NCAA Football News
Spring football has come and gone in the Big Ten, and each team in the conference knows a lot more about itself now than it did just a month ago.
That should ring especially true when it comes to the quarterback position, as 15 offseason practices can go a long way in the development of a signal-caller.
For some Big Ten teams, this spring was about furthering along a veteran quarterback or having him gel with less experienced teammates. For others, it was about preparing a first-time starter for a crucial season in his career.
And for at least a few teams in the conference, this spring was just about figuring out who the starting quarterback will be.
It's not a coincidence that a team's success is often tied to the production of its most important position. With that in mind, let's power rank where each Big Ten team's quarterback—or quarterbacks—stands following this past spring practice.
One particularly smart unknown football sage once said that “if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks.” It’s incredibly accurate. For a college coach, playing two quarterbacks on a regular basis is just an invitation for controversy, second-guessing and discord.
Any good quarterback competition worth its salt must end with a single signal-caller emerging as the leader. And this spring, like many before it, has some intriguing QB battles. Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Texas, Southern California and Notre Dame are just a few of the programs that are trying to sort out a leader for their offense before the 2016 season begins.
Here’s a crack at predicting the winner for every high-profile quarterback competition. Disagree with our take? Let us know in the comments.
Editor's Note: Bleacher Report's 5th Down captures the top social college football stories of the week. As the long, bitter offseason continues, we'll focus on moments from the schools, coaches and players that kept us entertained as we wait for actual college football to make its long-awaited return.
1. Draft reactions are the best reactions
There's nothing quite like a college player's instant reaction to getting drafted by an NFL franchise. The countless hours on the football field, the film room and the training table all pay off with that one moment when a player finds out he's going to be a pro.
And while these moments officially mark the end of these players' time playing college football, fans of the sport still have to love them.
Of course, each draftee celebrates his special moment differently. Here are the wide range of highlights from the weekend.
Darron Lee, one of what felt like hundreds of former Ohio State players who went off the board in the draft, stopped on the draft stage for a quick submission to the "Running Man Challenge" that is taking the sports world by storm.
Ifedi's new teammate, Alabama defensive lineman Jarran Reed, won over many fans in Seattle by pulling out a bag of Skittles, Marshawn Lynch-style.
There were several tearjerkers, too. Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch broke down after hearing the Denver Broncos drafted him.
Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith had an emotional moment with his family after hearing the Dallas Cowboys took a chance on him in light of the devastating knee injury he suffered on New Year's Day.
Auburn offensive tackle Shon Coleman heard the news of his third-round selection by the Cincinnati Bengals at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, where he was treated for cancer several years earlier.
And, late in the seventh round, the Cleveland Browns selected Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III, who was college football's most dominant defender in 2014 before injuries took away most of his 2015 campaign and his draft stock.
He put a great bow on the weekend's draft by crying with his proud family and then jumping into a pool fully clothed.
Enjoy the next level, guys. College football will miss you all.
2. The spectacular return of Ezekiel Elliott's signature crop top
Before he became one of the newest members of the Dallas Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott gave everyone a blast from college football's recent past.
That's right—the crop top came back.
The former Ohio State running back turned plenty of heads in Chicago by arriving to the NFL draft while wearing a crop-top suit.
Just in case you're new around here, Elliott broke out in a 2014 season that was capped by three straight 200-yard rushing performances and a national championship for the Buckeyes. His signature style was a crop-top jersey, which the NCAA promptly banned ahead of the 2015 season.
But the NCAA couldn't control what he wore to the NFL draft on Thursday night.
"I tried a bunch of combinations, and then I got the idea to wear the crop top," Elliott told ESPN's Scott Van Pelt. "I'm known as a hero in a half-shirt to Ohio State fans, so I thought I would give them a special treat on the red carpet."
The return of the crop top was a nice tip for all the Ohio State fans watching the former Buckeye's big night, but I'm not sure how they felt about seeing him do it while wearing blue. That'll take some getting used to for sure.
3. Keanu Neal is not Keanu Reeves...or Keanu the Cat
The selection of a certain first-round pick prompted one of the funniest—and timeliest—name mixups in recent memory.
As Jason Kirk of SB Nation pointed out this weekend, Florida defensive back Keanu Neal was named after actor Keanu Reeves.
However, he's not necessarily a Keanu Reeves fan. He was nicknamed "The Matrix" growing up, but Neal told reporters he didn't like the famous action franchise that starred Reeves.
But, unfortunately for Neal, the last name that immediately comes to mind when anyone says "Keanu" is Reeves, and Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff fell victim to that when talking about his selection of the former Gator:
To make matters even more difficult for Neal, he wasn't the only Keanu in the spotlight this weekend. A few hours after he was drafted by the Falcons, the movie Keanu—from Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele of Key and Peele fame—was released in theaters.
The titular character in Keanu is a cat, which inspired an incredible feline Photoshop of Neal's selection:
Never change, Internet.
4. Bill Snyder joins Twitter and immediately becomes the nicest guy on it
Twitter, meet your new grandpa. You're going to love him.
Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder, who is 76 years old, joined Twitter last week @CoachBillSnyder. Since then, the entire social medium has become a brighter place, because the Wildcat legend is pumping nothing but positivity into the timeline.
His first tweet was about how proud he was of his players during offseason workouts and spring practices. He singled out a few more who were named to the National Football Foundation's Honor Society.
But Snyder is not one of those coaches who is only going to tweet about football. The man is too proud of his family's accomplishments to keep things solely focused on the gridiron.
Snyder's tweets over the past week have been nothing but glowing pride and appreciation for his former players headed to the NFL draft, Kansas State student-athletes who volunteer, his current players, Manhattan residents doing good in the community and various others.
He's also proud of some people he watched race remote-control cars.
Snyder is known for handwriting heartfelt notes to hundreds and hundreds of people, young and old, during his time as Kansas State's head coach.
He's probably trying to figure out a way to handwrite some Twitter direct messages. How awesome would it be to get one of those?
5. And speaking of Bill Snyder...
As the Kansas State head coach continued to build his #brand on Twitter this weekend, 80 students in Manhattan got up close and personal with his statue on campus.
Kansas State held a contest over the weekend for an all-expense-paid trip to the football team's opener in September at defending Pac-12 champion Stanford.
The 80 students had to keep one hand either on the base of Snyder's statue or the gate to the stadium that bears his name for 31 hours or until everyone else dropped out of the contest.
And after those 31 hours, the challenge came down to a rock-paper-scissors contest to the students who remained, with Kansas State sophomore Isaac Schultejans coming out on top.
Afterward, Kansas State fed the final 10 in the contest, so at least there was some payoff for nine others after such a grueling endurance test. But Schultejans is the only one going to The Farm later this year on the dime of the Wildcats.
Maybe Bill Snyder will tweet at him.
6. 'Views' from the college football world
Between his appearances at Toronto Raptors playoff games, rapper Drake released his new album Views this past weekend.
Before it officially dropped, the album's artwork—Drake sitting on top of Toronto's CN Tower—became a viral sensation on social media.
Some college football teams looked to capitalize on the popularity of the Views cover by creating their own artwork with their own stadiums.
