NCAA Football News

Lorenzo Phillips to FSU: Seminoles Land 4-Star LB Prospect

Florida State is losing a lot of talented players to the NFL this year, but at least one incoming player should be able to help them from the get-go, as junior college linebacker Lorenzo Phillips has committed to the Seminoles.

Safid Deen of the Tallahassee Democrat has more:

Lorenzo Phillips, rated the No. 1 junior college outside linebacker in the country, committed to Florida State on Tuesday afternoon.

Phillips, who played at LSU before transferring to East Mississippi Community College, has two seasons of eligibility left and could immediately help the Seminoles defense.

Standing at 6'3" and weighing 230 pounds, Phillips is considered a 4-star linebacker by 247Sports, which ranks him as the top JUCO linebacker, the No. 18 junior college prospect in the country and the No. 7 junior college prospect from the state of Louisiana. 

Phillips certainly is prepared to make an instant impact with the 'Noles, as he told Brendan Sonnone of the Orlando Sentinel:

Sonnone has more on the role he might play with Florida State:

However Florida State utilizes him, Phillips has the opportunity to make an instant impact for the school. His combination of physicality and speed will allow him to play on the line, but he also has the athleticism to stand up and adjust to a new role. 

A strong tackler, Phillips gives the Noles, at worst, a bit more depth on defense. At best, he can be a standout performer immediately. Florida State will be hoping for the latter.

 

 

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Oregon Football: Who Will Replace Ducks' Top NFL Draft Prospects?

Despite the outcome of the national championship game, Oregon’s 2014 season was wildly successful.

Oregon has become one of the best programs in college football; however, now it will have to deal with one of its biggest rebuilding projects in years. 

The Ducks are losing a host of players to graduation and the 2015 NFL draft, including Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, who is undoubtedly the best player in the history of Oregon football.

The Oregon program is well-positioned to continue its dominance of the Pac-12 despite the players it will lose next year. The Ducks will return almost every playmaker on the offensive side of the ball, and the young defensive players should be able to replace those lost to the draft.

There’s no doubt that the Oregon coaches will have their hands full as they attempt to replace as many as nine players who could be drafted in April. That being said, the coaches should be excited with the talent they have to work with.

Here's a look at seven Ducks who will likely be selected in the NFL draft and will need to be replaced in 2015.

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Biggest Meltdowns from CFB Coaches

The greatest coaching meltdowns in sports history are typically reserved for minor league baseball managers who must pierce the humid monotony of an interminable baseball season, but these eight irked college football coaches make for equally entertaining viewing. 

College coaches always want to protect their players, but all too often they seek to defend those young men on the roster as if they were prepubescent teenagers, not elite athletes above the age of majority recruited to the school specifically for the purpose of playing a sport. 

An undeniable tension exists in college football whereby youngsters play a game for zero money. But many of those football programs make millions upon millions of dollars of profit, which justifiably makes those programs worthy of media coverage and subject to journalistic criticism.

Most of these coaches, including Mike Gundy and Urban Meyer, were simply defending their players. One coach ran into trouble with an overwrought metaphor, while another extolled the rigors of D-I football, and the most infamous of all saw a legend slug a player and knock his own career to the canvas for good.  

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Texas A&M Recruiting: Aggies DC John Chavis Already Making an Impact

The Texas A&M football coaches are trying to put the finishing touches on the 2015 recruiting class. Newly hired defensive coordinator John Chavis has already made his impact felt on the defensive side of the ball.

When head coach Kevin Sumlin hired Chavis away from LSU, he was making a statement to all of the other teams in the SEC. Sumlin and Texas A&M are saying that defense matters to them and they are intent on building a championship program in Aggieland.

When Chavis was at LSU, he consistently produced some of the top defenses in the country. He is an elite defensive coordinator who will produce a defense that will allow the Aggies to compete for championships.

That will include bringing his kind of player into the program. Chavis has begun to leave his imprint on the Aggie program with his first recruiting pledge on defense.

 

Addressing a Need

The Aggies' biggest issue on defense is at the linebacker position. The linebacker play was very poor in 2014, although it did improve at the end of the season as the coaches relied on younger players.

Rising sophomores Otaro Alaka and Josh Walker displayed the ability to be quality linebackers in the SEC in the future.

Alaka finished the year with seven tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss in the Liberty Bowl. He appears to be the Aggies' future at the middle linebacker position. Walker had 27 tackles with half a sack on the year. He missed the last three games of the season with a broken leg.

Along with Shaan Washington, they are the future at the position for the Aggies. Even if all three develop into quality starters, the Aggies still have a need for depth at the position.

A.J. Hilliard coming back from surgery should help in that area, but they still need to fill out the two-deep. The Aggies will be counting on members of the 2015 recruiting class to fill out the depth chart.

Chavis watched Dwaine Thomas perform at the LSU football camp in the summer of 2014. He invited Thomas to Aggieland for an official visit over the weekend and the 3-star prospect from Hahnville, Louisiana committed to the Aggies.

