved dramatically this year from last year when I saw him," Fletcher said. "He's turned into a totally different player. He's that kind of guy Harbaugh likes, and he's coached guys like Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. He's almost like a high school version of those guys in that he's a quick, hybrid guy who can cover in space."

Josh committed to Michigan in March over offers from Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame and other programs. He said he had followed the Wolverines most of his life and really began building relationships with coaches under the Brady Hoke era when his brother went through the recruiting process.

When Harbaugh was introduced as Michigan's new head coach in December 2014, Josh made it a priority to not only connect with the new staff but also get his brother's opinions on what he should do with his recruiting process. While James never forced Michigan on Josh, he did make sure that he weighed every option considerably.

"I wanted him to have a choice on his own," James said, "but with him being around me for so long, he became a fan of Michigan himself. I know Notre Dame was a school he really liked. He also liked Michigan State and Ohio State. But I think everything was perfect with him and Michigan. He realized no other school could give him what Michigan could."

Josh added: "It's just a special place. Ever since my brother was there, it's always been in the back of my mind that Michigan would be the spot for me. After Harbaugh got there, and then after meeting with [defensive coordinator] Don Brown and see how his defense was, it was a dead giveaway."

Michigan fans are hoping to get similar—if not better—production from Josh as they got from James. In four years, James accounted for 188 tackles, including 35 as a senior.

Fletcher watched James qualify for The Opening in 2011, and now he's providing tutelage to Josh in 2016. He said they have their similarities on the football field, which is something Wolverines fans will appreciate.

"The first thing you notice is the football IQ they both have," Fletcher said. "You can tell [Josh] was sitting in the film room with his brother a lot. He likes dissecting things. If you've got the opportunity to have a brother who's been through what James has, and you take advantage of it, those natural instincts are almost second to none."

Fletcher added that Michigan is getting a "three-down guy" in Josh—the kind of linebacker who will deliver the big shot, make the key tackle, and also cover tight ends, slot receivers and outside receivers in passing situations.

James loves his little brother's motor and nose for the football. He said the biggest difference in him and his brother, however, is Josh's range. He's a longer athlete who uses that range to be a solid edge-blitzer.

Josh is excited about adding his chapter to Michigan's longstanding tradition. He still has unfinished business to attend to at St. Mary's, as he looks to close his high school career with three state championships and a successful trip to The Opening.

But when it's time for Josh to make moves at Michigan, look for him to shine accordingly. It's a position his big brother groomed him for.

"I never want to disappoint this dude," Josh said of James. "Since I was 10 years old, I tried to mimic everything he did. He wants the best for me. I know I can't take no shorts."

To which James responded: "He's taken advantage of every opportunity. He's ready."


Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles.

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11 Teams with the Best Odds to Qualify for the 2016-17 College Football Playoff

National championship dreams are renewed each offseason, but the first step in winning the title is qualifying for the College Football Playoff.

Three months away from kickoff, a select group of programs are considered favorites to claiming a spot in the four-team tournament. Although most teams are the usual suspects, there's no runaway leader.

Odds Shark assigned futures odds for the eventual champion, so we know what Vegas thinks about the 2016 season.

The following list details the 11 teams most likely to reach the College Football Playoff—starting with a tie at the final spot.

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Art Briles Reportedly to Be Fired by Baylor: Latest Comments and Reaction

Baylor University intends to fire head football coach Art Briles on Thursday as the school continues to deal with the aftermath of a sexual assault scandal.

Brett McMurphy of ESPN first reported Briles' dismissal after eight years in charge of the football program. Baylor later confirmed the decision on its official site. The announcement included a statement from board of regents chairman Richard Willis:

We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus. This investigation revealed the University's mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students. The depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us. Our students and their families deserve more, and we have committed our full attention to improving our processes, establishing accountability and ensuring appropriate actions are taken to support former, current and future students.

Jessica Morrey of KCEN provided the group text Briles sent his players informing them of the news: 

Chip Brown of Horns Digest reported Tuesday the Baylor board of regents had voted to remove school president Ken Starr and offered to keep him with the law school. Baylor's announcement stated he'll remain the Louise L. Morrison Chair of Constitutional Law and discussions are ongoing about the school chancellor role, though an agreement in principle is already in place.

Matthew Watkins of the Texas Tribune reported athletic director Ian McCaw was "sanctioned and placed on probation." Watkins also provided further details about Briles' status, confirming he is officially is "suspended with intent to terminate."

News of the shake-up comes two weeks after the Associated Press reported Baylor received the results of an investigation by the Pepper Hamilton law firm into the university's handling of assault accusations. The school wouldn't confirm whether those details would eventually be made public.

Briles took over the Bears in late 2007 after a five-year stint at Houston. He transformed the program into one of the nation's most consistently successful with a 65-37 record across eight seasons, including at least 10 victories in four of the past five years.

RedditCFB provided reaction from members of the team:

Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports reported defensive coordinator Phil Bennett is expected to take over as head coach on an interim basis. He also noted Kendal Briles, Art's son and the team's offensive coordinator, is currently expected to remain with the program.

Sue Ambrose and David Tarrant of the Dallas Morning News reported in March that Briles was among the Baylor officials named in a lawsuit by Jasmin Hernandez, who alleged the school failed to act after she reported a rape by former football player Tevin Elliott, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

It's part of a larger issue that has caused the school to receive intense criticism. Paula Lavigne of ESPN's Outside The Lines reported Baylor failed to investigate one allegation against two football players for more than two years, despite federal law dictating an immediate response to such claims.

