NCAA Football News

Best Neutral Site Games for 2015 College Football Season

In college football, little beats a crazed home-field environment welcoming a hated visiting team, with plenty on the line. Those games are common within league play but have become less and less common in intersectional play. Neutral-site games, like the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta and the Cowboys Classic at AT&T Stadium in Texas, have become lucrative lures for teams who prefer a single game over a home-and-home series.

As CBSSports.com's Jon Solomon notes, neutral-site games both help and hurt college football.

Neutral-site “classics” are nothing new: The Kickoff Classic matched marquee teams in the old Giants Stadium from 1983 until 2002. But, they've had a recent resurgence and appear here to stay.

Mixed with traditional neutral-site games, they've become a strong part of the college football schedule. Here's a look at the best neutral-site games scheduled for 2015.

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Michigan Football: Jim Harbaugh's Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice

In all likelihood, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is dreaming of September, October and November. Following this past Saturday’s spring game, he’s probably found himself envisioning a true-to-form Wolverines starting quarterback, a coach Tyrone Wheatley-certified running back, an ironclad secondary and loaded recruiting classes.

And why wouldn’t he?

He has the makings of something—something that’s yet to be defined—in Ann Arbor. Harbaugh, who replaced former coach Brady Hoke on Dec. 30, has the experience and track record to spark quick change. It won’t be instantaneous. It’s not like he can post a tweet, turn around and see immediate results.

Wait a minute…he can do that. Just not in football. Not yet, anyway. But back to football, which is Harbaugh’s realm of expertise. The former San Francisco 49ers coach realizes that his team has miles to go before it reaches desired levels.

He’s optimistic in regard to his team, but he’s not naive. The Wolverines must follow their spring game with a strong summer—that much is clear. Due to NCAA regulations, teams aren’t allowed to conduct practices after spring games. They have to wait out late May, June, July and early August—not to mention the dead week—before getting back to work.

Players are expected to report to camp in shape and ready to go. According to the new staff, work ethic doesn’t seem to be an issue at Michigan. For the Wolverines, it’ll be all about what they do—not if they do it—prior to the start of fall.

 

Quarterback

First and foremost, Michigan needs a quarterback.

At the moment, Shane Morris is the No. 1 guy; however, the junior’s job isn’t secure. In terms of the depth chart, he’s barely above true freshman Alex Malzone, who had a similarly average showing this past Saturday. But like Morris, he’s learning.

Once healthy, redshirt freshman Wilton Speight could factor into the race as well.

At the end of the day, they’ll compete for the starting job with Jake Rudock, a senior transfer from Iowa. Zach Gentry, a 4-star recruit, is also set to arrive in August. At 6’7” and 215 pounds, Gentry towers above offensive and defensive lines, and he also packs a powerful right arm.

Harbaugh will have quarterbacks upon quarterbacks in roughly four months, which means he’ll have three important decisions to make: 1. Name the starter, 2. Find the right backup, 3. Start grooming the next one. It all sounds simple. At one time or another, every coach in America faces the same process.

A wealth of quarterbacks isn’t a problem, but it’s worthy of Harbaugh’s immediate attention. Ultimately, discerning the top talent could end up being the difficult part—a hungry senior transfer from a Big Ten school versus a former hometown Golden Boy versus the new hometown Golden Boy versus the kid from Russell Wilson’s high school.

Plus Gentry.

There’s a lot going on there.

Whether it’s Rudock, Morris, Malzone, Speight or Gentry, Harbaugh must get it right. The Wolverines haven’t had a legitimate pro-style threat since the days of Chad Henne, who was a senior in 2007, and they can’t afford another swing and miss or forced fit at the position.

By the sound of it, Michigan’s staff is eager to get its hands on Rudock, who has four years of ties with passing coordinator Jedd Fisch.

"I am excited for Jake to get here and compete with the quarterbacks that we already have in the program," Fisch said, per a release. "I've known Jake for a long time, since 2011, and I am excited to be a part of the staff that is now coaching him."

Fisch talked about Rudock's previous Big Ten days and the players he'll work with in Ann Arbor:

I think that Jake brings great maturity and experience to the program. He has 25 starts under his belt in the Big Ten and a winning record of 15-10. All of that, combined with the quarterbacks we currently have in the program and all the skill we are surrounding him with, we are excited about the things that Jake can do for our program.

Rudock’s arrival will rock the boat, but in a good way. Harbaugh is elevating levels across the board, and turning up the heat on the quarterbacks is a great way to start the show, which is in need of a star.

 

Running Backs

The running game is a concern, too. A top contender didn’t exactly jump up and raise his hand this past Saturday, but sophomores Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith appear to be the leaders.

In 2014, they combined for 988 yards and nine touchdowns. In fairness, Green, who had 471 of those yards and three touchdowns, was about to turn the corner before suffering a season-ending injury at Rutgers.

Unfortunately, breaking his clavicle shattered his momentum.

Had he not missed the final six games, there is possibility that he could have picked up the extra 529 yards needed to become a 1,000-yard rusher. Had that happened, he would have been Michigan’s first 1,000-yarder since 2011 (Fitz Toussaint; 1,064 yards).

Just like with quarterback, establishing depth should be a concern for Harbaugh. It concerns Wheatley, the running backs coach, much in the same way. They have pieces, but not one fell into place during the spring game.

In 2014, Drake Johnson bolted onto the scene with a late four-game flash that yielded 55 carries for 320 yards and four touchdowns, two of which came against Ohio State. And then he was hit by another ACL injury, essentially casting a dark cloud on his future in Ann Arbor.

It may be a bit soon to write off Johnson. But for the time being, the senior probably isn’t in the top-three conversation. Michigan will likely run a two-back set with a fullback, or rotate accordingly with Wyatt Shallman, a junior, and possibly 3-star freshman Karan Higdon, who arrives this fall.

Harbaugh’s staff will take over the No. 77-ranked rushing offense. It’ll be expected to at least crack the top 40 this fall. Restoring power on the ground is a key to the full, back-to-Michigan transformation.

 

Secondary

The defensive backfield isn’t a major concern, which is a good thing for Harbaugh. Thanks to coaches Michael Zordich and Greg Jackson, the corners and safeties seem to be in good care.

