NCAA Football News

Where FSU Turns After Hometown 4-Star D'Anfernee McGriff Committed to Auburn

Florida State fell short in its pursuit of hometown talent D'Anfernee McGriff despite multiple campus visits in recent months. The 4-star offensive playmaker committed to Auburn on Tuesday afternoon during an announcement ceremony at Leon High School in Tallahassee:

McGriff earned the Tallahassee Charlie Ward Offensive Player of the Year Award in 2013, leading the Leon attack in a variety of facets. He spent significant time at quarterback, passing for 772 yards and two touchdowns on 130 attempts, per MaxPreps.

His most impressive production occurred on the ground. McGriff rushed for 2,025 yards and 29 scores in 12 games, including four 200-plus yard efforts in the final five contests of the season.

The 6'1", 230-pound prospect emerged as a premier offensive threat, capable of contributing to an offensive backfield in a variety of ways. He is likely to end up at running back in college and is rated No. 13 nationally at the position in 247Sports' composite rankings.

McGriff has been clocked at 4.34 seconds in the 40-yard dash, according to 247Sports. His physical prowess and game production earned him an avalanche of scholarship offers after his junior campaign.

Despite holding a major advantage in proximity, the Seminoles had to deal with several SEC contenders. Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Auburn each emerged as serious threats leading up to his pledge to the Tigers.

Florida State has seen fellow national title contenders claim key commitments from its top targets in recent weeks. Alabama picked up a trio of players with Seminoles offers last weekend, including a pair of Sunshine State prospects.

Minkah Fitzpatrick, a 5-star cornerback from New Jersey, committed to the Crimson Tide on Saturday two months after visiting Tallahassee. So did wide receiver Calvin Ridley and safety Shawn Burgess-Becker, 4-star teammates in Pompano Beach, Fla. who were more likely to land in Miami if they remained in Florida for college.

Auburn edged Florida State for a commitment from running back Kerryon Johnson earlier this month. Both programs were finalists for the 5-star Alabama athlete.

The Seminoles are looking for some recruiting momentum after missing out on a series of key prospects. Head coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff have landed just one 2015 pledge since Feb. 22, exactly two months ago.

Though Florida State has hosted several recruits during the span—including McGriff—commitments have been hard to come by. David Robbins, a 3-star offensive guard from Maryland, joined the class during the first weekend of April.

The Seminoles have assembled a strong class with nine pledges. It rates seventh nationally in 247Sports' composite rankings.

Florida State's largest 2015 need right now is at offensive skill positions, particularly after whiffing on various players who could've quickly contributed to the Seminoles attack. Fisher has several other targets lined up.

Orlando running back Jacques Patrick is a primary prospect who visited Tallahassee last Month. Georgia target Taj Griffin, rated No. 1 nationally among all-purpose backs in 247Sports' composite rankings, still has the Seminoles on his radar.

Running backs Johnny Frasier (Princeton, N.C.) and Eric Swinney (Tyrone, Ga.) also hold Florida State offers. The Seminoles are also looking for help at receiver, where in-state targets Deon Cain (Tampa) and Da'Vante Phillips (Miami) could provide solutions.

The team hopes to avoid losing another local prospect when Tallahassee prospect John Burt eventually announces his decision. The 4-star receiver views Texas as a favorite and also has Auburn among his top choices.

Florida State struck out with a premier prospect in its backyard on Tuesday. The Seminoles now aim to turn things around in order to end a momentary recruiting lull.

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D'Anfernee McGriff to Auburn: Tigers Land 4-Star ATH Prospect

D'Anfernee McGriff, a 4-star athlete from Tallahassee's Leon High School, made his commitment official on Tuesday afternoon, deciding to play for the Auburn Tigers as part of their 2015 recruiting class.

Michael Langston of Rivals.com confirmed the news on Twitter following McGriff's announcement:

Justin Hokanson of Rivals.com talks more about the decision:

The 6'1", 230-pounder is listed as both a running back and dual-threat quarterback. While there's no denying his talent as a ball-carrier, his passion over the last several seasons in high school has been playing behind center and getting the job done with both his legs and arm.

Before the announcement, McGriff spoke fondly of the program Gus Malzahn has built in Auburn. Though the Tigers emerged just recently in the recruiting process, McGriff knew the fit would be a great one as he might have a chance to play quarterback, per Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports (subscription required):

"I like everything they do," McGriff said. "I feel like I'll go in and fit in perfectly with what they do. ... That stuck out—the way they use their quarterback in the read option with the QB running—and that's what I like."

McGriff's commitment looked all but solidified before he ever stepped to the podium, with Florida State and Florida holding onto a glimmer of hope, as War Eagle Recruiting noted: 

Michael Langston of Rivals also gave his prediction on where the prized recruit would go:

Along with the chance to play quarterback, McGriff also comes to a program with a need at the position after the 2014 season. With Nick Marshall playing out his senior campaign this fall, McGriff could be the heir apparent.

With the exact same height and 20 more pounds on Marshall following his junior season in high school, McGriff could grow into a dynamic signal-caller for the Tigers.

He possesses a good arm. He also runs a 4.34 40-yard dash, so it's clear that McGriff has enough speed to be a running quarterback or tailback who could help continue Auburn's success in the SEC.

Getting the Tallahassee native's commitment is a huge one for the Tigers because of his potential to be a true game-changer. As a dynamic athlete with raw talent, McGriff should be ready to line up at two different skill positions, making him a difference-maker for Auburn in the coming seasons.

 

*All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

 

Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter:

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4-Star RB D'Anfernee McGriff Commits to Auburn, Will Get Chance at QB for Tigers

The No. 13 running back of the 2015 class, D'Anfernee McGriff, has committed to the Auburn Tigers. This is a huge get for Gus Malzahn, who continues to land top athletic talent.

The 6'1", 230-pound athlete has the potential to play anywhere on the field, but look for him to land at the quarterback position when he arrives on campus and play the Nick Marshall role for the Tigers. Check out the video above to see Michael Felder break down what McGriff means to the Auburn Tigers.

 

Highlights courtesy XOS Digital. All rankings from 247 Sports Composite.

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USC Football: How Many More Offensive Linemen Will USC Sign After Edoga Pledge?

The Trojans received some very welcome news yesterday when Scout.com 4-star offensive lineman Chuma Edoga gave his verbal pledge to come west and ply his trade for the men of Troy.

A massive lineman at 6'4", 277 pounds, Edoga made up his mind to USC after a recent visit to the campus.