Michigan had perhaps the best one with head coach/Twitter icon Jim Harbaugh sitting on top of the scoreboard at "The Big House."
Boise State's official recruiting account tweeted out its own cover with Bryan Harsin looming over Albertsons Stadium on the Stueckle Sky Center boxes.
Arizona State's recruiting account did a rather impressive version of the album with a rendering of Sun Devil Stadium, which is undergoing renovations this offseason.
And because we can't have enough of them in this column, Kansas State showcased its own "views" with Bill Snyder.
As far as college football memes go, this one was "Too Good" last week.
7. Your definitive Lane Kiffin Bitmoji Power Rankings
Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's Twitter game is getting strong this offseason.
This past week, he developed a skill for Bitmoji, which are custom, personalized emoji. The results were incredible.
Here is the definitive top-five list of Lane Kiffin Bitmoji tweets from the past week:
- #blessed: It's the wheel route of hashtags. It has no equal. The praying hands just put it over the top.
- Hump Day: This was Kiffin's first Bitmoji tweet of the week, and he led off with a phenomenal one. Some people hate the dab, but seeing a cartoon version of a Nick Saban assistant doing one is just hilarious.
- What a Day: You can see the real emotion behind Bitmoji Kiffin's eyes after a hard day of tweeting.
- Killin' It!: While I'm not sure what the hand gestures mean here, this is still a strong one.
- The Superman + Batman Status Update Combo: These seem like they would be better served for DMs, but maybe Kiffin's just trying to tell us he's on his way—somewhere. And when he gets there. He just wants us to know he's doing well.
Kiffin continued his Bitmoji use into the weekend, mixing in a message from his son and even some birthday wishes.
Hopefully the Alabama offensive coordinator will continue to keep all of us on Twitter #blessed this offseason with some more Bitmoji.
8. The Marathon Men of the SEC West
LSU head coach Les Miles won the college football side of #TBT—or Throwback Thursday—last week by posting an old picture of him and former LSU head coach Gerry DiNardo running a marathon back when they were on the same staff at Colorado in the 1980s.
One of Miles' SEC West rivals, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen, saw the picture and tweeted a challenge back to the "Mad Hatter."
Mullen recently completed the Boston Marathon, and now he's apparently looking for new running buddies inside the conference. Miles was gracious in his response back to Mullen.
Running wasn't the only endurance event Miles was talking about last week. Thanks to the NCAA's new rules on communication between coaches and recruits, Miles is building up his stamina for some heavy-duty texting, as LSU showed in this video:
Every high school recruit in Miles' neck of the woods might want to make sure they have unlimited texting in their cellphone plans. The LSU head coach looks ready to put them to the test.
9. Mike Gundy is building a Walmart...of satellite camps
The college football quote of the week goes to Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, who has an interesting plan for the future of satellite camps. (Yes, we made it this far in the column without mentioning satellite camps. You're welcome!)
With the NCAA reversing a short-lived ban on satellite recruiting camps last week, Gundy could show off his plans for a "mega camp" at Mary Hardin-Baylor in central Texas. Interested Power Five schools included Arizona State, Kansas State, Missouri, Northwestern and Ole Miss, plus plenty more Group of Five and lower-division programs.
"I'm shooting for the Walmart of football camps," Gundy said, per George Schroeder of USA Today. "It makes sense. If you have a son and you can send him to a camp for $30 and he can be seen by all those different schools, it's a pretty good deal, right?"
While Walmart is more of an Arkansas thing than an Oklahoma thing, Gundy can definitely make it work for satellite camps. The only things that are missing from the low-price, high-school count camp are those smiley-face stickers you used to get at the door when you were a kid.
10. Derwin James runs through defensive drills like a machine
Florida State defensive back Derwin James proved last year he was a college-ready monster, even as a true freshman. James' mix of athleticism, smarts and hard hits proved to be huge for the Seminoles. James has at least two more years at the college level, but he already has his sights set on his NFL future.
In a week in which his former defensive back teammate Jalen Ramsey became a top-five pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars, James posted a video of himself training with the caption "getting paid in the offseason."
During the 26-second video, James flies through defensive drills that would take normal humans minutes to complete. He seamlessly transitions from footwork drills to catching footballs to backpedaling on a dime—without ever slowing down.
The bar has been set extremely high for the most ridiculous offseason workout video.
11. Oregon throws it waaay back with spring game uniforms
Oregon seems to have a new football uniform every game week during the season, and the Ducks' annual spring scrimmage at Autzen Stadium is no exception.
For last Saturday's spring game, the Ducks went in a different direction with a uniform inspired by the 100th anniversary of their 1913 team that won the Rose Bowl over Penn.
The uniforms, which separated the spring game teams into "Mighty Oregon" and the "Webfoots," were blue, yellow and white—the colors of the Oregon state flag. The Ducks also weaved the 100th anniversary of their "Mighty Oregon" fight song by putting lyrics onto the jerseys' sleeves.
The amount of Nike and Oregon centennial creativity was quite impressive in this sharp throwback uniform. (For those wondering, Mighty Oregon defeated the Webfoots, 21-20.)
12. And, finally, Troy pipes it up with a phenomenal dance video
Former Sun Belt powerhouse Troy hasn't gotten much national attention in recent years, but a fun video from a recent award show might change all that.
There's so much going on in this video, which opens with "Pipe It Up" by Migos and an explosion of random dancing.
Let's try to break down the highlights, quick hits-style:
- 0:08: Why are y'all sleeping on the goal post? That looks so uncomfortable. And can't you hear Migos playing?
- 0:11: That is the most intimidating game of Hangman I've ever seen.
- 0:24: "That boy right there, he's piped up," is followed by a heck of a dab from the man in sunglasses. Great start to the action.
- 0:29: Miss Judy ain't out here to follow your dance moves, Migos. She's a trendsetter. She dabs again a little later on, and it's more of a Heisman pose. Miss Judy has big dreams for you, Troy football.
- 0:50: That's head coach Neal Brown with the visor. As Rodger Sherman of SB Nation wrote in his excellent breakdown of Troy's various dabs in this video, Brown "decided to wear a sideways visor and track suit like he's Nelly." He then picks up a basketball. Sure!
- 1:00: We're transitioning to another song quite aggressively.
- 1:10-1:40: Everybody out here knows how to properly whip and nae nae. Great work, everyone. That's two more dance moves than I can do right now.
- 1:47: There's an older guy doing the stanky leg, and he looks like a pro! Look at the determination on his face. I'd run through a wall for this guy.
- 2:07: After some objections, it appears that no one is sitting out the next play. Troy runs an uptempo Air Raid offense, so everybody needs to be in shape well past the two-minute drill and into "Apache" by the Sugar Hill Gang. It's the Four Verticals of dance songs—a tried and true classic that always works.
- 2:14: And there's the Worm. Troy is throwing it way back right now.
- 2:30: The Stanky Leg gentleman is like Miss Judy. He's here to create his own moves. Let's disco dance to "Apache," he says. No one is going to tell him no.
