NCAA Football News

Top 10 Highlights of Marcus Lattimore's Career

The professional career of one of college football's best running backs this past decade came to a far-too-soon end with Wednesday's announcement that Marcus Lattimore was retiring at the age of 23.

A fourth-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2013, Lattimore's NFL tenure consisted of two seasons spent on his team's non-football injury list without ever playing in a game. Lingering issues related to two devastating knee injuries suffered while in college led to his early retirement.

"Unfortunately, getting my knee fully back to the level the NFL demands has proven to be insurmountable," Lattimore said in a statement released by the 49ers, according to's Chris Wesseling.

Lattimore ran for 2,677 yards and 38 touchdowns over three seasons in college at South Carolina, including 1,197 yards with 17 TDs as a true freshman in 2010. Knee injuries cut short his sophomore and junior years, but in August 2012 he ran for 110 yards and two TDs against Vanderbilt just 10 months after surgery.

Lattimore never got a chance to show what he could do during an NFL game, but there are plenty of highlights from his collegiate days. Scroll through for the most notable moments of his short career.

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Oregon Football: Showdown vs. Utah Is the Ultimate Trap Game

Coming off of perhaps their most complete game of the season, the fourth-ranked Oregon Ducks (8-1, 5-1) now find themselves faced with the infamous “trap game” against the feisty No. 17-ranked Utah Utes. 

But what exactly is a trap game?

A trap game is a game preceding or following a big game against a rival or top-ranked opponent. Essentially, it’s when a team underestimates an upcoming opponent that it shouldn’t be looking past.

A conference road game following an enormous 45-16 over rival Stanford would certainly seem to fit the bill. The Utes are known to be a quality team, and Rice-Eccles Stadium, Utah’s home field, is one of the toughest venues in the Pac-12. Shouldn’t the Ducks consider the Utes a threat to their postseason aspirations?

Yes, they should and likely do. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a trap game. It absolutely is.


Why Utah Can Beat Oregon 

The Ducks can see the light at the end of the tunnel. If the season ended today, Oregon would face Mississippi State in the College Football Playoff as the No. 4 seed. 

According to Bleacher Report’s own Ed Feng, the Ducks have a 67 percent chance at making the Playoff—the highest percentage in the entire country. Feng predicts that the Ducks will be the No. 1 seed in the Playoff by the time the dust settles in early December.

The Ducks' road to the Playoff is clear. As late-Raiders owner Al Davis would say, “Just win, baby.” But it’s never as easy as it seems in college football. The Ducks still have three conference games remaining on their regular-season schedule and, if they win those games, a Pac-12 title game against one of five Pac-12 South opponents—all of whom are currently ranked except for USC.

However, if the Ducks don't take Utah seriously the light at the end of the tunnel may quickly fade to black. Coming off an emotional win over Stanford, the Ducks may not be mentally prepared or focused on the task at hand, hence the theory that this is a trap game.

The Utes are coming off a devastating overtime loss to Arizona State in Tempe, a game they believe they should have won. There’s two ways the Utes can go from here. They will either be galvanized by the loss to the Sun Devils, or their season will fold as they play the second of a nearly impossible back-to-back.

Based on their performance so far this season, one has to believe they will come together as a group and be ready to take on the Ducks, especially when you consider they’re playing at home.

Utah features one of the best running games in the entire country, led by junior Devontae Booker, and is ranked No. 42 in rushing offense. While the passing attack isn’t particularly potent—ranked No. 111 in the country—quarterback Travis Wilson is the only player in the FBS who has attempted over 150 passes and has yet to throw an interception.

The Utes offense, while not a powerhouse, isn’t going to turnover the ball—it's ranked No. 11 in the country in turnover margin—and will be able to put up points against an Oregon defense that is ranked No. 105 in the country in total defense.

Moreover, the Utes running game, if successful, is going to keep Oregon off the field. As Kyle Whittingham said, according to SB Nation's Block U:

The best way to defend Oregon's offense is to keep it on the sideline as much as you can. In order to do that, you have to move the chains with the offense and take care of the football and be productive. That is without a doubt the best way to try to defend them.

The other two advantages the Utes have over Oregon are their special teams and their home-field advantage. The Utes are No. 2 in kickoff returns, No. 3 in punt returns and No. 3 in punting.

Don’t forget about kicker Andy Phillips either. He may have missed two key field goals in overtime against Arizona State (one was negated by a timeout), but he’s still one of the best kickers in the country and has hit on 85 percent of his field goals this year.

While special teams will be key, it’s the home-field advantage of Utah that may end up doing Oregon in. Despite the fact that the Ducks are likely the best-conditioned team in the country and have gone 28-8 in road games since 2007, they haven’t played in Salt Lake City since 2003—a 17-13 loss.

Rice-Eccles Stadium sits nearly a mile above sea level, and the Utes have gone 41-14 at home since head coach Kyle Whittingham took over for Urban Meyer in 2005.

The Ducks would be doing a serious disservice to themselves and their Playoff chances by overlooking this Utah team. These aren’t the same Utes who struggled through their first couple of Pac-12 seasons. As head coach Mark Helfrich said about Utah following the win against Stanford, "We're going to a very hostile environment against a very good team."

The Utes are a legitimate top-25 opponent. They should not be overlooked.


Understand the Threat

Former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly used to use the phrase “Nameless, faceless opponents” when discussing opposing teams. Basically, Kelly wanted the Ducks to focus on competing instead of comparing. He wanted his team to work on its own performance and execution instead of worrying about what the other team was doing.

Helfrich, a disciple of Kelly, continues to use this phrase with his team and understandably so. It has worked well for the Ducks.

However, the current Ducks would be better served by at least understanding the ramifications of this game against Utah. Utah presents a true threat to the Ducks' Playoff aspirations, unlike Oregon’s next opponent: Colorado.

The infamous trap game has caught many teams who have stood in the shoes the Ducks currently stand in, though those shoes may not have been quite as dazzling and flashy.

Just this year we’ve seen a couple of national championship contenders fall to inferior opponents in trap-game scenarios.