At least three football players have been charged with sexual assault since the start of 2014, as noted in a complete recap of the scandal by Bruce Tomaso of the Dallas Morning News.

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports noted Briles told the outlet he reacted with "sadness and sorrow" to Outside the Lines' reporting on the scandal.

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Cam Akers Reveals Top 10: Which Teams Lead for 5-Star RB?

The Alabama Crimson Tide remain a contender for former committed running back Cam Akers, but the reigning national champions face significant competition from programs across the country.

Akers, a 5-star Mississippi prospect, tweeted a top-10 list Wednesday afternoon, identifying schools that stand out three months shy of his senior season at Clinton High School:

The 5'11 ½", 212-pound playmaker pointed out Alabama, Auburn, Cal, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Ole Miss and Tennessee as programs still in the picture for his pledge. Akers previously spent seven months committed to the Crimson Tide before reopening his recruitment in March.

"I feel it's in my best interest to take [a] step back and re-evaluate things," Akers wrote at the time. "Alabama is a classy organization and the fans just as much. They are still very much a favorite."

This sentiment still rings true nearly three months later, as Alabama finds itself in position to possibly pull another fantastic rusher back into the fold. Head coach Nick Saban already holds a prized pledge from No. 1 overall 2017 recruit Najee Harris, who many analysts consider the best running back prospect since LSU star Leonard Fournette.

Upon his initial commitment in August, Akers told Bleacher Report he wasn't intimidated by an Alabama backfield that should enter the 2017 season boasting multiple blue-chip recruits. 

"I rise to the occasion when faced with competition. I haven't been raised to back down from competition," Akers said. "I go straight for it, and that's what I'm going to do in college. I'm not even going to think about any other top recruits coming in."

Rated No. 2 nationally among running backs—behind only Harris—and No. 15 overall in 247Sports' composite rankings, he's displayed interest across the SEC landscape. Akers listed six conference members on his list of top options.

Georgia emerged as a speculative landing spot immediately after he left Alabama's class because the Bulldogs hosted him on campus just a few days beforehand. Akers traveled to Athens alongside family and came away enthused by his experience.

"It would be hard to choose what my favorite part of the visit to Georgia was because I liked everything about it," he told Kipp Adams of 247Sports. "I love Georgia and my family does too. ... Georgia told me they are not bringing me in to sit on the bench next season. They are bringing me in to compete for the starting spot in 2017."

Nearby universities Ole Miss and Mississippi State didn't hesitate to make Akers an early priority in the 2017 recruiting cycle. They presented his first pair of offers, though only one appears to remain in play.

"Since Ole Miss and Mississippi State were my first two offers, there is definitely some pressure to stay here," he told Bleacher Report.

Mississippi State landed local 4-star running back Kylin Hill last week and didn't make the cut here, while Ole Miss is still searching for a fit at the position in its latest talent haul. Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze landed an impressive collection of offensive talent last signing day, securing Elite 11 MVP quarterback Shea Patterson, top-ranked tackle Greg Little and three 4-star receivers, so the addition of Akers would set the stage for one of America's most explosive attacks for years to come.

Tennessee and LSU also welcomed him to campus this spring. and a visit to Auburn is upcoming, according to Will Sammon of the Clarion-Ledger. Another impending trip should attract plenty of attention, as Akers anticipates a return journey to Ohio State.

Buckeyes running backs coach Tony Alford is among the most respected college assistants in America, and he's made the Mississippi standout a major priority. Like Alabama, Ohio State enjoys a wealth of talent in the offensive backfield. 

Head coach Urban Meyer secured a top-50 overall recruit earlier this cycle when 4-star Texas running back J.K. Dobbins joined the class. Still, flirtations have been heavy between the Buckeyes and Akers.

As Jeremy Birmingham of Eleven Warriors pointed out this week, Akers already paid his own way for two unofficial visits to Columbus, will return in June and has expressed intent to spend an official visit at Ohio State.

That's enough reciprocated interest to suggest the Buckeyes may be in better position than any other suitor at this stage. 

“I definitely love Ohio State,” he told Bill Kurelic of 247Sports. “My family and myself love Ohio State and what the [football] program is doing. They always produce good running backs. They are always in the running for the national championship and the academics are great also.”

Though Akers envisions himself taking handoffs as a collegiate contributor, he stars at quarterback for Clinton at the moment. His junior campaign featured a career-best 1,418 rushing yards (8.4 yards per carry) and 36 total touchdowns, in addition to 2,331 yards through the air.

Akers further illustrated an elite physical skill set in April at The Opening's New Orleans regional, where he finished the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds and registered a 40.6-inch vertical leap.


Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings.

Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake. 

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4-Star DT Greg Rogers Focused on Narrowing List of Suitors

EL SOBRANTE, California — While several schools are still hot on his trail, 4-star defensive tackle Greg Rogers can see the finish line nearing in his recruitment.

With nearly 25 offers to his credit, Rogers has identified a timeline for cutting his list and making a final decision.

“I will release my top 6 by the end of next week and I plan on committing in December,” Rogers told Bleacher Report. “The majority of the coaches I’ve dealt with have been good. I’m not speaking on my top list because I will release that with my family [soon]. The majority of my top schools, I have a good relationship with those coaching staffs. Everybody that will be on my top 6 list, I feel comfortable with those coaches the most.”

