NCAA Football News

Monster CB Isaiah Langley Officially Commits to USC Trojans

Isaiah Langley is the No. 7 CB in the 2015 class, according to 247Sports. This California native has chosen to keep his talents in-state and play football for the USC Trojans at the next level. This is a huge commit for Steve Sarkisian and his coaching staff that will add even more talent to the secondary.

College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down exactly what Langley means for the Trojans. How well do you think he will do at the next level?

Check out the video and let us know.

 

Rankings from 247Sports Composite

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Isaiah Langley to USC: Trojans Land 4-Star CB Prospect

After months of speculation, 4-star cornerback Isaiah Langley has committed to USC to play his college football for the Trojans as part of the 2015 class.

Justin Hopkins of 247 Sports broke the news about the Foothill High School (Pleasanton, California) player's decision:

Langley announced his decision to join the Trojans over several other notable programs in the PAC-12. He received offers from teams like California, UCLA, Arizona, Oregon and Oregon State, but ultimately decided his skill set fit with USC.

Hopkins noted early on in the process that Langley was a special prospect:

 

Though he won't be ready for this coming season as part of the 2015 haul, Langley might just be an early enrollee with USC. He referenced his decision to potentially graduate early from Foothill, via Trenise Ferreira of Bleacher Report.

"I’m looking to graduate early in January," he said. "So I have to take a couple college courses here [at Chabot College in Hayward, Calif.] and just get that knocked out early."

Ranked as the No. 7 cornerback and No. 86 overall prospect in 247Sports' composite rankings, Langley possesses great footwork and speed that could end up projecting him as a wide receiver in college. Blair Angulo of ESPN.com provides a look at the athlete's skill set:

At 5'11", 170 pounds, Langley has the frame of a corner. But with the rise of undersized receivers at both the college and NFL level, he might just wind up as another great receiver in the Trojans system.

Earlier in the recruiting process, Rivals Camp also passed along video of the potential corner jumping a route:

Langley clearly has the athleticism and hands to break out at either position with the Trojans. What the future holds will be interesting to watch as he vies for a starting role during his freshman campaign, but early indications are he'll be used on defense.

For a program on the rise in the PAC-12, Langley will make an instant impact with his skills at either position. If he does enroll early and get a chance to compete during the spring, he has a chance to get a leg up on every other high school player coming in.

Regardless of where he plays during his freshman season, expect Langley to make a splash in the USC recruiting class.

 

Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter:

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Stephen Johnson to UCLA: Bruins Land 3-Star ATH Prospect

Stephen Johnson is heading to UCLA after the Bruins coaching staff was able to win a pretty crowded battle for the athlete's signature.

Mike Farrell of Rivals provided word of Johnson's college choice:

Johnson is rated as a 3-star prospect with an overall ranking just inside the top 500 for the class of 2015, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. The outlet listed more than a dozen programs that offered him a scholarship, including several BCS schools.

Unsurprisingly, he wasn't a big fan of his rating:

Based purely on his raw tools, Johnson is an outstanding athlete with plenty of speed and a very quick first step. 247Sports' Pac-12 coverage page passed along some of his athletic testing numbers from January:

The reason he didn't receive more widespread acclaim is the fact he doesn't have a defined position. He shone as a quarterback in high school at San Leandro in California but projects more as a wide receiver or cornerback moving forward.  

He has the talent to make the transition to either of those positions, but it's going to take some time for him to complete the move. That, more than his dynamic skill set, is the reason his star rating is average and he didn't receive even more high-profile offers.

In turn, fans shouldn't expect a major impact from him right away. It wouldn't be a surprise if his biggest contributions early on come as part of the special teams units, where he can utilize that speed and agility to make plays while he becomes more comfortable at his new position.

It will be interesting to see if he continues to do at least some quarterback work as well. He doesn't have prototypical size (5'11", 180 pounds), which is why he's been listed as an athlete, but he did show enough skill to serve as an emergency option so the team doesn't have to burn a redshirt at some point in the future.

When you put it all together, Johnson is a very intriguing prospect because of the raw ability. Whether it all pans out over the next handful of years is very much a mystery, but getting him to commit now is a wise early addition.

