NCAA Football News

He Won't Get the Hype, but Jonathan Williams Might Be the SEC's Best RB

With running backs like Georgia's Nick Chubb, LSU's Leonard Fournette, Tennessee's Jalen Hurd, Arkansas' Alex Collins and Alabama's Derrick Henry in the conference, it's safe to say that the SEC will be a running back-driven conference in 2015.

Which one is the best?

Chubb has the stats, Fournette has the hype and Henry has the size. The right answer, though, might not even be the most notable name in his own backfield.

Arkansas senior Jonathan Williams.

The 6'0", 224-pounder from Allen, Texas, led the Razorbacks with 1,190 yards and 12 touchdowns last year, splitting time with Collins, who finished the year with 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Pretty impressive considering Williams has been splitting carries with Collins over the last two seasons. That's part of the plan, though.

"We're very excited about the combination of Jonathan and Alex together," head coach Bret Bielema told Bleacher Report. "Obviously, they've been able to put up impressive numbers, and the reason for that is because they share the workload."

Williams has proven over the last two seasons that he has the size to take the punishment between the tackles, the jets to be a home run hitter in space and the hands to be a threat as a receiver out of the backfield.

A true complete back, Williams passed up a chance to jump to the NFL to come back to be part of what's becoming one of the most prolific running back systems in college football.

"I don't think a back that's been in our system since I've been a head coach can survive as a one-back guy. We've had guys gain almost 3,000 yards between the three of them, and there's no way one guy can do that. We've always felt really strongly about having two major guys and one role player, and I think J-Will will take the lead on the role that he'll play his year."

Take the lead, he will. 

Arkansas released its spring depth chart on Wednesday morning, and Williams found himself atop the running back depth chart without an "or" attaching him and Collins.

That's quite a compliment for Williams, who simply goes about his business in the Hog backfield.

"I think we all take Williams for granted because he lacks a little of that 'flash' factor," said Nicholas Mason, program manager and host on ESPN Radio 99.5 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. "We have to forget about a guy not making sexy plays and just look at his production. The kid just gets it done."

He gets it done in an offense that doesn't get too creative with the running game. Of the 916 plays Arkansas ran last year, 557 were running plays (60.8 percent).

Quarterback Brandon Allen was solid as a game manger last season, but Arkansas' ability to remain consistent in the running game without much of a deep threat in a passing game is a massive compliment to the running backs and the offensive line.

Sure, Chubb is a monster, Fournette has the potential to be a superstar and Henry is a physical freak who jumps off the screen.

But Williams is a proven superstar and rarely gets mentioned in the conversation.

That makes him, by far, the most underrated running back in the SEC.


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.

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. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Will Cardale Jones End Ohio State's QB Competition Before It Even Begins?

Cardale Jones could end college football's most polarizing and intriguing position battle before it truly has a chance to take shape. 

Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett—two former Heisman Trophy candidates in their own right—may be helpless to prevent it as they recover from injuries that ended their 2014 season.

Ohio State's quarterback quandary is not only one of the most fascinating storylines in the country—it may be one of the most unique in college football history. 

There's Miller, one of the most electrifying playmakers in the country and one of just two players in Big Ten history to win the conference MVP award in back-to-back seasons.

Then there's Barrett, who not only possesses the single-best quarterback rating among returning players in the NCAA, via (h/t Peter Berkes of SB Nation), but he's also coming off the most prolific season in Ohio State history (despite playing in just 12 games). 

And finally there's Jones, who led Ohio State to a historic thrashing of Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game before ripping Alabama and Oregon to win the first-ever College Football Playoff.

Urban Meyer, who's coached at the collegiate level since 1986 and won three national titles, has seen a lot of things. But even he is a bit bewildered by Ohio State's quarterback dilemma. 

But Jones, the only signal-caller among this elite group who's fully healthy, has all the momentum.

Or rather, he's the only one who's capable of carrying the load at the moment.

