NCAA Football News

Alabama Creates More Mystery Around QB Jacob Coker at SEC Media Days

If you expected clarity at SEC media days in Hoover, Alabama, on the biggest question mark in the SEC, you were probably disappointed.

The veil of mystery in front of Alabama quarterback Jacob Coker wasn't raised as head coach Nick Saban, wide receivers Amari Cooper and Christion Jones and safety Landon Collins made the rounds at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham.

In fact, the representatives created more mystery in the way they answered Coker questions.

What do we know about Coker?

He's big—6'5", 230 pounds—has a big arm and theoretically pushed eventual Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston for the starting quarterback job at Florida State last year, which is more likely to be a motivational tool for Winston than a compliment to Coker.

The biggest thing we learned from media days is that—breaking news—he's not former quarterback AJ McCarron.

"He has a different release, his timing, his release, he has a lot of small things that are different about him," Jones said. "That doesn't mean he has to change, it just means we have to adjust.

"In my opinion, there are no similarities [between former starter AJ McCarron and Coker]," Jones added. "He's his own player. He drops back different. He looks different. His arm release is different. They really aren't comparable. It's totally different."

Cooper echoed the sentiments.

"He's big, he's tall, he has a strong arm, he's smart and he takes command in the huddle when we are in seven-on-seven, which are all qualities you want to have in a quarterback," Cooper said. "I'm waiting on camp to come to see how he progresses in camp."

A new NCAA rule allowed Saban and the rest of the Alabama staff to work with players during summer conditioning for up to 10 hours per week. You'd think that would be enough time for Saban to be able to provide a little bit of insight into who Coker is as a player.

When asked to explain some of Coker's strengths and weaknesses, Saban answered in depth—about senior quarterback Blake Sims.

Look, I don't want to minimize the other quarterbacks in our program who have been there and worked hard trying to develop and compete for the job. I'll just say that Blake Sims is a senior who did a great job in the spring. He didn't have a great spring game, but we didn't really do the things that he could do. This is an open competition, and Jacob is going to get every opportunity to win the job. He has handled everything extremely well. He's a hard worker who engages well with the players.

The goal for Alabama's contingent at media days was simple—keep the mystery around Coker up as long as possible, and if possible, create more.

Mission accomplished.

These aren't necessarily uncharted waters for Alabama.

A quarterback battle was looming on the horizon even during the 2012 season, when it wasn't set in stone that McCarron would come back for 2013. But the combination of no proven backup and a graduate transfer with very little game experience and none in meaningful situations has sent the quarterback position to the other end of the pendulum this offseason.

McCarron stabilized it. Now it's littered with uncertainty.

Quite the swing for the most high-profile position on the most high-profile program in college football.

You couple the quarterback uncertainty with the arrival of new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, and it can't be a comforting feeling for Alabama fans. The former USC coach let a quarterback battle wage two weeks into the season in 2013. Not coincidentally, he was looking for work a few weeks later after being dismissed by the Trojans.

The silver lining for Coker, Sims and Alabama is that, whoever wins the job, he doesn't have to win football games. All he has to do is be a caretaker. The deep and talented running back corps coupled with the wealth of receiving weapons will allow the Tide to stay old-school, pound the rock and take advantage of play-action.

If Jones is right and Coker is smart, that will be enough for Alabama to be successful. If he's not, that Florida defense will be looming late in September and may give Alabama a tougher game than envisioned.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.


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Ohio State Football: Predicting the Depth Chart Heading into Fall Camp

The Ohio State football team is gearing up for another run at a national title, and that journey starts in two weeks when the team officially reports for fall camp.

Urban Meyer has a talented roster that's loaded with players he recruited, but the Buckeyes are still working to fill the void left by playmakers such as Ryan Shazier, Bradley Roby and Carlos Hyde.

Ohio State lost 10 starters and a number of key backups from last year's team. With fall camp nearing, here's what the Buckeyes' depth chart should look like heading into the 2014 season.

 

Starters listed in bold.

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Florida Football: Previewing 5 Biggest Position Battles Heading into Fall Camp

The Florida Gators will soon have another batch of practices, and with the season nearly a month away from kickoff, players continue to battle for playing time. Whether it’s a backup role or a position that just hasn’t been settled yet, everybody can take advantage of fall camp to earn themselves more opportunities to see the field this upcoming season.

Florida has a lot of position battles that need to be determined. This has to do with injured players coming back, new enrollees just now getting on campus and, well, players just not living up to their expectations.