Thomas resembles a Tasmanian devil on the football field. He shows great instincts and plays football with a controlled rage. His quickness and attitude on the field make him perfect for what Chavis is looking for in a linebacker.

If Chavis can continue to bring in linebackers of Thomas' ability, then Aggie fans should be very excited about the future of the linebacker position.

 

Added Credibility

The hire of Chavis lends credibility to Sumlin and the A&M program. College football fans, coaches and recruits have to recognize that the Aggies are serious about putting an elite defense on the field.

When Chavis was hired at A&M, top defensive recruits took notice. Daylon Mack cancelled his visit to LSU and instead took an official visit to Texas A&M.

Mack is one of the top defensive recruits in the country. He was previously committed to A&M but opened his recruitment back up after the Aggies fired Mark Snyder.

Mack is the type of player who can step in and play immediately in the SEC. He would be in the two-deep at nose guard in 2015 and could be the anchor of the Aggies' run defense going forward.

Chavis has eight of his defensive tackles from LSU currently in the NFL. His ability to develop NFL-level defenders is very attractive to prospective recruits.

If you come to A&M now, you can play for an elite defensive coordinator who has a great track record of sending players into the NFL. That is as big of a draw as any school in the country has when it comes to recruiting on the defensive side of the ball.

Chavis has a history of identifying and developing under-the-radar recruits like Tyrann Mathieu. This bodes well for the future of the Aggie defense.

The bottom line for Texas A&M football fans is that the Aggies hit a home run when they hired John Chavis to be the new defensive coordinator. He has already made an impact on the 2015 recruiting class, and that impact will likely continue through signing day on February 4.

 

Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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College Football Teams with Most to Lose Between Now and National Signing Day

The final two weeks before national signing day are spent recruiting uncommitted and committed prospects. Just because a player has vowed to attend one school doesn't mean other schools will keep their grubby paws off him.

As a result, certain teams enter this home stretch with a lot to lose. The catalog of players they have "committed" for the cycle doesn't count until those players put pen to paper. Until then, there is still time for other teams to swoop in and poach them.

But there are other ways to make this list, too. Especially for teams making a coaching change or teams in the midst of a poor recruiting cycle, there is much to lose by not gaining extra commitments.

Here are five teams with a lot on the line.

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Auburn Football Recruiting: Tigers' Top Remaining 2015 Targets

With just over two weeks to go until national signing day, Auburn's 2015 recruiting class is looking pretty good. But it can still get a lot better.

The Tigers just picked up their 21st signee on Tuesday, with 4-star safety Tim Irvin flipping from Texas just over two weeks after making that commitment. This has lifted the overall class to 10th best in the country, according to 247Sports, though that's still only No. 5 among SEC schools.

Auburn is still hot on the trail of several other notable players to fill out the 2015 class, including several 5-star prospects. Here's a look at the ones who will matter most if coach Gus Malzahn and his staff can convince them to come to the Plains this season.

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Alabama Football: 10 Most Important Returning Players

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama’s returning roster is just about set.

Three juniors declared for the NFL draft, so, apart from the regular offseason attrition (some of which has already begun), we have a good idea of what major names and faces will be back next season.

The Crimson Tide will need new names and faces to step up to replace stars like Amari Cooper, T.J. Yeldon, Trey DePriest and Landon Collins. They also need their big returning contributors to continue their high-level play.

With that, let’s look at the 10 most important returning players for Alabama next year.

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Van Jefferson Decommits from Georgia: What's Next for Bulldogs, 4-Star WR?

Wide receiver Van Jefferson dropped his commitment to Georgia on Tuesday afternoon, announcing the decision via Twitter:

The 4-star Tennessee prospect spent the past five months as a Bulldogs pledge but elected to explore other opportunities just two weeks shy of national signing day. Oklahoma stands out as a potential landing spot, as he spent time on campus this past weekend and received an in-home visit from Bob Stoops on Monday.

Jefferson's recruitment suddenly seems to be trending toward the Sooners, according to Barton Simmons of 247Sports:

"Sources have indicated that Jefferson's visit to OU over the weekend blew him away," Simmons wrote. "Many have seen Jefferson's recruitment as a Ole Miss-Georgia battle but Oklahoma's January push is going to be tough for either program to beat."

Oklahoma may be viewed as the new leader in this pursuit, but don't expect the final chase to be easy for Stoops. 

Jefferson, a 6'2", 183-pound Ravenwood Academy product, will head to a pair of SEC campuses in the coming weeks:

Ole Miss also remains a strong contender for top-rated Texas receiver Damarkus Lodge, while Jim McElwain is working to salvage a class that currently includes just eight commits. If Jefferson lands with either squad, it will increase the sting for Georgia fans reeling about the loss. 