Then-fourth-ranked Baylor’s 41-27 loss to West Virginia following a huge victory over TCU comes to mind. How about ninth-ranked USC’s 37-31 loss to Boston College following a win at Stanford? Oklahoma lost a trap game to then-No. 25-ranked TCU after a big win at West Virginia too.

If it could happen to those teams, it could happen to the Ducks.

Back in February of 2014, Sebastian Lena of Bleacher Report said that the Ducks' trap game this season would come versus Utah, a call that looks relatively prophetic now.

Utah made waves in 2013 for taking down Pac-12 giant Stanford at home last season.

Can home-field advantage help the Utes reel in another conference giant this season?

Oregon’s early schedule is pretty tough. It features matchups with Michigan State (Week 2), at UCLA (Week 7) and against Stanford (Week 10).

But while the team’s full attention will be on these contests, the Ducks could wind up overlooking the Utes, a game that just so happens to fall the week right after the highly anticipated showdown with the Cardinal.

The Ducks are on a collision course with the inaugural College Football Playoff. Utah is Oregon’s last true regular-season roadblock between it and a shot at the Pac-12 title.

Oregon doesn't have to look very far in the past to see how a team can lose out on its postseason opportunities. The Ducks have struggled in November each of the past two seasons, including two November losses in 2013.

Mark Helfrich knows the Ducks need to get up for Utah and play one of its best games of the season. "We absolutely need to get up for this game because it's the next one," said Helfrich, according to Andrew Greif of The Oregonian. "I think certainly we've talked about that scenario kind of what you're saying going on the road, we've talked about that a lot in the offseason leading up to the opening of the season."

By almost any measure the Ducks are the better team in this matchup, but this is college football. Sometimes “better” doesn’t matter. Oregon must be prepared to play its best game of the season in order to beat the Utes. That means it must be mentally prepared for a potential trap game and physically prepared for the demands of playing at altitude and against a tough Utes team.

If they aren’t, the Ducks’ postseason hopes may go up in smoke.


Statistics courtesy of unless otherwise stated. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise stated.

Jason Gold is Bleacher Report’s lead Oregon writer. Follow Jason on Twitter @TheSportsGuy33.

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How Braxton Miller Could Be College Football's Hottest Recruit of 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio — When one thinks of Russell Wilson's college career, one often thinks about his phenomenal senior season at Wisconsin.  But what some don't remember is that before Wilson was the man in Madison, he was a three-year starter at North Carolina State. And while Wilson is the last high-profile player to take advantage of college football's graduate transfer rule, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller could be the next.

It's a complicated situation with plenty of moving parts. And thus far, everybody's saying the right things. But sooner or later, some uncomfortable conversations are going to have to take place in Columbus.

In fact, some already are.

With how well redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett has played in the place of Miller since the two-time Big Ten MVP went down with a season-ending injury two weeks prior, the future of the Buckeyes' quarterback position is anything but clear. Privately, media members in Columbus have debated who will be Ohio State's signal-caller next season, as have fans, evidenced by the double-digit paged threads on message boards discussing the topic.

The subject has even caught the eye of NFL draft analysts, who have pondered what a potential move by Miller could mean for the 2016 draft.

"You hate to see a kid leave his school," said Bleacher Report NFL draft lead analyst Matt Miller. "But for his career, I think the best thing would be going to somewhere that’s going to run a little bit more of a pro-style offense and where he would get on the field right away."

No matter what angle you're looking from, the Buckeyes' signal-caller situation is very much up in the air. And how it plays out could ultimately affect the rest of the college football landscape. This isn't a story about what will happen—it's one about what could.


The Situation

In fact, asked in late September about a potential quarterback controversy, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer stood by Miller, citing the stellar list of accomplishments that he's accumulated in three seasons in Columbus.

“Braxton is our quarterback," Meyer insisted. "To be fair to Braxton, [he’s the] Big Ten Player of the Year. It’s good to know we’ve got both of them.”

But that answer came with Barrett coming off of a 330-yard, four-touchdown passing performance in Ohio State's 50-28 win over Cincinnati on Sept. 27. Since then, the redshirt freshman has only added to his credibility, totaling 2,352 total yards (1,856 passing, 496 rushing) and 29 touchdowns (23 passing, six rushing) through the 7-1 Buckeyes first eight games of the season.

Given both his ability as a passer and efficiency as a runner, some have suggested that Barrett—who on Tuesday was named one of 16 semifinalists for the Davey O'Brien Award, presented annually to the country's top quarterback—is a better fit for Meyer's spread offense than Miller.

“Barrett works better in this offense and I feel like he has a better arm. He is a way better quarterback than Braxton," said Michigan State linebacker Taiwan Jones, who will face Ohio State this Saturday at Spartan Stadium. “As an athlete, I feel like Braxton Miller was better. As for a quarterback that can fit in the offense, [Barrett] fits really well."

It remains unknown whether Meyer's opinion has shifted from his September vote of confidence for Miller or if it will between now and the start of the 2015 season. But with how well Barrett has played in the past two months, it's hard to imagine him not receiving at least a shot to start in what would be his sophomore season.  It would also be nearly impossible to think Meyer would relegate a star like Miller to the bench.  

His choice will not be an easy one. 

While there are plenty of unknowns that need to be factored in when examining his options, here's what we do know about his current situation:

  • In last season's Orange Bowl, Miller suffered a shoulder injury that required outpatient surgery and caused him to miss all of Ohio State's spring practice.
  • While both the injury and surgery were described as minor, Miller cited each as reasons for returning to Ohio State for his senior season, rather than entering the NFL draft.
  • On Aug. 19, after being brought along slowly throughout fall camp from a physical standpoint, Miller was diagnosed with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, effectively ending his 2014 season.
  • Per Meyer, Miller's recovery period is slated for nine to 12 months. That would mean he would miss all of spring practice and potentially most of fall camp. 
  • On Monday, Buckeyes offensive coordinator Tom Herman said Miller is on or ahead of schedule.
  • In a statement released by the school, Miller stated a desire to return to Ohio State as a fifth-year senior in 2015. When asked by B/R on Monday if that was still the plan for Miller, Herman answered, "I believe so."
  • According to the same statement, Miller is on pace to graduate this December.
  • Per NCAA rules, if a student-athlete completes his undergraduate degree program and finds a different school that doesn't possess the graduate program the player wants to enroll in, he can transfer and play immediately.

