NCAA Football News

Ole Miss Receiver Laquon Treadwell Running Less Than 4 Months After Nasty Injury

After suffering a gruesome injury on Nov. 1, Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is already up and running.

Treadwell fractured his fibula and dislocated his ankle while attempting to score the go-ahead touchdown late against Auburn, a game that ended in a 35-31 loss for the Rebels. The sophomore missed the rest of the season.

Now, about three-and-a-half months later, the receiver is back on his feet and moving quickly. Treadwell posted a video of himself and Rebels linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche, who is also coming off an ankle injury, racing.

It's great to see they are able to run at this point in the recovery process.  

[Laquon Treadwell, h/t CBS Sports]

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Julian Rochester Reveals Top 5: Which Team Is Best Fit for 5-Star DT?

Mammoth Georgia defender Julian Rochester isn't nearing a collegiate commitment quite yet, but the 5-star prospect is primarily focused on five programs at this point.

"In order, it'd probably be Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, LSU and then Georgia," he told Kipp Adams of 247Sports.

Rochester, a 6'5.5", 300-pound junior at McEachern High School, is the latest top-tier recruit to emerge at the perennial Peach State powerhouse. Offensive lineman Chuma Edoga (USC) and running back Taj Griffin (Oregon) headlined the team's 2014 class, opting to head west for the next phase of their football careers.

Rochester's recruitment has a far more local feel to it so far. He appears intent on staying put in the Southeast based on his list of top contenders. 

The process began early for Rochester, who collected offers from Auburn, Clemson, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Miami, Georgia and Alabama before the end of his sophomore year. 

Rated fourth nationally among defensive tackles in 247Sports' composite rankings, Rochester is considered a top-20 overall prospect in the 2016 class.

He earned all-state honors in 2014. His junior campaign included 116 tackles—featuring 25 for loss—and 12 sacks. 

Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Sanjay Kirpalani scouted Rochester as part of B/R's CFB 100 Future Series. He gave the lineman significant praise and pointed out his versatility:

I saw Rochester live twice last season and was blown away by his athleticism and power. I viewed Rochester one week after I saw [top-rated 2015 defensive tackle] Trent Thompson and came away with similar impressions of both players.

Rochester may not be as big or powerful as Thompson, but his athleticism and ability to play multiple spots on the line makes him one of the elite prospects in this cycle. At one of the games I attended, coaches from Auburn and Florida State were paying close attention to Rochester all night.

Auburn currently sits ahead of the pack in this pursuit, based on comments he made to Adams.

"[Auburn] jumped on me first," Rochester said. "They still talk to me as much as possible, keep in touch and make sure they see me every time they come up there. They make me feel at home when I go there."

The Tigers did an excellent job in Georgia during the 2015 recruiting cycle and continued to push hard late trying to flip eventual 5-star Bulldogs signees Thompson and Terry Godwin. Head coach Gus Malzahn ultimately landed nine players (one-third of his 2015 class) from the Peach State.

The team did an excellent job addressing needs along the defensive front on national signing day earlier this month, landing top-rated pass-rusher Byron Cowart and promising 6'8" prospect Prince Tega Wanogho.

Auburn is off to a solid start in the 2016 cycle, highlighted by a pledge from 5-star wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers. The staff's solid relationship with Rochester is apparent, as he was willing to pronounce the program as his primary leader.

"(They tell me) how great the place is, what type of player I am and how much of an impact I could make," he said. "Just getting there and jumping into the system, it would be a fun, humbling experience."

Rochester traveled to campus twice during the 2014 season. Consider him a lock to return for an official visit weekend next autumn.

Mark Richt is once again battling with Malzahn for the top defensive prospect in his home state. Thompson will arrive in Athens with All-American expectations after flirting with Alabama, Auburn and others during his recruitment.

The potential to pair him with a talent like Rochester in 2016 should have Georgia fighting hard for his commitment through next signing day. He's a top target for a class that already features fellow 5-stars Jacob Eason (quarterback) and Ben Cleveland (offensive tackle). 

Clemson claimed a pair of premier defensive tackles during the 2015 cycle, securing signatures from 5-star Christian Wilkins and 4-star Albert Huggins. Dabo Swinney is working to deliver his program into playoff contention on perennial basis, and enhancements on defense are key for a team typically known for its high-flying offensive attack.

Clemson welcomed Rochester to campus for camp last summer. The program will look to set up a return trip as soon as possible, as he could take a strong 2016 Tigers class to even greater heights. 

Swinney picked up commitments from 5-star running back Tavien Feaster and 4-star wide receiver Cornell Powell earlier this month. However, Clemson currently holds just one defensive pledge in a class that carries seven players and rates sixth nationally in 247Sports' composite rankings.

Florida State is also off to a strong start on the 2016 recruiting trail. The Seminoles already hold commitments from 5-star quarterback Malik Henry, top-rated tight end Isaac Nauta and a trio of 4-star defensive linemen (Cedric WoodJanarius Robinson and Josh Brown).

Jimbo Fisher continues to stockpile elite talent along the defensive front, highlighted by 5-star defensive end and 2015 early enrollee Josh Sweat. The team whiffed on a few key tackle targets during the past cycle, so expect that position to be a point of emphasis in Tallahassee during the year ahead. 

LSU is one of three SEC squads sitting among Rochester's favorites, and you can be sure he sits near the top of defensive line coach Ed Orgeron's 2016 "wish list." The recent staff addition is recognized as an ace recruiter and one of the most respect assistant coaches at his position of focus.

Les Miles was the latest to extend an offer on Rochester's list of top suitors, extending the scholarship last June. Late, of course, is a relative term when discussing a recruitment that began heating up back in 2013. 

A campus visit is key for establishing greater rapport between Rochester and the staff in Baton Rouge, so expect LSU to work ardently to schedule something within in the next few months. The team failed to add significant beef to its defensive interior during the 2015 recruiting cycle and has yet to land a 2016 defensive tackle, so look for that spot to be addressed with multiple additions. 

Rochester brings a level of talent and physical frame that should result in immediate collegiate reps if he arrives on campus ready to work. He identified "playing time, chances of going to the league, education and coaches" as crucial components of the decision, though he expects to wait until signing day for an official announcement. 

Given the amount of time that separates now and then, there are ample opportunities for Rochester to deeply research and consider each contender. Other programs could also end up making a push and enter the equation.

