NCAA Football News

5 Top-Performing Quarterback Recruits from 2015 Charlotte Elite 11 Regional

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Saturday's Elite 11 regional featured two previous regional winners, commitments from Oklahoma, North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest and a host of other talented gunslingers looking to make a name for themselves and potentially earn an invitation to The Opening.

When the competition ended, 3-star quarterback Jett Duffey—who competed in his third The Opening regional this spring—claimed his second quarterback MVP honor. More importantly, the Mansfield, Texas, gunslinger left Charlotte with the coveted ticket to the Elite 11 finals this summer in Oregon.

Duffey was one of a few stars from the Elite 11, which featured roughly 80 quarterbacks from 15 states. Here are five quarterbacks who showed that they were legitimate contenders and earned the respect of the Elite 11 coaches in attendance.

Additionally, Brian Stumpf, vice president of football events for Student Sports and one of the leaders of both the Elite 11 and The Opening, provided insight on each of the quarterbacks. He also gave feedback on three other quarterbacks to watch from Charlotte.

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John Boyett Fighting to Reclaim NFL Dream After Nightmare Start to Career

Who is John Boyett? 

In the simplest terms, John Boyett is a football player. In fact, he's a really good one.

During the 2011 college football season, Boyett starred for the Oregon Ducks as a junior safety. He helped lead Oregon to a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin and a No. 4 ranking in the final AP Top 25 poll. He made Sports Illustrated's 2012 Preseason All-America Team months later, but prior to earning that accolade, some speculated he'd forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL draft.

It could have been the start of a very promising career, but it is not that moment in time that has defined Boyett for most. He returned to school, and his star took a turn for the worse.

One game into the 2012 season, Boyett would elect to have surgeries on both patella tendons, ending his career at Oregon and dropping him to the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft, where he was chosen as a long-term project by the Indianapolis Colts. He went from being known for his outstanding physicality, toughness and stellar play to being damaged goods. 

This, though, would still not be rock bottom for Boyett. 

In September 2013, Boyett was arrested in Indianapolis and charged with disorderly conduct, public intoxication and resisting law enforcement. During the altercation, Boyett was belligerent and defiant, making fun of the arresting officer, threatening him and claiming he was above the law because he played for the Colts. 

In a statement following his release, Boyett apologized and said that the incident "didn't and doesn't represent who I am."

Then he did the exact same thing just over a year later. 

In October 2014, Boyett was arrested and subsequently released by the Denver Broncos practice squad after punching a cab driver and demanding that authorities call team president John Elway. He was charged with third-degree assault, theft and harassment. 

This is who John Boyett has been in the public consciousness: drunk, disorderly; a waste of NFL talent.


A Slow, Steady Fall from Grace

While many of us experienced Boyett's indiscretions as two news reports, Boyett's bad acts were a long time coming—bubbling under the surface of an otherwise "good kid."

"John is...Man, he’s just a wonderful kid. I have two daughters in high school now, but when they were young girls, he would babysit them for me. I wouldn’t put my daughters in anybody’s hands. There’s a trust I have in John and his character."

Those are the word's of Troy Mott, head coach of the Napa High School Indians. 

Coach Mott has known Boyett for over a decade now, and his high estimation of the young man doesn't come just from coaching Boyett into one of the top prospects ever from the Napa area. It's a love and a trust created by years of mentoring and being consistently impressed by more than just a football player. 

"I’ve made some mistakes," Boyett admits, "but I consider myself a good person with a big heart." 

Boyett has been the pride of Napa for about as long as anyone around him can remember. More than just one of the few prospects to ever come out of that area of Northern California, Boyett has always had a habit of giving back to the community that supported him. 

"John is just a good person," according to longtime friend and former NFL lineman Mike Gibson. "He’s a person who cares more about other people than he cares about himself. He’s a better person than he is an athlete. He goes above and beyond, does camps; does things for other people."

Gibson is a few years older than Boyett and was a sixth-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles out of California the same year Boyett was recruited to Oregon. Though Gibson was a star high school player himself and a future NFL road grader in the making, he said that "people in this town [Napa] don't even know who I am because of John Boyett."

"I can’t say enough about him as a person."

Even more than an athlete, Boyett is a family man.