With spring practice officially underway, Meyer provided an update on the recovery process for both Miller and Barrett on Tuesday. Miller, who's coming off shoulder surgery, is a bit ahead of schedule and throwing light lob passes. Barrett, fresh off a broken ankle suffered against Michigan, has his ability to throw, but his lack of mobility will prevent him from participating fully this spring.

Their top priority is getting healthy and avoiding setbacks.

That leaves Jones to receive the lion's share of snaps this spring. And even though he played well during Ohio State's jaunt through the postseason, he still has a lot to learn.

“Cardale is getting more reps than he's ever gotten,” Meyer said, via Bleacher Report's Ben Axelrod. “He became a very functional player with repetition…he's still almost a rookie—an older rookie that hasn't had a lot of reps.”

How much better will Jones get with those invaluable repetitions this spring? How much chemistry will he build with a new-look receiving corps that doesn't feature Devin Smith or Evan Spencer? 

Will he gain an insurmountable lead in this unprecedented race?

Those aren't questions Meyer is willing to entertain. The Buckeyes' head man is taking things in one day at a time.

“How does it play out? I don’t know,” Meyer said, according to Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch. “It’s day by day, player by player. That’s the focus. Not what’s going to happen or what do we foresee.”

What can be seen, however, is the opportunity that lies ahead of Jones. The Buckeyes have 13 more practices before closing out camp with the spring game on April 18.

That gives Jones 14 more opportunities to increase his lead over Miller and Barrett.


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

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Recruiters, Coaches, and Analysts Need to Watch This 2016 Recruit

Meet Aaron Manning, an unranked, talented wide receiver and running back from Rancho Cucamonga, California. He does not let rankings get in his way. He is determined to make it to the next level. 

Check out the video above, where Manning discusses his family, his detractors and his football goals. 

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Tennessee Football: Ranking the Volunteers' Top Recruiting Targets for 2016

With Tennessee taking fewer football commitments in this year's recruiting class due to sheer numbers, the Vols' 2016 start isn't quite as torrid as it has been the past couple of cycles.

That's not necessarily a bad thing as UT can be a little more selective in handpicking players than in years past.

Most of the recent activity for head coach Butch Jones in this recruiting class hasn't been positive, however.

First, linebacker Emanuel Bridges decided to reopen his recruitment after an early pledge to the Vols. Then, on Tuesday, 4-star quarterback pledge Austin Kendall decommitted.

Kendall had been shaky since Sheriron Jones gave UT three quarterback pledges in the 2015 class and lead recruiter and former offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian departed. So now, the Vols will begin the quest to sign their signal-caller in this class as well.

With just five early commitments in the '16 class, there is plenty of room for Jones and crew to work and numerous spots to fill.

Tennessee's roster features several big needs, so with those in mind as well as some elite talent with some Vols connections, and other factors such as geography and bloodlines, let's take a look at some of the top targets on UT's board.

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Amari Cooper Needs Big Pro Day to Cement Himself as Draft's Top WR

On Wednesday, Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper has a chance to open some eyes at the Alabama pro day. Typically, pro days serve mid-tier prospects more than the elite, because so many teams are in attendance it gives them an up close look at the players from a specific school. But does Cooper need a big pro day? He’s already considered a top prospect.

The answer is a definitive yes. In fact, of all the top prospects in this draft, Cooper might be the one who needs a big day more than any other. The reason being that for the talented Crimson Tide star, his status as the top wide receiver in the draft is tenuous.

What’s the difference between being the first wide receiver off the board and the second? It’s hard to be certain, but there’s a real chance that the Oakland Raiders take a wide receiver with pick No. 4. After that, the next likely landing spot for a wide receiver would be the Chicago Bears at No. 7, but more probable are the Minnesota Vikings at No. 11.

There’s a significant difference between being the No. 4 pick and the No. 11 pick, so it would behoove Cooper to fend off West Virginia’s Kevin White with a big pro day.