- 2:50: A solid round of dabs closes the video. The Trojans improved as the game went on, which is what every coach wants from his team.
I don't know how many games Troy is going to win this year, but they'll be well-prepared to celebrate any victory with those moves.
Justin Ferguson is a National College Football Analyst at Bleacher Report, and he desperately wants Bill Snyder to send him a heartfelt DM. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.
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This past weekend's NFL draft served as the official send-off for many of last year's college football stars, a high-profile way to say goodbye to another great crop of talent. But fear not, fans, because there's never a lack of top talent in the college game.
The best of the best haven't all moved on, as you'll see in our latest rankings of the top players entering the 2016 season. These are slightly tweaked from our previous list, which was published at the beginning of spring practice, reflecting their development this offseason and how it might impact their expected performance in the fall.
Despite some impressive performances by true freshman early enrollees, we have not included any first-year players on this list. Until they've played in actual games, their evaluations are incomplete, and thus they not worthy of being ranked among our top 50.
Disagree with this stance or with any of our rankings? Get the conversation started in our comments section.
The SEC didn't want it to come to this. Neither did the ACC.
But when the NCAA announced Thursday it had overturned its less than three-week-old ban of satellite camps, the conferences' hands were forced as they each lifted their own self-imposed ban on satellite camps.
Now consider the possibilities.
Picture a pre-planned Michigan satellite camp at Cedar Grove High School in Ellenwood, Georgia—which Jim Harbaugh fought tooth and nail to keep—returning to its regularly scheduled June 2 date. Now picture Georgia head coach Kirby Smart—previously unable to host the same sort of clinic because Cedar Grove falls just outside of the SEC's now-outdated 50-mile limit of where its schools can host camps—opting to do the same, on the exact same day.
What might that look like?
Oh. That's actually happening.
And at least for now, the possibilities appear limitless.
But as the planned Michigan-Georgia dual camp has already shown, you can expect the wilder side of college football to win out when it comes to lifting the satellite camp ban. With that in mind, let's examine some possible scenarios that could soon play out.
Scenario 1: The Mega-Camp
Remember the Michigan-Georgia camp we just talked about? Now multiply it by five. Or 10.
Imagine a camp where Harbaugh is coaching quarterbacks, Smart is in charge of the defensive backs, Nick Saban is serving as counselor for linebackers, Urban Meyer has the wide receivers, Les Miles is with the running backs and—well, you get the picture.
If a high school is willing to host both the Wolverines' and Bulldogs' staffs on the same weekend, why wouldn't it be willing to add even more big-name head coaches to a given dais? And in turn, if, say, Meyer or Saban sees Harbaugh and Smart have created the biggest recruiting event of the weekend, why wouldn't they get in on the fun?
The result could be satellite camps not specific to any one college team, but rather a buffet-like menu of the nation's top coaches serving as counselors at the same camps. No longer would the camp likely be exclusive to prospects in the Georgia region; players from all over the country would fly in for that sort of coaching.
Could it be just one mega-camp a year? Would each satellite camp eventually become the same: A tour of college football's top coaches hosting joint ventures on college football's most fertile recruiting ground?
Would each coach make sure no other coach comes into his backyard in order to host his own camp alone, like Smart appears set to do with Harbaugh? These are the details that still need to be ironed out.
But with no apparent limit to how many schools can attend the same camp, it's hard to imagine camps like the Michigan-Georgia situation will be the rarity.
It's likely just the start.
Scenario 2: The Super Tour
Picture a bus filled with college prospects touring through Florida, which possesses no shortage of potential satellite camp sites and blue-chip talent to fill each one.
Perhaps one day you're in Orlando, vying for the attention of the Michigan staff at UCF. The next day you could be in Tampa, fighting it out for a scholarship offer from the Southern Cal staff at USF. After that, you head south to Miami, where Texas has set up shop at FIU. From there, it's off to Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton, where Ohio State is hosting a camp.
Recruiting tour buses aren't anything new. Go to any program's camp across the country and you'll likely find kids from the same high school or region who traveled there together from a previous camp and are on their way to another camp after that.
Take for example the "Unsigned Preps Bus Tour" Bleacher Report's Sanjay Kirpalani documented last summer, which took 80 prospects to college camps across Florida and the Southeast. Among the camps visited were Clemson, North Carolina, North Carolina State and USF, which doubled as a satellite camp for Michigan in the Tampa area.
A strong circuit? No doubt.
But with satellite camps' rise in prominence, the potential of these routes just grew exponentially.
It's time to forget traditional bus routes, which might take a bus full of prospects from Penn State to Ohio State to Michigan in a given stretch. If variety is the spice of life, satellite camps could provide various tastes to recruits they otherwise wouldn't have been familiar with.
And while many high school coaches were in favor of satellite camps due to the opportunities provided for their players, not even they could have imagined what might be available to them in the near future.
Scenario 3: Unwelcome Visitors
While Georgia has already announced its intentions to play along, it's unclear how the SEC will put its new allowance of satellite camps to use.
But as one of the low men on the conference's totem poll—and with an aggressive head coach like Mark Stoops—it's a safe bet Kentucky will be hitting the road at some point this summer to take advantage of new league rules.
The same, however, can't be said for Saban and Alabama, which has managed to recruit just fine without the use of off-campus camps. Even if the entire country is now allowed to do them, it's hard to imagine a program that's inked the nation's past six top-ranked classes suddenly becoming irrelevant in the recruiting world.
That could lead to a scenario where a team like the Wildcats heads to talent-rich Alabama for a camp, while the Crimson Tide remain indifferent to the satellite camp practice. Perhaps Lane Kiffin would be forced to take a break from playing with bitmojis to let his boss know of UK's plans.
"Coach, Lane is here to see you," Saban's secretary says.
*Saban pushes the button on his desk that opens the door to his office—a button that actually exists, according to Joey Bosa.*
"Coach, Kentucky's here. Well, they're not here—they're in Prattville for a satellite camp," a panicked Kiffin says.
"And?" Saban asks, more interested in his oatmeal cream pie.
"Should we send someone over? I mean, this is our backyard."
"Lane, do you think you win five national championships, fill up NFL rosters and manage to get linked to every major head coaching vacancy each and every offseason by worrying about what Kentucky's doing?" Saban asks, confused at why his time's being wasted.
"I guess not. I thought..."
"You thought wrong," Saban says, reaching for his button as Kiffin disappears behind the Batcave-like sliding door. "You thought wrong."
Fast-forward four months later and Alabama finds itself in a closer-than-expected contest with the Wildcats as an unknown freshman defensive end continuously terrorizes the Crimson Tide backfield.
"Who is this kid?" Saban screams at the terrified offensive coordinator standing next to him.
"He's from Prattville," Kiffin responds, sheepishly. "They found him at a satellite."
Scenario 4: Untraditional Pipelines
Imagine a USC pipeline of prospects from Ohio or a direct line from the Northeast to Oregon. Clemson could soon pluck prospects from California, while Michigan State pries from Texas.
Pipelines in college football are nothing new. Michigan has historically recruited well in California, while Penn State has often dominated the Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia region. Oklahoma does well in Texas, and the Buckeyes have plucked plenty of players from South Florida.
