NCAA Football News

Updated Jarrett Guarantano Odds: Where Will 4-Star QB Commit Wednesday?

Jarrett Guarantano is a 4-star pro-style quarterback, per 247Sports' composite rankings, who is currently uncommitted. Guarantano is more than just a pocket passer; he is also incredibly quick. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer gives his odds on where the top QB will end up when he makes his decision Wednesday

Where do you think Guarantano will play college ball? Check out the video, and let us know!

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Oklahoma Football: Who Will Be Sooners' Week 1 Starting QB?

Anyone hoping for clarity in Oklahoma's quarterback competition was still left looking for answers after the Sooners' spring game on April 11.

Yep, we have a few more months of frenzied debate.

Though redshirt junior Trevor Knight is the incumbent starter, here are the other three players he's been competing against:

  • Baker Mayfield (junior): Sat out last season to satisfy transfer rules. Started seven games as a true freshman for Texas Tech in 2013 and was named the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year.
  • Cody Thomas (redshirt sophomore): Started the final three games of the regular season with Knight out due to injury. Threw for 342 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.
  • Justice Hansen (redshirt freshman): An early enrollee in the 2014 recruiting class who did not see playing time last season.

Ideally, even if the competition is set to continue into the summer months, you'd like to get some indication about which way it's going. As Jake Trotter of ESPN.com tweeted, none of the four really stood out:

Everyone had good and bad moments. Everyone forced throws. Mayfield's two interceptions were particularly bad decisions.

Brandon Chatmon of ESPN.com expanded on Trotter's statement in his OU spring game wrap-up:

Mayfield, the Texas Tech transfer, completed 10 of 13 passes for 176 yards with one touchdown but had two interceptions. Knight, OU's starter in the 2014 season opener, didn't fair much better taking care of the ball, finishing 6-of-13 for 78 yards with one interception. Every quarterback had their good moments and good throws on Saturday. But, ultimately, the winner of the job will be the guy who focuses on taking care of the ball and always making good decisions. None of the four can say they did that on Saturday.

Still, you have to like the buzz that's been surrounding Mayfield. If we're taking a stab at predicting the Week 1 starter, it sounds like Mayfield still has a great shot.

Here's why.

With so little to work off of visually, you have to identify any clues that could tip off which direction coaches are leaning in. That's why, even after Mayfield threw two bad interceptions, this quote from first-year offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley was so telling:

That's not to say Riley wasn't critical of Mayfield, but it's also not something you'd necessarily expect to hear, either.

Because of Mayfield's background in the Air Raid offense from his days at Tech, he seemed like a natural fit in Riley's offense. Additionally, Mayfield was impressive in Oklahoma's spring game a year ago, and as noted by John Shinn of The Norman Transcript, he earned rave reviews as the scout team quarterback last fall.

But Riley's compliment goes beyond fit. Despite the fact that Mayfield clearly forced a few throws, Riley likes what he's seen from him. Remember, spring games are one glorified scrimmage out of 15 practices.

Look, Mayfield can play—he's certainly better than his walk-on title would indicate—but he's had ball security issues in the past. Either Riley feels the interceptions were an anomaly or he likes Mayfield's gunslinger mentality so much that he's willing to live with some negative consequences of it.

If that's the case, it's an interesting stance to take.

The Sooners aren't lacking in offensive skill players. The running back group should be the deepest, most talented unit of its kind in the Big 12. By all accounts, the receiving unit should be much improved from a year ago.

With that in mind, Oklahoma would theoretically need little more than a game manager to make things work.

If Riley, head coach Bob Stoops and Co. feel they have something more in Mayfield, though—if they feel like he moves the offense the best—then they probably also feel they can get Mayfield to dial things back a bit. Sometimes, it can be easier to get someone to do less than to do more.

Knight has had two years to show what he can do. While he's a gifted runner, he's never shown the consistent growth coaches would like to see. He's also been injured often, despite efforts from Oklahoma's coaching staff to keep him more upright in 2014.

Thomas is an interesting prospect.

He actually trotted out onto the field first last Saturday. That may mean little more than Stoops having some fun, but it could also show that he's made more progress in spring than people anticipated.

This is still a wide-open race and technically anyone's game. However, the coaching staff has been high enough on Mayfield that his one spring performance won't be the deciding factor.

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football.

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Updated Odds on Next Starting QB of Alabama Crimson Tide

With Blake Sims' tenure over at Alabama, there is an opening at the quarterback position. With a slew of signal-callers on the roster, spring practices have turned into an all-out battle for the starting job. 

Bleacher Report's college football analyst Adam Kramer joined Stephen Nelson as they laid some updated odds on who will be the man to win that elusive job. 

Who will be the next QB at Alabama? Check out the video, and let us know! 

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Ohio State Football: Complete Spring Game Preview

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Entering his 14th year as a head coach, Urban Meyer knows that there's a lot he can get out of a spring game.

He's also aware of the realities.

Meyer's Ohio State squad will hold its annual exhibition this Saturday in front what's expected to be a sizable crowd on what Accuweather.com currently projects to be 71-degree day. Drawing such atmosphere on the heels of his team's national title run is what's most important to the Buckeyes head coach, not only for recruiting, but preparation purposes as well.

