NCAA Football News

Bednarik Award Watch List 2014: Full List Released

The Maxwell Football Club has officially announced the college football stars who've earned consideration on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award. 

The Bednarik Award has been given to the best defensive player dating back to 1995. Notable past winners include Charles Woodson, LaVar Arrington, Julius Peppers, Ndamukong Suh, Manti Te'o and Patrick Peterson.

The honor isn't a guarantee of pro success, but most of those players have gone on to have productive NFL careers, while Te'o and last year's winner, Aaron Donald, look primed for strong 2014 seasons.

This year's watch list features plenty of defensive standouts who will likely hear their name called on draft day very soon.

Here's a look at the full 2014 Bednarik watch list.

 

Stars to Watch

Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Leonard Williams was one of the best defensive linemen in the country last year, and he wasn't even 100 percent. In fact, he may have been closer to "65 to 70 percent" in 2013, according to Rahshaun Haylock of FoxSportsWest.com after surgery for a torn labrum.

"I'm just expecting to just be a lot better than I was last year," Williams said. "My last season was a lot better than my freshman season so I just want to gradually continue to get better."

The USC junior is equally capable of playing on the inside or outside of the defensive line. In his two years as a Trojan, he's compiled 13 sacks and 26 tackles for loss.

 

Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

It's always scary when a freshman establishes himself as the best at a certain position. You can only wonder where he might go from there.

Vernon Hargreaves III needed only one season to emerge as one of the best lockdown cornerbacks in the country. In his first year at Gainesville, he intercepted three passes and broke up another 11. Those 11 breakups tied Janoris Jenkins' school record for a freshman.

Teams may be a bit more wary of throwing Hargreaves' way, which could lead to a drop in production. His talent will never be in doubt, but if he doesn't have the numbers, Bednarik voters might not look his way, either.

 

Devonte Fields, DE, TCU

Devonte Fields' freshman season couldn't have gone much better. He was named Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and earned a first-team selection on the All-Big 12 team.

It wasn't hard to see why Fields earned so many plaudits, as he racked up 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss and forced two fumbles.

Injury derailed Fields' sophomore campaign, though, so the hype train has slowly idled into station for 2014.

NFL.com's Bryan Fischer believes that with a clean bill of health, the TCU star will get back to the player he was in 2012:

Whether you want to call it a breakout season or a comeback year, Fields is primed to return to form after a disappointing 2013 campaign. Injuries and a few off-the-field issues limited him, and he was barely present when he was on the field. He's had a good spring and looks to be even stronger than he was when he had a terrific freshman year. If he's 100 percent, he's a nightmare for opposing offenses.

The Horned Frogs should be a title contender in the Big 12, and Fields' performance will go a long way toward getting them near the top.

 

Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

Myles Jack may be considered a two-way player, but he's a much better linebacker than he is a running back.

UCLA head coach Jim Mora said that Jack will get touches in the backfield, but he sounded far from committed to the idea, per Pac-12 Networks:

The Bruins sophomore was named to Phil Steele's preseason All-American team, via ESPN.com, and the college football writer believes that Jack may be destined for New York:

Last year Jack became the first player in Pac-12 history to be named the conference's freshman of the year on both the offensive and defensive sides. His 75 tackles were the second-most by a UCLA true freshman in school history and on offense he scored seven rushing touchdowns. If he exceeds that type of production this year, he could be a dark horse candidate to get an invite to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

In a way, being a two-way player may benefit Jack in the Bednarik discussion, much Tyrann Mathieu's prolific punt returns helped him in 2011.

The more attention drawn to Jack's snaps on offense will invariably lead to more voters seeing him on defense and truly appreciating how great a player he is.

 

Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson

Expectations were high for Vic Beasley last season, yet he somehow managed to exceed them, registering 13 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and six defended passes.

The Clemson senior could've easily entered last year's draft and made a good account of himself. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller tweeted back in January that Beasley could've earned a first-round grade:

Instead, he returned to school for his senior season and enters 2014 as one of the premier pass-rushers in the country. The Tigers lost a ton of offensive talent last year, but with Beasley leading the defense, they may be all right after all.

The only potential snag for Beasley's Bednarik campaign may be that constant double teams will lead to a drop in stats.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Top SEC Recruits to Watch at Nike's The Opening 2014

The annual recruiting extravaganza known as "The Opening" will hit Beaverton, Oregon this week, as the top prospects in the class of 2015 will show off their skills to coaches and television viewers on Nike's campus.

You'll see several of the nation's top football players considering SEC schools.

Which SEC recruits will steal the show at The Opening? Here are our top 10.

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Ohio State Football: 3 Freshmen Who Must Shine in Fall Practices

The Ohio State football team will receive a huge boost in a few weeks when members from the country's No. 3 recruiting class report for fall camp.

With the coaching staff searching for playmakers, freshmen such as Damon Webb, Marshon Lattimore and Jamarco Jones will compete for a spot in the Buckeyes' two-deep rotation.

Despite the influx of new talent, Urban Meyer is hoping for big contributions from a trio of freshmen who enrolled early for spring camp. Whether they're providing a boost to a depleted unit or replacing a longtime starter, these three players must step up.

 

Raekwon McMillan

The Buckeyes had big issues at linebacker last season, so Meyer hit the recruiting trail hard in order to fix them.

That turned out to be a successful endeavor. Ohio State pulled in a 5-star and three 4-star linebackers this February, giving Meyer the kind of depth at the position he needed.