Former 5-star recruit Jabrill Peppers showed off some pop during the spring game with a walloping of Shallman behind the O-line. He also nearly had an interception.

Peppers is on track. He looked up to par this past Saturday and expressed an eagerness to display his real skill set this fall. When it comes to the secondary, the continued development of Peppers should be Harbaugh’s top priority.

 

Recruiting

Harbaugh’s received commitments from four high-end 2016 prospects since April 3, the date 4-star quarterback Brandon Peters got the ball rolling by saying yes to Michigan. Then 3-star linebacker/fullback David Reese jumped aboard. Then 3-star fullback Kingston Davis took the plunge, followed by 4-star running back Matthew Falcon.

Each player is ranked among the top 20 at his respective position.

With that said, Harbaugh can’t afford to take his foot off the pedal.

The rebuild starts with collecting fresh talent. Harbaugh’s good at that, evidenced by the way he picked up eight commits during his first month on the job.

Stacking the 2016 class with the best available is the goal, but it won’t be easy, as Harbaugh will certainly find himself in scrums with Mark Dantonio of Michigan State and Urban Meyer of Ohio State.

Those guys can recruit, too. In addition to a 2014 Rose Bowl title and 2015 Cotton Bowl victory, Dantonio’s won 55 games in the past five years. The Spartans have won six of their past eight meetings with the Wolverines. Harbaugh can gain ground by simply doing what he’s been doing—and that’s scouring every nook and cranny for guys who want to play football at Michigan.

According to 247Sports, the Wolverines have the No. 20-ranked 2016 class, or in other terms: the No. 3-ranked class in the Big Ten. Guess who’s at No. 1? That’s Meyer, who has eight commits compared to Harbaugh’s six.

At No. 9 in the league, Dantonio appears to be miles behind his contemporaries. But that’s not the case. His methodology slightly differs from that of Harbaugh and Meyer. His classes are silent killers, and signing the biggest-name athletes is rarely his goal.

Right now, for the sake of staying in the headlines, making lots of noise appears to be the best course of action for Harbaugh, who’ll want to snag every 4- and 5-star kid possible. He’s done that; now it’s time for more.

Actions speak louder than words. Michigan’s coach is living proof of that. It’s time for the team to approach things like Harbaugh does, and that starts with building on this past weekend’s exhibition and applying it to the offseason.

 

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 via 247Sports.

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B/R Exclusive: 4-Star WR Darnell Salomon Has Top 6; Where Does He Fit Best?

Living in Florida has been good to 4-star wide receiver Darnell Salomon. However, every baby bird must leave the nest sooner or later.

Salomon told Bleacher Report Thursday night that he has a top six of Oregon, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Auburn and LSU. The list came after Salomon, the nation's No. 12 receiver, picked up an offer from Texas earlier today.

Notice that all six of the schools are out-of-state programs.

"My mother is always telling me to go travel," Salomon said. "I've been in Florida all my life and haven't been to many other places. This will give me a chance to travel and see other things."

Salomon has 25 reported offers, including offers from Miami, Florida State, Florida and Central Florida, but on Thursday, none of the in-state schools made the cut. Salomon added that his process is still open.

LSU currently is the school trending for Salomon. According to his 247Sports Crystal Ball, 44 percent of prognosticators feel that he will sign with LSU, while 31 percent favor Alabama. The last five predictions swing to Alabama's advantage.

None of Salomon's top six holds a proximity edge, and with the in-state schools currently out of the race, the three SEC powers have to feel good about the positions they're in. Auburn is the closest school of the six, but the drive is roughly 10 hours away.

Salomon's top six all have rich college football histories, and he's been in contact with multiple members of the respective coaching staffs. He's looking forward to further building relationships during the spring and summer seasons.

"I've talked to these coaches the most," he said. "They tell me about the school, academics and how I could fit in their starting lineups. They've all been really truthful about their football team."

One of the six schools is expected to get a big receiver who can be a playmaker at the next level. He measured in at Nike's The Opening Miami regional at 6'2 ½" and 205 pounds. At the event, he ran a 4.64-second 40-yard dash, but he has been clocked as fast as 4.4 seconds in previous tests.

His combination of size and speed makes him a wanted individual. Texas, as the newest offer, is hoping to make a big enough splash on Salomon to get him to campus.

Salomon admitted that he isn't an expert on Longhorn knowledge, but he's heard a lot of positive things about head coach Charlie Strong, and he saw what Strong did with recruiting for the 2015 class, landing five players from the Sunshine State.

"I know a little bit about Texas, but I like how they got the South Florida kids, like [4-star defensive back] Davante Davis," Salomon said. "I haven't really read up on [Strong], but I've heard he's a real good coach and a real good mentor."

Salomon said he would like to visit Texas, Oklahoma and Oregon this summer, but nothing has been set in stone. He's been to Auburn, Alabama and LSU either for unofficial visits or for camps. He said he isn't planning on taking long trips during the spring.

As for a decision, Salomon noted that one of two things will happen.

"I put a little thought of making it during the summer or during the all-star game," said Salomon, who has committed to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January. "We'll just see how it plays out."

 

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

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Boston College Sends 3-Star Prospect a Drake-Themed Recruiting Letter

We've already seen Jim Harbaugh use a "promposal" as a recruiting tactic.

Boston College doesn't want to be left out of the fun.

The Eagles sent 3-star wide receiver Seth Dawkins a Drake-themed recruiting letter, which Dawkins then snapped a photo of and posted on his Twitter.

The letter spoofs the cover of the rapper's latest mixtape, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.

It's not too late for you to commit, Seth.

[Seth Dawkins, h/t College Spun]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Biggest Recruiting Visits Set for Spring Football Games

Spring football games annually serve several purposes on college campuses across the country. They present an opportunity for coaches to further evaluate their depth chart, rally fanbases five months before regular-season action and showcase programs for visiting prospects. 

These games often occur during high school spring breaks, setting the stage for recruits from within the region and beyond to attend. Several recruiting visits are slated to take place at spring games this month, and we took a look at priority players to keep an eye on.

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What Braxton Miller's NCAA Violation Really Means for Him and Ohio State

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Permitting he's healthy, Braxton Miller will be able to play college football in 2015.