Among his greatest role models, he lists his father and hopes to live up to his example by being a good brother and son, as well as one day matching him as a father and a husband himself. Among his best friends, he lists his brother, Charles, a senior at UC Davis. 

Yet, even with two Boyett boys who went on to be college safeties, Gibson said that the best athlete in the family was the Boyett he went to school with: John's older sister Danielle. 

When Danielle was 12 and already a budding star in both softball and track, she was diagnosed with an astrocytoma brain tumor. The survival rate in young children with these tumors is not usually measured in percentages of success but more by the years of coping. Against all odds, Danielle beat the tumor. She beat cancer in a victory that would overshadow her brothers' football exploits by far. 

"She went through a lot of different treatments," Boyett said. "A lot of doctors said she wasn’t going to make it, but my parents kept fighting, and with different treatments and medications, she got past it."

That isn't to say the treatments didn't take a toll of their own. 

Danielle was in a wheelchair, blind and with diminished speech capacity. Yet there she was, at every game of both John and Charles, telling them they did well—except for when they didn't. She was still their big sister after all. 

"She was so happy," John remembers of Danielle late in life. "She was the centerpiece of our family for so many years. During high school and into college, she was my No. 1 fan."

On February 22, 2011, John was going into his junior year at Oregon and standing on the practice field when a coach informed him that his sister had come down with sepsis, and her weakened immune system would not recover. 

John, along with his whole family, was shaken to the core.

Then, just a few months later, John's uncle, Doug Boyett, also died, from a heart attack.

Doug, his father's younger brother, was the head coach at Foothill Junior College, and John describes him as a "second dad to me." Doug brought John up to football camps and put him up against his charges. It's a big part of how John learned the game. The death was "unexpected," John said. 

This, somehow, all led into the best year of John Boyett's football career. 

It's a wonderful paradox of athletics and highlights a similar juxtaposition in Boyett's own life. As rocky as things got off the field and no matter how stormy the seas, football was always the bedrock in Boyett's life, and he excelled on the field regardless of the pressures or pain he felt. 

Then football, too, was taken away. 

While Boyett's star was rising to its highest during his junior year, he continued to deal with what started as knee soreness and sharpened into stabbing knee pain. Trainers at Oregon treated him for tendinitis, and coaches rested him when they could. 

"My junior year," Boyett said, "I had some knee pain. I played through it my whole junior year. I didn’t realize how significant it was. I’m the kinda guy who will just play through that stuff to help my team."

Through the pain, Boyett collected 108 tackles and continued a fantastic tradition of Oregon defensive backs that includes some of the people he respects most—Patrick Chung, Walter Thurmond III, Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward.

It was the pinnacle of a football career that quickly went downhill. 

Boyett returned for his senior season, he said, because he "wanted to come back and win a national championship." He also said he wondered what he could do on a healthy knee. Believing he only had tendinitis, he listened to team staffers who, according to Gibson, promised him more time off and the rest they thought he needed. 

"The knee just didn't get better," Boyett said. "I got MRIs and then got MRIs from outside people and got a couple different opinions. When I realized it was a lot more than I thought it was, I realized I needed to get it fixed, and that’s what I needed to do to get healthy."

Meanwhile, this decision was not made in a vacuum. There was significant pressure from Oregon, and Gibson even used the phrase "strong-arm" to describe attempts made by some at the school to convince Boyett to play through the pain one more time and play through his final year.

Gibson described Boyett as "scared s--tless" about the decision he had to make.

Both the Oregon coaching and training staffs declined comment on the matter after numerous attempts to reach out. Boyett himself also declined to comment further on the issue, saying that he respected the position of his Oregon football family and had tremendous respect for the coaches themselves as well. 

Still, in the end, he simply had to do what he felt was best. 

His good friend, former teammate and Minnesota Vikings linebacker Casey Matthews, put it this way: "Obviously he had his future in mind. He could’ve played, but not as well as he had been used to. That’s the choice he made." 

Boyett had used football to fight through his personal pain, and now it too was gone.


Rebuilding the Person and Not Just the Football Player

Today, Boyett is approaching seven months of sobriety. 

He was reticent to open up at first, saying that our conversations were the first he had ever had about his issues outside of his family, close friends and support group. 

That support group was something Boyett decided to do on his own. His last drink was the night he was arrested in Denver, and Boyett has every intention of it remaining so for the rest of his life. He describes his drinking during college as something social and normal and doesn't really pinpoint exactly when it started spiraling out of control. 