Raekwon McMillan was the crown jewel of the group.

The 6'2", 242-pound bruiser was the rated the nation's top inside linebacker after piling up 159 tackles, 35 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks during his senior season. He chose the Buckeyes over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and Georgia.

With the loss of Ryan Shazier, who was drafted in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ohio State's linebacker unit needed a playmaker. McMillan came in this spring and competed with senior Curtis Grant at middle linebacker.

McMillan will take that position battle into fall camp. A strong month could end with a starting role in Ohio State's defense.

 

Johnnie Dixon

Ohio State's most inconsistent unit on offense lost its most consistent performer when wide receiver Corey Brown graduated last year.

Meyer will look to seniors Devin Smith and Evan Spencer to provide steady production, but more help could come in the form of Johnnie Dixon.

The 4-star blazer out of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, came to Ohio State because of Meyer's past success with receivers. According to Daniel Rogers of The Lantern, Dixon knows what he needs to do in order to see the field this year.

“I feel like if I work hard enough, I can hit the field and I can make an impact,” Dixon said.

Zach Smith, Ohio State's wide receivers coach, was impressed with Dixon this spring, according to Kyle Rowland of Eleven Warriors.

Johnnie’s been impressive. He is a lot like Dontre [Wilson]. He’s a grown man for an 18-year-old. He comes in and handles his business. He handles his business outside of this facility, he handles his business in the classroom. So I’m excited about where he is going to be.

Now, he is a typical freshman. He’s still learning and still trying to figure everything out. He has the commitment to be great, and he is doing everything we are asking him to do right now. That’s usually a formula for success.

If Dixon keeps working through that formula, Ohio State could get a much-needed boost on the perimeter.

 

Sean Nuernberger

It isn't glamorous, but the kicker plays a pivotal role on every team. The Buckeyes have a huge hole to fill with the loss of three-year starter Drew Basil.

Basil provided a steady leg to the Buckeyes, going 33-of-40 on field-goal attempts in three seasons. Ohio State's offense was dynamic enough to reduce his contributions over the years (he kicked just 10 field goals in 2013), but he had big moments. His four field goals pushed the Buckeyes past Michigan in a 26-21 victory to cap a perfect season in 2012.

Senior Kyle Clinton was the early favorite to replace Basil, but 3-star Sean Nuernberger surged down the stretch. That was capped by an impressive spring game, when he connected on seven of his eight field-goal attempts. Clinton was successful on just half of his eight tries, which opened the door for the true freshman. 

If Nuernberger continues his strong play this fall, he could be kicking field goals against Navy in Ohio State's season opener.

 

All recruiting information per 247Sports.

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

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Georgia Football: 5 Toughest Players Bulldogs Will Face in 2014

The Georgia Bulldogs may dodge such SEC powers as Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M on their schedule this season, but that doesn't mean there's any shortage of talent squaring off against the Dawgs in 2014.

To the contrary, the Bulldogs will face some of the nation's most impressive offensive and defensive players over the course of a slate that is packed with SEC East competition, a cross-division rivalry game with reigning conference champ Auburn and a season-opening tilt against Clemson.

Here are the five toughest players (appearing in order of schedule) that Georgia will face in 2014.

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Florida Gators 2014 Quarterback Fall Practice Preview: Depth Chart and Analysis

It won’t be long before fall camp takes place for the Florida Gators, and quarterback is a position that everybody is going to be watching closely. Then again, quarterback almost always is the most-watched position regardless of the team.

The signal-caller can either make or break Florida’s success this season. After getting almost no production out of the offense a year ago, this position must improve by leaps and bounds if there’s going to be a major turnaround.

Florida’s starter is coming off a major injury and is now learning a new offense. The backup didn’t show much promise last season and is still fighting to hold that spot on the depth chart. Florida also has a couple of new faces who could make a splash if a few bounces go their way.

Here’s a look at Florida’s quarterback depth chart heading into fall camp.

 

QB 1, Jeff Driskel 

Driskel will once again be the captain of the ship and must have his breakout season if Florida is going to turn things around from a year ago. He’s coming off a broken leg and has a lot of fans holding their breath given the fact he’s never quite fulfilled expectations. Driskel has 10 interceptions to 14 career passing touchdowns and was a turnover machine in the limited time he saw last season before suffering the injury.

The reason to be positive if you’re a Florida fan is Driskel will finally play in an offense suited for his skill set. Offensive coordinator Kurt Roper is going to mix things up, spread the field and give Driskel chances to run with the football. That’s something that has been missing from his game but is sure to be a key part this season.

Roper feels like Driskel is the perfect quarterback for his system and expects big things from him, according to Robbie Andreu of Gainesville.com:

'He's really talented,' Roper said of junior quarterback Jeff Driskel. 'I didn't get to see him much before I got here. I watched him in high school and knew he was heavily recruited and those things. I don't know that I was one of his choices, so now I get the luck of the draw here, I guess I should say.

'But that's a big, powerful, fast-twitch, natural throwing motion. He's talented, folks. I mean we're sitting here talking about a guy that's really, really gifted. And his experience shows whenever we have conversations. He understands football. It's not his first rodeo.

'I mean when we start talking coverages or fronts and how pressures are mirroring each other, he understands. So his eyes end up in the right places a lot right now.'

Driskel has improved his deep-ball accuracy, as he still leads receivers out of bounds. He also has to get more comfortable in the pocket and not get happy feet, which leads to a lot of his poor decisions with the football.