That's the ruling the NCAA made on Thursday when it was revealed the Ohio State quarterback's eligibility will not be affected by a minor violation he committed two weeks ago on social media. Posing alongside a line of AdvoCare supplements, Miller encouraged followers on his Instagram account to purchase the products from him, which the NCAA deemed to be a violation of profiting off of his likeness.

"The NCAA has determined that Braxton Miller’s Instagram post on March 24, 2015, was deemed to be a promotion of a commercial product," Ohio State said in a statement on Thursday."The Ohio State University Dept. of Athletics reported the incident to the NCAA, and the NCAA has reinstated Braxton’s eligibility without any conditions. This was considered a minor violation and the matter is now closed."

Although not unexpected, that's obviously good news for Miller, who continues to rehab from the torn labrum in his throwing shoulder that ended his 2014 season before it began last August. Any eligibility issues would have only been another hurdle for the two-time Big Ten MVP to clear as he attempts to re-establish himself as one of college football's top players.

So what's next for Miller?

While the speedy signal-caller may have evaded the NCAA, Miller still faces an uphill climb as he prepares for what could be an unprecedented quarterback competition in Columbus this summer. With Cardale Jones coming off of a national championship run and J.T. Barrett filling his trophy case and rewriting the Buckeyes record book in Miller's absence, Urban Meyer will have to choose from three qualified candidates to start behind center this fall.

And at the midway point of spring practice, Miller appears to be falling behind.

Not because of anything he's done—the minor violation included—but more because of what he hasn't done this spring.

While Miller stands on the sideline, unable to participate in passing drills, Jones is getting the bulk of the reps with Ohio State's first-team offense. Barrett, meanwhile, has been able to participate in seven-on-seven drills throughout the spring, despite still recovering from a fractured ankle suffered in last season's regular-season finale.

That means Miller will not only have the longest layoff of the three quarterbacks when it comes to quality snaps, but he'll already be behind Jones and Barrett when it comes to developing chemistry with the Buckeyes wide receivers. Of Ohio State's top returning pass-catchers for 2015, Miller has only spent extensive time playing with tight end Nick Vannett, who caught 15 passes for 203 yards and one touchdown from 2012-13, and Dontre Wilson, who tallied 22 receptions for 210 yards and two touchdowns in 2013.

One of Miller's favorite workout partners, Michael Thomas, played alongside the Huber Heights, Ohio, native in 2012, catching three passes for 22 yards as a true freshman, and he also thrived under the combination of Barrett and Jones, recording a team-high 54 receptions in 2014. Thomas is sitting out the remainder of the Buckeyes' spring after undergoing sports hernia surgery, only opening the door for younger receivers like Jalin Marshall, Noah Brown, Johnnie Dixon and Parris Campbell to receive increased reps with Jones and Barrett.

But hindering Miller more than the chemistry he is missing out on is the severity of the injury he's trying to bounce back from. In some cases, it can be career-ending for a quarterback, and Miller has been taking his recovery with extreme precaution, as it was a reinjury of his shoulder that caused him to sit out last season in the first place.

Between his injury, his layoff from football and the possibility that Jones and/or Barrett may just be a better fit for the Buckeyes, Miller certainly has his work cut out for him. Arguably the most talented of the three, there's no counting Miller out when it comes to this summer's competition—and the possibility of using his ability as a graduate transfer still exists—but the obstacles in his path are clear.

Which is what makes Thursday's news so important for the fifth-year senior, as it's one less issue he'll have to deal with as he attempts his comeback. His circumstances may not be ideal, but it won't be his eligibility that stands in the way of Miller reclaiming his status as Ohio State's starting quarterback. 

 

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

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Way-Too-Early Pretenders or Contenders for 2015 Heisman Award

It's never too early to talk about who will be contending for the Heisman trophy. With tons of elite talent in college football, the field is deep. 

Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Adam Kramer joins Stephen Nelson for a game of Pretender or Contender focusing on the current crop of Heisman hopefuls. 

Who will be hoisting the Heisman in 2015? Check out the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State Football: How Urban Meyer Built the Buckeyes to Dethrone Alabama

It was May 2013 when Alabama head coach Nick Saban took his first shot at Urban Meyer and Ohio State.

The Crimson Tide were coming off their second consecutive national championship after throttling Notre Dame 42-14 in the BCS title game. The Buckeyes, who posted an undefeated 2012 season but were banned from postseason play, never had a chance to prove themselves on college football's biggest stage.

When asked about whether it should have been Ohio State playing for that title, Saban openly wondered about the true strength of the Buckeyes.

"How many would they have won against those top six (in the SEC) last year," Saban asked, according to Cecil Hurt of TideSportsExtra.com. "Would they have won three? I don't know."

There it was. The perception that Ohio State couldn't hang with the SEC—let alone the conference's Goliath in Alabama—was enhanced by the man who had built what appeared to be an unbreakable empire.

Six-hundred miles north in Columbus, the Buckeyes were listening. Meyer hung a banner in the team's practice facility emblazoned with their new mantra, "The Chase," serving as a constant reminder of where they were headed and what they were trying to do.

Meyer wanted the Buckeyes to climb college football's mountain, and there was no doubt who they would meet once they reached the pinnacle.

"Any time [we talk about] the top of the mountain, I've used [Alabama]," Meyer said, according to Bleacher Report's Ben Axelrod.

And so they climbed. It took Meyer three years to pull his team to the peak, and when they finally got there, they were strong enough to beat college football's top dog.

It wasn't an easy ascension.

First, Meyer had to recruit the kind of players he had success with in the past—guys who have the strength, speed and natural leadership to hold up in his system. It was a formula he used to win at every stop in his coaching career, and he had no intention of changing that.

“We have a plan to win that has been successful, that has won championships,” Meyer said of his recruiting, according to Matt Hayes of Sporting News. “I don’t think you veer from that.”

That strategy led the Buckeyes to rarely visited places on the recruiting trail, like Wichita Falls, Texas, to recruit players like J.T. Barrett.

It was that type of player which fueled Ohio State's climb to the top.

Barrett was rated a 4-star prospect and the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the 2013, recruiting class but Meyer saw past that and identified something his team needed: leadership.

That's what Barrett brought to the Buckeyes.

He immediately showcased that ability with an unexpected and passionate recruiting pitch to two highly coveted Buckeye recruits—Dontre Wilson and James Clark—both of whom wound up at Ohio State. Later, Barrett defied his age and earned a spot on Ohio State's leadership committee as a true freshman in 2013 despite being the team's fourth-string quarterback.