He does say, however, that he "allowed things to pile up and compound. Rather than deal with them, I ignored them." 

“Everybody wants to know," Boyett said, "What’s an alcohol problem? To me, if you’ve ever faced some type of consequence because you’ve made a poor judgment because of a drink. That’s an issue. I made the decision I no longer needed that in my life. I looked back. What’s the common denominator? I choose not to drink anymore. It’s only caused me negatives. It’s not helpful to where I want to get."

Leading up to the 2013 NFL draft, Boyett didn't yet understand that he had a problem, and he didn't take the time to even ask the question. Instead, Boyett did what he always did: He worked at getting better at football. 

"He was so driven to do whatever it took," Gibson said, "that he would call and we’d go work out at 4 a.m. I’d get a call at 10 p.m., and he’d say that he’d worked out earlier but didn’t think it was good enough."

In fact, an hour after the Broncos' Super Bowl loss to the Seattle Seahawks, while staff hadn't even started cleaning up confetti on the field, Boyett was already back at the hotel, in the weight room. He hadn't been in the game, as he was only on the practice squad, but he was pissed about the loss, took it personally and wanted to make sure he'd be ready to help his team the next time around. 

Matthews said that craft applied to the film room as well: "I’ve never seen anyone watch more film or someone try to perfect his craft more than he does."

Boyett describes himself as a workaholic. 

As everything spiraled out of control in Boyett's life, he simply worked harder at the one thing that was supposed to make sense for him. In a sense, it worked out well, as his surgically repaired knee got better, continued to heal and allowed him to reach heights he had not before. 

According to Marty James of the Napa Valley Register (via CBS Sports), he had a fantastic predraft pro day.

"Boyett looked sharp as he went through a battery of drills—backpedaling and cutting and catching passes," James wrote. He quoted Boyett as saying, "Everything I heard was great stuff. They were very surprised with how well I moved, and they're excited to see what I do when I get into camp. It felt great just to be out here on the football field."

Just months after being sewn back together like an old jacket, Boyett was quickly becoming like least on the outside. 

Inside, the young man was changing. The strain of the tragedies of his life were piling up, and he simply kept shoving them aside. He could meet a running back head on in the hole but could not do the same to his own personal demons. 

Drinking had never been a problem for Boyett. Matthews describes the slightly younger Boyett's college days as "quiet" and "hardworking," pointing out that the two met when Boyett asked him where the Men's Wearhouse in Eugene was and that the two spent most of their time fishing when Boyett wasn't working out or watching tape. 

This does not seem like the story of an addict. 

It does not seem like the story of someone with a problem. 

Boyett's agent and family friend Jeff Sperbeck puts it this way: "I think the frustration (around the injury) was a part of it. He’d faced personal adversity with his sister, and he threw himself into football and working out as his escape. Football was his complete escape, and his escape was taken from him. He wasn’t able to cope and unfortunately turned to alcohol."

The Colts, meanwhile, were one of the teams on the field for that pro day in Napa. They must have believed they found something in Boyett—a diamond in the rough of the sixth round. After the selection, Matt Miller and Michael Felder from Bleacher Report had this to say:

Matthews said he has no doubt Boyett would be a starter today in Indianapolis if not for his indiscretions, while Sperbeck said the Colts were mad at him for "backing them into a corner" (of cutting him) because "from a football standpoint, he was very much in their plans."

There is no bigger sticking point in this redemption story than the combination of the statement Boyett released after the incident in Indianapolis and the subsequent incident in Denver:

I want to apologize to Mr. Irsay, the Indianapolis Colts organization and the Indianapolis police. The Colts gave me an opportunity and I blew it. My behavior didn't and doesn't represent who I am. I am deeply embarrassed and disappointed in myself. All I can do now is learn from it and never repeat it. I look forward to showing my true character in the future.

With that in mind, it is impossible to not be just a little cynical about this whole thing. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Right? This is who you are and what you represent, we want to scream. The entitlement born from years as a small-town football god. The empty words backed up only with contradictory actions. The promises broken and trust shattered. 

Yet, for those closest to Boyett, the trust is absolutely still there. 

"I’ve never lost faith in him," Mott said. Later, he added, "I love the kid to death. I'm so proud of him."