All told, Johnson is far from a sure thing, but he sounds determined to outplay that 3-star label, and he certainly possesses the natural talent to make it happen.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Josh Smith to Vanderbilt: Commodores Land 4-Star LB Prospect

One of the nation's top linebacker recruits is officially off the market, as Josh Smith committed to Vanderbilt, according to VandySports.com's Twitter account:

Per 247Sports' composite rankings, Smith is a 4-star prospect and ranks as the No. 9 overall inside linebacker for the class of 2015. The Oakland High School product from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has enjoyed an excellent prep career and will look to carry it over to the collegiate ranks.

Smith garnered interest from top schools across the country, and it is easy to see why. At 6'3.5" and 218 pounds, Smith is easily one of the most athletic linebackers in the entire class. As seen in this Vine featuring Smith running a 40-yard dash, courtesy of Volquest.com's Paul Fortenberry, Smith moves with great speed and fluidity:

With that said, he still has to grow into his frame in order to compete with top college players. Smith has a full year of high school to prepare in that regard, and it is exciting to think about how good he could potentially be if he adds some muscle while maintaining his quickness.

There was a lot of intrigue surrounding Smith's college choice since he had so many options. Vanderbilt emerged as an early favorite since his brother, Emmanuel Smith, will play for the Commodores during the upcoming season.

According to Tom Kreager of The Daily News Journal, the status of Josh's brother had no bearing on his college choice.

"I know my brother is there," Josh said. "He made his decision based on how he liked Vanderbilt. But I'm going to make my own decision. They don't have a leg up because he is there. I'm going to make my own decision based on if it's the right place for me."

Vandy certainly wasn't the only program that came calling, as Smith was a fast-rising prospect in terms of overall recruitment, per Barton Simmons of 247Sports:

Smith is coming off a season in which he racked up 81 tackles, and it is quite apparent that he is improving rapidly. He is oozing with raw talent, and it will be interesting to see if that potential is converted into something more once his college career starts.

Speed kills in major college football and the NFL, for that matter. Smith is a new-age linebacker who is capable of keeping up with and even outrunning many tight ends, running backs and wide receivers. That type of skill set will make him a versatile asset in the coming years.

Smith definitely seems like a bit of a project despite how highly touted he is. He may not receive much playing time as a freshman, but that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. He relies heavily on pure athleticism to make plays in high school, but there is more to the craft than that at the collegiate level.

Between now and his college debut, he will have to get a feel for schemes and techniques while also developing his linebacker instincts. All of that comes with time, which is something that Smith must be afforded plenty of by fans in particular.

There is always pressure for top recruits to come in and dominate right away, but it isn't that easy. Smith should be an excellent player down the line, but patience must be exercised to ensure that he reaches his ceiling.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Xavier Lewis Commits to LSU Tigers, 'Next Great LSU Corner'

Xavier Lewis is one of the top cornerbacks in the 2015 class, and he recently committed to the LSU Tigers. This Louisiana native chose to keep his talents in-state with hopes of adding his name to a long list of monster corners in Baton Rouge. 

His raw athleticism will allow him to come in and make an impact for the Tigers secondary from the start. How well do you think this stud will do at the next level?

Watch College Football Analyst Michael Felder talk about what Lewis will do in the future.

 

Rankings from 247Sports Composite

Highlights courtesy of XOSDigital

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Xavier Lewis to LSU: Tigers Land 4-Star CB Prospect

Xavier Lewis, a 4-star cornerback prospect in the class of 2015, announced his commitment to the LSU Tigers at The Opening.

Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman provided the news from Lewis:

Lewis previously agreed to play for LSU, but he rescinded that commitment in February to look over his options again. He held offers from Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Florida, among others, but ultimately made his decision to play with the Tigers.

After committing initially, Lewis spoke about why he wanted to play for LSU, per James Smith of The Times-Picayune:

Coach Miles got on the phone and I told him I wanted to be a Tiger. He said that was awesome and that they were just talking about it. Afterwards, Nick (Brossette) told me that he (Les Miles) was so excited after I told him. He said that he turned his hat to the side and everything.