A year later, after starting quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Braxton Miller was lost for the season, Barrett was ready to step up and lead the Buckeyes on a championship run.

But Barrett was just a microcosm of something much bigger developing at Ohio State. Across the board, the Buckeyes were improving as they gave way to the culture and attitude that Meyer demanded.

Four to six seconds. "A" to "B." Everything you've got.

It's a simple philosophy. The average football play lasts between four and six seconds. When the ball is snapped, Meyer expects his guys to give their complete effort until the whistle sounds.

Relentless effort.

"It's so easy to be average," Meyer said during one of the Buckeyes' first practices in the fall of 2012, via ESPN's all-access feature (h/t RenegadeBuckeye on YouTube). "It takes something special to be a great player. We're going to push your ass like it's never been pushed."

It's a philosophy that also serves as a challenge. If you're not prepared to give everything, then you're not prepared to play.

That mentality got the whole team to buy in. Players who weren't logging big-time stats or grabbing the headlines were putting their nose to the ground and grinding for the team.

The perfect embodiment of that came in the form of wide receiver Evan Spencer.

He came to Ohio State as a highly rated 4-star recruit, but he never broke out during his four-year career in Columbus. In fact, his best season statistically was in 2013, when he hauled in 22 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns.

Despite his meager numbers, he was one of the most important cogs in Meyer's machine.

“He’s unbelievable,” Meyer said of Spencer, according to Austin Ward of ESPN.com. “He's the MVP of our team. He's the leader of our team."

Not Ezekiel Elliott, Devin Smith, Joey Bosa or any of the other stat-stuffing Buckeyes. It was Spencer and a host of other selfless players who made the difference.

The stars aligned to pin Ohio State against Alabama.

Meyer knew when he started "The Chase" that it would lead to a matchup with Alabama. While it took a historic thrashing of Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game to vault the Buckeyes into the first ever College Football Playoff, the road to face the Crimson Tide was actually a journey three years in the making.

And it was that journey that prepared Ohio State to overcome a daunting wave of adversity.

Beating Alabama at full strength is hard enough, but the Buckeyes were down their top two quarterbacks when they invaded New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl. 

Very few experts liked the Buckeyes' chances of advancing past the Tide to the national title.

Through 22 minutes of the first half, those experts appeared to be right.

The Buckeyes got off to a sloppy start, spoiling two red-zone opportunities to settle for field goals. A pair of turnovers helped Alabama build what looked like an insurmountable 21-6 lead.

But Meyer and Ohio State bounced back. Spencer, the Buckeyes' unsung hero, did what he'd been doing his entire collegiate career. He was the one who delivered the perfectly placed pass to Michael Thomas at the end of the first half to cut Alabama's lead to one. And he was the one who made the deciding block on Elliott's game-clinching, 85-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.

Four to six seconds. "A" to "B." Everything you've got.

That's why the Buckeyes were ready for Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. That's why they were able to rally from a 15-point deficit that would have broken a lesser team. With the culture Meyer built, Ohio State didn't need its best or second-best quarterback behind center.

In the end, it was the Crimson Tide who failed to keep pace, giving chase to the runaway Buckeyes.

 

All recruiting rankings and information via 247Sports.

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

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Gary Patterson Criticizes College Football Playoff Committee for Leaving out TCU

It took until April, but TCU coach Gary Patterson has finally broken his silence when it comes to being left out of the initial College Football Playoff.    

Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com noted that the Horned Frogs' leader spoke to a small group of reporters and was critical of dropping from No. 3 to No. 6 in the final rankings despite beating Iowa State 55-3 in his team’s last regular-season game. The eventual national champion Ohio State Buckeyes leapfrogged TCU after destroying Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Dodd passed along some of Patterson’s comments:

I was told the reason we had a [selection] committee is we were going to take all that stuff out of it. [Conference] championship games shouldn't have mattered.

Their job was to watch all this film and pick the four best teams no matter who you played, what you did. All the sudden it came down to, ‘Well, they played a championship game but they didn't.' That's not what we were told. We were told they were going to pick the four best teams.

Interestingly, Dodd noted that Patterson told Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads before their two teams squared off that he believed his own squad would not reach the playoff. Turns out, he was right.

Patterson was also quick to point out that things may have gone differently if his team was a national brand school, like a Texas, Oklahoma or the Ohio State squad that got into the playoffs instead.

"There was that motto out there, if we would have been an Oklahoma and Texas with a larger fan base and sold more T-shirts, that we would have been in the playoffs," he said. "I think we gained more possibly by not being in the playoffs -- and how we handled it -- than by being in the playoffs."

That may be the case, but TCU suffered a 61-58 loss to Baylor, and the Bears ultimately ended the season in the No. 5 spot in the playoff rankings. It would have been difficult to explain to Baylor how it was left out of the top four in favor of a team it beat in a head-to-head matchup from its own conference.

By including Ohio State instead of Baylor or TCU, the potential controversy of choosing between Big 12 teams was eliminated.

If the Big 12 had a conference title game that allowed its teams to make one final statement against quality competition like the Buckeyes did, things may have unfolded differently for the eventual winner as well. However, David Ubben of Fox Sports Southwest believes there is a downside to that avenue moving forward:

TCU ultimately made a rather loud statement when it dismantled an Ole Miss team from the mighty SEC to the tune of 42-3 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

Of course, that statement may have rung louder if the Ohio State squad that controversially jumped TCU didn’t go out and knock off Alabama and Oregon en route to a national title or the Michigan State team that Ohio State beat during the season didn't win the Cotton Bowl against the same Baylor squad that beat TCU.

All is not lost for the Horned Frogs, though, especially after the bowl performance.

Quarterback Trevone Boykin is one of many talented returnees, and TCU figures to be among the top two or three teams in the country when the initial polls come out before the 2015 season. As long as it takes care of business, it is difficult to envision a scenario where it would be left out of the playoff this year.   

That may not help remove the pain of being left out a season ago, but at least the Horned Frogs have a bright future to look forward to in 2015 and beyond.

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Life After Jameis: What Is the Future at QB for Florida State?

