NCAA Football News

Miami Football: Incoming Freshmen Likely to See Most Playing Time in 2014

The Miami Hurricanes added a top recruiting class in February, and a handful of those signed prospects will earn a significant role during the 2014 regular season.

Thanks to one 5-star and 11 4-stars, per 247Sports, Miami's collective talent at each position is rising. But which incoming freshmen are likely to see the most playing time in 2014?

After taking into account the current depth chart, the caliber of each player and their respective readiness, four scholarship athletes and one wild-card walk-on came to the forefront.

Without further ado, let's get to it.

 

Joe Yearby, Running Back

It's no secret the Hurricanes are breaking in a new quarterback, and it's equally as obvious Miami is relying on Duke Johnson to be the key player. But he can't do everything all game long.

Fortunately, Joe Yearby is available to fill in for the superstar running back. Considering he still has not officially toppled backup Gus Edwards, though, his role is not perfectly clear.

According to Matt Porter of ThePalm Beach Post, Yearby's ideal situation is being used as a "change-of-pace scatback to complement Duke (all-around force) and Gus [Edwards] (short-yardage bruiser). If he's the uppercut you throw every few series, you're in good shape."

As seen in the accompanying video, Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer believes Yearby will rush for 500 yards this season. Reaching that mark is largely dependent on Yearby receiving around 10 carries per game, which is not a far-fetched number.

Yearby is the safest bet to receive the most playing time as a freshman.

 

Kc McDermott, Offensive Tackle

Immediately following his commitment, offensive lineman Kc McDermott was pegged as a potential four-year starter. Seantrel Henderson's departure created a void at right tackle, so Taylor Gadbois and the younger McDermott were the top perceived options.

While the post-spring depth chart listed him as Ereck Flowers' backup at left tackle, McDermott should not be locked in to that side. Project lineman Sonny Odogwu was the second-stringer behind Gadbois, but McDermott is the more polished player.

"He can play both and likely will," Porter said. "UM rotates linemen often and I'm not convinced Odogwu's ready to be a regular."

If anything happens to an offensive lineman—especially Swiss army knife reserve Alex Gall—McDermott will be an integral part of the rotation.

 

Chad Thomas, Defensive End

Though relatively obvious considering he is the first 5-star signee since Anthony Chickillo in 2011, Chad Thomas will have opportunities to showcase his abilities.

According to David Lake of 247Sports (subscription required), Chick is impressed with the way his counterpart arrived on campus with a desire to learn:

Chad has been awesome," Chickillo said of his play this summer. "He wants to learn and asks a ton of questions. He is working hard and trying to get his weight up. He is going to be a good player. He is quick, he has some good moves and he is going to be good. The thing I like most about Chad is that he is not saying much. You get guys that come in and sometimes they talk a lot. He is not like that. He is willing to learn and he asks a lot of questions.

As of this moment, it appears Thomas will likely be a third-down edge-rushing specialist similar to how Tyriq McCord was utilized in 2012.

"I think he can be a steady third-down contributor in year one," Porter said. "Ideally, he'd be making the coaches think about giving him full-time duty by the end of the season."

Thomas has a sky-high ceiling, but his translatable skill set is relatively limited in 2014. Of course, if he disrupts quarterbacks a few times during 10-15 snaps per game, that's when the coaches will be forced to find Thomas more playing time.

And that's exactly the vision Miami fans have hoped for since Thomas' commitment.

 

Juwon Young, Linebacker

Arriving at "The U" as an early enrollee at a depleted position, Juwon Young was in excellent shape to make an impression.

Playing behind Denzel Perryman, however, is both a blessing and a curse, since the senior will not leave the field often. Additionally, Young must beat out redshirt sophomore JaWand Blue for the second-string role.

Granted, the freshman may essentially play by default because Miami really only has those three inside linebackers. With that being said, Porter believes the linebacker could use some seasoning.

"I don't think he's ready yet," Porter said. "Good size, but looked rawer than expected and had a lot of hard coaching this spring."

Like Jermaine Grace in 2013, Young figures to play special teams and see limited meaningful snaps. But that certainly doesn't mean the game experience is worthless.

 

Wild Card: Jonathan Semerene, Kicker

Don't knock the specialists, man.