As things stand now, a role at the center of Will Muschamp's defensive front in Auburn appears to be the most alluring. He would be bookended by elite pass-rushers in an aggressive scheme, freeing up space for him to wreak havoc inside. 

The situation will change at each school before signing day 2016, especially when the inevitable coaching carousel starts to spin again next winter. For now, we'll give his apparent favorite the edge and anticipate he ends up at Auburn.

 

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Alabama Crimson Tide 2016 Dream Recruiting Class

Alabama looks to win a sixth recruiting national championship this upcoming season. The Crimson Tide have no problem putting together top classes, and 2016 will be no different. 

Stephen Nelson sits down with Bleacher Report Lead Alabama Writer Marc Torrence to discuss Alabama's dream recruiting class for 2016.

Who are the must-have recruits for Alabama next season?

Watch the video and let us know!

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What Are the Realistic Expectations for New Texas A&M DC John Chavis?

It's been known since New Year's Day that John Chavis is Kevin Sumlin's new defensive coordinator for Texas A&M.

On Friday, it finally became official. 

Texas A&M announced its 2015 staff responsibilities, with Chavis being listed as the new defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in College Station.

"John Chavis has a long, highly successful career as both a defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in the SEC," Sumlin said in the release. "He has already brought new insights and a great level of intensity to our staff and players as we begin preparing for the 2015 season."

Chavis' work at LSU was nothing short of impeccable. 

His Tigers finished no worse than third in the conference in total defense every year since 2010, led the conference in 2014 (316.8 yards per game) and became one of the top defenses in the SEC.

Needless to say, Chavis' arrival has raised the expectation level of an Aggie defense that's finished last in the SEC in total defense in each of the last two seasons. It wasn't due to lack of talent, though.

Defensive end Myles Garrett emerged as a star during his freshman season in 2014, notching 53 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. Otaro Alaka looked like a budding star in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl win over West Virginia, safety Armani Watts showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman and incoming defensive tackle Daylon Mack could be the piece that finally gets this defense to click.

As Billy Liucci of TexAgs.com notes, the combination of Garrett and Mack up front could present major problems for opposing offenses:

An immediate turnaround for the Aggies should not only be the goal, it should be expected.

No, they're not going to miraculously become one of the SEC's best defenses in terms of yards per game. That should never be the expectation for a team that runs a tempo-based offense that doesn't place importance on time of possession and leaves the defense out on the field more than ball-control teams.

Middle of the pack in total defense and under five yards per play would be nice and shouldn't be that difficult for Chavis' new crew to attain.

The pieces are in place, they're finally going to be coached by a coordinator who knows what it takes to be successful in the SEC and the combination of Mack and Garrett should force plenty of negative plays and get offenses behind the sticks.

What would that do to Texas A&M's SEC West title hopes?

Since finishing third in the division and upsetting Alabama on the road in 2012, the Aggies have regressed in the standings every season, culminating with a sixth-place finish last year (8-5, 3-5 SEC). Even with a slightly competent defense, bouncing back into SEC West contention shouldn't be a problem.

"Our philosophy has always been to get the best players in the right positions, and the same holds true for our coaching staff," Sumlin said in the release. "I am excited about our coaches on the defensive side of the ball and look forward to spring practice beginning on March 2."

It's a new era in College Station.

The arrival of Chavis should signal to the rest of the SEC West that Sumlin isn't going to settle for anonymity anymore. He has the players and resources to win immediately, and Chavis could be the final piece of the puzzle.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Realistic Expectations for Braxton Miller in 2015

For now, Braxton Miller has his eyes on re-earning the starting quarterback job for Ohio State in 2015. That's actually a strong possibility, even though the Buckeyes' unique 2014 championship run was also an example of how even great players can be viewed as yesterday's news. 

You probably know the story by now: Miller, who sat out last spring with a shoulder injury, reinjures that shoulder in the preseason. That paves the way for J.T. Barrett's surprising stretch as a starter, but his ankle injury against Michigan opens the door for Cardale Jones to finish off an odds-defying year with one hell of a three-game stretch.

But what if Miller doesn't win the job? With three proven quarterbacks vying for one starting job next season, there are going to be two who end up hearing bad news from head coach Urban Meyer. How does Miller fit into the equation?

The two-time Big Ten MVP is throwing again, according to his Twitter account, so that's a positive start. 

Kevin Ryan of 247Sports writes that Jones may be the only quarterback healthy enough to fully participate in spring drills. If that ends up being the case, it wouldn't be surprising to see the redshirt sophomore take a majority, if not all, of the first-team reps: 

At this point it appears that Miller, Barrett and Jones will be vying for playing time in the fall, but it is widely thought that only Jones will be healthy enough to fully participate in spring practice. Many have Miller's timetable to return to play quarterback questionable even for the fall, but if he has begun to throw that timetable could be accelerated.

Miller is enrolled at Ohio State and is taking classes, but any of the three quarterbacks could transfer following spring practice if they believe they would be better suited to continue their college careers at a different program.

How Miller feels will dictate how much he can do physically. Ideally, he would love nothing more than to get back out on the field and take some much-needed snaps. Whether they're first-team reps or not, the important thing is Miller shakes off the rust some way, somehow. (The Buckeyes' spring game is April 18.) 

That would be a huge step in the right direction from last spring, when the best he could do was essentially double up on his mental/film reps. Make no mistake, Miller was active during those practices. Still, as B/R's Michael Felder wrote at the time, he missed an important opportunity to get better. 

It's an opportunity that shouldn't go to waste this time. While Miller doesn't want to push himself too hard, he is approaching his final year of eligibility. If he believes his future is at quarterback, getting any type of work in now is crucial. 

Besides, there's no need to rush a decision on where (or what position) he'll play. Take, for example, Miller's statement last month in the midst of myriad transfer rumors. In short, he implied he would be coming back to Ohio State for another season. 

"Privilege and honor to be part of this team," Miller said in January, via Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch. "Guess what, we've got another year to do it. So go Bucks."

In reality, though, his options are still open. 

If Miller had announced he was transferring, he would have run the risk of Ohio State moving on from him. What does that mean? Consider Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams, who will transfer to Oregon as a grad student later this summer. According to Eagles head coach Beau Baldwin, via of Kyle Bonagura of ESPN.com, Adams will not be able to work out using team facilities going forward. 

