NCAA Football News
Offensive tackle Quenton Nelson, a 4-star recruit according to 247Sports, is at it again. This time, he broke two boards with one punch in taekwondo class.
If you don't remember, Nelson is the Notre Dame signee who outbenched some of the top players in this year's NFL draft.
Nelson will enter his freshman year in South Bend in a few weeks, and his summer workout routine is in full swing. According to Nelson and his sensei, Kyong Hoon Kim, taekwondo improves his hand fighting technique—a skill any top offensive tackle needs to excel.
Taekwondo is just one aspect of Nelson's workout regimen. The 6'5", 295-pound freak athlete played on Red Bank Catholic's basketball team and participates in a cross-training program called RYPT.
He also does a more traditional strength and conditioning program with Joe McAuliffe, who has trained many NFL players, including Knowshon Moreno of the Miami Dolphins.
Look for Nelson and his incredible athletic skill on the field for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish next season.
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In just about a month, Penn State will welcome its incoming freshman and begin preparing them for the 2014 season. The losses of Allen Robinson and DaQuan Jones have created holes in the depth chart that will soon be filled by new faces.
What will the Nittany Lions' options be across the board where replacements are needed?
Which true freshmen can make an early impact, and can they be joined by redshirt freshmen or even maturing walk-ons?
Let's take a look at the roster for the upcoming season—including newcomers and likely starters!
All stats courtesy of CFBStats.com.
All recruit ratings reference the 247Sports Composite ratings.
It's no secret that Urban Meyer needs supreme talent at the quarterback position for his offense to operate at its highest level.
At Bowling Green, Meyer had Josh Harris, who piled up 3,162 total yards and threw 19 touchdown passes while running for another 20 scores in 2002. At Utah, he had Alex Smith, who went on to become the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft. At Florida, he had Tim Tebow, who became the first-ever sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. And, of course, at Ohio State, he has Braxton Miller, who is well on his way to shattering every school record.
Five-star quarterback Torrance Gibson has the opportunity to join that list.
According to Luke Stampini of 247Sports, Meyer told Gibson in January that he was at the top of Ohio State's recruiting wish list. And despite the recent commitment of Joe Burrows, the Buckeyes are still heavy contenders to land the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, product.
With Miller on the verge of his final season at Ohio State, Meyer is hoping to land a 5-star talent to replace him.
Here are three reasons why that will be Gibson.
He'll Be Blown Away When He Finally Visits Columbus
Gibson recently announced his final seven schools via Twitter, and the Buckeyes came in at No. 5 behind Tennessee, Auburn, LSU and Oklahoma.
Of those five schools, Ohio State is the only program yet to host Gibson for a visit.
According to Ari Wasserman of the Plain Dealer, Gibson said that the Buckeyes are ranked low because he hasn't been to Columbus yet. Wasserman spoke to Gibson shortly before he announced his final seven, when the Buckeyes ranked fourth on his list.
"I just haven't visited Ohio State yet, and that's why they are No. 4 on my list," Gibson said.
That will change this fall, as Gibson is planning to make the trip north for a game. When he does, expect Ohio State to shoot up his rankings.
Ohio State's Offense Is Perfectly Tailored to His Strengths
Unlike a few of the schools in Gibson's final seven, Meyer's offense is a perfect fit for the the 5-star prospect.
Ohio State's base running play is the zone read, which is triggered by a quarterback with the ability to run. Gibson, who is rated the No. 1 dual-threat signal-caller in this year's class, can execute the zone read to perfection.
The Buckeyes will be able to pitch to Gibson how lethal he would be in their offense. While schools such as Auburn and Tennessee have the same advantage, Ohio State has something that sets itself apart.
And that would be...
While the current recruiting rankings don't reflect this—Ohio State is sitting at No. 53 with its three-member class—Meyer is widely considered one of the best recruiters in the country. He has backed that up while in Columbus, signing three consecutive top-five classes.
That should pay off for the Buckeyes down the stretch of this year's recruiting season.
Ohio State is in tremendous shape to land 5-star running back Damien Harris. Meyer could work that angle with Gibson, painting a picture of the two blue-chip recruits forming what could be one of college football's most dominant backfields.
Meyer has an incredible ability to put a class together and get players to see his vision. If Meyer can work his magic here, that vision would be tremendous for both Ohio State and Gibson.
David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @davidreg412.
