NCAA Football News

2016 4-Star TE Naseir Upshur: 'I Believe I Can Be the Best Tight End Ever'

2016 4-star tight end Naseir Upshur is an absolute playmaker. The 6'3", 231-pound athlete not only has phenomenal hands, but takes pride in his ferocious blocking.

Bleacher Report caught up with Upshur to discuss his recruitment, blocking ability and what his goals are for the future.

Watch the video and meet a future star at the TE position.


Highlights courtesy of Star rating courtesy of

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Why Alabama's O.J. Howard Could Emerge as College Football's Top Tight End

In an offense that's loaded with talent at running back and wide receiver, Alabama's biggest weapon might be one that isn't playing one of those glamour positions.

Tight end O.J. Howard.

The rising sophomore for the Crimson Tide caught 14 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns last season, including a 52-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter against LSU last year.

That wasn't good enough to earn freshman All-SEC honors, as Arkansas freshman Hunter Henry (28 rec., 409 yds., four TDs) brought home those honors.

For Howard, though, the best is yet to come.

The 6'6", 237-pounder from Prattville, Alabama, has great hands, runs like a deer and presents matchup nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators who have to deal with weapons in the backfield and outside at receiver in Alabama's offense.

He and fellow sophomore running back Derrick Henry are being counted on to provide depth and versatility for new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's offense, and know that they need to be more consistent this year, according to B/R's Christopher Walsh.

“We always push each other, what we both need to work on to get better,” Howard said. “We both had our flashes, but this year we can become an all-around player at both our positions and be consistent with our play.”

He'll get his chance to shine this year.

New quarterback Jacob Coker is still very much a mystery, and a quarterback's best friend is a reliable safety valve. Howard can be that safety valve.

He's also playing in an offense for a coach who loves to use the tight end.

Xavier Grimble had 10 catches for 127 yards and a touchdown in Kiffin's five games as USC's head coach last season before Kiffin was let go after a loss to Arizona State. Over the last five years coaching in college, a tight end on Kiffin's team has finished among his team's top three receivers three times, and Fred Davis and Dominique Byrd each enjoyed solid careers as tight ends under Kiffin when he was an assistant at USC in the mid-2000s.

Texas Tech's Jace Amaro, North Carolina's Eric Ebron and Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins made appearances on the AP All-American team at tight end last year. Amaro topped 1,000 yards, and Ebron was on the cusp, but Seferian-Jenkins only had 36 catches for 450 yards and eight touchdowns.

All three of those players are gone, and Howard's ability to create mismatches and become a threat in the red zone make him a perfect candidate to fill their shoes.

Howard has to become more reliable in pass protection, according to head coach Nick Saban (via Walsh):

"I think he needs to continue to improve in some of those areas because he’s a great pass-receiver, but we continue to work with him and try to improve him as a blocker and get him to pay attention to detail and the importance of that part of the game as well," Saban said.

He'll join senior Brian Vogler as the two top tight end targets for the Crimson Tide, with Vogler more of a blocking threat and Howard's upside being as a receiver in the passing game. 

Howard has the physical ability to be the next big superstar tight end in college football, a host of weapons around him to occupy the attention of defenders and create mismatches and a coach in Kiffin who knows how to make those mismatches happen.

In an offense loaded with talent, Howard could emerge as not only one of its biggest weapons but one of the biggest weapons in all of college football.


Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report.

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How Aaron Golub Overcame Legal Blindness to Reach His College Football Dream

The whole thing is one enormous inconvenience. Not the fact that Aaron Golub is completely blind in his right eye and deals with restricted vision in his left, but that he’s talking to an anxious college football writer between classes.

“Personally, if I’m being honest, I hate all this stuff,” Golub says with a hint of laugher and an even bigger hint of frustration. “I can’t stand the attention. I just like playing football.”

To us, it’s a story. In fact, to everyone beyond the person creating the story—the one rising well before the sun comes up to practice his craft—it’s worth celebrating. To Golub, a soon-to-be preferred walk-on at Tulane, this is simply the next step. It’s his calculated and thought-out approach to continue playing the sport he loves, and the entire thing has come together brilliantly.