But with more satellite camps in existence, several new and unconventional pipelines could soon come to fruition.
Consider three years ago, when Saban set his sights on a trio of highly touted prospects from Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio. Despite being able to lure Marshon Lattimore, Erick Smith and Marcelys Jones to Tuscaloosa while Alabama was college football's defending national champion, it wasn't enough to lure the three players away from the Buckeye State.
You see, Glenville is an Ohio State pipeline—a school that has given the Buckeyes Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr., Donte Whitner and Cardale Jones, among others. And as tempting as Saban's interest might have been, the 2014 Glenville trio's recruitment might as well have been predetermined.
But if Saban were recruiting Lattimore, Smith and Jones this upcoming summer, he could just set up shop at a camp near Cleveland, dancing around the traditional number of campus and in-house visits put in place. At the very least, it could weaken Ohio State's hold on its traditional pipeline, setting the stage for the Crimson Tide to one day forge its own recruiting footprint in Buckeye territory.
Of course, there's already a counter for teams trying their best to protect their own backyard. Just look at what Georgia did by adding itself to the Michigan camp—a practice that could be commonplace in college football this summer.
After a year's worth of reviewing, ruling and overriding, the fun's just about to get started.
Welcome to college football's Wild Wild West.
The possibilities appear endless.
Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. Recruit rankings and info courtesy of 247Sports.
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After snapping a streak that saw at least one Tennessee football player taken in every NFL draft since 1963 a season ago, the Volunteers extended the latest dubious streak this past weekend.
For the second consecutive season, no Vols were picked among the 253 players taken in the seven rounds of the 2016 edition of the draft, finally slamming the door on the dark ages of the Derek Dooley debacle.
The Knoxville News Sentinel's Dustin Dopirak confirmed Marquez North and Brian Randolph signed free-agent contracts with the Los Angeles Rams, and Curt Maggitt was going to the Indianapolis Colts. Alex Ellis was expected to sign with the Tennessee Titans.
Still, no player heard his name called, and NFL Network mentioned that about five different times during Saturday's coverage, with former Vol Charles Davis on the broadcasting panel.
If UT's consecutive shutouts don't tell you how far head coach Butch Jones has been asked to take the program, nothing will.
The embarrassing streak for a proud program will end next season, though. Jones' recruiting spoils will be front and center as a few guys from his first (partial) class of 2013, including Cameron Sutton and Jalen Reeves-Maybin, almost certainly will be taken.
Several more players will have the opportunities to leave Knoxville early to try their hands at a pro payday.
Tennessee is expected to be one of the up-and-coming programs nationally this year, and if the Vols can parlay that hype and capitalize on all the exposure, it'll wind up benefiting a lot of players in their NFL quests.
It'll also erase all those negative recruiting pitches you just know rival SEC coaches are using against the Vols right now. So, let's take a look at some of Tennessee's top draft prospects for the '17 draft.
Ohio State's 2016 NFL draft class, headlined by No. 3 overall pick Joey Bosa and No. 4 Ezekiel Elliott, was historically great as it accounted for five of the first 20 picks and 10 selections in the first three rounds.
The Buckeyes' 2017 NFL haul won't be nearly as impressive.
That should be a given, of course, as Urban Meyer's young squad is replacing 16 total starters this fall. And with only six scholarship seniors on the roster, it would be incredibly surprising if many non-seniors pulled the trigger and made an early jump to the NFL.
These three players, though, could hear their names in the 2017 draft.
Raekwon McMillan, Linebacker
Ohio State's top NFL prospect next spring will be middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan.
The former 5-star prospect was rated the No. 1 inside linebacker for the class of 2014, and with another solid season in Columbus, he could be one of the top backers in next year's draft.
McMillan was solid in his freshman season, playing in a heavy rotation as a reserve behind Curtis Grant. He logged 54 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and an interception that he returned for a touchdown against Maryland.
A year later, as the lone starter in a top-10 defense, he led the team with 119 total tackles to complement four tackles for loss. He was named to the All-Big Ten First Team defense by the media and second team by the coaches.
With another year as the star and anchor of Ohio State's defense, the true junior's draft stock should only rise, and he could end his collegiate career to start his professional one a year early.
Gareon Conley, Cornerback
Ohio State has had a cornerback drafted in each of the last three drafts, two of which were first-rounders (Bradley Roby in 2014 and Eli Apple last Friday).
Junior Gareon Conley could keep that streak alive in 2017.
Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs talked about the bar the team's previous cornerbacks set and how Conley's ready to maintain that standard, according to Eric Seger of Eleven Warriors:
Absolutely, Gareon is ready. He and I have met several times already about his opportunity to lead in the back end and that will be his job. It is wonderful when it works out that way.
It’s nice to have a guy who has been a starter, who is coming back to lead the room. What was great for these guys — and if you even go way back it was Roby and Travis Howard when we first got here — it’s been the same process. Doran really established in the room how to lead the room and Eli was a different kind of leader, but Eli definitely was that guy this year.
Conley's every bit as capable of leading Ohio State's secondary as the cornerbacks before him. Last year in his first season as a full-time starter, Conley registered 49 tackles and ranked second on the team with two interceptions.
The coaching staff is confident in his abilities, and as the lone returning starter in the secondary, he can showcase his NFL readiness if Ohio State leaves him on an island for a majority of the 2016 season.
Pat Elflein, Offensive Lineman
Few interior linemen will have more experience and versatility in the 2017 NFL draft than senior Pat Elflein.
The Buckeyes called his number early in his career, when a fight during the Michigan game in his freshman season thrust him into action. Despite his youth, he came in and held his own to close out against the Wolverines, and then he continued his strong play against Michigan State in the Big Ten title game.
Over the last two seasons, Elflein has anchored the interior of an Ohio State rushing attack that has ranked in the top 12 of the national standings at right guard. But with senior Jacoby Boren's departure, the senior has slid over and will be snapping the ball to J.T. Barrett this fall.
Elflein has been called upon at center previously—like late in the first half against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl—so there's familiarity there. But Elflein is committing to the move and feels great ahead of his final season in Columbus.
"I’ve lost a little bit of weight, I’m quicker, stronger so I feel like it’s going to be a great transition, and I’m excited about it," Elflein said, via Seger of Eleven Warriors.
All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.
David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The Opening's nationwide spring tour rolled into the Garden State on Sunday, as athletes from across the Northeast traveled to compete at New York Jets headquarters.
The facility hosted several top-tier committed players, along with many recruits who've yet to declare their college football intentions. High school standouts ranging from freshmen to juniors enjoyed time on turf typically reserved for NFL stars such as Darrelle Revis and Brandon Marshall, dealing with occasional rain showers in the process.
Like past regional events, this setting served as a precursor to The Opening national finals. By the end of an action-packed Sunday, six prospects secured their spot in the July showcase, held at Nike's world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.
Philadelphia running back D'Andre Swift, New Jersey cornerback Harrison Hand, Florida cornerback Marco Wilson, Connecticut receiver C.J. Holmes, Pennsylvania receiver Mark Webb and Massachusetts running back A.J. Dillon made the cut for competition in Oregon. Other competitors from the regional are likely to be added to The Opening roster as coaches continue to evaluate the talent they've encountered this year.