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Change is coming, and SEC commissioner Mike Slive is going to make sure of it.
Slive wrapped up SEC spring meetings on Friday in Destin, Fla., and made a not-so thinly veiled threat to the NCAA in the process.
When asked what would happen if the "power five" conferences—the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC—fail in their attempt to push for legislative autonomy under the NCAA umbrella, Slive essentially said that, if the big five conferences don't get their way, they're taking their ball and going home.
Or, more appropriately, finding a new home according to Brandon Marcello of AL.com.
What if autonomy doesn't pass? SEC commish Mike Slive: "If it doesn't pass, the next move would be to go to a Division IV."— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) May 30, 2014
Autonomy, in this case, is defined as freedom within the legislative process. It would allow the "power five" conferences the ability to implement full cost of attendance stipends, expanded health coverage, transfer reform and other changes associated with player welfare.
How serious is this threat?
It's an empty threat, but a threat nonetheless according to John Infante of AthleticScholarships.net.
A fourth NCAA division is a non-starter since the NCAA has to agree to create another division.— John Infante (@John_Infante) May 30, 2014
If that ultimatum actually has teeth, the choice is autonomy or a new association, not a new division.— John Infante (@John_Infante) May 30, 2014
So what does this all mean?
Essentially, the push for autonomy is a push for progress—which is good for everybody.
The NCAA has dug its heels in for too long regarding player welfare, and thought it could get by selling the myth of amateurism even in an age when escalating media rights changed college athletics into big business. The Ed O'Bannon lawsuit and several others are attempting to change that, and the NCAA is becoming more flexible on defining amateurism more loosely.
But it isn't happening fast enough for the SEC, which according to Florida president Bernie Machen (via: George Schroeder of USA Today), is named in six lawsuits specifically pertaining to full cost of attendance. The "power five" conferences recognize the issues that are facing players created from college athletics becoming big business, and are doing something about it on their own.
With so much attention being paid to legislative structure this year, the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit reaching its most critical hour, Northwestern's push for unionization and the litany of other player-welfare battles currently taking place across the country, the NCAA can't afford even the perception that it's digging its heels in.
That's exactly what will happen if the "power five" doesn't get enough votes for autonomy (roughly 3/8th of Division I, according to John Infante).
The ideal Division IV would be for the "power five" to loosen the definitions of amateurism while still enjoying some of its benefits. The NCAA isn't going to let the "power five" have their cake and eat it too, but knows that the alternative would be worse for its own business in a critical time of its existence.
Division IV may be unlikely, but the threat is out there for very legitimate reasons. The "power five" conferences are basically saying, "if we don't get our way, we're wrecking the whole thing."
The big-business nature of college athletics won't let that happen, which means autonomy will happen one way or another.
* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report.
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Now that we’re in the month of June, the entire 2014 Florida Gators freshman class is getting comfortable with its surroundings, fall camp is soon to begin and the offseason is soon to be a thing of the past.
This is the perfect time to provide a quick glance at the Gators roster and see just how this team stacks up heading into a tough 2014 schedule.
What are the glaring weaknesses of this team? Any strong points that can help catapult Florida to SEC contention?
It’s going to be an interesting season for the Florida Gators.
Here’s a position-by-position preview of the team.
College football begins again in 88 days, which means the optimism generated in spring practice burns strong.
You know—at least until midway through the first quarter of the season opener.
Everyone’s undefeated, and if the predictions of “realistic” SEC fans came true, every team would win at least five league games.
Of course, the math doesn’t quite add up in this case. And expectations of significant steps forward will be dashed—likely within the first month.
Anyone can technically win their divisions at this point. One only needs to look back just a year to realize surprises can happen even in the mighty SEC.
It’s hard to believe anyone had Auburn and Missouri in the SEC Championship Game a year ago.
Still, there are programs that simply won’t be in Atlanta on Dec. 6—to play in a football game anyway.
Looking at you, Kentucky.
While last year’s Auburn-Missouri final came as a surprise, the matchup doesn’t always come as a total surprise.
Picking Alabama to come out of the West, for instance, would have yielded positive results in four out of the past seven seasons.
Vanderbilt, conversely, hasn’t represented its division since—well—ever.
So while picking the most likely teams to win the SEC shortly after the calendar flipped to June might seem ambitious, handicapping the league isn’t impossible.
Here goes our best shot.