As a quarterback at East St. John High School in Reserve, Louisiana, Lewis was a star on both sides of the ball. His athleticism shone through offensively, but it was ultimately plays like this that made him one of the most coveted defensive backs in the class:

James Smith provided analysis on the corner prospect:

Lewis measured in at 5-foot-11 during a visit to Florida State this spring and 6-foot at LSU later in the summer. He has a great skill set that is matched by his competitive nature and aggressive approach. There aren't many flaws to his game and his relationship with a lot of the 2015 prospects from around the state that he developed during the 7-on-7 all-star circuit could help LSU with other prospects in the class.

Ranked as the No. 18 corner in the 2015 class according to 247Sports' composite rankings, Lewis joins what appears to be another good class for LSU 

Along with Lewis, the Tigers already have 5-star talent Kevin Toliver II, completing one of the best defensive back tandems in the class. With Toliver as the No. 1 corner and Lewis' athleticism, LSU might have its secondary of the future set for the coming years.

While they will have to wait another season before Lewis joins the team, he can be an immediate difference-maker when he arrives. His hard-hitting mentality and ball-hawking skills will translate well in the SEC.

For a program looking to regain its footing in the conference in the coming seasons, Lewis has the ability to create more offensive opportunities for LSU. Regardless of where he plays during his freshman season, expect Lewis to make a splash in the Tigers recruiting class.

 

Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter:

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Jordan Scarlett to Miami: Hurricanes Land 4-Star RB Prospect

Following a decommitment from Florida Atlantic earlier in the process, 4-star running back Jordan Scarlett has announced he plans to attend the University of Miami as a member of the 2015 class.

Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee reported the decision after he committed on ESPNU:

His decision was made at Nike's The Opening, a recruiting event where several other players will also announce their intentions for college. Coming into the competition, Scarlett was the No. 10 tailback on the 247Sports composite rankings.

Scarlett also had an impressive day on the field at The Opening, per Jeremy Birmingham of ElevenWarriors.com:

The initial plan for Scarlett was to be a sensational running back for the FAU program. But Scarlett decided to go to a program where he might have an NFL future, via Ryan S. Clark of the Sun Sentinel.

"I felt like FAU wasn't the best decision for me academically and out on the football field," Scarlett said. "At my position, you need your body and at FAU, I would need to carry the team and I'm trying to get my body ready for the NFL."

After decommitting from FAU, Scarlett had been heavily recruited by several notable programs such as Ohio State and Florida State. Prior to Scarlett's decision, Josh Newberg of 247Sports noted where the prospect was leaning on Monday:

Scarlett's commitment gives the Hurricanes more depth in the backfield for the 2015 class and will be huge for the future of the program. With his speed and bruising power on the field, Scarlettshould dominate the ACC when he arrives.

While Scarlett's commitment makes for a loaded backfield already, another top tailback plans to keep his commitment to Miami. Fellow 2015 commit Mark Walton spoke about the possible situation, per Safid Deen of the Miami Herald:

It doesn't matter how many running backs are committed to the University of Miami. That's where I'm committed to.

If Jordan [Scarlett] decides to commit to us, too — if all four of us go in — at the end of the day I'm still going to be a hard worker when we're all out there.

The 5'11", 210-pound running back from St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will join a long line of former players to play at the Division I level. With notable alumni such as Michael Irvin and Leonard Hankerson, Scarlett has a great tradition to uphold.

After a strong season last year, the Hurricanes continue to bring in another strong haul with Scarlett making his commitment. The star running back has a chance to take over for Miami in the next few years and will add even more speed to an already-athletic roster.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

1 Thing Top 25 Recruits in Class of 2015 Must Improve on

All top-tier recruits have incredible talent. Their skill sets got them to where they are now, but each has at least one thing in his game he needs to improve upon.

Looking at the top 25 recruits in the 247Sports composite rankings, a weakness can be found in every prospect's game. A 5-star quarterback needs to improve his mobility, while a 5-star offensive tackle must get stronger.

Strength is also a concern with a 5-star defensive end, while a few cornerbacks need to work on their tackling techniques.

Begin Slideshow

Alabama Stud WR Commit Calvin Ridley Makes Sick 1-Handed Catch at The Opening

Wide receiver Calvin Ridley is making a name for himself at Nike's The Opening in Oregon. The Alabama commit has shown that he can make unbelievable catches on any given play. How many more highlight-reel grabs will we see from this stud?