"The thing that spring games give you at a place like Ohio State is a crowd," Meyer said on Monday. "A lot of times you'll see a player that comes out [on the practice field] when no one's around and plays well and then he goes out in front of a crowd and locks up. And that's real."

But while Meyer's looking forward to getting a look at some of the younger players on his roster—he specifically mentioned early enrollee freshman linebacker Nick Conner—that means some of Ohio State's more experienced players will be standing on the sideline for the better part, if not all of Saturday's spring game.

That's been the case in Columbus for most of this spring, with Meyer opting to rest established players such as Taylor Decker, Nick Vannett, Pat Elflein, Joey Bosa, Adolphus Washington, Joshua Perry and Tyvis Powell. The fourth-year Buckeyes head coach knows that could potentially make for an ugly afternoon, with many players getting their first game-like experience inside of Ohio Stadium.

"I can't say it's going to be pleasant all the time," Meyer admitted. "Because you're going to have some young guys who aren't quite ready to play yet."

Even with most of the eight open spots in Ohio State's starting lineup seemingly filled, the spring game could still be interesting to watch, if not for 2015, then for the future of the Buckeyes program. And while several experienced players won't be on the field, perhaps the most-talked-about player from Ohio State's national title run will be front and center on Saturday.

 

Date: Saturday, April 18

Time: 1:30 p.m. ET

Place: Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio:Ohio State Football Radio Network

 


Who to Watch for on Offense

Despite leading the Buckeyes to three consecutive postseason wins over Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon, Cardale Jones still only has three starts to his credit in his college career. With both J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller recovering from their respective injuries, Saturday will provide another opportunity for Jones to get quality reps under his belt as he prepares for what could be an unprecedented quarterback battle this summer.

"He's had a good spring," Meyer said of Jones on Monday. "We're getting him as many reps as we can."

Saturday will be another opportunity for Jones to do just that, as he and redshirt freshman Stephen Collier will be the only scholarship signal-callers participating in the spring game. It remains just unclear how long Jones will participate in the game before the walk-ons take over, but for at least some period of time he'll be given the chance to build chemistry with the young Ohio State receivers in a game-like atmosphere.

Speaking of those young receivers, Saturday will also be a big day for them as they'll have a chance to make good on what's been hyped as a big spring for their position group. Both Meyer and wide receivers coach Zach Smith have singled out sophomore Noah Brown as having had a great offseason, and redshirt freshmen Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin have also offered plenty of promise.

"Those are a bunch of guys who are going to play for us," Meyer said. "I can't wait to see their reaction."

With star running back Ezekiel Elliott still recovering from offseason wrist surgery, there should also be plenty of carries to go around in the backfield for the likes of Bri'onte Dunn and Warren Ball. Both players will find themselves on a crowded running back depth chart this fall with the arrival of freshman Mike Weber and could use Saturday's game as way to gauge whether they'll look into a potential transfer.

Heading into this Saturday's game, Dunn appears to be the front-runner in that race and could ultimately serve as Elliott's primary backup with Curtis Samuel moving to H-Back.

“It’s a very great opportunity. I get lots of reps. Me and Warren Ball get lots of reps and it’s getting me better each and every day,” Dunn said. “[New running backs] Coach [Tony] Alford [is] really pushing us and I really have a great relationship with him.”

With a big showing on Saturday, that relationship may only improve.

 

Who to Watch for on Defense

Defensively, Ohio State will also be without plenty of depth, as not only will Bosa and Washington's roles be dramatically reduced in the spring game, but fellow defensive linemen Joel Hale and Tyquan Lewis are each recovering from injuries. That will mean more opportunities for fresh faces like Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes, Donovan Munger and Tracy Sprinkle, as Buckeyes defensive line coach Larry Johnson attempts to build a 10-man rotation.

“I was very disappointed a year ago with the backup group,” Meyer said of last year's defensive line. “A lot of pressure has been put on them.”

Behind the Ohio State defensive line, Perry will likely be on the sideline, and starters Darron Lee and Raekwon McMillan have already experienced their fair share of snaps inside The Horseshoe as well. That could mean plenty of reps for the likes of Dante Booker, Chris Worley and the aforementioned Conner, as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell also looks to build depth on his unit.

Perhaps the defensive unit that will receive the most attention—both from fans and coaches—is the secondary, even though three of the four starters are already established. While Eli Apple, Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell will all see limited reps, Meyer singled out Erick Smith, Cam Burrows and Gareon Conley as players he's excited to see.

A redshirt sophomore, Conley is the odds-on favorite to replace first-team All-Big Ten corner Doran Grant. After a rocky start to his college career, the Massillon, Ohio, native has been touted as one of Ohio State's most improved players this spring and will have an opportunity to prove it in what should be a pass-happy game on Saturday.

“Gareon has had a very good spring. He has put on weight, he has put on strength,” Buckeyes defensive assistant Kerry Coombs said. “He showed up at 168 pounds, now he’s 190 pounds. He is a very fast player, [and] his skill set continues to improve.”

 

What's Ahead

While there's only so much one can take away from a spring game, the Buckeyes know they have a big summer ahead.