In the accompanying video, Jonathan Semerene blasted a 70-yard field goal. I hardly care there was a noticeable tailwind—that is an absolute bomb. Matt Goudis is heavily favored to retain his job as the starting place-kicker, but Semerene is clearly capable of challenging the junior.

The Cypress Bay product is an overlooked contender for the currently wide-open competition at punter. And if his rocket leg transfers from field goals to punts, he'll definitely be a legitimate choice to contribute as a true freshman.

 

Notes: All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

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Michigan Football: Why Jabrill Peppers Will Be the Wolverines' X-Factor in 2014

Incoming freshman Jabrill Peppers will make a major impact this season, but it might not be on defense. As Michigan fights to claw back into Big Ten title contention, Peppers’ talents my take him in the footsteps of the Wolverine he most hopes to emulate—Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson.

Taking stock of Michigan’s roster shows that the defense is stocked and primed to be the strength of the team. Peppers has the potential to work his way into the defensive backfield rotation—Brady Hoke has mentioned that he’ll probably begin at nickelback, but Michigan has time to work him in.

His speed and explosiveness also make him a prime candidate to be a kick returner on special teams. But special teams aren’t an area of great need for the Wolverines. Dennis Norfleet (40 kickoff returns for 938 yards averaging 23.4 yards per return) will start the season handling returns.

In the wake of last season’s 7-6 finish, Hoke realized that a serious change was needed to reboot his offense. Within a matter of days, Al Borges was replaced as offensive coordinator with Doug Nussmeier, formerly of Alabama. Peppers' abilities may also be needed to jump-start the offense.

Hoke acknowledged on signing day that besides playing defense and returning kicks, “there might be a plan for him [Peppers] to play on offense.” He recently told Bonnie Bernstein of Campus Insiders that Nussmeier has designs on Peppers playing running back.

But that really doesn’t fill a need for Michigan, either. The team is strong at running back with Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith battling for the top position on the depth chart. If recent transfer Ty Isaac ends up being eligible, the team will have three 4-star recruits vying for carries.

The place where Michigan really needs help (well, besides at offensive line) is at receiver. Devin Funchess returns, but with the injury to tight end Jake Butt, there’s a serious lack of experienced targets for quarterback Devin Gardner.

Freshman wide receiver Freddy Canteen has emerged as a presumptive starter during spring practice, but after him, the competition is wide open.

It’s just the opportunity a 5-star athlete with great hands and explosive running ability could take advantage of to help his team.

It makes perfect sense—defensive backs are tasked with shadowing receivers and shutting them down.

What better position on offense for Peppers than the one he’ll play against every day in practice? Reps at receiver might even help him improve at defensive back.

When it came time for Charles Woodson to play offense, he made the biggest impact at receiver (25 receptions for 402 yards and three touchdowns) but didn’t play both ways until he had full a season of defense under his belt.

With the depth that Michigan has on defense and special teams, Peppers might have the best opportunity to shine first on offense while helping his team compete for the Big Ten title.

Wherever he plays—offense, defense or special teams—Peppers is the ultimate X-factor for this season. His bravado during the recruiting process and video highlights have set the stage.

 

All season statistics from MGoBlue.com, official University of Michigan athletic department website.

All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.

Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via press conferences or in person.

Follow @PCallihan.

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Every SEC Football Team's Biggest Recruiting Flop from BCS Era

New recruits promote optimism during the spring and summer around every SEC football team for good reason—the new crop of players represents a future with limitless possibilities.

Numerous high-profile prospects enroll with enormous expectations.

Those with 5-star status attached to their name show up as future conquering heroes.

Often, those players pan out to be superstars.

Players like Julio Jones, A.J. Green and Cam Newton (when signing with Auburn) in recent years all arrived on campus with 5-star profiles.

That trio represents the vast majority of elite prospects who meet expectations.

There are, however, many more players who never quite live up to the considerable hype for myriad reasons.

Today I examine the SEC’s biggest recruiting "flops" during the BCS era.

Players who never qualified or enrolled in school won’t be considered for this list because they weren’t true “flops.”

To be considered a “flop,” a player must have arrived on campus with expectations and failed to come close to meeting them.

Because Rivals recruiting rankings didn’t really become an institution until 2002, only players who signed in 2002 or later will be considered.

