NCAA Football News

Why 4-Star Travis Waller Is Best QB Oregon Could Have Landed in Class of 2015

After misfires on 5-star prospect Kyler Murray and 4-star Blake Barnett, Oregon needed to come up big with its next quarterback prospect for the 2015 signing class.

The Ducks did just that, landing a commitment Tuesday from 4-star prospect Travis Waller.

Although Oregon's push for Waller came late—he received his official offer just 11 days ago—he's no contingency plan. His commitment was no mere consolation prize after the Ducks missed on Murray and Barnett, either.

Waller rose to the top of the Ducks' list along with Deondre Francois, a 4-star prospect from Orlando, Florida, being heavily recruited by Florida State and Auburn.

In landing Waller, Oregon plants a flag in the all-important Southern California recruiting scene, and at one of the region's powerhouse schools. Waller leads the offense at Anaheim's Servite High School, the No. 10-ranked team in MaxPreps' national Xcellent 25 poll.

Waller's commitment represents a major victory in the Pac-12 geographic footprint. 

Likewise, remaining in the region helped Waller make his decision, he explained to 247Sports' Ryan Bartow.

"The players are family and they don’t treat anyone different. They play in the Pac-12 North and [it's] an hour flight from home so my mom can come to my games," he said.

Waller is a talented playmaker whose skill set could not be a more seamless fit for the Oregon style, in much the same manner as 2014 recruit Morgan Mahalak.  

With the duo in the fold, Oregon's quarterback future certainly looks bright. The line of succession is set up in such a way that when Marcus Mariota leaves for what is almost assuredly a first-round selection in the 2015 NFL draft, the Ducks coaching staff has options in the same mold.

Indeed, Waller's game is very much reminiscent of Oregon's current, Heisman Trophy-contending signal-caller. With prototypical quarterback size at 6'3", Waller stands tall and strong in the pocket.

But perhaps the most impressive facet of his game is his explosiveness out of the zone-read.

Waller's Hudl.com junior-year highlight reel opens appropriately enough: Waller sells the hand-off before slicing through the defense, finding the seams and turning on the jets to outpace the safeties for an 85-yard touchdown.

That's just a sample of the work Waller did in 2013 for Servite. Per MaxPreps, Waller rushed for 1,293 yards and 13 touchdowns to complement his 1,669 yards passing and 12 touchdowns.

He likely has another big year ahead of him, as Servite pursues the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section and state championships. By the time Waller actually gets to Oregon, hoisting hardware could be old hat for him.

 

Recruiting rankings and information culled from 247Sports composite scores unless otherwise noted.  

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Every College Football Playoff Contender's Most Difficult 2014 Stretch

Now that the calendar has turned to July and the U.S. Men’s National Team’s World Cup run is over, it’s time to think about football. American football.

In less than two weeks, the SEC will kick the hype into high gear when it hosts its annual media days (expanded to a bloated four days this summer) in Hoover, Alabama, where every utterance, no matter how trivial, will be tweeted, blogged and expounded upon by the armada of reporters in attendance.

The rest of the SEC’s gridiron brethren will follow, building anticipation for the 2014 season’s opening weekend in late August. Eventually, football will actually arrive, and with it speculation about the first College Football Playoff. With the expanded four-team field, the hype will be bigger than ever this season, and schedules will be crucial.

We decided to take a look at the toughest stretch that every College Football Playoff contender faces: a period where their mettle will be tested like no other on the road to this season’s national title game at AT&T Stadium in north Texas.

The criteria, initially, is a top-10 preseason ranking: We used the top 10 from Bleacher Report’s most recent top 25 prediction. If your team isn’t included, don’t fret: It’s a long season. As previous years have shown, your group could very well be one of the teams making the most noise come January.

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A Timeline of College Football Conference Realignment over the BCS Era

How many programs do you think changed conferences in the BCS era?

Think about it: The BCS lasted from 1998 to 2013—that’s 16 seasons in an FBS that began the era with 112 members.

Would you guess 25, 30 or even 50?  Well, how about 78? 

That’s right, 78 programs moved conferences in the BCS era—some more than once—a tribute to the skyrocketing popularity of college football and the ever-increasing pot of money at the center of the sport.

Not only did almost 80 teams change leagues, 14 programs moved up from the FCS to the FBS level, three new conferences were formed and three leagues bit the dust.

Though additional realignment is on tap for the 2014 season—the first in the College Football Playoff era— take a look at the astonishing volume of change that occurred in the 16 years the BCS ruled the world.

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Florida Football: Why Andre Debose Will Be the Gators' X-Factor in 2014

If the Florida Gators are going to improve on last year’s efforts, somebody is bound to be the X-factor. One guy is going to come out of nowhere and provide a bigger impact than anybody expected.

That guy is likely to be wide receiver Andre Debose. Gosh, I feel like I’ve been saying that for the last decade. It wasn’t last season, or the year before, or the year before that. This will be the season one of the Gators' most highly recruited players finally lives up to his potential.

It just wouldn’t be the storybook ending that the sports world loves if it wasn’t.

While Debose has been a consistent special teams player and holds a school record with four touchdown returns, he has just 29 receptions, 543 yards and four receiving touchdowns in his career.

Debose has gone two of his three seasons with less than 100 receiving yards and zero touchdowns. That’s right, remove that 2011 season, and Debose has found the end zone as many times as you and myself.

But his sophomore season provides hope for this year, as Charlie Weis was calling the shots that season. While everybody has their own opinion on the coach who has been with five different teams since 2000, there’s no denying that he is a creative play-caller and knows how to put his players in position to succeed.

Florida had the fifth-best passing offense in the SEC in 2011, a mark that has gone downhill ever since he left.

Certainly, there are a lot more factors for why the Gators struggle mightily on the offensive end, but a lot of these issues can be fixed with an innovative coach who can take advantage of the strengths of his team.

While Brent Pease clearly wasn’t that guy, current offensive coordinator Kurt Roper appears to be—you average more than 425 yards of offense with Duke athletes, you have something pretty special going on.

Besides Jamison Crowder, who caught 108 passes last season for Duke, Florida has better all-around players with better skill sets. The scary part is that Crowder plays a similar game to Debose. He's not the biggest player in the world, but he's extremely fast and a nightmare in space.

Maybe you folks forgot:

Debose can not only strike at a moment’s notice, but he can turn a short pass into a long play if the defense isn’t careful. In 2011, six of Debose’s 16 receptions produced 25 or more yards. That's one more than Solomon Patton, and he led the Gators last season with 44 receptions. 

Assuming he’s healthy from last season’s ACL injury, Debose can be the difference-maker on the offensive end that the Gators lacked a year ago.

Debose is one of the most experienced receivers on the roster, and you’d be wise to put your money on him being the fastest. He can stretch the field, draw the high safety’s attention on every play and help create for others. So, even when he isn’t making plays himself, he’s helping the offense.

Florida fans have waited years for Debose to have a breakout season. The time has finally come.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA Football: Incoming Freshmen Most Likely to Contribute This Season

The UCLA football team has the luxury of adding impact players from a talented 2014 recruiting class. Multiple members of the group should be able to come in right away and contribute to a team hopeful of winning the Pac-12. 

Many of the said prospects reside on the defensive side of the ball. While it's possible some could start, the likely scenario will involve the incoming recruits in a reserve role.  

Although not a freshman, UCLA adds an impact transfer in the form of Malcolm Bunche. Of the players listed in this piece, the former Miami offensive lineman has the best chance to start. 

Here's a look at the new roster additions most likely to contribute in 2014 for the UCLA Bruins.

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