In other words, Adams made his choice, but he has to find his own solution to preparing for his next step while staying in school. Miller has avoided that balancing act. 

Miller could still transfer at the end of spring practices if he feels like he's falling behind in the quarterback race. Since he would be eligible to play right away, he would be one of the most sought-after grad transfers in college football. 

If Miller really wants to play quarterback in 2015, some team will give him that chance. 

All of that might sound like he is using Ohio State, but it's a savvy move. His future as a football player could depend on what happens over the next year. He's not getting any better if he forfeits a spring session without at least testing the recovery process. 

For all anyone knows, spring could go better than expected for Miller, with Meyer reminded of what he had to begin with. Or, it could be affirmation that it's time for Miller to move on. There's only one way to know. 

The possibility also exists that Miller simply wants to finish his college career where he started it. There's something to be said for that too. Blake Bell knew his time as Oklahoma's quarterback was going to be short-lived, so he made the smart decision last spring to spend his senior season as a tight end. Now, he has a legitimate chance to make a future of it in the pros. 

Miller could make a position switch of his own, but because of his injury, that likely won't happen in the next couple of months. And if he's throwing again, it behooves Miller to go through spring drills and see where he stands as a passer. 

After that, his options will be clearer: finish at Ohio State and take a chance at re-earning the starting job, switch positions or move on and spend the final year proving he's a legit quarterback prospect for NFL organizations. 

There are no bad decisions since Miller's happiness is the only thing that matters. Nevertheless, it will be an important decision. 

 

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

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Georgia Football: Should Bulldogs Consider Hines Ward for WRs Coach Job?

Update: According to Chip Towers of the Atlanta-Journal-Constitution, Stanford's Lance Taylor, who was initially reported to be replacing Ball, turned the job down. Now, Thomas Brown, a former Georgia running back and an assistant at Wisconsin, has been announced as joining the Georgia staff. He will coach the running backs and Bryan McClendon will move to coach the wide receivers, which was the initial recommendation at the tail-end of this article.

Update: According to Chip Towers of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Georgia has tabbed Lance Taylor, formerly the running backs coach at Stanford, as the replacement for Tony Ball.

Taylor has ties to defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt (both were at Alabama in 2007 and 2008) and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer (Taylor was with Schottenheimer and the New York Jets as an offensive assistant).

Taylor brings good experience as an offensive assistant at the collegiate level and should add value immediately.

 

Original Text 

A popular name is gaining widespread support to fill Georgia's wide receivers coach position vacated by Tony Ball last Friday.

Ball, who spent nine years in Athens and is moving on to LSU, told Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "The timing was just right and it was a great opportunity."

Now, the hope of many is that former Bulldog and Super Bowl champ Hines Ward may find the opening in Athens equally appealing and that the timing and opportunity might bring a legend home.

But the Bulldogs should not consider Ward for the wide receivers coach job.

Though Ward obviously knows the game and excelled in his playing days as a route-runner, pass-catcher and tenacious blocker, he does not boast coaching experience. Georgia needs a coach capable of relating to and educating young, unproven receivers immediately.

There's no time to wait out a learning curve when high-quality teaching is needed so urgently.

Heading into the 2015 season, Georgia returns just one wide receiver who accounted for more than 67 total receiving yards in 2014, and that lone stalwart is an oft-injured fifth-year senior (Malcolm Mitchell):

There is talent in this bunch—and more talent arriving as part of the most recent recruiting haul—but the potential of this group is largely unknown. Even players who have shown brilliance in the past saw their stock decrease in 2014.

Mitchell, who was one of the best freshmen receivers in the country in 2011 before splitting time at defensive back in 2012 and going down with an injury in 2013, lacked explosion in 2014.

After averaging 14.8 yards per catch as a true freshman and 14.3 yards per reception as a sophomore, he slipped to an even eight-yard average last season.

Justin Scott-Wesley, who was having a breakout season in 2013 (16 catches for 311 yards and two touchdowns in five games) before being injured, played in just two games in 2014. He registered just three receptions.

Reggie Davis, who set the school record with a 98-yard touchdown reception in 2013, accounted for just 63 yards on six catches last season.

The questions surrounding this group are made even more critical by an unknown quarterback situation, as three potential starters—Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta and Jacob Park—continue to jockey for position.

To maintain a balanced offense, Georgia needs excellence from its wide receivers, and it's going to take a lot of coaching to get there. And that's where Georgia's apparent emphasis on winning now comes into play.

Everything Georgia has done this offseason has placed an impetus on winning sooner than later.

Head coach Mark Richt and defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt both received sizable raises. When an offensive coordinator was needed to replace Mike Bobo, money was spent on a longtime NFL assistant in Brian Schottenheimer.

Georgia isn't spending this money and protecting these assets with a long-term vision. If that was the plan, Ward would—at least in theory—be an obvious choice. He's a big name who would excite the alumni and grow into an undoubtedly stellar recruiter while simultaneously learning the ropes of collegiate coaching.

But if Georgia wants to win now, Ward is not the answer. Perhaps another former Bulldog fits the bill.

Current running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Bryan McClendon actually played wide receiver at Georgia. Switching him to the void left by Ball could allow Georgia to bring in Thomas Brown, a former Georgia running back, to coach Nick Chubb and company.

Brown was at Georgia as recently as 2011 as an assistant strength coach before moving on to Chattanooga, Marshall and Wisconsin.

In his first season at Wisconsin as running backs coach, Melvin Gordon was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy and combined with Corey Clement to set the FBS record for single-season rushing yards by two teammates.

McClendon, who has continually advanced at Georgia, wouldn't need long to adjust to coaching the position he starred at in his collegiate days. Brown could be an asset from the outset while working with talented running backs like Chubb and Sony Michel.

Ward would be a high-risk hire, and the potential payout could be several years away.

With an emphasis on winning immediately, unproven players at the position and questions surrounding the quarterback position, he's not worth the gamble.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.

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Meet College Football's Most Inexperienced Head Coach

Tradition says The Jump doesn't work. You can't skip steps. When high school basketball stars move to the NBA, they usually land on the bench. Baseball players rarely make it without enough at-bats in the minors. College football players sit out their freshman years. And high school football coaches?