According to Scout.com's Chad Simmons (subscription required), Edoga had a great time at USC. "When I took my visit, I knew that is where I wanted to go," said Edoga. "I loved the feeling I had there during my visit and it felt right on campus and around the coaches."

While the news of Edoga's verbal is great for the class of 2015, it does beg the question of how many more offensive linemen the Trojans will target in this class.

As of this writing, USC has 11 scholarship linemen with three (Giovanni Di Paolo, Aundrey Walker and Nathan Guertler) of those being seniors in 2014.

Of the remaining eight linemen on the roster, all except Max Tuerk—who is a junior—are either redshirt sophomores or freshmen.

Also, true freshmen offensive linemen Damien Mama, Viane Talamaivao and Chris Brown will all be for the fall which gives the Trojans 11 "big uglies" heading into the 2014 season.

Assuming that Edoga follows through on his pledge, that will give USC 12 scholarship offensive linemen for the following year, so how many more should the Trojans sign for the 2015 class?

In reviewing the list of Trojans offers, Scout.com shows that eight linemen, in addition to Edoga, hold offers from USC, and they are pretty much split between guards and tackles.

When it comes to college football rosters, the quantity of offensive linemen varies depending on what kind of offense a team runs.

According to SB Nation.com's Ian Boyd, a pro style offense (even one the employs a "hurry-up" scheme, I assume) will need 14-18 linemen, and since USC will be running more plays, you can assume that the Trojans will need to rely on a rotation that features more linemen.

If one assumes that the Trojans will need upward of 18 offensive linemen, then Sark and the recruiting crew still have a lot of work to do by the time letter of intent signing day arrives in February.

And let's not forget that injuries and/or insufficient grades may require even more attention to be paid to this unit going forward.

Can USC deliver at least another four or five O-linemen in this class?

It is difficult to say, but at least this year—for the first time since the class of 2011—they will have a full complement to give out.

And that is a very good thing because they may need to use a large portion of those "schollies" on more linemen for the offense.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @RickMcMahan

 

 

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UCLA Football: 5 Unanswered Questions Heading into the Spring Game

An experienced and talented roster has UCLA football striving for lofty goals in 2014. Head coach Jim Mora enters his third season at UCLA with the Pac-12's most veteran starting lineup, led by Heisman Trophy contender and quarterback Brett Hundley. 

But as the Bruins finish the first phase of an expectation-filled year, they still face some burning questions that must be addressed if they are to meet their ambitious bar.

Answers to some of those more significant questions should be somewhat more clear after Saturday, when UCLA concludes its spring practice season at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.

 

Statistics compiled via CFBStats.com. Recruiting rankings and information culled from 247Sports.com

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The Most Impressive Freshman Performances in Spring Games so Far

Spring games—and, really, spring camp in general—is less about the older, proven players and more about the younger, still-learning prospects on a roster.

The youngest, most-in-need-of-learning of those prospects are the true freshman early enrollees—players who have graduated early from high school to join the program before spring term and begin the long process of learning the system.

This is often met with mixed results. Early enrollees have a long ways to go, especially at the more cerebral positions like quarterback and safety. However, even at more physical positions like defensive end, the transition from high school to college is substantial and requires a decent learning curve.

Some players throw this curve, however, and look game-ready by the time spring camp closes. Perhaps stoked by the energy of playing on a real college field, before an almost-real college crowd, for the first time in their careers, they end spring workouts with an exhibition of their improvement and make a loud statement prior to summer.

And no true freshmen have done better in their spring games—at least so far—than these ones.

 

Note: Again, to be clear, this list only includes true freshman early enrollees. No redshirt freshmen or JUCO transfers were included.

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Charlie Strong Is Just Being Realistic Saying Texas Won't Play for Title in 2014

It remains to be seen how Charlie Strong will do in year one as Texas' head coach, but there's no denying he's good at one thing: pouring an ice-cold bucket of water on high expectations. 

Via Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman, Strong downplayed the Longhorns' chances of playing for a national title in 2014-15 during a promotional tour stop (of all things) in Fort Worth: 

We have everything available, and I don’t know why we can’t be successful. There’s no reason for us not to be. Now, I can’t tell you how soon it’s going to be. Don’t hold me to that. Don’t say, 'Ooh, Coach said next year we’ll be in the national…' We will not be in the national championship game.

Before going any further, Strong later clarified his comments during an interview with 105.3 The Fan in Dallas.

We still have a long ways to go now. We still have a lot of work. You look at it, having the chance to get through spring ball. You look at it, just talent-wise with what we have right now. It’s a lot of work. To get to that game, you have to have a really good football team, and I just don’t know how good we are right now.

That's a reasonable statement, one that didn't have to be made at all. Strong is being realistic. Texas hasn't performed to expectations since 2009. Heading into this season, the Horns have important question marks at quarterback and offensive line. 

Above all else, Strong is attempting to change a culture in Austin 16 years in the making. That's hard, if not impossible, to do instantly. Revisionist history says that Nick Saban never struggled at Alabama, but he went 7-6 in his first year (2007), losing at home to Louisiana-Monroe. 

Saban's "Process" hadn't paid dividends yet. It takes time. 

As Texas cornerback Quandre Diggs, who opted to return for his senior season, noted after Saturday's spring game, "You’ve had no choice but to buy in [with Strong] or leave" (h/t Chuck Carlton of The Dallas Morning News).

Carlton also tweeted an excellent point. Strong is a disciple of former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz, and few coaches were better at downplaying expectations to the masses than Holtz. 

Strong's comments shouldn't be viewed as a negative, but the problem with the "what have you done for me lately?" mentality is that it's morphed into "what have you done for me today?" As wrong as that is, it has been reinforced by coaches like Auburn's Gus Malzahn, who took the Tigers to the BCS National Championship Game in year one last season. That's noted by Chase Goodbread of NFL.com: 

Will the Horns make a national championship appearance in 2014? Strong told The Fan that he doesn't know because he doesn't have expectations. Fans and administrators do, though. At $5 million a year, Strong is going to have to get there sooner rather than later. 

But this is year one for Strong. He was hired because he's considered one of the best coaches in the country. Like every coach, he deserves time to confirm that. Brown didn't win a national championship until year eight and with one of the best players in the country, Vince Young. It's not that the Horns weren't good before 2005, but other factors, like Oklahoma's national power streak, played a role as well. 

In short, it's hard getting to the national championship, but some programs are better equipped to do it than others. Texas is one of those programs, and Strong said as much. 

But there's nothing wrong with calling it like you see it. 

