NCAA Football News

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.

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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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UCLA Football: 6 Players to Watch in Bruins' Spring Game

The UCLA football team will be showcasing its talents for the fans on Apr. 26 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. This game offers some of the younger players a chance to perform well in front of the coaching staff. 

There are six members on the team in particular with something to gain from the contest. Three of the six aforementioned players are freshmen.

A fourth is ready to take on a bigger role from a season ago. The last two players are returning from various injuries. Both are primed for productive years. 

Here's a look at six players to watch for in the Bruins spring game. 

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Power Ranking Every Pac-12 College Football Stadium

Because it's the offseason, we're going to rank every Pac-12 team by their respective home stadiums.

When it's all said and done, I'm confident we can all agree 100 percent on the accuracy and fairness of the list, even fans whose teams play in a stadium that is ranked low in our rankings. Ha! In all seriousness, there's no way to make everyone happy here.

The criteria we're looking for are capacity, attendance, history, noise and, well, overall reputation. Where a stadium sits in relation to its natural surroundings is also important (oh hey, Colorado). Some stadiums that used to be scary for opposing teams have been quiet in recent years due to mediocre play, while others are just starting to reach their potential for providing a true home-field advantage.

In any case, we'll do our best in applying both rhyme and reason to this purely subjective list. However, you may feel free to disagree, although I can't imagine that will happen, right?

Click forward to check out an updated version of the Pac-12 stadium power rankings.

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Arkansas Razorbacks Show off New Logo and Football Uniforms

The Arkansas Razorbacks will have a new look when they take the field in 2014.

Many college football teams have tried to stand out in recent seasons with bold uniforms. Arkansas' new jerseys are noticeably different, but Nike kept the design simple:

Here's a better look at the jerseys:

Although the uniforms featured modest changes, the school's new secondary logo is drastically different from the primary logo:

The new logo led to an awesome comparison:

How do the new uniforms and logo grade out?

[The Arkansas Logo, NikeArkansas RazorbacksTwitter]

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10 College Football Teams Who Must Get Better at in-State Recruiting

The first rule of thumb in recruiting for a program is to lock down its state. Its coaching staff must establish a fence around the borders of its state to let recruits know they're not getting out and to let other programs know they're not getting in.

Some schools have coaching staffs who understand this, while some schools have coaching staffs who simply do not. A pair of Pac-12 schools in the same state have the same problem, while a school in Virginia routinely lets too much elite talent get away.

Plus, another program allows its top in-state targets to often walk off the island.

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South Carolina Football: 5 Things Standing in the Way of an SEC Championship

Each of the last three seasons, South Carolina has finished 11-2, including 6-2 in the SEC, but it hasn't been quite enough to get the Gamecocks into the conference championship game.

South Carolina should be well positioned once again to challenge for an SEC East title and a shot at the championship.

The talent is more or less in place for another big year, there are questions surrounding the other teams in the SEC East and the schedule sets up favorably.

If the Gamecocks can overcome the following five obstacles, the school's first SEC Championship is there for the taking.

 

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Michigan Football Recruiting: Breaking Down the Top 2015 Targets

The winged helmet does the recruiting; Michigan waits for players to sign. 

Well, that's how it used to be. Today, it's a little different. It's not always a slam dunk. However, despite recent struggles in Ann Arbor, athletes from each corner of the country still want to suit up for the "leaders and the best." 

That bodes well for Wolverines coach Brady Hoke, who is known for his ways on the recruiting trail. The first two classes didn't disappoint. His 2014 grab, highlighted by the one and only Jabrill Peppers, doesn't rank as highly as past classes, but it's solid from tire to tire as well. 

With that being said, it's time to shift focus to the next group. This slideshow will highlight the top-rated and most interested targets of 2015, per 247Sports. Committed players won't be included. 

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Breaking Down Each 2015 5-Star Linebacker

The 2015 recruiting class features several 5-star linebackers, via the 247Sports composite rankings. Each 5-star 'backer brings a well-rounded skill set to the table.

However, they're not all identical prospects. A linebacker in Los Angeles doesn't weigh a lot, but he dominates with speed. Texas is home to a linebacker who has amazing athleticism and agility, while a linebacker in Ohio can do an array of things.

Each 5-star linebacker warrants a closer look.

All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports. Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

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Chuma Edoga to USC: Trojans Land 5-Star OT Prospect

Chuma Edoga gave USC one of its top commitments of the 2015 class when the coveted 5-star offensive tackle announced his decision to join the Trojans Monday evening.

Edoga broke the news via his Twitter account:

The 6'4", 276-pound prospect is rated as the No. 4 offensive tackle and No. 27 overall player in this year's class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. It's apparent that Edoga, the No. 4-rated player out of the recruiting-rich state of Georgia and a five-star prospect, will make a big impact.

The McEachern High School (Powder Springs, Ga.) standout has been on the radars of the nation's most prominent schools for a long time, and it's not hard to see why. 

With a 4.86 40-yard-dash time, he's impressively quick for a lineman and has time to bulk up to around 300 pounds in the coming years. But with his strength and burst off the snap, he might not even have to get to that weight. 