The nation’s No. 5 defensive tackle and the No. 95 player overall in the 2017 cycle showed why schools are fawning over his abilities with a sterling showing at the Nike Opening Regional camp in Oakland over the weekend.

Rogers was one of four talented defensive linemen who punched their ticket to The Opening in July.

“It feels really good to get open. I’m really hyped right now,” Rogers said. “I just wanted to show them what I can do and build on the film I’ve got up. I just came out here to dominate and handle my business and I feel like I did that. I’m glad that it was enough for me to get that invite.”

His day started with a strong performance in testing in the morning portion of the camp. Rogers was pleased with the fact that his numbers in most of the drills improved in comparison to last year.

“I put up some good numbers in testing. I ran a 4.4 shuttle. I did a 5.4 [in the 40-yard dash] and I threw a 38’ power ball. It should have been a 40, but I couldn’t get my form down. I jumped a 24’ vertical jump. All of my numbers increased except the 40 time, which was the same from last year,” Rogers said.

While Rogers isn’t releasing the schools that will be on his short list, he did shed light on a few programs that he was able to visit recently.

“I had a good time there [Notre Dame]. I got to meet with the coaches and meet some of the players as well. It was really fun. I also went to Arizona State and USC recently,” Rogers said.

Additionally, he has designs on making a few more visits in the coming weeks and months.

“I want to visit Oklahoma, Michigan and then see USC and UCLA again. Hopefully, I get an opportunity to go to Notre Dame again,” Rogers said.

Narrowing things down will also be a challenge considering the number of schools he said are pursuing him aggressively.

“Michigan is coming at me hard. Oklahoma is coming at me hard. USC, UCLA and Notre Dame are also coming pretty hard. A lot of schools, really,” Rogers said. “I’m just enjoying it and having fun with it right now. I’m enjoying the recruiting process how it’s supposed to be.”

Rogers, who reports a 3.2 GPA, also said that he’s now weighing in at 6’6”, 305 pounds. While he has a bright future on the gridiron, he’s also identified his action plan for a career after his playing days are over.

“I plan on majoring in either criminal justice or communications. Probably a law enforcement officer. I want to play in the NFL, but it’s good to have a backup plan. Those are two things I’m really interested in,” he said.

Rogers noted that the school he chooses will have to have a great academic reputation and a family atmosphere. However, there’s one particular element he’s looking for in terms of his fit on the field at his eventual landing spot.

“I want to fit into the scheme there. I feel like I want to play in a four-man front in college. I don’t want to play in a three-man front. Wherever I feel like I have the best opportunity, that’s the school I will pick.”


Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.


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Michigan's 2016 Defense Could Be One of College Football's Best Ever

Speaking to reporters following one of the final practices of Michigan's spring, Jourdan Lewis wasn't shy about sharing the expectations he has for the Wolverines defense in 2016.

"Be the No. 1. The undisputed No. 1," the All-American corner said. "Our secondary was the No. 1 secondary in the country [in 2015] and that's what I'm looking for: Our unit being the best, winning some of those awards and getting a national championship. That's where my mindset is and all of our mindset is."

Why stop there?

Between its returning talent, an innovative defensive coordinator and a ready-to-play recruiting class, Lewis' lofty goals for the Michigan defense certainly appear attainable. Last season, the Wolverines ranked fourth in the nation in total defense, sixth in scoring and, to Lewis' point, third in defending the pass.

With the standard improvement one could expect from six returning starters, it would hardly come as a surprise if new defensive coordinator Don Brown once again directed the nation's top-ranked defense, just as he did at Boston College a year ago.

But even that would undersell the talent that exists on this Michigan defense.

Better than Alabama, LSU, Clemson and Wisconsin? Perhaps. But even comparing this Wolverines defense to its contemporaries may not do it justice.

From a talent standpoint, this is a unit capable of competing with the likes of the Brian Bosworth-led Oklahoma Sooners, the 1992 Alabama Crimson Tide, Nebraska's blackshirts of 1995, Miami's All-Pro pipeline in the early-2000s and Nick Saban's recent NFL factory in Tuscaloosa for consideration of being one of the top defenses in college football history.

Don't believe me? Just take a look at Michigan's returning roster.

As Lewis alluded to, it starts at the back end, with the Detroit native who could make a case for being college football's top corner. In 2015, Lewis finished second in the Big Ten and third in the nation, with 22 passes broken up, before he passed on entering the NFL draft in order for one last go-round in Ann Arbor.

"If he had come out [in 2016] he'd have certainly been one of the top corners," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said of Lewis last month. "Next year's draft, if you look at the top five right now and you look at a corner, you'd have to put him in there."

Opposite Lewis, Jeremy Clark returns the most experience, but Channing Stribling appeared to pass the 6'4", 210-pound senior on the Michigan depth chart in the spring. "He's a starter," Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh said of Stribling during an interview with The Michigan Insider at the end of the spring. "It's in stone."

Clark's versatility—and size—may ultimately be better utilized at safety alongside experienced seniors Delano Hill and Dymonte Thomas, especially now that Jabrill Peppers finds himself featured in a more prominent role in Brown's defensive scheme.

That's right, after earning first-team All-Big Ten honors as a safety in his redshirt freshman season, Peppers is moving to outside linebacker, although he could still see snaps at safety depending on Michigan's coverage. But as a linebacker, the former 5-star prospect will be able to make a greater impact while playing a position where Brown has developed pro prospects and stat-sheet stuffers in previous stops at Connecticut and Boston College.