Trent Smallwood, who covers Bulldogs recruiting for Rivals.com, reports the program shouldn't be counted out just yet:

However, it's difficult to imagine Jefferson donning a Bulldogs hat on signing day. Georgia must likely look elsewhere for a replacement or remain content with its current haul at the position. 

Jefferson, rated 11th nationally among receivers in 247Sports' composite rankings, caught 154 passes for 2,481 yards and 27 touchdowns as an upperclassman. His absence from Georgia's class surely hurts, but diligent work on the recruiting trail softens the blow for Mark Richt and company.

The staff focused on addressing depth at receiver throughout this cycle, securing commitments from multiple standouts. Darius Slayton and Jayson Stanley, in-state talents who rate among the top 30 players at the position in 247Sports' composite rankings, are both on board, along with New Orleans pass-catcher Michael Chigbu.

Terry Godwin, rated the country's No. 1 overall "athlete," is a strong candidate to line up on offense. Georgia could quickly turn to the explosive 5-star recruit as a vertical downfield weapon. 

The Bulldogs now hold 25 commitments in a class listed sixth overall in 247Sports' composite rankings.

Despite the departure of a top-tier receiver, Georgia is likely to remain predominately focused on other roster needs. Expect the spotlight to stay on prospects like cornerback Donte Jackson, linebacker Roquan Smith and offensive tackle Chidi Valentine-Okeke as signing day approaches.

 

Recruit ratings and info courtesy of 247Sports.

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The SEC's New Hot Recruiting Rivalry

Auburn and Florida last met on the football field in 2011, and barring matchups in the SEC Championship Game, they won't meet again on the gridiron until 2019 in Gainesville.

The two traditional SEC powers are, however, meeting in the living room early and often this January.

Former Gator head coach Will Muschamp's dismissal and subsequent move to Auburn as head coach Gus Malzahn's new defensive coordinator has transformed the Auburn/Florida rivalry into the hottest recruiting rivalry in the SEC in 2015, and it doesn't appear to be slowing down between now and national signing day.

Muschamp brought defensive backs coach and noted super-recruiter Travaris Robinson with him to the Plains, and the presence of the dynamic defensive duo piqued the interest of several top-tier prospects from the state of Florida.

These include 5-star offensive tackle Martez Ivey, 5-star defensive end Byron Cowart, 5-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson and 4-star linebacker Jeffery Holland.

According to James Crepea of the Montgomery Advertiser, Cowart, Jefferson and Holland all visited Auburn this weekend and could be a package deal, while Ivey was also on campus visiting friend and recent signee Chandler Cox.

Jefferson's comments on Twitter certainly suggest that the trio could be playing together at the next level:

Cowart's comments echo Jefferson's, according to Wesley Sinor of AL.com.

"Yeah, we're going to stick together," Cowart said on Sunday. "We'll all play at the same school, because we know we can make an impact. One guy can't make a difference at a school, and I don't think people understand that."

It was a star-studded recruiting weekend on the Plains, as 5-star defensive tackle Terry Beckner, Jr., 5-star athlete Terry Godwin, 4-star dual-threat quarterback Torrance Gibson and several others were also on hand.

With that said, the four stars from the Sunshine State hold the keys to the recruiting success of both Florida and Auburn.

If all four—or even the trio of defensive stars reported to be considering a package deal—head to Auburn, it would be considered a grand slam for Muschamp, Malzahn and the entire Auburn staff.

The Tigers currently rank 10th in the latest 247Sports team recruiting rankings, and according to the class calculator, Jefferson, Cowart and Holland would give them 276.21 recruiting points and vault them all the way into sixth spot, with more shuffling still possible down the stretch.

For Florida, keeping the best uncommitted players in-state is absolutely critical to the success of head coach Jim McElwain's first recruiting class. The Gators have only eight commitments thus far in their 2015 class and rank 84th in the nation—one spot behind Old Dominion. 

Cowart will get a visit from Florida this week, according to Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports (subscription required), and Greg Ostendorf of ESPN.com (h/t ESPN's Derek Tyson) reported that Ivey will officially visit Gainesville before announcing his decision on national signing day:

Clearly, the need for quantity and quality is on the minds of McElwain and his new staff.

Uncertainty over Mushcamp's status took its toll over the last two seasons, and now that the recruiting dead period is over, McElwain and his new staff have to close strong. Otherwise, this will be a lost recruiting class for the Gators.

The lasting effects of a lost class are comparable to heavy recruiting sanctions. Depth issues will follow, the absence of momentum can linger and the rebuilding effort will suffer the college football equivalent of a construction delay.

All four stars from the Sunshine State are capable of defining a program, and protecting the border needs to be the first thing on McElwain's agenda.

Florida's success or failure in this recruiting cycle goes hand in hand with Auburn's.

If Auburn becomes the talk of the college football world over the next three weeks, it will likely be at the expense of the Gators. If Florida comes on strong, Auburn's class will still be solid but leave Tiger fans wondering what might have been.