Notre Dame football players have been making their way back to campus over the past few days, with summer workouts set to begin soon.
June 1, 2014
We have focused much of our attention on recruiting in recent weeks, and we’ll continue to do so throughout the summer. But for now, let’s go position by position and preview the Irish squad.
Slowly but surely, the 2014 college football season is approaching for the Miami Hurricanes.
As the final freshmen filter into campus, it's time to preview what Al Golden's whole team will look like when the fall finally arrives.
Going from position to position, Bleacher Report will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each Miami unit, including special teams.
Each slide includes projected starters, key reserves and mentions any injuries that will affect the positional group.
Note: Player information courtesy of hurricanesports.com.
Football in the Big 12 Conference has taken a reputation hit since the 2013 season ended, the product of only three players from the league leaving early for the NFL draft and a grand total of just 17 getting drafted overall.
Take those numbers for what you will, but one thing is certain: Those that will represent the Big 12 on the field this fall will be far more prized by professional scouts and teams. Bleacher Report NFL expert Matt Miller has four from the league projected in his early 2015 mock draft, double the tally that was taken in the first round this past draft, while many others are drawing interest for their future pro potential.
For now, though, they're all still college players, and together should make the Big 12 a heck of a league to watch this year.
Here's our look at the 25 best Big 12 players heading into the 2014 season.
Once upon a time, Damien Harris was committed to Michigan's 2015 class. By verbally pledging to the Wolverines, the 5'11," 205-pound Berea Madison Southern (Kentucky) running back served as a shot of adrenaline to the arm of a program in need of 5-star services in the backfield.
And then he changed his mind, causing a rift that hit fans like a ton of bricks.
Freed of his ties, Harris unofficially visited Florida, Florida State, Ohio State and Kentucky. According to 247Sports, he has "warm" interest in Alabama and Auburn, which complicates matters.
However, as of early June, Harris remains as a possibility for coach Brady Hoke, whose talent-laden recruiting hauls continually quench the thirst of an extraordinarily dedicated fanbase. In essence, Hoke's success on the trail overshadows otherwise miserable seasons by Michigan standards.
The 2012 and 2013 classes were more than kind to Hoke, finishing as the No. 6- and No. 4-ranked collections, respectively, per 247Sports. Without Harris, Michigan's 2015 class dwells at No. 33. But if he were to commit and sign, the Wolverines could finish among the top 15 come national signing day in February.
On May 22, Fred Jackson, running backs coach, paid an in-home visit to the Harris household. When it's all said and done, the veteran's communication with Harris could prove as a difference-maker in the process.
Now it's time to review what else Michigan has done, should do and could do to get Harris in a winged helmet.
He Was Michigan's, First!
It was mentioned just moments ago, but it bears repeating: Michigan was Harris' original choice. The firing of Al Borges, the former OC, rattled him a bit.
But Harris has kept in close contact, keeping the door open and Maize and Blue fans eagerly anticipating the latest news.
While at Alabama, Doug Nussmeier coached some of the best talent that recruiting could recruit. He's not a national name, but a well-known entity nonetheless. During a recent interview with SB Nation, Harris admitted that he wasn't overly familiar with Michigan's new OC but is working on changing that, per Luke Zimmerman:
"The coaches at Ohio State — Coach Meyer, Coach Hinton, Coach Drayton — I've talked to them for a long time. But you know Coach Nussmeier at Michigan, he hasn't been there for very long. I'm just now starting to build a relationship with him."
Nussmeier is best known for his work with quarterbacks. But he's also known for forming bonds with his athletes, and that'll come into play while Harris mulls over his options. Players should want to play for coaches who can advance them in life, on the field and in the classroom.
Doug is a highly respected offensive coordinator and has earned a reputation as being a great mentor to quarterbacks, specifically, where he's coached Pro Bowlers, top NFL draft choices and Heisman Trophy finalists. Doug has been successful at every coaching stop with his balanced and explosive offenses, and he brings national championship experience. He is an excellent addition to our coaching staff and football program...(goes on to welcome Nussmeier family)
Doug did an outstanding job for us during his time at the University of Alabama and I'm sure he will do a great job at the University of Michigan. He is a bright coach who works hard and brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to work each and every day. Our production and balance the last two years has been very good and he also brought a lot to the table in terms of coaching the quarterbacks...(goes on to thank Nussmeier family)
The Tide's past under and Michigan potential with Nussmeier could also be a deciding factor for Harris.