Georgia, Tennessee and USC all stood out as front-runners for Edoga throughout his process, and he was initially favored to go to the Vols on the 247Sports Crystal Ball, per Kevin Ryan. But the Bulldogs and Trojans made late runs in the process, according to Ryan. 

Edoga narrowed down his final five to USC, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Stanford, per Ryan. 

He initially generated hype for his Monday announcement with the following tweet on Saturday:

Now that he's seemingly settled in with his college choice, Edoga now needs to focus on continuing to develop so that he's ready to make a quick impact for the Trojans. 

His athleticism and agility stand out as his top-rated skill areas. He also grades out as an excellent pass-blocker with room to improve as a run-blocker in time.

USC fans will no doubt be eager to see him play right away, and he might be able to fulfill those wishes considering his raw talent. But Edoga is still a work in progress and needs to make sure he continues putting in the hours to develop into an elite college football player. 

 

All recruiting information courtesy 247Sports unless otherwise stated.

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5-Star OT Chuma Edoga Commits to USC: Meet the Next Jake Matthews

The number four offensive tackle of the 2015 class, Chuma Edoga, has committed to the USC Trojans. This is a huge get for Steve Sarkisian, who continues to show his recruiting expertise by landing this top Georgia native.  

The 6'4" 276lb beast has the potential to be an instant impact for the offense when he arrives on campus in 2015. Check out Barrett Sallee break down what Chuma Edoga means to the USC Trojans. 

 

Highlights courtesy XOS Digital

All rankings from 247 Sports Composite

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10 Recruits Who Could Join 5-Star DE Shameik Blackshear at South Carolina

Shameik Blackshear is a 5-star defensive end who committed to South Carolina before his junior season. At 6'5" and 240 pounds, Blackshear is a dynamic speed-rusher off the edge who chases quarterbacks with quickness and athleticism.

Blackshear is definitely the type of player a recruiting class can be built around, which is what South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier should do with his 2015 haul.

Several other top-tier talents remain high on South Carolina's board, and Spurrier's recruiting pitch will surely include the chance to play with Blackshear. A talented pair of defensive tackles could join the 5-star defensive end, while a familiar face could also get a second chance.

All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports. Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

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Penn State Recruiting: Breaking Down the Top 2015 Target at Each Position

Penn State football coach James Franklin and his staff are off to a terrific start, as far as the 2015 recruiting class is concerned.

According to 247Sports, the Nittany Lions have a top five class, and they've sat at the top of the list for a brief period this spring. 

Of the 12 recruits currently committed to Penn State, nine are rated as 4-star prospects, according to the 247Sports Composite ratings. 

That being said, it's April and none of the players currently committed can sign their letters of intent until next February. For anyone who has followed recruiting closely in the past, those nine months can be an eternity.

Here's a look at the top players from each position that Penn State is targeting, whether they're currently committed or not.

 

All star ratings reference the 247Sports Composite ratings.

 

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Alabama Football: What QB Blake Sims Must Do to Improve

The Alabama Crimson Tide are still without a starting quarterback, waiting on Jacob Coker to enroll this summer before kicking off the final round of competition entering fall camp. For Blake Sims, one of the three players with a realistic shot at the job, the summer has to be about slowing the game down and using every opportunity to show how his unique skills should put him over the top.

In the spring game, which saw Sims go 13-for-30 with two interceptions, the Tide put the governor on the quarterback's ability to create space and opportunity. As T.J. Yeldon noted after the game, the Tide utilized only 10 percent of the offense during the game. That meant no designed runs, not many run-pass options and very few sprint outs that would allow the 6'0" senior to show off his skills.

For Sims, who was ahead of redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman for most of spring, summer will be about getting better at some of the traditional elements of the quarterback job. Most notably, slowing the game down so that he can make the right decisions. The skills are there for the senior, however, his indecision led to mistakes and as the quarterback of the machine in Tuscaloosa, mistakes get people sent to the bench.

That means summer has to be spent growing his confidence and turning the in-play thought process into instincts. Pre-snap reads and post-snap assessments have to led to definitive decisions for Sims. No double-clutching. No eyeballing receivers to wait for them to come open.

And, of course, no holding the ball waiting to create a coverage sack.

The last element will be changed as Sims gets closer to game action. His ability to move, both in and out of the pocket, are an asset hidden from view during the limited spring game. As Alabama pushes through summer and into fall, Sims' unique skills have to show head coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin that the senior is the best option.

Beating out Jacob Coker is not going to be easy for Sims. As he showed in the spring game, when the bullets were almost live he balked in the spotlight. To stay in the running and push for the job he has to slow down the game and trust the decisions that he makes after the snap. That means throwing before his receivers come open. 

It isn't an easy skill to master and Saturday's spring game showed Sims has a long way to go. However, the door for the Alabama quarterback job is still wide open and Sims has time to prove he belongs under center. If he can improve his decision-making and show that his athleticism is an asset, he has a shot to win that job.

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