Those last two points are important.

Making the safe assumption that one of Miller's primary goals for a potential senior season would be to improve his draft stock, it's hard to envision him returning to Ohio State without the guarantee that he would regain his starting spot. And as mentioned earlier, with the way that Barrett has progressed throughout his freshman season, it's tough to imagine Meyer providing Miller with just that.

As a graduate, Miller's options increase exponentially. Not only could he renege on his plan to return to college and enter the 2015 NFL draft—more on that later—but he could also take advantage of college football's graduate transfer rule, theoretically becoming immediately eligible at any other school in the country.

And while it may seem like a stretch—perhaps surreal—for a player who has accomplished as much as Miller has at Ohio State to suddenly switch schools, a potential move wouldn't be unprecedented.


The Russell Wilson Precedent

In 2011, Wilson was to North Carolina State what Miller is to Ohio State: A soon-to-be senior on the verge of breaking all of his school's career quarterback records. A three-year starter, Wilson had developed into a fan favorite for the Wolfpack, trailing only Phillip Rivers in the NC State history book for career passing touchdowns.

But as Wilson's senior season approached, the 2010 fourth-round pick of the Colorado Rockies organization began flirting with the possibility of a professional baseball career. And with former 4-star prospect Mike Glennon waiting for his turn and eligible to transfer himself with two years of eligibility remaining, former Wolfpack head coach Tom O'Brien opted to allow Wilson to walk.

"O’Brien didn’t want to risk Russell Wilson changing his mind and not coming back at the end of the summer [after playing baseball] and losing Mike Glennon," Matt Carter, editor of, told B/R. "He too could have transferred, left and gone somewhere else and then O'Brien would have been left empty-handed.”

Wilson chose to transfer to Wisconsin, where he played immediately and led the Badgers to an 11-3 Big Ten championship season. As a result, Wilson improved his draft stock and became a third-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks. 

In the span of three calendar years, Wilson went from living legend in Raleigh to announcing another school as his alma mater on football's biggest stage. That sudden swing in Wilson's legacy is something that still doesn't sit well with the Wolfpack faithful.

"To this day on the message board, it still divides fans to be perfectly honest with you," Carter said. "It seems like half the fans thought it was unfortunate but had to be done, and half the fans think that it didn’t have to be done and [Wilson] should have been allowed to come back.”

North Carolina State's situation in 2011 and what the Buckeyes could be dealing with next season aren't identical, but they do share some similarities.

While Wilson's lack of commitment threw a wrench into NC State's quarterback conundrum, so too does Miller's health—and history of injuries. In the event that his recovery takes a full 12 months, that wouldn't put him back on the field until right before the start of the 2015 campaign, leaving little time to jell with a receiving corps that will look vastly different from the one that he last played with.

According to Carter, that too was something that O'Brien took into consideration when he opted for Glennon's two years of eligibility over Wilson's one. And while it's nearly impossible to imagine Meyer not allowing Miller to return to Columbus if that's what he desires, it's almost just as hard to believe that Miller would be willing to return in a role as the country's most decorated backup assuming improving his draft stock is one of Miller's top concerns.


Braxton Miller's NFL Future 

For a player who possessed plenty of question marks before suffering two shoulder injuries, a year of sitting behind or spelling Barrett wouldn't do much to move Miller up teams' draft boards—another reason why a potential transfer could make sense for the two-time Big Ten Quarterback of the Year.

"I like Braxton Miller, but I think he’s a work in progress. Especially for being a bigger name player, I think a lot of people expected he would be an early draft pick when that’s probably not really the case. I think I said at the beginning of the year that he would be a late-round pick for me as a guy who you would really have to invest some time into to develop," Matt Miller said. "He needs a to be somewhere where he could step in and play right away."

Of course, finding such place is easier said than done at this point of the year, with other programs' quarterback and coach situations still unsettled for 2015. One intriguing option, however, could be at Duke, where senior quarterback Anthony Boone is currently running David Cutcliffe's proven pro-style system.

That is merely speculation at this point, although Matt Miller mentioned that leaving Meyer's spread offense could ultimately be beneficial for Braxton as pro prospect. While Meyer begs to differ, the NFL analyst said that the short pro career of former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow has left questions about the sustainability of Meyer's quarterbacks in the NFL, which could follow Miller.

"Alex Smith is really the only productive quarterback out of that offense so far," Matt Miller said of the current Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, who Meyer coached at Utah. "It would be better for Braxton Miller to get into a system that’s going to coach him up as more of a passer and less of an athlete. The big problem is that there’s only so much work you can do in one offseason."

That is why it's also not out of the realm of possibility that Miller rethinks his return to the college ranks and enters the 2015 draft. Given his injury status, that scenario obviously raises some questions of its own, but he has proved enough in his college career thus far to catch the eye of NFL talent evaluators.

"He was productive enough, he’s athletic enough that someone would take a chance on him," Matt Miller said. "It would be a surprise if he wasn’t drafted. I think there would have to be something there with the medical. One thing that kind of works for him is that it’s not a super deep quarterback class. Unless [underclassmen] Everett Golson, Connor Cook and Dak Prescott all come out, it’s going to be a pretty weak group of quarterbacks. That might actually help him."

With the success that former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is currently enjoying as a running back with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the analyst Miller also wouldn't rule out a potential position change for the Ohio State quarterback. Miller could convert to running back or wide receiver with either a return to the Buckeyes or jump to the pros, only furthering the future options of the Huber Heights, Ohio, native.

"I think that’s probably a better spot for him just based on his athleticism, not asking him to develop as a senior who’s coming off of two shoulder injuries," Matt Miller said. "When you look at the fact that this is a guy who has been hurt and it’s a throwing shoulder, I think that’s where you start getting into, ‘Would he be better at running back?’"