 

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

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Will Brutal 2014 Schedule Doom Bret Bielema, Arkansas?

After a 3-9 season and a nine-game losing streak to close the season, the honeymoon is over in Fayetteville. Head coach Bret Bielema's second season as the head coach of Arkansas means that it's time for the Hogs to get back to a competitive level in the SEC West.

There's a problem, though: That's a steep hill that's only getting steeper in 2014.

Arkansas has two things working against it this season: a brutal schedule and the lower-tier SEC West teams getting significantly better.

Let's start with the schedule.

The Hogs open the season on the road against defending SEC champ Auburn in one of the biggest games of opening weekend. That won't be easy for the Hogs, especially since Auburn's offense looks like it has added the extra dimension of an intermediate passing game based on quarterback Nick Marshall's spring game performance.

Arkansas' cross-division rivalry shifts from South Carolina to Missouri in 2014. That may have seemed like a blessing this time last year, but all the Tigers have done since then is win the SEC East and come within a quarter of winning the SEC title. That game is at Missouri at the end of the season, when depth—something Arkansas lacks—is usually of utmost importance.

It's rotating cross-division rivalry games is in Little Rock against Georgia. While the jury is still out on the Bulldogs, particularly because of their defense, they have all of the pieces and the schedule to make a run at a national title.

Even if they don't, Arkansas gets them fresh off a visit from Alabama. Over the last three seasons, SEC opponents are 7-11 the week following playing Alabama, with only three of those wins being against SEC competition. Teams are worn out after playing the Crimson Tide, which makes them ripe for the picking the following week.

What's more is that the lower-tier teams in the SEC West—Mississippi State and Ole Miss—are loaded with returning talent with 16 and 15 returning starters, according to Phil Steele, respectively. 

Sure, Arkansas will benefit from a healthy quarterback in Brandon Allen, another year of experience from running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams and a defense that should be more consistent with new coordinator Robb Smith and senior defensive end Trey Flowers. 

But the lower-tier SEC West teams should take leaps forward, which means that unless Arkansas catches lightning in a bottle with a few key players, the gap it's facing at the bottom of the division is actually widening.

Toss in a tough road game against Texas Tech in Week 3, and Arkansas' schedule is simply brutal. That will spell doom for the Hogs, even if they do improve and become more consistent in 2014.

Another 3-9 or 4-8 season is likely for these Razorbacks based on the current landscape of the division. That won't put Bielema's job in jeopardy by any means, but it will make 2015 quite interesting in Northwest Arkansas.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. 


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Where Mark Richt, Georgia Turn After in-State 5-Star OT Edoga Commits to USC

Georgia standout Chuma Edoga announced Monday evening that he intends to sign with USC next February. His Twitter declaration left fellow finalists Tennessee, Texas A&M, Stanford and the in-state Bulldogs searching for other options:

The 5-star offensive tackle from McEachern High School (Powder Springs, Ga.) spent time in Athens earlier this month, attending the Georgia spring game on April 12. Less than two weeks later, Edoga decided he'd rather play college football on the other side of the country.

It's a tough development to take for the Bulldogs, who extended an offer to Edoga last July. At the time, he wasn't coy about his feelings toward the team.

"Right now I'm putting Georgia at the top. They are my top school," he told Rivals.com reporter Jake Rowe. "Georgia has been one of my favorite schools growing up so I've always wanted to get an offer there so that I can maybe play there in the future."

Offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon and Oklahoma arrived last fall. USC extended a scholarship in February.

Despite established familiarity with the Bulldogs, an April visit to Southern California during spring break was enough to help sway his collegiate outlook.

"The most important factor was getting the best of both worlds in academics and athletics. I think USC is very strong in both areas," Edoga told Rivals.com after his commitment. "I loved the academic tour at USC. I want to study Aero Astronautical Engineering so I can design planes."

Georgia, a squad that invested significant resources into recruiting the 6'4", 276-pound lineman, could still receive an official visit from Edoga, but he maintains that USC will be hard to beat.

"I’m going to still take my visits, but it will probably take a lot to swing me to another school," he told Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Michael Carvell. "I’ll probably take all five of my official visits during the fall.”

Georgia head coach Mark Richt and his staff may not be entirely out of the running for Edoga just yet, but it's an appropriate time to turn to contingency plans at the tackle position. After missing out on one of the country's premier front-line bookends, the Bulldogs must come up with an answer.

Edoga, rated No. 4 nationally among offensive tackles in 247Sports' composite rankings, is the second 5-star Peach State blocker who plans to bolt for an opportunity elsewhere. Mitch Hyatt, ranked No. 2 at tackle and No. 5 overall in this class, committed to Clemson in February.

Both linemen are listed as top-five talents in Georgia this year. Athlete Terry Godwin—the lone Bulldogs commit from the state's top 10 prospects—has visited Alabama twice this month.

Georgia is packed with 2015 talent, so it's imperative for Richt to secure in-state commitments. The loss of a player like Edoga limits options when it comes to targeting upper-echelon players.

"This is up there with the best classes I’ve seen in Georgia," Daryl Jones, the Bulldogs' director of on-campus recruiting, told Bleacher Report earlier this month. "Our recruiting home base is strong."

Georgia currently holds seven commitments in its 2015 class, including four composite 4-star recruits. The Bulldogs have done a nice job addressing the defensive line but remain in search of prospects along the offensive front.

Richt signed a slew of intriguing offensive linemen in the 2014 class—headlined by 4-star Atlanta tackle Kendall Baker—but Georgia is in serious need of significant talent on the depth chart for next season.

The Bulldogs gained a pledge from promising junior college tackle DeVondre Seymour in February. The former North Gwinnett High School standout initially signed with Georgia in 2013.

Despite whiffing on the state's top two offensive linemen, several options remain in play for Georgia.

Offensive tackle Kaleb Kim (Hoschton, Ga.) is rated a composite 4-star prospect. The Bulldogs have been in the mix for his commitment throughout the year, but South Carolina and Auburn have also made inroads.

Massive Atlanta product Mike Horton picked up an offer this week. The 3-star tackle obviously received a bump on Georgia's recruiting board after Edoga's decision.

The team could also be tempted to explore options with fellow Atlanta tackles Malik Mackey and Sage Hardin, who've yet to receive an offer from the Bulldogs. Beyond state borders, Georgia will continue to keep tabs on 4-star offensive linemen Tyler Carr (Gadsden, Ala.) and Zack Bailey (Summerville, S.C.).