Meanwhile, two quarterbacks qualified for Elite 11 national semifinals, which take place the first weekend of June in Redondo Beach, California. Syracuse commit Tommy DeVito and Texas Longhorns pledge Sam Ehlinger are headed to the West Coast for that highly anticipated event.
"I focused on what the coaches had to tell me and did my best to bring that into every rep all day," Ehlinger told Bleacher Report. "I'm definitely excited to get invited. It's an honor."
There were matchups and developments to monitor throughout the day. B/R enjoyed a firsthand look yards away from the action, so here's a breakdown of developments that stood out in Florham Park.
New Nebraska Commit Gives Cornhuskers Fans Another Reason for Excitement
Nebraska head coach Mike Riley and his staff have been on a roll in the 2017 recruiting cycle. The Cornhuskers have climbed into top-20 overall national composite recruiting rankings with a slew of key spring commitments.
Quarterback Tristan Gebbia and receiver Keyshawn Johnson Jr.—4-star teammates at Calabasas High School in California—helped set the tone weeks ago. Delaware linebacker Avery Roberts delivered another monumental pledge April 21 when he chose the Cornhuskers over Penn State.
"Nebraska is doing something great there, and a lot of players are noticing it," he said. "They have a whole family vibe there, and those guys love each other and treat each other like brothers. The whole campus and the whole city gets behind the football team, so it feels like a home away from home."
Roberts, a 4-star recruit rated No. 8 nationally among inside linebackers in composite rankings, didn't win 100 percent of his reps Sunday but claimed an edge in the vast majority. He started off strong, opening one-on-one drills with a stop against aforementioned 5-star running back Swift:
The 6'1", 215-pound playmaker exhibits excellent range at the second level, blending solid run-stuffing abilities with lateral quickness that should continue to develop in a collegiate training system. Roberts recorded 112 tackles and 6.5 sacks last season as a junior at Concord High School, according to Jake Jensen of Hail Varsity.
He hopes to help Nebraska further bolster its burgeoning 2017 haul by implementing some peer recruiting. Roberts mentioned 5-star California cornerback Darnay Holmes as a primary target.
Second Time is the Charm for Texas Longhorns Commit Sam Ehlinger
Elite 11 coaches didn't invite Ehlinger to national semifinals following his first foray in camp action this spring. Still, the Westlake High School (Austin, Texas) standout walked away from an April 3 effort at the Houston regional with his ambition still intact.
"There's nothing better than competing against the best, so I wouldn't want to miss out on that opportunity," he said.
Ehlinger made the long-distance trip to New Jersey alongside his mother. That mileage ultimately paid off when he received a coveted invitation to the competition.
The 6'1 ½", 215-pound passer participated in "pressure chamber" action Sunday, throwing in an intense time-restricted setting that featured five players of the coaches' choice. It forces young quarterbacks to handle play calls and alternating defensive looks on the fly.
"He built on a good performance in Houston and looked even better today," Opening coach Brian Stumpf said. "He's obviously been as productive as you could want from a high school player on the field. Combined with the physical talent he showed today, it was a no-brainer for us to include him in that final 24 for Elite 11 competition in June."
Ehlinger, who committed to nearby Texas last July, has indeed been among the most prolific athletes in his class when it comes to filling a stat sheet. He tallied 6,133 passing yards, 2,082 rushing yards and 103 total touchdowns during the past two seasons.
2016's No. 1 Recruit Makes an Appearance at His Old Stomping Grounds
Rashan Gary absolutely owned opponents on the field during The Opening's New Jersey regional in 2014 and 2015. Those efforts helped the 5-star talent from nearby Paramus Catholic High School earn two invitations to The Opening national finals and cement his spot atop 2016 national composite rankings.
Now approaching the end of his prep academic journey, he is less than two months shy of embarking on a college career in Ann Arbor. Gary, who committed to Michigan over schools such as Clemson, Alabama and Auburn, joins head coach Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines in June.
The biggest prize of this past national signing day returned to Jets headquarters Sunday but stuck to the sideline this time around. He attended the event to support Paramus Catholic teammates like 2017 defensive tackle Corey Bolds and 2018 quarterback Allan Walters, who each hold a scholarship offer from Michigan.
We're told Gary, who stands 6'5", is weighing in at approximately 290 pounds these days. He looked trimmer than ever, while maintaining the massive frame that enabled him to embarrass highly regarded offensive linemen in Beaverton each of the past two summers.
Michigan isn't likely to wait long to incorporate its dynamic new weapon. Expect Gary to challenge for an expansive role at defensive end as a true freshman.
2018 New Jersey Wide Receiver Sees Momentum Mount on Recruiting Trail
Nearly a decade after Atlanta Falcons receiver Mohamed Sanu starred at South Brunswick High School in central New Jersey, Justin Shorter aims to make his case as the program's next big thing. The sophomore has enjoyed a surge in the eyes of college coaching staffs this year, with Penn State and Syracuse among the most recent universities to extend scholarship offers.
"I'm so happy right now because these opportunities are starting to roll in," he said. "Hopefully more offers continue to come this month."
Shorter, a 6'4", 205-pound prospect, also reports offers from Rutgers, Old Dominion, Temple and Pittsburgh. He pointed to Maryland, Michigan, Clemson and Ohio State as squads that rank highly on his radar among schools that could someday join this pursuit.
Rated No. 13 nationally among wide receivers and No. 2 overall in the 2018 New Jersey class by 247Sports, Shorter explained he's capable of competing at tight end in college if that's where coaches ultimately envision his greatest potential.
Given his size and athleticism, there will undoubtedly be some discussion about how Shorter projects on defense. (He currently lines up at safety for South Brunswick and fills the physical mold of an outside linebacker.)
He caught 31 passes for 582 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior, per MaxPreps. Shorter added two interceptions in the defensive backfield.
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There are proverbial marathons, and then there's Demetris Robertson's recruitment watch.
For months, the recruiting world was held in limbo as Robertson not only took his time with his process, but also decided to wait several weeks after national signing day on Feb. 3.
The wait proved to be worth it for Cal fans when Robertson, at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, announced Sunday afternoon his plans to attend the school and play for coach Sonny Dykes and the Golden Bears.
Three days after seeing one of its most decorated players, quarterback Jared Goff, named the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL draft, Cal will continue celebrating after landing the top-ranked receiver of the 2016 class. Sunday's decision put an exclamation mark on Cal's 2016 class, as Robertson chose the Golden Bears over Georgia, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Stanford and other programs.
The verbal commitment ended a long standing of questioning from those closely following Robertson's process. The Savannah, Georgia, standout now will team up with 4-star all-purpose back Melquise Stovall and others in the Pac-12.
On Friday, Andrew Ivins of Rivals.com reported the decision was one Robertson and his brother and legal guardian Carlos Robertson said wasn't easy. However, Ivins also reported that Robertson "pretty much has his mind made up."