The pressure is on everybody to make an impact if they want to be a part of what should be a turnaround season.

Here are the biggest fall camp position battles for the Florida Gators.

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Ohio State Football: 5 Biggest Position Battles Heading into Fall Camp

Ohio State is only a few weeks away from opening fall camp, but questions remain when it comes to who will be starting for the Buckeyes come Aug. 30. Urban Meyer and his staff are still in the process of figuring out who will replace their leading rusher as well as a number of key pieces on the defensive side of the ball from a season ago.

Factor in that Ohio State will be breaking in four new starters on what was one of the best offensive lines in the country for the past two years, and we could be in store for one of the most competitive camps in recent memory in Columbus. That's the way that Meyer likes it, as he's attempted to instill a culture of competition since taking over the Buckeyes program two years ago.

There will be battles across the board at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in the coming weeks, but five in particular seem to stand out. With that in mind, let's examine the five biggest position battles heading into Ohio State's 2014 fall camp.

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Big 12 Media Days 2014: Full Schedule, Live Stream, TV Info and Particpants

Mack Brown is gone, and for the fifth time in as many years, there is a new Big 12 champion.

That is the state of affairs with the two-day spectacle known as Big 12 media days. While it can't match the magnitude of the four-day session put on by the SEC, the conference has plenty of intrigue surrounding it going into the 2014 season. It should go without saying that it is two days fans will want to set aside to see what the 10 teams and their representatives have to say.

For some, it's a simple task of rebuilding. Others have more lofty goals, with the conference crown seemingly up for grabs each year.

Let's take a look at how to watch the conferences, those who will participate and more.

 

What: 2014 Big 12 Media Days

When: July 21-22, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Where: Omni Dallas Hotel, Dallas Texas

TV: Fox Sports

Live Stream:Big12sports.com

 

Participants

 

Storylines to Watch

Baylor's Defense of the Crown 

After an 11-2 record and eight wins in the conference before a loss in the Fiesta Bowl against UCF, Baylor coach Art Briles has a lot to answer for come Monday.

Of course, keep in mind it could be a lot worse. He could have entered without Heisman contender Bryce Petty, who threw for 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns to three interceptions a year ago.

But there is certainly plenty to talk about, starting with Petty. Can he, despite all of his staggering numbers last year, be even better? There were hiccups last season after left tackle Spencer Drango went down with an injury, and there are new pieces in place at a few different spots.

Briles himself has already stated a goal for his senior signal-caller, as captured by Matt Musil of KHOU-TV:

Outside of the usual questions concerning a title defense, Briles will have to deal with an intensified rivalry with Texas after Longhorns linebacker Steve Edmond called the program "trash" this spring.

Perhaps the biggest spotlight will fall on the fact Baylor will play in a new home this season. The new McLane Stadium comes equipped with a statue of Robert Griffin III, and it can be presumed the features of the stadium will be heavily detailed, as most have nothing more than a press release to work with so far.

All things considered, it is a good time to be on top of the Big 12. For now.

 

Texas

A new era has begun for one of the most prestigious football schools in the nation.

Charlie Strong is the head man at Texas now, and the boots he has to fill make for quite the steep climb.

Known as a bit standoffish with the media, Strong has already held some interesting interviews, to say the least. This can be noted by his reaction to expectation questions after landing the gig, as noted by Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman:

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

Speaking of the gig itself, Strong's candidacy will be a major topic, especially with allegations that those around the school were willing to whip out in the neighborhood of $100 million to lure Alabama's Nick Saban to town.

Suffice it to say, Strong is not in an enviable position. Expectations are rampant, although the job in front of him with a roster fresh off an 8-5 season is certainly an issue. That's not to say he can't eek out a winning season in his debut, but matching expectations that won't be tempered in reality could turn out to be an exercise in futility.

Most notable among Strong's football-related tasks is the situation under center. David Ash is the presumed starter, but he's been on a media hiatus all offseason while recovering from an injury—and the senior signal-caller is not among the four players Strong will bring to the media day itself.

Strong has a talented defense in place and perhaps the best stable of backs in the nation thanks to runners like Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron.

But he also has plenty of questions that need answers, both about his job and on the field. As the new kid on the block at the most notable program, no spotlight will shine brighter than the one leveled at Strong.

 

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Biggest Snubs and Surprises from College Football's Preseason Awards Watch Lists

There are plenty of signs that college football is just around the corner.

Conference media days have started up, with coaches and returning stars raving about how great offseason workouts have gone and how confident they are in what will happen this fall. And before you know it, teams will begin training camp in preparation for season openers at the end of August.