As Ohio State embarks on its defense of its national title, the Buckeyes appear to be in good shape with 14 returning starters and a manageable schedule. But Meyer also must manage a quarterback competition that could become a distraction, with three players who all have legitimate claims to the starting job.

Meyer has insisted this spring has been all about getting Jones reps and Barrett and Miller healthy, although Barrett has been able to participate in the spring more than originally thought. Jones' performance this Saturday won't have much impact how the battle ultimately shakes out, but it would behoove him to take some positive momentum into summer workouts.

Regardless of how it plays out, Ohio State will have a roster full of championship-experienced veterans and a proven quarterback behind center—whoever it might be. This spring may have been valuable for some of the Buckeyes' younger players, but the summer ahead will be all about a return to the College Football Playoff.

 

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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Georgia Will Get Creative with Lorenzo Carter and Versatile Linebackers

Lorenzo Carter sat back in his folding chair in Georgia's meeting room underneath Sanford Stadium during the media session on Saturday with a glimmer in his eye.

"It's going to be crazy," he said, with a slight chuckle and a grin as wide as the room.

That grin was well-earned.

His defense had just wrapped up a scintillating spring game performance that included eight team sacks (one from Carter), 14 tackles for loss and generally set up shop in the offensive backfield all afternoon.

It was the kind of spring game performance that set the tone for the entire season.

Georgia has the best outside linebackers in the country, and there isn't really a close second. Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins are two pass-rushing monsters who passed up on the NFL to come back to Athens for another run at an SEC title.

Floyd sat out the spring game recovering from shoulder surgery that kept him out of the Belk Bowl win over Louisville. In his stead, Carter stepped in and notched eight tackles for the second straight game—setting the tone for a stellar sophomore season.

"It was a confidence booster, of course," Carter said. "To get out there and finish the season on a high note and know that there's so much more I can do...I mean, there's so much more room for me to grow as a player. Once I do that, it's crazy just imagining what I can do."

Carter's emergence combined with Jenkins and Floyd's decisions to return to school created the ultimate "rich man's problem" for defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

How can he fit three outside linebackers into two spots in the lineup?

The easy answer would be to drop Jenkins—a 6'3", 252-pound senior from Hamilton, Georgia—down to defensive end in pass-rushing situations, as he did at times last season. That'd especially work well given the current landscape of Georgia's defensive line, which isn't returning a single starter from last season's squad.

That isn't the only answer, though.

"Floyd is learning multiple positions right now," Carter said. "We all learn multiple positions. We are just going to have to fit in wherever we are thrown. Coach is just going to throw us out there and say 'play this,' and we just have to play it."

How the rotation will specifically work, though, is still unknown.

"There's a lot of things we can do with the outside linebackers since we are such versatile players," Carter said. "We can move all over the place on the field."

Does that mean Carter could slide into one of the middle linebacker spots or Floyd could also put his hand in the dirt and play defensive end in Pruitt's 3-4 scheme?

It could, although the entire trio needs to get better as every-down linebackers if the prospect of all three playing at the same time is going to become a reality.

"They're really good at what they do in that regard," head coach Mark Richt said. "Those guys can come off the edge. They have a lot of ability. The big thing for them is how they're playing on first and second down. Those are the things we are trying to get better at with them."

Cross-training at different spots will certainly help and is an indication that Georgia's linebacking corps—which includes veteran Tim Kimbrough, UAB transfer Jake Ganus and versatile newcomers Chuks Amaechi and Natrez Patrick—could be one of the best and deepest linebacking corps in the entire country.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, 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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Florida Announces Offensive Tackle Rod Johnson's Career Is over Due to Injury

A life-threatening spine condition has ended the career of Florida offensive lineman Roderick Johnson, the school announced Tuesday.

Johnson, a redshirt sophomore from Delray Beach, Florida, was diagnosed by team medical staff with congenital cervical stenosis, a condition that causes narrowing of the spinal canal and can prevent fluid from protecting the spinal cord. This was discovered after Johnson suffered a "stinger" injury during a scrimmage on April 3, per Scott Carter of GatorZone.com.

Numbness in his fingers and hands prevented Johnson from participating in Florida's final week of spring practice, or in Saturday's Orange & Blue Debut spring game.

"One thing I'll tell you this about any player: I will never, ever put him out there in harm's way," Florida coach Jim McElwain said following the spring game, per Carter.

According to Carter, a similar condition ended the career of New York Giants running back David Wilson last year, and it also led to Cooper Manning (brother of Eli and Peyton Manning) to retire from football while playing at Ole Miss.

Current and former teammates took to Twitter to react to Johnson's retirement, including ex-Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel, who's now at Louisiana Tech:

The 6'6", 296-pound Johnson started three games at right tackle last season for the Gators, including against Alabama and in the Birmingham Bowl against East Carolina. He played in all 12 games in 2014 and was expected to compete for a starting job this fall, but with his retirement Florida's already thin and inexperienced line becomes even more depleted.

Florida had only eight scholarship offensive linemen on the roster this spring, only three of whom had any significant experience, as four main starters from 2014 either graduated or turned pro early.

