NCAA Football News

Speedy Noil Arrested: Latest Details, Comments on Texas A&M WR

Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Speedy Noil was arrested Friday for driving without a license, per College Football Talk's John Taylor, citing arrest records in Brazos County, Texas.

Noil caught 21 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns with the Aggies in 2015.

Colin Deaver of KAGS TV reported Noil was released on $600 bond.

Much was expected of the talented wideout when he arrived in College Station as the top wide receiver and eighth-best player in the 2014 recruiting class, per 247Sports' composite ranking. He had a strong freshman season, catching 46 passes for 583 yards and five touchdowns, but took a step backward as a sophomore.

Head coach Kevin Sumlin suspended Noil for A&M's game against Western Carolina on Nov. 14 for an unspecified violation of team rules. Noil also missed the Aggies' Music City Bowl clash with Louisville. Brian Perroni of 247Sports' GigEm247 reported the suspension will carry over to the team's first game of 2016 against UCLA on Sept. 3.

Sumlin isn't hurting for options in the passing game, especially after Christian Kirk finished his freshman season with 1,009 yards receiving. In addition to Kirk, Texas A&M has juniors Ricky Seals-Jones and Damion Ratley and senior Josh Reynolds all returning for next year.

Noil's recent arrest, coupled with his troubles last year, won't help him carve out a meaningful role in the Aggies offense in 2016.

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Notre Dame Football Week 3 Spring Practice Report

The third week of Notre Dame's spring practice was reasonably uneventful, which is typically a good thing for fans to hear.

Although a potential starter underwent surgery, he should return well before a possible No. 1 role would be in jeopardy. Avoiding season-ending issues is always comforting, especially after the Irish battled through a year filled with them.

Notre Dame has holes to fill on offense and defensive questions to answer, but early returns suggest legitimate progress on both sides of the ball.

And right now, that's the most important development.

 

First-Team Offense Sighting

Only five months remain before the starting offense is finalized; surely, lineups in April mean absolutely everything and are unalterable, right?

Sarcasm aside, Evan Sharpley of 247Sports shared how the depth chart is currently organized. The headline, of course, is that Malik Zaire ran the first-team offense, while DeShone Kizer commanded the No. 2 group.

Tarean Folston and Josh Adams split time as the lead running back, flanked by Corey Holmes, Torii Hunter Jr. and Equanimeous St. Brown at receiver. Offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock reiterated that St. Brown will be a major contributor, according to CSN Chicago's JJ Stankevitz.

A portion of the offensive line is technically an exception to the opening statement, since Mike McGlinchey, Quenton Nelson and Sam Mustipher are locked in. However, Hunter Bivin and Alex Bars ran with the first-teamers last week.

Starting spots may change at some positions, but none of those moves are surprising now or would be shocking to see in September.

 

Defending the Defense, Continuing the Hype

Notre Dame boasted NFL-caliber talent and other solid college defenders last season, but the unit didn't match the expectations most expected from a group with that collective skill.

Consequently, Brian VanGorder has taken plenty of criticism. Mike Vorel of the South Bend Tribune noted the defensive coordinator's response to a question asking the origin of the idea that his scheme is too complicated.

"I don't know. I have no idea," VanGorder said. "It's because we have a large inventory, I guess. And we didn't play really good defense, right? So if you have a large inventory and you don't play really good defense, then that's the assumption."

Reactions to that statement will differ, but there's no denying that the hype surrounding Nyles Morgan makes him a key player for the 2016 defense.

"Nyles has done a really good job communicating and leading the defense," head coach Brian Kelly said, per Chris Goff of the Journal-Gazette.

Morgan's performance as the middle linebacker will provide useful insight into whether or not a first-year starter can handle VanGorder's potentially complicated scheme.

 

Injury Updates

The school announced that cornerback Nick Watkins underwent successful surgery on a fractured left humerus. He'll be sidelined for the remainder of spring practice but is expected to return for summer workouts.

Watkins still could earn a No. 1 role. According to Jordan Wells of Rivals, Watkins said he'd consider it a failure to not start the season opener against Texas.

Notre Dame must rebuild its defensive line, and early enrollee Daelin Hayes might be a notable piece. He's working back from a shoulder injury and participating, but contact is limited.

"We're going to pick our spots with him," Kelly said, per Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune. "We're going to put him in a position where we can see some things from him, but I don't think we're going to overdo anything."

Corey Robinson spent the week on a stationary bike, sitting out because of a concussion. Nick Ironside of 247Sports noted that Kelly said the Irish are being cautious since the receiver has a history of concussions.

 

All recruiting information via 247Sports. Stats from CFBStats.com or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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Chad Kelly Injury: Updates on Ole Miss QB's Recovery from Hernia Surgery

Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly underwent surgery last week to repair a sports hernia, according to Daniel Paulling of the Jackson Clarion Ledger.  