Kipp Adams of 247Sports has been following Robertson's recruitment closely for months. Adams said the Golden Bears will receive an immediate-impact player and someone who can be a household name in the Pac-12.
"We [at 247Sports] named Demetris Robertson as the No. 1 wide receiver in the country, and he showed why during practice for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, stretching the field and making a ton of plays in space," Adams said. "His body control and concentration are stellar, and while he does not display elite change of direction at this stage, he does show promise as a vertical threat at the next level."
Robertson is a big get for a Cal class that signed four wide receivers in February. The Cal offense is one that loves to spread the ball to multiple receivers, and with his talent, Robertson could be an immediate go-to option as a freshman. As a 5-star, Robertson not only adds depth to the position, but also is expected to challenge early for playing time against the receivers already on the depth chart.
Cal's 2016 class includes Stovall, quarterback Max Gilliam and wide receiver Jordan Duncan, three offensive threats who already are on campus as early enrollees. Robertson, who is roughly 6'0" and 175 pounds, gives Cal another powerful option for its dangerous offense.
Adams said Robertson reminded him of former USC and current Philadelphia Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor, primarily because of his frame, athleticism and ability to attack a defense. Robertson can be called upon to play outside receiver or slot receiver, and he is a major threat as a punt returner and kickoff returner.
Robertson signed financial aid agreement forms with Cal, Georgia and Georgia Tech, and many felt the race was down to one of those three schools. Financial aid agreements bind a school to providing aid for an athlete. However, athletes who sign those agreements aren't required to attend a school. Only a national letter of intent binds an athlete to a school, but Robertson missed the deadline to sign.
What will happen now is Robertson and Cal will work out a financial agreement, and Robertson is expected to join the team this summer.
Thus concluding a wild yet exciting recruiting twist of affairs—one the Cal faithful are happy to see fall in their favor.
Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles
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After resigning as Alabama's defensive line coach on Friday, Bo Davis is reportedly being investigated by the NCAA for potential recruiting violations.
Per Matt Zenitz of AL.com, Davis has been "accused of visiting multiple out-of-state recruits during a period when coaches aren't allowed any contact with recruits."
Zenitz noted the NCAA contacted Alabama's compliance office, at which point Davis was "questioned and caught being dishonest before eventually resigning" on Friday.
At the time of Davis' resignation, Alabama head football coach Nick Saban issued a statement without providing details, per Zenitz: "Bo Davis has submitted his letter of resignation. We appreciate all the contributions he made to the program and wish him and his family the very best in the future."
A source told Zenitz that the allegations against Davis compared to those of former Florida wide receivers coach Joker Phillips, who resigned from the school in 2014 after he was photographed in a restaurant with a recruit during an official dead period.
The good news from Alabama's side, if this case is reminiscent of the Phillips case at Florida, is Davis' resignation could be enough to avoid further NCAA punishment. The Gators did not suffer any sanctions because of how swiftly they acted after learning of Phillips' infractions.
Even though Saban is the face of Alabama football, Davis has been an integral part of the Crimson Tide's recruiting process. He was named the SEC's top recruiter this year by 247Sports for his role in bringing in blue-chip prospects such as Ben Davis and Nigel Knott.
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Quarterback competitions highlighted college football's return to the national scene, but huge performances in scrimmages—not just by players—created some buzz during spring practice.
Perhaps most importantly, though, few of those headlines involved a season ending before it officially began. The biggest news was a northern coach making waves in the South.
Leading contenders for the 2016 national championship offered reminders why they've earned that status, and a couple preseason darlings reinforced the hype.
And lastly, there were quarterbacks. Some pulled away from every teammate, and others remain locked in a battle spring practice simply couldn't decide.
Nathan Harris, who played safety for the Troy Trojans, died Saturday at the age of 19 following a motorcycle accident in Gulf Shores, Alabama, according to NBC Sports' John Taylor.
"This is an unthinkable tragedy, and the thoughts and prayers of the Troy Athletics Department and the Troy University community are with Nathan’s family and friends," Troy athletic director Jeremy McClain said in a statement. "It is devastating to see a young life end in such a heartbreaking way, and we will provide support and comfort for his teammates, friends and coaches as they go through the grieving process."
According to WALA-TV's Mike Brantley, Harris starred at Gulf Shores High School before he walked on to the team at Troy.
"He has gone to live with God," Harris' high school coach, Ben Blackmon, said, per Brantley. "We are struggling here."
Blackmon told AL.com's Erin Edgemon that Harris was twice voted "man of character" by his teammates at Gulf Shores High School.
"Nate was a tremendous person and a very caring young man," Troy football head coach Neal Brown said, per the team's release. "While his time here at Troy University was brief, his impact was felt by many. He was loved by his teammates and had a positive effect on our team's culture in a short time."
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After a 9-4 finish to the 2015 season, Oregon is hoping for something a bit fresher in 2016. With the hiring of Brady Hoke as defensive coordinator, it's clear that head coach Mark Helfrich wants to fix an ailing defense. With Oregon's 2016 spring practices in the rearview mirror, we can now take an honest look at where the defense—and the rest of the team—stands.
It's been nearly a decade since the Ducks didn't put up double digits in the win column. With just four months remaining before the beginning of the 2016 season, the team still has a lot of work to do to ensure Oregon doesn't put up back-to-back single-digit-win seasons since 2006 and 2007.
Oregon still needs a starting quarterback, but the biggest task will be to transform that defense from the 117th-ranked squad in total defense in 2015 into something a little more serviceable—all with just four returning starters.
On Saturday in the spring game, the Mighty Oregon squad beat the Webfoots 21-20. We'll try to clear up the picture a bit with our list of post-spring winners and losers.
The Maryland Terrapins landed a major recruiting prize Saturday when 5-star defensive end Joshua Kaindoh formally committed to head coach D.J. Durkin and his esteemed program.
Kaindoh confirmed his commitment on Twitter:
Both InsideMDSports.com's Jeff Ermann and ESPN.com's Tom VanHaaren noted how huge this announcement was for the school:
247Sports' composite rankings list Kaindoh as the top weak-side defensive end in the Class of 2017, and he occupies an esteemed perch as the 22nd-ranked player among all 2017 recruits. The IMG Academy graduate is also the fourth-ranked player in the state of Florida.
"He gets up the field in two steps and has the speed to get around the edge," Scout.com's Brian Dohn wrote. "He is also effective dropping into coverage, and he can chase plays down from behind."
Though Kaindoh is finishing his high school career at IMG, he started out at Mount Carmel in Baltimore, where coaches immediately recognized his tremendous potential. Among other things, Mount Carmel head coach Daryl Jackson marveled at the defensive end's 6'6", then-235-pound frame.
"He could probably put on another 40 or 50 pounds and you probably wouldn't even notice it," Jackson said last year, per the Baltimore Sun's Ryan Baillargeon. "I'd like to see him improve in that area. We'd also like to see him work on putting his hand in the dirt a little bit more."
Since Kaindoh is evidently still growing into an imposing frame, with 247Sports currently listing him at 256 pounds, he could steadily evolve into a pass-rushing dynamo off the edge with extra guidance at Maryland.