Matthews was hosting Boyett at his home when I first reached out, inviting the man with two alcohol-related arrests under the same roof as his wife and his newborn baby son. About Boyett, Matthews said, "I trust him more than I trust most people" and, "I’m 100 percent. I trust him that he’s over it."

Sperbeck said he'd "go to the mat" for Boyett, calling him a "great friend, good son; high achiever."

These are people who've known Boyett before, during and after his crimes. Are they biased? Absolutely, but before doling out grains of salt about their faith, trust and support, consider that their estimation of Boyett is more than a couple of headlines from the darkest moments of his life. 

They know the fighter, and they've seen the whole fight, not just the times he's hit the canvas. 

Yet we don't and haven't.

So, for the cynic, the next logical question is: What exactly is supposed to be different this time around? What makes Boyett's words now any truer than his words following his release from Indianapolis? For those of us who believed him before and don't have the personal stake of those closest to him, how can we believe him again?

For once in Boyett's life, he's realized he can't just get through something "with sheer willpower," as Sperbeck said. He's not just gritting through his pain and addiction like a final set of reps in the weight room. He's finally looking to heal.

Gibson put it this way: "After the first incident, he knew he had a problem, but he didn’t do too much about it. After the second issue, he went straight to rehab. He focused on making himself better as a person rather than just as a football player. He’s learned from his second mistake."

"It’s not uncommon for people to make mistakes," Boyett said. "Everybody makes mistakes. It’s about being able to learn and bounce back from those mistakes, and I think I’m doing one heck of a job of that right now. I've made the changes I felt that were necessary to become a better person. I’m sober now, and I’ve worked very hard at doing the right thing.”


"I Believe I Can Do Some Great Things Out There"

How many chances does a young man deserve?

That's what this comes down to, correct? 

"Sometimes people are just young, dumb and immature," Boyett said. "I made the mistakes, and that’s all there is."

Talking to Boyett is a masterclass on the themes of mistakes and changes. He understands what he has done wrong and how he has failed. Yet he also has a sincere desire to do whatever it takes to atone for those past failings.

"My mistakes have allowed me to understand who I am and who I want to be," Boyett said. "It sucks that I had to face the consequences, but I’m thankful I am who I am, and I’ve moved forward. I’m just looking to the future."

Now, Boyett is home, working on everything it might take to get him back on an NFL team—to what he loves. He's helping with fundraisers and still pals around with the Napa High football team, mentoring some of the same young men in high school that he once did back when they were in elementary school.

Mott says Boyett does all of this away from the spotlight, agreeing to give back to his community "without calling the newspaper." In fact, it's telling that, of all the people I talked to, the one person who had the least to say about all the good Boyett has done and continues to do in Napa was Boyett himself. 

Before any of the ignominy, Boyett once talked with about his status as a role model. While many might think those days are over, Boyett believes the opposite.

"It’s crazy to think, but I think it now more than ever," Boyett said. "It’s easy to go around and say the right things when you’ve never faced adversity before. I’ve faced true adversity and a good amount of it. For me to be able to step back and realize I need to make changes to be the person I want to be...I think that takes true character.

"A lot of people out there that go through similar situations, but they’re just not publicized. Hopefully others can learn and make the changes they need to make. Change can allow you to be a better person."

OK, now convince the NFL. 

Thankfully, for Boyett, the process has already started. 

"Scouts I’ve talked to," Boyett said, "they love me as a football player. They’ve said there’s no doubt in their minds that I can play and make an impact in the NFL. I'm hopeful I can get into an offseason program and show a team what I can offer. I put in a lot of work because I love the game."

Sperbeck says that there is a real interest from a couple of NFL teams, declining to call them by name. 

"They know what kind of player he is," Sperbeck says. "He’d be on the Broncos competing for a starting job—in my opinion—if not for the incident."

But the incident did happen, and even close friends like Matthews admit, "Obviously, it’s a risk."

Yet, think of Boyett's past in the context of the NFL year right now. If Boyett were a draft prospect—and, honestly, he's not far removed from one—these incidents would be troubling but would hardly remove him from every single draft board any more than his knee injuries did. 

"Hopefully," Boyett said, "If a team gets a chance to talk to me face-to-face, they’ll realize I’m a good person, a good kid, and I’ve just made some mistakes, and a lot of people have made mistakes. I’ve made some serious changes."