Wolverines RB Tradition
In all likelihood, Jackson and the rest of the staff have recruiting down to a science. They should. Regardless of how smooth one is, it's often helpful to put the prospect in the mood. By doing so, it generates emotion—and in some cases, it can encourage desired results, which, in this scenario, would be a commitment.
As the No. 1-ranked athlete at his position, Harris has his pick of the litter. But for fun, let's say that the Wolverines have hit him with something similar to the following narrative:
Damien, it's a brisk Saturday in late November at The Big House, and more than 110,000 loyal supporters are chanting your name—oh, and it's 4th-and-goal from Ohio State's 3-yard line with one tick remaining on the clock. And then it happens: Everything becomes a blur, and the ball is thrust toward your abdomen by the quarterback—seconds later, you find yourself being mobbed by teammates who are celebrating your game-winning touchdown.
Doesn't that sound like something you'd like to do? Don't you want to be a major part of one of the game's most storied rivalries? Michigan is for you, Damien.
OK, so it's not perfect, but the wooing technique is certainly an important part of the sales pitch. Again, for fun, let's assume that Jackson also has that part nailed. After all, in 2013, he convinced Derrick Green, who was once thought to be the top back of the class, and De'Veon Smith, a consensus top-20er, to look past the others and head to Ann Arbor.
However, it's mandatory to tread lightly when using the tradition speech. Old stories don't win today's games, and Harris probably couldn't care less about being a featured back on a team that's spinning its wheels in the mud. But Michigan has to do much more than serenade the Bluegrass State's prized ball-carrier; it has to prove that it's worthy of rejecting the rest of college football.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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The Tennessee Volunteers are going to be full of new faces in 2014, and having a roster handy those first few games may not be a bad idea.
All of the Vols' signees—besides Chris Weatherd—are on campus, officially on the roster and ready to participate in summer workouts, which means the team is coming more into focus.
The good news is head coach Butch Jones is getting the same level of injected defensive talent now that he did offensively prior to spring practice.
The bad news is there isn't a lot of time to get them ready to play Southeastern Conference football.
"The challenging part is the individuals on offense, most of our recruiting class was here this spring," Jones told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview. "They now have a spring under their belt from a maturation standpoint. (Defensively) now you’re relying on 17- or 18-year-old freshmen coming in, and all they have is June, July and August to get ready to play a full season.
"But the realities of where we're at is there are going to be a lot of freshmen that have to play defensively. A lot of it's going to be in the interior front and at the linebacker position and even in the secondary. It's going to be critical we extract every ounce of value from each day."
So, where do all the new players fit? A lot of that still needs to be sorted out, but now that everybody has arrived (besides Weatherd, who still has a shot to get into UT, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel's Evan Woodbery), the puzzle pieces are beginning to fall into place.
So, let's take a look at an early position-by-position breakdown of UT's 2014 roster.
Summertime is here and the preview magazines are starting to hit the newsstands. So the 2014 college football season is right around the corner.
With the new season coming, expectations will be high for every team in the FBS. And that is no different for the Georgia Bulldogs, who return a deep roster.
There will be some new faces like there are every year, and there are some key players who were on last year’s team who will be missed. But looking at each position, the Bulldogs could have the most talented roster in the SEC.
But is that good enough to win the SEC and have a chance to play in the College Football Playoff?
Here’s a position-by-position preview of the Bulldogs’ 2014 roster.
Oregon has a commitment from 4-star speedster Taj Griffin. From Georgia, Griffin is a dynamic offensive recruit who can do damage as a runner and receiver.
The 5'10", 175-pounder has terrific quickness to launch himself through alleys, plus he is lethal in space. The Ducks will use Griffin's pledge to attract more talented recruits to join their class, and several top-tier prospects are keeping close tabs on what's happening in Eugene.
A 5-star defensive end digs Oregon a ton, while a 4-star safety could spurn both of his local schools to become a Duck. Also, a quarterback could choose to join Griffin.
Michigan State was nothing short of impressive in 2013, blowing past the best the Big Ten could offer in route to an 8-0 conference record and a win over Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game—all by double-digit margins. Do the Spartans have another championship run in them, or will we see a changing of the guard in 2014?
Michigan State needs to reload its defense. Ohio State, unquestionably the second-best team in the Big Ten in 2013, has its own share of holes to fill. Both teams return impressive talent, but with conference realignment, both the Buckeyes and Spartans are now part of the new East Division.