It’s no secret Driskel has the skill set to become a terrific quarterback for the Gators. The problem is the fans have been hearing that for the last three seasons and not much has happened. Fall camp will help prove whether or not he’s ready to take that next step.

 

QB 2, Skyler Mornhinweg

Mornhinweg left little to be desired as a backup quarterback last season. Yes, his completion percentage of 69.8 percent looks good on paper, and he did throw the only touchdown in the blowout loss against Florida State, but he looked lost much of the time out there and padded his stats on short dump passes. Mornhinweg didn’t look like a reliable backup quarterback in the limited time we saw him last year.

However, Mornhinweg was a top player in spring ball and did a nice job of solidifying his spot as the backup quarterback. He did a nice job of running the backup offense and even had an OK spring game as well.

Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports (subscription required) called Mornhinweg one of the most surprising players in spring practice:

After a rough 2013 season and a horrible opening practice to the spring, Mornhinweg went on to show marked improvement throughout spring practice. Even with Will Grier showing off a superior arm, Mornhinweg held onto the No. 2 job and looked competent running the second-team offense for the majority of the spring.

To be fair, Mornhinweg was thrown into the fire last season, and two of his three games were against elite defenses such as South Carolina and Florida State. Assuming he can continue to improve in practice, it looks like that little playing time has helped him get over the learning curve a bit.

Although hoping Driskel remains healthy is the safer option, as long as Mornhinweg continues to make positive strides, the coaching staff has to feel a lot more confident having him as the backup.

 

QB 3, Will Grier

Grier is the future of the Gators at the quarterback position and could see a redshirt if Mornhinweg continues to hold down the fort as the backup.

A 4-star recruit, Grier has everything you look for in a starting quarterback from the arm strength to the mental makeup of his game. He reads the field well, has great size at 6’3”, can make any throw on the field and even has a good deal of athleticism. If there wasn’t already an experienced quarterback on the roster, there would probably be no issue with throwing him on the field right away as a starter.

But despite the talent level, there’s pretty much no chance Grier sees the field this season as long as Driskel remains healthy. If another freak injury happens, well, all bets are off.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC Football: 8 Freshmen Who Must Shine in Fall Practices

As USC transitions back to a full roster, Steve Sarkisian and his staff will have to look for help replenishing a very thin depth chart in 2014.

To that end, even precocious true freshmen must be scrutinized to see if they can offer assistance this year.

Fortunately for the Trojans, last year's recruiting class offers an abundance of very talented athletes who would like nothing better than to contribute to this edition of the men of Troy.

This slideshow will take a look at this class of incoming freshmen and identify those players who have an opportunity to see the field of play for USC this year.

While some of these youngsters will undoubtedly find themselves taking a redshirt year, others will need to grow up fast in order to help the Trojans sooner than later.

So without further delay, here are the young Trojans who must shine in fall practice so they can help USC when the season starts. Their efforts really count.

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Top Big Ten Recruits to Watch at 2014 Nike 'The Opening'

Nike's "The Opening" brings together the nation's top prep stars as they prepare for their senior high school season.  Over 160 players from across the country will gather this summer for workouts and games, and you can rest assured that every coach in the Big Ten will be keeping a keen eye on the performances this summer.

In the "good old days," the potential of college football prospects was known only to a select few.  With reliance on game tapes, visits by scouts and word-of-mouth spread by high school coaches, recruiting was a closed system.  Things have certainly changed.

The incessant need of today's college football fanbase to be informed about every detail is being filled by the media, and in turn, the media's job is made much easier with modern, glitzy prep camps like Nike's "The Opening."

While there are several great prospects with Big Ten schools on their list, we've chosen the top-five prospects you should be watching at "The Opening" right now at Nike's World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.

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How Top College Football Coaches on the Hot Seat Can Get off It by End of 2014

With league media days cranking up next week—starting with the SEC’s four-day gabpalooza in Hoover, Alabama—the chatter surrounding college football will soon reach a fever pitch.

Coaches and players will be paraded before hordes of news media to talk about their team, their 2014 season and what they’re expecting this fall.

For a few coaches, the questions will be more pointed than most. College football is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately kind of business: According to Patrick Stevens of Syracuse.com, the median hire date for all 128 FBS head coaches is Dec. 8, 2011. A total of 76 FBS coaches have spent less than three seasons in their current positions. The pressure to win is intense, and a fair share of coaches are feeling the heat.

No reporter will come out and ask the question directly, but for some coaches, there’s the question we’re all thinking: “Will you be here next year?”

Here’s a look at some coaches on the hottest of seats and what they must do to secure their positions for 2015 and beyond.

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Elite 11 2014: 6 QBs Turning Heads Early on

Built-up anticipation ended Sunday morning in Beaverton, Oregon, as 19 of America's top quarterback prospects assembled on the same field for the start of Elite 11 finals at Nike's world headquarters. The annual event, led by head coach and Super Bowl champion Trent Dilfer, puts its competitors through a variety of passing drills that challenge their power, accuracy and decision-making.

Elite 11 alumni include national stars like Andrew Luck, Tim Tebow, Matthew Stafford and Jameis Winston. The 2014 edition features several recruiting class cornerstones, with Josh Rosen (UCLA), Ricky Town (USC) and Kyler Murray (Texas A&M) in the mix.

The group, which participated in a pair of sessions Sunday, is mentored by an impressive collection of counselors. Baylor's Bryce Petty and Notre Dame's Everett Golson are among the college standouts in attendance to assist, while Heisman Trophy winners Sam Bradford and Johnny Manziel spent time watching and speaking with participants.

