NCAA Football News

UCLA Football: 6 Players to Watch in Bruins' Spring Game

The UCLA football team will be showcasing its talents for the fans on Apr. 26 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. This game offers some of the younger players a chance to perform well in front of the coaching staff. 

There are six members on the team in particular with something to gain from the contest. Three of the six aforementioned players are freshmen.

A fourth is ready to take on a bigger role from a season ago. The last two players are returning from various injuries. Both are primed for productive years. 

Here's a look at six players to watch for in the Bruins spring game. 

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Power Ranking Every Pac-12 College Football Stadium

Because it's the offseason, we're going to rank every Pac-12 team by their respective home stadiums.

When it's all said and done, I'm confident we can all agree 100 percent on the accuracy and fairness of the list, even fans whose teams play in a stadium that is ranked low in our rankings. Ha! In all seriousness, there's no way to make everyone happy here.

The criteria we're looking for are capacity, attendance, history, noise and, well, overall reputation. Where a stadium sits in relation to its natural surroundings is also important (oh hey, Colorado). Some stadiums that used to be scary for opposing teams have been quiet in recent years due to mediocre play, while others are just starting to reach their potential for providing a true home-field advantage.

In any case, we'll do our best in applying both rhyme and reason to this purely subjective list. However, you may feel free to disagree, although I can't imagine that will happen, right?

Click forward to check out an updated version of the Pac-12 stadium power rankings.

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Arkansas Razorbacks Show off New Logo and Football Uniforms

The Arkansas Razorbacks will have a new look when they take the field in 2014.

Many college football teams have tried to stand out in recent seasons with bold uniforms. Arkansas' new jerseys are noticeably different, but Nike kept the design simple:

Here's a better look at the jerseys:

Although the uniforms featured modest changes, the school's new secondary logo is drastically different from the primary logo:

The new logo led to an awesome comparison:

How do the new uniforms and logo grade out?

[The Arkansas Logo, NikeArkansas RazorbacksTwitter]

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10 College Football Teams Who Must Get Better at in-State Recruiting

The first rule of thumb in recruiting for a program is to lock down its state. Its coaching staff must establish a fence around the borders of its state to let recruits know they're not getting out and to let other programs know they're not getting in.

Some schools have coaching staffs who understand this, while some schools have coaching staffs who simply do not. A pair of Pac-12 schools in the same state have the same problem, while a school in Virginia routinely lets too much elite talent get away.

Plus, another program allows its top in-state targets to often walk off the island.

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South Carolina Football: 5 Things Standing in the Way of an SEC Championship

Each of the last three seasons, South Carolina has finished 11-2, including 6-2 in the SEC, but it hasn't been quite enough to get the Gamecocks into the conference championship game.

South Carolina should be well positioned once again to challenge for an SEC East title and a shot at the championship.

The talent is more or less in place for another big year, there are questions surrounding the other teams in the SEC East and the schedule sets up favorably.

If the Gamecocks can overcome the following five obstacles, the school's first SEC Championship is there for the taking.

 

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Michigan Football Recruiting: Breaking Down the Top 2015 Targets

The winged helmet does the recruiting; Michigan waits for players to sign. 

Well, that's how it used to be. Today, it's a little different. It's not always a slam dunk. However, despite recent struggles in Ann Arbor, athletes from each corner of the country still want to suit up for the "leaders and the best." 

That bodes well for Wolverines coach Brady Hoke, who is known for his ways on the recruiting trail. The first two classes didn't disappoint. His 2014 grab, highlighted by the one and only Jabrill Peppers, doesn't rank as highly as past classes, but it's solid from tire to tire as well. 

With that being said, it's time to shift focus to the next group. This slideshow will highlight the top-rated and most interested targets of 2015, per 247Sports. Committed players won't be included. 

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Breaking Down Each 2015 5-Star Linebacker

The 2015 recruiting class features several 5-star linebackers, via the 247Sports composite rankings. Each 5-star 'backer brings a well-rounded skill set to the table.

However, they're not all identical prospects. A linebacker in Los Angeles doesn't weigh a lot, but he dominates with speed. Texas is home to a linebacker who has amazing athleticism and agility, while a linebacker in Ohio can do an array of things.

Each 5-star linebacker warrants a closer look.

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

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Chuma Edoga to USC: Trojans Land 5-Star OT Prospect

Chuma Edoga gave USC one of its top commitments of the 2015 class when the coveted 5-star offensive tackle announced his decision to join the Trojans Monday evening.