Sperbeck put it another way: "He could’ve gone home, started drinking again and kissed his career goodbye. But, he’s healthy—physically and emotionally healthy. He’s a better person than he was coming out of the draft. If you loved him then, you’ll love him now. He’s always been a good locker-room guy, but he’s even better now."

The NFL is not a charity or nonprofit organization. For every John Boyett coming from the college ranks, there are tons of young men who never even get a first shot. By that measure, Boyett doesn't deserve a third chance and arguably didn't even deserve the second one. 

The league is a meritocracy, though, and there is little doubt from anyone involved that Boyett has the talent to make it and be a huge part of any team willing to pick him up. Off the field, it's difficult to fully trust someone who has made the same massive mistake twice, but it's just as difficult not to respect where Boyett has come from and the depths from which he has clawed his way out. 

Who is John Boyett?

Boyett is a football player. 

He's a football player who has always seemed to have fate stacked against him for one reason or another—often, admittedly, because of his own mistakes. He's a football player who has achieved heights few have achieved, seen lows few can fathom and has been everywhere in between.

He's a football player who has picked himself up by his bootstraps dozens of times before finally admitting he couldn't do everything on his own. 

He's a football player. 

He just wants to play football. 



Michael Schottey is an award-winning NFL National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report and a writer for Football Insiders. Follow him on Twitter. Unless otherwise noted, quotes were obtained by the author.

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Tennessee Football: Biggest Remaining Recruiting Targets for Vols

After a couple of seasons of huge, depth-building recruiting classes, the Tennessee football team should take a slimmer haul of prospects during the 2016 cycle.

They'll look to address some major needs and depth at other positions in a class that will likely fall far short of the allotted 25 thanks to classes of 32 and 29 in the past two years.

Even so, the battle for some of the Southeast's top prospects will heat up with the weather, and it appears that UT is in more than its share of neck-and-neck heats. Tennessee looks like it's focusing on three major battlegrounds this year, and all three—in-state, Georgia and North Carolina—are represented here.

With so many slots to fill at this time of year, any list like this is subjective, but a clearer picture of top targets is emerging.

If the Vols can land some of these guys, they'll be on their way to another strong class.

Some positions such as running back, safety, wide receiver and offensive tackle still need impact players. Others, like defensive end and linebacker, are areas where the Vols have healthy depth but are chasing top prospects.

UT is going head-to-head with some of the nation's top programs for these players, but coach Butch Jones has proven over and over that he's a force to be reckoned with on the recruiting trail, so these next few months should be fun.

Let's take a look at some of the Vols' top targets at this point in the 2016 cycle.

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Georgia Football: Who Is Replacing Every Former Bulldog Taken in 2015 NFL Draft

It was a solid NFL draft weekend for the Georgia Bulldogs, as they had five players selected in the draft ceremony in Chicago. Todd Gurley, Chris Conley, Ramik Wilson, Damian Swann and Amarlo Herrera did great things for the Bulldogs during their careers, and they look to do the same thing on Sundays.

Now the Bulldogs have to move forward and replace the players who have gone on to do bigger and better things. Some of the players who will take the place of the draftees have more than enough experience, while there are others that have seen some playing time, but the starting role will be very new to them in 2015.

So here’s a look at the players who are replacing every former Bulldog taken in the 2015 NFL draft.

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Texas Football: Who Is Replacing Every Former Longhorn Taken in 2015 NFL Draft?

The Texas Longhorns had five players selected in the 2015 NFL draft, their most since 2010. Per SB Nation's Jason Kirk, that figure also tied them for the sixth-most selections of any college program.

On the flip side of that coin, the Horns now have to replace five pro-level talents, most of whom had unique and essential roles on the team. First-rounder Malcom Brown will be the toughest to replace, though his fellow selections each had key roles as well.

As the Horns cycle in a big crop of young talent, their ability to plug guys into multiple roles diminishes. You simply can't trust a freshman or a former backup to handle being moved all over the field.

That said, it's difficult to predict how each player's production will be replaced beyond simply filling open roles. 

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Ohio State Football Recruiting Offers of the Week

Urban Meyer and Ohio State have been on an absolute recruiting tear over the last two months. 