Cooper’s talent is not in question. In terms of route running, Cooper is the best in this draft class, and he would have been among the very best of the past two drafts. As this Vine shows, Cooper’s ability to shake his defender at the line of scrimmage, then stick his foot in the dirt and square the route is elite.

Amari Cooper route running is icy 😤

— Darious Crawley (@DariousCrawley2) March 4, 2015

Another strength of Cooper’s game is his ability to operate once the football is in his hands. Here’s another great example of how Cooper can make a talented defense look hapless in a near effortless manner. Lateral agility, burst off the line and power to finish are all on display.

Amari Cooper

— Ndamukong Flakes (@Vaca_Frita) March 9, 2015

The movement toward White over Cooper is evident in mock drafts around the league. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. moved White ahead of Cooper in his latest mock draft.

West Virginia WR Kevin White passes Amari Cooper in @MelKiperESPN's Mock Draft 3.0. (Insider)

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 5, 2015

In addition, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has moved White ahead of Cooper as well. On the other side, and ESPN’s Todd McShay have stuck with Cooper as their top wide receiver. Cooper has been my top wide receiver since mid-October, and while I love a lot of White’s game, the polish and versatility of Cooper give him a clear advantage.

So, what can Cooper do on Wednesday to change the minds of guys like Miller and Kiper? And more importantly, the minds of those teams in the league who favor the size and physical style of White over his?

The main thing Cooper must do is pick his spots. Cooper can’t make himself bigger or taller, so he has to do it with the drills. Cooper already showed at the NFL combine that he has areas of agility that he is superior to White. However, that is to be expected from a player a bit shorter and lighter.

If Cooper wants to open eyes on Wednesday, he can do it with a fast 40-yard dash. Back in March of last year, Cooper ran an unofficial 4.31 40 at the Alabama 2014 pro day, according to Chase Goodbread of Obviously, this is as much legend as anything, but if Cooper could pull a sub-4.4 40 on Wednesday, teams will have to take notice.

It is a given that Cooper is going to catch everything that’s thrown at him. This has been the case during his entire career. Even with that, White is charging on him fast. Cooper displaying truly elite speed would marry so well with his skill set that teams would have to take notice.

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10 Unheralded SEC College Football Players Who Would Be Stars Elsewhere

As members of the premier conference in college football, SEC programs put together some of the best recruiting classes in the nation. The most sought-after recruits in the country headline these classes, but there are others brought in for depth who eventually perform as well as their blue-chip teammates.

If they played in inferior conferences, these guys would be the stars of their teams.

There are so many in the SEC who fall into this group, but which 10 would have the greatest star potential? That's what we'll try to figure out here.

College success doesn't always translate to being drafted into the NFL, but the best of the college game at least get an opportunity to prove themselves at the professional level.

Therefore, NFL Draft Scout's player comparisons according to class were heavily considered when forming this list. Also considered was how highly (or lowly) regarded these players were coming out of high school, according to ESPNU's rankings. In this scenario, the fewer stars, the better.

With that, here are the players.   

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4-Star DB C.J. Pollard Reveals Top 4 to B/R: Where Does He Fit Best?

C.J. Pollard is the type of defensive back who wants the title "do-it-all athlete."

Need him to play cornerback? No problem. Need him to line up at safety? Piece of cake.

Whether the 4-star defensive back from California's Junipero Serra High School is shutting down receivers or delivering the big hit, Pollard has been one to watch. On Sunday, after earning an invitation to The Opening, Pollard broke down what he called his "unofficial top four," a quartet of schools that currently lead the way in his recruiting process.

Emphasis on "currently."

"Right now, I'm looking at USC, Arizona State, Utah and Michigan," said Pollard, the nation's No. 16 safety. "They are four schools that really catch my attention. Not to say that another school can't come in, but I'm thinking about visiting those schools [officially]."

Pollard's versatility would be an asset at any one of the four schools, but if level of comfort is playing the X-factor, look for USC to win this battle. The school is minutes away from home, and he said he loves the "family vibe" and the potential of the program under head coach Steve Sarkisian.