And let's not forget the watch lists...so many, many watch lists.

Between July 7 and July 18, the National College Football Awards Association released preliminary rosters of potential candidates for 15 different national awards.

These awards range from as position-specific as honoring the top punter (Ray Guy Award) or the best center (Rimington Trophy) to naming the top overall defensive player (Bednarik Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy) or the national player of the year (Maxwell and Water Camp Awards).

These lists will be pared down several times as the 2014 season progresses, with some names getting added if a player comes out of the woodwork (read: Jameis Winston last year and Johnny Manziel in 2012). For now, though, they collectively list 863 names, with many players showing up on two or more registers. Some of those whose names appear are a bit surprising, as is the fact that others were absent.

Here's the biggest surprises and snubs from 2014 college football preseason watch lists.

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Questions We'd Love to Ask at 2014 Big Ten Media Days

If ever there was a list of events that could be described as a "media circus," certainly the various football conference media days have to rank near the top. Chicago will again be the center of the Big Ten football world, and over the two days (July 28-29) we're sure to be treated to another cacophony of quasi-football bedlam.

But mixed in with all the hoopla and frivolity, unlike some other conferences that seem to spend a little too much time in the sun, the Big Ten still manages to keep things pretty centered on football. With that in mind, we've put together some questions we'd love to have answered at the 2014 Big Ten Media Days.

Sure, there will be a lot of light-hearted moments, and laughter is a great way to get through the dog days of a football-less summer. But for many Big Ten fans, there are some burning questions that deserve attention prior to kickoff.

With a list of Media Days attendees in hand, it's time to make the rounds with our list of questions we're just dying to ask this year at the Big Ten's Media Days.

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Georgia Football Recruiting: 'Dawg Night' Success Sets Foundation for 2016 Class

The Georgia Bulldogs certainly won't be accused of a slow start with their 2016 recruiting class.  Following the annual "Dawg Night" event, two of the nation's best rising juniors committed to head coach Mark Richt on Saturday.

The first big-name commitment came from a very big prospect—literally.  Ben Cleveland stands 6'7" and weighs in at 322 pounds. According to 247Sports, Cleveland is regarded as one of the nation's 25 best players in his class.

Shortly after Cleveland's announcement, more big news spread as quarterback Jacob Eason, the nation's 14th-best prospect in the class of 2016 (per 247Sports), also took to Twitter to announce his intentions.

As it turns out, the timing of the two commitments was not coincidental.  Eason's father told Jake Rowe of 247Sports that his son's commitment to the Bulldogs was very much in conjunction with Cleveland (subscription required):

He's developed this relationship with Ben Cleveland. They were talking and they wanted to make some big things happen at Georgia so they decided to commit together and start that class. That's kind of the way it went down. We were having dinner up in the press box. Ben's family and our family and the coaches and their families were up there. After dinner Ben and Jacob got up and announced their commitment to the 'G.' The coaches were hooting and hollering. We went down on the field afterward. It was great. There were kids running around and it was a total family atmosphere. It was just awesome. Coach (Mark) Richt said he has never seen anything like it - how this happened. It was really neat.

And just like that, Georgia is now poised to bring in one of the best classes in the nation in 2016.  To be fair, Richt and his staff consistently bring deep pools of talent to Athens, but with Cleveland and Eason as foundations, this class could be truly special. After all, no other school in the country already has two 5-star commitments.

Sure, national signing day for these players is more than 18 months away, but the momentum this duo has created for the 2016 signing class is undeniable.  

In Cleveland, the Bulldogs have found a strong, sturdy offensive tackle who (at just 15 years old) bench presses 425 pounds, according to Dave Krider of MaxPreps.  Undoubtedly, the Toccoa, Georgia, native will begin working to bring in other top in-state talent.  Expect him to be in the ear of other elite players like Isaac Nauta (a 5-star tight end) and Julian Rochester (a 4-star defensive tackle) at recruiting events over the next 18 months.

Eason, on the other hand, should be instrumental in attracting some of the nation's most prolific offensive playmakers.  After all, he's already being hailed as the next Matthew Stafford at Georgia thanks to his cannon of an arm and lofty recruiting ranking.

Georgia's job is to now maintain this momentum.  Closing out a strong 2015 class is still a priority, but keeping the fire stoked for 2016 is the best way to capitalize on an already hot start. 

To keep things warm, the Bulldogs will rely heavily on Cleveland and Eason, whose work as Dawgs is already beginning.  While the two need to continue improving individually and mastering their own positions, they also need to put themselves in position to maintain high visibility at national events.  

