NCAA Football News

Underrated 2016 RB Vavae Malepeai 'Can Be Feature Back for Big-Time CFB Program'

Vavae Malepeai, a 3-star running back, per 247Sports, is a guy not many are talking about. Part of the reason is that he hails from Hawaii, unable to receive the big-time press. But that is not stopping him from putting up huge numbers. 

Bleacher Report college football analyst Michael Felder breaks down Malepeai's game and where he could potentially land at the next level. 

What is Malepeai's ceiling? Check out the video, and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Austin Kendall Decommits from Tennessee: Which SEC Alternative Offers Best Fit?

Quarterback Austin Kendall ended a long-term commitment to Tennessee on Tuesday, backing off his verbal pledge on social media:

The 4-star North Carolina recruit initially joined the Volunteers' 2016 class last summer. He headlined a Tennessee recruiting haul that rated 12th nationally in 247Sports' composite rankings prior to his decommitment.

Kendall, a 6'2", 205-pound passer at Cuthbertson High School, is considered one of the country's top prospects at a crucial position. Listed eighth among pro-style quarterbacks in the aforementioned composite rankings, he is valued by teams far beyond Knoxville.

Scholarship offers also arrived from Boston College, Virginia and Miami, among others, following a sophomore 2013 season that saw Kendall complete 61 percent of his passes for 1,668 yards and 20 touchdowns, per MaxPreps.

He topped those totals in 2014, tossing 4,461 yards and 49 scores in 15 games. Kendall flashed versatility during his junior campaign, gaining another 519 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground.

His offer list has continued to expand, and diverse options—along with the three quarterbacks Tennessee signed in February—may have ultimately led him to reassess his situation.

Shortly after announcing the decommitment, Kendall unveiled three new possibilities during a conversation with Ryan Bartow of 247Sports.

"Kentucky, Auburn and Florida," Kendall said.

Based on that list, it appears he's still likely to compete in the SEC when his college career commences. 

Though a decision may remain far off for Kendall, let's break down each of his three top interests.

 

Auburn

Head coach Gus Malzahn extended an offer to Kendall just a few weeks ago. Kendall is one of several quarterbacks who've drawn interest from Auburn, one of the most aggressive pursuers of the position early in this cycle.

The Tigers landed 3-star quarterback Tyler Queen during the last cycle, and he enrolled on campus early. Auburn also made a late charge at dual-threat talent Torrance Gibson, who ultimately opted to stick with his Ohio State commitment. 

Quarterbacks have enjoyed immense success under the direction on Malzahn, whether they were elite-level passers like Cam Newton or relied more on raw athleticism like Nick Marshall.

The program currently has sights set on predominantly mobile prospects in the 2016 class, namely Jawon Pass and Xavier Gaines.

It's hard to imagine that Auburn will wait long to secure a commitment at the position, considering its offensive track record and the presence of top-rated wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers in this class.

Kendall's willingness to line up a campus visit in the near future could be key. He has no planned university trips at this stage, per Bartow.

 

Florida

The Gators are an outlier here, as the program has yet to formally offer Kendall. It's a bit surprising, since new coach Jim McElwain doesn't currently have one of "his guys" at quarterback on the roster.

Florida pushed hard late in the 2015 recruiting cycle to flip Florida State commit Deondre Francois and Louisville pledge Lamar Jackson—hosting both before national signing day—but came up empty in those endeavors. 

The Gators will officially move on from a failed Jeff Driskel era with two 4-star 2014 signees. Treon Harris gained experience with mixed results as a true freshman, while Will Grier is expected to compete for the starting job after a redshirt season.

If either player performs well enough to win over the new coaching staff for the long haul, he may be in position to keep a grip on that role for several years ahead. However, McElwain is eyeing ways to improve every element of the program, and a top-tier 2016 quarterback is necessary regardless of how this 2015 battle shakes out. 

Kendall clearly has interest in the Gators, so expect Florida to take a long look at identifying him as a primary target moving forward.