We're not going to see these two teams on the field very often, but this offseason recruiting battle will at least quench the thirst of fans who remember the good old days when the Tigers and Gators were heated rivals.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

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

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4-Star ATH Donte Jackson Will Be Future SEC Star, but Where Will He Play?

To say that making a decision has been tough on Louisiana star ATH Donte Jackson may be more of an understatement than many anticipate.

In a matter of hours, Jackson, one of the nation's top-ranked athletes, is expected to announce he will play college football in the SEC. And while he's down to LSU and Georgia as his top finalists, that's where everything turns extremely difficult.

Where does Jackson fit best? Truthfully, he'd be a major asset for both schools—which could be the real reason why the decision is such a difficult one.

With how everything is unfolding, it wouldn't be surprising if Jackson chose LSU over Georgia on Wednesday, Jan. 21. According to 247Sports.com, Jackson is projected to stay in state and play for Les Miles and Co. Baton Rouge is only a little more than an hour away from Jackson's home in New Orleans, and the idea of potentially playing in the secondary with 5-star cornerback Kevin Toliver II and 4-star CB Xavier Lewis—another Louisiana player—is intriguing. Additionally, with 16 commits, LSU will have plenty of room for him in its recruiting class.

Georgia fans would welcome Jackson with equally open arms, but the recruiting window of opportunity is a little smaller. The Bulldogs have 26 commitments, including seven who are already enrolled on campus. Jackson took an official visit to Georgia over the weekend and said it was productive, as his family got to see the campus and he spoke with Mark Richt and the Georgia coaching staff. Jackson, however, added that the smaller, college-town environment was something he'd have to acclimate himself to.

"It’s not really what I’m used to, but it was alright," Jackson told Sonny Shipp of Geaux247. "It was a good environment. I’m just used to a bigger city."

The good news for Georgia is that the visit was still enough to make Jackson's ultimate decision a head-scratcher. He is expected to announce around 11:30 a.m. ET at Riverdale High School. And Bulldogs fans should like the odds of getting the most recent official visit. However, Jackson, regardless of his decision, is scheduled to take an official visit to LSU this weekend.

It appears as though coaching staffs, facilities and playing time all are neck and neck between Georgia and LSU. Distance could be the X-factor in Jackson's decision. While LSU is a relatively quick drive from New Orleans, Athens is located more than seven hours away by car.

The fact that Jackson still wants to take his LSU official visit gives an idea of how high his interest is for the program. He's taken several unofficial visits since receiving the offer in May, and he has built a solid relationship with recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson, as well as secondary coach Corey Raymond. Although Jackson is fond of Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, the multiple trips to Baton Rouge have to score points in a recruiting race so close.

At 5'11" and 164 pounds, Jackson has a lot of upside to be used in a versatile capacity. In addition to lining up in the secondary, Jackson also could see time as a reliable special teams option. His hands and vision can make him a slot receiver if Miles or Richt choose to go that route.

Whichever school he decides, know that it's been a tough decision.

Also know that one school will be more than ecstatic to land him on Wednesday.

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Why Texas A&M Aggies Will Have the Most Improved Defense in 2015

Texas A&M Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin doesn't need to answer questions about his offense. By bringing on defensive coordinator John Chavis—unofficially, that is; A&M hasn't actually announced the hire—Sumlin hopes he won't have to answer questions about his defense, either.

The reality for Sumlin is that A&M has declined in the win column in the past two seasons and not for a lack of offense. The Aggies have averaged at least 35 points per game each season under Sumlin.

The Aggies were subpar, if not outright bad, in essentially every major defensive category in 2014. Keep in mind that was one year removed from a season in which A&M was even worse on defense.

Thus, defensive coordinator Mark Snyder was rightly let go in November.

The good news for A&M, though, is there isn't a lot of room to regress. On the contrary, with Chavis running the show, the team should see a dramatic improvement on defense next season.

Chavis, who comes to A&M from divisional foe LSU, can elevate the Aggies to a legitimate SEC contender. These days, it's not enough to have a big name as a head coach. Programs need a one-two punch with head coaches and coordinators, a la Nick Saban/Lane Kiffin at Alabama and Gus Malzahn/Will Muschamp at Auburn.

For six years, LSU coach Les Miles had one of the best in the business. To be sure, it's not an easy loss: 

The parts are in place for Chavis, who will reportedly earn $4 million over three years, to transform the Aggies defense quickly. For one, Chavis runs the same 4-3 base as Snyder, so there's not a lot of adapting that has to be done personnel-wise.

Secondly, Snyder might have had two poor seasons, but he didn't leave the cupboard bare, as noted by Sam Khan of ESPN.com

Young talent does exist across Aggies' current defensive two-deep, led by true freshman defensive end Myles Garrett. Of the 29 players on the Aggies' final 2014 depth chart, 15 were freshmen or sophomores, and seven true freshmen—Garrett, defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson, linebackers Otaro Alaka and Josh Walker, and defensive backs Armani Watts, Nick Harvey and Donovan Wilson—started at least one game for the Aggies this season. 

