NCAA Football News

Georgia Football: Burning Questions Ahead of Spring Practice

Tuesday marks the beginning of the 2015 season as the Bulldogs begin spring practice. There’s a lot of optimism from fans coming into spring practice, just like any other year. But there will be some questions the Bulldogs will need to address when spring practice begins.

There are a lot of changes with the team this season, and it’s essential that everyone is on the same page so the Bulldogs can reach the goal of winning the SEC in December. But if the Bulldogs don’t have a successful spring, then the fall won’t be as great as it could and should be.

So here are some burning questions ahead of spring practice.

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Texas Football: Burning Questions Ahead of the Longhorns' Spring Practice

Spring practice is about to begin for the Texas Longhorns, who can hopefully answer some of the burning questions about the status of the team.

For Charlie Strong, this spring is all about discovering an offensive identity and finding out what he has in last year's backups. He has a lot of talented freshmen set to join the program, but fielding a team full of first-year players is hardly the way to improve on a 6-7 campaign.

The Horns need a quarterback, a concrete offensive line and some veterans they can trust. And they need all of them to emerge to some degree before summer workouts.

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Virginia Tech Football: Burning Questions Ahead of Spring Practice

Spring practice begins in full for the Virginia Tech Hokies next week. It's the unofficial beginning of the new season, and many questions the fans have regarding the offseason are answered in spring practice.

For head coach Frank Beamer, it will be his 29th season in charge of his alma mater. Many things have changed in recent years, though. Beamer, who is often resistant to change, has shaken up his coaching staff considerably over the past few years.

On the field, results have been mixed. After eight straight seasons with 10 wins or more, Tech has won seven, eight and seven games over the last three seasons, respectively. 

With spring practice set to begin next week, here are four burning questions Virginia Tech faces this spring.

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UCLA Football: Burning Questions Ahead of Spring Practice

With spring practice less than two weeks away, there are three burning questions when it comes to Jim Mora and the UCLA football program.

Two of these questions relate solely to assistant coaches on the squad. One coach is facing some serious allegations, while another has been awarded a fresh start. 

The third question focuses on a new member of the squad. This player enters UCLA with tons of hype and plays the most significant position on the field. 

Here are three burning questions facing the UCLA Bruins ahead of the start of spring practice on March 31.

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Graham Glasgow Suspended by Michigan: Latest Details and Comments

The Michigan football program was in the midst of a resurgence this offseason after Jim Harbaugh took the coaching job, but it received some unfortunate news Monday regarding offensive lineman Graham Glasgow, who has been suspended by Michigan for violating his probation.   

Angelique S. Chengelis of The Detroit News passed along a statement from Michigan on the developing situation:

Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com reported the following details on Glasgow's probation violation:

Senior offensive lineman Graham Glasgow admitted to a violation of his probation Monday after registering a .086 Breathalyzer test Sunday morning, per 15th District Court records.

Glasgow was given one year of probation on July 14, 2014 after entering a guilty plea to operating while visibly impaired. He was originally arrested on March 15, 2014.

Glasgow admitted guilt in court Monday, and his probation was increased by six months.

Interestingly, Baumgardner noted that Harbaugh recently promoted Glasgow to the top center spot for spring practice. Whether this development changes that moving forward remains to be seen.

This is not the first time Glasgow has gotten into trouble. Baumgardner delved into more specifics, including how Glasgow was suspended for part of spring practice in 2014 and the first game of the season.

The Michigan football program has plenty of momentum on its side with the Harbaugh move and certainly has notions of making it back to a bowl game this season.   

This will definitely be unwelcome news in Ann Arbor in what has otherwise been a solid offseason.

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Jim Harbaugh Infiltrates Urban Meyer's Recruiting Pipeline with Latest Hire

Two weeks ago, former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said that in order for Jim Harbaugh to be successful at Michigan, he's going to have to successfully recruit the state of Ohio.

Apparently Harbaugh was listening.

The new Wolverines head coach sent shockwaves through the Ohio high school coaching community on Friday when he announced he had hired Rick Finotti as his director of football operations. The former head coach at St. Edward's in Lakewood, Ohio, Finotti led the Eagles to a 62-15 record and two state championships—including one in 2014—in his six seasons at the Ohio powerhouse just west of Cleveland.

The director of football operations isn't traditionally a recruiting position in a football program, but that shouldn't stop Finotti's hiring from increasing Michigan's presence in the Buckeye State.