They have never made successful transitions to the college ranks. Tradition. But UNLV apparently had never heard of Gerry Faust. And its new coach, former superstar Vegas high school coach Tony Sanchez of Bishop Gorman, has already wowed a town known for flash and glitz, put together a veteran college coaching staff and managed, on short time, to sign a decent first recruiting class.

Times have changed. The fact that I can call someone a superstar high school coach is reason enough to suggest Vegas might have gambled on the right long shot. I think it has.

"People say that it hasn't worked before," Sanchez told Bleacher Report. "But when has it actually happened? Twice in 30 years? If this were a scientist, he'd say, 'Not enough information.' "

Gerry Faust's failures at Notre Dame were so colossal that they kept everyone away from high school coaches for the next quarter of a century. Nobody wanted to make that mistake again, much like disco.

Faust was hired in 1981. North Texas tried out Todd Dodge in 2007, and that didn't work, either. Other than that, people point to the 1970s for the only other times in the modern era that high school coaches were given a shot. One thing: The 1970s are not part of the sport's modern era. In fact, 2007, when Dodge was hired, isn't either.

So it's not that there isn't enough information to judge today's high school coaches. There is none.

UNLV hired Sanchez in December, just in time for the homestretch of recruiting season, so it's hard to judge his first class. But 247Sports' composite rankings has UNLV seventh out of the 12 teams in the Mountain West, and 109th of 129 teams nationally. This was a decent first step for a team that won two games in eight of the past 11 seasons.

But maybe that step was a bit of a fluke? ESPN's Snoop & Son: A Dad's Dream followed Snoop Dogg and his son Cordell Broadus through Cordell's senior season playing for Sanchez at Bishop Gorman.

"Tell you what, that sure didn't hurt," Sanchez said. "Right in the middle of the recruiting season. People see that, see how you're doing your job coaching. It was great. People got to know me a little bit.

"It was kind of a constant dialogue: 'Hey, we watched the show.' People saw a lot of the positives we had and the way we gave criticisms to the kids. They saw me talking to the kids before the games."

It served as one big recruiting ad for Sanchez. But it wasn't a fluke. Snoop Dogg took his kid to Bishop Gorman so he would play for a prominent high school program. It was an example of the modern era Sanchez is from, of national high school programs treated like colleges. Bishop Gorman won six state titles under Sanchez and the most recent national championship.

"We're the largest Nike high school in the country with a contract bigger than a lot of colleges," Sanchez said. "We played on ESPN, ESPN2, FOX, CBS. With those experiences, that exposure, I haven't felt a lot of stress [at UNLV]. And there's no doubt about it that we had better facilities than they have [at UNLV]. We probably had better facilities than a lot of Division I schools."

Sanchez, who's 41, was responsible for those facilities at Bishop Gorman, which include a 41,000-square-foot athletics building, a 90-seat room for team meetings, a four-lane 60-yard sprint track, posh locker rooms, a huge weight room and a hydrotherapy pool.

To me, it's dangerous for a high school program to be like that, treating kids like rock stars. But the point is: What did Sanchez jump to when he went to UNLV?

"I walked in with my wife and kids on the first night and sat in the office and she said, "Oh my God, what are you doing? There's no TLC,'" he said. "You know how you walk into someone's house and whatever it is, it's tidy and clean and you can tell they care?

"We came here and it was a cluttered mess. Replace carpet, get things clean, replace furniture, make sure the chairs match. They look sharp now. At the end of the day, you do have everything you need to win, a weight room, a locker room."

Going from Bishop Gorman to UNLV isn't so much a jump as a dive. Sanchez has meetings planned with an architect on a 60,000-70,000-foot facility he wants. He's looking to raise the funds the same way he did at Bishop Gorman. He also is close to Lorenzo Fertitta, CEO of Ultimate Fighting Championship, who can help.

So this will be a test. But UNLV failed while trying to fix things with an aging star coach (John Robinson), failed with an up-and-coming big-time assistant, failed with someone who had won at a smaller school. Why not try a modern high school coach with a resume and connections?

"Why it hasn't been done in the past here, I'll be honest, has never been my concern," he said. "It kind of baffles me. We'll have to see how engaged this community is. There are a lot of resources in this town, and people who are very capable."

Gerry Faust was not the modern era. Expectations at Vegas are not the same as expectations at Notre Dame. And Faust wasn't nearly as prepared as Sanchez is.

The idea of The Jump isn't what it used to be, either. Two of the past three Heisman winners, Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel, were freshmen. Many high school offenses are already as sophisticated as college offenses.

So Sanchez knows he's not moving up in class—but instead building from the ground up. In fact, part of his UNLV contract called for him to have a car. When the school presented him with a Mercedes, he sent it back.

"I told them, 'You know what? I'm not feeling real good about that,' " he said. "They said, 'Don't you want a Mercedes?' I said, 'I don't know how that looks when I drive up in a Mercedes every day on a team that won two games. I need a big, black American truck.' I figured a pickup truck. This is a tough, blue-collar fight."

You can catch him any time now, driving around town in his black Silverado.

 

Greg Couch covers college football for Bleacher Report.

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How Should Steve Spurrier Handle Shameik Blackshear's Legal Issue?

It seems like every single season, there's always something that pops up shorty after national signing day that puts the college career of a signee in jeopardy.

In the case of 4-star South Carolina defensive end Shameik Blackshear, something "popped in"—as in, Blackshear himself.

According to Mike McCombs and Matt McNab of The (Hilton Head) Island Packet and GoGamecocks.com, Blackshear was arrested on Friday and charged with petit larceny for allegedly taking a purse and a safe valued at $1,390 from a home. 

"We are aware of the situation and will let the legal process work its way out," South Carolina spokesman Steve Fink said, according to the report.

So how should head coach Steve Spurrier handle this?

The report points out other incidents that have occurred under Spurrier's watch at South Carolina, the most similar of which was the case of former wide receiver commitment Michael Bowman. Last summer, he was charged with 16 misdemeanor counts of larceny for stealing six iPads and 10 iPods from an elementary school. He was not a part of the signing class as a result of the incidents.

It isn't exclusive to South Carolina, though. 

Shortly after last year's national signing day, Auburn cornerback signee Kalvaraz Bessent was arrested and charged with two felony counts of marijuana possession. Those charges were later dropped, and Bessent was allowed to join the Tigers under probationary status. After his first season on the Plains, Bessent decided to transfer. 