Golub, a senior at Newton High School just outside Boston, was born legally blind. This hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of the premier long-snapper recruits in the nation: 247Sports rates Golub as the No. 12 long snapper nationally and the No. 19 player in all of Massachusetts.

In two years of long snapping at the high school level, Golub has had one bad snap, according to his coach. When asked if he can recall this lone mistake, Golub wasted little time pinpointing it.

“It went low,” Golub said, leaving it at that, knowing the one snap being referenced. I suppose if you’re being asked about your one bad snap over multiple years, not much more needs to be said.

This isn’t by accident. To be regarded this highly—with normal vision—you need natural gifts, an incredible amount of practice and some luck. With limited sight—an enormous currency in the sport—you need that and something more.

In the instance of Golub, that something is passion. There’s much more to it than that, of course, but it begins there.

“I love everything about it, just the whole game,” Golub said while speaking about football. “It’s fun to play, to watch and certainly to be a part of.”

Golub took up the sport in seventh grade, immersing himself despite some initial concerns about whether this was a good fit because of his blindness. After some discussion, his parents and coaches both supported his decision to play. It was during his sophomore year of high school, however, where everything changed. It was then he took up long snapping.

This wasn’t some mid-slumber epiphany. This was a realistic understanding of what it would take to play football a little longer.

“I knew that if I wanted to play in college, I wouldn’t be able to do what I was before,” Golub said on why he decided to take long snapping. “Not many people get the opportunity to continue playing the game.”

If you’ve never long snapped before, do yourself a favor and try it. Please hide all small animals, children and fragile objects before you do, though, because it will almost certainly not go well initially. Like trying to jump to the other roof in your first voyage into The Matrix, the movements and memory necessary to complete such actions don’t come easy.

It is football art—one often taken for granted. For one to get good at long snapping—not backyard, beer-in-the-other-hand good, but really good—it takes hundreds of hours and thousands of reps. It also doesn’t hurt to have a good coach help you get there.

That’s where Chris Rubio comes in, a long-snapping guru and instructor. Rubio, who has written about working with Golub at his blog, has watched the transformation occur and has been integral to his development.

“He was adamant about learning the process,” Rubio said on Golub. “He was in constant contact with me, asking what to do and how to fix this and that. It is absolutely amazing how far he has come.”

He learned. He succeeded. He failed. He tried again. He improved. Oh, did he improve. His first camp did not go particularly well, although his next one got better. And then, after more reps and coaching, the next camp got even better.

It’s gotten to the point now where few are better than Golub at his position, something that has quickly become abundantly clear for the man who helped him get that way.

“When he is on, he is very close with the great ones,” Rubio said on Golub. “He’s a true student of long snapping and an inspiration to all. Those with or without sight can learn from this young man.”

While Golub has worked tirelessly with Rubio—stretching all the way back to July of 2012—he’s also put in plenty of work on his own to get to this point. In fact, before Golub enjoys his first class of the day on a normal school day—about the time most high school seniors are still deep in REM sleep—he’s already hard at work.

Golub is typically long snapping in the school by 6 a.m. at the latest each morning. He’ll practice for at least an hour. Then it’s off to class. After school, he’ll head to the gym where he’ll get his lift in, looking to add to his 6'2", 195-pound frame.

All the work has come full circle in interest from schools across the country. While Golub spoke with plenty of different coaches, Illinois and Tulane offered him a spot on the team as a preferred walk-on. In the end, he picked Tulane.

“It’s just a good fit for me,” Golub said on Tulane. “The whole atmosphere and the school; it’s something that I want to be a part of. Academically, it’s also a great fit for me.”

This, too, is part of the plan. Although Golub has learned an entirely different position in less than two years in order to keep his football career in motion, he has also kept his priorities in order along the way.

“I’m going to school to be a student, not to be an athlete,” Golub said. “I wanted to find a school that I’d be happy with regardless of what happens with football.”