Edoga broke the news via his Twitter account:

The 6'4", 276-pound prospect is rated as the No. 4 offensive tackle and No. 27 overall player in this year's class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. It's apparent that Edoga, the No. 4-rated player out of the recruiting-rich state of Georgia and a five-star prospect, will make a big impact.

The McEachern High School (Powder Springs, Ga.) standout has been on the radars of the nation's most prominent schools for a long time, and it's not hard to see why. 

With a 4.86 40-yard-dash time, he's impressively quick for a lineman and has time to bulk up to around 300 pounds in the coming years. But with his strength and burst off the snap, he might not even have to get to that weight. 

Georgia, Tennessee and USC all stood out as front-runners for Edoga throughout his process, and he was initially favored to go to the Vols on the 247Sports Crystal Ball, per Kevin Ryan. But the Bulldogs and Trojans made late runs in the process, according to Ryan. 

Edoga narrowed down his final five to USC, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Stanford, per Ryan. 

He initially generated hype for his Monday announcement with the following tweet on Saturday:

Now that he's seemingly settled in with his college choice, Edoga now needs to focus on continuing to develop so that he's ready to make a quick impact for the Trojans. 

His athleticism and agility stand out as his top-rated skill areas. He also grades out as an excellent pass-blocker with room to improve as a run-blocker in time.

USC fans will no doubt be eager to see him play right away, and he might be able to fulfill those wishes considering his raw talent. But Edoga is still a work in progress and needs to make sure he continues putting in the hours to develop into an elite college football player. 

 

All recruiting information courtesy 247Sports unless otherwise stated.

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5-Star OT Chuma Edoga Commits to USC: Meet the Next Jake Matthews

The number four offensive tackle of the 2015 class, Chuma Edoga, has committed to the USC Trojans. This is a huge get for Steve Sarkisian, who continues to show his recruiting expertise by landing this top Georgia native.  

The 6'4" 276lb beast has the potential to be an instant impact for the offense when he arrives on campus in 2015. Check out Barrett Sallee break down what Chuma Edoga means to the USC Trojans. 

 

Highlights courtesy XOS Digital

All rankings from 247 Sports Composite

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10 Recruits Who Could Join 5-Star DE Shameik Blackshear at South Carolina

Shameik Blackshear is a 5-star defensive end who committed to South Carolina before his junior season. At 6'5" and 240 pounds, Blackshear is a dynamic speed-rusher off the edge who chases quarterbacks with quickness and athleticism.

Blackshear is definitely the type of player a recruiting class can be built around, which is what South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier should do with his 2015 haul.

Several other top-tier talents remain high on South Carolina's board, and Spurrier's recruiting pitch will surely include the chance to play with Blackshear. A talented pair of defensive tackles could join the 5-star defensive end, while a familiar face could also get a second chance.

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

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Penn State Recruiting: Breaking Down the Top 2015 Target at Each Position

Penn State football coach James Franklin and his staff are off to a terrific start, as far as the 2015 recruiting class is concerned.

According to 247Sports, the Nittany Lions have a top five class, and they've sat at the top of the list for a brief period this spring. 

Of the 12 recruits currently committed to Penn State, nine are rated as 4-star prospects, according to the 247Sports Composite ratings. 

That being said, it's April and none of the players currently committed can sign their letters of intent until next February. For anyone who has followed recruiting closely in the past, those nine months can be an eternity.

Here's a look at the top players from each position that Penn State is targeting, whether they're currently committed or not.

 

All star ratings reference the 247Sports Composite ratings.

 

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Alabama Football: What QB Blake Sims Must Do to Improve

The Alabama Crimson Tide are still without a starting quarterback, waiting on Jacob Coker to enroll this summer before kicking off the final round of competition entering fall camp. For Blake Sims, one of the three players with a realistic shot at the job, the summer has to be about slowing the game down and using every opportunity to show how his unique skills should put him over the top.

In the spring game, which saw Sims go 13-for-30 with two interceptions, the Tide put the governor on the quarterback's ability to create space and opportunity. As T.J. Yeldon noted after the game, the Tide utilized only 10 percent of the offense during the game. That meant no designed runs, not many run-pass options and very few sprint outs that would allow the 6'0" senior to show off his skills.