Furthermore, since Texas A&M and Missouri have yet to put an entire signing class through their careers, those two programs have been left out of this review.

Here is the list.

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Power Ranking Tennessee Football's Positional Units for 2014

A year ago, a Tennessee football team rife with seniors struggled to finish 5-7, and those seniors closed their careers with a third bowl-less season. Talent gaps glared at positions all over the field.

Many of those needs have been addressed by coach Butch Jones through recruiting, but you rarely fix flaws with freshmen. Instead, Jones' 32-player recruiting class has to be the first step on the path to progression.

There are still plenty of questions across the roster, and answers have to be found in first-year players. Others who've barely played key roles on Rocky Top now must become leaders.

"We had to be extremely careful this past year in trying to fix all our ills, all our deficiencies in one recruiting class," Jones told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview earlier this spring. "We're not going to be able to do that. It takes time to develop that.

"The only way you can address that is develop your current players and keep recruiting. We have needs across the board at every single position in this (2015) class still."

There will be fewer younger teams across the nation than UT. Even the perceived positions of strength hinge on hope.

Let's look at the Volunteers position-by-position and break down where Jones will have to lean for production and the areas where smoke and mirrors may be his two biggest weapons.

The rankings are based on observing the star talent each position unit has as well as depth and overall potential of the group.

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The 10 Best College Football Trick Plays of the BCS Era

Who doesn't love a good trick play every now and then?

Seeing a college football team execute a preplanned bit of deception to perfection is one of the many great pleasures of the game. For all the work teams do to game-plan each others' tendencies and capitalize on weaknesses, every now and then some trickery is needed to spice things up and pull off a big play.

They don't always work, but when they do, it's a great time for all—well, except for those getting tricked.

Over the 16-year span of the now-retired BCS era, we were witness to some of the greatest trick plays in college football history. Not all of them determined the final outcome of the game, but each holds its own special place in the annals of the team that pulled it off.

Here's our look at the 10 best trick plays from college football's BCS era.

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Every Big Ten Team's Biggest Recruiting Flop from BCS Era

In hindsight, it's always easy to identify mistakes.  Head college football coaches, however, often don't have the luxury of waiting around to see a player develop.  In today's cut-throat world of college football recruiting, coaches are under enormous pressure to get verbal commitments from top prospects as early as possible.  That mindset inevitably leads to recruits who don't live up to the hype.

Here, we'll look back at the Big Ten football players who earned that coveted scholarship, only to see their premature "Big Man On Campus" status fizzle away seemingly overnight.  To qualify, the recruit must have been considered at least a "highly touted" 3-star recruit.  All 4- and 5-star recruits are eligible.

The player must also have been recruited by a Big Ten program.  Since Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011, many members of the first Big Ten recruiting class in Lincoln are still on campus.  It would be unfair to call them flops until they've exhausted their eligibility.  But that still leaves us with 11 teams, each wishing it had a do-over when it comes to these recruits.

Here is our list of the biggest recruit flop from each Big Ten team during the BCS era.

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Texas Football: Future Longhorns to Watch in the Opening

Patrick Vahe has dropped out of The Opening, leaving the Longhorns without a commit in attendance. However, there are three expected commits that are worth monitoring at Nike's prestigious event.

Receivers Ryan Newsome and John Burt join defensive back Holton Hill as the only attendees that are considered Texas leans at this stage of the process. Both Newsome's and Hill's Crystal Ball predictions peg them as future Longhorns, while Burt recently told 247Sports.com's Luke Stampini (subscription required) that Texas leads the pack.

There are 162 recruits attending this event, and not a one is committed to Texas. Even if all three of these guys eventually commit, that's still not an impressive number.

As always, a lot can change by signing day. But for now, these are the only three participants that fans should get excited about.

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Winners and Losers of June on the 2015 College Football Recruiting Trail

July is just about here, which means a reflection of the month of June in recruiting would be a wise thing to do. The sixth month of the year featured several twists and turns, as it kept everyone on his toes.

While July figures to be another exciting month on the recruiting trail, several programs were affected by June's developments.

An SEC program lost out on a prized 4-star receiver, while a Big 12 school scored a commitment from a 4-star running back. Also, a Big Ten team used June to come alive on the recruiting trail.