Since the start of spring practice in early March, the Buckeyes have gained commitments from 10 prospects for their 2016 and 2017 classes. Two of those verbal pledges came last week when 4-star offensive tackle Michael Jordan and Drue Chrisman—the nation's No. 1 punter—announced their commitment to Ohio State.

On top of that, the Buckeyes' coaching staff spent a lot of time on the road targeting new players. In fact, Ohio State offered seven new prospects last week, equaling the total number of offers it had sent out in the previous four weeks combined. 

Here's a look at the Buckeyes' new targets. 


Kyle Davis, 4-Star Wide Receiver (2016)

After losing Justin Layne to Michigan State two weeks ago, Ohio State has really picked up its pursuit of top-flight wide receivers. The Buckeyes recently got in the mix for 4-star Javon McKinley, and last week, they re-engaged 5-star Nate Craig-Myers, who decommitted from Auburn on Wednesday. 

They also offered current South Carolina commit Kyle Davis.

The standout from Lawrenceville, Georgia, is a 4-star prospect and the No. 58 overall recruit in the country. And even though he has already committed to the Gamecocks, schools haven't let up in his recruitment, as Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame and Texas A&M have all offered in the last two months in addition to the Buckeyes.

Rated the No. 5 wide receiver in the country, Davis doesn't have elite speed, running a reported 4.64 40-yard dash. But at 6'3" and 212 pounds, he brings a physicality to the receiver position that sets him apart. He isn't afraid to lower his shoulder and go through a defender, and he's athletic enough—possessing a 48-inch vertical jump—to catch the ball in traffic. 

It'll be very hard for Ohio State to pull Davis from the SEC footprint, though, as it appears his commitment to Steve Spurrier is solid. 


Jeffrey Okudah, 5-Star Safety (2017)

Ohio State dedicated the rest of its attention to its 2017 class, and the star of the group who was offered last week was Jeffrey Okudah.

Rated a 5-star prospect out of Grand Prairie, Texas, Okudah is one of the most sought-after recruits for 2017, already boasting 28 offers from Division I programs. That group is highlighted by Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas and USC, but the home-state Baylor Bears are the current leader for his services.

Can the Buckeyes change that? 

Meyer and his staff have had success recruiting in the Lone Star State in recent years, pulling players such as Demetrius KnoxDontre Wilson and J.T. Barrett to Columbus. But those were players who were recruited by Tom Herman, who has strong ties to Texas.

But that's why Meyer replaced Herman with Tim Beck, who held the same position at Nebraska and recruited Texas frequently for Bo Pelini.

Beck's ability to recruit the talent-rich state became immediately apparent when Tristen Wallace, a 4-star quarterback from DeSoto, Texas, announced his verbal pledge to the Buckeyes' '16 class.

Ohio State is hoping Beck can work his magic again. 


Micah Clark, 4-Star Offensive Tackle (2017)

Micah Clark headlined a trio of New Jersey prospects the Buckeyes offered last week. 

A 6'5", 265-pound offensive tackle, Clark looks more like a collegiate sophomore than he does a teenager preparing for his junior year of high school. His incredible build—paired with a surprising athleticism—has helped him land offers from Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Michigan and Michigan State. 

But checking in as the No. 68 recruit nationally and the No. 10 offensive tackle overall, more schools will certainly be throwing their hat in the ring. 

The Buckeyes can pitch a unique vision to Clark, though. Meyer has already secured a commitment from the nation's top offensive tackle commit for 2017 in 5-star Josh Myers, and if he can convince Clark to join the ranks, that could be the foundation for one of college football's best offensive lines. 


Other Offers from the Week

Fred Hansard, 4-Star Defensive Tackle (2017)


Jerry Jeudy, 4-Star Wide Receiver (2017)


Dalyn Wade-Perry, 4-Star Defensive Tackle (2017)


Tony Gray, 4-Star Offensive Tackle (2017) 


All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.

David Regimbal is the Ohio State football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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Nebraska Football: Who Replaces Every Former Husker Taken in the 2015 NFL Draft?

Nebraska football fans watching the NFL draft had to wait until the second day to see the first Cornhusker alum go off the board. Ameer Abdullah went in the second round to the Lions, Randy Gregory went (finally) in the second round to the Cowboys and Kenny Bell went in the fifth round to the Buccaneers.