"He's playing at a high level there," Brown said of Peppers at the end of spring practice. "The last three guys are in the NFL that I've coached that have played that position. You expect a lot at that spot, so we're going to get what we expect."

While Peppers' new role will give him the freedom to play linebacker, safety and nickel corner—all from the same spot—the two more traditional linebackers on the Wolverines defense will account for most of the unit's inexperience. But expected starters Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray were each 4-star prospects coming out of high school and both have received praise from Harbaugh throughout the preseason.

And should either Gedeon or McCray prove ineffective, Harbaugh could turn to his nationally fifth-ranked 2016 recruiting class, which included 4-star inside linebacker and early-enrollee Devin Bush Jr.

One Wolverines freshman who's all but guaranteed to see the field this fall is the nation's top overall prospect, Rashan Gary. The 5-star talent's size, agility and overall natural ability should allow him to play anywhere on the Michigan defensive line that the Wolverines deem necessary as soon as he arrives on campus.

And while Gary will certainly be in Michigan's rotation—if not the starting lineup—sooner rather than later, the Wolverines line already appeared to be a strength of the defense before his commitment this past February. With the returns of Taco Charlton (5.5 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss in 2015), Ryan Glasgow (20 career starts), former 4-star prospect Bryan Mone and NFL draft prospect Chris Wormley, Michigan's front four should help open up lanes for Peppers and neutralize any possible deficiencies from the Wolverines' two other linebacker spots.

"We were up there [in 2015]," Wormley told reporters of the U-M defensive line, per Nick Baumgardner of "Without question, we could be the best defensive line in the country."

Should the Wolverines' highly touted secondary and defensive line live up to their self-imposed expectations, the potential is there for Brown to go back-to-back when it comes to possessing the nation's top defense. Add in the upside of its linebacking corps and the unit's overall talent—Gary and Peppers account for Michigan's two highest-ranked recruits in the 247Sports era—and the already-high ceiling of the Michigan defense only rises.

Where it could wind up from a historical perspective is still yet to be determined, especially in a sport where opposing offenses have evolved at a rapid pace, making statistics much more difficult to compare. A national title would likely be necessary, as well as a season's worth of dominating performances—something the Wolverines showed flashes of being capable of a year ago—in order for the U-M defense to maximize its potential.

But with nearly three months to go until the start of the season, the pieces already appear to be in place for the 2016 Wolverines defense to be one of college football's all-time greats.


Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. Recruit rankings and info courtesy of 247Sports.

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SEC Extra Points: Does Alabama Need to Spice Up Its Uniforms?

If you needed confirmation on flashy new uniforms actually making a difference on the recruiting trail, look no further than the poll Pick Six Previews conducted with 100 uncommitted sophomores and juniors. 

According to the poll, Oregon, Baylor, TCU and Maryland—all of which have creative uniform combinations—received 79 first-place votes for the best uniforms in the game, with Oregon receiving a whopping 60 of them.

The worst uniforms in college football? Those belong to Alabama and Penn State—two schools with traditional uniforms that don't change week-to-week—with 11 votes each.

So should Alabama tweak its uniforms a bit to appease the younger crowd?

Of course not. 

All four of those teams with the "best uniforms" are "new kids on the block," who have made waves over the last 20 or so years on the college football landscape due in part to capitalizing on emerging fashion trends.

Alabama doesn't need to do that.


The Crimson Tide have finished with the top recruiting class in the nation, according to the 247Sports composite index, every year since 2011. During that time, the Tide have three national championships, three SEC championships, two College Football Playoff berths and a Heisman Trophy winner. They've also sent 44 players to the NFL through the draft, an average of 7.3 per year.

Winning titles and getting a shot at playing a game you love for a living is just a tiny bit more important than looking good on Saturday afternoons.

This poll is interesting because it confirms the idea that flashy uniforms make some impact on prospects. But consider that as the front door. Inside the house, you won't find "the really big rings, and get a lot of nice things" like players at Alabama find inside the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility in Tuscaloosa.


No Sign of Treon Harris or Antonio Callaway

The indefinite suspension of Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway and quarterback Treon Harris is still ongoing.

Speaking to Mike Bianchi on 96.9 The Game in Orlando, Gator head coach Jim McElwain commented on the status of the duo.

For Harris, consider this confirmation that he's not going to make a significant impact if he returns to the program. Luke Del Rio established himself as the clear front-runner at quarterback heading out of spring after completing 10 of his 11 passes for two touchdowns in the spring game, and Austin Appleby—a graduate transfer from Purdue—has enough experience to provide a solid insurance policy for McElwain behind Del Rio.

They all need Callaway, though. 

He led the Gators with 678 receiving yards last year and was a force on special teams where he returned two punts for touchdowns. Whoever the winner of the quarterback battle is needs to have his No. 1 option around during "optional" summer workouts, so the Gators can put the finishing touches on the "McElwain 2.0" offense during fall camp.

There are talented wide receivers including veteran Ahmad Fulwood and junior college transfer Dre Massey who can help out. But when their superstar is around, it makes everybody's job easier.


On The Move

After just one year at Auburn, defensive back Tim Irvin has announced that he will transfer from the program.