Several quarterbacks turned in outstanding performances on the first day of a weeklong stay in Oregon, which culminates with The Opening later this week. Here's a look a six competitors who stole the show as we watched from the sidelines.

 

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Elite 11 Buzz: Latest on Where Top Uncommitted QBs Will Land, Possible Big Flip

There are still multiple top 2015 quarterbacks's that have yet to announce where they will be playing their college football, and they are all on display at the prestigious Elite 11 Camp in Beaverton, Oregon.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder spoke with 247sports.com's Ryan Bartow at the event to get the latest information on where these QB's could land and a potential major flip that could be brewing.

Which top 2015 prospect could be switching alliances and where will the biggest uncommitted recruits end up?

Watch the video to find out.


Highlights courtesy of xosdigital.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

QBs Who Blew Up on Day 1 of the Elite 11 Camp

The top quarterbacks of the 2015 class have travelled to Oregon for the annual Elite 11 showdown. These young stars are looking to test their skills against some of the toughest competition in the country.

With so many big-time recruits on one field, there were only a few individuals who were able to stand out on Day 1. Who do you think is the best QB at the Elite 11?

Watch Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Michael Felder break down who is looking good so far.

 

Rankings from 247Sports Composite.

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Miami 2014 Quarterback Fall Practice Preview: Depth Chart and Analysis

The Miami Hurricanes will soon be entering fall practice, and the team's prevailing headline is a particularly volatile quarterback situation.

Once August arrives in Coral Gables, Florida, the revamped Greentree Practice Fields will host a five-man competition largely dependent on a certain player's rehabilitation.

The depth chart is sure to be a fluid scene throughout August, but a general idea of the current status helps preview what will be a hectic month at "The U."

Having been in the system for three years now, Ryan Williams is the most prepared option mentally. Physically, on the other hand, his well-documented ACL injury makes him the least prepared at the moment.

According to Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald, Williams' goal is to be ready for the season-opener, which means he must be ready for fall camp:

I feel like where I'm supposed to be, is where I'm at. No setbacks yet. As long as I'm not going to go out there and re-injure myself and the doctor feels confident I can play in Week 1, I will play. But if I can't, if he wants me to hold off a couple weeks, then I will. ... As soon as [Dr. Lee Kaplan] gives me the full go, I'll be back out there.

Undeniably, the senior's official return date is the dominant factor in the competition. If Williams is not fit, however, all eyes remain focused on Kevin Olsen.

According to David Lake of 247Sports (subscription required), Olsen acknowledged he arrived at Miami "immature" and unfocused because immediate playing time was highly unlikely. Olsen said he flipped a mental switch once Stephen Morris graduated, and Williams' injury has now forced him into the physical change of being the starter.

Considering head coach Al Golden and his staff definitely do not want to rely on someone who loses concentration, the freshman's focus is a concern. But if Olsen proves his words are true throughout August, he is the No. 1 option behind a healthy Williams.

While transfer Jake Heaps possesses the most game action, he also packs the most baggage—though not literally—after mediocre stints at BYU and Kansas.

But Heaps was not offered a spot to simply watch from the sideline, and his experience gives him one notable advantage over Olsen and two younger quarterbacks.

An 18-year-old with near-prototypical size at his position, 6'4" Brad Kaaya is considered a high-ceiling prospect. During his state championship-winning 2013 season, Kaaya completed 62.2 percent of passes for 3,853 yards, 27 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

Malik Rosier is the lone dual-threat weapon as opposed to a quarterback merely capable of some running. Over his final two years in high school, Rosier complemented his 4,126 passing yards with 2,277 on the ground.

Kaaya and Rosier are already turning heads on the practice field, one of which belongs to senior wide receiver Phillip Dorsett.

"They are looking good," Dorsett said, per Lake. "Brad is more of a pocket passer. He has a real strong arm and he is accurate too. Malik can get outside of the pocket and make plays. He has a strong arm too. They are both real smart and they know a lot more than I thought they would coming in."

In the future, Rosier is a legitimate potential challenger for the starting position. Legitimate, as opposed to filler players on the roster who have no realistic chance to win the job. With that being said, "future" is not the upcoming campaign.

Should Williams return for the majority of fall practice, both true freshmen will have their practice reps extremely limited. Kaaya's will be extremely limited, and Rosier's may be virtually nonexistent.

And so, everything comes full circle: The Hurricanes and their following are awaiting official word on their long-expected No. 1 guy, because his status next month affects every potential starter.

 

Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

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Power Ranking the Top 25 Fastest College Football Players for 2014

Speed is the ultimate weapon in today's college football.

Have it, and you can compete with anyone, no matter the difference in size, skill or talent. Don't have it, and you'll get left in the dust.

College coaches are going heavy on speed when recruiting high school and junior college players, looking for fast guys they can turn into strong and skillful athletes. Speed can be developed, but not as easily as the other attributes, thus putting a premium on finding players who already possess a high-octane motor. 

We've culled through rosters, recruiting reports and other data to find the fastest guys—both newcomers and veterans—and used their recorded times in the 40-yard dash as well as other races—take note, many of college football's top speedsters are also track stars—along with how they've maximized that speed to rank the 25 swiftest in the FBS heading into the 2014 season.