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Future Georgia Bulldogs Players to Watch in 'The Opening'

With the 2014 season around the corner, there has been plenty of talk about the incoming freshmen that are looking to make an impact.

However, college fans should also take notice of the rising high school seniors because they will be playing on Saturdays for their favorite team before they know it.

The Bulldogs have their share of 2015 commitments and a few of them have been selected to take part in the “The Opening” which is a four-day camp being held at the Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. This event will include training, coaching and a 7-on-7 competition.

Some of the notable current and former NFL players to make an appearance at The Opening are Aaron Rodgers, Jerry Rice, Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman.

Here’s a look at the future Bulldogs to watch in the The Opening.

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1 Commitment Every Big Ten Team Wishes It Could Get This Summer

The Big Ten figures to be represented well in the final 2015 recruiting rankings, with each team in the conference having a wish list of commitments it would love get this summer. 

However, this list will focus on which commitment each Big Ten program wishes it could get if it only could pick one. Some schools' wishes are far-fetched, while several have a legit chance to see their wish come true.

Michigan would love to lock up a 5-star pass-rusher, while rival Ohio State also has a 5-star defensive end on its mind. Plus, Penn State figures a 4-star cornerback could be one of the final pieces to an excellent class.

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Power Ranking Alabama's Positional Units for 2014

Since Nick Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007, the Crimson Tide have annually fielded one of the nation’s top rosters—and 2014 will be no different.

Despite sending another eight players to the NFL draft, several position units will enter fall camp with top-tier talent from top to bottom on both sides of the ball.

While question marks such as quarterback and cornerback headline the concerns entering fall camp, several position groups such as wide receiver, running back and linebacker should rank among the best in the SEC and nationally.

How do the Tide’s positional units stack up heading into fall camp?

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Former Auburn TE Philip Lutzenkirchen Passes Away at Age 23

Former Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, a contributor on the Tigers' 2010 national championship team whose football career was cut short due to injury, died as the result of injuries suffered in a car accident Sunday morning.

He was 23.

The staff at 247Sports first reported Lutzenkirchen's passing. B.N. Talley of the Georgia State Patrol told Ryan Black of the Ledger-Enquirer that Lutzenkirchen was a passenger in a vehicle that traveled through a stop sign at an intersection and into a churchyard, at which point the vehicle flipped and sent all four passengers from the car.

"It happened at the intersection of Upper Big Springs Road and Lower Big Springs Road," Talley said. "The vehicle was a 2006 Chevy Tahoe and the driver missed a stop sign at the intersection of those two roads, which is more or less a 'T-intersection.' They traveled through the intersection off into a churchyard. They were out out of control for about 450 feet."

Details are still emerging in the situation and police are still investigating the reason for the crash. Police said Lutzenkirchen was not wearing his seatbelt during the accident. Joseph Davis, who was driving at the time, was also killed. The identities of the two other passengers were not revealed, nor were any details given on their injuries.

Auburn released a statement on Lutzenkirchen's passing, via Twitter:

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn also released a statement, courtesy of Alex Byington of Opelika-Auburn News:

Malzahn's wife, Kristi, previously sent out her condolences, via Twitter:

Lutzenkirchen played at Auburn from 2009 to 2012. Highly touted out of Lassiter High in Georgia, he made an impact upon his arrival on campus and was instantly one of the more popular players within the locker room.

In his four years, some as a starter other times as a backup, Lutzenkirchen made 59 receptions for 628 yards and 14 touchdowns. He holds the school's all-time record for touchdowns for a tight end. 

During the Tigers' national championship campaign, he was one of Cam Newton's favorite red-zone targets; five of his 15 receptions in 2010 went for scores. His most famous catch of that campaign was a game-winner in the fourth quarter against Alabama, which culminated a comeback from 24 points down.

He last played for Auburn in 2012, a hip injury cutting what was amounting to a strong senior season short. He then shortly caught on with the St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent before the hip injury stopped his professional career before it got off the ground.

Justin Hokanson of 247Sports provided an anecdote that highlighted why Lutzenkirchen was so popular with players and coaches:

Since his release in St. Louis, Lutzenkirchen had been as an assistant coach at St. James High School in Montgomery, Alabama. He maintained a close relationship with the Auburn program, former teammates and staff members who were there during his career.  