"He gets you a foot in the door. You’re not looking for a guy necessarily that’s going to deliver kids for you on a silver platter," Rivals.com recruiting analyst Marc Givler told Bleacher Report. "You’re kind of looking for a guy where, ‘OK, this guy has coaching connections in Northeast Ohio, a lot of friends in the coaching community in Northeast Ohio, and when we go in that door, we have a familiar face, a mutual friend, a mutual contact now that can kind of help bridge that gap."

Givler agrees with Tressel's premise that in order for the Wolverines to return to national prominence, they'll need the help of Ohio. From Bo Schembechler to Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson to Harbaugh himself, history is littered with examples of Ohio natives playing key roles in Michigan reaching its highest of heights.

But while Harbaugh was born in Toledo, he spent his college career in Ann Arbor, NFL career across the country and coaching career on the West Coast. Despite his infamous bonding trips to Youngstown during two-game road trips with the 49ers, Harbaugh's ties in Ohio are limited and could be even harder to create with the recent success of Urban Meyer at Ohio State.

The hiring of Finotti could help fix that and will only add to a staff that also includes defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin, who both played and coached at Bowling Green. Finotti's presence should especially help in Northeast Ohio, which typically produces the state's top talents, many of whom have come from his now-former employer.

"He’s always going to be a big name at St. Ed’s for what he’s done there and that program is probably not going to stop producing talent anytime soon," Givler said. "Any connection into that program is going to be valuable.”

Harbaugh's hiring of Finotti is just the latest splash he's made since taking over the Michigan program nearly three months ago and provides additional insight into a recruiting strategy that hasn't been hard to figure out. Upon arriving in Ann Arbor, the former Wolverines quarterback unsuccessfully attempted to lure recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow from Kentucky, before hiring Chris Partridge as his recruiting operations coordinator.

Partridge, like Finotti, comes to Michigan from the high school ranks. At powerhouse Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey, he coached current Wolverines defensive back and former 5-star prospect Jabrill Peppers, as well as defensive tackle Rashan Gary, the top-rated player in the 2016 class.

"I definitely think there’s some strategy involved there with recruiting," Givler said of the hirings of Partridge and Finotti. “I think he wants to hit the ground running."

Thus far, Harbaugh's recruiting impact at Michigan has been minimal, at least on the surface with the Wolverines only possessing two commitments in their 2016 class, which currently ranks 39th in the country. As for recruiting Ohio, Harbaugh seems to be taking his time there too, with ElevenWarriors.com director of recruiting Jeremy Birmingham telling Bleacher Report, "Harbaugh has not stepped foot in Ohio at a single high school since he’s been hired.

"So I guess whatever in-road he can make, you don’t blame the guy for doing so."

Givler, however, has a theory on Harbaugh's recruiting tactics and slower-than-expected pace, noting that Michigan started its spring practice on Feb. 24, which came at least one week—and in some cases, two or three weeks—before most other schools started their spring sessions.

With a new staff and so many unknowns on the Wolverines roster, Harbaugh is admittedly still in the evaluation phase of his process, with spring recruiting still on the horizon.

"I think that was strategic," Givler said of Michigan's early spring practice start. "I think they just said, ‘We don’t know what we have, we have highly recruited guys that were recruited highly coming out of high school, but were they mis-ranked? Were they mis-evaluated? Do we have talent at this position or that position?’

"I think they’re trying to answer all of those questions and then decide, ‘OK, now we know what we have, the spring evaluation period starts in a few weeks, now that we know what we have, this is how we’re going to attack it.’ It’s been a little slower than most people expected from a recruiting start, but I think there’s a reason for that."

Once that time comes for Harbaugh to hit the trail hard, he certainly seems well equipped with the likes of Partridge and Finotti aiding his efforts. Givler also noted Finotti is a great football mind who could help with X's and O's, game-planning and building a winning culture and could eventually transition into a role as a position coach on Harbaugh's staff down the line.

But regardless of what Finotti's job title winds up, his connection to the Buckeye State can't be overlooked. Both Tressel and history have suggested as much, as any success found by the new Michigan regime will come with an inevitable ingredient.

"Michigan has to have success in Ohio," Givler said. "Whether hiring Finotti is going to be the key to that or not, they need to make moves to make sure they have success in Ohio. I can’t point to a time in their history where they’ve been nationally elite and didn’t have good Ohio players on their team."

 

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com. Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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25 College Basketball Stars We Wish Played Football

March Madness is upon us, which means for the next few weeks college basketball takes over the sports world. This is a wondrous experience for hoops fans, but if you're not big on the game and prefer your college athletes playing football, it might get a little annoying hearing nonstop talk about brackets, buzzer-beaters and Cinderellas.