What about the West and its soon-to-be divisional powerhouses? Can Nebraska shake off yet another four-loss season (its sixth straight)? Can Wisconsin reclaim its once dominant role?
We'll break down the five teams we think have the best shot at winning the Big Ten title in 2014, and we've broken them down into the top two teams in each division, plus a fifth "wild card" team.
Football is a crazy sport where anything can happen, but we're fairly confident these five teams have the best shot at making a run for the Big Ten title—and the likely College Football Playoff berth that could come with it.
The 2015 class has several prospects who are surrounded by a ton of hype. While many of them deserve it, the hype they've gained has taken the spotlight away from other recruits more than it should.
Looking down the board, several players deserve more hype and acclaim than they're currently receiving. A 4-star receiver should riot over not having an extra star, and a speedy running back deserves to be ranked much higher than where he is.
Also, a talented 4-star cornerback and a 3-star pass-rusher are better players than many people think.
Daron Payne‘s recruitment is the latest extension of the most heated rivalry in college football between Alabama and Auburn.
Both in-state powers are trying to lure the 5-star defensive tackle from Birmingham, and he’s gone on record stating that each program has a special pull for him.
“I grew up an Auburn fan, so I’ve been wanting to play for them all of my life.” Payne told Bryan Matthews of Auburn Undercover. “Then I got the Alabama offer, and then (it’s like) everybody wants to play for ‘Bama.”
Similar to the recruitments of Rashaan Evans and Reuben Foster, Payne’s recruitment will be a fight to the end between Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn.
What are some of the main reasons Tide fans have to be confident in landing Payne?
*Unless otherwise noted, all rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
Billy Gilley is apparently a huge Auburn Tigers football fan, so his family decided to do something pretty awesome for his groom's cake.
The family got a cake made of Jordan-Hare Stadium with the score tied at 28-28 against Alabama with one second remaining on the clock. The cake is an obvious reference to Auburn's famous play this past season, when Chris Davis returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a game-ending touchdown.
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The Texas A&M football team has a roster that is almost completely stocked full of SEC-level talent. There are still some depth issues at certain positions, but the Texas A&M football coaches have done a tremendous job of turning over the roster in the last three recruiting classes.
In order to be an elite program in the SEC, you need to be three-deep at every position. When the Aggies entered the SEC in 2012, they had good starters but suspect backups. In 2013, they lost a lot of those starters on defense and were forced to go with a youth movement that resulted in one of the worst defenses in the country.
The Aggies will benefit from suffering through those youthful mistakes in 2013, with a more experienced roster in 2014. The Aggies are not three-deep across the board yet, but they are making strides in that direction.
This is a position-by-position breakdown of the Aggies roster in 2014.
A new era is beginning in Alabama with Lane Kiffin now in charge of the Crimson Tide offense. The former USC and Tennessee head coach took over the role of offensive coordinator this offseason and has slowly integrated his system in Tuscaloosa.
Apparently much of that system will revolve around an immensely talented backfield. Kiffin spoke about how the process has gone thus far, via Mike Herndon of AL.com:
"As you guys know extremely well, I think the offense is led by the tailbacks," Kiffin said. "There probably aren't three more talented tailbacks in the NFL on a roster than we're fortunate to be able to work with at Alabama."
That trio includes T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake, along with a healthy dose of Derrick Henry. While Yeldon comes into the season as the bell cow for Kiffin's offense, the junior clearly won't be the only player fighting for snaps during the 2014 season.
But are the three better than the top-three backs of NFL teams? Ben Maller of Fox Sports Radio gives his thoughts on a former NFL team that Kiffin coached:
If all three backs are able to produce during the upcoming season with a good share of the touches, Kiffin might be able to see all three live up to his hype. After losing a two-time National Championship-winning quarterback in AJ McCarron to the NFL, leaning on such a talented trio might be the perfect fix for their loss behind center.
After a stable of backs like Eddie Lacy, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson have made their impact in the SEC, Yeldon and company might just make a dent of their own this season.
With the three-headed monster that Kiffin believes he has in Tuscaloosa, this might be yet another championship season for the Tide. But if his expectations for the three backs fall short—which we've seen happen multiple times to Kiffin—the 39-year-old coach might have his name on the hot seat early in his career.
Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter.
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