Edoga is the latest top-tier Georgia target seemingly headed beyond state borders. Richt and the Bulldogs are entering a pivotal stretch of this cycle, as the team attempts to reel in its first in-state commitment since March.

The coming months will be key if Georgia aims to capitalize and maximize on an outstanding crop of homegrown players. Addressing the offensive line could kick-start the process.

 

Recruit information and rankings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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Big Ten Network Releases Schedule for 2014 Prime-Time Football Games

The Big Ten Network released a six-game prime-time schedule for the upcoming season on Tuesday. It includes five conference tilts and one in-state nonconference battle between Cincinnati and Ohio State, according to Tom Dienhart of BTN.com.

Here is the full six-game schedule:

Rutgers, entering its first Big Ten season, is the only school that will host two prime-time games on the network, while Nebraska, no longer the league's newest member, is the only other school scheduled to play two prime-time games on the network.

The timing of the Maryland-Michigan State game is also of note. November night games had long been non grata in the Big Ten, but, as Dienhart writes, "this is a new era."

Ohio State will play a prime-time game against Illinois during November, albeit on ESPN or ABC instead of the Big Ten Network.

All in all, the Buckeyes are tied with Nebraska with four prime-time games scheduled in total. They will also play Virginia Tech on ESPN or ABC in September and Penn State on ESPN or ABC in October. Per Ari Wasserman of Cleveland.comthis is the first time Ohio Stadium will host three night games in one season.

The Huskers, in addition to the two Big Ten Network games listed above, will host Miami on ESPN or ABC in September and travel to Michigan State on ESPN or ABC during October.

The only schools that won't play a prime-time game this year are Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Purdue and Wisconsin.

 

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Pac-12 Network Running out of Time to Get on DirecTV

DirecTV just brought The Weather Channel to its knees. Will the Pac-12 follow suit and beg for forgiveness?

The Pac-12 Network is about to enter its third year of existence, yet there are no signs that it soon will be carried by DirecTV, one of the nation's top programming distributors—and the major one among sports fans. The two sides haven't even had any tangible discussions in 2014, so a resolution to the impasse is anything but imminent.

And that's very bad news for the Pac-12.

With the SEC Network about to enter the fray this August, the Pac-12 can ill afford being shut out of DirecTV for a third year and likely beyond. Should the SEC join the Big Ten to launch its network on DirecTV, it'll further cement Pac-12's status as an also-ran with its TV network further marginalized.

The biggest mistake the Pac-12 and its commissioner Larry Scott made was not to bring DirecTV into the fold when the network was launched in August 2012. And soon after the initial talks fell apart, the Pac-12 carried on a confrontational tactic that asked its fans to switch from DirecTV, with conference athletic directors leading the charge, including this one from Sandy Barbour:

The Weather Channel used the same playbook when it was dropped by DirecTV in January, taking out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal to taunt DirecTV. Scott should ask David Kenny, the CEO of TWC's parent company, how that worked out. Kenny finally got TWC back on DirecTV on April 9 by pledging to cut back on reality TV shows and issuing a humiliating apology.

Make no mistake: DirecTV is in no rush to make a deal with the Pac-12. It has already sustained whatever loss of subscribers it was going to be hit with over the past two years and is not at risk to lose a chunk more. It also needs to prioritize whom it needs to make a deal with in an increasingly crowded and expensive sports programming market.

With more than 20 million subscribers around the nation and nearly two million in its base in Southern California, DirecTV is currently embroiled in a spat with Time Warner Cable, which launched a new Dodgers channel this spring. All major carriers in SoCal so far have resisted Time Warner's fee demand of nearly $5 per subscriber and having the channel placed on the basic tier.

On a different front, DirecTV is actively in negotiations with the SEC Network ahead of its August launch. DirecTV has to seriously engage the SEC after its opening gambit was met with tremendous blowback from SEC fans, as well as the fact that the SEC Network is co-owned by ESPN, the most powerful entity in sports television.

The Pac-12, on the other hand, has no such clout. By deciding not to take on a partner, the conference left its network with no leverage whatsoever. And since the Pac-12 fanbase is not as rabid as SEC fans and the conference footprint contains six NFL franchises, massive fan defection from DirecTV just hasn't materialized. DirecTV remains the exclusive provider of the NFL Sunday Ticket through 2014.

Being shut out of DirecTV for two years has hurt the Pac-12's recruiting and branding, not just in football but also other sports, particularly men's basketball. This past March, a majority of the Pac-12's conference tournament games were available only to a fraction of the national audience, when every other major conference had every game on TV.

The endgame here isn't going to be pleasant for Scott, who must compromise way more than DirecTV would be willing. The Pac-12 needs to lower its demands and perhaps offer give-backs to other distributors that already carry the network.

Time is of the essence. Once DirecTV cuts a deal with the Dodgers and the SEC, there will be little to no room left for the Pac-12.

 

Follow on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru

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Troy Offensive Lineman Terrence Jones Squats 810 Pounds

It's spring, so that means college football weight rooms across the country are getting plenty of work. While heavy weights are the norm in Division 1 weight rooms, it'll be hard to find someone lifting more than Troy offensive lineman Terrence Jones. 

Watch as the senior from Huntsville, Ala., who is listed at 6'3", 320 pounds, squats 810 pounds during a recent training session. 

[Troy]

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10 Upsets That Would Ruin the 2014 College Football Season

College football is a game that thrives on unpredictability. You never quite know when a season-changing upset is going to pop up seemingly out of nowhere on an otherwise benign fall Saturday, altering the complexion of an entire year.

Upsets can be fun, sure. But they can also rob us of potentially special games between national powers that look oh-so-appealing on the schedule in late April and early May. Oh, sure, the games will be played regardless, but those upsets have a way of stealing meaning from potentially truly momentous Saturdays.

With the College Football Playoff entering its first season, more games will be meaningful, but there is always the chance of a major late-season upset keeping a national power out of the four-team field and taking some luster from the first playoff.

Here are 10 upsets that, as of now, would ruin the college football season. Please note that these aren’t predictions, and they aren’t meant to favor or slight one team or another: They’re viewed from a national point of view.

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The Unorthodox Journey of Swedish QB Recruit Kevin Dillman

The story of Kevin Dillman's football career isn't about Dillman himself, at least not entirely. Rather, it's about the people—the family, friends, coaches and teammates—who helped make it happen. 

Sure, there are facts about Dillman that are important, facts that have been plastered on sites like Sports Illustrated for yearsHe's 17 years old and recently committed to Nebraska for the class of 2015. The 6'4", 223-pound dual-threat quarterback is a 3-star prospect and considered one of the top 50 players in the state of Texas. As of April, 2014, he holds more than a dozen scholarship offers. The first, from UCLA under former head coach Rick Neuheisel, came when he was a freshman in high school. 