Check out the video to see Ridley snag a one-handed reception with ease.

 

Rankings from 247Sports' composite ratings.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Miami Football: 5 Toughest Players Hurricanes Will Face in 2014

Throughout the 2014 college football season, the Miami Hurricanes will face some of the nation's toughest individual talents.

The Atlantic Coast Conference may not be an elite league overall, but Jameis Winston and a few other athletes are elite players.

A few honorable mentions are also discussed because it was not fair to exclude every second-tier opponent. The remainder of the list is organized chronologically, not necessarily by merit.

Additionally, Bleacher Report's Brian Pedersen tabbed the 50 best college football players for the 2014 season, and his rankings will be referenced when applicable.

Begin Slideshow

SPARQ National Championship 2014: Live Results, Ratings and Analysis

Ten of the nation’s most talented recruits competed in the SPARQ Rating National Championship Tuesday night. 

Kirk Merritt, the 4-star all-purpose back from Destrehan, Louisiana, came out on top.

Merritt entered the competition as the leader, registering the best cumulative score from the preliminary drills early Tuesday morning. His overall athleticism was on full display during the vertical jump, agility shuffle and power ball throw, and his impressive 40-yard dash clinched the championship over 5-star defensive end Josh Sweat.

We watched the competition and provided live analysis throughout.

 

All recruiting information per 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

5 Make-or-Break Games for College Football's Perennial Powers in 2014

The college football season is a long one, but championships often come down to moments. Those moments add up to wins and losses, some of which weigh more heavily than others. 

For college football's blue-blood programs, the ones with their eyes fixed on a national championship, there are games that could set the tone for the rest of the year. Or, in some cases, there are games that could could put an official stamp on the direction of the season. 

In other words, they usually begin a tough stretch of the season or fall on the tail end. In any case, they're important for playoff hopes. 

Which games fall under the make-or-break category for college football's perennial programs? The answers, as always, are in the following slides.  

Begin Slideshow

College Football's Top 10 RBs and Their NFL Counterparts

A solid group of running backs return to college football in 2014—so solid, in fact, that I had trouble narrowing this list down to a top 10. At least five and as many as 10 other players could have easily cracked the ranking.

The 10 players who did make the cut, however, stood out for a number of reasons. Most have proved they can dominate over at least one full season and oftentimes two or three. The others—while maybe not as qualified on paper—have looked so dominant in a smaller sample size that it was difficult to keep them off this list.

Here is an NFL comparison for the 10 running backs I decided, based on what I have seen, would be the scariest to have to defend in 2014. They don't have to be draft-eligible prospects, necessarily, even though nine of the included players are. They just have to be players that will keep opposing defensive coordinators awake at night.

Chime in below, and let me know (a) whom else you would have included—again, there were five to 10 other players who easily could have made this list—and (b) whom you would compare them to.

Begin Slideshow

Clemson Football: Upperclassmen Who Must Prove Themselves in 2014

The Clemson Tigers' potential success in 2014 will depend on the play of two groups of players. There's the young guys on both sides of the ball who will need to step up, but there's also the veteran guys who have to prove themselves this fall.

These players are guys who will be taking on much larger roles than in previous years. The amount of success the Tigers have this season will depend on how well the veterans fill those new roles.

 

Cole Stoudt, Quarterback

We will start off with Stoudt because he is the most important player on this list. The three-year backup to Tajh Boyd, Stoudt will take on a much larger role this fall as the starter.

The senior has proven that he is capable of making plays and running the offense efficiently, but he hasn't felt the pressures that come with being the main guy.

The amount of wins the Tigers have in 2014 really depends on how well he can run the offense. With a defense that will be improved from previous years, he doesn't have to put up Boyd's numbers, but his leadership and efficiency will be important.

 

D.J. Howard, Running Back

Howard is the starter at running back going into the summer, and with his experience, it could likely stay that way, at least until the season opener against Georgia.

Howard, a senior, has played a backup role in his time at Clemson but will be asked to step up this fall. The running game will be important early on, with road games at Georgia and Florida State by Week 3. If Howard is able to get some good carries, it will take pressure off Stoudt.

 

Charone Peake, Wide Receiver

Being a big-time recruit isn't always easy to live up to, and Peake has faced pressure to break out and become the main guy at receiver.