Two weeks ago, The Opening showcased the nation's best talent, and according to Rusty Mansell of 247Sports, Terry Godwin (a Georgia commit) used the week as an opportunity to do some recruiting of his own.  If Cleveland and Eason can remain in the forefront of recruiting conversations, they'll be well-equipped to do some recruiting of their own.

Over the weekend, Ben Cleveland and Jacob Eason became two of the most celebrated Georgia commits in recent history.  Now, they are two of the Dawgs' most valuable recruiters.

 

 

Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting stats, ratings and rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

 

 

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Georgia Football: Predicting the Depth Chart Heading into Fall Camp

Preseason practice is just around the corner for the Georgia Bulldogs, and when they hit the practice field, they will be focused on one thing and that’s beating the Clemson Tigers on August 31.

But before that happens, several questions have to be answered. Who is going to be the backup quarterback going into the season opener? How will the offensive line look after losing three starters? And who in the world is going to start in the secondary?

All these questions and more will make the Bulldogs' preseason practice very interesting, but then again, these question are always there before the start of every season.

Here’s a look at the projected depth chart heading into fall camp.

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Tennessee Football: Previewing 5 Biggest Position Battles Heading into Fall Camp

With more than 30 newcomers and few incumbents with firm grasps on their jobs from a season ago, the Tennessee Volunteers' fall practice is going to be one big free-for-all.

Position battles will ensue all over the field. While that is certainly healthy for competition, head coach Butch Jones no doubt wishes he had several more dependable stars.

No more than eight or nine Vols are sure bets to be starters. Everybody else must bring the intensity daily and elevate his play, or somebody talented and inexperienced will surge ahead.

A year ago, the urgency wasn't quite as pronounced for UT's players because there wasn't enough talent on the roster to generate real competition. Senior linebacker A.J. Johnson said at SEC media days last week, according to UTSports.com, that isn't the case anymore:

Some of the guys who came in early in the spring are already on beat, working, being vocal, just as though they've been here for 3 or 4 years. And the guys who just got here this summer, they've got their head down working each day. Some guys came in already knowing the whole defense and are ready to play. You can tell the way they are working, how much they put into their work. It's going to help us a lot. We've got older guys and we've got younger guys, so we've got competition. If you've got competition, everybody is going to go harder and play better.

Even though fans are going to be buzzing about freshmen such as Jalen Hurd and Josh Malone, they are at positions where they'll play a lot regardless of whether they start. There are much more important battles with unclear conclusions.

So, let's take a look at the top five position battles to watch in Knoxville this fall, ranked in order of importance by how much finding the right player will directly impact the team's success.

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ACC Media Days 2014: Top Highlights, Comments and Twitter Reaction from Day 1

For the first time since 2005, a conference other than the SEC won the BCS National Championship, as Florida State defeated Auburn a year ago, 34-31. Without question, that added to the buzz and excitement at this year's ACC Media Days.     

Of course, one of the stars of that game and last year's Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston, was the main attraction on Sunday. Winston, as you might imagine, attracted quite the throng of reporters.

Matt Fortuna of ESPN passed along the following picture on Instagram with the caption, "Just a bit of a turnout for this Jameis Winston fella (and PJ Williams) #FSU #Noles."

It didn't take Winston long to address the Seminoles' triumph in the championship contest, either, per Aaron Brenner of the Charleston Post and Courier:

As one might expect, some of his comments in that regard didn't go over as well with everyone, including Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press:

No cheering in the press box!

While Winston took his moment to reflect on the past achievements of the 2013 Florida State football team, he quickly turned to addressing the future:

He also addressed some interesting topics, like the hot topic of college athletes being paid, per Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports:

And he spoke about his baseball career, per Dan Wolken of USA Today:

He also touched on how baseball has potentially affected his throwing motion while playing quarterback and discussed making changes in that regard, which pleased Chris B. Brown of Grantland:

Finally, he told reporters he'll never shy away from being in the limelight:

Winston heads into the 2014 college football season as the face of the sport, so it's no surprise that he would also be the face of the ACC Media Days.

The real question will be whether he can replicate or better his 2013 campaign, when he threw for 4,057 yards, 40 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, completed 66.9 percent of his passes and ran for 219 yards and another four scores. 

It will be hard to top a season in which he won the Heisman and a national championship, of course. But if anybody is capable of doing so, it's Florida State's dynamic quarterback.