Lutzenkirchen is survived by his parents, Mike and Mary.

 

Follow Tyler Conway on Twitter:


 

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Penn State Football: Strengths, Weaknesses and Secret Weapons

The Nittany Lions won't have everything they need to chase a Big Ten divisional crown in 2014, but not all hope should be lost. This team has several bright spots and players to build on this year and beyond.

There are also a few spots the team will need to cover up in order to succeed.


Head coach James Franklin will have his hands full, but with a little luck, a stellar 2014 campaign is not out of the question with this Penn State squad.


Strengths 

Any team in the conference would be pleased with the depth Penn State has at tight end, running back and along its defensive line. 

Jesse James, Kyle Carter and Adam Breneman accounted for 58 catches, more than the tight ends for Ohio State and Michigan State combined. They'll be joined this season by Brent Wilkerson who redshirted last season.

Franklin will have to get creative when it comes to using his tight ends as effectively as possible, but that's a good problem to have.

Along with the tight ends, Franklin has a stable of running backs to lean on in Zach Zwinak, Bill Belton, Akeel Lynch and his incoming freshmen who will be battling for reps. Zwinak has just less than 2,000 yards since the start of the 2012 season, and Belton seems primed for a breakout season.

Those two groups will help Penn State's greatest single offensive asset: sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg. "Hack" has a full season under his belt and should be expected to improve on a stellar freshman season that saw him throw for nearly 3,000 yards.

Already being talked about as a future first-round draft pick, more will be on the young signal-caller's shoulders this year, but he should be up to it.

Defensively, the heart will be up front, particularly with the ends. Veterans C.J. Olaniyan and Deion Barnes will be backed up by high school All-American Garrett Sickels and a group of players capable of starting in 2015.

 

Weaknesses 

The single biggest weakness facing Penn State is its depth. Along the offensive line, underclassmen will be forced into action earlier than they should. At wide receiver and linebacker, you can count the tested veterans on one hand, and the secondary is a work in progress.

It will be interesting to see if redshirt freshman Andrew Nelson can live up to the hype when he's thrown into action as the Week 1 starter at right tackle. Penn State fans surely hope so because the depth chart behind him isn't full of promise. 

Geno Lewis is the only receiver on the team with more than six career catches, and in his one season he had the luxury of playing opposite of Allen Robinson. 

Mike Hull will lead an inexperienced linebacker unit, but he has a history of injuries, as does running mate Ben Kline. Youngsters Brandon Bell, Nyeem Wartman and Troy Reeder will battle for snaps, but there's not much in the cupboard behind them.

 

Secret Weapons 

Though experience at wide receiver is scarce, talent is far from it. 

De'Andre Thompkins enrolled in January and quickly established himself as the fastest player on the team. He'll see the field early and often in 2014 whether it's on special teams or as a playmaker on the offense.

Saeed Blacknall and Chris Godwin are true wide receivers with crisp route-running ability and great hands. Blacknall is a big target at 6'3" while Godwin may wind up as the best of a good bunch.

Troy Apke made a name for himself in Western Pennsylvania during track season, showing off speed that not many knew he had. If not for the class he's entering school with, it would be hard to keep him off the field. He could turn some heads in a slot role this summer and see snaps of his own.

The wild card of this group in 2014 will be Mike Gesicki. He'll eventually grow into a tight end, but with that position loaded with talent, the coaches will start Gesicki out as a receiver to get him on the field as soon as possible. A freakish athlete with high school trophies as a basketball and volleyball player, the 6'5" Gesicki will be a mismatch for defensive backs and linebackers at the next level. 

Once things get sorted out, Christian Hackenberg is going to have some weapons at his disposal this year.

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USC Football: How 3-Star WR De'Quan Hampton Could Fit in with the Trojans

USC earned its ninth commitment of the 2015 recruiting class last Sunday afternoon, as junior college wide receiver De’Quan Hampton committed to Steve Sarkisian and his Trojans.

He's a 3-star prospect according to 247Sports.com, having greyshirted out of high school and spent 2013 in the junior college ranks.

The 6'4", 220-pound receiver touts a lanky, athletic frame that the Trojans would love to have going forward with Sarkisian's new offense. Darreus Rogers is the tallest scholarship receiver currently on the roster, and he's 6'2".