Born in Östersund and raised in Ystad, Sweden, Dillman moved to La Mirada, Calif., in 2011 as a 14-year-old—without his parents. In January, he relocated to Denton, Texas. Perhaps one day he could be the first known Swedish-born quarterback to start in a major college football game. 

Still, his journey is about more than him. 

It's about his parents, Steven and Carina Dillman, who are determined to raise their 17-year-old son from some 5,000 miles away. To a lesser degree, it's about the money they've spent—the family asked that the number not be released—to finance their son's dream of playing football. 

It's about the host families who agreed to open their doors to Kevin. First, it was Kenny and Nancy Meyer in La Mirada. In January, it was Peter and Yuki Dames in Denton, whose ties to Kevin go back to the moment he was born. 

It's about John Walsh, Mike Moschetti, Hampus Persson and the dozens of other coaches who have dedicated their time to developing Kevin as a quarterback. 

And, in 2003, it wasn't about a person at all. It was about an advertisement in an ICA, a Scandanavian grocery chain, that would eventually lead Kevin to Lincoln, Neb., where football isn't just a hobby.

It's a religion. 

 

Unfamiliar Territory

There was nothing overly specific that Dillman remembered about the moment at the ICA. There was nothing even particularly memorable about the poster itself beyond pictures of helmets and shoulder pads. All he knew is that one word piqued his interest:

"Football." 

Not football as the rest of the world knows it. American football. Even living in a country like Sweden, with Burger Kings and American movies without subtitles, this was new.  

“There’s no high school football in Sweden, just club sports," Dillman explained. "It goes from PeeWee, which is 13 years old and under, then under 15 years old, under 17 years old, under 19 years and seniors." 

Sports in general were not new for Kevin, however. An athlete his entire life, he played hockey and soccer long before picking up football. But, at nine years old, Kevin tried out to be a member of the Ytown Rockets, a club team in Ystad.

The initial results were mixed. 

"It definitely did not come naturally," he said. "It was a lot of new terminology. I had never even heard of it before."

That didn't prevent Dillman from trying different positions over the years, from defensive back to running back. Punting and kicking, however, was a different story. 

"It’s my weakest link," Dillman muttered.

Peter Dames, Dillman's host and so-called step-uncle, chimed in. “If you want to see something funny, watch Kevin kick." 

If there was any familiarity with football, it was with the equipment. As a former goalie for his little league hockey team, Dillman was used to being weighed down with gear. Even the first brutal clack of the football pads didn't bother him. 

That was a small miracle in a way. For most of Dillman's early football career, he was smaller than the older kids with whom he played. 

"He was the only kid on the team born in 1996 and he was practicing with kids born in 1992," Dillman's father said. "Being in that age group—he was nine and everyone else was around 12 or 13—there’s a pretty big difference in size. He always hung in there, but he got beat up pretty bad."

Dillman's age difference required a special agreement by the Swedish American Football Federation, part of the International Federation of American Football. 

"That’s how it has been," Dillman's father continued. "He’s always been two, three, four years younger. He learned how to play with the kids who were older, faster, stronger. Fortunately, he became pretty tall and strong himself."

By 2009, Dillman was competing in the Swedish National Championship with the Rockets' under-17 team. He was maturing physically and growing as a quarterback. Four years after he started playing football, he joined the Limhamn Griffins in Malmö, a city on the country's western coast. 

Getting there was a hike. Three days a week after school, Dillman took an hour's train ride from Ystad plus a 15-minute walk to the stadium. After returning home at around 10.30 p.m., he would finish his homework and repeat the process at 6:00 a.m. 

Since club football in Sweden is a small community relative to the United States, Dillman was familiar with several coaches. Among them were Hampus Persson, the Griffins' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and head coach Carl-Johan Haraldsson. Those coaches, according to Dillman and his father, were among those largely responsible for his son's development as a quarterback. 

Eventually, Kevin began representing Sweden's national under-17 team in various tournaments. In 2012, at the age of 15, Dillman competed with the under-19 age group of the IFAF World Championship in Austin, Texas. The results were less than ideal: A pair of losses to Canada and France before rebounding with a win over Panama. 

The tournaments were fun, but Dillman knew that if he wanted to get serious about football, he was going to have to come to the United States full time.  

 

Sacrifice for Sons

Steven Dillman had just come home from a 12-hour shift at Dormy, a department store for golf products, where he's worked as a store manager for the past five years. Such is the life of a middle-class working man: Sometimes, there are long hours. 

The Dillmans don't live a life of extravagance. A large chunk of the disposable income they do have, they spend on helping their two sons. There's Kevin, the athlete living overseas, and 21-year-old Timothy, an aspiring actor in Stockholm. 

When the conversation about Kevin's pilgrimage to America began four years ago, his father knew there would be a financial commitment. There would be flights back and forth for holidays, and documentation for immigration that needed to be notarized. If Kevin got hurt—he has a couple of times in the past few years—there would be medical bills to pay.  

Some of the money would end up being borrowed, but finances were the least of the concerns. Whatever it took for their youngest son to do what made him happy, that's what the family would do.  

Rather, the Dillmans were worried about the distance and length of their son's stay in America. 

The Swedish high school system is a three-year program, as opposed to four years in America. Instead of staying just one year in the States, however, Dillman wanted to do all four so he could improve as a football player.

“We talked to all our friends and family about Kevin only being 14 years old and leaving," his father said. "They all said he’s great at what he’s doing. And we knew this is what he really wanted to do. So he left. 

"And we let him."

It wasn't as though Dillman would be in another country by himself. It was arranged that he would transfer to La Mirada High School in the Southeastern suburbs of Los Angeles where his father went as an exchange student and basketball player 34 years earlier. Kevin would live with Kenny Meyer, the Matadores' freshman football coach, and his wife, Nancy.  

Meanwhile, his father's old host family, Pete and Gerrie Dames, would still be nearby. 

"He was in good hands," Dillman's father said. "He loved it out there and he was greeted so well by his host family. That made it easier for us even though we missed him."

Then, his voice cracked.  

"But it was hard," he said. "It's still hard."  

Things haven't been much easier since Dillman moved to Texas. The time difference between Denton and Ystad is seven hours. But to understand why Dillman moved, you have to appreciate the history between his biological family and his host family.  