The Gators add several big bodies this summer, including 5-star tackle Martez Ivey, but for the time being protection up front remains an even bigger concern than the quarterback battle between sophomore Treon Harris and redshirt freshman Will Grier. 

 

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

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College Football Players Who Haven't Scratched the Surface of Their Talent

For every player that makes an instant impact in college football, there are far more who only show brief flashes of what they're capable of at the outset. Injuries, playing time and other factors lead to their careers starting off with a whisper, rather than a bang, but in time they'll make their mark.

The time is now for these potential superstars, who in 2015 have the stage set for a breakout performance that will not only make them a key piece of their team's lineup but also give them an opportunity to show what they're capable of. In many cases, this will be their first real chance to live up to the hype.

This list comprises both underclassmen and veterans, and not just players who were 5-star prospects coming out of high school. Each is now in a position to excel, and while what we've seen from them so far has been promising, it's only just the beginning.

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Arkansas Sends 15 Letters to Girlfriend of 3-Star Defensive End Recruit

In any college's recruitment efforts, the end result is the most important part. Some schools will do whatever it takes to land an athlete.

For the Arkansas Razorbacks, that means extending your recruitment to the player's girlfriend.

Bailey Clary, the girlfriend of defensive end Caleb Roddy, posted this photo of 15 letters from the Razorbacks.

Recently, the couple went to visit the campus.

If Arkansas is able to nab Roddy, a 3-star recruit, according to the 247Sports Composite, this may start a whole new trend in recruiting tactics.

[Bailey Clary, h/t College Spun]

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5-Star Ben Davis Says Recruitment Is 'Wide-Open' After New Offers, FSU Visit

The Florida State Seminoles welcomed a collection of high-profile prospects to campus for spring game festivities on Saturday, April 11. The guest list featured three 5-star Alabama recruits, including linebacker Ben Davis.

The 6'4", 230-pound Gordo High School standout drove into town along with fellow 5-star defenders Marlon Davidson and Lyndell "Mack" Wilson, who played together last season at Carver High School.

It was the group's first journey to Tallahassee. By the time they hit the road to return home  Davis was already plotting his next visit.

"As soon as I got down to Tallahassee, I felt comfortable," he told Bleacher Report. "I loved every minute of it. I could really see myself playing down there. I'll probably go back to Florida State a few more times and work on establishing a better relationship with their coaches."

Davidson and Wilson each arrived on campus holding Seminoles offers. So did Davis, though he didn't realize it until Saturday.

Florida State defensive coordinator Charles Kelly cleared things up when the two met in person.

"Coach Kelly told me I already had an offer, but I didn't know before they said that during my visit," Davis explained. "I was happy to hear that, because I really do like Florida State. I can't wait to get back down there."

It's the latest in a series of scholarship offers that have shaken up his recruitment. David released a top-seven list in late February, identifying Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss and USC as favorites. 

Recent offers from Florida State, Notre Dame and Michigan have effectively altered his outlook.

"It's a whole new ballgame right now," Davis said. "I'm ready to consider everybody that's interested in me. That top-seven list was how I felt at that point, but with all the offers coming in, I'm wide-open."

Notre Dame extended a scholarship approximately a week after he unveiled that list. 

"I would put them right there in the mix," Davis said after receiving the Fighting Irish's offer. "Notre Dame is a great school."

He says the two sides have worked to build a rapport in recent weeks. The same can be said for his relationship with Michigan, which offered him in late March.

Though Davis has yet to personally speak with Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh, he's established consistent communication with assistant coach Tyrone Wheatley.

"With Coach Harbaugh coming from the NFL and putting his staff together, I know I would get great training and structure," Davis said. "Michigan has great tradition, and they're working to put together a really good class. I also heard they have the biggest stadium in the country, so I know it must be loud and crazy during games up there."

Florida State's strong first impression also piqued his interest. Despite Davis' lack of a set list of favorites, it's safe to say the Seminoles would be among the top pack at this point.

"Florida State is obviously one of the best programs in the county," he said. "They made it to the College Football Playoff last season, won the national title a couple years ago and had a Heisman Trophy winner. Talking with Coach Jimbo [Fisher] and the coaching staff, I really enjoyed the atmosphere."

Davis described his potential role within the star-studded Seminoles defensive attack, voicing enthusiasm about how he might fit in.

"I like the way they use their linebackers," he said. "The coaching staff told me I'd have a chance to play early at Florida State and do a few different things. I can see myself standing up inside and then being used on third down to rush the passer, which I really like to do. I'd be able to use my speed and quickness off the edge."

It will remain difficult for any program to knock Auburn and Alabama out of contention.

Davis' father, Wayne, is the Crimson Tide's all-time tackles leader. He will attend Alabama's spring game this weekend. 

"Coach Saban and Coach (Kirby) Smart see me as another Dont'a Hightower," he said. "I have a strong relationship with Alabama because of my dad and growing up pretty close to campus, but there's a long way to go in this process, and it's about finding where I feel most comfortable."

Meanwhile, Auburn appears to have quite an edge when it comes to coaching familiarity.

"Auburn is really recruiting me hard, especially with some of the new coaches on their staff," Davis said. "Coach [Will] Muschamp already recruited me before when he was at Florida and Coach [Lance] Thompson was recruiting me at Alabama last year. Now they're both at Auburn, so that's a pretty big deal."