Plus, the Trojans are fresh off landing the nation's No. 2 recruiting class for 2015, barely losing the No. 1 spot to Alabama. He's expecting USC to be good for quite some time.

Still, there's plenty of time for Pollard to make a decision, and contrary to what some may believe, there are no favorites on his list—only potential favorites.

Pollard, who measured at 6'1" and 182 pounds at The Opening's Los Angeles regional, has his reasons for liking all four of the programs high on his list. Utah was his first offer. He said he's taking an unofficial visit there on April 25.

USC has the proximity edge, and he's familiar with the program. Arizona State, however, will get his next unofficial visit. He has a track meet in Chandler, Arizona, and Tempe is roughly a 20-minute drive away.

Pollard said he's a big fan of Pac-12 football. The wild card of the bunch will be Michigan. While he noted Michigan's rich football tradition, he's very intrigued by potentially being coached by Jim Harbaugh.

"That's the school Coach Harbaugh's taking over, and nothing but greatness is expected," Pollard said. "With his NFL expertise, he should be able to master the college level. I think after he gets a season under his belt, that school will end up being dominant."

USC leads Pollard's 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions. In fact, of the nine predictions made for the defensive back, all nine project him to play for Sarkisian and the Trojans.

Pollard said he's planning on taking his time with the process. He added that he will keep his ears open for other offers. LSU, Alabama and Florida State, Pollard said, are three schools that could sneak into contention if they were to offer.

"If they have interest in me, I have interest in them," Pollard said.

Pollard showed on Sunday that he has the skills to play anywhere. He was outstanding at the Los Angeles regional and earned an invitation to The Opening national event this summer in Oregon. It's an event he called "football heaven" for college football recruits.

At the regional competition, Pollard ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash. He also threw the power ball 37.5 feet and recorded a vertical jump of 32.9 inches. It was during the actual defensive back drills, however, when he shined the most, showcasing quick feet and good overall instincts.

The Opening, he said, was a goal of his. Finding a college home is just as important—if not more.

"I just want to show that I can play wherever I'm needed," Pollard said. "I think most like me at safety, but I can play corner and show off my coverage skills. If not, I'll just be a straight-up DB, down to play wherever my team needs me."


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

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ACC Football: Most Important 2015 Spring Practice Battles

Players graduate, injuries happen and changes need to be made. Regardless of the situation, important spring practice battles are happening all across the nation. As for the ACC, a few big-time positional battles truly stand out heading into the 2015 college football season.

For teams like the Louisville Cardinals and Florida State Seminoles—sitting with multiple options at the quarterback position—the choices won't be easy.

As for other teams, such as the Virginia Tech Hokies, the battles for multiple starting jobs will be heated. The battles for starting gigs are going on throughout the ACC, so let's take a look at a few of the most important ones to watch out for.

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Bold Predictions for Ohio State Football Spring Practice

The Ohio State Buckeyes open spring practices as the reigning national champions fresh off their unbelievable season in which they battled back from an early-season defeat while going through all three of their quarterbacks.

Bleacher Report's Stephen Nelson caught up with Bleacher Report's Big Ten Lead Writer Ben Axelrod to discuss all things Ohio State as it's in the midst of its spring practices.

Is the QB position Cardale Jones' to lose? How dominant can the defense be in 2015? Check out the video and let us know! 

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Every Top 25 Team's Main College Football Recruiting Pipeline

Sustained recruiting success requires roots to be laid in particular regions that perennially produce top-tier prospects. Coaching staffs and college teams aim to establish consistency in these talent hotbeds, setting the stage for key signings on a regular basis.

These connections are often referred to as "pipelines" in the college football spectrum, and can ultimately help create championship-caliber rosters. Here's a look at key pipelines for each program that placed in last season's Associated Press Top 25 poll.

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Brett Hundley: Breaking Down UCLA QB's Pro Day Workout

It's no secret that the 2015 NFL draft is lacking in top-tier quarterback talent. The good news for the second-level players at the position, like UCLA's Brett Hundley, is there are plenty of opportunities and teams to impress over the next seven weeks. 