Blackshear's arrest puts Spurrier in a very tight spot trying to balance what is needed for his team in a critical year and what is appropriate for the program overall.

He was the 10th-best weak-side defensive end in the most recent signing class and, along with early-enrollee defensive ends Marquavius Lewis and Dexter Wideman, was being counted on to help boost a Gamecock pass rush that finished last in the SEC in sacks (14) and tackles for loss (52) in 2014.

Contrarily, Spurrier needs it to be known throughout the program that this type of behavior—if Blackshear is found guilty—can't be tolerated within the program.

Patience is a virtue.

Like Malzahn did with Bessent last year, and like others have done in the past, letting the legal season play itself out is the right way. It won't satisfy the appetite of immediate resolution that is so prevalent in today's 24/7/365 news cycle, but it's the responsible thing to do for Spurrier and fair for Blackshear, who hasn't been found guilty of anything yet.

For what it's worth, Blackshear certainly seems like he intends to be a Gamecock, according to his Twitter account.

That certainly seems up in the air at the moment, and based on Spurrier's track record with Bowman, it seems unlikely if Blackshear, indeed, committed the crime that he has been accused of.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Miami Football: Position-by-Position Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

National signing day 2015 is now handily in the rearview mirror, and it's safe to hand out the grades from the Miami Hurricanes' class.

Although the incoming group might not be 100 percent finished, any short-term holdouts have officially signed. More specifically, the Canes grabbed a quarterback but lost a wide receiver in the hours following NSD.

Once the dust officially settled, Miami inked the nation's No. 27 haul, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

The grades are organized by positional unit and factor in potential of the talent signed, roster needs met and schematic matches.

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Tennessee Football: Position-by-Position Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

What started on the heels of a 2014 recruiting class billed to put Tennessee football back on the college football map eventually turned into a 2015 haul that is even better than its predecessor.

Head coach Butch Jones put the finishing touches on a class a couple of weeks ago that (at least on paper) has the potential to be one of the top three classes in school history. The group of 29 players wound up ranked fourth nationally, but a closer look proves it could be much better.

It also met virtually every need UT had with the numbers it was allotted.

There are few holes in the newest batch of Vols.

It's a class that was consensus top-five across the four major recruiting services and featured three positions (offensive line, defensive line, quarterback) that finished as the top-rated class on at least one recruiting service.

UT needed this year's class to be lineman-heavy, so Jones went out and signed five on the offensive front and six more on the defensive side. The Vols desperately needed a quarterback. So they got three. Running back had shoddy numbers, so Tennessee signed two true runners and a pair of athletes who could wind up there too. 

All in all, the class was strong across the board. Let's take a look at the position-by-position breakdown and grades.

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Michigan Football: Position-by-Position Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

Jim Harbaugh only had a few short weeks to assemble his first Michigan recruiting class, and he approached the task with "an enthusiasm unknown to mankind."

His efforts resulted in the No. 38 recruiting class in the country according to 247Sports.

The 14-member class is small, which had a major impact on its overall ranking but addresses important needs for the upcoming season.

This is a position-by-position breakdown of the Wolverines' 2015 recruiting class. Grades are determined by how the players are projected to help the team over the next few seasons.

 

Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations obtained firsthand.

Follow @PCallihan.

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Michigan Football: The Wolverines' Top 2015 NFL Draft Prospects

Michigan has been down for the past decade, but rough times haven’t necessarily curbed the program’s ability to produce next-level talent.

Despite a subpar 5-7 showing in 2014, the Wolverines could have four former standouts selected between April 30 and May 2 at the 2015 NFL draft in Chicago, and at least two of them could go in the early rounds.

Devin Funchess, Michigan’s clear top prospect, would make any NFL offensive coordinator jump for joy. At 6’5” and 235 pounds, the early-entry has all of the physical tools necessary to have a long, successful career as a pro receiver.

At 6’3” and 236 pounds, Jake Ryan, a former captain, could play as an inside or outside linebacker. As a sophomore in 2012, Ryan dominated the Big Ten while subsequently emerging as one of the top run-stoppers in the land. However, an ACL set him back in 2013 and his recovery wasn’t top-notch in 2014, and that was enough to cast a slight shadow of doubt on his potential.

But his motor is of the highest quality. That won’t get overlooked.

Although hampered by character concerns, which were highlighted by charges of domestic violence that led to his dismissal in November, Frank Clark—in terms of talent on the field—could be a solid addition to any defense. The 6’2”, 277-pound defensive end certainly has a nose for the ball and helped anchor a rock-solid D-line in 2014.

Devin Gardner wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, but he could be a steal in the “athlete” category. The 6’4”, 210-pound fifth-year senior’s future looks brightest at receiver, but there’s a chance he could end up throwing the ball as well.

The combine is this week in Indianapolis, and the draft is more than two months from now. But now is the time to break down Michigan’s 2015 class of future pros.

 

Devin Funchess

Pros: Size, agility and hands (usually)

Cons: Lack of physicality/blocking, hands (sometimes)

This past season was supposed to be The Year of Funchess. The junior started off with a bang, reeling in seven catches for 95 yards and three touchdowns during Week 1’s 52-14 home win over Appalachian State. He then followed with a season-high nine catches for 107 yards—a yard shy of tying his season-high of 108—during an embarrassing 31-0 road loss to Notre Dame.

There was still hope, though. Despite a 1-1 start, Funchess was primed to go off at any moment. Instead, he cooled off without a moment’s notice. He finished the year with 62 catches for a meager 733 yards and four touchdowns. As a sophomore, he caught 49 passes for 748 yards and six scores—and he averaged 15.3 yards per catch compared to just 11.8 in 2014.

Walter Football slots Funchess as the No. 8-ranked receiver of the upcoming class. The mock draft site projects him to go anywhere between the first and fourth rounds, which is a broad, yet fair, forecast. There is a good chance Funchess’ size and athleticism will trump doubts and prompt teams to take a chance late in the first or early in the second. There just aren’t many guys his size who can make the fantastic look ordinary, yet incredibly graceful.

 

Jake Ryan

Pros: Leadership, demeanor, toughness, “it” quality, versatility

Cons: Size

So he’s not the biggest NFL-bound linebacker in town, but Ryan packs a punch that’d shake the NFL’s most rugged ball-carriers. He is a student of the game, a pure student of the game.