Like Davis, Alabama 5-stars Wilson and Davidson have warranted heavy interest from the pair of in-state powerhouses. Now Florida State is suddenly in play for each standout.

"We all liked what we saw down at Florida State," Davis said. "I'm sure we're going to visit again pretty soon. They say this 2016 class could be one of the best Florida State has ever signed, so I'm really interested in that opportunity."

Could they become a 15-star "package deal" next signing day?

Davis doesn't rule out the possibility.

"We call ourselves 'The Trio'. Me, Mack and Marlon have really become close," he said. "They're my dudes. We do talk about going to the same college together sometimes, but all three of us are probably going to wait until signing day. I don't know where I'm going, and I don't think they know yet, either. We'll see what the future holds."

Now that Florida State is checked off his list of universities to visit, Davis has sights set on several schools moving forward.

Davis named Notre Dame, Michigan, LSU, USC and Ohio State as first-time destinations he'd like to explore before making a decision.

 

All quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Is 4-Star ATH Trevon Diggs a Lock to Alabama?

Following a visit to Alabama earlier this month, the Tide look to be in a good position with 4-star athlete Trevon Diggs.

According to Ryan Bartow of 247Sports, Diggs has named the Tide his leader.

“It’s just Bama,” Diggs told Bartow. “Everything about Bama grabs my attention. I love Bama a lot.”

With the positive vibes trending toward Tuscaloosa with Diggs, is the nation’s No. 5 athlete and No. 87 overall prospect in the 2016 class a lock to end up signing with the Tide?

Even with Nick Saban hot on the trail of Diggs, the word “lock” seldom applies to anyone in recruiting these days. It’s clear that Alabama made a strong impression on the Maryland standout, but there’s still a long ways to go in his recruitment.

Diggs, whose brother Stefon was a star receiver at Maryland from 2012-14, did note that he plans to decide after using his allotted five official visits in the fall.

That factor alone means that he will give other schools a chance to woo him in the manner the Tide were able to during his visit to the Capstone.

Schools such as Auburn—which he mentioned he plans to visit soon—Florida, Maryland and Penn State are programs that have been involved with Diggs in the early stages of his recruitment.

Another factor with Diggs could be the decision of good friend, fellow Maryland product and 4-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

A handful of programs are in the running for both of them, and Haskins—who also has the Tide as a contender for his services—even mentioned that he considers him and Diggs to be a package deal, per Bartow.

Still, at this stage of his recruitment, Alabama has positioned itself well to be in the thick of the race for Diggs until he makes a decision.

“I’d say looking at and being with all the players and seeing how they work and seeing all the coaches and stuff like that,” Diggs said to Bartow about what impressed him at Alabama. “Watching their game, their spring practice, it was fun watching and seeing how they compete against each other every play."

Diggs and Haskins represent the latest Maryland products to grab the attention of Saban, who has done well recruiting the Mid-Atlantic region recently.

In fact, Saban has landed elite prospects from Maryland, such as corner Cyrus Jones and offensive linemen Arie Kouandjio and Cyrus Kouandjio, since 2010.

As he did with those prospects, Saban and his staff will have to prepare to go the distance in recruiting Diggs in hopes of luring him to Tuscaloosa on signing day.

  

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Former 5-Stars Who Are Finally Ready to Break Out for USC in 2015

The USC Trojans have a roster chock-full of elite talent and littered with 3-, 4- and 5-star recruits. But a few 5-stars in particular are ready to break out in 2015.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer joins Stephen Nelson to discuss which former 5-stars are ready to emerge in Southern California.

What is USC's ceiling in 2015? Check out the video and let us know!  

tar rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Every Power 5 College Football Conference's Dark-Horse Player of Year for 2015

At this point in the offseason, early leaders for Heisman, playoff and conference player of the year considerations have pretty much been set in stone. 

But what about the players who are primed for breakout seasons that could affect all three of the aforementioned categories?

These are the dark-horse player of the year possibilities for each of the Power Five conferences.  

Other than the Big Ten, conferences typically select an offensive player of the year and a defensive player of the year. With that in mind, we're taking it a step further and projecting who we think will be the conference's sole dark-horse MVP, offense or defense. 

Selections are made based on players who started at least one game last season or saw significant playing time as a backup. 

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College Football Players Primed for Huge Bounce-Back Years in 2015

2015 is a new year, and for some college football players, that means a fresh start. Players are looking to bounce back from last season and make their mark on the CFB world this year.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Barrett Sallee and Michael Felder debate which player will have a bounce-back season in 2015.

Who will have the biggest bounce-back year in 2015? Check out the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Are Texas Longhorns Too Scared to Renew Rivalry, Play the Texas A&M Aggies?

Every offseason, the idea of the rivalry between Texas and Texas A&M pops up.

Every offseason, the entire college football world gets excited about the thought of the two powers from the Lone Star State renewing their rivalry that's been dormant since 2011.

This time, it's the two head coaches doing the talking to ESPN.com's Chris Low.