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5 Reasons 5-Star DE Keisean Lucier-South Will Sign with UCLA

Keisean Lucier-South is a 5-star defensive end from California who is one of the nation's top pass-rushers. At 6'5" and 225 pounds, Lucier-South combines excellent length with a quick first step to pressure quarterbacks down after down.

Many schools are after him, but UCLA leads in his 247Sports Crystal Ball. The Bruins have a lot going for themselves, but there are a few specific reasons as to why Lucier-South will sign to play in Westwood.

All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Rankings.Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

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Georgia 2014 Quarterback Fall Practice Preview: Depth Chart and Analysis

The offense for the Georgia Bulldogs will have a chance to be dominant in 2014. The Bulldogs have an experienced offensive line, a very skillful set of receivers and they could arguably have the best set of running backs in the country.

But it all starts and ends with the quarterback position, and the Bulldogs should be squared away there as well despite not having Aaron Murray.

One of the reasons the Bulldogs were able to score a lot of points on offense the past few years was the play of Murray, who is now the SEC all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. He came up short in terms of winning the SEC championship, but the quarterbacks who played behind Murray last year have a chance to do something he wasn’t able to do thanks to the rest of the talent on offense.

So let’s take a look at the top three quarterbacks for the Bulldogs in 2014.

 

Quarterback No. 1: Hutson Mason

This may be Mason’s first year as the starting quarterback, but because of a season-ending injury to Murray late last year, the fans got an early look of what to expect this season, as he played in the last 2.5 games.

In most areas, Mason is a lot like Murray. Both players make good decisions, they have strong arms, and both are very accurate. The one difference is Mason is not a scrambler like Murray, and Mason likes the offense to be more uptempo.

As it was mentioned earlier, Mason got his share of playing time last season, but he also got playing time in 2010 and 2011 backing up Murray. Here’s a look at his year-by-year stats at UGA.

Based on his experience in the system and what he was able to do last season, the players have a ton of confidence he can get the job done. Mason does not have the experience when it comes to being a starter, and there will be some times where things won’t go his way. But if he plays his game like he has throughout his career, the Bulldogs will have a very successful 2014 season.

 

Quarterback No. 2: Faton Bauta

When Mason was upgraded to starter last season, Bauta took over as the No. 2 quarterback.

He only played in three games last year and did not complete a single pass. However, he did have 22 rushing yards in the blowout game against Kentucky.

And that’s what Bauta brings to the table. He’s not a pocket passer like Mason, but he can scramble and gain a lot of yards with his legs as well as his arms.

When Bauta was coming out of high school two years ago, 247Sports listed him as the No. 10 dual-threat quarterback in the nation.

If he becomes the No. 1 starter for whatever reason, he would be a solid starter. Defenders would try to stop his running ability, but he has a good arm with a ton of zip. Bauta is the leading candidate for the starting job in 2015.

 

Quarterback No. 3: Brice Ramsey

After redshirting last season, Ramsey is ready to see a lot of action in 2014. The only problem is he will have to beat out Bauta, who has a little more experience.

Regardless, Ramsey arguably has the best arm out of the three quarterbacks and has a legit shot of becoming the backup quarterback before the season begins if he continues to improve.

Ramsey is more like Mason. He can throw from the pocket and likes the offense to be uptempo. But Ramsey is raw. He has not played the quarterback position as much as Bauta and Mason. So him being a starter this season will be a challenge because there are a lot of things he needs to work on.

But with him being the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the country in 2013, per 247Sports, Ramsey will be up to speed very quickly and will make a strong case for the starting job in 2015.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

10 College Football Teams Whose 2015 Recruiting Classes Won't Be as Good as 2014

While a few elite schools do so, it's tough to sustain recruiting success year after year. 

Some programs just find it hard to continue their recruiting run into the following cycle. Examining the 2014 and current 2015 rankings, several teams do not look to be in good position to repeat last year's recruiting success. 

A Big Ten powerhouse doesn't look like it will sign another upscale class this year, while an SEC school is finding life after a stud recruiting head coach to be one of hard knocks. Plus, an ACC school simply will not duplicate its previous year's class.

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Texas Longhorns 2014 Quarterback Fall Practice Preview: Depth Chart and Analysis

David Ash is healthy and will be Texas' starting quarterback for as long as that holds true. But due to his history of injuries, the battle for the backup job could be just as important to the Longhorns' prospects for the 2014 season.

For better and worse, Case McCoy has exhausted his eligibility and will no longer be next in line behind Ash. It's a plus that we will never again see one of those wobbling sidearm lobs again on a college football field, but it leaves Texas without any experience behind Ash in fall camp.

Ash has missed 11 games and played hurt in at least two more, so that increases the chances we see a start from either Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard. In turn, there's a high bust factor for Charlie Strong's first season, but a healthy Ash could just as easily make it a 9- or 10-win campaign.

 

David Ash

Ash is the swing factor this season. With him, the Longhorns will be competitive in almost every game and have a chance to hit the fan-made 10-win goal.

But if he goes down, this team is going to struggle.

He isn't one of the best quarterbacks in the country, but Ash has the ability to cover up a lot of Texas' shortcomings. As shown by his YPA in 2012 and his brief appearances in 2013, he can get the ball down the field, and do so with accuracy. That's as important as anything in the Big 12.

The issue, of course, is whether Ash do that for 12 regular-season games. He's missed 11 games with injuries to his wrist and head before missing most of the spring with a foot injury. He's mostly back from the foot injury according top 247Sports.com's Jeff Howe, but the concussions will always muddy the waters.