Last fall, it appeared as if he was ready to have that breakout season, but an injury hindered his progress. With Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant off to the NFL, Clemson will look for that playmaker at wide receiver.

Adam Humphries is a player who will likely line up inside and be counted on during important downs, but either Peake or Mike Williams will become the downfield threat and big-play receiver this year.

Peake was able to escape pressure in his first few seasons with guys like Watkins stealing the spotlight, but in 2014, he will be counted on more than ever to perform well.

 

Which Offensive Lineman Will Step Up?

The offensive line is a bit of a question mark going into this season with the little amount of experience it has. Isaiah Battle, Shaq Anthony, Joe Gore and Eric Mac Lain all have the potential to step up and be consistent performers, but which guy will it be?

For the Tigers offense to be successful again in 2014, finding consistency on the offensive line will be a major factor.

 

Which Cornerback Can Provide Depth and Leadership?

Mackensie Alexander and Cordrea Tankersley appear to be the best cornerbacks on Clemson's roster, but two veteran defensive backs will be asked to step up as well.

Garry Peters and Martin Jenkins, both seniors, won't necessarily be asked to perform in a larger role if Alexander and Tankersley start, but both are important because of their experience and leadership in a secondary that is very young.

 

Ammon Lakip, Kicker

Anyone could make the argument that Lakip is the most important guy on this list and you wouldn't look at them crazy. Why? Because he's replacing Chandler Catanzaro.

Catanzaro, first in points in school history, was almost automatic in his career. He was 13-of-14 on field goals in 2013 and went 67-of-82 on field goals in his career.

Bradley Pinion is a more-than-capable place kicker as well, but there will be a fair amount of pressure on Lakip to perform well this season. Clemson fans have grown accustomed to solid field-goal kicking the last four years and don't want to see the kicking game hold this team back.

 

Tony Steward, Linebacker

For a senior who hasn't been a starter, there will be pressure on Steward to prove himself in 2014. The former 5-star recruit will likely be the starter at weak-side linebacker in a defense that is expected to be really good this year.

The play of the linebackers will be very important in contests early on against Georgia and Florida State because of those two programs' running games. Last year, we were able to see Spencer Shuey and Stephone Anthony shut down the running game at times, and Tiger fans will expect Steward to do the same in 2014.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

The Opening 2014: Daily Results, Highlights, Reaction and Updated Schedule

When it comes to recruiting events, Nike's The Opening is one of the premier competitions during the college football recruiting process.   

Several potential stars at the college level will announce their decision to commit in front of the ESPNU cameras. As 162 of the best players in the country take the field in Beaverton, Oregon, each will be looking to prove he is the best at his position.

Before the players ever took the field for The Opening, they were given help on the mental side of the game. Trent Dilfer of ESPN and St. Louis Rams running back Tre Mason spoke to the prospects, per the Elite 11 and The Opening accounts:

Players like Josh Rosen, Josh Sweat, Martez Ivey and Malik Jefferson will all be present, hoping to shine on the big stage. Surrounded by other players looking to overtake all four at the top of the position chart, The Opening will be several days of intense competition.

With the competition getting underway on Tuesday, here's a look at the day-by-day recap of the massive event.

 

Day 1 Recap

Of all the players who felt at home in the Oregon setting, one quarterback shined on the first day of The Opening.

Travis Waller, who committed to Oregon last week, was on the first Elite 11 list released on Monday and continued to stand out on Tuesday. Jeremy Crabtree of ESPN notes his improvement during the two events:

Waller also spoke about his progress and skill set during his time in Beaverton, via Aaron Kasinitz of The Oregonian:

Something I never thought I'd do is just go through those progressions. My footwork from when I got here to how I am now is night and day. They've taught me so much in two days.

My running skills, that's what a lot of people know me for, but really this year I want to focus on passing the ball more, being more of an actual quarterback. I want to known as the guy that, 'Hey, that guy can really throw the ball.'

Currently the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback according to 247Sports' composite rankings, Waller is proving to be a huge get for the Ducks. In a competition with the country's best players, Waller can only improve throughout the event.

Another quarterback who stood out on Day 1 of The Opening was Torrance Gibson. Currently listed as a dual-threat signal-caller, Gibson showed why he's also the No. 1 athlete by 247Sports' composite rankings on Tuesday.