Unless, that is, you find a way to make it interesting, like envisioning whether certain college basketball stars could hack it on the gridiron.

Over the years a handful of athletes have managed to play both football and basketball in college, and do it successfully, such as Tony Gonzalez at California and Charlie Ward at Florida State. Plenty more starred in both at the high school level but then had to make a choice, and it wouldn't be surprising to hear that some wished they could still double up.

We've picked 25 current college basketball standouts who would probably make pretty darn good football players, too. Check it out and then let us know if we missed any in the comments section.

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Top Performers from the Opening Regional Dallas

Nike's The Opening recently swung through the city of Dallas, Texas, as some of the best high school football players in the country showed off their skills.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder and College Football Recruiting Analyst Damon Sayles were out in full effect at the regional, highlighting the top performers from the weekend.

Who shined the brightest out in Dallas? Check out the video and let us know!   

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High Schooler Breaks 1-Handed Catch Record Formerly Held by Odell Beckham Jr.

To be a great tight end, you need a distinct set of skills. One must be able to block, run and catch. 

Kaden Smith, the No. 2-ranked tight end in the country, per 247Sports' composite rankings, has it all. Bleacher Report teamed up with the talented tight end as he broke the world record for most one-handed catches in one minute. 

Check out the video above to see some serious athleticism. 

Special thanks to Coach David Weaver and Marcus High School Athletics.

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Notre Dame Football Recruiting Offers of the Week

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — After a busy week in which the Irish staff dished out double-digit offers, Notre Dame football was quieter this past week, instead focusing on lining up visitors for the upcoming junior day.

Still, the Irish extended an offer at the all-important quarterback position, and other recruiting happenings rose to the surface.

Each week, we’ll be keeping tabs on the new scholarship offers the Notre Dame coaches send out, tracking the recruiting process as the Irish focus their attention toward the classes of 2016, 2017 and maybe even 2018.

 

Hunter Johnson

Irish head coach Brian Kelly has emphasized the importance of recruiting the state of Indiana. In targeting the quarterback position in the class of 2017, Kelly and the Irish staff were able to stay in state and offer Brownsburg, Indiana, native Hunter Johnson.

Johnson is the No. 1 pro-style quarterback and No. 9 overall prospect in the Top 247 and landed his Irish offer while visiting South Bend on Sunday, according to 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong.

“We got to the school, and the first thing we were going to do was tour the stadium, and they brought me and my family into the locker room area, and they had a thing written that Coach Kelly had sent out because he wasn’t there today,” Johnson told Wiltfong.

Per Wiltfong, Johnson and new Irish offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford had previously spoken multiple times, but Sunday marked their first time meeting in person.

“The offense they run is similar to what we run at our high school,” Johnson told Wiltfong. “I think Coach Sanford and I get along really well. I think we’re similar people. I think I could play for him and Coach Kelly, and I think it would be a good situation.”

Earlier in the weekend, Johnson took an unofficial visit to Northwestern. The 6'2 ½", 197-pounder also has spring visits scheduled for North Carolina, North Carolina State, Penn State and Tennessee, as well as a return trip to Northwestern. Other offers for the signal-caller include Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, Cincinnati, North Carolina and Northwestern.

 

Updates

In addition to Johnson’s scholarship offer, Notre Dame’s staff stayed busy lining up visits for the coming weeks and months.

Class of 2016 linebacker Lokeni Toailoa announced his top seven schools Saturday, and Notre Dame made the cut.

According to Wiltfong, Toailoa is scheduled to announce his commitment March 21. The No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 57 overall prospect in the class received an offer from the Irish in early May but has not visited campus.

Class of 2016 offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg, the No. 11 offensive tackle and No. 82 overall player, has had an April 10 visit to Notre Dame lined up. He’s also expected to visit Ohio State the following week before announcing a decision.

Spring practice begins Wednesday for Notre Dame, and the Irish will host a bevy of recruits just a few days later for a junior day. Wiltfong and Loy provide the full list of expected attendees, which currently sits around 30 strong.

Notable names include class of 2016 running back Tony Jones Jr., class of 2016 yet-to-be-offered cornerback Julian Love, class of 2017 defensive end and local standout Corey Malone-Hatcher and class of 2016 cornerback Damar Hamlin, to name a few.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting stats and information courtesy of 247Sports.com, and all quotes obtained firsthand. Star ratings reflect 247Sports composite rankings.

Mike Monaco is a lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco on Twitter.

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