The spotlight on Tallahassee has dimmed, at least temporarily. With the mass exodus of talent from Florida State—headlined by the departure of its former Heisman-winning, headline-grabbing quarterback—expectations for the Seminoles have cooled to room temperature for the upcoming season.

There are holes along the offensive line. There are large holes at tight end and wide receiver. There are holes along the defensive line and in the secondary. But for all these notable vacancies and empty roster spots scattered across Jimbo Fisher’s evolving depth chart, none are more glaring than the one at quarterback.

Jameis Winston’s brief tenure at Florida State was chaotic. There is no other way to put it. Without him, however, the Seminoles never win a national championship. They also don’t come just short of another.

His wizardry against the clock and under duress gave Florida State a chance—even when the prospects looked bleak. But now, much like many of his talented teammates, he’s gone.

What’s left is a roster ripe with talent and a group of quarterbacks with ample promise and even more questions. This group will take center stage this weekend as Florida State celebrates its offseason with a spring game. A starter could be named shortly after.

There is a defined hierarchy of hopefuls—at least starting at the top—though the player who ultimately replaces Winston may not actually be on campus yet. Taking this uncertainty one cryptic step further, the next great quarterback at Florida State might not be on the roster this season.

 

The Favorite

In September of last year, the football world learned the name Sean Maguire. After Winston was suspended—at first for one half but later for a full game—Maguire was thrown into action against Clemson, one of the premier defenses in the nation and a critical conference foe.

Given the circumstances, Maguire played well. He looked inexperienced, nervous and slightly out of place, but it was anticipated that he would look inexperienced, nervous and slightly out of place. The 6'3", 224-pound QB also flashed brightly at moments—throwing for more than 300 yards and a touchdown.

Most important to its eventual College Football Playoff appearance, Florida State eked out a win.

Seven months and many reps later, the soon-to-be redshirt junior is in line to be the starting quarterback for the upcoming season. His head coach has not been shy in admitting as such.

“If I had to bet right now, yes, but we’ll wait and see,” Fisher told Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com when asked about Maguire’s prospects to start. “As of right now, he’s done the things he needs to be doing.”

Maguire certainly feels like the safe option, and perhaps that’s not doing his ability the appropriate justice. The reality is that we simply don’t know—not with such limited reps. Unless something drastically changes on Saturday, he could be named the starter shortly after.

What happens from there is another conversation entirely.

 

The Hopefuls

There are four quarterbacks currently on Florida State’s roster. Please take note of the word “currently” and store it for later use.

Joining Maguire are John Franklin III, J.J. Cosentino—both were with the team last season—and freshman early enrollee De'Andre Johnson.

Franklin, who redshirted in 2013, is the most athletic quarterback on the roster. He’s taken reps at wideout, run track and been a valuable asset on the scout team. When the Seminoles played a mobile quarterback, Franklin assumed the role. Given his range of skills, he fit this position quite nicely. He’s also still incredibly raw.

Cosentino was a true freshman in 2014 and the No. 15-rated pro-style quarterback in the class of 2014, according to 247Sports. He has the size—listed at 6'4" and 237 pounds—and a big arm to go with this size. For further proof of the mortar sitting on top of his shoulder, here he is throwing a football over a four-story building.

The rest of Cosentino’s game is relatively unknown. Clearly he has the tools necessary to succeed at the position, although he’s a wild card—and an underdog—in this race.

The same can be said about Johnson, who is still acclimating himself to the college lifestyle and Florida State’s offense. Johnson, 247Sports’ No. 11 dual-threat quarterback in this past class, has electric ability. He’s also remarkably raw and listed at 6'0" and 174 pounds on his recruiting profile.

Much like the others mentioned above, there is plenty to like about Johnson’s game. He’s a playmaker, though the buzz over his potential to start hasn’t exactly blossomed this spring, nor would you expect it to. There is still so much to learn.

 

The Wild Card

The most intriguing and enticing quarterback option of the whole bunch isn’t even there just yet. Deondre Francois—still months away from arriving on campus—doesn’t seem the least bit worried when it comes to the steep challenge ahead.

When speaking of Winston in a Bleacher Report piece earlier this year, Francois seemed comfortable with the idea of being next in line.

“He’s a good player,” Francois said of Winston. “But I like to play my own game, have my own swag.”

Yes, 247Sports’ No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2015 has plenty of it. He also has plenty of game, too.

Though he’s listed as a pro-style quarterback, Francois also brings plenty of speed to his game. He’s not a towering prospect just yet at 6'1" and 195 pounds, but he was one of the better deep-ball throwers in the class.

In terms of overall ability, Francois might be, in time, the best quarterback on the roster. Given the fact that he won’t have the benefit of spring practice, he will likely spend the better part of camp simply settling in.

The likelihood of him starting in the first game seems remote, especially as Fisher seems to lean more toward experience with his complex offense. Remember, it took Winston, one of the sharpest football minds out there, a redshirt season to learn the ins and outs of Fisher's system. 

That doesn’t mean Francois won’t play this upcoming year. Clearly he’s entering with eyes on the opening. But it would take a miraculous early impression for such unlikely scenarios to be considered, confident or not.

 

The Future

To truly replace Winston, you can’t simply name a starter. Technically, the individual dubbed the starter for the team’s first game against Texas State will be his replacement, but this does little to guarantee short- or long-term success.

Winston’s replacement may not be on the roster this spring. Heck, he may not be on the roster by the time Florida State’s upcoming season comes to a close.

Malik Henry, 247Sports’ No. 9 player overall and No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2016, is currently garnering rave reviews in the high school ranks. And yes, the new IMG Academy product just so happens to be a Florida State verbal commit.

Although a lot can happen in the recruiting world between now and signing day, Henry already has his sights set on an early arrival.

"I'm graduating early, so in a few months, I'll officially be a Seminole," Henry told Bleacher Report’s Sanjay Kirpalani.

Assuming Henry will be the next great quarterback at Florida State is a magnificent stretch, at least as it stands in April. Recruiting is a strange, unpredictable craft, and projecting young quarterbacks is an art form that has yet to be mastered. But there’s no denying his enormous potential and possible presence on the roster. Regardless of what happens this fall, Henry could shift the depth chart simply by showing up.

But that won’t be, at the very earliest, until the end of the year. By that point, perhaps a quarterback will have unexpectedly grabbed the baton from the best quarterback in the country and take off running.