Peter Dames isn't actually Dillman's step-uncle, but he might as well be. Dames was 10 years old when his family began hosting Dillman's father in La Mirada. Now 46, Dames lives in Lantana, just north of Fort Worth, where he works as a General Sales Manager for Peterbilt Motor Company.

For the next year, Dillman will be his responsibility.  

"I've known Kevin since before he was born," Dames says. "We’re family. From the time Kevin’s dad left [La Mirada] to now, his family stays with my parents once every two or three years. When Kevin’s parents came to visit him in La Mirada, they stayed at my parents' house."

Dillman and his parents talk nearly every day via FaceTime and text messages. That way, Steven and Carina can remain an important part of their son's life from halfway across the globe. 

"They can still technically raise me," Dillman said. "But it’s tough not to see them get older, for them to see me get older, to celebrate birthdays and holidays together.

"If I get an NFL contract, one of the first things I’m doing is buying them a house close to where I live to make up for all those years.” 

His dad chuckled at the idea, but later added "For us, it the biggest cost is that we are away from Kevin all the time. Not being able to continue to be his parents the way we always wanted to be, that is our highest cost of all."

 

Football and Family

A football team is its own family. And a family that sweats together, bleeds together and suffers together stays together. 

For Dillman, football has been a constant in a changing environment. English went from a second language to a primary one, so much so that he now occasionally struggles to find the right words when speaking to his parents in Swedish. He also maintains a slight accent.

The biggest adjustment for Dillman has been mastering the details, whether in math or football. As he came to find out, words and phrases don't always translate. "English and Swedish are similar that way," Dillman explained. "There really aren't rules."

"The first three weeks or month of his freshman season, he was still learning our terminology, concepts and run game," said Moschetti, Dillman's former varsity coach at La Mirada. "He had to start from scratch. What’s Cover 3? What’s Cover 2? Who are we attacking on certain pass concepts?"

What is the same in every language is toughness and determination. That's what it takes to be successful on the football field and as a teenager in a foreign country. That's what Moschetti and Walsh, Dillman's head coach at Guyer High School, like most about him. 

"It’s hard to be a new guy—it’s hard to be a new guy that comes in with scholarship offers—and we have other quarterbacks here who are ready to be the starter," Walsh said. "But those guys are all friends. Those social skills to come in and make that transition, and for the team to accept him, says a lot about his character.”

Dillman is expected to make an impact for the Guyer Wildcats, a program with a recent line of great quarterbacks like J.W. Walsh, a redshirt junior at Oklahoma State, and Jerrod Heard, a member of Texas' 2014 class. 

Dillman is still a work in progress, though. He's also had a string of bad luck. 

Though he joined La Mirada's varsity team as a freshman, he started only one game at quarterback that year—a 42-0 shutout against Artesia High School. Because of a complication with his visa, Dillman's season was cut short. He was forced to briefly return to Sweden before coming back to the States as an American citizen the following spring.

Two years ago, he sustained a partially torn meniscus in his right knee. Last October, he ruptured his Achilles tendon. Only last month was he cleared to fully participate in practices. 

“I had him for three years; it’s just that he’s hardly played any football," Moschetti said. "He has a great work ethic and he’s a great kid. He’ll be the first one in the weight room and the last one to leave the field. He just has a long ways to go as a quarterback.”

Moschetti is a straight shooter, but he's hardly alone in that sentiment. 247Sports recruiting analyst JC Schurburtt expressed a similar opinion of Dillman in an April evaluation for CBSSports.com

A native of Sweden, Dillman has developing to do as he is still somewhat new to American football (came over prior to his freshman year of high school), both this season as a high school senior and at Nebraska. It will take Dillman and his coaches working to maximize that talent and he is set up to do so considering the systems he's heading into, but you never really know, especially at this spot. Dillman has to master the nuances of playing the position at a high level and blend his superior athletic talent with a second-nature type execution of knowledge of the game during the live action.

He's capable, though. If it all comes together for him, watch out. This is a prospect with the type of ability, given the critical position that he plays, that could lead the Huskers to Big Ten title games, national playoff berths and perhaps enter into the Heisman Trophy conversation.

Barring a major upset or injury, redshirt sophomore Tommy Armstrong Jr. is presumed to be Nebraska's next starting quarterback. In a perfect world, then, the Huskers' coaching staff will have time to refine Dillman's game. That's something coaches and recruiting experts believe is much needed. 

It's not that Dillman hasn't played a lot of football—the coaching he received in Sweden is often overlooked, according to his father—it's that he hasn't played a lot of regular season football in America. 

But from the club teams in Sweden, to Moschetti and now Walsh, all of Dillman's coaches have put in hours upon hours of work to make him a better quarterback. Any other hype, Moschetti believes, only detracts from that effort. 

"Hopefully he’ll stay humble—and he will—and understand that the articles written about him, all the comparisons, don’t mean anything."

 

Feels Like Home

Dillman is promising as a prospect because of what he can be as a quarterback. The scholarship offers and scouting reports are a reflection of that. What is known presently is that he's too good of an athlete to leave on the sidelines.

La Mirada's coaching staff played him accordingly. Because there was a more established quarterback on the roster, Dillman divided his time at wide receiver, safety, defensive end, and occasionally, as a Wildcat quarterback. 

It was enough for colleges to take notice. The offers began rolling in from Florida State, Clemson, Tennessee, and a handful of other Pac-12 programs. 

It was Nebraska that caught Dillman's attention, though. Huskers wide receivers coach Rich Fisher began recruiting Dillman around the start of his sophomore year of high school. When Dillman moved to Texas, the recruiting responsibility shifted to Huskers offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tim Beck.  

On April 3, Dillman and his family visited Lincoln, which he described as a "mix of Texas and California." The program's facilities, though, were something he'd never seen before. 

"They have a full science lab where they maximize the performance of their athletes," Dillman said. "They take blood tests to see what type of food we should eat. They have weight lifting facilities with cameras all over the floor and ceiling.

"You can get 3D imaging of everything and move the camera around," he continued. "So if I want to work on my throwing technique, I can get my image on a big screen and watch myself.

"I told the scientists there it’s like ESPN’s 'Sports Science.' And they said 'Yeah, we know.'" 

The technology may be something from a sci-fi movie, but it's not indicative of the future. It didn't confirm that Dillman will be a starting quarterback for the team one day. It didn't confirm that he'll win a Heisman Trophy or be the next Tommie Frazier. It only added to the feeling that had building for months: Lincoln felt like home. That's important when you've slept in as many different beds as Dillman has. 