 

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Texas A&M Football: Previewing 5 Biggest Position Battles Heading into Fall Camp

The Texas A&M football team will start fall practice and its preparation for the 2014 season in two weeks. With a number of starting positions up for grabs, the 2014 fall practices should be spirited affairs. 

The Aggies return five starters on offense and seven on defense. A few of those starting spots were decided in spring, but some of them still remain open. 

The Texas A&M coaches need a few players to step up and have breakout years, especially on defense. How well these key positions are filled will determine the kind of 2014 season that the Aggies have. 

This is a look at the top position battles of the 2014 Texas A&M football team as it heads into fall camp. 

 

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Victor Davis Arrested: Latest Details, Mugshot and More on Texas A&M DB

Texas A&M freshman defensive back Victor Davis was arrested in Rosenberg, Texas, on suspicion of shoplifting at a local Kohl's, per Good Bull Hunting (via Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle).

The Rosenberg Police Department posted Davis' mugshot on Twitter along with five other alleged shoplifters who had been arrested in the last two weeks:

At the time of writing, the Aggies athletic department had yet to issue a formal statement, per Zwerneman.

While not a blue-chip recruit, Davis entered College Station with somewhat high expectations. According to 247Sports' composite ranking, the 3-star player was the 26th-best safety in the country and 481st-ranked player overall in the class of 2013.

According to Fox Sports Southwest's Anthony Andro, Davis was listed second in the depth chart at cornerback behind Deshazor Everett in Texas A&M's media-day depth chart. It's clear that head coach Kevin Sumlin envisioned the redshirt freshman playing at the very least a minor role for the 2014 season.

By itself, Davis' arrest wouldn't be a major cause for concern for Texas A&M. As Zwerneman pointed out, however, this isn't the first time an Aggies player has run afoul of the law under Sumlin:

The offseason transgressions of the A&M program under third-year coach Kevin Sumlin are multiple. Starting defensive tackle Isaiah Golden and starting linebacker Darian Claiborne were dismissed from the program in June following their arrests on charges of armed robbery. Starting senior defensive lineman Gavin Stansbury was arrested this spring on charges of assault on the Rice campus. He's fighting the charges.

Zwerneman also wrote that "half of Sumlin's starting defense was suspended for the Aggies' season-opening victory over Rice after various misdeeds in the previous offseason."

Sumlin spoke briefly about A&M's off-field problems in June, per Kate Hairopoulos of The Dallas Morning News:

This most recent news will only strengthen the perception that the Aggies football program is failing to keep its players in line, whether that's a fair criticism or not.

Texas A&M opens its 2014 season on the road to South Carolina on Aug. 28.

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Jacob Eason to Georgia: Bulldogs Land 2016 5-Star QB Prospect

Just as the Georgia Bulldogs watch one great quarterback leave Athens, they welcome in one of the best passers in the class of 2016. Five-star QB Jacob Eason confirmed his commitment to the Bulldogs on Twitter Saturday night:

The 247Sports' composite ranking lists Eason as the second-best pro-style quarterback and 14th-best recruit overall for 2016.

He was the second high-profile commitment for Georgia on Saturday, with 5-star offensive tackle Ben Cleveland—ranked 22nd overall on 247Sports' composite ranking—heading to Athens as well. Like Eason, Cleveland announced his decision on Twitter, too:

Rivals.com's Mike Farrell thinks those two prep stars could lead to one of the best seasons in Georgia football for some time:

Between the two, Bulldogs fans have reason to look forward to the future. Eason in particular will get the Georgia faithful salivating. Logan Booker of BulldawgIllustrated.com thinks that the Lake Stevens, Washington, native will be the most prepared quarterback to arrive in Athens since Matthew Stafford:

Eason has a fantastic arm and accuracy to match, which is the much more important asset between the two. Plenty of QBs before have had cannons but couldn't consistently get the ball on target. Although Eason will have a learning curve and make mistakes early on, once he figures it out, the sky's the limit.

Eason's also an underrated scrambler. While not the next coming of Johnny Manziel, he's able to read the pass rush and move around in the pocket in order to buy himself some more time.

Mark Richt's come under some fire recently for Georgia's stagnation in the SEC, but with players such as Eason and Cleveland coming through the pipeline, he should certainly have bought himself some more time on the sideline.

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University of Miami Mascot Sebastian the Ibis Walks Bride Down the Aisle

It may not be traditional, but the Miami Hurricanes mascot Sebastian the Ibis made a bride's special day extra special when he stepped in to walk her down the aisle.