Hundley took his first major steps toward trying to become the No. 3 quarterback in the 2015 class, behind Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, on Tuesday during UCLA's pro day. He brought all of the scouts into his house, so anything less than a strong showing wasn't going to be tolerated. 

Per Ryan Kartje of the Orange County Register, there were plenty of scouts who made the trek to Los Angeles to see what the Bruins quarterback was going to do:

Teams are always going to do their due diligence on a quarterback, especially one who was once regarded as a potential first-round pick, so seeing all those eyes on Hundley isn't surprising. 

However, leading up to the start of Tuesday's pro day, UCLA head coach Jim Mora made an interesting comment regarding Hundley, via NFL Media PR on Twitter:

That's certainly not damning with faint praise, but in a business where everything gets scrutinized so closely, Mora's comments aren't a glowing review of his quarterback. He basically says Hundley can't play in year one, or at least shouldn't. 

Sometimes that can work out well, as Carson Palmer and Aaron Rodgers have carved out good careers after sitting on the bench for at least one season.

Mora certainly knows Hundley as well as anyone, and has a history of coaching in the NFL, so his assessment should carry more weight than a coach who just signs the praises of every prospect who has ever come through his system. 

Going back to the field and what Hundley was showing scouts, Mark Dulgerian of NFL Network liked a lot of what he saw:

The note about Hundley's footwork is important because that's been a problem for him with scouts in the past. NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah wrote in October the UCLA star doesn't use his feet well in the pocket:

No one denies that Hundley is a tremendous athlete who can run, but being a quarterback in the NFL is all about playing in the pocket. Some guys are able to have a lot of success outside the hash marks, most notably Russell Wilson, but they are few and far between. 

After Hundley was done throwing, per Kartje, he made a point of singling out his footwork for emphasis:

That's what offseason workouts are designed to do. Players file the paperwork to see where they stand in the draft, then get feedback from NFL personnel about things that need to improve. Hundley took his criticism and appears to have worked on it. 

One workout in shorts doesn't prove Hundley has everything figured out, but small improvements before the draft are going to curry a lot of favor with scouts. 

On the whole, per Jordan Lee of the Daily Bruin, Hundley went 57-of-60 before his workout session ended:

Time will tell if Hundley was able to increase his draft stock with this pro day. After the combine, B/R's Matt Miller had the UCLA star ranked as his No. 3 quarterback and No. 70 overall. That would make him a third-round pick, at the earliest. 

However, given what teams need and how easy it is to fall in love with a quarterback, Hundley may have put himself squarely in the second-round mix if he wasn't already there.

No one denies Hundley's got the skills to do damage in the NFL. It's just a matter of being able to make progressions, play in the pocket and stay composed. Great athletes are always going to be given the benefit of the doubt, so don't be shocked if his name gets called sooner than you think on draft weekend. 

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Video of Frat's Racist Chant Made Me Decommit from Oklahoma: 'I Was Disgusted'

After seeing a video of a racist chant by members of the University of Oklahoma chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, 4-star offensive tackle Jean Delance decommitted from the Sooners on Monday. Below, he explains in his own words—as told to Bleacher Report's Damon Sayles—what led to that decision.


My mom and I visited the campus the day before the video came out. The biggest thing for me was to get my mom on board, and I think [the visit] sold her on everything. That was it for me. I was going to come back and watch the spring game and even bring my grandma there. I was done.

Then I saw the video on Twitter.

I was disgusted. That's not anything I want to be a part of. I know it's just those few select people, and it's not everybody [at Oklahoma]. It's not like cancer where it's going to spread all over.

But specifically, that chant…they couldn't get a couple [of] guys to say, "We can't do that?"

I was disgusted.

My grandmother's people picked cotton. I can't understand their struggle, but I can't go [to Oklahoma] and say I'm comfortable with being there, especially with what my family went through. My grandmother said she didn't want me going there if they still continue to do things like that. She said that would be disrespectful to her, my mom and myself if I did.