While Miller's future may be uncertain, his possibilities appear to be almost limitless. What position he'll be playing, where at and when all seem to be up in the air at this point, but it's clear that certain conversations in Columbus are going to have to take place sometime in the future.

And what that means for Miller—and the Buckeyes—is anybody's guess.


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 and recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. 

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Blake Sims' Alabama Legacy Starts or Ends with LSU Game

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.—Blake Sims’ last trip to Tiger Stadium was a memorable one.

He watched from the sidelines as running back T.J. Yeldon took a screen pass 28 yards for a touchdown in the final minute to take the lead on what ended up being the game-winning play.

Engulfed in the celebration, Sims jumped up on one of the Crimson Tide benches and gestured towards the LSU crowd behind him, caught squarely on a CBS camera.

And then he knew he was in trouble. Sims said Monday about the incident:

I was just pumped...Happy that we won. I remember that year. We were on the right track to win the national championship and that was going to be my first one. I was just so happy. That stadium was like, it gets you that way. I just jumped up and started acting. I looked down and there was a camera right there in my face and I was like, ‘Man, I’m about to get in trouble.

But now it’s Sims’ turn to be on the field, to be the one throwing the passes instead of watching them from the sideline (and possibly drawing Nick Saban’s ire once again).

Sims has largely had a solid year in his first, and what will be his only, season as Alabama’s starting quarterback. He’s done what he’s supposed to do against lesser competition and made plays to help the Crimson Tide beat some of its better opponents. And it wasn’t Sims that lost Alabama’s game against Ole Miss.

Now, with an unforgiving schedule coming up, it’s time to see if Sims can be great.

Three of Alabama’s four November games are against teams ranked in the top 16 of the College Football Playoff rankings, including two of the top three teams. No. 16 is this week, against LSU.

Alabama quarterbacks have made names for themselves against LSU. It’s Sims’ turn now.

His Alabama legacy will either begin or end this week.

AJ McCarron was, fair or not, labeled a game manager for much of the 2011 season. That all changed when Alabama go its second shot at LSU.

Facing each other for the second time in a season, McCarron threw for 234 yards against the country’s No. 2 defense to lead Alabama to what was then its second BCS National Championship under Saban. For the first time that year and for his career, McCarron took control of the game and dictated the game through the air.

The next year, he led the drive that culminated with the screen pass to Yeldon and is now a central part of Crimson Tide lore.

Sims can leave a similar impression this week. And he’s been looking at McCarron for inspiration:

Just from watching from last time AJ played there, the way he kept his composure and stuff. I’ve been watching him...I’ve been watching him when he was there – not the LSU defense, pretty much just seeing how he kept his composure, seeing how other quarterbacks kept their composure. Maybe I can do the same thing. Knowing how loud it is, communication is going to be very big for us. We’ve got to talk. That’s the main thing we’ve got to do.

So far, Sims’ numbers have actually been ahead of Alabama’s quarterbacks in championship seasons under Saban.

But he hasn’t seen a road environment like Death Valley this year. As Les Miles famously said two years ago, it is a place where opponents’ dreams go to die.

Alabama is hoping its championship dreams can withstand the trip. That starts with Sims and trying to emulate what McCarron was able to do there;

He got the players talking a lot. Communication’s very good for him...I noticed certain times in the game that he didn’t have to say nothing because the players can look to the sideline or they can look at each other, know the hand signals very well. He kept his composure very well. That was a tight game that year. I think he did a great job, and hopefully I can go and do the same exact thing.

Sims has been a good quarterback so far this year. Alabama needs him to elevate his play even further and be the quarterback who can lead the Crimson Tide to another title.

Sims hasn’t shown any reason why he can’t be that.

He’ll get to prove that he can starting this week, playing instead of watching.

“We know it’s going to be that one play that’s going to win us the game. We want to be the ones that win that play,” Sims said. “T.J. did it one year. O.J. (Howard) did it another year. There’s no telling who that guy could be. So it could be called at any time.”


Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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JC Shurburtt's Updated Top 5 Recruits in the 2015 Class

The high school football season is quickly coming to a close which means we're inching closer to these young high school athletes committing to major Universities.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder is joined by 247 Sports National Recruiting Director JC Shurburtt to go over his updated Top 5 High School recruits.

Who should be No.1?

Watch the video and let us know!  

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SEC Football: Ranking the Job Security of SEC Head Coaches

The SEC has a firm hold on the title of best conference in college football. Anyone interested in debating that topic need only look at the College Football Playoff rankings, where the league represents nearly a quarter of the poll, including three in the top 10 and half of the presumptive semifinal pairings.

With so many great teams, though, comes a heightened level of competition that can make sustained success something that's hard to come by. As great as the SEC is, someone has to lose every time there's a conference matchup, and with each loss comes a chink in the job security armor of the losing coach.

No SEC coach is bulletproof, though it may seem that way based on their success. No firings happened this past offseason, but after the 2012 season, four schools had to replace coaches they'd sent packing. And there's plenty of speculation that at least one SEC coach will be let go when the current season is over. 

Who's the safest, and who's most likely to get the boot? Check out our ranking of the SEC's coaches, based on job security.

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LSU Football: How Anthony Jennings Can Find Success vs. Alabama

LSU needs more production from quarterback Anthony Jennings to be victorious against Alabama.

The Tigers defeated Ole Miss in spite of Jennings, not because of him. He was 8-of-16 for 142 yards and two interceptions.


Sure, Jennings threw the game-winning touchdown pass to tight end Logan Stokes to cap off a 13-play, 95-yard drive, but the first 12 of those plays were runs and the simple, three-yard pitch to Stokes could have been completed by a blindfolded backup.

The Rebels defense deserves its fair share of credit. Ole Miss has the best secondary in the SEC for a reason. Nevertheless, LSU's sophomore signal-caller should have played better.

Jennings now must face the Crimson Tide, who only rank behind Ole Miss in the SEC in scoring defense. Head coach Nick Saban is going to load the box and make the Jennings beat him. Alabama may not have the playmakers in the secondary that the Rebels have, but there is certainly not a shortage of talent.