A promising former 4-star prospect from Miami, the nephew of former Miami and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin had 18 tackles as a true freshman reserve and special teamer for the Tigers in 2015, and he hadn't kicked the door open for more meaningful playing time in Auburn's suddenly experienced secondary. 

His absence impacts the Tigers from a depth perspective more than anything else.

"Rudy" Ford is entrenched at Nickel, Tray Matthews is locked in at strong safety and as Bleacher Report's Justin Ferguson noted after spring practice, Nick Ruffin has a leg up on the competition at free safety. Barring injury, Irvin hadn't found a home, and Auburn has recruited well enough in the defensive backfield to suggest that he never would.

With that said, a speedy defensive back like Irvin who's physical and comfortable with the speed of SEC football would have been a nice asset for the staff to have on special teams.


Sumlin Getting It

Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated sat down with Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin to chat about a myriad of things including the proverbial hot seat, the departure of former 5-star quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Kyle Allen, player discipline and more.

One thing stood out to me, though. That was Sumlin's change in how he approaches strength and conditioning during the spring practice session.

Really, still through spring football incorporating a four-day-a-week lift program, even with spring football going on instead of cutting back on lifting during spring football. Reducing the amount of running during that time and concentrating on heavier lifts and strength and our nutrition, just to make sure that strength and mass is maximized throughout the spring instead of just that period that's before spring ball, after spring ball and the summer, and then trying to carry that through the fall, which is a little bit different.

This is an indication that the late season fade routes that Texas A&M teams have embarked on over the last two seasons have proven that, while endurance is important in tempo-based offenses, teams still have to have the ability to get down and dirty with the traditional teams in the conference in order to legitimately contend.

"Instead of just saying, Oh, that happened. There's been a concerted effort across the board in different areas to address those problems, and like I said, it's a work in progress, but I like where it is right now," Sumlin told Thamel.

Auburn did this with head coach Gus Malzahn in 2013.

Instead of a fancy tempo offense that spreads teams out sideline to sideline pre-snap like Baylor and Oregon, the Tigers essentially played two-back, power football with tempo that featured pulling guards and wide receivers absolutely mauling defensive backs on running plays outside.

It appears that Sumlin is intent on replicating that blueprint, which could keep him employed and launch Texas A&M back into the SEC West hunt for the first time since 2012.


Quick Outs

  • In your "weird news of the week" segment, a Tennessee man was arrested and charged with extortion after posing as Tennessee cornerback Cam Sutton on Snapchat, according to Mark Bergin of WBIR. It has nothing to do with Sutton, but if you needed more proof that Snapchat is dangerous, here it is.
  • Cooper Bateman is doing all that he can to win the Alabama starting quarterback job. According to Charlie Potter of, the redshirt junior who started the Ole Miss game last year will work in the TB12 conditioning program founded by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and also head to Thibodaux, Louisiana, in July as a counselor for the Manning Passing Academy. Whether he wins the job or not, he's certainly learning as much as he can from some of the best.
  • LSU's live Tiger mascot, Mike, received some terrible news this week. He has an extremely rare form of cancer and has anywhere from two months to two years to live, according to Rebekah Allen of The Advocate. In a heart-warming move, Tusk, Arkansas' mascot, sent Mike some flowers

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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4-Star DT Jay Tufele Goes in-Depth on Recruiting, Love of Rugby

EL SOBRANTE, Calif. — There isn’t an ounce of hesitation for 4-star defensive tackle Jay Tufele when queried on a career path outside of football.

The 6’3”, 288-pounder from Bingham High School in South Jordan, Utah, is clearly a fan of physical contact.

“If I wasn’t playing football, I’d be playing rugby right now,” Tufele told Bleacher Report. “I’d be trying to go pro in rugby. I love that sport. I’ve been playing since I was in seventh grade.”

A handful of offensive lineman at The Opening Oakland Regional last weekend are probably wishing he would make that switch permanently. 

The nation’s No. 4 defensive tackle and the No. 59 player overall in the 2017 class was a menacing force all day long.

According to Tufele, his performance—which concluded with an invite to The Opening—validated any questions about his standing as one of the premier defensive linemen in the 2017 cycle. 

“It feels amazing [to get that invite],” he said. “It’s like a weight off my back, and it feels great to accomplish this. I showed them that I can really play. Everyone has been wondering about it, but I just came out and showed that I can be a dominant player. I just showed that I can match up with everyone else in terms of skill and athleticism.”

With more than 20 offers to his credit, up next on his agenda is to sort out the main players in his recruitment.

“I haven’t really gotten around that much. The last visit I took was when I went to California to see USC and UCLA. That was two or three months ago,” Tufele said.

However, he does have a few trips in mind he would like to make before the upcoming season.

“Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, and I want to visit Washington in the summer,” Tufele said. “Ohio State and Michigan have been coming at me really hard. Utah is always there too. They are around everyday. There’s a few more schools.”

In particular, one head coach at one of those programs has wasted little time in making a positive impression on him—even though he admits he was slightly intimidated when initially speaking with him.

“I’d say [Buckeyes head coach] Urban Meyer. He’s a really good guy,” Tufele said. “I used to be scared in talking to him. But he’s been awesome to talk to. He’s a great guy.”

The big man from the Beehive State reports a 3.3 GPA. Although he doesn’t have a major sorted out yet, he’s currently interested in pursuing a career in the medical field.

While he does have a few visits and programs on his mind, he’s in no hurry to make a decision—which he said could come on national signing day for now. 