 

Kentucky

The Wildcats are among Kendall's earliest suitors, and he may very well be the top offensive target for Kentucky. Head coach Mark Stoops has done an outstanding job building the foundation of his 2016 class, which already includes 14 commitments and rates fourth nationally in 247Sports' composite rankings.

Like Florida, the Wildcats are working with a one-year gap at quarterback. Kentucky didn't sign a 2015 passer after landing top in-state prospect Drew Barker last year. 

Now a redshirt freshman, Barker will attempt to seize snaps from incumbent starter Patrick Towles as new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson dissects each candidate. This is another case in which Kendall could take advantage of limited competition behind potential starters, rapidly working his way up the depth chart.

Kentucky hasn't kept its interest a secret.

"Kentucky has been a school he has always stayed in contact with," Cuthbertson coach David Johnson told Bartow.

His older brother, Ryan, is a Wildcats wide receiver. Kendall attended a junior day in Lexington last month.

 

Best Fit

Though he may be feeling the most love from Kentucky, we like the opportunity in Gainesville best should McElwain finally pull the trigger on an offer. Florida has two promising young passers, but neither committed to the current Gators regime, so allegiance must be earned through strong play.

Stoops coveted Barker while assembling his 2014 recruiting class and is giving him a legitimate chance to claim starting duties this spring with four years of eligibility left. Success is never guaranteed for unproven quarterbacks, but loyalties may be a bit tighter between Kentucky and its young gun than what you'll find at Florida this year.

Historically, the Gators also have a stronger chance of surrounding Kendall with elite offensive talent. Florida finished hot on the 2015 recruiting trail and could emphatically capitalize next signing day with signs of a program rebound.

Auburn shouldn't be counted out, but the Tigers may view other quarterbacks in higher regard than Kendall due to their enhanced dual-threat skill sets. Malzahn may be tempted to take two quarterbacks in this class, as he tried to do last time around, but that would create a more crowded situation than Kendall would find at his other two potential SEC landing spots.

The pressure is on McElwain to find an elite quarterback in this class; one he hand-picks himself. If Kendall fits the bill for Florida, it's an opportunity the former Tennessee pledge should accept.

 

Recruit ratings and info courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC LB Commit Mique Juarez Will Add Versatility to Reloaded Defense

Mique Juarez is a 4-star outside linebacker, as per 247Sports' composite rankings, who is committed to USC. Juarez will help add linebacker depth to the Trojans next season. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down what impact Juarez can have for the Trojans. 

What kind of impact do you think Juarez can have in 2016? Check out the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

The SEC East's 7 Most Indispensable Players

There was a glimmer of hope in the SEC East during bowl season, when the struggling division posted an unblemished 5-0 record and announced to the world that it is on the way back.

For the division to take the next step in 2015, though, several key players need to stay healthy.

On Monday, we went through the SEC West's most indispensable players based on talent, scheme and depth. We'll run down the most indispensable player for each SEC East team in this slideshow.

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Ed Orgeron Shows He Can Dominate SEC Recruiting by Landing 2017 DT Tyler Shelvin

Tyler Shelvin, a 4-star defensive tackle, per 247Sports, has officially committed to the LSU Tigers. The 6'2", 310-pound defender will be sure to bring his big-play ability to Les Miles and the Tigers' faithful. 

Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down Shelvin's game, as well as what impact he will have for the Tigers. 

What is Shelvin's ceiling? Check out the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Big 12 Football: 5 Biggest 2015 Heisman Contenders

Spring practices have just started for some programs. Naturally, it's time to peer into the crystal ball and pick out some Heisman Trophy contenders with what will surely be 100 percent accuracy.  

Being a Heisman finalist is as much about fitting into a formula as anything else. Are the individual stats good enough? Are there enough highlight-reel plays sprinkled in? Is the team's record good enough? Are non-quarterbacks versatile enough? 

Believe it or not, those things matter. 

With that in mind, here are five players from the Big 12 who could become Heisman contenders in 2015. Or, more specifically, here are two with a legitimate shot and three others, should the circumstances be right, who could get some chatter. 

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