So who will take their place? Which players will step up and replace the NFL-level production provided by Abdullah, Gregory, and Bell last season? With the help of a projected depth chart from Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald, here’s at least some potential replacements.


Terrell Newby for Ameer Abdullah

This is probably a little misleading. Newby looks to be in prime position to get the first crack at the lead I-back role for Nebraska in 2015. But McKewon thinks (and with good reason) that Newby will be at least the nominal starter next season.

That may not mean as much with Nebraska’s stable of backs (and with a new head coach and offensive philosophy). And there’s no doubt that none of Nebraska’s I-backs will be the focus of NU’s offense and a team leader the way Abdullah was last year.

But if there’s anyone that will fill the Ameer-shaped hole for Nebraska next year, Newby looks like the man who will get the first shot at it.


Marcus Newby for Randy Gregory

OK, hear me out. I know Newby is a linebacker and isn’t even guaranteed a starting job next year. But Gregory was always undersized for a defensive end, making up for his lack of size with freakish athletic ability.

What Gregory’s real talent was for the Blackshirts was rushing the passer. In both 2013 and 2014 (according to, Gregory led Nebraska in sacks. Newby had one sack in eight appearances. More importantly, though, his appearances were mainly limited to passing situations where his role was to rush the passer.

Sure, Gregory was an every-down defensive lineman at the collegiate level, not just a pass-rush specialist. But where Gregory will be most missed by Nebraska is in his ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks. Don’t be surprised to see Newby fill that role next year—if he doesn’t beat David Santos out for the weakside linebacker job altogether.


Jamal Turner for Kenny Bell

Yes, De’Mornay Pierson-El is likely to be Nebraska’s most dangerous weapon at receiver. But Bell provided more than just a deep threat—he also provided leadership and toughness. And while Pierson-El’s talent is undeniable, he hasn’t even played a full year at receiver.

Turner, on the other hand, will be starting his sixth year in the program after receiving a medical hardship. And with the injuries he has fought through, Turner has demonstrated a toughness and tenacity that the rest of the receiving corps can look to and emulate.

Admittedly, Turner doesn’t have Bell’s amazing hair. But Turner, more than anyone else on the roster, can replace Bell’s combination of playmaking speed and senior leadership.


This column first appeared at The Double Extra Point, which you can follow on Twitter at @DblExtraPoint.

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Michigan Football: Summer Enrollees Who Could Make Immediate Impact

Judging on the spring game, Michigan Wolverines early enrollees Alex Malzone and Brian Cole, a pair of in-state talents, should compete for meaningful reps this fall.

Malzone, a 4-star quarterback out of Brother Rice, and Cole, a 4-star athlete out of Saginaw Heritage, each showed a flash of something during the annual spring scrimmage.

They each have earned considerable praise from teammates and coaches, too. They're worthy of attention. But they're not the only ones—there is a handful of potential impact freshmen sprinkled about Michigan's 14-man 2015 recruiting class.

Zach Gentry, a 4-star quarterback, is one such candidate. At 6’7” and 230 pounds, the former Albuquerque Eldorado (New Mexico) star will enter Michigan with ready-to-go collegiate size, a set of wheels (4.68-second 40) and an arm to match.

Anything but steady, the quarterback situation is of obvious concern for the Wolverines. Following the spring game, head coach Jim Harbaugh tabbed Shane Morris as the No. 1 starter—but that was just for the time being.

As of now, the job is “wide open”—a phrase often used by Harbaugh, passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch and offensive coordinator Tim Drevno during spring availability—and is guaranteed to no one, regardless of tenure or circumstances.

Locking down a quarterback is just one of many priorities for Michigan, which needs a true, reliable starter in order to really progress past the "hope" phase.

Already leaving scouts impressed as the “late bloomer” with immense potential, Gentry could be the answer for Harbaugh's new Michigan in 2015. If not, he'll likely, at the very least, insert himself into starter talks for 2016.

Both outcomes seem generally positive for Gentry, who could make an instant impact by simply challenging Morris, Malzone and Wilton Speight for a spot on the two-deep this season. But he doesn't necessarily have to win the top job to make a mark in 2015.

And neither do the rest of Michigan's potential impact summer enrollees, as Tyree Kinnel, Karan Higdon, Shelton Johnson, Keith Washington and Tyrone Wheatley Jr. each have the skills to dodge a redshirt and offer something substantial this fall.