That combined history makes it hard to trust in a player that otherwise would inspire great confidence in the upcoming season.

 

Tyrone Swoopes

When you're talking about a dropoff in just about every conceivable way, the one from Ash to his backups is a prime example. 

For now, Tyrone Swoopes and his 1.1 YPA are next in line should Ash succumb to another injury. He started the spring game in the junior's stead, completing 17 of his 30 passes for 229 yards and three scores. Those numbers indicate progress, but we can't forget that they came against the backups.

What Swoopes brings is a ton of potential. A better athlete now than a quarterback, the 6'5", 240-pounder can hum it downfield with the best of them and is always a threat to pick up yards with his feet. We just have no idea if he can do that in a game against an opponent's first-team defense.

The upside is there for Swoopes. But with this next guy already coming up in the system, his days as a quarterback may be numbered.

 

Jerrod Heard

He's here, and the future may begin sooner than expected with Jerrod Heard taking over the quarterback position.

Lost in the Howe's report about Ash's health is that Heard, the nation's top dual-threat prospect in 2014, is splitting the snaps with Swoopes. The 'Horns don't have any other options, but this kid's personality is to run with every opportunity he gets, as he told CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman:

I feel like I can play. Like coach said, it is up to me, but it's also how the situation goes.

The (QB) job is an open situation, especially with the new coaching staff and a new system coming in. It's an open job, so I'm going to try and get in, get my opportunity and take over.

And when you take a look at Heard's track record, you share the feeling. The two-time state title winner spent the summer working with George Whitfield, who has also mentored the likes of Cam Newton and Andrew Luck.

Heard is talented, well-rounded and motivated. Him seeing the field will mean some growing pains, but he will bring a level of excitement that Texas has lacked since 2009.

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Elite 11 2014: Latest Results, Rankings, Highlights and Analysis

Each year, one of the biggest events for rising high school quarterbacks comes around as the Elite 11 Finals take place in Beaverton, Oregon. Following months of grueling competition, the top 18 signal-callers in the nation will fight for a spot in the final Elite 11 list.

Whether they have already committed to a school for their college tenure or are waiting to announce their decision, the competition helps draw attention to every notable quarterback in the field. The Nike event draws plenty of attention, with each of the quarterbacks earning spots on a team at The Opening.

Much like Andrew Luck and Matthew Stafford before them, each field general hopes to enjoy a successful college career after the camp. Those notable alumni have helped build the foundation for the Elite 11, but who out of this year's crop will continue the history of success?

Here's a look at the entire field of competitors, per the event's official Twitter account:

Many of the top players in the nation will make their commitments at The Opening throughout the week, with one of those being 3-star quarterback Ross Bowers. According to 247Sports' "Crystal Ball" projections, Bowers is expected to choose California over Colorado State and several other programs.

With the event officially getting underway over the weekend, here's a look at the competition thus far. 

 

Day 1 Recap

After getting acquainted with their fellow competitors on Saturday through several difficult workouts, the quarterbacks finally took the field during Day 2 of the event.

During a series of drills that tested every quarterback's speed and arm, several players stood out on Sunday. One player that had a strong showing was Kyler Murray, a dual-threat quarterback who has committed to Texas A&M.

Barton Simmons of 247Sports passes along footage of the young signal-caller during workouts:

Murray comes into the competition with plenty of hype as a 5-star player and is apparently showing the same potential at the Elite 11 finals.

Another quarterback looking great on the field is recent Alabama commit Blake Barnett. After announcing his decision to join the Crimson Tide last month, Chad Simmons of Scout.com notes that Barnett shined on Sunday:

Barton Simmons also provides a look at the zip on the ball from Barnett:

Either player has a chance to be one of the top at the camp, as both Murray and Barnett are ranked inside the top three in the 247Sports' composite rankings for dual-threat quarterbacks.

One other signal-caller just behind both Murray and Barnett also made a statement on Day 1. Brandon Wimbush, a 4-star quarterback committed to Penn State, is also ranked as a top-five dual-threat QB and showed off his athleticism on Sunday:

With just one more day on the schedule for the Elite 11 finals before The Opening officially starts on Tuesday, each player will continue to try to shine through on Monday. As players like Wimbush, Murray and others prove themselves, other signal-callers have a chance to blossom.

On Tuesday, each quarterback will find out which team they will play for during The Opening in the seven-on-seven tournament. With only a few days remaining, all 18 players will continue to look to prove they are worthy of making the final list of the famed Elite 11.

 

Saturday Recap

Though there weren't many on-the-field events going down, Saturday of the "campetition" was an eventful one for the blossoming signal-callers.

Simply arriving at the camp is an experience for every player in attendance. With just 18 quarterbacks making the cut, the Elite 11 Twitter account noted the arrival of the special field generals:

ESPN analyst and famed quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. also provides a look at the field donning their new gear from Nike:

Along with their new clothes and shoes, the quarterbacks were also greeted by a familiar face.

After making their way to Beaverton, the players were treated to a memorable start to the event. Florida State's quarterback Jameis Winston, an Elite 11 alumnus who won the 2013 Heisman Trophy and National Championship, was part of the welcoming committee, via the Elite 11 account:

While the players were slowly getting comfortable in the finals environment, some were already plotting their plans for later in the week.

