NCAA Football News

The Opening 2015: Breaking Down Each Top-25 Class' Commits, Targets in Beaverton

An expansive collection of elite college football recruits invade Beaverton, Oregon, in July for The Opening, an annual prospect showcase held at Nike's world headquarters. The action, which begins July 5 with Elite 11 finals, features one-on-one showdowns, battles between linemen and a star-studded seven-on-seven tournament.

Plenty of collegiate programs will follow the competition closely, as many committed players are set to test their skills. Meanwhile, recruits who remain undecided have an opportunity to further entice teams seven months shy of national signing day.

Here's a look at athletes on the radar for each squad currently listed among the top 25 in 247Sports' composite class rankings.

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Auburn vs. Alabama: Who Will Have a Better 2015 Season?

The 2015 Iron Bowl may be months away, but that doesn't mean the speculation can't begin. Alabama and Auburn will square off, and one team will earn the state's bragging rights. 

Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee joined Stephen Nelson to discuss which team is primed to win the big game.

Who will win the 2015 Iron Bowl? Check out the video and let us know!    

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Auburn Football: How Tigers Can Win with a Running Back-by-Committee Approach

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn might not know that old Black Eyed Peas song "Let's Get It Started," but make no mistake, he lives it.

During the first two years of his tenure as Auburn's head coach, his Tigers have kept runnin' and runnin', runnin' and runnin'.

Tre Mason won the No. 1 tailback spot early in the 2013 season and ripped off 1,816 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns en route to the SEC rushing crown and a trip to New York City as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. 

A year later, the man he beat out—Cameron Artis-Payne—dashed for 1,608 yards and 13 touchdowns, also leading the SEC in rushing.

During his nine years as a college head or assistant coach, Malzahn has produced 12, 1,000-yard rushers.

Who's next?

It could be a combination of talented rushers.

Junior college transfer Jovon Robinson, sophomore "Roc" Thomas, redshirt sophomore Peyton Barber and true freshman Kerryon Johnson will all compete for the top spot on the depth chart during fall camp.

Does one running back need to emerge? 

In a perfect world for Auburn, yes, because Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee would ideally like to keep one No. 1 tailback in for entire drives so that the Tigers don't have to substitute and can operate at a high tempo.

It's not a requirement for Auburn to have a true No. 1, though.

At 6'0", 230 pounds, Robinson has everything Malzahn wants in an inside running back—something that Mason and Artis-Payne both were. He was an absolute monster two years ago at Georgia Military College, rushing for 2,387 yards and 34 touchdowns, setting national junior college rushing records in the process. 

He's already getting a considerable amount of hype. He landed on Phil Steele's preseason fourth-team All-SEC team without having so much as one FBS carry under his belt. Who's alongside Robinson? Missouri's Russell Hansbrough, who rushed for 1,084 yards and 10 touchdowns a year ago.

Not bad company to keep.

What's more, he proved this spring that he has picked up his pass-protection responsibilities well.

"If he knows who he's getting, he does a really nice job there," running backs coach Tim Horton said, according to Joel A. Erickson of "From a pass protection standpoint, I think Jovon's been the most efficient and effective."

From a pure running perspective, though, Thomas might have an edge heading into fall camp. 

The 5'10", 203-pound former "Mr. Football" in the state of Alabama was known primarily as a slasher and changeup back as a true freshman. A funny thing happened in the spring game, though—he went north/south much more than he did as a true freshman and finished the day with 69 yards and two scores, according to stats released by the school.

"I know Coach (Tim) Horton's been working real hard about those guys just making one cut and getting their pads low and get some extra yards. I think they've improved throughout the spring in that area," Malzahn said, according to Auburn's postgame quotes.

That's huge for Thomas and enormous for the Tigers, because if Thomas can anticipate and hit those holes on time, his speed and shiftiness will allow him to turn those three-yard gains into eight-yard gains and more.

So what should Auburn do?

Play both of them at the same time if Malzahn can use them both to his advantage.

Thomas can be used in a variety of ways, including as an edge threat on inverse veer plays and read-option plays where quarterback Jeremy Johnson adds another element to rushing attack, can be a very dangerous slot receiver and go inside when needed.

Robinson can line up as the true tailback with Thomas motioning in at times or providing the option on jet sweeps.