These freshmen and sophomores weren't your garden-variety rotational players. Garrett, who broke the SEC sack record for a freshman previously held by Jadeveon Clowney at South Carolina, was a second-team All-SEC selection by the coaches and media.

Garrett will only get better as he improves as a tactician.

Ideally, though, he won't be the Aggies' only pass-rushing option, as he accounted for roughly one-third of the team's sacks. Two others, including Myles' backup Daeshon Hall, were second on the team with 4.5 sacks. That's a steep drop off.

Then there's the matter of stopping the run.

Giving up five yards per rush is unacceptable because it tells opposing offenses that, in theory, they could pick up a first down on two plays. Until last year, LSU gave up fewer than four yards per rush each year under Chavis.

With most of the defensive front seven returning, A&M certainly isn't lacking experience. There should be no more excuses for poor performances against the run.

The SEC West remains a division of run-first offenses—five West teams ranked among the top six teams in the conference in yards per rush—so there is an importance in at least slowing the run.

Whereas the defensive front seven should be a strength, the secondary sustains more losses.

A&M loses a handful of seniors, including its top two tacklers: safety Howard Matthews and corner Deshazor Everett. Additionally, Matthews and Everett ranked first and second, respectively, in passes broken up.

That's a lot of production to replace, but it's where Watts should step in with relative ease.

Watts didn't get the all-conference love Garrett did, but there's an argument to be made that he was every bit as important as a freshman. At safety, Watts is the last line of defense. When things go wrong and big plays erupt, the secondary can—fairly or unfairly—absorb a lot of the blame.

However, Watts led the team with three interceptions and tied for first with eight passes broken up. One of his highlight plays came in his first game against South Carolina:

A&M has done an astounding job on the recruiting trail. The Aggies are not lacking athletes. What they were lacking was a direction and a coach who could maximize potential.

Chavis promises to rectify that.

If there's one area of concern for Chavis, it's time of possession. While it's an overrated (if not irrelevant) stat for wins and losses, it's important for defenses.

In 2014, LSU ranked second in the SEC in time of possession (33:08 per game) while A&M averaged nearly seven minutes less in that category. That adds up over the course of the season if a defense doesn't have great depth.

Sumlin won't stop using tempo to his advantage, but it will be interesting to see how much he modifies it to help Chavis and this new-look defense. With plenty of talent, a highly regarded coordinator and perhaps a few more minutes to rest, A&M can be the most improved defense in major college football in 2015.

At the very least, A&M is investing the money to make it so.

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com and Texas A&M.

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Ranking Every SEC Football Team by Best Returning Players for 2015 Season

Another year, another major talent exodus from the SEC.

But just like the sun always rises in the east every morning, each season the teams in college football's best conference manage to collectively reload rather than rebuild. And the first step in that process is bringing back quality players who contributed the year before.

While 20 SEC underclassmen declared early for the NFL draft and another 25 all-conference seniors have exhausted their eligibility, there's still plenty that stuck around for 2015. These returners will serve as the foundation for what happens this fall, and the more established talent a team has to work with the better shape they are in headed into the offseason.

Incoming recruits will provide their own impact, but at this point the focus is on who's returning. We've ranked the SEC based on the quality of the returning players for each team, taking into account past performance and expected output in 2015 to come up with the order.

Check out our ranking of every SEC team, based on their best returning players, then give us your thoughts in the comments section.

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How Urban Meyer Will Capitalize on Ohio State's National Title

COLUMBUS, Ohio — To those who interact with him regularly, Urban Meyer looked uncomfortable and sometimes even flustered while occupying the same seat that had recently been reserved for the likes of Donald Trump, Jamie Foxx, Meryl Streep and Sting.

But as soon as the first question left David Letterman's mouth, it became clear why the Ohio State head coach was sitting where he was.

"I'm told that you, sir, are already out recruiting young athletes to come to Ohio State," the longtime late-night TV host stated. "Am I right about that?"

Meyer sure was. In fact, he was currently in the process.

After leading the Buckeyes to a win in last Monday's College Football Playoff championship, Meyer almost immediately embarked on his own personal world tour, attempting to maximize the exposure of Ohio State's most recent national title. "We're back at work," Meyer answered with a smile.

After winning his third national title, Meyer claims to have taken two days off—one of which was spent traveling back to Columbus from North Texas. En route to his Thursday night Late Show taping in New York City, Meyer made multiple stops in nearby New Jersey, paying visits to some of the Garden State's top prospects.

In addition to Ohio State verbal commit and 2016 5-star running back Kareem Walker, Meyer made it a point to see a trio of Buckeye targets in Bergen Catholic 2016 4-star quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, Paramus Catholic 2016 5-star defensive lineman Rashan Gary and DePaul 2016 3-star wide receiver Hasise Dubois. The significance of the timing of Meyer's visit to New Jersey wasn't lost on Bergen Catholic coach Nunzio Campanile.