It's just not something that you want to be a part of.

[The social media reaction to my decision] has been surprising. Percentage-wise, it's been about five percent understanding to 95 percent against. There are some who are totally understanding about a young recruit's decision. But then there are people I don't even know who are saying, "Why would you do that? This had nothing to do with the school."

I probably won't be considering Oklahoma anymore.

Now I've got to get to know everybody and start over again. I don't think some people know the difference between getting an offer and committing. Getting offered and getting to know a coach are two different things to me. You want to know who's going to coach you for the next three or four years. That's important.

A coach can extend an offer, but anything can blindside you. This is something that was totally unexpected. You just never know what can happen.

Every recruit has a way of expressing himself. This is mine.


In the days since the video's release, school president David Boren removed Sigma Alpha Epsilon from the Oklahoma campus, expelled two students named leaders in the chant and stripped the letters from the fraternity’s house, giving the members until midnight Tuesday to remove all personal items.

Additionally, Bob Stoops and members of the football team have very publicly denounced the remarks.


All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings.

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8 Events to Get College Football Fans Through the Offseason

We feel your pain, college football fans.

Ever since Ohio State was crowned as the first playoff-determined national champion back in mid-January, we've been mired in a seemingly endless offseason. It's still almost six months until the first games of the 2015 season are on our TVs, and it feels like there's nothing to keep us entertained until then.

Or is there?

Believe it or not, there are other sporting events between now and then. And while nothing can match the excitement of those Saturdays filled with collegiate action, they're better than nothing.

Check out our suggestions for events to help tide you over during college football's long offseason.

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Auburn vs. Alabama: Which Team Is Better Fit for 5-Star LB Lyndell Wilson?

Lyndell Wilson is a 5-star linebacker, per the 247Sports composite rankings, from the state of Alabama. Wilson has a skill set that the nation's top programs very highly covet.

Bleacher Report college football analyst Michael Felder debates whether Alabama or Auburn is a better fit for Wilson.

Who do you think will sign the stud LB? Check out the video, and let us know! 

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Urban Meyer Reveals Plan for Ohio State's Unprecedented Quarterback Battle

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State took the field for its first practice as the reigning national champion on Tuesday, a mere eight weeks removed from the victory over Oregon that clinched college football's crown.

But as the Buckeyes warmed up inside the walls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center for the start of spring practice, all eyes gravitated toward a player who never even took the field during Ohio State's championship season.

It had been nearly seven months since Braxton Miller last donned a scarlet and gray helmet, as a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder brought a premature end to his senior season two weeks prior to the start of the 2014 campaign.

Rumors swirled of a potential transfer despite constant insistence Miller would return to OSU for a fifth year in 2015, and there he was, stretching with his teammates in his No. 5 jersey.

For Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, it was a sight for sore eyes.

"I love Braxton Miller...I always have," Meyer said. "It's great to see him out there warming up."

Today seemed to be a pretty good day for Miller, although his activity was limited to stretching, running and some light tossing off to the side of the field while the rest of the team practiced.

There's still time for him to consider his options—Russell Wilson didn't transfer from North Carolina State to Wisconsin until the summer of 2011—but his presence and scheduled meeting with the media on Thursday seem to indicate he'll be staying in Columbus for the foreseeable future.

And thus, the most talked-about quarterback competition in college football begins.

While Miller was off to the side for the majority of the portion of practice that was open to the media, Cardale Jones took reps as the first-string quarterback, two months removed from leading the Buckeyes to three consecutive postseason wins.

Behind him was J.T. Barrett, the reigning Big Ten Quarterback of the Year who rewrote the Ohio State quarterback record book in Miller's absence before fracturing his ankle in the regular season finale. Barrett was dropping back and throwing timed patterns but unable to participate in running drills.

Three quarterbacks. Three compelling resumes. Three different levels of health. One starting spot.