For now, only the quarterbacks have arrived for the Elite 11, but other top players will enter the fold during The Opening. One quarterback who plans to utilize the opportunity for recruiting will be USC commit Ricky Town, per Gerry Hamilton of ESPN:

Town committed back in January with the Trojans and is apparently looking to put more quality recruits around him at USC. He also commented on what he hopes to accomplish during the competition, per Barton Simmons:

It’s just an honor to be here. I’m trying to be part of the 11, be part of that fraternity and do the best that I can, and show that I am the best.

I think we’re all trying to compete here and prove we’re the best. I’m here just to compete against everyone, whoever I’m up against, I’m ready to compete and have fun.

Though it's an honor to make it to the finals, it's not all fun and games for the remaining players. Saturday saw all 18 of the quarterbacks take part in a series of strenuous tasks that pushed them all to the limits on Saturday and into Sunday.

Nike Football provides a look at the workouts:

With all of the player set to take the field on Sunday of the competition, Saturday set the stage for a tough camp that will help all of the top signal-callers. Heading into a week where they will look to separate themselves, every player will benefit from Saturday from a leadership standpoint.

 

Star ratings courtesy of 247Sports

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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Texas A&M 2014 Quarterback Fall Practice Preview: Depth Chart and Analysis

The Texas A&M football team still does not know who will line up under center when the Aggies take the field on August 28 against South Carolina. There is a quarterback competition taking place, and it will continue into fall practice. 

Johnny Manziel's decision to leave Texas A&M after his sophomore season and move on to the NFL has left the Aggies with youth and inexperience on the depth chart. Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has proved before that he can produce a prolific offense with young quarterbacks. 

The Aggies have been recruiting well at the position, and there is talent in the pipeline. Texas A&M fans are going to have to hope that talent can develop quickly so they can put a quality offense on the field in 2014. 

If the young quarterbacks on the roster are able to develop and stay healthy, then the Aggies will be able to compete for the SEC title in 2014. If they have multiple injuries at the position, then the Aggies will struggle to qualify for a bowl game. 

 

Kyle Allen

Kyle Allen is a true freshman quarterback from Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. The 6'3", 200-pound gunslinger was the top-rated recruit in the country in 2014 according to 247Sports.com. 

Allen passed for 2,535 yards and 29 touchdowns with 10 interceptions as a high school senior in 2013. He passed for 3,119 yards with 36 touchdowns as a junior. He has a strong arm and is very accurate inside the pocket and on the run. 

Allen was able to enroll at A&M early and participated in offseason conditioning and spring practices. He ended spring practice listed atop the depth chart at the quarterback position. 

Sumlin has started a true freshman quarterback before. In 2010, the first- and second-string quarterbacks for the University of Houston were injured in a game against UCLA. The Cougars were forced to finish the season with true freshman David Piland as their starting quarterback. 

Piland started eight games for the Cougars and averaged 330.1 yards passing per game. He threw 24 touchdown passes against 14 interceptions. 

The increased access granted to coaches during the summer should really expedite Allen's development. The NCAA's new rule means that Sumlin and his staff can observe Allen throughout the summer and basically give him an extra three months of instruction.  

This new rule will decrease the experience gap between incoming freshmen and redshirt freshmen and sophomores in college football. There will not be as much of a shock to the system when practices and meetings start in August, and the freshmen should already have a solid understanding of the playbook when fall practice begins. 

The Aggies begin the 2014 season on the road at South Carolina. You never know how a freshman is going to react in his first collegiate game, much less on a national stage in an unfriendly environment. Aggies fans are going to have to hope that Allen is able to keep his cool and simply execute Sumlin's offense. 

 

Kenny Hill

Kenny Hill is a 6'2", 210-pound sophomore quarterback at Texas A&M. He saw action in four games, completing 72.7 percent of his passes with a touchdown and no interceptions. 

Hill is a dual-threat quarterback who offers the Aggies more of a running threat than Allen does. If Sumlin and offensive coordinator Jake Spavital decide they want to keep a lot of the running components that Manziel added to the offense in place, then that would bode well for Hill. 

Hill and Allen were neck and neck in the competition for the starting quarterback spot until Hill ran into some off-the-field trouble and was suspended for the remainder of spring practice. He passed out in a bar district in College Station and was arrested for public intoxication. 

Hill was a 4-star recruit and the No. 8 ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2013 recruiting class according to 247Sports.com. He led his Southlake Carroll High School team to the 2011 Texas 5A state title as a junior. 

Hill split the second-team snaps in games with Matt Joeckel in 2013. Joeckel has since transferred to TCU to complete his career. 

If Allen is the starter to begin the year as expected, then Hill will make a very capable backup. He has a year of experience in the system under his belt and has played in front of large crowds before. 

Hill's ability to make plays with his feet cannot be discounted. Entering a season in which the Aggies do not know what to expect from their defense, the ability to extend drives and win the time-of-possession battle cannot be overlooked. 

Hill has already proved that he can take the offense down the field and score a touchdown. He will be a very capable backup for the Aggies in 2014. 

 

All the Rest

The Aggies enter the 2014 season with only two scholarship quarterbacks on their roster. There are three walk-on quarterbacks on the roster in Conner McQueen, Kobe Miller and Jordan Traylor. 

Miller and Traylor are true freshmen who are just beginning to learn the system. McQueen is a 5'10", 175-pound sophomore from Klein, Texas, who earned a letter in 2013. 

If Allen and Hill go down, then McQueen is the most likely candidate to go under center. The coaches would also likely consider converting one of their position players back to quarterback. 

Senior receiver Malcome Kennedy led Cayuga High School to the Texas 1A state title as the quarterback in 2009. He would get a look under center as well as 6'5", 230-pound redshirt freshman receiver Ricky Seals-Jones. 