For Sims, who was ahead of redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman for most of spring, summer will be about getting better at some of the traditional elements of the quarterback job. Most notably, slowing the game down so that he can make the right decisions. The skills are there for the senior, however, his indecision led to mistakes and as the quarterback of the machine in Tuscaloosa, mistakes get people sent to the bench.

That means summer has to be spent growing his confidence and turning the in-play thought process into instincts. Pre-snap reads and post-snap assessments have to led to definitive decisions for Sims. No double-clutching. No eyeballing receivers to wait for them to come open.

And, of course, no holding the ball waiting to create a coverage sack.

The last element will be changed as Sims gets closer to game action. His ability to move, both in and out of the pocket, are an asset hidden from view during the limited spring game. As Alabama pushes through summer and into fall, Sims' unique skills have to show head coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin that the senior is the best option.

Beating out Jacob Coker is not going to be easy for Sims. As he showed in the spring game, when the bullets were almost live he balked in the spotlight. To stay in the running and push for the job he has to slow down the game and trust the decisions that he makes after the snap. That means throwing before his receivers come open. 

It isn't an easy skill to master and Saturday's spring game showed Sims has a long way to go. However, the door for the Alabama quarterback job is still wide open and Sims has time to prove he belongs under center. If he can improve his decision-making and show that his athleticism is an asset, he has a shot to win that job.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia Football Recruiting: Breaking Down the Top 2015 Target at Each Position

With spring practice now complete and the regular season still several months away, the Georgia Bulldogs coaching staff is spending time narrowing in on targets for the 2015 signing class.  Already, head coach Mark Richt has made headlines with a rather unique recruiting tactic—hand-drawn portraits of potential signees.

Georgia fans can use this preview to get a clearer picture of who the Dawgs are targeting for next year's signing class. 

Here are Georgia's top targets at each position as defined by each prospect's position ranking within the 247Sports Composite.

Unless otherwise, all stats, ratings and rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Nebraska Football: 5 Things Standing in the Way of a Big Ten Championship

It's no secret that Nebraska fans want to win the Big Ten championship. After having only made it to the big game once in its three-year existence, fans (and players) are getting antsy.

With new East and West divisions, the path to Indianapolis is very doable for the Huskers. Can the team make it there?

It will be filled with some challenges that could get in the way. But can head coach Bo Pelini overcome those obstacles?

Here are five things standing in the way of a Big Ten title for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

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Best Fits for Top Uncommitted ATH Recruits in Class of 2015

The 2015 recruiting class is in the midst of a commitment-filled timeframe that features several of the nation's premier players pledging to programs during the final stretch of their junior years. With so many top targets flying off the board, it's imperative for teams to maintain positive momentum with uncommitted prospects.

There are still many undecided difference-makers who fall under the "athlete" category—versatile players who have college scouts split on their ideal position. Here, we'll rank the top 10 available athletes while projecting where they will end up on signing day.

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New-Look Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Paves Way for Atlanta to Host National Title

ATLANTA — It's a new era for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, as the Atlanta-based postseason matchup that has traditionally featured the ACC and SEC will transition into the group of six bowls in the College Football Playoff rotation following the 2014 season and host its first national semifinal following the 2016 season.

With that comes a facelift of sorts.

The new era has brought the bowl back to the future. It was announced on Monday that the Chick-fil-A Bowl has brought back its old moniker and will be known as the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl starting in 2014.

"This not only represents the beginning of our new era in the College Football Playoff, but a reconnection to our history and tradition by bringing the peach back into our name," Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl president Gary Stokan said. "Chick-fil-A's agreement with ESPN and the Bowl allows us to continue a 17-year relationship regarded as one of the most successful in the industry."

The best could be yet to come.

The elevation to the group of six CFP bowls, along with the Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta and Cotton, has not only solidified the event as one of the top-tier postseason bowls in the country, but the city of Atlanta as the capital of the college football world.

The success of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, which boasts 17 straight sellouts, coupled with the creation of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game (or games) over Labor Day weekend and the move of the College Football Hall of Fame—which is scheduled to open this summer—to the city, has transformed Atlanta to a destination location for college football fans. 

What's the next step?

A national title game, of course.

North Texas, Phoenix and Tampa are slated to host the first three national title games following the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons, respectively. But when the next rounds of proposals are due, which should be sometime next January, expect Atlanta to be vying for that game following the 2017 season.

Not coincidentally, that will be the year that the new Atlanta Falcons stadium opens just south of the Georgia Dome.