While Kelly will miss the remainder of spring practices, the injury isn't expected to sideline him for an extended duration or affect his availability for the team's opening game against Florida State on Sept. 5, according to Paulling.

 

You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.

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Alabama Football: Week 2 Spring Practice Report

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama football team’s two significant position experiments this spring are looking more and more like they might become permanent moves.

Coaches are trying Ross Pierschbacher, who started last season at left guard, at center, and Rashaan Evans has switched from outside linebacker to interior linebacker.

“[I] really like Ross at center,” head coach Nick Saban said after last Saturday’s scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium. “I think he’s done a nice job and made that transition fairly well.”

Meanwhile, Evans tied for the team lead with eight tackles and one sack, although it wasn’t clear if he was primarily facing the first- or second-team offense.

“Rashaan is doing really good, actually,” linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton said last week. “Coming from outside to inside, he’s a guy with a high motor. When he sees the ball, he definitely going to hit you real good. He’s always flying around, a great practice player.”

Evans played in 14 games last season, primarily on special teams and as a pass-rusher. He racked up 10 tackles, four sacks and three quarterback hurries.

Should Pierschbacher stay at center, he’ll replace three-year starter and Rimington Trophy winner Ryan Kelly. He started 15 games in 2015 and made Sporting News' All-Freshman team.

“I talked to Coach Saban with our individual player meeting at the end of the season, and he asked what I thought about it,” Pierschbacher said. “I said I was open to whatever helped the team out. That was that.”

 

Secondary concerns 

Defensive back Tony Brown’s status appears to be in doubt, as Aaron Suttles of the Tuscaloosa News reported on Sunday that he’s facing an indefinite suspension from the NCAA, and the school is awaiting word on its appeal.

Saban had previously acknowledged that Brown, who was sent home from the Cotton Bowl for violating team rules, was “facing suspensions.” He won’t meet with reporters again until Wednesday.

Brown has been practicing with the Crimson Tide at both cornerback and star, the fifth defensive back position when an extra defensive back is used in the nickel package.

Minkah Fitzpatrick’s been working in the same roles and is hoping to land the starting cornerback job in tandem with Marlon Humphrey. One of the players Saban said has shown improvement is Anthony Averett.

With Eddie Jackson (shoulder) out this spring, Maurice Smith has been working at safety.

“I don’t feel like we have enough depth,” Saban said. “I like the attitude that the players have. I like the work ethic.”

 

Offensive linemen making strides

Alabama’s offensive line is looking like it could be a real strength—and not just with the eventual starters.

One player who has already turned heads is early enrollee Jonah Williams, who played with the first team at left tackle during the scrimmage.

“He’s stood out a lot,” Hamilton said. “He’s doing great, adjusting to everything. I know he came and practiced with us a little before the national championship game. So you can tell it’s definitely paying off for him.”

Meanwhile, Lester Cotton, who redshirted last season, is also off to a good start and has been taking reps at left tackle, right tackle and guard.

“His knowledge of his game has grown a lot,” Pierschbacher said. “Just playing the offensive line at a collegiate level; it’s a big step, and it takes some guys longer than others. A guy like Lester has all the talent in the world, and he’s going to have a very bright future here.”

Saban has also had good things to say about Cotton along with reserve guards Dallas Warmack and Brandon Kennedy.

“I feel better about the number of guys that we have to coach and develop on the offensive line,” Saban said. “We need to see what we need to do to get the best five guys out there.”

 

Quarterback competition

One thing that Alabama coaches won’t be doing this spring is attempting to change Blake Barnett’s throwing motion. The redshirt freshman has a sidearm release that’s somewhat unconventional.

Saban compared it to the way Bernie Kosar threw a football.

"The best thing we can do is go like this and just watch where the ball goes,” Saban said while shielding his eyes. “If it's accurate and it's on time and he's got enough arm strength, then you kind of don't worry too much about it. If the mechanics of how he throws the ball affects those things, then I think you need to worry about it.

“He doesn't really wind up; he just takes the ball back, but he is accurate. He does have adequate arm strength.”

More important for the 2016 season appears to be developing the confidence and timing of all three quarterbacks who are hoping to replace Jake Coker.

Cooper Bateman is the only one with any playing experience, while Saban praised David Cornwell’s performance during the first spring scrimmage.

“We’re trying to give everybody a chance right now,” Saban said. “ We’ll evaluate how they did on film and divvy up the reps for next week.”

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

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Top 5 Performing Quarterback Recruits from 2016 Houston Elite 11 Regional

HOUSTON — Everyone at the latest stop on the Elite 11 regional tour saw what happens when perseverance and persistence accompany hard work.