Greg Mattison, the former defensive coordinator turned D-line coach, constantly praised Ryan’s attitude and leadership abilities during this past season. Michigan had a top-15 total defense, and Ryan was a main contributor.

The Wolverines were dreadfully inconsistent, but those hiccups didn’t keep him from finishing with 112 tackles, the second-most in the Big Ten. Nor did the bumps in the road stop him from averaging 1.17 tackles for loss per game, the fifth-best mark in the league.

Walter Football tabs Ryan as the No. 9-ranked linebacker of the 2015 class. The mock draft site projects him as a third- to fifth-rounder, which, again, is a fair assessment. Ryan’s knowledge of the game could propel him to an immediate role on special teams, or even into the seat of a backup linebacker.

 

Frank Clark

Pros: Loves contact, relentless nature, speed

Cons: Character, character, character

Cutting Clark, an Ohio native, just days before playing Ohio State, must have been one of the toughest decisions of Brady Hoke’s career. During this past season, the former Michigan coach constantly spoke of Clark’s growth and maturity, which was reassuring, to a degree, given Clark’s previous legal troubles (felony home invasion).

However, back in mid-November, Clark allegedly attacked his girlfriend at a resort in Sandusky, Ohio, according to a report by Fox Sports Detroit’s Dave Hogg. Hoke reacted to the reported incident immediately and removed Clark from the roster.

Hoke sent a message, but with that said, Clark’s off-field issues could get overlooked due to his ability to sack the quarterback and depending on the outcome of the current charges.

Walter Football positions Clark as the No. 23-ranked defensive end of the next class. The site also appropriately designates him as a future seventh-rounder or free agent.

 

Devin Gardner

Pros: Athleticism, performance under pressure (sometimes)

Cons: Physicality

Despite a broken right foot, Gardner strung together one of the most memorable and heroic quarterback performances in recent Michigan football memory during his team’s 42-41 loss to Ohio State in 2013. Then a junior, Gardner, who had been moved to wide receiver the year prior, sliced the Buckeyes for an astonishing 450 yards and four touchdowns.

He completed 32 of 45 passes, but had he completed 33, the Wolverines would have won—his do-or-die two-point conversion toss fell incomplete, but it was a valiant effort nonetheless.

Gardner took a beating during his final two years. He was essentially a walking target, having been sacked 34 times in 2013 and 26 in 2014, but he continuously forged ahead, despite critics. He’s certainly had his ups and downs, both physically and emotionally, but his athleticism may be too much for NFL executives to ignore.

It’s important to remember one thing: Before being hammered with six sacks by Michigan State in 2013, Gardner was 9-3 as a starter and one of the Big Ten’s best in terms of quarterback efficiency. There is a skilled and poised athlete somewhere in the former Inkster star.

The right coach and organization will find and further develop him.

Walter Football pegs Gardner as the No. 11-ranked quarterback of the 2015 draft class. The site suggests that he’ll be a seventh-rounder or free agent. Overall, that forecast is in the ballpark. But don’t be shocked to see him creep into the sixth round because, again, the best of Gardner could be around the corner.

 

Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

Unless otherwise noted, all draft information comes courtesy of Walter Football. Statistics and other player-related information were obtained from MGoBlue and ESPN.

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5 Reasons Why Big Ten Football Will Be Best Conference in 2015

Considering all of the adversity the Buckeyes endured in 2014, their accomplishments were nothing short of amazing.  But don't let the national media mislead you: The Big Ten has become much more than just one solid team—and 2015 is shaping up to be a banner year for the conference.

As it turns out, the Big Ten isn't a glorified Division III conference.  Despite bleak forecasts back in September from non-Midwestern commentators, the Big Ten not only earned a couple of spots in New Year's Six bowl games, but Ohio State managed to secure a berth in the College Football Playoff—and then win the whole darn thing.

Michigan State also won its CFP committee-selected bowl game against Big 12 co-champion Baylor in the Cotton Bowl Classic.

The Big Ten has languished for years as the butt of jokes from the national media and punditry.  There was no shortage of predictions almost gleefully anticipating the Big Ten falling flat and missing out on the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Will 2014 finally earn the Big Ten some national respect?  Maybe, maybe not (and if you live south of the Mason-Dixon Line almost certainly not).  But here are five simple reasons why the Big Ten will emerge as the best conference in the nation in 2015.

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Ohio State Football Recruiting Offers of the Week

Just two weeks removed from signing the seventh-ranked 2015 recruiting class, head coach Urban Meyer and the Ohio State coaching staff are hard at work to make their 2016 and 2017 hauls even better.

Over the last week, that process forced the Buckeyes to turn their attention south. 

When Tom Herman was hired as Houston's head coach, there was concern that Ohio State's recruiting efforts in Texas would take a hit. The Buckeyes were having good success in one of the country's most talent-rich states, snagging 4-star prospects J.T. BarrettDontre Wilson and Demetrius Knox over the last two years.

Meyer and the Buckeyes are still making the Lone Star State a priority, though, and the most recent evidence of that came last week with a pair of big-time offers.

 

T.J. Vasher, 4-Star Wide Receiver (2016)

Ohio State's invasion of Texas started with an offer to 4-star wideout T.J. Vasher.  

The 6'5", 180-pound pass-catcher is a rangy wideout who hails from Barrett's alma mater, Rider High School. Last month, when the Buckeyes first started showing interest in Vasher, Rider coach Marc Bindel told Ari Wasserman of The Plain Dealer what makes him so special:

He is a freak. He has a ridiculous wingspan, his vertical is off the charts. He has to put some muscle on, but our No. 1 red zone play was to hurry up and throw a fade and he'd go up and get it. With him, if you throw it anywhere in the vicinity, he's going to out-jump a guy. As he continues to get older, I expect his recruitment to expand.

Vasher's highlights show that he has a very similar skill set as Michael Thomas, who ranked second on the team last year with 799 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Those numbers can serve as proof to Vasher that the Buckeyes can feature a player like him in their offense. 

Schools such as Houston, Ole Miss and Texas Tech have offered, but Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M figure to enter the race very soon. 247Sports' Crystal Ball Prediction feature currently gives the edge to Ohio State over Texas.

 

Jaylon Jones, 4-Star Cornerback (2016) 

Four days after entering the race for Vasher, the Buckeyes offered Texas' third-ranked cornerback in Jaylon Jones.