When it does come time to make the final call, a few factors will be critical in helping him arrive to that conclusion.

“I just want know if I can make an impact right away,” Tufele said. “The atmosphere of the school and how the players get along with the coaches will be important. I want it to feel like a family wherever I go.”


Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Baylor Saga Serves as Disheartening Lesson for Other College Football Programs

This is not a column about who should be fired at Baylor. We'll get there. This is a column about pulling something of substance—something everlasting—from a toxic situation.

This is about trying to salvage something (anything) from a situation in which sexual assault has become terrifyingly common at a major university and ensuring that those following along take the necessary steps to avoid a similar fate.

Following a slew of sexual assault allegations against players inside the Baylor football program dating back to 2009, there are now questions about the way these situations were reported and if anyone inside the university had prior knowledge of them before they came to light.

ESPN's Outside the Lines has explored the issue at length, producing troubling findings with each installment of a still-developing story.

In its most recent revelation, perhaps the most damning revelation surfaced: "According to the police documents, at least some Baylor officials, including coaches, knew about many of the incidents, and most players did not miss playing time for disciplinary reasons. None of the incidents has been widely reported in the media."

Even with so much uncertainty still airborne, jobs yet to be lost, accountability to be delegated and conclusions to be made (or reestablished), the doomsday scenario in Waco, Texas, is something that all the college football programs should be keenly following. 

This is a chance to ensure that things never take this turn. It's a conversation that should be taking place in offices, boardrooms and film rooms. The details that are still to emerge will ultimately quantify the outrage for many. But for the programs hoping to avoid the same dreaded fate, there have already been many lessons learned.

If there were ever a time to completely deconstruct the inner workings of a program and a university—a moment to lift up the hood and dissect a program's foundation—this is that moment. 

Last September, in the wake of this disturbing trend, Baylor partnered with the law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP to investigate how the university has dealt with sexual assault claims in the past.

One football season and many months later, it would appear that an announcement to these findings is forthcoming. Following Tuesday's report from Chip Brown of that Baylor president Ken Starr had been fired, Lori Fogleman, a Baylor spokeswoman, released the following statement:

The Baylor Board of Regents continues its work to review the findings of the Pepper Hamilton investigation and we anticipate further communication will come after the Board completes its deliberations.

We will not respond to rumors, speculation or reports based on unnamed sources. But when official news is available, the University will provide it. We expect an announcement by June 3.

The alleged assaults involve human beings and the way justice was, or wasn't, applied in instances of criminal acts.

But the backdrop for it all is a big, blossoming business. It's a budding football power that has won 32 games over the past three seasons—the most successful stretch in its history—and the architect, head coach Art Briles, who has helped produce such spectacular results along with a new stadium and newfound interest in a once-dormant brand.

How these two intersect will dictate the future of a program. The questions at the center of it all are both simple and deeply important: How could these alleged atrocities have been avoided? And did individuals within the program knowingly abandon procedure, morality and justice to protect the golden goose?

Not a single firing has been made official. The very notion of quantifying punishments, legal or otherwise, has yet to truly be broached, either. And yet, the damage is already so pronounced that this will serve as a giant billboard of what college programs must avoid.

Baylor is not alone in this regard. Tennessee is involved in a wide-ranging lawsuit claiming numerous allegations of sexual assault. There are also questions about the way these situations were dealt with and the order in which information was shared. The situation is fluid, just like it is in Waco. But the residual negativity is tangible.

It shouldn't take something of this horror to trigger a response from others. And yet, there is no better time for others to look at their body of work squarely in the mirror than right now, at the eye of the storm.

No sport operates with a copycat mentality more than football. Stealing plays and concepts is not only accepted, it's essential. What works and what doesn't often drives the way the game is played. Somewhat seamlessly so, it morphs into something completely unique without anyone realizing what was taking place.

When Auburn returned a missed field goal against Alabama to win the 2013 Iron Bowl in spectacular, gut-wrenching fashion, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer implemented the play at his weekly practice almost instantaneously.

He saw an entire season destroyed for someone else, and he wanted his team to benefit from someone else's football misfortune. It wasn't a leap of faith; it was a tactical adjustment.

If such a mentality can exist in playbooks and personnel, one can only hope that such moments of clarity can, and should, occur in other elements of the program...ones that carry far more importance than a game or even a season.

This has become the story of the offseason, trumping the boisterous satellite camp discussion with ease. What happens at Baylor matters more than anything since Penn State—more than Ole Miss and any other pressing punishment churning through the NCAA's random penalty generator.

This is the time a complete system check should take place. It begins with the coaching staff and the young men that are recruited to play at the program. This is the start of the cycle and the most integral part.

It's not just who is recruited, but what these players are taught when they're on campus. How to act. How to treat women. The price to be paid when these reasonable expectations aren't met, no matter the talent. 

It only takes one player or staff member—a deplorable action from one person—to impact the perception of that university as viewed by the general population. When these actions start to add up, tendencies are formed. Perception shifts further, fair or not.

Never before has stockpiling a program with quality human beings and values felt more important than it does right now.

From there, those tasked with ensuring the program runs as planned must do their part to prevent any notion of blatant misconduct. From the university president to the athletic director to those who rarely receive air time, there must be continuity from within.

It is not the responsibility of one person to do right. Just like it's not a burden one person must carry when things go wrong. The situation at Baylor is a product of many people and many bad decisions.