Barton Simmons of 247Sports gives a glimpse of Gibson's 40-yard dash:

Not currently on the list for the Elite 11 after Monday's showing, Gibson might just have a shot to prove his worth throughout the rest of the competition.

During the SPARQ prelims, many of the top recruits once again flashed their talents, but one of the biggest standouts was Sweat. The 6'5", 240-pound defensive end put on a show and finished inside the top five out of every prospect.

One of the most impressive feats for the big man was his 40-yard dash, as Chris Coleman of TechSideline.com notes:

While he stood at the top of the list after finishing, Sweat was soon overtaken by another elite defensive prospect.

Jefferson, a 5-star outside linebacker who remains uncommitted, put down phenomenal numbers to rise to the top of the list. The 6'3", 215-pound prospect posted his ridiculous numbers on Twitter:

Despite his strong numbers, Jefferson would eventually fall to second behind another top prospect. The Opening gives a look at the final top 10 from the prelims:

The man at the top was Kirk Merritt, a 4-star prospect from Destrehan High School in Destrehan, Louisiana. Listed as the No. 3 all-purpose back by 247Sports' composite rankings, Merritt has yet to announce his commitment heading into The Opening.

As for the actual results, Merritt shared his numbers on Twitter:

Ranking inside the 99th percentile in each category will certainly help him draw attention.

If speedy athletes aren't quite your cup of tea, there were several other strong defensive linemen who had great showings on Day 1 as well.

One of those players was Rasheem Green, who came into the event as 247Sports' composite ratings' No. 3 defensive tackle. Simmons provides video of the lineman running in a drill:

A prospect who showed shear strength on Day 1 was Breiden Fehoko. The Texas Tech commit posted the highest amount of reps in the bench press workout, per player personnel director Todd Huber:

Following the workouts on Tuesday at Nike, the prospects will now play in the seven-on-seven tournament with six different teams involved on Wednesday. The games will be broadcast on ESPNU as the top prospects look to show off on television.

With the opening day of competition behind them, the linemen will take center stage at the start on Wednesday morning. The big men will then give way for the start of seven-on-seven play as pool play begins throughout the afternoon.

Just two more days remain for the players to make their mark at The Opening, so the pressure will be on for each of them to prove themselves. Many of the events will now be broadcast on TV as each player hopes to make his case as one of the best in the class.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

What Former 5-Star DL Kenny Bigelow's Torn ACL Means for USC

USC defensive lineman Kenny Bigelow, a redshirt freshman who was one of the highest-rated recruits in the country in 2013, suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during voluntary workouts and will miss the entire 2014 season.

The Trojans' athletic department confirmed the news Tuesday:

Coming out of high school, Bigelow was the No. 9 overall player and the No. 2 defensive tackle on the 247Sports composite rankings.

Every other defensive lineman in the overall top 35—Robert Nkemdiche (Ole Miss), Eddie Vanderdoes (UCLA), Montravius Adams (Auburn), Chris Jones (Mississippi State), Carl Lawson (Auburn) and A'Shawn Robinson (Alabama)—saw the field as a true freshman and showed signs of becoming a high-level contributor in the future.

In this regard, Bigelow, who still hasn't played a down at the college level, was behind the curve even before the injury. On a personal level, missing another season to rehab his knee sets him back even further from his peers. But the impact his loss will have on USC's team next season might be just as pivotal as the one it will have on his career.

With George Uko gone, Bigelow was being counted on to rotate with Antwaun Woods at nose tackle, right beside All-America candidate Leonard Williams. Reign of Troy tweeted that he and Williams were paired together on the interior in a special formation this offseason, adding that he was supposed to be a "cornerstone" of the line:

USC already had questionable depth along the defensive interior, and now those questions loom larger. Woods will have to play more snaps at nose tackle, and Texas Tech transfer Delvon Simmons, who impressed coaches this spring, might also have to play some tackle (or prove reliable enough at end that Williams can slide inside).

"You can tell that he's played in college already," said defensive line coach Chris Wilson of Simmons, who started 12 games for the Red Raiders in 2012, per Greg Katz of ESPN.com. "There are moments when you see him flash and do some really neat things."