"There’s always a buzz when guys like Urban Meyer are coming here for a visit," Campanile told JJ Conrad of The Record. "But especially right now."

Meyer's strategy is simple—to strike while the iron is hot. One of the 13-year head coach's favorite sayings is that in college football, momentum is everything, and there isn't a brand in college football with more of it than the Buckeyes at the moment.

That's why Meyer's tour has carried into the current week, with last week wrapping up with trips to see OSU commits Justin Hilliard and Joe Burrow and 2016 Notre Dame commit Tommy Kraemer. In addition to his nationally televised Late Show appearance, Meyer did multiple national radio interviews as well, including one with ESPN's Colin Cowherd.

After hosting a big recruiting weekend in Columbus that included visits from 2015 commits Alex Stump and Dre'Mont Jones, Meyer again hit the road On Monday, visiting with Canton McKinley 2015 commit Eric Glover-Williams.

That wasn't all Meyer had to do in Northeast Ohio, as he found himself back in the national spotlight as well, sitting courtside for the Cleveland Cavaliers' nationally televised win over the Chicago Bulls. The Ohio State head man even spoke to LeBron James and his teammates prior to tipoff, and was honored alongside multiple Cleveland-born Buckeyes during a timeout with a personalized jersey.

Meyer was back on the recruiting trail on Tuesday, visiting with Greenbelt, Maryland, 2015 4-star offensive lineman Isaiah Prince. Tonight he'll appear on HBO's Real Sports in a follow-up interview to a piece that the television magazine ran on him last September.

That will be the norm for Meyer between now and Feb. 4's national signing day—national media appearances sandwiched between relentless recruiting efforts. Having gone through this twice before, Meyer knows that he can expect tangible results from his most recent national title, as the Buckeyes have regained  what he once called "flavor of the month" status.

"It's a month of an infomercial about Ohio State," Meyer told CavsTV. "It's a testimony to what's been done there. And it's a testimony to what's going to be done in the future too."

With the Buckeyes set to sign what is currently the nation's seventh-ranked class in 2015 and five premier prospects already signed up for 2016, the rich only appear to be getting richer. And as the last week has shown, Meyer and Ohio State are already pretty rich.

 

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Ohio State Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com, and recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Early Predictions for Biggest 2015 College Football QB Battles

Twenty of the biggest college football programs in the country, including all four members of the 2015 College Football Playoff, will have quarterback battles this offseason.

Some of those battles are a product of excess, highlighted by the Battle for the Ages at Ohio State. But in most cases, instead of having three proven, Heisman-caliber quarterbacks, coaching staffs must decide from a list of mostly untested options.

The predictions that follow take only the current roster into account. They were made under the assumption that Braxton Miller stays at Ohio State, Everett Golson stays at Notre Dame and every other quarterback stays at whatever school he currently plays for.

They were also made as projections instead of preferences. They are not the quarterbacks I would start if I were Coach X, Y and Z; they're the quarterbacks I think will start based on listening to Coach X, Y and Z.

Sound off below, and let me know where you disagree!

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USC Football: 5 Things That Must Change for the Trojans to Improve in 2015

Immediately following a 45-42 Holiday Bowl win over Nebraska last month, members of the USC football team all repeated one word regarding the 2015 season: Championship. 

Quarterback Cody Kessler, offensive lineman Toa Lobendahn and head coach Steve Sarkisian all said that's the goal to which the Trojans are building.

"Our future...is ridiculously bright," Sarkisian said. "We're employing to continue to get better and continue to recruit. We're going to recruit great players. We're going to develop the players that we have in our program. We're going to compete for championships." 

Coming off a 9-4 finish in 2014, USC certainly has areas in which it must improve if it's to turn the bowl-game rhetoric into reality. 

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Jim Harbaugh Once Used Gatorade with Cereal Instead of Milk




Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh isn't afraid to do things his own way—and not just on the football field.

Jay Harbaugh, the Wolverines' new tight ends coach and assistant special teams coordinator, revealed something pretty odd about his father in a recent interview.

At around the two-minute, eight-second mark in the video, Jay was asked to share something about Jim that most people wouldn't know, and he picked an unusual fact: Jim once used Gatorade with his cereal because they didn't have any milk.

Depending on the cereal, eating it dry might have been a better idea. Some people find the idea of using chocolate milk with cereal nasty, so they probably would judge Harbaugh for using Gatorade.

As crazy as it sounds, the students in Ann Arbor will probably start having cereal and Gatorade for breakfast on game days. That's what fans do. They embrace their team's quirks.

[GoBlue.com]

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Michigan Football: Should Wolverines Look to Add Transfer QB?

Shane Morris, Wilton Speight and Alex Malzone all possess the necessary traits to be successful college quarterbacks—Michigan wouldn't have recruited them otherwise.

Morris, who's started twice, hasn't had many chances to strut his stuff, but he's due. The 6'3", 204-pound lefty should be a better-equipped junior in 2015, and he should challenge for the No. 1 role.