"That game is so much a part of this state," Texas head coach Charlie Strong told Low. "Over 100 years, we've played that game. Why stop it now because we're in different conferences? At some point, when it's right for everybody with the different schedules, I would love to play Texas A&M again."

Fourth-year Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin echoed those sentiments.

"Now, moving into Year 4 and listening to our former students and our alumni base and knowing a lot of Texas alums, it's important that we play again," Sumlin said. "I think it will happen somewhere down the road."

Maybe strong should have a chat with his athletic director, Steve Patterson, who had this to say to Max Olson of ESPN.com a year ago: "There's a lot of great tradition with Texas A&M. At some point in time, does it make some business sense, some branding sense to play again? I don't know. It's not at the top of my list. I'm really more focused on how we grow the footprint of the department."

What exactly does that mean?

Texas has out-of-conference games scheduled with Notre Dame, USC, LSU, Ohio State, Michigan and other high-profile Power Five conference teams over the next 15 years. As Zach Barnett of FootballScoop.com notes, Texas is more concerned with playing high-profile teams outside the state:

That's a very dangerous, reckless and unnecessary plan for Texas—which is already a national brand to a point where its Longhorn Network and the financial landscape it created in the Big 12 was one of the primary driving forces of the conference realignment craze.

Texas has been a national brand for a long time, and that won't change. What has changed, though, is the status of Texas A&M.

The former "little brother" of the Longhorns has evolved into more of a cousin over the last four years. Thanks to the move to the SEC, the success of former quarterback and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and publicity the school has gained, Texas A&M has become the 13th-most valuable college program in the country in 2014, according to Forbes.com.

Not exactly the "small sliver of East Texas" that former Texas athletics director DeLoss Dodds predicted A&M would have when it moved to the SEC.

On top of that, Sumlin has been recruiting his tail off, notching top-16 classes in each of Sumlin's four seasons in College Station, including two classes that ranked in the top 10. Those classes are loaded with talented players from the Lone Star State, including stud defensive end Myles Garrett, wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones and legendary high school quarterback Kyler Murray.

For perspective, the Aggies average class rank in the three previous seasons prior to Sumlin's arrival was 26.3, according to 247Sports' team rankings.

The move to the SEC matters, and it's only going to matter more as high school and middle school kids relate the SEC—and its success sending people to the NFL—to Texas A&M.

Texas still thinks that it's too good for Texas A&M, but that's false. It needs Texas A&M.

Texas A&M is gaining traction both in the state and nationally, and one way to slow that down is to play it out on the field. Strong knows this, but the administration doesn't seem to want to buy in quite yet.

Is it arrogance? Probably not. It's more likely fear.

After all, if Texas were to get beaten consistently, that would only accelerate the evolution of Texas A&M football.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, 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.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Messiah deWeaver Announces Top 5: Which School is Best Fit for Star QB?

Messiah deWeaver is taking a week off the suspense.

After originally setting a commitment date of April 29, the 3-star quarterback has decided to move up his announcement to April 22—which means fans have eight days (T-minus) to give their last-minute speeches on social media in an effort to sway him to attend their favorite school.

Per Mike Griffith of MLive.com, deWeaver has a top five of Michigan State, Mississippi State, Penn State, Kentucky and Louisville. The Dayton, Ohio, prospect, ranked No. 12 in the 247Sports' Composite among pro-style quarterbacks nationally, has Michigan State trending in his 247Sports Crystal Ball.

deWeaver is looking to end the process after once being committed to Michigan. He chose the Wolverines in June but reopened the process in January with the firing of Brady Hoke and the hiring of Jim Harbaugh.

Listed at 6'3", 202 pounds, deWeaver fits the mold of a Michigan State quarterback. The Spartans are looking for a game manager who can not only make the big pass, but also sell the run. Michigan State finished the 2014 season with 3,453 passing yards but also had 3,057 rushing yards, making it a true dual-headed monster in Big Ten play.

deWeaver is one of those players who can be a similar quarterback, game management-wise, as Connor Cook. Per the Greater Western Ohio Conference website, he led Trotwood-Madison High School to average 182.4 rushing yards and 121.9 passing yards per game, ultimately equating to nearly 38 points a contest.

deWeaver has a dozen offers, and all five of his favorites would be considered solid fits, but Michigan State would make sense in this case. The Spartans currently have only two commitments in their 2016 class, and they are in need of a quarterback to lead the class offensively. Additionally, he's made multiple trips to East Lansing, Michigan, since December, according to his 247Sports timeline.

deWeaver has built a relationship with recruiting coordinator/quarterbacks coach Brad Salem, as well as with head coach Mark Dantonio and assistant head coach Harlon Barnett.

Playing in the Big Ten could be in deWeaver's immediate future, but he also could end up playing in the SEC. Kentucky is a legitimate contender in the recruiting race, as he's built relationships with quarterbacks coach Shannon Watson, head coach Mark Stoops, cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley and recruiting coordinator/tight ends coach Vince Marrow.

deWeaver has made multiple trips to Lexington, Kentucky, and the Wildcats were one of the first to offer him. To add, Kentucky has a proximity advantage over Michigan State. While East Lansing is roughly four hours away from Dayton, Lexington is right around two hours away from deWeaver's home.