Jennings can have a proficient game against Alabama. Here is what he needs to do to be successful.


Do Not Turn the Football Over

Jennings' top mission against Alabama is to not give the football to the other team.

Sure, it sounds simple, but the Tigers simply cannot turn the football over at the quarterback position and expect to win. They were minus-three in the turnover margin against Ole Miss, which usually equates to a loss.

Jennings threw two interceptions against Ole Miss. He tossed none in his four SEC games prior to that. Expect him to be more careful with the football against the Crimson Tide.

There is no need for Jennings to force passes. Hitting running backs Terrence Magee and Leonard Fournette on easy checkdowns is rarely a poor option. Throwing the football away isn't either.


Be Unpredictable

Jennings locks on to his receiver far too often. His bad habit reared its ugly head in the fourth quarter against Ole Miss.

LSU is lined up in a three-receiver set, with true freshman Malachi Dupre (MD) out wide to the left and Trey Quinn in the slot (TQ).

Ole Miss has four defensive backs across the back of the formation in what looks to be quarters coverage. The Rebels give every Tiger receiver at least five yards of cushion:

After the ball is snapped, Jennings gives a quick play-action fake to the running back. This forces the Ole Miss strong safety (SS) to crash the line of scrimmage. This leaves three defensive backs to cover three LSU receivers who all appear to be running deep patterns.

Because Jennings saw the strong safety crash, he knows an opening will form in the direction of Quinn:

The gap for Quinn widens as he begins to make his break to the sideline on a corner route. Dupre is running a fly or go route in an effort to pull cornerback Mike Hilton (MH), who is covering the deep left third of the field, out of the play.

Despite what looks to be an advantageous position, there are two problems. Jennings recognized so quickly that the play would open that he immediately locked on to Quinn after the play-action fake:

This allowed Hilton, who knows he has safety help coming from Cody Prewitt (CP), to have the opportunity to sit on the route:

Jennings delivers the football to what looks to be a wide-open Quinn, but Hilton is already making a break on the ball before it's even in the air. He is taking a calculated risk by leaving Dupre but knows there is an opportunity to make a big play:

Hilton makes an amazing interception right in front of the LSU bench. Instead of a Tiger first down in Ole Miss territory, the Rebels get the ball back in good field position.

The play design above by offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was wonderful. The execution was fine across the board, including superb pass protection. Jennings did a fine job of locating the open spot in the zone.

But if Jennings even looks in the direction of Dural—who was eventually open at the top of the formation—or acts for a second that he is letting one rip to Dupre deep, this is an easy completion to Quinn. The sophomore signal-caller could have also have pump-faked a pass to Quinn and gone elsewhere.

Well-coached, athletic defensive backs eat quarterbacks who lock on to receivers alive.

Saban may not have what the Rebels have this season, but the Crimson Tide are a talented group that can make plays such as these.


Trust Pass Protection 

LSU's offensive line has been magnificent in the Tigers' three-game winning streak. Jennings must trust it to continue that trend on Saturday.

The group should be motivated after last year's poor performance against the Crimson Tide. It could not get a push in the running game and allowed quarterback Zach Mettenberger to be sacked four times—three times on the Tigers' final possession.

Alabama's pass rush has improved since then, as it's just under three sacks per game in conference play.

With that said, Jennings should trust his line to make the right calls and win battles despite Saban's unpredictability.



During a press conference, LSU head coach Les Miles said Jennings made the Tigers better, per The Times-Picayune. According to Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee, Saban echoed similar sentiments on his weekly teleconference:

Saban: "I do think Anthony Jennings has been playing really, really well. A good decision maker."

— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) November 5, 2014

Sallee and B/R colleague Michael Felder both see Jennings struggling against Alabama in a losing effort:

Sallee and Felder both have good reason to be skeptical of Jennings. LSU's hot defense and running game have masked his deficiencies at quarterback during the Tigers' three-game winning streak. He must play better.

Avoiding turnovers, being unpredictable and trusting pass protection are just three of many things Jennings must do to have success against Alabama.

The major plus for Miles is that he does not need his quarterback to be spectacular to win.

Miles is going to shorten the game by pounding the football. He wants to make the game as ugly as possible offensively and trust his defense to slow down the Crimson Tide offense. The blueprint will be similar to what Arkansas did at home against Alabama earlier this year.

Jennings does have intangibles, evident by his other comeback victories against Florida and Wisconsin. He is beloved by his teammates and has fought through tidal waves of criticism. The Tigers will need his leadership on Saturday.

It does not need to be pretty from Jennings on Saturday, but the Tigers would be lucky to defeat Alabama if he were to play another mediocre game.


Stats, rankings and additional information provided by and LSU Sports Information. Recruiting information provided by 247Sports.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower.

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College Football Picks Week 11: B/R's Expert Predictions for Top 5 Games

Top playoff contenders go head to head this Saturday, making Week 11 one of the most important weeks of the entire 2014 college football season.

The biggest showdown of the night is, of course, in the SEC, where Alabama hopes to knock off a rising LSU team. The Tide need a win to boost their playoff resume, and the Tigers need a victory to stay alive in the SEC West race.

Alabama lost to Ole Miss, but LSU was able to beat Ole Miss. Which power team will prevail this weekend?

Ohio State and Michigan State will battle in the de facto Big Ten Championship game. There’s no doubt these are the top two teams in the conference. Can Sparty overtake the Buckeyes as the premier Big Ten team?

Notre Dame has a great opportunity to prove to the Playoff Committee that it is a team to be reckoned with, as the Fighting Irish look to defeat a surprisingly strong Arizona State squad.

In the Big 12, TCU and Kansas State will meet in what is essentially a playoff-elimination game. Don’t be shocked if this game comes down to the wire.

And the last game our experts pick is a major trap game for Oregon. Utah is coming off a crushing loss to ASU, whereas the Ducks are reeling from a big win over Stanford. Will Oregon overlook Utah? If they do, the Utes will surely make them pay.