During spring media sessions, secondary coaches Mike Zordich and Greg Jackson each spoke of improving their defensive backs' physical play. They like their personnel, but they'd like to get more out of them.

At 6’0” and 205 pounds, the 4-star safety Kinnel certainly has the size to assist in that regard.

Versatile, intelligent and quick and already gaining attention from coaches, Kinnel could easily find his way into the two-deep this fall. The only guaranteed No. 1 spots belong to Jabrill Peppers, a nickel, and Jourdan Lewis, the best cover corner on the team.

The door is open for at least one spot in the secondary, just like it is at the running back position—the backfield is far from secure. As of today, Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith appear to be the leaders of the pack. But that's by default. Ty Isaac, a redshirt sophomore transfer from the USC Trojans, may end up becoming the top option.

In all likelihood, Green, Smith and Isaac will compose the main trio, but don't rule out Higdon—the 5’10”, 190-pound Floridian may just end up as a situational back or, dare it even be suggested, crack to the top three.

Drake Johnson, a redshirt junior, is coming off another ACL injury, so it could be some time before he pushes the competition. Justice Hayes just graduated and plans to play elsewhere. Although rarely used, Hayes saw action as a reliever. If he shows out during camp, Higdon could get those reps—and maybe more—this season as a true freshman.

At one time, Shelton Johnson appeared to be on his way to the Florida State Seminoles, one of college football's heavies. However, he made the late decision to play for the Wolverines, a team with two of the best defensive minds in the NCAA: defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin and D-line coach Greg Mattison.

With their guidance, the 6’5”, 220-pound defensive end out of Florida may progress to two-deep status within just a few weeks. Now that Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer are gone, Durkin and Mattison will be on the hunt for aggressive pass-rushers.

Luckily for Durkin, Mattison has already groomed a troop of D-liners, so there is no real sense of urgency when it comes to developing Johnson. He'll either see the field this year, or he won't. Having Johnson contribute early would be great from an (his) experience standpoint, but shelving him may be of great benefit in the long run.

File Johnson under the “able” category, though.

On national signing day, Harbaugh gushed over Washington's athletic prowess. At 6'2" and 170 pounds, Washington is built to torch the field as a return weapon or receiver. He's capable of dabbling in the secondary if needed, too. Versatility in any form is usually a good thing, and that's why Washington should be viewed as a potential impact freshman.

He may get stuck behind Peppers and others in the return game. And really, the Wolverines have a logjam of unused receivers to sift through prior to Week 1 against the Utah Utes. He may not get immediate reps there, either.

But why not Washington? He has the ultimate “I'll show you” attitude, evidenced by his impromptu 40-yard dash in front of Durkin and Harbaugh prior to signing, per MLive's Nick Baumgardner:

They didn't believe him, but Washington wasn't having it. He looked them both straight in the eye and basically told them not to question him.

"They told me they had heard I was pretty fast, and I told them I'd run a 4.3," Washington recalls. "And they were like 'we don't believe you.'

“So I just said, OK, I'll run one for you right now outside. Let's go."

Washington is probably not the only recruit to display that type of confidence, but it's that type of confidence that leads to success. Visualizing him doing something worthy of having his name called on TV this season isn't out of the realm of sensibility.

The son of the running backs coach and Michigan legend, Wheatley enters Michigan with a clear path to playing time: Jake Butt, the team's No. 1 tight end, is coming off an ACL injury and needs time to fully recover—that's fully recover, not just enough to get on the field.

Plus, Devin Funchess, the former starting tight end/receiver, skipped his senior year to hop in the NFL draft. That worked in his favor, as the 6’5”, 230-pounder was selected in the second round by the Carolina Panthers.

Michigan needs another reliable big target. Butt is 6’6” and 249 pounds. A.J. Williams, the other candidate, is 6’6” and 285 pounds. Wheatley is 6’6” and 260 pounds, fitting both size and position requirements.

And he can play defensive end; he may not have to do so at Michigan but having two-way knowledge helps.

Open the door for Wheatley this fall. He should be in there as an instant contributor.


Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and references were obtained firsthand by the writer via press conference, press release or other media availability. All recruiting information comes by way of 247Sports.

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