Don't expect proximity to be a major X-factor for deWeaver. Look for intangibles like potential playing time, campus environment feel and comfort with the coaching staff and players to win the quarterback over.

One thing that may also be considered is deWeaver's relationship with one of the Michigan State basketball players. deWeaver moved from Trotwood-Madison and now attends Wayne High School, the same high school that Travis Trice Jr. attended. deWeaver and Trice's younger brother, D'Mitrik Price, is a senior two-sport athlete at Wayne, who not only played quarterback, but also could be as talented on the basketball court as his brother.

"He was on my AAU basketball team," deWeaver told Griffith regarding D'Mitrik Price. "I played [basketball] until eighth grade, and then I started to focus on football."

You can bet deWeaver's received nothing but good testimonials about Michigan State. On April 22, the world will find out if he's going to "Go Green" or choose a different avenue for his college plans.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

The Dark-Horse Contender in Alabama's 2015 Quarterback Race

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — As Alabama’s spring practice enters its last week before the long offseason ahead, there hasn’t been too much focus on the quarterback race so far. Especially not as much as there was last year, when AJ McCarron left after a decorated career.

The Crimson Tide have had plenty of other problems to worry about, like the other eight starters they’ll be replacing on offense, the three arrests and two subsequent dismissals, or the two long-term knee injuries to key players.

But as the battle under center has largely played out in the shadows so far, a dark-horse contender for the job is very much emerging on the inside.

What looked like a race between Jake Coker and the field has seen a major push from an unsuspecting candidate: redshirt freshman David Cornwell.

Cornwell has been injured or on the bench for most of his short time in Tuscaloosa, but now healthy and with an opportunity to shine, Cornwell is impressing and has a very legitimate chance at the starting job in 2015.

“He has done probably as good a job as anybody this spring,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said Saturday after Alabama’s second spring scrimmage. “He’s very bright, has a great understanding of the offense, does a great job from a leadership standpoint of helping other players play better when he’s in there. And he has played smart for the most part all spring.”

That scrimmage, which was closed to all but a select few members of the public, was when Cornwell had his time to shine and showed what those inside the program think of his development.

During a warmup period seen by reporters prior to the scrimmage, Cornwell was taking snaps with the first-team offensive line. And that proved indicative of Cornwell’s standing at the scrimmage.

A source inside the scrimmage said that Cornwell took the first snaps at quarterback and was essentially a starter for one of the scrimmage teams. On an overall rough day for the quarterbacks, the source said, Cornwell continued to play meaningful snaps and made several nice throws.

In a photo of the scrimmage released by UA, Cornwell is seen working against first-team defensive lineman D.J. Pettway, who is being blocked by first-team tight end O.J. Howard:

“It was going to be interesting today to see, we put him in situations today where, even though he doesn’t have game experience, how he would handle those things, and in some cases he did a really good job,” Saban said afterwards. “A couple of other times I’m sure he’s going to learn from that experience and have a chance to do better. So we’re really encouraged by the progress he’s made all spring.”

That bump up in the rotation is a far cry from the seniority order we have seen so far. For the most part of the spring, quarterbacks worked from Coker down to early enrollee Blake Barnett in order of class standing.

Cornwell jumping Cooper Bateman and Alec Morris for the day shows at least some form of movement at this point in the quarterback competition and signals that he has a very real shot at winning the starting job.

His status in the quarterback race is surprising.

There was little buzz around the former 4-star from Norman, Oklahoma, coming into the offseason.

He came in as one of the crown jewels of Alabama’s 2014 class. At the time, Cornwell was the highest-rated quarterback Saban had ever signed. He was a pro-style quarterback and seemed to fit the mold of McCarron—a so-called “game manager” that could make plays when needed and play an overall smart game.

Then a couple of things happened.

Lane Kiffin came in, opened up the offense and Blake Sims led a record-setting offense using his legs to run a dynamic system. Alabama signed 5-star and mobile prospect Blake Barnett and, as so frequently happens in the short-attention-span recruiting cycle, Cornwell became an afterthought.

He’s also battled several injuries that, up until now, have hindered his development and limited what he could show off in practice.

In high school, Cornwell tore an ACL that cut his senior season short. He spent much of last year’s spring practice limited after enrolling in January.

To compound matters, he suffered an ankle injury during that spring that required surgery after A-Day, according to Marq Burnett of the Ledger-Enquirer.

During the fall, he was relegated to scout-team duties, simulating passing downs while Bateman handled the dual-threat role, per Burnett.

Now fully healthy, though, Cornwell is showing off the skills that made him such a highly rated prospect out of high school.

He told Burnett after the Sugar Bowl:

I'm there to compete everyday with all the quarterbacks. But getting better each day is my priority, not worrying about the spot, the No. 2 spot, No. 3 or anything. I'm just here to get better as a quarterback because even if you get the job here, you're going to have to beat someone out in the (NFL) draft or even in life. I'm just keeping my head down, working to be the best quarterback I can be and seeing where it takes me.

Right now, it’s taking him into the front lines of Alabama’s quarterback competition, where he has emerged as a very real threat to win the starting job.