Barrett Sallee jumped up to share the lead with Ben Kercheval. Is Week 11 the end for Kercheval’s run atop our standings?

Let us know your picks in the comments below!

Reminder our experts are picking the top five Saturday games against the spread.

Odds via opening lines at Odds Shark

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Most Exciting Head-to-Head Match-Ups in CFB This Weekend

With 22 players running around in all directions, it's often hard in football to key on individual players or matchups unless they involve the person with the ball. But how certain players line up and deal with the opponent on the other side of the field can lead to a big offensive play or a huge stop on defense.

This weekend's college football games feature plenty of great team matchups, as well as a handful of head-to-head clashes that are worth highlighting. They feature some of the best skill players, defenders and blockers in the country, ones who may face their biggest test of the season during Week 11.

Take a look at our examination of the best head-to-head battles to watch for during Saturday's action-packed lineup.

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Why Myles Garrett Is Better Than Jadeveon Clowney Was as a Freshman

Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett is having an incredible freshman season for the Aggies, breaking an SEC freshman record formerly held by Jadeveon Clowney for sacks in a season. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder explains why he thinks Garrett is better then Clowney was as a freshman.

How good can Garrett be?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Behind the Auburn Tradition of Rolling Toomer's Corner

After an Auburn win, you can find the streets filled with fans with toilet paper in hand, ready to roll. Rolling Toomer's Corner is one of the most famous traditions in the SEC. Watch as we find out the roots of this tradition.

A special thanks to the Ideas United group for all their hard work on this piece.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. 

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Florida State Football: Star Freshmen Hold Key to Seminoles Repeating

Going into the 2014 season, the view of Florida State's offense was that it would be led by a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who would drop back to pass behind a senior-laden offensive line and throw to a senior receiver (Rashad Greene) or senior tight end (Nick O'Leary). And that Jameis Winston would hand off to a senior tailback (Karlos Williams).

But even on an offense that starts seven seniors, it's been three true freshmen who have helped make the offense move the chains and put points on the scoreboard—and the reason why FSU is in position to repeat as national champion.

Tailback Dalvin Cook and wide receivers Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane have been essential pieces of a Seminoles offense that is 14th in scoring offense (38.4 points per game) in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

"They need to emerge for a bunch of reasons: One, to give quality rest behind your experienced guys," FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "Two, to provide those explosive plays when they have that kind of athleticism. And three, those guys are emerging into big-time players when you give them more and more reps."

Cook, Rudolph and Lane accounted for 28 second-half points in FSU's 42-31 comeback win over Louisville last week.

Let's take a look at the three true freshmen and their contributions so far in 2014:


Dalvin Cook

Stats: 68 carries, 380 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Analysis: A 5-star prospect from Miami who was Florida's Mr. Football in 2013, Cook is second on the team in rushes, rushing yards and rushing TDs. He had TD runs against The Citadel and at North Carolina State but had a breakout game on Oct. 11 at Syracuse.

With senior Karlos Williams (ankle) out for the game, sophomore Mario Pender got the start and had a pair of first-half TDs against the Orange. But then Pender went down with an ankle injury, and Fisher kept handing it off to Cook. He had 23 carries for 122 yards and a seven-yard touchdown vs. Syracuse.

Cook struggled against Notre Dame, with 12 carries for 20 yards, but he used the bye week to rest up and was effective against a Louisville defense that at the time had the nation's No. 1 rushing defense. Cook ripped off TD runs of 40 and 38 yards vs. Louisville, finishing with 110 rushing yards and four crucial receptions for 40 yards.

What's to come: Fisher is pleased with the improving ground game, and Pender appears to be healed now, so the backfield is crowded with three tailbacks. But expect Cook to get plenty of carries. And in 2015, Williams will have graduated, and Cook and Pender will provide a strong 1-2 punch.


Travis Rudolph

Stats: 19 receptions, 308 yards, 3 touchdowns.

Analysis:A 5-star prospect from West Palm Beach, Florida, Rudolph had a leg injury that slowed him over the summer, but he is healthy now and has three touchdown receptions in his last four games. He has just 19 receptions, fourth on the team, but all of them have come in the last five games.

Rudolph put together back-to-back six-catch games in wins over Syracuse and Notre Dame. He broke free in the secondary for an all-too-easy 68-yard touchdown pass from Jameis Winston vs. Louisville.

What's to come: FSU has found the complement to Greene by using him in three-receiver sets with Bobo Wilson and Rudolph. Greene is a senior and will be a huge loss. But 2015 looks good with Wilson and Rudolph anchoring the receiving corps.


Ermon Lane

Stats: 7 receptions, 165 yards, 1 touchdown.

Analysis:A 5-star prospect from Homestead, Florida, Lane has had trouble getting playing time in a crowded receiving corps. But he has played in every game and had two catches for 70 yards in a win over Wake Forest on Oct. 4.

Lane had a quiet few games before grabbing a fourth-quarter pass from Winston against Louisville and turning upfield for a 47-yard touchdown. 

What's to come: At 6'3'', Lane is FSU's tallest receiver (Isaiah Jones is 6'4'' but is academically ineligible in 2014). Lane is fast and a good over-the-middle target. He will continue to use his height to his advantage against smaller defensive backs and should have a productive season that could launch him into 2015, when he will also see more playing time with the graduation of Greene.


Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report, all quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bob on Twitter. All stats are courtesy of All recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

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Why Tim Tebow Is the Perfect Comparison for Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott has been opening eyes with his electrifying play this season for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. With the long bruising runs, the big frame and the No. 15 across his chest, it's hard not to see the resemblance to Tim Tebow. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down the film to show some of the similarities between the two big signal-callers. 

Will Prescott follow in Tebow's footsteps and win the Heisman?

Check out the video and let us know! 

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USC Uses Bye Week to Heal Wounds, Prepare for Final Push

Fate—and the Pac-12 Conference's schedule-makers—dealt USC football a favorable hand with the second of the Trojans' two bye weeks falling late in the season.

"The bye probably couldn't come at a better time," head coach Steve Sarkisian said on his weekly conference call Sunday. "We need to get healthy."