He has found that at Tulane, and with it he has found the answer to everything he has searched for and worked for.

All Golub wants to do is go to school, get an education and play football. Now, regardless of whether he starts right away or ever sees the field at all, he’ll be able to do that a little longer. That’s more than just about any high school football player can say—even those working with two perfect eyes.

I went into this conversation thinking it would be all about a young man with limited vision defying all odds, somehow playing a sport that is built around seeing what’s behind or in front of you.

It is a great story—one that is fascinating for those of us who can only imagine what life would be like—but it’s not a story he’s anxious to tell, and that part is especially telling. The interviews, the coverage, the tape recorders are all simply getting in the way.

The reality of the situation is that Golub’s blindness in one eye and near blindness in the other is only a small portion of his remarkable journey, one that is still unfolding.


Adam Kramer is the College Football National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

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USC Football: Analyzing Trojans' Top 5 2015 Recruiting Targets

USC's first full recruiting class since the NCAA levied severe sanctions against the Trojans is coming together quite nicely.

The Trojans have verbal commitments from eight prospects, including two 5-star and three 4-star recruits, per 247Sports' composite rankings. 

But head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff are on the trail for more highly touted prep prospects to bring into the USC fold. The Trojans are in play for several top-tier players who have yet to give commitments to any program. 

By landing a few more of this crop, USC can truly make a splash in its full-strength return to the national recruiting scene. 

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UConn to Host Women's Football Clinic in June

The Huskies appear to be taking pages from the Rob Gronkowski playbook. 

The UConn football program recently announced its plans to host a football clinic for women this June, featuring on-field drills and cocktails.

Nick Schwartz of For The Win spotted details of the one-day event, which will run attendees $40 for an evening of football fundamentals taught by members of the Huskies staff at the team’s training facility in Storrs. Participants must be 21 years or older, a rule made necessary by the "social hour" segment of the clinic where participants can hang out by a cash bar. 

The team is making it clear that this event isn’t meant to imply women lack a knowledge of the sport. Huskies spokesman Mike Enright told The Associated Press the event is something fans of all levels of knowledge can learn from. He said:

It’s just meant to be a fun-filled thing. We understand that many of these women may know more about the game than a lot of men. This is something that fans from those with virtually no knowledge of the game to a very intricate knowledge of the game can get something from.

If this event sounds familiar, it’s probably because UConn’s clinic mirrors one that was put on by Rob Gronkowski in 2013. 

The New England tight end hosted around 120 women for unlimited drinks and a football-tinged seminar in November in what appeared to be a ridiculously good time for all involved. 

The bar is set high, UConn. Huskies head coach Bob Diaco will have to break out some slam dancing if he hopes to put on a better event.

After all, it’s not football without martinis and break dancing. That’s first-day stuff. 


On the Twitters.

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What to Watch For at SEC Spring Meetings

Memorial Day weekend may be the unofficial start to summer, but it also serves as a reminder that football is around the corner.

SEC coaches, officials and administrators will head to Destin, Florida, this week, as the conference will hold its annual spring meeting session at the Sandestin Hilton. 

Unlike years past when scheduling and realignment were hot-button topics, this year's event will take a different turn and new storylines will undoubtedly be pushed to the forefront.

What should you expect from the SEC spring meetings this week?

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Every Pac-12 Team's Strongest, Weakest Position Groups Heading into 2014 Season

The Pac-12 conference may be stronger as a whole than it's been in years thanks in large part to a variety of impressive quarterbacks, sturdy defensive lines and a host of other deep position groups.

But no team is without weakness or at least a few question marks entering the 2014 season. Some have more than others, sure, but every fan can name at least one position group that they're most nervous about for next season.

Flip the coin over, however, and there's a growing excitement over certain position groups that could be among the very best in the nation.

We're taking a look at both the strongest and weakest units of every Pac-12 team.


All stats via Remember, this is a snapshot of where things stand entering the season, not a prediction for the 2014 campaign as a whole. Naturally, some groups will exceed expectations, some will falter and some will become much stronger simply because of an increase in game experience.

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