For several reasons, the announcement shouldn't come as much of a shock. First and foremost, Kaindoh grew up in Essex, Maryland. Second, Durkin had targeted Kaindoh aggressively as he enacted a two-pronged approach.
"Kaindoh represents a perfect intersection of [Durkin's] two main recruiting goals: keeping Maryland's best talent in Maryland, and reaching down to Florida," SB Nation's Ryan Connors wrote.
Snagging Kaindoh represents the continuation of a positive trend for Durkin as well. According to 247Sports, Maryland has also received a hard commitment from 4-star IMG Academy defensive tackle Cam Spence, who could soon help form one of the Big Ten's most dominant defensive line.
The Terps still have work to do if they want to catch up to the likes of Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State when it comes to bagging big-name recruits in the Class of 2017, but adding Kaindoh should be considered a major win for a program on the rise.
Recruit rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
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Mighty Oregon defeated the Webfoots 21-20 on Saturday in the Oregon football spring game in front of a large crowd at Autzen Stadium in Eugene.
A contingent of 35,116 fans was on hand Saturday, according to Oregon Football on Twitter, to potentially witness the start of a new era for the Ducks under head coach Mark Helfrich.
With Marcus Mariota two seasons removed from the team and Vernon Adams out of the picture as well, the spring game focused largely on the quarterback battle between senior transfer Dakota Prukop and freshman Travis Jonsen.
Both signal-callers performed well, as Prukop completed 20 of 29 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns in a winning effort for Mighty Oregon, while Jonsen went 15-of-24 for 188 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a rushing score.
Neither quarterback clearly pulled ahead of the other, which means Helfrich and Co. will likely have a tough decision on their hands as spring turns into summer.
In addition to the signal-callers, Oregon's uniforms are always a topic of conversation, and the team went in a throwback direction with a nod to the 1916 Ducks, as seen in this GIF from GoDucks on Twitter:
The contest started off in feel-good fashion when Jonsen completed a pass to senior tight end Pharaoh Brown on one of the first plays, as seen in this video:
Brown missed all of 2015 after suffering a significant leg injury against Utah in 2014, and he received a warm reaction from the crowd Saturday when he announced his return by making the early catch.
Jonsen led the Webfoots on an impressive eight-play drive shortly thereafter, but they had to settle for a 3-0 lead by virtue of a 26-yard Aidan Schneider field goal.
Mighty Oregon failed to get anything going for much of the first half, and Andrew Nemec of the Oregonian had some concerns regarding Prukop's mechanics:
While the 22-year-old former Montana State standout was efficient, he largely refrained from taking deep shots for nearly the entire opening half, per Rob Moseley of GoDucks.com:
The Webfoots defense did well to limit Mighty Oregon's big-play potential, as the front seven was often disruptive, even in the wake of the departure of San Francisco 49ers No. 7 overall draft pick DeForest Buckner.
From an offensive perspective, the Webfoots managed to move the ball quite effectively, but they struggled in terms of finishing off drives with touchdowns. That was the case with 46 seconds remaining in the half, as Schneider made a 30-yard field goal to up the lead to 6-0.
Although the Webfoots seemed poised to enter the locker room with the advantage, the Mighty Oregon offense came to life just before halftime when Prukop found freshman wide receiver Dillon Mitchell for a beautiful 32-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone, as seen in this video courtesy of Pac-12 Network:
Prukop made a nice toss on the play, but Moseley was particularly impressed with the manner in which Mitchell attacked the ball:
That touchdown appeared to open up the floodgates, as both offenses were far more potent throughout the second half.
Junior running back Kani Benoit scored from two yards out late in the third quarter to extend Mighty Oregon's lead to 14-6.
As Nemec pointed out, Benoit has come a long way since he was initially recruited quite lightly out of high school:
Benoit ended the day with a game-high 113 yards on 14 carries and figures to be a key part of Oregon's multipronged running attack.
The Webfoots answered right back, however, when Jonsen connected with wide-open junior wide receiver Darren Carrington off his back foot for a 52-yard scoring strike:
By virtue of a two-point conversion, the game was tied at 14-14 with nine minutes remaining.
Prukop then threw his second touchdown pass of the day to Mitchell from 31 yards out, and Mighty Oregon pulled back in front 21-14 with 4:36 remaining.
Not to be outdone by his counterpart, Jonsen led the Webfoots on a 12-play drive culminating in a one-yard touchdown scramble with 32 seconds left. Rather than potentially going to overtime, the Webfoots went for two and failed, which gave Mighty Oregon the victory.
There is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the Ducks offense entering the 2016 regular season, but Saturday's spring game suggests Oregon has the talent needed to be explosive as usual.
A number of playmakers made a statement, with Mitchell and Carrington standing out as potential stars at wide receiver.
Prukop and Jonsen both showed flashes of brilliance and made cases to be the starting quarterback as well, which should allow the Ducks to be contenders in the Pac-12 once again.
Helfrich must ultimately settle on one to guide the offense since dual-quarterback situations rarely work out, but with the amount of talent that is around them, both have the potential to put up big numbers in 2016.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.
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2016 Oregon Spring Game
Mighty Oregon 21, Webfoots 20—FINAL
Last season wasn't exactly a banner year for Oregon's football program. The Ducks have been widely considered a national powerhouse for the better part of a decade now, but 2015's 9-4 record was the first time since the 2007 season that Oregon did not reach double digits in the win column. Head coach Mark Helfrich looks to turn things around in 2016.
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The Oregon Ducks might have the most interesting spring game in the country this year.
Head coach Mark Helfrich has a team healthy enough for a draft and actual game, something he's excited to share with fans and use as a tool to craft the best possible starting lineup.
"We are going to play a game (that) will resemble American football," Helfrich said, according to Tyson Alger of the Oregonian. "We will play as much of a true game as possible."
With a new defense looking to make a debut, quarterbacks vying for the starting gig, key recruits in attendance and an emphasis on the military on top of real football getting played, Oregon demands attention this weekend.
2016 Oregon Spring Game
When: Saturday at 2 p.m. ET
Where: Autzen Stadium
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Live Stream: Pac-12.com
Before getting to the on-field action, one has to digest the off-field implications of Oregon's big annual event Saturday.
There are also the game's community benefits, as it places an emphasis on the military and gathering food donations, according to GoDucks.com.
"A tribute to the state's armed forces serving the country, as well as a means to replenish the local food bank, once again serves as the backdrop for the University of Oregon's annual spring game that will offer a glimpse of the Ducks' 2016 football team on Saturday, April 30."
An incredible event off the field, the on-field action shouldn't have problems meeting the standard.
The storylines start right under center after the departure of Vernon Adams Jr. and the ensuing battle between Dakota Prukop and Travis Jonsen.
Jonsen might know the offense better, but it appears the transfer Prukop has a leg up in the competition through sheer experience. There's a reason offensive coordinator Matt Lubick has already compared Prukop to Adams, according to ESPN.com's Chantel Jennings:
They're both very similar in the fact that they make a mistake and they're able to put it behind them. They don't let one mistake lead to another. They learn from things, they don't dwell on them. That's the thing you worry about. A young guy might make mistakes and start losing confidence. They out-think themselves.