Whether it's taking a moral stand or protecting the bottom line—or hopefully a combination of the two—the transgressions of someone else can serve as the building blocks for many. With so much money being poured into these programs yearly, with sponsorships and enrollment and billions of dollars at stake, this is a reminder of how much there is to lose.

It is unknown just how Baylor will be impacted on this front, although the repercussions, no matter what is determined and announced in the coming weeks and months, will be substantial.

Briles' future at Baylor will be decided soon. So will Starr's. Other coaches and administrators will be held accountable for their actions. There is no changing that; this has already been decided. But there is hope that this will stand for something more for so many others.

One couldn't view this stance as turning a negative into a positive. Not when the negative is this dark and far-reaching. Not when lives and families are impacted in a way that we could never understand. Not when the positive should be decent, common practice.

But if others are tasked to reassess their purpose, that's something to build on. It's a time to determine whether winning is getting in the way of leading a safe and reasonable business. It's a time to ensure that the people inside and outside the program are protected.

Perhaps, then, this experience can serve as an invaluable teaching experience for others, albeit one at a tremendous cost.

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The Most Underrated and Overrated CFB Players in Each Power 5 Conference

It's a natural inclination to place value on things, and there are few places where this is as prevalent as in sports. But in the process of trying to assess who is good, who is not so good and who is the best, these evaluations can sometimes become skewed.

Before you know it, some athletes end up under- or overrated. College football is not immune to this process, especially during the long offseason in which past results get embellished and future expectations can't help but be raised.

What we end up with are players who, though no fault of their own, get far more (or less) attention than normal. In the end, many perform just as expected, though it's not surprising to see some fail to meet the hype while others drastically exceed it.

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Michigan Football: 5 Toughest QBs Wolverines Will Face in 2016

Although Michigan will likely field one of the nation's stingiest defenses in 2016, that feisty unit will encounter several tough quarterbacks during the regular season.

The Wolverines have a relatively favorable schedule, especially since some of their better opponents have to replace former starters. Plus, the nonconference slate is particularly weak.

Inside the Big Ten, however, Jim Harbaugh's team will face three of the nation's best signal-callers, partly thanks to crossover games. The other two are first-year starters within the Big Ten East.

Michigan's ability to neutralize—or at least contain—the following quarterbacks will have a big impact on their record in 2016. 

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College Football Summer Enrollees We're Excited to See Most in 2016

Some of the biggest stars of the college football offseason are the early enrollees who start turning heads in spring practices. But those players represent just a portion of the elite recruits coming onto campus for the 2016 campaign.

This summer, it will be time to get reacquainted with the blue-chip prospects going the traditional route of arriving on campus ahead of their first fall camps. 

Among those arriving this summer on campuses all across the country is the nation's No. 1 overall recruit, who is a lock to make a big impact for one of the game's most talked-about programs at the moment. Legacy recruits and can't-miss 5-stars will also take hold of the headlines as they transition to life in college over the next few months.

Here are 10 summer enrollees we're excited to see the most in the 2016 season. All of these star recruits have opportunities to play right away at their new homes and have the skill sets needed to become breakout stars this fall.

Of course, this is just a list of one writer's opinion, and fans everywhere will undoubtedly be excited to see their schools' top prospects make their debuts later this offseason. Tell us who you're most pumped about from the class of 2016 in the comments below.

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Dede Westbrook Arrested: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction on Oklahoma WR

University of Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook was arrested Monday on a complaint of criminal trespass. He's since been released from jail. 

Ryan Aber of the Oklahoman reported the arrest, which occurred at 11:30 a.m. Monday morning and was confirmed by a Milam County jail official. School spokesperson Mike Houck stated, "We're aware of it and are addressing internally."

No further details about the incident were immediately released.

Westbrook transferred to Oklahoma from Blinn Community College. He signed his letter of intent in December 2014 and joined the Sooners for the 2015 campaign.

He finished second on the team with 46 catches and 743 receiving yards, ranking behind only Sterling Shepard in both categories. He also tied for third in receiving touchdowns with four.

Shepard has since made the jump to the NFL, getting drafted in the second round by the New York Giants last month. It's left a void atop the receiving depth chart for Oklahoma, and Westbrook was a leading candidate to earn the extra targets before word of the arrest became public.

Jarvis Baxter and Michiah Quick could be in line for larger roles in the passing game once the preparations for the new season resume.

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College Football Coaches on the Hot Seat Entering 2016 Summer

College football coaching is a lucrative but stressful profession. According to a recent USA Today survey, 34 FBS head coaches made at least $3 million in 2015, led by Alabama’s Nick Saban at $6.93 million. The jobs are highly sought-after, but they’re hard to hang on to. Given the ever-increasing amounts of money flooding into the sport via television contracts and booster donations, winning is all that matters.

No program will put up with a coach who consistently puts together losing seasons, ratcheting up the pressure on struggling programs. This fall, a number of coaches face ever-increasing heat under their seats.

Here’s a look at eight head coaches who are on the hot seat as we prepare for the 2016 season. These coaches have seen decreasing results on the field or are dealing with off-field issues. Either way, they’ve got to be feeling the pressure this fall.

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Notre Dame Football: 5 Toughest QBs Fighting Irish Will Face in 2016

The 2016 season will feature a few matchups against tough quarterbacks, but the upcoming slate is actually quite favorable for Notre Dame.