“One of the things I really liked was Nebraska’s life skills program, where they teach student-athletes how to become better leaders in their society," Dillman said. "They really reach out to the community, and I feel that can help me develop as a man."

The life skills program, the campus, the town and the facilities—Dillman had seen all he needed to see. Two days later, he announced his verbal commitment. 

He doesn't plan on taking any visits elsewhere. He's found his new host family. 

 

A Face in the Crowd

Few who follow college football fully understand the sacrifices athletes and their families make in the pursuit of the ultimate dream. The Dillmans' sacrifices are no better or worse than that of an impoverished family whose son departs to play football. In the end, they all hope it leads to a better life. 

Their story is nevertheless unique, however. Dillman's road is such that it took the generosity of many to make one chance a reality. All he needed was an avenue to succeed; he would do the rest. 

No matter the distance, no matter the language, that has never been lost in translation to Dillman or his family. 

"We knew what we had to do, but we accepted the challenge," Dillman's father said. "We wanted him to live the dream. I thought we did the right thing. Now, with him committing to Nebraska, we know we did the right thing."

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval

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Alabama Football: Expect Monster Year from RS Freshman Robert Foster

Alabama's A-Day is in the books, and it's time to take a look at the biggest takeaways from the Crimson Tide's spring game. The quarterback situation for the Tide is still up in the air, as three QBs will be battling for the starting job.

Senior Blake Simms threw for 178 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, while freshman Cooper Bateman threw for 156 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's game. The X-factor is junior Jacob Coker, who is transferring from Florida State and will be eligible to play this fall.

Watch as B/R's Michael Felder breaks down the QB situation and also explains why redshirt freshman wide receiver Robert Foster is poised for a big 2014 season.

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

 

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Former Alabama QB Greg McElroy Took Issue with AJ McCarron's A-Day Comments

Former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, who led the team to a national championship in 2009-10, took exception with the A-Day comments of former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, who led the team to a national championship in 2011-12 and 2012-13, and voiced his disappointment during a Monday radio interview on WJOX's The Opening Drive.

According to Andrew Gribble of AL.com, the tiff—and make no mistake, it is nothing more than that—began when McCarron deflected blame for the Tide's two-game losing streak at the end of last season, implying it was the younger players' fault.

"I felt like the captains, the older guys, we wanted it. We weren't complacent," said McCarron during an in-game interview with ESPN. "I think if you ask coaches or any of them, they'll tell you that. It takes a full team. We were young. We struggled at times."

To this line of thinking, McElroy, whom McCarron redshirted under during the championship season in 2009-10, said the following:

The reason being is because if guys are complacent, especially the younger guys, you refuse to allow that to happen. I didn't appreciate the way he came out and said that about his teammates. The season was over, it didn't go the way we wanted it to go and we're all disappointed with the outcome. That's the way he should have handled it.

McElroy can understand McCarron's disappointment.

Like his successor, he returned to school after winning a national championship, began the season ranked No. 1 in the country but failed to meet his ultimate expectations, losing three games en route to the 2011 Capital One Bowl. Unlike his successor, though, McElroy went out with a 49-7 victory over Michigan State, not a disappointing loss to Oklahoma (or whoever).

McElroy did cushion his criticism of McCarron, saying, "He was a big reason why this Alabama team has been so dominant." His comments didn't come from a place of dislike but a place of simple candor, which is something McElroy will need in his new role with the SEC Network.

Just as McCarron might need to be more accountable in his (hopeful) new role with an NFL organization.

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Eli Brown Commits to Kentucky: Wildcats Beat Ohio State, USC for 4-Star

Kentucky kept a prized prospect in his home state Monday when Eli Brown pledged to the Wildcats. He made things official with an announcement on Twitter:

The 4-star prospect from Bowling Green had several schools to choose from when it came down to a collegiate decision. Brown initially committed to Vanderbilt last June but backed off that pledge prior to the conclusion of his junior campaign.

He holds offers from Ohio State, USC, Ole Miss and Penn State, per Rivals.com.

Brown, a 6'2", 195-pound prospect, plays at Warren East High School. He starred throughout the 2013 season until a serious knee injury sidelined him in early November.

Brown is rehabbing his way back from a torn ACL, per WBKO News. He posted impressive statistics last fall despite missing the team's last few games.

He was second on the Raiders in rushing and receiving with 1,186 yards and 144 yards, respectively, and he led the team with 15 touchdowns on the ground, per MaxPreps. Brown also impressed on defense, tallying 50 tackles and two interceptions.

Kentucky picks up an in-state player it's targeted for quite some time. Head coach Mark Stoops and his staff hosted Brown on campus earlier this month, just a week after he spent time at Ole Miss.

Brown has been a frequent visitor in Lexington this year, including a February junior day event. While he offers options on both sides of the ball, it appears Brown is destined for a career on defense.

“All the offers I have got are at linebacker,” he told Larry Vaught of VaughtsViews.com in February. “They all like my versatility and love that I can play both sides of the ball. They do tell me how good I look on offense, but they all say I am great on defense."

Brown is rated No. 18 nationally among outside linebackers in 247Sports' composite rankings, which also lists him No. 2 overall in Kentucky.

Stoops has done an outstanding job of securing in-state commits. He signed the top two 2014 prospects in Kentucky, quarterback Drew Barker and defensive tackle Matt Elam, in February.

Both players had plenty of opportunities beyond state borders but stayed home to build with the Wildcats. Brown is the latest recruit to take the same approach.

Kentucky currently holds five commitments in its 2015 class. Brown is the first consensus 4-star prospect in the bunch, but Stoops remains in pursuit of several in-state standouts.

Damien Harris (Berea, Ky.) is the nation's No. 1 running back recruit and decommitted from Michigan during the winter. Linebacker Emmitt Smith, another Bowling Green product, may also enter the equation as a key target for the Wildcats.

Brown's commitment provides another strong signal that Kentucky is taking care of business on its home turf.

 

Recruit rankings via 247Sports unless otherwise noted. 

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Every College Football Conference's Top Heisman Contender for 2014

Did you know that the last seven Heisman winners came from just three conferences?  Two each hailed from the ACC and the Big 12 and three came from the SEC.

As for the remaining big leagues, the Big Ten hasn’t won since Ohio State’s Troy Smith in 2006, and the Pac-12’s last official win came two years before that in 2004, when USC’s Matt Leinart won.

The last winner from one of the five “other” conferences in the FBS was 24 years ago in 1990, when then-WAC team BYU sent Ty Detmer to the podium.