Neither quarterback should have problems moving the ball, though, not with a deep crop of wideouts and a new-look backfield with a veteran leader, Royce Freeman.
Make a point to see how both players react to what the coaching staff expects to be live action, though, which is always a good measure of where a young quarterback stands.
Ditto for the new-look defense.
Most of the talk this spring has focused on the quarterbacks, but defensive coordinator Brady Hoke isn't far behind as he transitions the program to a 4-3 scheme.
This is always an awkward situation at any level, as guys who were brought on for old schemes are now asked to move around and handle new responsibilities, if not new positions. But so far, so good for the Ducks, especially with Helfrich praising the job Hoke has done.
"There's just a renewed energy and urgency from guys," Helfrich told John Canzano of the Oregonian and 750 The Game. "(Hoke) has a great combination of demanding, old-school drill sergeant-esque type of characteristics but then also can put his arm around anybody and talk about their family and let them know we're there for those guys."
The old mixes with the new Saturday to what should be interesting results. It's as true on defense as it is on offense, where big-name players such as running back Freeman and tight end Pharaoh Brown return.
It's an exciting time for the Ducks given this transition period at the most important position of all and altering an entire unit to accommodate a weakness. Given the off-field importance matches the hype of the on-field happenings, Oregon has once again outdone itself for spring festivities.
For those with a vested interest in the program, Saturday is one of the most important dates of the year.
Stats and info courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.
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The first round of the NFL draft garners plenty of attention. Countless mock drafts map out the first round. There’s a green room full of players and a red-carpet entrance. But it’s a very exclusive club. This season, only 31 first-round picks were made. That leaves plenty of players waiting for Friday night, when the second and third rounds take place.
As we saw again in 2016, the second and third rounds feature plenty of talented collegiate players. Those players leave significant holes behind for college coaches to fill this spring and summer. Who will step forward into starring roles for college programs in 2016? Here’s a look at replacements for the top second- and third-round NFL draft selections.
The Ohio State Buckeyes produced a historically loaded 2016 NFL draft class, setting a league record with 10 players selected in the first three rounds Thursday and Friday.
Chris Fallica of ESPN's College GameDay reported on the milestone. The record of nine came on the Houston Texans' pick of quarterback-turned-receiver Braxton Miller at 85th overall. Defensive tackle Adolphus Washington preceded Miller at No. 80 to the Buffalo Bills, and tight end Nick Vannett was the last to go Friday at 94th overall to the Seattle Seahawks.
Patrick Brown of the Times Free Press reported Ohio State's elite crop of talent matched the USC Trojans' 2008 draft class and the Tennessee Volunteers' 2000 class with seven players chosen in Rounds 1 and 2.
Versatile edge-rusher Joey Bosa kicked off the proceedings as the No. 3 overall pick to the San Diego Chargers on Thursday evening. Stud running back Ezekiel Elliott then went to the Dallas Cowboys at No. 4 overall.
Cornerback Eli Apple made it three Ohio State players within the first 10 picks when the New York Giants brought him aboard at No. 10.
Before the first round expired, two more Buckeyes came off the board, beginning with Taylor Decker at 16th overall to the Detroit Lions, while Darron Lee went 20th overall to the New York Jets. Lee is a playmaking linebacker who should plug into a formidable front seven in New York.
But Friday showed off the depth of a special OSU bunch that produced a national championship before leaving Columbus, Ohio, en masse.
Michael Thomas was the New Orleans Saints' choice to replace the franchise's all-time leading receiver, Marques Colston, at 47th overall as a big-bodied target on the outside. Finally, safety Vonn Bell joined Thomas in New Orleans after the Saints traded with the New England Patriots to move up and acquire him.
Thomas was pleased to see Bell remain his teammate:
And the huge total doesn't even count gifted pass-rusher Noah Spence, who began his career at Ohio State but was dismissed from the program because of off-field issues. Spence subsequently played for Eastern Kentucky last year and wound up going 39th overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the draft.
CoachingSearch.com indicated the record for an entire draft class is 14, which Ohio State is certainly in striking distance of achieving with so many picks remaining. Other potential draftees include QB Cardale Jones, linebacker Joshua Perry, safety Tyvis Powell and wideout Jalin Marshall.
Regardless of what happens for the remainder of the 2016 draft, the top representatives for the Buckeyes' class will have a chance to solidify their status among the best of all time by living up to their billing as they transition to the NFL.
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Unless there's an unforeseen emergency that requires more attention, this isn't typically the time of year in which assistant coaches resign.
Offers are going out, spring practice is either already in the books or wrapping up and plans are being made for the upcoming season.
That said, the coaching vacancy that now exists at Alabama should be concerning.
Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban announced the resignation of defensive line coach Bo Davis on Friday, less than two weeks after the defending national champions wrapped up spring practice.
"Bo Davis has submitted his letter of resignation," Saban said in a statement emailed by Alabama. "We appreciate all the contributions he made to the program and wish him and his family the very best in the future."
Andrew Bone and Aaron Suttles of the Tuscaloosa News reported on Thursday that the resignation stems from an inquiry into recruiting violations, and that both the University and the NCAA are looking into the matter.
Assistant coaches don't resign right now—even amid recruiting violations—unless there really is no other choice.
This is similar to situations that cost Aubrey Hill and Joker Phillips their jobs at Florida.
Hill resigned as the wide receivers coach of the Gators on Aug. 3, 2012, after his name surfaced in the Nevin Shapiro scandal that hounded Miami earlier this decade. Phillips resigned his post as wide receivers coach at Florida on June 17, 2014, after reports surfaced that he met with a prospect at a restaurant during a recruiting dead period.
Hill and Phillips simply couldn't be kept around because they had become liabilities, a surefire sign that there is no other option.
In years past, assistants who have come under scrutiny have simply been pulled off the recruiting trail. During the final days of the Gene Chizik era at Auburn, Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports reported that wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor and running backs coach Curtis Luper were both taken off the recruiting trail amid an NCAA probe.
If this was a small matter—like the $8 gate fee former Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo forgot to pay that cost him a month on the recruiting trail in 2012—Davis would still be around. The abrupt resignation suggests that it isn't.
Davis' resignation at such an odd time suggests that he's involved in something serious enough that the school simply couldn't risk defending him.
So what does it mean for Alabama?
Probably not much in the grand scheme of things.
According to his 247Sports profile, Davis was responsible for some high-profile prospects who signed with Alabama in the class of 2016, including stud linebacker Ben Davis and defensive back Nigel Knott. He also played a part in the recruitment of several current members of the Crimson Tide, including defensive tackle Daron Payne, dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts and cornerback Kendall Sheffield.
But this is Alabama. As long as Saban is there, the resources in Tuscaloosa exist, the pipeline to the NFL doesn't dry up and the shiny trophies keep adding up, recruiting won't be an issue for the staff whether Davis is a part of it or not.
The fact that he isn't now, though, should concern Crimson Tide fans.
No program is 100 percent clean. When the NCAA begins turning over rocks, you never know what it will find underneath.
Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.
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