That height will surely give him an advantage over the other wide receivers who comprise USC's aerial arsenal, as will his experience at the JUCO level.

Outside of quarterbacks Ricky Town and David Sills (whose decommitment from Troy is expected in the coming months), Hampton is the first offensive skill player committed for 2015. Outside of tight ends and running backs, wide receivers haven't been a huge priority for the Trojans thus far in the recruiting cycle.

That's because Rogers, Nelson Agholor, Steven Mitchell, George Farmer and Victor Blackwell are currently on the roster, and the likes of Rahshead Johnson, Ajene Harris, John "JuJu" Smith and Adoree' Jackson are joining the ranks in the fall.

So how would Hampton fit at USC, given the soon-to-be-crowded wide receiver corps?

A native of Compton, California, Hampton spent the past season playing at Long Beach City College. That decision has helped him develop more immediately out of high school.

"I realized [my ability] when I came out of high school and greyshirted in college," Hampton told Scout.com's Lindsey Thiry upon announcing his commitment to the Trojans. "I was going against the first defense everyday, then got to the point where I was scoring touchdowns everyday against them."

Hampton will enter USC with experience, which could give him a boost near the top of the depth chart next spring.

Beyond that, Hampton's size is something "Sark" definitely can't wait to implement in USC's offense, and the head coach could do so at a different position.

According to Rivals.com's Mike Farrell:

A move to tight end wouldn't be a bad look for Hampton or the Trojans, given the anemic tight end corps. USC touts all of three scholarship tight ends, and senior Randall Telfer will be gone at the end of the season. That'll leave just junior Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick and incoming freshman Bryce Dixon, as things stand now. 

The Trojans are also in the hunt for 4-star tight end Tyler Petite, and they could land him as well. Whether they do or not, having the option to move Hampton to that position has got to be comforting to Sark, who runs an offense that often features tight ends.

Should Hampton stay with his commitment, he brings the experience and size that Sark will need going forward in his efforts to keep USC competitive throughout this new era of Trojan football.

 

All recruiting information provided by 247Sports.com.

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Minnesota's Logan Hutton Catches Two Footballs While Doing Backflip

Minnesota Golden Gophers senior wide receiver Logan Hutton looks like he's pretty athletic.

The team's official Twitter account posted this impressive trick by Hutton. Not only does he do a backflip, but he also catches two footballs at the same time.

That's right. Not one, but two footballs. You can see the catch in slow motion below.

[YouTube, h/t Yahoo Sports]

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Power Ranking Penn State's Positional Units for 2014

Like any team, the 2014 Nittany Lions have some bright spots and some...not so bright spots on the roster. Christian Hackenberg and Jesse James are names people will know this fall. As long as the offensive line allows it, of course.

Here's a look at each position on the Nittany Lions' roster from weakest to strongest.

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Texas Football: Longhorns Must Have Patience with Charlie Strong

Nearly six months have gone by since former Louisville head coach Charlie Strong was named the 29th head football coach for the Texas Longhorns. If the Longhorns faithful want Texas to return to the top of the college football ranks, they will have to give Strong time to do it the right way.

Only six months into the job, Strong has put together an entirely new staff, worked to build relationships with the team he inherited, kept the 2014 recruiting class intact and tried to make up ground in recruiting the 2015 class.

Add in his 12-city Comin' on Strong Tour, media obligations and speaking engagements with boosters and state high school coaches and Strong has been a very busy man.

Being the head football coach at a school like Texas requires a lot of obligations that ultimately take time away from the football field. This has been the case for Strong, and some fans may not be pleased with the results the Longhorns showed in the spring game and the lack of results seen in the 2015 recruiting class.

Rivals.com has Texas listed at No. 30 in its most recent 2015 recruiting team rankings—behind conference opponents TCU and West Virginia, and behind in-state rival Texas A&M, which is ranked No. 3 nationally.

The Texas and Texas A&M rivalry is still alive even though the Longhorns and Aggies no longer play each other on the football field, and it's no surprise that Texas fans are upset that the Aggies are stomping the Longhorns in the 2015 recruiting class.

One could argue the tables have turned since Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC.