This is not about finding the next Jameis Winston. In all likelihood, you’ll be searching for a while. This is about finding a quarterback capable of winning games through whatever means necessary. It's about winning games and keeping momentum churning, and Florida State, despite the exodus, has a great deal of it.

Maguire will likely be the one who gets the first crack to keep things moving forward, and he could very well outperform modest expectations.

With a young core of wideouts, a future star at running back and talent scattered throughout an inexperienced and youthful roster, Maguire won’t have to be his successor’s reincarnation for the Seminoles to better than anticipated. And whether he does or not, Florida State will have no shortage of quarterback options.

More help, whether the Seminoles need it or not, is coming.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

What College Coaches Really Think of Spring Football

It's not December, but this is Christmas time for Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema. Spring football: It's the most wonderful time of the year. 

He may as well be a kid again. 

"It’s the greatest time in the world to coach," said Bielema. "You don’t have a dark cloud hanging over your head of an opponent on Saturday. We’re not trying to beat LSU, Alabama or Auburn. You don’t have to worry about the task of a game plan.

"It allows you to focus on everything that is right about football."

It's the right time to be Bielema. The Razorbacks won three of their final four games, including a 31-7 rout over Texas in the Texas Bowl, to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2011. There's some mojo around the program that hasn't been present in awhile; the irony, of course, is that Arkansas still finished dead last in the SEC West. 

But there is a contagious optimism in spring, even for coaches coming off of losing seasons. Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury and North Texas' Dan McCarney finished with 4-8 records and are tasked with getting back on the right track. 

Everyone is 0-0, especially Pitt's Pat Narduzzi. He enters his first spring as a head coach after serving as a defensive coordinator for 10 years under Mark Dantonio at Cincinnati and Michigan State. 

How each coach conducts his spring practice, though, is like having a batting stance: Everyone does it a little differently. What they all want, though, is to come out better prepared for the chaos of the regular season. 

Here's what they really think about college football's best season. 

 

Keeping It Fun

Major college football is a multibillion dollar business, and it will never go back to what it was. There's a lot at stake—namely jobs at every level—week in and week out.

It is still a game, though.

To keep things loose, McCarney created the Mean Green Laugh of the Day. It can be anything that happened in practice that day. "Maybe someone fell asleep in a meeting and the position coach got him with a bullhorn," he said. "And everything is recorded, you know." 

The program favorite, though, is the look-a-like contest. It's just like it sounds: Someone puts a player or coach's picture on a wall in the facilities building next to his respective doppelganger. 

Who was McCarney's?

"Ernest Borgnine," he said, "and it wasn't a very becoming picture, either." 

He pauses and then chuckles.

"If you can't laugh at yourself..." 

Yes, coaches ride their players hard. They yell, and they push others to their limits. The chaos and fatigue that exist in the regular season are created in the months between February and May when there are no opponents on the schedule. It's the ultimate form of preparation. 

"It's about building faith and trust," Narduzzi said. "Take the Cotton Bowl against Baylor. We were down at the half, but because we had trust in one another, we were able to go out and play the second half. We didn't allow a single fourth-quarter point." 

However, practices have to have an element of fun. There's too much hard work being put in for there not to be. Narduzzi likes to blast music and run around with his team. It's not a good day if he's not sweating. Standing around with a clipboard is the "old-school way of doing it," he said. "We're new school." 

Bielema and Kingsbury love team-building competitions, both during and beyond spring practices. They are the crucibles in which team chemistry is organically grown. They range from paintball games to bowling, cookouts to dance-offs, as Kingsbury headed last spring.  

"Your team grows more between that last play of the spring game to the first day of fall camp than at any other time of the year," Bielema said. 

 

Competing All Day, Every Day, With Everyone 

Bielema and McCarney have something in common. Both are former underrecruited players who ended up at Iowa trying to make a name for themselves. Spring football was their means to do it. 

"When I was a player, I was an unrecruited walk-on," Bielema said. "I made my biggest gain in the program in my very first spring because I moved past people on the depth chart. I knew how to work. I could learn well, and I carried that over to the playing field. I’ve seen so many kids have a similar approach in our program." 

Now on the other end of things, they see their players carving similar paths. 

McCarney added, "You have walk-ons, guys coming off of redshirts, guys who have had disappointing careers so far. They all have something to prove." 

Including early enrollees. The Razorbacks have seven freshmen early enrollees for 2015, many of whom are competing at positions of need. One player specifically, 4-star defensive tackle Hjalte Froholdt from Denmark, is taking first-team reps.  

"He's played both the nose tackle and 3-technique," Bielema said. "He’s 6’5”, runs like a deer, learns like Einstein and plays like Rocky Balboa."

Bielema is a fan of early enrollees because they've already succeeded in academics and athletics. "They're not dumb," he explained. 

It's true; there's something to be said for a teenager bright enough to handle three-and-a-half years of high school and football. With the rise of summer camps and seven-on-seven competitions, more football players are coming into college better prepared for competition. 

Physically, there will be room to grow, but mentally, freshmen are catching up. 

"Now, a lot of them do get homesick. There is that, " Bielema added. "Little Johnny should be going to prom, but instead he’s getting his head beat in for 64 plays in a Saturday scrimmage."

Kingsbury started two freshmen quarterbacks in 2013—Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield—and won eight games. He knows firsthand what they're capable of doing.

He isn't alone in this philosophy, but Kingsbury is a big believer that winning is a destination and competition is the road that gets you there. "That raises the level of play for everybody," he said. "You have your schemes, the things you want to tweak; but for us, spring is about watching your guys compete for their position." 

Kingsbury comes across as cool and collected, someone who has it together all the time. And he is, and he does. However, he's not OK with the status quo. There has to be a level of discomfort every day. One of his bigger frustrations from 2015 stemmed from the fact that he didn't have quarterback competition in the spring. Webb, who played in 10 games as freshman in '13, was the only scholarship signal-caller available. 

This spring, Webb, though recovering from a shoulder injury, has been competing with sophomore Patrick Mahomes. "With Davis and Patrick, each day knowing they have to bring it, it’s been huge," Kingsbury said. "They’ve improved dramatically. They’ve been protecting the ball more."  

That competition is expected to continue into preseason practices. 

 

Players Developing on Their Own 

There's only so much coaches can do during spring. That's a technicality. 