Seals-Jones played quarterback during his injury-shortened senior season at Sealy High School in 2012. He is a tremendous athlete who has a decent arm and the ability to make people miss in open space. 

If Allen and Hill go down, you would likely see the Aggies resort to a variation of the zone-read offense that emphasized their running backs. The season would turn into a fight for survival and a bowl game. 

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Elite 11 2014: Blue-Chip Quarterbacks to Watch from Class of 2015


If you want to see the future of college football, look no further than this year's Elite 11, featuring the best high school quarterbacks in the country.

The competition has been the proving ground for some of the best recruits to come along in the past few years. Andrew Luck and Jameis Winston are just two of the many stars to have honed their craft at Elite 11.

There's little doubt that this year's crop of incoming finalists includes future All-Americans and maybe a Heisman Trophy winner. You can see the field for the 2014 finals below, courtesy of the event's Twitter account:

Among the 18 taking part, the five stars below are the cream of the crop.

 

Ricky Town, USC

Ricky Town and Josh Rosen are the consensus top two QBs in the country. Some people will tell you Town's better; others prefer Rosen. The former ranks 27th overall in 247Sports' composite rankings and is listed as the second-best pro-style quarterback in the country.

Bleacher Report's Tyler Donohue wrote that those two would come to define the USC-UCLA rivalry over the next few years:

Instead, two of the top high school passers to emerge in recent years decided to stay close to home and sustain an increasingly familiar conversation.

Who's better? Town or Rosen?

That narrative will define a crosstown rivalry for the next half decade and may ultimately determine the outcome of future conference championships, national titles and Heisman Trophy races. Town and Rosen are eternally bunched together as quarterback prospects, and we can't wait to see what happens next.

USC is absolutely loaded at the QB position, with Cody Kessler, Max Browne and Jalen Greene. The fact that the Trojans continued pursuing Town is a testament to his ability. He's a great passer for this stage in his career, and the Elite 11 camp is a great opportunity for those few fans who've yet to watch Town throw to see what all the hype is about.

 

Kyler Murray, Texas A&M

Right or wrong, every dual-threat quarterback who steps on the field for Texas A&M will be compared to Johnny Manziel. Kyler Murray better get ready for the overwhelming amount of attention and expectation he'll have in College Station.

At least he has an endorsement from the legend himself:

Since he's listed as a dual-threat quarterback, Murray's accuracy and arm will likely be questioned. However, he's an extremely gifted thrower, especially on the run. Sure he's still a little raw, but that's to be expected of any incoming freshman QB.

What's so scary about Murray is that he's essentially a pro-style quarterback in a dual-threat body. He'll thrive in Kevin Sumlin's offense.

 

Blake Barnett, Alabama

What might Nick Saban be able to do with an athletic quarterback? That's the biggest question surrounding the Alabama offense after the Crimson Tide snagged Blake Barnett. The 4-star quarterback firmly falls into the dual-threat category and brings an athleticism that the Tide have lacked under center before.

Listed at 6'3.5" and 195 pounds on 247Sports, Barnett is a much better athlete than you'd think him to be. He's extremely adept at creating more time for himself in the pocket and throwing on the run.

AL.com's Matt Scalici pondered how Barnett might impact Alabama's offensive game plan, considering the pro-style offense has been the team's bread and butter:

As Saban has pointed out numerous times in recent years, having a quarterback who can make plays with his feet is useful in any style of offense and it's clear that bringing in a more athletic player under center is an idea that has been on Saban's mind for several years. In fact, Saban talked about the appeal of dual-threat quarterbacks during the spring.

"I think if you have a guy like that, it does create a lot of problems for the defense," Saban said in March during an interview with ESPN. "I think that as we go forward in the future, that we'd like to have that kind of quarterback as well. But we're still a pro-style type of offense. "

Saban is a master tactician, so if anybody can figure out a way to maximize Barnett's talent in a pro-style offense, it's him.

 

Brady White, Arizona State

Watching top recruits go outside of the college football elite is always interesting. Arizona State is far from a minnow, but the Sun Devils aren't exactly a top-10 team, either.

Todd Graham laid down a marker with the commitment of Brady White. ASU will be a threat in the Pac-12 South.

White is cut from the pocket-passer mold. He's very accurate, even on the deep throws over the top of the defense. Throws into tight coverage aren't a problem, either, as White knows exactly where to put the ball to avoid any damage.

You can see a Vine below of White working out at the IMG7v7 National Championship, via ESPN.com's Derek Tyson:

Arizona State has one 10-win season since making that Rose Bowl run in 1997. Maybe White can channel his inner Jake Plummer and help to make the Sun Devils nationally relevant again.

 

Jarrett Stidham, Texas Tech

You can't overstate how important the commitment of Jarrett Stidham could be for Texas Tech. This is the landmark signing that Kliff Kingsbury needed to take the Red Raiders to the next level:

Like Murray, Stidham has all the skills of a pro-style quarterback with the mobility and elusiveness of a dual-style quarterback. He's accurate, with the arm strength to make a variety of throws. If a play breaks down, the 4-star QB can also create plays with his feet.

You can't envision a better fit for Kingsbury's offense.

The Red Raiders made major strides on the field last season, and Kingsbury demonstrated his play-calling acumen. By securing Stidham, Kingsbury showed that he can become a major threat to the established powers on the recruiting trail, too.

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