The two primary contenders for the running back job at Auburn are vastly different players, much like Mason and Artis-Payne differed from former Tiger and jet sweep specialist Corey Grant. So use them both—give Thomas more true No. 1 running back responsibilities than Grant got.

If that happens, Barber and Johnson can battle it out for backup roles behind the duo, everybody can stay fresh and Auburn's rushing attack won't miss a beat.

In an ideal world, sure, Auburn would like to have a true No. 1 running back; but since both Thomas and Robinson are capable of handling the load while excelling in slightly different roles, the Tigers could benefit from both being on the field at the same time.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.


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Tale of the Tape: Will Treon Harris or Will Grier Win Florida's Starting QB Job?

The Florida Gators have been searching for a solid quarterback for the past few years, and the search rages on as Treon Harris and Will Grier are battling it out for the starting nod. 

Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee joins Stephen Nelson as they discuss who will win the starting QB position. 

Who will win the job? Check out the video and let us know! 

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Mississippi State's Dan Mullen Calls out Jim Harbaugh and Satellite Camps

Several SEC coaches have already voiced their displeasure with satellite camps this offseason, but Mississippi State's Dan Mullen took it a step further on Monday night by directly calling out the man responsible for the conference's frustrations—Michigan's Jim Harbaugh.

Mullen was asked to share his thoughts on the satellite camp debate during an interview on SuperTalk Mississippi, and the Mississippi State coach didn't hold back in his criticisms of Harbaugh:

"The satellite camps, they're recruiting camps," Mullen said. "Basically it's a recruiting thing and a recruiting fair that they're doing. I'd imagine, Jim Harbaugh, if he's going to have a camp, would want to coach the kids in Michigan—the young kids in Michigan—maybe how to be better football players."

The Bulldogs head coach, whose team beat Michigan by a score of 52-14 in the 2011 Gator Bowl, said he was a fan of bringing young players onto the Mississippi State campus and teaching them football instead of the satellite camps.

"I'm sure they have [a camp on Michigan's campus]," Mullen said. "So why do they need one all over the place? The only purpose for it is recruiting. I don't think it's the right purpose for camps.

"We've probably had 1,000 kids on campus in camps. There's probably a couple guys who will be SEC players out of that group. There's a lot of guys learning a lot of football. That's our job as coaches to promote the game and help people be better football players, not just to go out and go recruit."

According to's Brendan F. Quinn, Michigan is holding two such camps in Ann Arbor this week—"Exposure U" and the "Aerial Assault" quarterback camp.

Harbaugh received plenty of attention earlier this year, during the early stages of this year's satellite camp debate, by "cordially" inviting every college coach in the country to Michigan's "Exposure U."

The SEC has banned coaches from hosting camps outside of a 50-mile radius from their campuses.

According to Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee, the conference announced last month it would introduce national legislation that mirrors its own rule on satellite camps. If the legislation is not adopted, the SEC will lift its ban on satellite camps for next season.

SEC coaches' complaints over satellite camps are nothing new, as schools such as Notre Dame and Penn State have entered the conference's footprint to hold camps over the last few seasons. 

But the new Michigan coach has become the face of the frustration for the SEC because of his quick success with the camps—and perhaps that not-so-subtle jab in the invitation to attend "Exposure U."

Harbaugh hosted satellite camps in Prattville, Alabama, and Tampa, Florida, as part of Michigan's "Summer Swarm" Tour earlier this month, which netted several new commitments for the Wolverines.

Prattville, which is also home to 3-star Michigan fullback commitment Kingston Davis, is 176 miles from Mississippi State's campus and much closer to those of Alabama's Nick Saban and Auburn's Gus Malzahn. Both coaches have also stated their concerns with satellite camps.

But no one from the SEC had directly called out Harbaugh by name until Monday night, when Mullen added even more fuel to what has been a nationwide fire this offseason.

And like Michigan's recent hot streak in recruiting, this fire doesn't look like it's cooling down anytime soon.


Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Justin Ferguson is an on-call college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

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Who Is the Most Versatile Player on LSU's Roster in 2015?

LSU has an incredible amount of talent on their roster heading into next season, and the Tigers are looking to contend for an SEC title with this deep group in 2015. 

Watch as Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder predicts who will be the most versatile player for LSU next season.

Who do you think will be the do-it-all player for the Tigers next year? Check out the video and let us know!

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