Uncertainty highlights a majority of the Fighting Irish's upcoming opponents. Michigan State, North Carolina State, Stanford, Navy, Virginia Tech and USC are replacing their signal-callers, while Texas, Duke and Syracuse could also have new gunslingers.

Consequently, projected starters (when available) were used when considering each of those teams.

While injury or an unanticipated development in fall camp could occur, the backups at top programs wouldn't shift the order much, if at all.

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5-Star Michigan QB Commit Dylan McCaffrey Opens Up on Recruiting for Wolverines

EL SOBRANTE, California — One of the main attractions at the Oakland Nike Elite 11 Regional camp over the weekend was 5-star quarterback and current Michigan pledge Dylan McCaffrey.

He certainly didn’t disappoint in delivering a strong performance that resulted in earning an invitation to the Elite 11 Finals in Los Angeles next month. 

“I feel like I did pretty well. Of course, I think there are a lot of areas for improvement. One of the things I did pretty well was just taking the coaching I was getting,” McCaffrey told Bleacher Report. “When they told me something to work on, I did my best to change it and I think that helped me. I just want to improve every day from now and go out there and do my best against these other top guys.”

Of course, most fans will recognize the name given that the 6’5”, 200-pounder out of Valor Christian High School in Littleton, Colorado is the son of former NFL receiver Ed McCaffrey and the younger brother of Stanford All-American running back Christian McCaffrey.

Despite the connections to the Stanford program, Dylan opted to commit to Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff back in March.

According to McCaffrey, the combination of education plus his comfort level with Harbaugh and quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch played a huge role in helping him select the Wolverines.

“The biggest factor was that Michigan is a great academic institution. It’s one of the top five public schools out there,” McCaffrey said. “Another big factor was Coach Harbaugh, Coach Fisch and that entire coaching staff. They are all going to put me in the best position to succeed.”

McCaffrey admits that Harbaugh’s history with developing quarterbacks and the job he did with the Wolverines last year going 10-3 caught his attention.

“It was impressive what he did this past year. He didn’t have his own recruiting class and he pushed Michigan up to Top 20 in the country,” McCaffrey said. “That’s pretty incredible. He just used the talent he had and made them a lot better team in one year.”

McCaffrey, who rates as the nation’s top pro-style passer and the No. 19 player overall in the 2017 class, said he never felt pressured to follow in their footsteps in attending Stanford or Duke—where his oldest brother Max just finished a four-year career playing receiver for the Blue Devils.

Instead, he leaned on them to help him navigate the process and help him find the best fit of the eight schools who had offered and were pursuing him.

“Their advice was mainly to just look at the school and mainly focus on the guys you are going to go to school with. Those are the guys you will be hanging out with,” McCaffrey explained. “Coaches are great to you during recruiting, but once you get there, it’s all business and they are your bosses. You really have to go somewhere where you will enjoy hanging out with your teammates.”

He may be joining his father and elder siblings in giving out similar advice to his youngest brother, Luke, who will enter his sophomore season at Valor Christian this fall as the team’s backup quarterback and as a starter at corner.

“[Luke is] going to go wherever fits him best. My brothers did that with me. They wanted me to go wherever was best for me, even if it wasn’t Duke or Stanford if that wasn’t the right fit,” Dylan said. “I think it will be the same thing with Luke. We will support him wherever he decides to go.”

For now, Dylan is turning his focus toward his future and helping recruit top talent to Ann Arbor. 

“There are a bunch of guys [I want to talk to]. I just want to put Michigan out there and spark everybody’s interest in Michigan,” McCaffrey said. “I want to let the top guys know we are going to be doing something special up there in the next couple of years.”

McCaffrey, who reports a 3.97 GPA, is also working on picking out his major in college.

While that is still to be determined, he does have one career in mind that he could see himself pursuing whenever his playing days conclude.

“Oh gosh, my dream career would be to become an architect. I like geometry and kind of the art side of things and I would like to get into being able to design some things myself,” McCaffrey said. “I would love to design and build houses. That’s a great part in everyone’s life that not a lot of people get to take time and appreciate. That’s a big part of everyone’s life.”


Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Every SEC Team's Best 2016 Heisman Candidate

Derrick Henry got the SEC back on the board in a big way last year when he rushed for a conference-record 2,219 yards and became just the third running back this century to take home the Heisman Trophy.

Can the SEC make it two in a row?

Despite Henry, former Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott and others leaving, the conference is loaded with talented players who could make a run at college football's most prestigious individual award.

Who's the best candidate for each team? Our picks based on production, potential and voting trends are in this slideshow.


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Every Big Ten Team's Best 2016 Heisman Candidate

The start of the 2016 college football season is still more than three months away, but no matter the time of year, fans are always paying attention to the race for the sport's most prestigious award.

And when it comes to the preseason outlook for the Heisman Trophy heading into the 2016 campaign, the Big Ten finds itself with no shortage of seemingly viable candidates.

From dual-threat quarterbacks to two-way jack-of-all-trades to some of college football's most dynamic playmakers, the conference is littered with players who possess the potential to wind up in New York City on the second Saturday of this December.

In fact, each Big Ten team could lay claim to at least one Heisman-caliber candidate, should the right set of circumstances fall into place for both player and team.

Whether because of position or skill set, some players, however, are more carved out for potential Heisman Trophy runs. With that in mind, let's take a look at the player on each Big Ten team with the best chance to find himself in the Heisman race in the coming season.

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