According to her Facebook page (h/t Lost Lettermen), Jennifer Sullivan lost her father and wanted to make her entrance special, so she was escorted by the mascot, who was wearing a jersey with her dad's nickname on the back.

[Lost Lettermen]

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A Scout's Take on the 2014 Wisconsin Badgers

I had another opportunity on Friday to talk with NFL scout Chris Landry on Steve Duemig's radio show, which was guest hosted by Ronnie Lane.

I wanted to get Landry's take on the 2014 Wisconsin Badgers football team, as well as how they will match up with the LSU Tigers, who they will take on in the opening game of the season on August 30 at Reliant Field in Houston.

Chris knows all about the LSU football program. Before becoming a scout, Landry was on the coaching staff for the Tigers in the 1980s. Landry also lives in the area.

The game with the Badgers and the Tigers will be a big test for both teams. In the updated divisional format in the Big Ten, the Badgers are now in the West division, which also includes Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Purdue.

You will note that the East division has perennial powers Michigan and Ohio State in it, as well as last year's Big Ten and Rose Bowl champion Michigan State, plus there is Penn State, Indiana, Maryland and Rutgers.

It appears the Badgers caught quite a break being in the West. Not only that, but Wisconsin doesn't have to play Ohio State, Michigan State or Michigan in 2014.

Landry talked about that set of circumstances:

The Big Ten has shifted. No more Leaders and Legions divisions. So quickly, it's East and West. And right now the strength is Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan.

Bob is right when he says that Wisconsin got a break. That's a pretty soft division when you look at it. Iowa is going to have their run every couple of years. Northwestern is going to be a tough out at times. I think Jerry Kill, God Bless him if he can stay healthy, has gotten the Minnesota program better.

Illinois and Purdue are a long ways away. So it's Nebraska and Wisconsin. It's a two-team race and if they struggle, then that's going to bring in Iowa, Minnesota or Northwestern into the picture.

The Badgers will have an opportunity to have a special season in 2014. They have a favorable Big Ten schedule, plus they get to play Nebraska at Camp Randall Stadium

Besides their game against LSU, the Badgers will also take on Western Illinois, Bowling Green and South Florida in non-conference games.

That's why a win against a quality opponent like LSU could really jump-start the season for the Badgers.

Landry gave me his overall view of Wisconsin:

Wisconsin is going to be good again. Their offensive line is going to continue to be good. They are going to run the football. Melvin Gordon is an outstanding running back. If he plays well early, particularly against LSU, then he'll be a Heisman candidate.

I think this is going to be a physical run-team. They are going to miss Jared Abbrederis, and they are going to miss tight end Jacob Pedersen.

Wisconsin defensively, they are one of the few teams that run a 30-front (3-4). They are going a little bit quicker and a little bit more athletic. I like what Gary Andersen is doing there.

When the Badgers take on LSU to begin the season, they will be taking on a team that won national championships as recently as 2003 and 2007. In addition to that, the Tigers play in the best conference in college football in the SEC, plus they have to play in the West division of that conference, which features teams like Alabama and Auburn.

So, how does Landry see the Wisconsin-LSU contest?

It's going to be difficult for both LSU and Wisconsin to have a lot of success passing, but the one who can throw it a little bit better is going to win that game.

I think it's going to be a really good game. LSU is not right now settled at quarterback. I think Brandon Harris is going to wind up winning that job, and he's a true freshman. Anthony Jennings might win it because he's got some experience, not much, but a little bit.

They are going back to be a running-football team again. They lose their two great receivers. They lose the quarterback who can throw it. But they are going to be running and working on the defense. LSU is a little more athletic and I expect them to win. But I expect that game is going to be a lot closer than most people think.

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ACC Media Days 2014: Full Schedule, Live Stream and Participants

For the first time since 2000, the Atlantic Coast Conference will begin the college football season with the reigning national champion in its ranks.

Just like back then, the Florida State Seminoles are the team defending their title. All eyes will be on Heisman trophy winner and Noles' starting quarterback Jameis Winston. He will attempt to lead his team to another title, and perhaps a second-straight Heisman.

Winston is one of the player representatives who will be on hand for the ACC Media Days on Sunday, July 20 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Winston will be joined by Florida State defensive back P.J. Williams. Here's a list of the other players and coaches who will be available to the media during the two-day event.

ACC Media Days can be seen via live stream on the ACC Digital Network.