Speight redshirted as a freshman in 2014, but the 6'6" 234-pounder has the skill and build to achieve in Ann Arbor. Look for him to make the race interesting.

Malzone, a former Birmingham Brother Rice star, is committed to the 2015 class. The 6'1.5" 200-pounder brings a powerful arm and great field vision to the mix. That’s probably why he’s the No. 13-ranked pro-styler of his class, per 247Sports, and he could jump into a battle with the upperclassmen.

Michigan has options.

However, the search for "the one" never ends, as demonstrated by coach Jim Harbaugh. The former Wolverines star signal-caller and 1986 Heisman finalist is on the hunt for a quarterback to round out the 2015 class.

At one point, he was looking to grab Kevin Hogan, who would have been a one-year, graduate loaner. Hogan reportedly entertained the idea of scooting to Michigan or Maryland, but he decided to stay put at Stanford.

There are pros and cons to seeking help from a transfer, so it makes sense to assess the risk-to-reward aspect of each end.

On one hand, a transfer could be the ideal remedy for a team in the midst of transition. Michigan qualifies as such. Already having experience, an addition could immediately deliver results and better prepare the team for 2016.

That'd be the best-case scenario.

But the potential of an adverse reaction shouldn't be ignored. The Wolverines could reject an outsider, or, worse yet, the transfer could fail miserably and set the position back in the long run.

Fans wouldn't be happy about seeing recruited talent warm the bench if the replacement floundered. Nor would they be thrilled to see one get away and catapult another team to the next level. 

There are two sides, of course. For a positive result, look no further than Wisconsin, which recently enjoyed abundant, albeit short-term, success with a transfer.

After leaving North Carolina State, Russell Wilson helped lead the Badgers to a 2011 Big Ten title. The MVP-worthy quarterback is now on the brink of becoming a back-to-back Super Bowl champion with the Seattle Seahawks.

In hindsight, snagging Wilson from the Wolfpack was the perfect move for the Badgers, perhaps one of best in recent memory. Not only did he set the bar for the position at Wisconsin, but he also elevated the program's status and left an incredible one-year legacy.

But stories such as his are rare exceptions. Not every transfer will lead his new team to a conference title, and it's even less likely that a new team will pick up the next Wilson.

There's no sense rattling the cage at this point. Harbaugh has an NFL-caliber staff lined up to revamp the program, so allowing the coaches to do their jobs instead of searching for a quick fix makes more sense. 

Michigan would be doing itself a favor by not importing help this year. Hogan, a proven pro-styler, fit the bill—the 6'4" 220-pounder was recruited by Harbaugh’s Cardinal staff in 2010, making him a more attractive prospect—but is no longer available.

And other than Everett Golson and Braxton Miller, there aren’t many high-quality options in the graduate-transfer pool, per The Big Lead.

The Notre Dame in Golson probably wouldn’t allow him to enroll at Michigan, and it’s safe to say Miller, a dual-threat QB at Ohio State, would rather jump from a bridge into a canyon of pins and needles than wear a winged helmet.

For better or for worse, Harbaugh’s best options appear to be in-house, leaving no reason to shop around.

 

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

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SEC Football: 10 Bold Predictions for the Offseason

Ah, the offseason. Where every team is slated to win the national championship, every coach will win Coach of the Year and every quarterback is a stone-cold, lead-pipe lock to win the Heisman Trophy.

Etch it in stone.

As we have learned over the last few seasons, the twists and turns of the college football offseason are almost as fun as the ones that occur during the season itself.

What will pop up this offseason in the SEC? Our 10 bold predictions for the SEC offseason based on unanswered questions, personnel changes and history are in this slideshow.

Begin Slideshow

Breaking Down the 6 Potential Replacements for Marcus Mariota in 2015

Congratulations, Oregon's next starting quarterback. You have the privilege of being the guy after the guy. And that guy was Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, who may eventually have his number retired and is definitely a once-in-a-generation player for the program. 

No pressure or anything. 

The search to replace Mariota, who announced last week that he was going pro, will be one of the most-watched offseason storylines. There are a handful of candidates vying for the job. Oregon has done a stellar job in recent years of landing its next quarterback. From Mariota to Darron Thomas, Jeremiah Masoli and Dennis Dixon, the Ducks' quarterback situation has been stable for some time. 

Who will be the next signal-caller to lead Oregon's offense? Here are the options, assuming there are no transfers.

 

The Front-Runner

That would be Jeff Lockie, the soon-to-be redshirt junior who served as Mariota's primary backup in 2014. Lockie's playing time has been limited, but he has seen action in 18 career games. His numbers, even in a smaller sample size, have been solid: 29-of-41 passing for 267 yards, a touchdown and a pick. 

In comparison to the other backup quarterbacks, all of whom are freshmen, Lockie is a seasoned vet. Though Lockie doesn't bring the same level of athleticism Mariota does, he's had three years to learn the Ducks' offense without being forced into playing time. 