In just three years, the Aggies have averaged a No. 10 signing-class ranking, and the Longhorns' average places them at No. 15. If one were to factor in the unofficial 2015 class rankings, Texas A&M's average would be sitting around No. 9 and Texas' at No. 19.

Texas A&M gained a lot of momentum when it joined the SEC.

An upset over Alabama in year one and its second Heisman Trophy winner in school history allowed the momentum grew tremendously. In an anonymous survey of four Texas high school coaches, the general consensus was Texas A&M is the leading school in the state right now, according to William Wilkerson and Longhorn Digest.

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin deserves a lot of credit for turning around the Aggies' football program. But the Aggies' gain is not a product of something Strong has done wrong. What fans need to realize is the woes Strong is facing are not something he caused for himself, they're a sign of how bad things got under the previous regime.

A lot of attention follows the head coach of Texas.

As you can see from the images below, Strong has many more eyes on him in press settings at Texas compared to his time spent at Louisville. And it's no secret Strong currently lacks the shaking hands and kissing babies aspect of the job that Mack Brown did so well.

In a recent story, ESPN.com's Travis Haney wrote a scathing review of Strong's speaking abilities at a coaching clinic at Angelo State. Haney used quotes from unnamed coaches including one that stood out above the rest: "It made me miss Mack."

The irony of that quote is that a part of the reason Texas football has fallen behind Texas A&M is Brown's inability to keep up with the changing times of college football.

But the tables could very easily turn if Strong can put a winning product on the field—which is not something he has struggled with throughout his coaching history.

Strong did more with less during his time coaching at Louisville than what Brown did over the last four years. One could argue he is one of the best defensive minds in college football and a stellar talent developer.

As for 2015, Strong is trying to make up for lost time in a six-month period while Sumlin and other rival coaches have, roughly, had an 18-month head start recruiting the 2015 class.

Does that excuse the fact that Texas only has 10 verbal commits for the 2015 class? Not exactly, but it in no way means fans should give up on Strong and company.

Texas fans need to take a step back and realize that the change of regime is not something that will provide successful results overnight. It's a process that will take time and patience.

A word of advice: Wait and see what type of product Strong can put on the field before labeling him as unsuccessful.

 

Recruiting rankings courtesy of Rivals.com.

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

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

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The Opening 2014: Full Invitation List Revealed

The rosters and teams for "The Opening 2014," the biggest summer showcase of high school football talent in the country, were released Friday afternoon, and man, is this year's lineup loaded.

Of the 33 consensus 5-star players in the 2015 class, 31 are attending. The two absentees, defensive linemen Trent Thompson and CeCe Jefferson, check in as the respective No. 1 and No. 4 overall players in the country, but that only has a slight diminishing effect.

The event itself, which will take place this year from July 6-10, includes physical testing and the SPARQ National Championship along with a series of non-contact seven-on-seven football games designed to showcase the best players' abilities.

Only 161 players from the 2015 class (and one from the 2016 class) will be heading to Beaverton, Oregon—lest we forget this is a Nike event—in a couple of weeks to show scouts what they've got.

Here's a look at who will be playing:

Note: All rankings courtesy of the 247Sports Composite.

 

The Quarterbacks

The quarterbacks will not be assigned to a seven-on-seven team until July 7. For now, although we do know which players will be doing the passing, we do not know whom they will be passing to.

Here are the 18 QBs attending the event:

It's important to note these are not technically the only quarterbacks in attendance. Players such as Torrance Gibson, for example, have been placed on Team #AlphaPro and labeled as athletes even though they are likely to play quarterback in college.

On that note…on to the teams:

 

Team #AlphaPro

Full Roster:

Star Offensive Player: ATH Torrance Gibson

Star Defensive Player: DL Josh Sweat

Team #AlphaPro is middle-of-the-road in terms of average composite grade, but with Gibson and Sweat, it features two of the highest-profile prospects in the country. Scouts will line up to see those two play.

There is also a celebrity element to the #AlphaPro roster: wide receiver Cordell Broadus, son of rap mogul Snoop Dogg, and defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie, son of Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie, have both been included in the same group.