 

Schedule of Coverage Sunday, July 2012:30 p.m.Commissioner's Forum2:00-6:00 p.m. Student-Athletes Interviews
2:00 p.m. Virginia, Kevin Parks and Anthony Harris
2:15 p.m. Duke, Laken Tomlinson and Kelby Brown
2:30 p.m. Clemson, Cole Stoudt and Vic Beasley
2:45 p.m. North Carolina, Marquise Williams and Norkeithus Otis
3:00 p.m. Florida State, Jameis Winston and P.J. Williams
3:15 p.m. Wake Forest, Jordan Garside and Kevin Johnson
3:30 p.m. Boston College, Andy Gallik and Dominique Williams
3:56 p.m. NC State, Tony Creecy and Art Norman
4:11 p.m. Virginia Tech, Willie Byrn and Luther Maddy
4:26 p.m. Georgia Tech, Shaquille Mason and Quayshawn Nealy
5:01 p.m. Pitt, Tyler Boyd and Ray Vinopal
5:16 p.m. Miami, Duke Johnson and Denzel Perryman
5:31 p.m. Louisville, DeVante Parker and Lorenzo Mauldin
5:46 p.m. Syracuse, Sean Hickey and Cameron Lynch Monday, July 211:00 p.m.Preseason Media Poll and Preseason Player of the Year Announced2-6 p.m. Coaches Interviews
2:00 p.m. North Carolina, Larry Fedora
2:15 p.m. Virginia, Mike London
2:30 p.m. Wake Forest, Dave Clawson
3:10 p.m. Boston College, Steve Addazio
3:25 p.m. Duke, David Cutcliffe
3:40 p.m. Florida State, Jimbo Fisher
3:55 p.m. NC State, Dave Doeren
4:10 p.m. Miami, Al Golden
4:25 p.m. Pitt, Paul Chryst
4:40 p.m. Syracuse, Scott Shafer
4:55 p.m. Georgia Tech, Paul Johnson
5:10 p.m. Louisville, Bobby Petrino
5:25 p.m. Virginia Tech, Frank Beamer
5:40 p.m. Clemson, Dabo Swinney Wednesday, July 2311:00 a.m.2014 Preseason All-ACC team announced

 

Potential Highlights 

Winston's Interview

Will someone actually have the gall to ask Winston about crab legs? Probably not, but it seems a given that his offseason issues may come up during the 15-minute interview.

Aside from the unfortunate shoplifting incident, Winston also competed for the Noles' baseball team. He clearly has a lot to talk about. His time with the media should be interesting.

 

Fisher's Interview

Generally, Fisher is fairly quotable and prophetic. At the 2010 ACC Media Days, Fisher said this per Seminoles.com:

"That's why I wanted the Florida State job. hat's why I waited and turned down other opportunities because I wanted a place where I thought we could win it all. I know we're not there yet but we have a chance in the future if we do things right."

You have to love when a plan comes together. Unless of course you're Auburn.

 

Petrino Back Again

Bobby Petrino is back for his third stint as a coach with the Louisville Cardinals. He was an offensive coordinator for the program in 1998. He left for the NFL.

Petrino returned to take the head coaching job in 2003. He lasted until 2006 when he again tried his hand at the pro game. After stumbling through another stint in the NFL, and dealing with some self-inflicted personal issues, Petrino is again the man on the sidelines for the Cardinals.

Not everyone is enthused that Petrino was rehired. The panel for CBS Sports' Pre-Show tore into the hiring and Petrino.

It'll be interesting to hear what he has to say on Monday.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

What 2015 QB Recruit Sam Darnold's Commitment to USC Means for Trojans

The mystery man of this recruiting class is staying in Southern California.

Quarterback Sam Darnold, a San Clemente High School prospect with fewer than 800 career varsity passing yards, committed to USC on Friday. The Tritons football program announced his decision on Twitter:

Darnold, a 6'4", 208-pound prospect, missed the majority of his junior season while recovering from a foot injury that required surgery. Utah extended a scholarship following a sophomore season that saw him play tight end, quarterback and linebacker, but after being sidelined in September he wondered what would happen to his college recruitment.

"Getting hurt early in my junior year was definitely tough to deal with since I thought I could pick up some offers during the season," Darnold said earlier this month. "It was really hard for me to miss seven games."

Despite the disheartening development, Darnold managed to put together a quality highlight reel in just three starts. He completed 63 percent of his passes for 337 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, per MaxPreps.

Due to his large physique, Darnold may not look like a rushing threat when you first lay eyes on him, but his game tape proves otherwise.

He averaged nine yards per carry, gaining 322 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Darnold devastated defenders with a hard-nosed, north-south running style that should make him a dynamic force in the red zone.