Bigelow's injury also means increased pressure on JUCO transfer Claude Pelon and a beefed-up role for redshirt junior/career-backup Cody Temple. If everybody steps up, the Trojans have the bodies to get through this loss and still field a solid defensive front, but the margin for error has gotten considerably smaller.

This all but guarantees that USC will not run a 4-3 defense in 2014.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas A&M Football: 5 Freshmen Who Must Shine in Fall Practice

The Texas A&M football team returns 14 starters from a team that went 9-4 in 2013. If they want to improve on that record in 2014, then they are going to need a number of true freshmen to step in and make significant contributions. 

The Aggies need immediate help at wide receiver, on the defensive line and at linebacker. There is also the small matter of finding a starting quarterback. 

Texas A&M was a very young team in 2013. Head coach Kevin Sumlin made the decision to go with talented youth over experience and had 14 true freshmen in the two-deep who saw significant action. 

The Aggies will again be forced to rely on true freshmen to step in and, in many cases, assume starting roles in order for the 2014 season to be a success. Texas A&M will put a young team on the field again, but the level of talent that is present should help overcome some of the inexperience. 

This is a look at the freshmen who the coaches need to see shine in fall practices. 

Begin Slideshow

UCLA Football: Once a Concern, Bruins Secondary Now Among Pac-12's Best

Among the more pressing concerns facing UCLA before the 2013 season was the development of a talented but wholly inexperienced secondary. 

Fast forward to 2014, and the script is flipped. The Bruins open preseason camp in just four weeks. When they do, the secondary will provide one pillar from which to build their championship dreams. 

Worries about the Bruins secondary a year ago were certainly warranted, coming off a season in which UCLA ranked in the bottom half of the Pac-12 against the pass. Compounding the problem: The Bruins did not return a single starter to the unit. 

Head coach Jim Mora spoke last season of the team's collective inexperience.

In few phases was UCLA's youth more evident than in the secondary, where sophomores Ishmael Adams, Fabian Moreau and Randall Goforth were the unit's grizzled veterans. 

And Moreau was converted to defensive back from running back. Of course, Mora is starting to establish something of a track record for finding defensive talent in floundering running backs and helping to develop stars. 

He did so with first-round NFL draft pick Anthony Barr, and it looks like Moreau will follow in a similar career arc. 

Mora explained to Ryan Kartje of the Orange County Register

Fabian is on the verge of being a great cornerback. And I’m not using that word lightly. I think he’s on the verge of being a great cornerback, like being one of the best in college football. If he has one of the years I think he’s capable of, he’s an All-American to me.

Moreau made significant strides in his new role in 2013, defending four passes and forcing a fumble. Opposite him is the unit's lone contributing senior, Anthony Jefferson. 

Perhaps the most electrifying member of UCLA's defense is the junior Adams, a ball hawk who led the Bruins with four interceptions in 2013. 

Mora's reliance on first-year contributors in 2013 translates to invaluable experience in 2014. In the secondary, Priest Willis and Tahaan Goodman were two of the 18 UCLA true freshmen who saw playing time.

Goodman and Goforth handle safety duties. Willis was a highly touted 4-star recruit at cornerback in 2013, but after appearing in limited capacity last season, he could see an expanded role at safety. 

Willis told Jack Wang of the Los Angeles Daily News in April that he's motivated by his pedestrian freshman year and willing to take on any role asked of him. 

It wasn’t the year I wanted. I wasn’t happy with it, but everyone learns differently. Sometimes, you can’t just be a Myles Jack. Sometimes, people learn much slower. That was the process for me. 

Depth is a point of emphasis entering preseason camp with new defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich taking over. Ulbrich is introducing a 4-2-5 scheme to replace departing Lou Spanos' 3-4 base. 

That means more defensive backs on the field in nickel and dime packages and more defensive backs rotating in and out of the lineup. 

Reinforcements arrive in another stable of talented prospects. Safety Jaleel Wadood and cornerback Adarius Pickett, two 4-star prospects, should compete for playing time immediately. The Bruins also return John Johnson, a 4-star recruit in the 2013 class who missed all of last season with a separated shoulder.  

Expect to see the secondary also get plenty of help from the linebackers corps—namely sophomore Myles Jack.