By all signs, he's the leader to succeed Mariota in 2015. He certainly has the vote of confidence from Mariota, via an interview with the Associated Press

Jeff has a very bright future. He’s incredibly smart. He understands this offense and has really for me [sic] helped me out on the sideline. He sees stuff that allows me to make better decisions out on the field. He’s done an awesome job picking up the offense, doing his best at learning it, and I think he has a bright future for sure.

However, there's a trend that does not work in Lockie's favor. The last three times Oregon named a new starting quarterback—Mariota in '12, Thomas in '10 and Masoli in '08—the primary backup from the year before—Bryan Bennett, Nate Costa and Brady Leaf, respectively—did not get the starting job. 

Is that a bad omen for Lockie? Each situation is unique, but it's something to keep in mind. The most veteran guy is not automatically the next starter for Oregon.

 

The Dark Horses

There's basically experience behind Lockie, but that doesn't mean head coach Mark Helfrich won't go in this direction. Mariota, after all, was a redshirt freshman when he was awarded the starting job in '12 by former coach Chip Kelly. Helfrich has long considered to be cut from the same cloth

Taylor Alie (a walk-on) and Ty Griffin (a Georgia Tech transfer) are redshirt freshmen but haven't generated the buzz that freshman Morgan Mahalak has. Mahalak was a 4-star member of the Ducks' '14 class and had "quarterback of the future" written all over him. 

However, as Helfrich explained in an interview with Rob Moseley of GoDucks.com, Mahalak has a way to go before he gets the full support of the coaching staff: 

Griffin and Mahalak “did, I would say, average to above-average jobs of staying dialed-in” over the course of the 2014 campaign, Helfrich said. “That’ll be a huge step for them this winter and early spring, getting their minds right to compete, to be in the best position from a mental standpoint, a confidence standpoint, to just play,” Helfrich added.

Another option, albeit a long shot, would be incoming Travis Waller. Currently a 4-star, dual-threat quarterback, Waller has verbally committed to Oregon for '15. However, even if he signs his letter of intent, Waller will not be available until the summer. 

Experience hasn't been a prerequisite for earning the starting job at Oregon in the past, but the vibe around this group of backups is that they have a lot of ground to make up. 

 

The Wild Card

Oregon probably won't bring in a graduate transfer quarterback unless the situation is blatantly dire. If the Ducks do pursue that route, though, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller would be an intriguing name. 

Note the title there—it's not "former Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller." As of Tuesday, January 20, Miller is still a Buckeye. However, because he missed the entire '14 season with a shoulder injury and is in danger of losing his job to either J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones, the rumor mill has churned out Miller's name as a transfer possibility, according to Graham Watson of Yahoo Sports. 

Miller could return to Columbus and take part in the most compelling quarterback battle in recent memory, or he could transfer and play immediately as a grad student. If he chooses the latter, would Oregon be interested?

"The two magic words: It depends," Helfrich said via Stephen Alexander of the Portland Tribune. "We’re going to exhaust every path we can to find the right guy, the right fit. But we believe in the guys who are already here."

Among the schools to have reportedly piqued Miller's interest are Duke and Florida State. However, there would be something fascinating about Miller's move from Ohio State to Oregon after the Buckeyes defeated the Ducks in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. 

 

Who Starts?

This is why Helfrich has seven months to decide. The offseason is long, and a lot of things can happen. However, if there's an early guess to be made, it's that Lockie holds the edge. He has the experience and the trust of the coaching staff. That's something no one else can say right now—at least as far as anyone knows. 

Would a Lockie-led Oregon offense look different next year? Absolutely; that's going to be the case no matter who earns the starting job. Mariota was on his own level, and there may not be a player like him passing through Oregon for a long time. 

Succeeding Mariota isn't an enviable position to be in, but someone will have a chance to carve his own legacy into Oregon's history books. There are too many other questions at the moment for that person to be someone other than Lockie. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All stats courtesy of ESPN.com. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.com

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Ryan Anderson Arrested: Latest Details, Mugshot and More on Alabama LB

Alabama sophomore linebacker Ryan Anderson was arrested on charges of misdemeanor third-degree domestic violence Tuesday in Tuscaloosa, per Michael Casagrande of AL.com.

According to Casagrande, citing the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's arrest database, Anderson was arrested on Tuesday and had bond set at $500. 

Marc Torrence of Bleacher Report provided a statement from the Sheriff's office regarding the arrest:

Ben Bolton of WAKA in Alabama provided the linebacker's mugshot:

Last August, Crimson Tide head coach Nick Sabanbrought in a speaker during preseason camp to talk to his players about domestic violence. At the time, Saban said that it "is definitely an area where we want to continue to educate the players."

Anderson appeared in 11 games for Alabama last season, recording 25 tackles and one sack. He played sparingly but is expected to take on an increased role for the defense next season.

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