"We're going to go after, bid for and successfully win the national championship game," Stokan said. "We are going to bring it to Atlanta hopefully in January of 2018 when we're in the new stadium."

While the College Football Playoff expects to receive bids from several cities, the momentum the city of Atlanta has been generating over the last decade in the college football world is hard to ignore.

"Anytime you can continue the string that Atlanta's currently on of bringing major events to the marketplace—the Final Four got such rave reviews—and everything they've done with college football then what the team has done here, it gives us confidence that they're going to put together a formidable bid," College Football Playoff COO Michael Kelly said. "Combined with the Atlanta Falcons and the new stadium, it will make it very attractive."

Despite the momentum, there will be challengers lining up to win the bid when it's released.

"We had eight cities that competed for this last rotation," Kelly said. "We expect Atlanta and somebody else to come on board. It'll be a fierce competition, but you have to like the assets that Atlanta is putting forward."

Bringing back the "Peach" moniker just in time for its inclusion into the College Football Playoff semifinal rotation isn't a coincidence.

"We did make it a condition, as part of them coming into the playoff rotation, was to have some consistency and that all of our bowls have a base moniker," Kelly said.

Stokan's goal when he started with the bowl in 1998 was to get the bowl into the BCS. While technically that didn't happen, he did get it into "BCS 2.0" in the College Football Playoff. That momentum will likely carry it to the next logical goal.

"Atlanta's just on a roll right now," Kelly said.

A roll that seems to be headed straight for a title game.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand.


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How Notre Dame Would Fare If Irish Played Alabama's 2014 Schedule

Before they met in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, Alabama and Notre Dame were contrasted for the strength of their respective schedules.

The Irish, it was said, were 12-0 by virtue of not having played anyone, and Alabama would crush them because it was battle-tested by the SEC. Its most recent win, on a neutral field against Georgia, was more impressive than any the Irish had accrued all year and was a de facto national title game unto itself.

Of course things are actually more complicated than that. However, the game played out in a way that justified the story, with Alabama winning 42-14: a margin that was deceptively small (despite being so large). Because of that game, Notre Dame and Alabama's schedules will forever be enticing to compare with one another, so why not give it a shot before 2014?

There is something ironic about the two seasons after Alabama won that game and created this storyline. In each case, it has actually been granted a favorable schedule—at least when compared with the rest of the SEC.

Which is to say: Notre Dame's schedule might be harder than the Tide's this coming season. Even after losing Rose Bowl champion Michigan State from its usual cast of opponents, ND still plays five of the 13 best teams from last year's F/+ ratings at Football Outsiders.

Alabama, by comparison, plays just one.

The Irish would survive with relative ease—just as Alabama should—against West Virginia then crush Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss, which would put them at 3-0 before a home game with Florida.

The Gators are, along with Notre Dame, one of my favorite bounceback candidates in 2014, and especially with the presence of former UF safety Cody Riggs in the Irish secondary, that game would be a heck of a lot of fun to watch. It would also likely feature two 3-0 teams (Florida starts with Idaho, Eastern Michigan and Kentucky), making it an early keystone moment in the season.

It remains to be seen how Kurt Roper, who took command of the Florida offense after thriving at Duke last season, will affect the regular-season tempo of the Gators. If he can get Jeff Driskel in a rhythm out of the shotgun, as he did in their spring game, there's a chance that unit can be deceptively decent.

Notre Dame would be a small, home-field favorite, but I think this is where it would meet its first defeat.

The next four games are tricky and would likely define much of the Irish's season. A home date with Texas A&M is sandwiched between true road games at Ole Miss, Arkansas and Tennessee. 

Even with the new FieldTurf at Notre Dame Stadium, the Irish should be able to win at home against a fast but soft Texas A&M team—especially if it starts true freshman Kyle Allen at quarterback. Allen is talented, sure, but the enormity of the stage at such a hallowed field might prove to be too much for a player so young (not unlike Christian Hackenberg at Ohio State in 2013).

The Irish would probably fall at either Ole Miss or Tennessee, though it's hard to say which. It would need to escape this stretch of the schedule 3-1 to remain competitive in the conference, which is exactly what I'll predict they would do.

For posterity, let's say it loses on the road against a good Ole Miss team and wins a nail-biter in Knoxville over the still-one-year-away Volunteers.

After a second open date, the following game at LSU might get ugly. So much has changed between then and now, but the image of JaMarcus Russell shredding Notre Dame in the 2007 Sugar Bowl is etched in my mind indelibly. And that was on a (technically, but not really) neutral field instead of at Tiger Stadium.