It's no secret that USC is operating at a numbers disadvantage. Fewer than 50 scholarship players made the trips to Utah and Washington State in the last two weeks as a season-long war of attrition takes its toll on a roster already depleted by three years of NCAA sanctions.

With no competition until Cal comes to town on Nov. 13, Sarkisian gave the team the week off from practice, though the Trojans will take to the weight room. On-field workouts resume Saturday.

"We're a team that has been in some really emotional games, some very physical games [and] I think we need a break," Sarkisian said. "This gives us a great opportunity to focus on our academics. This gives us a great opportunity to focus on our rehab."

Indeed, the extra time off should help players recently returning from injury get closer to 100 percent, including safety Gerald Bowman and wide receiver George Farmer—both missed the Oct. 25 loss at Utah.

"The other guys who've been out, I think can get healthy by the time we play Cal," Sarkisian said.

That group includes linebacker J.R. Tavai, wide receiver Ajene Harris and fullback Soma Vainuku.

Linebacker-safety hybrid Su'a Cravens is the latest Trojan to sustain an injury that will be nursed over the bye week.

In a hold-your-breath moment for the team, Cravens came out of USC's 44-17 rout of Washington State last Saturday with a knee injury.

"Su'a 's a tough kid, he's a good football player and he wouldn't come out of the game unless he felt like he couldn't play," Sarkisian said.

"Good football player" is a modest description considering Cravens' contributions to the USC defense. He has arguably been one of the Trojans' two best performers along with defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

Cravens has racked up four sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions—one of which went for a touchdown.

It's no wonder Sarkisian called him "unbelievably valuable."

The good news for USC is that Sarkisian said Cravens' MRI revealed "nothing structurally wrong."

"Now, how quickly he can come back from this, we'll see," the coach added. "We're going to do everything in our power and I know he's going to do everything in his power to get as healthy as he can get for next Thursday night when we play Cal."

Cravens tweeted an update Sunday, which suggests the dynamic playmaker will be back in the lineup for the Trojans' critical stretch run:

Cravens' presence will be vital to USC's final push. His ability to either drop back into pass coverage against Cal's multiple-WR sets or pressure quarterback Jared Goff is a unique commodity.

Likewise, Cravens can operate as a spy against mobile quarterbacks such as UCLA's Brett Hundley and Notre Dame's Everett.

"Every week you get something new," Sarkisian said. "You get a new challenge, a different scheme. ... Su'a is a primary example [of adjusting for changes]. One week he can play the run, second week he can be a blitzer coming off the week and the next week he's in a nickel role covering receivers."

If there's any time for USC to have one of its most versatile players back in the lineup, it's this three-game stretch.

USC remains in the hunt for the South Division's berth in the Pac-12 Championship Game but must win its final two conference games to have any chance. The third and final of the Trojans' regular-season contests has no bearing on the league title race, but facing rival Notre Dame is motivation all its own.


Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited. Statistics courtesy of

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College Football Week 11 Predictions: Picking Top-25 Games Against the Spread

Week 11 has a chance to be the best week of the college football season—and that includes the chaos-filled Week 6.

Six games this weekend will pit teams from the College Football Playoff Top 20 against one another, including five between teams in the Top 16 and two between teams in the Top 10.

Last week, we saw our first quote-unquote "elimination game" of the CFP era when Auburn beat Ole Miss 35-31 in Oxford. This week, we will see "elimination games" Nos. 2, 3 and 4.

I got off to an OK start with my against-the-spread picks after subbing in for Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer last week, finishing with a 9-7 record. I am still seething about what happened in the Florida State-Louisville game, which appeared to be a lock in the first half, but I knew what I was getting into when I picked it.

C'est la handicapping.


All spreads courtesy of Odds Shark unless noted otherwise.

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10 Biggest Questions Facing Top 25 Teams Heading into Week 11

Well, this is it. This is the weekend college football fans have been looking forward to for months on end. Results aside, the hype is about as good as it gets. 

There are six games between Top 25 teams, two of which feature two Top 10 teams. From Alabama to Michigan State, from Oregon to TCU and Notre Dame, there's so much on the line for teams eyeing what basically boils down to two playoff spots. 

The two undefeated teams atop the playoff rankings, Mississippi State and Florida State, play home games against UT-Martin and Virginia, respectively. So, yeah, they're not exactly in the headlines.

Otherwise, there's a lot going on. 

Which storylines are the most important heading into Week 11? The answers are in the following slides. 

The only criterion here is that one of the teams involved has to rank in either the Associated Press poll or the Amway coaches poll.

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The 5 Most Telling Stats for the Miami Hurricanes This Season

The Miami Hurricanes have already clinched bowl eligibility, one simple step in continuing their trek toward perennial relevance once again.

However, taking a close look at a handful of stats provides clear reasoning for why Al Golden's team has fallen from Coastal Division contention and out of favor among many fans.

When Miami wins, it emits the appearance of a program legitimately on the rise. But when the 'Canes fall, the fingers begin incessantly pointing and obnoxious banners start flying.

Some numbers may lie, but these don't.

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Mike Leach Confuses Ankles with Legs While Explaining Connor Halliday Injury

Mike Leach tried to channel his inner Dr. House during a press conference Monday, but he struggled mightily in his explanation of the injury Connor Halliday had sustained against Oregon State.

The Washington State football coach attempted to clear up the confusion surrounding his quarterback’s season-ending injury—specifically, whether Halliday had broken his leg or his ankle while playing the Beavers.

Somehow, Leach's explanation made things even muddier, as he appears to believe Halliday’s leg bones are part of his ankle.

Deadspin’s Kevin Draper spotted a Comcast SportsNet video of the confusing press conference. Leach first stated that Halliday had broken his ankle, then elaborated that Halliday had broken his "whole ankle."

"Well it’s pretty much out there," Leach said. "He broke his ankle. ... You can go read that report and then go ahead and ask that guy, and then whatever you draw from that, that would be great. ... The whole ankle."

Despite this exacting breakdown, reporters continued asking for clarification. Some had heard that Halliday had broken the tibia and fibula in his leg—bones Leach maintained were part of the ankle.