So, while Heisman winners honor their schools, they also boost the image of their conferences.  And some leagues have a more realistic shot of being bronzed than do others.

Begin Slideshow

Alabama Football: Derrick Henry Is Crimson Tide's Best Bet at Starting RB

While all eyes were on the Alabama quarterbacks during the spring game, another position battle was brewing that could have an even bigger impact on offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's offense.

Running back.

Junior T.J. Yeldon is fresh off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and is following the same script that he adhered to during his first two springs in Tuscaloosa. The 6'2", 218-pound native of Daphne, Ala., rushed 11 times for 95 yards and a touchdown, and added one reception for nine yards en route to his third straight Dixie Howell Award given to the MVP of Alabama's spring game, according to stats released by the university

In quotes released by Alabama, center Ryan Kelly said:

To have a guy like that who can miss defenders, obviously not every play is going to be perfect but with a guy like that back there running the ball some big plays can spring up. We just wish we could have done a little bit better blocking to make those big plays happen today.

But does his resume and perennially strong spring games guarantee him a starting spot this spring?

It shouldn't.

Sophomore Derrick Henry burst onto the scene in the Sugar Bowl, rushing eight times for 100 yards and adding a 61-yard touchdown catch in the 45-31 loss to the Sooners.

He carried that momentum all the way through spring, earning the praise of head coach Nick Saban according to Andrew Gribble of AL.com. However, he didn't exactly break out in the spring game, rushing eight times for 22 yards.

Despite that lackluster close to spring, Henry is still Alabama's best bet at running back in 2014.

Just like former stars Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy, Henry is more of a power back that thrives not only running north and south, but also behind an offensive line that gets downfield and punishes opposing front sevens.

WJOX 94.5 host Matt McClearin puts into perspective just how hard it is to bring Henry down.

Seems like Derrick Henry, guys just jump on him and hope someone else joins in and maybe they can bring him down.

— Matt McClearin (@McMatt945) April 19, 2014

Yeldon can lower his shoulder and be a bruiser too, but he's at his best using that quick burst behind a zone-blocking scheme. That led to some of the inconsistencies in the Alabama offensive line last year, including in the opener against Virginia Tech and the finale against Oklahoma. It's better suited in more of a power scheme, which is a perfect fit for Henry.

Will that relegate Yeldon to a back seat?

Of course not.

He'll still be a big part of the offense. In fact, this is not uncharted waters for Kiffin.

In 2005 when he was the offensive coordinator at USC, both Reggie Bush and LenDale White topped the 1,000-yard mark using vastly different running styles to do so. While Bush grabbed the headlines and won the Heisman with 1,740 yards and 16 touchdowns, White was the bread and butter of that offense, rushing for 1,302 yards and a team-high 24 touchdowns.

Henry shouldn't be "1B" in this offense though. He should be "1A."

Alabama is at its best when it establishes the line of scrimmage, forces the defense to creep up and then takes the top off of the defense with play action. That was how Alabama won championships in 2009, 2011 and 2012, two of which were with first-year starters at quarterback.

They'll break in another new starter in 2014 and would be wise to follow the same blueprint. In order to do that, Henry is the best bet at running back for the Crimson Tide.

 

* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All spring statistics are courtesy of the University of Alabama and all past college statistics are courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.

 


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How Much Should NFL Teams Worry About James Hurst's Leg Injury, Fibula Fracture?

Last year, former University of North Carolina offensive lineman James Hurst suffered a leg injury during the Tar Heels' 39-17 victory over the University of Cincinnati in December's Belk Bowl. According to The News and Observer's Andrew Carter, doctors later diagnosed the left tackle with a non-displaced fibula fracture, bringing his record-breaking, 49-start career at UNC to a close.

Like any injured college star, media attention quickly shifted toward Hurst's draft prospects and NFL future.

Fortunately—relative to other types of football injuries, at least—a non-displaced fibula fracture is actually somewhat benign and usually carries an excellent prognosis. As such, in the end, it may only minimally affect Hurst's draft stock.

Let's take a closer look.

The fibula runs down the outside of the lower leg alongside the tibia—or shin bone. It connects the ankle to the very top of the tibia, supporting it and serving as an attachment point for ligaments and muscle tendons.

It does not come into close contact with the femur—or thigh bone. As a result, it does not bear much weight—that's the tibia's job.

Very broadly speaking, fibula fractures can come in one of two varieties: non-displaced and displaced.

In a non-displaced fracture, the bone breaks, but its overall alignment and anatomical position remain normal. The opposite is true for a displaced fracture.

For a better mental picture of a non-displaced injury, imagine bending and straightening a drinking straw. The straw now carries a crease—the "fracture," so to speak—but maintains the same overall shape.

Conversely, breaking a toothpick better represents a displaced injury. Not only does the break deform the toothpick, it does so permanently. Many types of displaced fractures in the body require surgical repair.

Luckily, non-displaced fibula fractures are often stable and thus do not require surgery. Rather, several weeks of immobilization and protection of the lower leg usually allow the body's repair cells to reconnect the break without issue.

Furthermore, downstream complications from a non-displaced fibula fracture are rare and while no two injuries are exactly alike, athletes frequently return to top form. For example, in 2013, running back Andre Brown posted 115 yards on 30 carries during his first game back from a preseason break.

So far, it seems Hurst's fracture is following suit.

Though specific medical details are not available, news of the former Tar Heel undergoing surgery did not surface following his injury. Furthermore, NFL.com's Gil Brandt noted that he worked out in late March at UNC's pro day, just three months removed from his injury:

Hurst took the bull by the horns and worked out. He did the 40 in 5.54 and 5.60 seconds. He did the short shuttle in 4.57 seconds, had a 22-inch vertical jump and did 23 strength lifts.

Brandt also wrote that Hurst's leg wasn't "100 percent healthy" at the time.

Presumably, doctors cleared him for full-speed workouts prior to the pro day, as non-displaced fractures usually complete the lion's share of the healing process before the three-month mark. However, his rehab may have been ongoing at the time—and might still be.

In other words, he can only go up.

Assuming no additional injuries, rehab setbacks or surgical procedures took place unbeknownst to the media, the end result of Hurst's fracture may be a slight dip in his draft stock simply due to the timing of the injury.

After all, the fracture does not constitute a medical "red flag" by any means.

In fact, unlike a blown-out knee or a history of concussions, a team that sees NFL potential in Hurst may even decide to look right past it.

 

Dr. Dave Siebert is a resident physician at the University of Washington who plans to pursue fellowship training in Primary Care (non-operative) Sports Medicine.

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