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes and reporting were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Power Ranking Top 10 Most Talented States in 2016 Recruiting Cycle

High-profile football talent can be found from coast to coast, from California to New York and beyond. And between and around those boundaries, there's pride within the states. Tons of pride.

Each year, when it comes to where the future college football players reside, a handful of states are viewed as the usual suspects. But each year, a few sleeper states include a list of big-time players to watch as the football world prepares for the annual marathon that is recruiting.

In the 2016 class, states like Alabama, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Arizona feature some of the best players in the country. However, 10 other states are loaded with talented prospects from top to bottom this year.

Here are the 10 most talented states in the 2016 recruiting cycle. The states were chosen using the quality and quantity of each state's talent base, with the assistance of 247Sports' composite ratings.

Begin Slideshow

Georgia Spring Buzz: 3-Headed QB Battle Rages On, Defense Looks Dominant

The Georgia Bulldogs competed in their spring game over the weekend and some storylines emerged from the big game. The quarterback battle is heating up with three viable candidates competing for the job. The running back position seems to be loaded, while the Bulldogs defense will once again be dominant.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee broke down the game with Stephen Nelson, touching on these developments and previewing what Bulldog fans can expect next season in Athens.

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


QB stats obtained firsthand by Barrett Sallee.

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Don't Be Surprised If a True Freshman Is South Carolina's 2015 QB

South Carolina wrapped up its spring practice session Saturday with the annual Garnet & Black Game at Williams-Brice Stadium, and all eyes were on quarterbacks Connor Mitch, Perry Orth and Michael Scarnecchia.

Mitch, a redshirt sophomore, was the most impressive of the bunch. The 6'3", 220-pound Raleigh, North Carolina, native competed 10 of 16 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown—a 22-yard strike to country music star Darius Rucker in what was the one special play head coach Steve Spurrier runs during each spring game.

Orth was efficient but made a couple of big mistakes. The former walk-on from Ponte Vedra, Florida, completed 11 of 19 passes for 137 yards but was picked off twice. Scarnecchia finished 12-of-19 for 191 yards and a touchdown but took two sacks.

"Connor Mitch is doing fine, and all three of them are," Spurrier said in quotes released by South Carolina. "Statistically, they're pretty similar. Michael Scarnechia, we need to get the ball out of his hands. Sometimes, he won't throw it if he doesn't think it has a chance and so forth. They all do some good things."

Who has the lead? Mitch probably does, at least for now, based on his experience in the system and his familiarity with the personnel.

Will that last, though?

Lorenzo Nunez—a dual-threat, 4-star Class of 2015 prospect—signed on the dotted line with Spurrier and the Gamecocks in February and could earn playing time in the offense as a true freshman.

"Lorenzo Nunez was here watching the scrimmage," Spurrier said. "He'll be ready to step into the competition as soon as he gets on campus in the summer. We're still trying to see if one guy is better than the rest."

Nunez is more of a dual-threat quarterback than any of the other QBs currently on South Carolina's campus. The 6'2 ½" 190-pounder from Harrison High School in Kennesaw, Georgia, has good top-end speed, is incredibly dangerous in space and keeps his eyes downfield when buying time behind the line of scrimmage.

"Nunez is an intriguing player," said Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Sanjay Kirpalani. "He's got a good arm, and he's clearly a guy who can make things happen when he escapes the pocket."

He can clearly bring the element of surprise to the Gamecock running game and add a different dimension alongside running backs Brandon Wilds and David Williams and do-everything receiver Pharoh Cooper—who's going to play some role on the ground again in 2015.

While Nunez brings the dynamism on the ground, he still has work to do through the air.

"He completed less than 50 percent of his passes as a senior, so I wonder about his fit in Spurrier's offense," Kirpalani said. "He's a guy who needs time to develop as a passer."

Nunez needs some work through the air, but South Carolina has a really good offensive staff led by Spurrier and quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus. Can they get him prepared enough as a passer during the month of August? That's a tall order, but Nunez's ability to create on the ground makes him as close to a Connor Shaw clone as any quarterback on South Carolina's roster.

Isn't that what South Carolina needs?

Shaw was the catalyst to the golden age of South Carolina football. He took over for Stephen Garcia midway through the 2011 season and was a big reason the Gamecocks won 11 games for three straight seasons from 2011-2013. 

Spurrier's offense evolved into a force different than his "Fun 'n' Gun" days at Florida with Shaw at the helm. Seemingly constant shots deep were replaced with a multidimensional ground game featuring Shaw and a tailback (first Marcus Lattimore and then Mike Davis) and a wildly efficient passing game founded in keeping the chains moving and taking the top off the defense when safeties began to creep up.

Nunez can follow that same blueprint if he can grasp some basic passing concepts early in fall camp.

It's a lot to ask for Nunez to win the job out of fall camp, especially with a tough out-of-conference matchup with North Carolina on the docket to open the season. But a ton of questions surround the South Carolina quarterback position exiting spring practice, and Nunez has the wheels to at least be part of the game plan as a situational quarterback from Day 1.

Once he gets his feet wet, he could slide into the starting role by midseason if no true leader emerges before then.

After all, it's Spurrier, and he has been known to play musical quarterbacks at times during his head coaching career.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, 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.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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