"Well, the tibula [sic] and the fibula are in the ankle, you see. Here, let me show you," Leach said, flinging his leg onto the conference table. "Big bone, little bone. Both of them."

In Leach’s mind, Halliday’s injury is a high ankle break involving those long shoots of marrow connecting the lower ankle and the knee. Some would call it a leg, but the coach prefers the "tibula," which is like the tibia but ankle-ier.

The Washington State coach has already blessed the college football world with a thesis on the downfall of humanity due to Internet dating this year. We can only sit back and eagerly await his thoughts on fire.

Is it rapid oxidation or just angry air?


Follow Dan on Twitter for more sports and pop culture filigree.

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Insider Buzz: 2015 Recruits Atop Georgia's Updated Big Board

After the Georgia Bulldogs' embarrassing loss to the Florida Gators, we turn our attention to Georgia's recruiting trail.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder and 247Sports Recruiting Analyst Rusty Mansell discuss the Bulldogs' game plan for their 2015 recruiting class. 

Which recruits do you think Georgia will get?

Watch the video and let us know! 

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Is 2015 DT Hjalte Froholdt the Next Bjoern Werner?

Around five years ago, Hjalte Froholdt was introduced to the game of football in Denmark on a grass field that hadn't been cut in months. Today, he's one of the nation's top prep defensive linemen and bound for Arkansas next fall.

His journey from the Scandinavian Peninsula to big-time college football eerily mirrors that of German-born Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Bjoern Werner.

Hjalte, which is pronounced YELL-da, recalls that first practice was with "three or four players." Despite not having access to many resources, there were benefits of having to learn the game at warp speed.

"We put on some way oversized equipment because their club didn't have anything else," Froholdt told Bleacher Report. "We got taught the fundamentals because we had some great coaches. We pretty much were taught everything because it wasn't like you just play offensive line or defensive line. Over there, you play everything because you had to play where you were needed."

Froholdt didn't start playing football until he was 12, but it didn't take long for him to develop dreams of coming to play in America as a foreign exchange student.  By the time he was a sophomore, he was granted the opportunity to come to the United States for school and football.

He landed at Harding High School in football-crazy Warren, Ohio.  He figured that playing sports would help ease his transition and help him make friends, and he hoped to kick-start his career by earning reps on the junior varsity squad.  

Instead, by the sixth game of the season, Froholdt had locked down the starting jobs at tight end, defensive end and as the team's punter. It was at that point that he realized playing football in college was a realistic possibility.

"Halfway through the season, my coaches told me that I would probably have a bright future ahead of me in this sport," Froholdt said. "I think that was like around the sixth game. That's when a few college coaches starting contacting me and wanting to know who I was."

While his success brought the attention of colleges, another curveball was on the horizon after his sophomore season.

A rule preventing exchange students from competing in sports for two consecutive seasons in the same state meant Froholdt had to head back home to Denmark for his junior season.

Instead of sitting idle for a year, Hjalte got back to his roots in his home country.

"I was very fortunate because when I came back home to Denmark, we moved to a bigger city so that I could play with the best team in Denmark," Froholdt said. "I played with the seniors this past year—seniors meaning 19- to 25-year-olds pretty much. So I played with them and the senior national team and started as a defensive tackle. We played against Austria, France and Sweden."

After a successful stint back home, Froholdt—who committed to Arkansas in December of 2013 over offers from Alabama, Florida State, Michigan and Ohio State among others—had his sights set on a return to the U.S. for his senior season.

His search for a new home led him to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, a budding prep powerhouse currently playing its second season of high school football. 

Ascenders head coach Chris Weinke—a former NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner—knew exactly what he was getting when the 6'4", 282-pounder arrived on campus in the summer.

"The initial reaction is that he's a physical specimen," Weinke said. "We were well aware of him and his commitment to Arkansas, so we were excited about him. I think the one thing we saw with him early on is that we still thought there was an upside to him."

Given that this is only his second year playing competitive football in the U.S., one would assume that Froholdt would be a raw talent whose technique might hold him back—especially in one of the most talent-laden hotbeds in the country, just south of the Tampa area.

"One of the things we felt that he was gifted athletically," Weinke said. "We didn't necessarily know that he was fundamentally sound. We felt like if he got him in this structure and continued to coach him up, he could become an impact player."

It hasn't taken long for Weinke's theory has come to fruition.

Despite a thumb injury suffered in the first game of the season that has caused him to miss one game—coincidentally, the only loss of the season for IMG—and play with a club on his hand, Froholdt has turned in a strong season through eight games.

He's been a disruptive force in the middle of the Ascenders defense, having racked up 55 tackles—including 12 for loss—with seven sacks and two forced fumbles through nine games, according to MaxPreps

Given that Werner—who played only two years of prep football before heading to Florida State—had a similar journey and played along the defensive line in college, his example is the blueprint for Froholdt.

"Of course, he's an inspiration for me because he showed that it really doesn't matter where you are from if you have the ability and the work ethic and you are willing to put everything you have into it, then you will get success," Froholdt said. 

Weinke—a former Seminole great who is familiar with Werner from following the 'Noles program in recent years—said that his star pupil and the current Colts star share certain traits on the field, with one noticeable difference.

"I think when you look at their body types, Hjalte is a bigger, thicker guy," Weinke said. "Obviously, Bjoern is going to make his money coming off the edge. I think Hjalte can do that, but he's got more of a body type to play inside. They are similar in their work ethic and approach in how they don't take a play off."

With his high school career winding down to its close, Froholdt is excited to continue his career in Fayetteville, in arguably the toughest division in college football. 

While Froholdt is set to enter the SEC perhaps lighter on playing experience in comparison to his peers, Weinke believes he has all the necessary tools to become an impact player at Arkansas.

"He causes havoc," Weinke said. "He has an outstanding work ethic. He's one of the leaders on our team. I truly believe he will be an impact player at the next level. He's big, strong and quick. He has a high football IQ. He's been a great leader on our defense. We've been obviously very fortunate to have him on our football team."


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

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