His athleticism is also apparent on the basketball court where he was the Sea View League MVP as a sophomore. Darnold returned from the foot injury in impressive fashion, tallying 22 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in his first game back after missing the season's first 10 contests.

A blend of strength and agility progressively vaulted Darnold up 247Sports' composite rankings. He is rated the ninth-best dual-threat quarterback in the country.

Impressive performances at regional camps earlier this year earned Darnold an invitation to the Elite 11 finals in Beaverton, Oregon. He attended the event last week and proved his limited track record shouldn't prevent him from being considered a top-tier prospect at the position.

"I've done my best to work on everything I can as a quarterback to prepare for this fall," Darnold said after an Elite 11 session. "I'm trying to step my game up and see where I can go from here."

During the revered camp, Darnold received tutelage from Super Bowl champion Trent Dilfer, along with current and recent college standouts like Blake Bortles, Bryce Petty and Everett Golson. He anticipates a strong senior season once he finally returns to live game action.

"You'll see cleaner mechanics, especially after being at the Elite 11," Darnold said. "I think my decision-making is going to improve and really just understanding how to attack defenses."

He flashed a strong arm and solid accuracy in Oregon, earning respect from fellow quarterbacks and top receiver recruits. Ricky Town was among those quarterback contemporaries throughout the week.

The 5-star prospect from Ventura, Calif. committed to USC in January. He previously pledged to Alabama before backing off that verbal pact to join the Trojans.

Town plays the position with a style that contrasts Darnold. He is far more polished from a mechanical standpoint, particularly when it comes to footwork.

However, he is strictly a pro-style pocket passer. Town is able to deliver passes on the run to buy himself time and can gain chunks of yardage on the ground when necessary, but he doesn't compare to Darnold when it comes to giving defenses something to stress about as a rusher.

FOX Sports reporter Greg Biggins noted the newest USC commit doesn't seem phased by Town's presence:

Darnold, who landed a USC offer in late June, hadn't discussed the circumstances with Town through two days of Elite 11 action.

"I haven't brought it up to Ricky yet, but I want to talk about it with him while we're out here together," Darnold said on July 7. "I want to find out where he stands with the coaches and how he feels about the situation at USC."

It's certainly an element of the 2015 recruiting cycle that will be discussed at length as national signing day approaches. The Trojans now carry two Elite 11 quarterbacks in a class that ranks 10th nationally in 247Sports' composite team ratings.

Town, a long-established national prospect who committed to the defending national champions before his junior year, then made in-state fans rejoice by jumping from Alabama to USC's burgeoning bandwagon.

Darnold, an under-the-radar, seldom-seen recruit, rose to prominence this spring and stunningly collected offers from the likes of Tennessee, Northwestern and Oregon without totaling double-digit touchdown passes in his high school career.

It's certainly an intriguing new storyline to follow as first-year head coach Steve Sarkisian begins to make his mark on the storied program.

 

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

All quotes obtained firsthand by B/R national recruiting columnist Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas Football: 5 Toughest Players Longhorns Will Face in 2014

Football season is a little more than a month away, and the Texas Longhorns will need to prepare for the talent they will face in 2014.

Head coach Charlie Strong's team has a decent number of questions that will need to be answered soon in order to keep up with the competition.

According to CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm, the Longhorns' schedule is the toughest in the Big 12. Nonconference opponents BYU and UCLA will be no walk in the park, and many of Texas' conference opponents have returning starters who have a history of producing against the Longhorns.

Here's a look at the five toughest players the Longhorns will face in 2014.

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Bold Predictions for Top College Football Freshmen in 2014

It was a good year for blue-chip true freshmen in 2013.

Of the top 22 players on the 247Sports composite rankings, 18 saw at least a fair amount of playing time—everyone except for Reuben Foster, Matthew Thomas, Kenny Bigelow and Max Browne—and appear to be on track for nice college careers.

Further down the list of top 50 overall prospects, players such as Alabama defensive end A'Shawn Robinson, Ole Miss safety Tony Conner, Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa and Arkansas running back Alex Collins also flashed signs of nascent superstardom.

In order to enjoy such a promising freshman season, a player must have a mix of talent, opportunity and health. Those were some of the factors in constructing this list, which takes a look at 2014's top prospects and attempts to predict the unexpected.

Keep in mind that not all of these are actually likely. Otherwise they wouldn't be bold. But they aren't exactly far-fetched, either.

In the case of true freshmen, it's always hard to tell.

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