The versatile Jack gained national attention in 2013 for playing both linebacker and running back, but he proved to be multidimensional well before seeing any action on offense. 

Jack broke up 11 passes last season—some while bringing pressure, others in coverage. He also picked off two passes, returning one for a touchdown. 

Ulbrich's new scheme should allow Jack the freedom to roam, including dropping back into coverage when the play necessitates it. 

All told, pass defense in general and secondary play in particular is a decided strength for the Bruins heading into the 2014 campaign. Quite a difference just one year makes. 

 

All statistics compiled via CFBStats.com. Recruiting rankings and information culled from 247Sports.com composite scores. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

JaWand Blue, Alex Figueroa Dismissed by Miami After Admitting to Sexual Assault

Two members of the Miami Hurricanes football program have been dismissed after both admitted to sexually assaulting a 17-year old girl on campus this past weekend.   

JaWand Blue and Alexander Figueroa, two outside linebackers and both 20 years old, were kicked off the team, per a release from Miami athletic director Blake James, via Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald:

Earlier today, I permanently dismissed Jawand Blue and Alexander Figueroa from the UM football team. The University has also suspended the students from school and barred them from all campus facilities while the University conducts an internal investigation and continues to cooperate with local law enforcement.

Any allegation of a sexual assault is extremely serious, and the University will not tolerate conduct that threatens the sanctity and safety of our students and our campus. We hold all of our students -- especially student athletes -- to the highest standards of moral conduct. The University is committed to maintaining a safe campus environment for all.

The players were arrested on Tuesday, according to ESPN:

Two University of Miami football players arrested on sexual battery charges against a "physically helpless" 17-year-old girl were dismissed from the team and suspended Tuesday.

Court and jail records show JaWand Blue and Alexander Figueroa were booked on the charges Tuesday. Both are 20-year-old linebackers for the Hurricanes.

According to the police report, obtained by The Palm Beach Post, both players admitted to buying drinks for the victim, bringing her back to Figueroa's dorm room in the early morning hours of July 5 and performing sexual acts, including intercourse, without her consent while she was "physically helpless to resist."

Navarro notes that the assault took place in the early morning of July 5 at Pearson Hall, according to police reports. The players "administered or had knowledge of someone else administering to the victim a narcotic, anesthetic or other intoxicating substance that mentally or physically incapacitated the victim without her prior knowledge or consent."

Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post provides more details on the situation for Blue:

Both Blue and Figueroa were scarcely used last year, combining for two starts during the 2013-14 season. Figueroa finished with 17 tackles during the nine games in which he appeared.

In addition to dismissing them from the program, James stated both players are also suspended from the University and "all campus facilities" during an internal investigation.

The crime has clearly ruined what might have been a great career for Figueroa and Blue in the future, but was dealt with swiftly by the Miami program. With both now off the team, Miami can potentially avoid any distraction as the season approaches.

The Hurricanes open the 2014 season on the road against the Louisville Cardinals on Sept. 1.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tennessee Football: 5 Freshmen Who Must Shine in Fall Practices

In order for Tennessee to reach its first bowl game since 2010, the Volunteers need several freshmen to make major contributions this season—starting with the first fall practice in August.

The bad news is that the Vols have one of the youngest, most inexperienced rosters in the country, as noted by Patrick Brown of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The good news is that the freshmen who enrolled between January and June of this year are some of the most talented players on the team.  

The 14 early enrollees who arrived on campus in January got the benefit of participating in winter workouts and spring practices and will be ready to hit the ground running in August. They also got a taste of playing at Neyland Stadium during the 2014 Orange and White Game. 

However, the bulk of the freshman class who arrived in June won't have the luxury of taking their time to adapt to college life and the speed of SEC football. Many will be asked to log significant minutes during the upcoming season, and some are already in the mix to start by Week 1.

That said, there are no guarantees in life or college football. While many players in the 2014 recruiting class arrived on campus to high hopes and expectations, a quick glance over previous SEC recruiting classes shows that star rankings don't always translate to on-the-field achievements.

Here are the five Tennessee freshmen who must prove themselves and live up to their recruiting rankings during fall practice to give the Vols a fighting chance at playing in December. 

Begin Slideshow

Pages