A close home win over Mississippi State (which should be plucky next year) and a blowout over Western Carolina would then lead Notre Dame into the faux-Iron Bowl against Auburn with a record of 8-3 and, potentially, a chance to win the SEC West with some sort of tiebreaker over the Tigers (depending on how they fare elsewhere).

However, in this case, the new fast track at Notre Dame Stadium would come back to bite the Irish severely. Perhaps I am overplaying the importance of the FieldTurf—I do not think, in the long term, it is really that big of a deal—but Auburn is a team created to play on such a surface. For reference, look at its offensive output against Missouri in the SEC Championship Game last season:

My prediction for Notre Dame would thus be an 8-4 record, which is nothing to scoff at in the big, bad SEC. Even though I'm on the record saying Alabama will fare (much) better, calling for 8-4 is not intended as an insult—merely a recognition of certain weaknesses.

Notre Dame loses Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix from the front line of last year's defense. Sheldon Day has had his moments, but even with the new blitzing scheme of defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, such an untried defensive line would find it difficult against the blocking of teams like Auburn and LSU.

Oddly enough, though I do think Notre Dame's schedule includes more good teams than Alabama's, I wouldn't be surprised to see it exceed this projection (8-4) in real life. Other than Florida State and Stanford, no team it plays jumps out as particularly strong along the line. It matches up fairly well.

What it doesn't match up well with is SEC competition.

I don't think it's fair to merely point at a game like the 2013 national title game and say it's conclusive proof of Notre Dame's shortcomings against the SEC—football is a little more complicated than that—but I think it's just as wrong to ignore those results altogether.

When you think about it that way, predicting the Irish to go 8-4 against Alabama's schedule is actually putting it kindly.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas Football: Grading the Longhorns' Post-Spring Depth Chart

The Texas Orange-White Scrimmage is now in the books, leaving us with a post-spring depth chart that fans should be comfortable with as the team gears up for the summer.

For the most part, the Longhorns close spring football on a positive note across most positions. The receivers, defensive line and linebackers are all good to go for next season thanks to returning depth and reliable starters. Those spots are set for the foreseeable future.

Quarterback and running back are hurt the most by the absence of top players. David Ash missed the spring game and will be out until the fall, making Tyrone Swoopes the only true quarterback on the roster until Jerrod Heard arrives in June. The same goes for the running backs, who are awaiting the returns of Johnathan Gray and Joe Bergeron, as well as the enrollment of Donald Catalon.

Though the offensive line is dealing with an injured starter of its own, starting-caliber talent and quality depth are beginning to emerge. This group struggled in Saturday's spring game, but the foundation has been laid for Joe Wickline to work his magic.

All told, the only positions that graded out poorly and have the least positive outlook are tight end and the secondary. And the latter still has Quandre Diggs.

 

N.B. Starters will be represented in bold lettering, with backups being listed in descending order. Players that were injured, suspended and/or did not play in the spring game were not included on this list.

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Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Breaking Down Top 2015 Target at Each Position

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — After cruising through the spring season, now’s a perfect time to flip our attention toward some Notre Dame football recruiting talk.

We’ll focus here on the class of 2015. It’s still very early in the process, but things are picking up around the country (see Alabama’s weekend).

With that in mind, let’s take a look at Notre Dame’s top target at each position in the class of 2015.

Now, we’ll add a layer of realism to this; otherwise, you could just look at your favorite go-to recruiting service and its rankings and pick the top player at each position. The players who follow are definitely top targets, but, in most cases, we’ll try to restrict the names to those who reportedly have at least some interest in Notre Dame or who Notre Dame is reportedly targeting seriously.

And, where applicable, we’ll throw in a few other names to keep an eye on too.

On we go.

 

*All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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Texas Football: Top Performers from the Longhorns Spring Game

The Texas Longhorns' first spring of the Charlie Strong era has officially come to an end. The spring game showed a lot of positive steps for the team in addition to some concerns.

"We still have a lot of work to do," Strong said. "I wish I had 15 more days, but I don't have them. Now we have to get the guys through the summer and into fall camp. Once we get there, we need to go to work and have to put a product together that is consistent, because it's all about consistency."

The Longhorns were not always consistent, but a handful of players did shine on Saturday. Here's a look at the top performers from the Orange-White Scrimmage.

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