 

Team #Apocalypse

Full Roster:

Star Offensive Player: RB Damien Harris

Star Defensive Player: LB Malik Jefferson

Unless it ends up with a number of the best quarterbacks, defense will have to carry Team #Apocalypse to the title. Its three highest rated players—linebacker Malik Jefferson and defensive tackles Rasheem Green and Daron Payne—all line up on that side of the ball.

All three are also uncommitted.

On offense, former Michigan pledge Damien Harris is the biggest name to watch, but also keep an eye on unranked athlete Tyler Phillips, who got The Opening invite after scoring the highest SPARQ rating on the 2014 Nike Tour. (For laymen, that means he's a freaky athlete.)

 

Team #FlyRush

Full Roster:

Star Offensive Player: WR Terry Godwin

Star Defensive Player: DB Kendall Sheffield

Offensive lineman Chuma Edoga, a USC commit, is the highest-ranked offensive player on Team #FlyRush, but blocking isn't as sexy as scoring touchdowns, so let's instead highlight Georgia commit Terry Godwin, one of the quickest athletes in the class.

On defense, Kendall Sheffield will be tasked with locking up some of the best wide receivers in the 2015 class. He doesn't have the length of the new-age type of cornerback but checks in at a solid 5'11" and is superb with his feet and coverage technique.

 

Team #LandSharks

Full Roster:

Star Offensive Player: WR Tyron Johnson

Star Defensive Player: DB Kevin Toliver

Even more so than Team #Apocalypse, Team #LandSharks should be a defensive force. Seven of its eight highest-ranked players play on the defensive side of the ball. (Paging Josh Rosen, anyone?)

The stars of each respective side are LSU commit Kevin Toliver, one of the scariest cornerback prospects to come along in quite some time, and fellow Louisiana native Tyron Johnson, a pretty scary wide receiver in his own right.

There's a good chance they end up in Baton Rouge together.

 

Team #MachSpeed

Full Roster:

Star Offensive Player: WR Preston Williams

Star Defensive Player: S Derwin James

As was the case with Team #FlyRush, the highest-ranked offensive player on Team #MachSpeed is an offensive lineman, Clemson pledge Mitch Hyatt. Hyatt is the second-best offensive lineman in the 2015 class, and he's joined on this roster by the cycle's top pure receiver, Tennessee commit Preston Williams.

A stacked defense is led by a loaded secondary, which includes future Florida State safety Derwin James and future Alabama cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick—the latter of whom the Tide went all the way up to New Jersey to secure a commitment from.

Nick Saban: Putting the "commitment" in the word commitment.

 

Team #VaporCarbon

Full Roster:

Star Offensive Player: WR Christian Kirk

Star Defensive Player: DL Rashan Gary

Christian Kirk, Deon Cain, Juwan Johnson and Kirk Merritt combine to give Team #VaporCarbon a deep and balanced receiving corps that includes four top-150 overall players. Between that and the presence of Martez Ivey, the cycle's top offensive lineman, at tackle, quarterbacks will be lobbying to join this roster.

The defense ain't too shabby, either. Lineman Rashan Gary and defensive back Iman Marshall give #VaporCarbon a pair of top-10 overall prospects, and linebacker John Houston Jr. gives it at least one top-30 overall player at each level of the defense.

 

For a full schedule of events at "The Opening," click here.

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Power Ranking Wisconsin Football's Positional Units for 2014

Last season, the Wisconsin football team went 9-4, losing all the close calls and losing its first game by more than a touchdown for the first time in years. In Gary Andersen's second season, graduations have stripped the cupboard that he started with.

James White and Ryan Groy are gone, but the Badgers still boast an excellent backfield and offensive line, which shouldn't surprise anyone who has followed Wisconsin football in the past.

In what feels like Year 1 for Andersen as his recruits slowly start to trickle into snaps, let's take a look at how each of the positional groups for the Badgers looks in a post-Chris Borland and Jared Abbrederis world.

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Impersonation of Nick Saban Reacting to USA's Loss to Germany Is Spot on

Alabama football head coach Nick Saban is known for being pretty intense during post-game press conferences after losses, and this guy complete nailed an impersonation of the four-time national champion.

The United States lost 1-0 to Germany in the 2014 World Cup, and this guy had a spot-on impersonation of Saban had he been Team USA's coach after the loss.

[Vimeo, h/t College Spun]

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