The NCAA allows coaches 20 hours a week to work with players and up to 15 spring practices. Beyond that, players are on their own. If they want to stay after practice and run routes, that's on them. If they want to watch film outside of meetings, it's their time.

But that's when the real growth occurs. 

"The technology is there," McCarney said. "When I was in school, I had to drive from Iowa City to Cedar Rapids to get film.

"The best players are the ones who are willing to sacrifice their personal time to be better." 

Bielema uses a buddy system with older and younger players. The idea, he explained, is to get young players into the right habits early. It's not just an on-the-field partnership either. He wants older players explaining to newer ones where the best places are to live and which foods are the best ones to eat at the training table. 

Football, like all sports, is a game of "want to." 

One of the most rewarding aspects of spring practices for coaches is to watch players grow knowing they put in the work on their own. 

"Every guy has the one thing that makes them tick," Narduzzi said. "Great players are the ones who have the desire to do things—the things they're not as good at—on their own." 

In between, coaches do what they can to develop players physically and mentally without crushing them. Those interviewed preferred three practices per week—and no back-to-back practices to keep players from physically breaking down. 

"Because you don’t have games, you want to make spring practices physical, you want to bang 'em around pretty good, but you want these guys healthy," Kingsbury said. "There’s a fine line, but spring is a time to up the physicality because you want to make it a demanding environment. At the same time, you don’t want to have 300-play scrimmages."

Additionally, the coaches polled said they like about eight weeks of strength and conditioning in the winter to get players ready. Strength coaches have become the unofficial assistant head coach. They're as important as anyone on the staff because of the amount of time they spend with players when coaches aren't permitted.  

"Effort is great, but it’s a byproduct of getting better," Bielema said. "Take (former defensive end) Trey Flowers last year. This was a guy that could have left for the NFL but grew as much as anyone last spring because he developed on his mental and physical tools.

"When you have a player of elite status get better during spring, I know that someone who’s just beginning can get better as well."

 

New Beginnings

Things are even more wide-open for Narduzzi. This is a new coaching staff trying to earn the trust of players who have been there longer and know the program better. 

This is Narduzzi's first spring as the head honcho of a college football program after spending years as an assistant. So how does it feel?

"Is there a difference?"  

Don't know, is there?

"Not really."

Narduzzi wants to have fun. He wants to create competition, and he wants to win above all. But he also knows that he can't do any of that without earning the respect of his players. 

It's a twofold approach really. Narduzzi employs the "I'll trust you until you give me a reason not to" philosophy and would like the same in return. He also understands, though, that the players have to buy into the concepts he's teaching. 

If nothing else, time demands it. During the summer, players are mostly on their own. Not everything will be accomplished immediately, Narduzzi explained, but there has to be a solid enough foundation that players can conduct summer workouts without developing bad habits.

"That's the fun part, the challenging part," he said. "I'm kind of a builder in that way." 

In their own way, every coach starts over each spring. Whether it's installing a new scheme or managing expectations, a blank whiteboard is a metaphor that carries a lot of different meanings. 

Losing records? They don't matter. "It's in the past," said Kingsbury and McCarney. 

Even surging programs have to wipe the slate clean. There's a danger in getting too caught up in media hype. Bielema knows his kids read social media, watch ESPN and the SEC Network. It's his job to bring them back down. 

"The respect you have in college football? That rent is due everyday," Bielema said. "It’s not once a month; it’s something you pay daily."

And it is paid in the form of sweat and blood on the practice field. It's a tough time for the players. If winter conditioning did its job, they're better prepared—but not fully prepared. Coaches can't have that type of complacency. 

They don't want it either. There's a joy in the challenge of player growth because there has to be an infancy to it. That infancy is now. 

And, maybe, these coaches see themselves in their players. In a way, they're kids all over again. 

"The players, they hate spring. They say 'I want the game, I want the game, I want the game.' But coaches? We love it," McCarney said. "The best time of day is when you're on the field with your players.

"If some coach says they'd rather be in a meeting room, well, they're B.S.ing you." 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Nebraska Football: 5 Things to Watch in the Spring Game

Nebraska football fans will get their one dose of football on Saturday at the Red-White Spring Game to tide them over through the long summer months until football season begins again. They will be scrutinizing every little piece of information they can find to get some idea of what Nebraska will look like under new head coach Mike Riley when the 2015 season begins.

To help, here are five things you can keep your eyes on during the spring game to help give you an insight of things to come for the scarlet and cream.

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The 7 Greatest 2-Way College Football Players of All Time

College football is undergoing a metamorphosis when it comes to players and the positions they line up at. More and more schools are maximizing the athleticism of some stars by having them contribute in as many ways possible, often doing so on both offense and defense as well as special teams.

Last year saw a boon in this trend, with the likes of Washington's Shaq Thompson, USC's Adoree' Jackson, UCLA's Myles Jack and Utah State's Nick Vigil all having big years as both offensive and defensive stars. Jack, Jackson and Vigil figure to continue being involved on both sides of the ball this season, as will others like Washington's John Ross and some of the top recruits from the 2015 class.

When their careers are over, could any of them go down in college football history as among the best two-way players ever? If so, they'll have to be able to perform to the level of past multi-position standouts that have littered the game over the years, including several from past eras when playing both ways was the rule rather than an exception.

Here's a look at the greatest two-way players the game has ever seen, chosen based on their overall contributions on offense and defense and how impactful they were in both areas. These players didn't just take occasional snaps but were rather key contributors whose absence from either unit would have been a huge loss for their teams.

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Top 10 College Football Running Back Duos for 2015

The backfield-by-committee is a popular concept that grows more popular each year.

True, with a workhorse, the best player always gets the carries. But in backfields with more than one capable option, the allure of keeping multiple players fresh outranks that.

The following teams have the best two-man backfields in the country, as judged by a committee of one. In most cases I opted for production over upside, but there were some exceptions.

Especially after last season, when multiple true freshmen (i.e., unproven) running backs became national superstars, it would have been foolish to ignore their potential.

Sound off below and let me know where you disagree.

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Braxton Miller's Eligibility Won't Be Affected After NCAA Violation

Braxton Miller's since-deleted Instagram post promoting AdvoCare health supplements won't cost the quarterback any eligibility despite violating NCAA rules, according to reports.   