A 5'11", 175-pound blazer out of Allen High School, Jones had offers from programs such as Auburn, Miami, Michigan, Ole Miss and TCU before the Buckeyes joined the fray. Those teams covet his speed—he runs a reported 4.40 40-yard dash—and his ability to support the run defense from the perimeter. 

Only one recruiting expert has weighed in on 247Sports' Crystal Ball—forecasting a commitment to Texas A&M (which has yet to offer the 4-star standout). That lack of clarity offers a glimpse into how wide open Jones' recruitment is, so the Buckeyes have just as much ground to cover as everyone else.

 

Joshua Kaindoh, Weak-Side Defense End (2017)

Meyer and the Buckeyes took an even deeper look into the future Wednesday when they offered Joshua Kaindoh.

A 6'6", 220-pound pass-rusher from Essex, Maryland, Kaindoh possesses an incredible burst off of the line, and his closing speed makes him a nightmare coming off of the edge. He has just two offers (the other is from Florida State), but according to his high school's official website, programs such as Alabama, Penn State and Florida have been in touch.

"It has been a crazy week and a lot of this was unexpected, but I cannot express how blessed and thankful I am to be in this position," Kaindoh said, per OLMCmd.org. "It's definitely exciting, but I still have a lot of work to do in the classroom and on the football field."

Kaindoh hasn't been ranked by 247Sports yet—only the top 116 players have been rated for the 2017 class. But as his offer list continues to grow and recruitment picks up, Kaindoh is sure to shoot up the recruiting rankings. 

 

All recruiting rankings and information via 247Sports.

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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Braxton Miller Injury: Updates on Ohio State QB's Shoulder and Recovery

As he recovers from the shoulder injury that wiped out his 2014 season, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is inching ever closer to a return to on-field action.   

Miller revealed on Twitter Sunday evening that he's physically able to throw again:

Last year couldn't have gone much worse for the Buckeyes star. First, he got hurt. Then, J.T. Barrett emerged as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate in his absence, and finally Cardale Jones won a Big Ten championship and national title in a span of three starts.

Miller heads into 2015 unsure of his role on the team. Because of that, some speculated that he might pursue a transfer to another school. Bleacher Report's Ben Axelrod, however, wrote in January that Miller would be smart to stay at Ohio State and move away from quarterback.

No matter what he does in the coming months, what's clear is that Miller is working hard to make up for lost time and close out his college career on a high note.   

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas A&M Football: Position-by-Positions Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

The Texas A&M football coaches signed the No. 11 recruiting class in the country on national signing day, according to 247Sports. 

The goal of recruiting is to address any immediate needs on the team while continuing to build for future success. In the SEC, that means you must constantly to build up the offensive and defensive lines. 

The Aggies' biggest immediate needs were on defense, as they struggled to stop anyone in 2014. The Texas A&M defense was the worst in the SEC for the second year in a row. 

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin hired John Chavis away from LSU to be the Aggies' new defensive coordinator and fix the problems on that side of the ball. The Chavis hire sent a message throughout college football that the Aggies were serious about defense. 

Sumlin and Chavis were able to identify and sign some elite defenders down the stretch. The Aggies signed a class that should help them compete for an SEC title in 2015. 

This is a position-by-position breakdown of the Aggies' 2015 recruiting class. Grades for the positions were based on how those players fit into the system and fulfill needs, not necessarily on how highly those recruits were ranked by a particular recruiting service.   

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Clemson Football Is Getting Ready for Next Season with 5:30 a.m. Workouts

The 2015 college football season might be far off, but Clemson is wasting no time preparing.

Clemson Football on Instagram posted a video of the team's workout Sunday morning.

Practice started at 5:30 a.m.

The video shows Clemson players arriving at the facility before sunrise and finishes with a simple "Good Morning." The background music of O.T. Genasis' "CoCo" makes the video that much better.

We see you, Clemson.

[Instagram, h/t College Spun]

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How Kevin White Won Over NFL Scouts in Senior Season

Every college football season serves as a showcase for NFL teams looking for the next big-impact player. Some players are considered known quantities for years, but others benefit from having a breakout season. The biggest riser in the 2015 class is West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White.

There are recent examples of breakout collegiate stars having early success in the NFL. In the last two draft classes, St. Louis Rams offensive lineman Greg Robinson and Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekial Ansah are great examples of high draft picks with little college experience that have played well.

As many franchises search for dominant playmaking talent, it was only a matter of time before White would win over NFL scouts. At 6’3” and 210 pounds, White is a physically imposing presence on the football field. White’s talent has led to many football evaluators oozing praise and grading him as one of the best prospects in the 2015 draft.

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller gave White to the Oakland Raiders with the fourth overall pick in his latest mock draft. NFL.com’s Mike Mayock ranks White as the top receiver. ESPN.com draft guru Mel Kiper also thinks of White highly, mocking him to the Minnesota Vikings with the 11th overall pick.

But how has White risen so quickly in the last eight months? We’re going to dive into his resume and see where White wins and how his skill set will translate to the NFL.

 

Winning At The Catch Point

As athletes continue to get bigger, faster and stronger, the minute details distinguish what transforms a good player into a special player. Of the most coveted traits, being able to win at the catch point more often than not is probably the most important. Speed is nice, but if the receiver can’t complete the catch, then that player is essentially just a track runner whom the defense won’t worry about.

Defenders can only do so much against receivers who are privy to snatching the ball at its highest point. Great hands earn the trust of the quarterback, and once chemistry is established between the two, defenses are at their mercy. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah selected White as his "top WR" and compares him to the Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones:

I love Parker, Cooper & DGB on tape but West Virginia's Kevin White is my top WR. He has the same traits as Julio Jones.

— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 7, 2015

White has been compared to receivers such as Larry Fitzgerald and Jones because of his ability to win while being draped in coverage. It’s easy to see why when watching his film and tracking his record at the catch point. Instead of 50-50 balls, passing to White in a jump-ball scenario is more like a 70-30 ball.

In eight games charted, I found White to have either brought down the reception or drawn a defensive pass-interference penalty on nearly 67 percent of all chances. Using his size, natural tracking ability and soft hands, White is a backbreaking playmaker when he has the opportunity.

One of the most difficult plays to finish as a receiver is to go over the top on a cornerback at the right time and pluck the ball out of the air at the proper time. It requires great vision and understanding of where he is on the field and at what point is the ball going to be catchable. Finishing the catch takes focus, toughness and hand strength. Finding a combination all of those skills together on a consistent basis is a tough task.