Oklahoma quarterback commit Chris Robison competed at the Elite 11 Dallas regional three weeks ago and captured MVP honors at the camp. However, an invitation to the Elite 11 finals in June in Los Angeles was not extended at that time.

Fast-forward to Sunday at Houston's Delmar-Tusa Athletic Complex. Robison not only made sure his efforts at the Houston regional matched his previous showing in Dallas, but he also made sure he left the facility with that coveted invitation to the finals this summer.

In fact, before the event started, Robison gave a simple prediction.

"It's mine," he said. "I'm going to get it."

Mission accomplished. The 4-star quarterback from Mesquite, Texas, became the latest addition to the group that will compete for a spot in the Elite 11 and an invitation to The Opening finals from July 5-10 at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.

Roughly 60 quarterbacks from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kansas, Arkansas and Tennessee competed on Sunday. Five of the quarterbacks advanced to the half-skelly showdown, the final event that helped determine a camp MVP.

Here is a look at those five quarterbacks. Brian Stumpf, president of sports at Student Sports, provided analysis on each finalist.

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Cesar Ruiz Tweets Top 12: Which Teams Have Best Shot to Land No. 1 OC?

Offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz has attracted attention from college coaching staffs across America, claiming 30 scholarship offers well in advance of his senior high school season.

The 6'3", 315-pound prospect, rated No. 1 overall among centers in 247Sports' composite rankings, provided an update on his whirlwind recruitment Sunday evening. Ruiz, who attends IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, released a list of 12 favorites on Twitter:

A list this large doesn't always necessarily offer much insight into a recruit's mindset, but this announcement is an exception since Ruiz ranked programs in order of preference. Michigan tops his pecking order at this point, followed by Alabama, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, LSU, Clemson, Florida, Auburn, Temple, Miami and Rutgers. 

It's a group of contenders that features three of the four qualifiers for 2016 College Football Playoff action, along with representatives from five different conferences. The SEC is represented at the highest volume, with five universities in the mix.

Ruiz, considered a top-200 prospect nationally in composite rankings, dropped the list shortly after a visit to Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was on campus Friday, April 1, for the Wolverines' second spring game under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

It's important to note that while Ruiz currently battles in the trenches for IMG Academy, he landed on the national recruiting radar in New Jersey. Prior to a summer 2015 transfer, he competed at Camden High School, located across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.

This provides further context for his sustained interest in nearby Rutgers and Temple, as each identified him as a priority target early in the process. However, it's also another reason why Ruiz's rapport with the Wolverines is so strong. 

Led by assistant coach Chris Partridge, who previously led New Jersey powerhouse Paramus Catholic High School, Michigan claimed six commitments from the state in the 2016 recruiting cycle. This haul included a pair of Ruiz's former Camden teammates in defensive end Ron Johnson and Brad Hawkins.

Ruiz can be seen here, far right in an IMG sweatshirt, following Partridge on campus Friday:

Michigan also made headlines earlier this spring by holding a portion of spring practice at IMG Academy. While contact between current IMG student-athletes and the Wolverines was limited, that exposure may have also helped Harbaugh's squad climb atop this list of collegiate options.

Alabama, currently No. 2 on Ruiz's list, and Auburn, sitting at No. 9, will reportedly have an opportunity to further build their stock with the coveted offensive lineman. Both programs will welcome him to campus this week, according to Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports.

The Crimson Tide have stockpiled elite recruits across the offensive line with greater efficiency than any team in America this decade—a trend that contributes mightily to a six-year streak of No. 1 overall recruiting classes. Ryan Kelly, a multi-year starter and Rimington Trophy winner at center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, will be in the NFL next season, giving former 4-star prospects such as J.C. Hassenauer and Ross Pierschbacher an opportunity to fill the role. 

Along with Kelly, Alabama produced a Rimington Trophy winner in 2012 (Barrett Jones). The award honors college football's top center, and Alabama's track record here has to be appealing for a talent like Ruiz. 

North Carolina remains an intriguing option at No. 3, though we get the sense there could be a significant gap separating Michigan and Alabama from the rest of this pack. Ruiz previously mentioned the Tar Heels as a team "sticking out" early last season, according to Corey Bender of Scout.com, so the staff has clearly sustained a favorable impression.

Ruiz will compete against one of America's most impressive defensive front-seven units on a daily basis during practices at IMG. The group includes a pair of 5-star recruits in defensive end Joshua Kaindoh and linebacker Dylan Moses, and a challenging national schedule will thrust him further into the spotlight as he lines up across from several lauded defensive linemen this fall.

Expectations are immense for Ruiz as he approaches his senior year following an invitation to The Opening finals, an elite prospect showcase held in July at Nike's world headquarters. Without a public commitment timeline in place, expect speculation to swirl around the standout throughout the summer and into next season.

 

Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.

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