Joe Schad of ESPN.com tweeted the news Thursday, citing the school:

Ben Axelrod of Bleacher Report added more details:

According to Austin Ward of ESPN.com, Miller is within his rights to sell the products, since the NCAA allows for outside employment. Advertising or promoting the products, however, is not permitted by the NCAA. 

Of course, Miller's reinstated eligibility hardly guarantees him playing time at Ohio State next season.

Despite accumulating 3,162 yards from scrimmage and 36 touchdowns in 2013 and coming into 2014 as a Heisman Trophy front-runner, Miller missed the 2014 season due to injury. He watched as J.T. Barrett accumulated 3,772 yards from scrimmage and 45 total touchdowns before getting hurt, and Cardale Jones led the Buckeyes to wins in the Big Ten title game and both playoff contests. 

In other words, Miller may be able to play next season, but whether he actually will see the field remains in doubt.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Could Jameis Winston Have Continued Alabama's Dynasty If He Chose Tide over FSU?

Jameis Winston attended Florida State and went on to be one of the most prolific quarterbacks in NCAA history, winning a Heisman Trophy as well as a national championship.

Sanjay Kirpalani joined Stephen Nelson to discuss what he thinks could have happened if Winston had gone to Alabama. 

What do you think Alabama would have been like with Winston? Check out the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Insider Buzz: Which Under-the-Radar Studs Should the Texas Longhorns Target?

Since being hired at Texas, head coach Charlie Strong has done a great job on the recruiting trail, locking down a top-10 recruiting class in 2015. 

Bleacher Report's National Recruiting Analyst Damon Sayles joined Stephen Nelson as they detailed which talented recruits Texas should target in the 2016 class. 

Who should the Longhorns go after? Check out the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

With Bo Scarbrough Out, Alabama Will Need a Freshman RB to Step Up

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama’s traditional embarrassment of riches at running back has been well-documented, but even Nick Saban had to pause and take a step back, delivering a harsh reality after an offseason of attrition at that position.

“What seemed like a pretty strong position for us, depth-wise, has gotten a little thin,” he said.

He's right. The last few months haven’t been kind to Alabama at running back.

T.J. Yeldon turned pro, though that was expected. Altee Tenpenny transferred. Tyren Jones was suspended, arrested on marijuana charges and dismissed. And now Bo Scarbrough is out indefinitely with a knee injury.

If you’re keeping score at home, only one of Alabama’s four stud backs signed in the 2013 class is left in Tuscaloosa (Alvin Kamara transferred to Tennessee last offseason).

While its top two options—Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake—are set to be 100 percent by the start of the season, their diverse skill sets and Alabama’s willingness to go deep into a running back rotation mean that a freshman will need to step up in the fall.

It could be true freshman DeSherrius Flowers or redshirt freshman Ronnie Clark—both of whom are the only other healthy, scholarship running backs on campus—or 5-star Damien Harris, who will enroll at Alabama over the summer. But someone needs to take the reigns.

Before Alabama fans go running away in panic, keep in mind that the Crimson Tide are far from weak in the backfield.

Henry is poised for a big year as Alabama’s No. 1 back. Saban has praised Henry’s work ethic and improvement this offseason. According to AL.com’s Matt Zenitz, Henry—who is built like a linebacker at 6’3”, 242 pounds—ran a 4.5 40-yard dash and put 440 pounds on the bench press in spring testing.

And Drake appears to be nearing 100 percent after a brutal leg break against Ole Miss. He was a versatile weapon last year for Lane Kiffin and figures to be used in an even bigger variety of roles this year. He’s taken some practice reps at wide receiver, and Saban even hinted at a package putting him and Henry on the field at the same time.

“Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake have done a really, really good job all spring long,” Saban said. “Those two guys have been fantastic in terms of the way they've competed, how fast they've played, the confidence they've played with, and certainly both have the ability to make plays.”

But because of Henry and Drake’s distinct abilities—Henry is a powerful bruiser and Drake an explosive lightning bolt—Alabama needs a third running back to at least somewhat complement them.

Every year since 2008, Alabama’s third-leading rusher (who wasn’t a quarterback) has had at least 200 yards on the ground. Last year, Drake already had 112, plus a long receiving touchdown, before he went down with an injury. He, Henry and Yeldon were turning into an extremely effective three-headed monster.

So now Alabama needs a third head for 2015, but running backs seem to keep dropping like flies, leaving the Crimson Tide looking toward a freshman.

Clark did just about everything in high school and was expected to play defense at Alabama. But he switched to running back during the middle of last year and tore his Achilles during a practice, ending his season and solidifying his redshirt status. Now he’s back playing running back and fully healthy, according to Saban.

Also on campus is Flowers, a 4-star from Mobile who got a head start on football enrolling in January.

Those two would seem to be, right now, the prime candidates for that third running back spot. But Harris could challenge them once he gets to Tuscaloosa.

Scarbrough could also be healthy by the time the season starts. Saban didn’t rule that possibility out.

“We're hopeful that we'll be able to get him back for the season,” Saban said. “He was doing really, really well this spring practice and it happened in two-minute late in the scrimmage.”

Scarbrough already tweeted out a video of him doing some leg stretches post-surgery:

Eddie Jackson suffered a similar knee injury last spring, and while he was back by the second game of the year, he never seemed to be his old self, and then-freshman Tony Brown had to be thrown into the fire sooner rather than later.

That seems to be the case at running back this year, where Alabama needs a third option to step up and solidify its backfield depth.

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes and reporting were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Ratings and recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Note: Players are referenced by fall 2015 eligibility.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

2016 Sleeper Recruits Ready to Shoot Up Rankings

Recruits have plenty of opportunities to prove themselves. There are countless numbers of recruits that aren't well known that can make big contributions for a program. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder gives his picks for recruits that can make a big impact on their future teams. 

What recruits are under the radar for you? Check out the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Under-the-Radar SEC Games That Will Be Huge in 2015

By now, you know which games in the SEC will define the season.

The Iron Bowl never seems to disappoint, the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party always seems to carry importance in the SEC East, and anytime LSU and Alabama get together, you can expect a nail-biter.

But which under-the-radar games in the SEC will be huge in 2015? Our picks based on the intensity of the rivalries and importance to the division title races are in this slideshow.

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