That’s what makes White special and comparable to the likes of other top receiving options that are currently in the NFL. No matter the down or situation, these are game-breakers that force the defense to commit a safety over the top to protect against big plays. If defenses neglect White, he’s able to make them pay.

In one-on-one situations, it’s very difficult to slow down White’s ascent to the ball. By the time he finds the ball in the air, the play is hard to stop. He tracks the football mid-air and is able to contort his body however he needs to at least make a competent play for the ball.

 

Versatility

It’s hard to find many defenses and cornerbacks capable of effectively applying press coverage to start with. Then factor in the variety of spread offenses in the Big-12 and how West Virginia lines its receivers up and how White can handle press must be a concern.

Luckily for evaluators, White has great versatility in case he needs time to improve his ability to break press coverage. He split snaps as an outside and inside receiver at West Virginia and was excellent at both. By lining up in the slot, White is less likely to be on the line of scrimmage and able to avoid press.

On the play above, White is on the line of scrimmage, but he's not facing press. Nonetheless, he uses his feet to get the cornerback to hesitate. White then uses his acceleration to get on even footing with the cornerback, and it becomes about pure speed and positioning. White separates as he tracks the ball and finishes the catch.

With the experience of running various routes from different launch points on the field, White isn’t limited to one role. White only has two years of experience at the Division I level, so there is some rawness to his game, but his comfort in different receiver positions will help him.

 

Explosiveness

The most underrated part of White’s game is his ability to just outrun defenders. His acceleration at the top of his route is highly effective and helps him pull away to create separation. He may not run the best 40-yard dash, but his quickness and ability to get up to that top speed is a valuable trait.

White’s ability to give his quarterback a bigger passing window on go routes and comebacks is vital for his success. With more spread quarterbacks entering the NFL, many tend to want that extra space, as if they’re unwilling to force tight throws, even if the receiver is good at contested catches.

In the screenshot below, see how much space White creates on a comeback route. The cornerback must consider White’s ability to cause havoc in the red zone, and it gives White a little more room to work with. However, White’s quick feet and transition back to the ball was the bigger reason for the underneath separation and big target for the quarterback.

The ability to sink his hips and cut back with efficient feet is what puts distance between White and lower-tier receivers in the draft class. He isn’t athletically limited in the sense that he’s only proficient running deep routes like Ohio State’s Devin Smith or Auburn’s Sammie Coates.

 

Looking at Kevin White’s playing style and physical profile, he’s a very solid prospect who definitely fits in with what the NFL looks for. White doesn’t have the elite level of athleticism that past top receivers such as Calvin Johnson or Dez Bryant possess, but he can become a quality No. 1 receiving option on a championship-caliber team.

As White improves his ability to break through press coverage and refine his routes, he will only increase his value to an offense. Defensive coordinators will need to make note of his alignment on every play and adjust to his presence even before White improves the nuances of his game.

 

All stats used are from Sports-Reference.com.
Ian Wharton is a NFL Draft Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, contributor for Optimum Scouting, and analyst for eDraft. 

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Vernon Adams Jr. vs. Jeff Lockie: The Competition for Oregon Ducks QB Position

Since Vernon Adams Jr. announced his transfer Monday, he has been considered the favorite to replace Heisman winner Marcus Mariota at quarterback for the Oregon Ducks—and for good reason.

The former Eastern Washington Eagles quarterback has a substantial resume: He's an All-American selection, a two-time Walter Payton Award runner-up and the College Football Performance Awards winner for the 2013 FCS National Performer of the Year. And that's just scratching the surface.

Replacing a player like Mariota is no easy measure, but Adams looks to be the closest bet the Ducks have to another dual-threat quarterback for the coming fall.

The transfer passed for 3,483 yards and 35 touchdowns last season alone, registering a 66.1 percent completion rate. He also rushed for 285 yards on 100 carries for six touchdowns.

Joining a program like Oregon, there is no reason why Adams shouldn't be able to convert his success in the FCS to the FBS.

However, the competition for Oregon's starting quarterback position doesn't go uncontested—there is also Jeff Lockie, Mariota's backup for two seasons.

Lockie brings unique value to the competition that should not be disregarded, especially not this early.

In order to have immediate eligibility this fall, Adams cannot join the Ducks until he finishes out the academic year with his undergraduate degree from Eastern Washington.

This gives Lockie an advantage Adams won't have. He will already be competing for that opening spot with four other players this spring: early enrollee Travis Waller, redshirt freshman Morgan Mahalak and sophomores Ty Griffin and Taylor Alie.

Lockie is the only player among the five to have taken the field with the team's offensive unit in a game setting. There is a level of familiarity already developed between Lockie and the returning receiving corps, including Darren Carrington and Devon Allen, with whom the quarterback has connected in past games—something that should not be taken for granted.

In Week 1 against South Dakota and Week 3 against Wyoming, Lockie combined to complete 17-of-20 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown. Lockie is not the dual-threat quarterback Mariota was, but between his accuracy and the depth returning at the running back position, the Ducks offense could likely strike the same balance with which it operated last season.

With Adams not entering the competition until the fall, he is very much left on his own to prepare over the next few months. Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin said the former Eagle will not be allowed to train with the team or utilize its athletic facilities in an interview with 700 ESPN in Spokane, Washington, on Monday.

This could make a significant difference, and all things considered, the front-runner for the Ducks starting quarterback position cannot truly be named with full certainty until the fall.

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SEC Football: Early Odds for Each Team to Make the 2015-16 Playoff

With its reputation and talent level, it stands to reason the SEC might be as close to a guarantee to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff as any of the power conferences. Getting two in there is even possible, as it looked for much of last season.

But which team(s) will that be in 2015?

We're more than six months out from the first games of the upcoming season, but it's never too early to start speculating and surmising—and for entertainment purposes, maybe even post some early odds for each team to reach the playoffs.

Take note: The odds given to each team are relatively arbitrary and are in relation to one another and not all of FBS. They're also not likely indicative of what a reputable oddsmaker would come up with; rather, they're meant to illustrate the road each SEC school has ahead of it and how that could affect its chances.

Scroll through to see what odds we're giving for all 14 SEC schools to be playoff-bound at the end of the 2015 season.

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