Predictably, Meyer was asked relentlessly about his quarterback situation after practice, despite only Jones—and redshirt freshman Stephen Collier—being able to fully participate at quarterback. The three-time national champion coach acknowledged the rareness of his predicament, but stated that for now, his attention is on each player's individual path.

"It's unique. At that position, I've never had it like that. I've had it at other positions. I've had three or four really good wide receivers, but you play more than one at a time," Meyer said. "I've never been in this situation."

Regarding Miller, Meyer said that the priority is getting him back to full strength. Originally given a recovery timetable of eight to 12 months, the two-time Big Ten MVP appears to be ahead of schedule, but is being careful not to re-injure his shoulder as he did last summer.

“Today was all about Braxton continuing on his journey to get healthy,” Meyer said. “He's been to Birmingham to get checked two or three times to work with them to make sure the rehab is on point."

Asked about the possibility of Miller playing a position other than quarterback for the Buckeyes, Meyer said he believes that with Miller's athleticism, he's capable of anything, though he is still of the opinion that his future is at quarterback.

As for Barrett, Meyer was pleased with the third-year sophomore's progress, but admitted he's not at full strength quite yet. The CFPA National Freshman of the Year is expected to be ready by the start of fall camp, but he seems to be getting a head start on his recovery thanks to his ability to participate in seven-on-seven drills.

"He is doing a little more than I thought he could," Meyer said of Barrett. "We want to keep pushing him and get him healthy.”

And then there's Jones, the national champion quarterback and 2014 Big Ten Championship Game MVP. Despite his impressive resume, Jones still only has three starts to his credit in his college career, which adds to the importance of his increased reps this spring.

"Cardale is getting more reps than he's ever gotten,” Meyer said. "He became a very functional player with repetition...he's still almost a rookie—an older rookie that hasn't had a lot of reps."

Meyer said he hasn't felt any stress stemming from the impending quarterback controversy, but anticipates there's some around the corner. Not due to the ability of his quarterbacks—any coach would be happy to have any of the three—but because he's going to have to settle on one, leaving two on the bench.

For now, Meyer's not worried about that, allowing all three quarterbacks to continue on their respective paths through the spring. Eventually, that decision will have to come, but for now it's too early for the Buckeyes head coach to know what it will be.

"We want to see [Miller] get healthy, J.T. get healthy and for Cardale to improve,” he said. "How's it going to play out? I don't know."


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 Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Will Muschamp Making Huge Recruiting Waves at Auburn Junior Day

When Gus Malzahn was able to lure Will Muschamp to Auburn as the Tigers defensive coordinator in the offseason, it was considered a game-changing moment for the program. 

Since his arrival on the Plains, Muschamp has wasted little time making waves on the recruiting trail.

He helped Auburn surge down the stretch in the 2015 class, landing the Tigers a group that finished No. 9 nationally—with Muschamp helping to close the deal on several late targets on the defensive side of the ball.

It’s still early in the 2016 cycle, but Muschamp’s presence was looming large with a handful of top prospects who made their way to the Plains last weekend for Auburn’s junior day.

What are some of the top recruits who were in attendance saying?

Find out in this post-junior day wrapup.


2016 4-Star Georgia LB Has “Awesome Trip”

Tre Lamar has been a busy man in recent weeks.

In addition to picking up offers from powers such as Florida State, Oregon and Texas A&M, he’s also attended junior days at Georgia and Alabama in the previous two weekends.

He made his way to Auburn last weekend, and the 4-star linebacker was impressed with what he saw.

“It was an awesome trip,” Lamar told Bleacher Report. “It was really my first time getting to see the facilities they have there. It was my first time meeting with Coach Muschamp for a good amount of time and having a good conversation with him.”

Muschamp and the defensive staff were able to lay out a plan for Lamar, should he choose the Tigers in the end.

“Coach Muschamp’s message to me is that he can see me play either the 'Mike' or 'Will' linebacker in their defense,” Lamar said. “So I’m comfortable at either position. It’s definitely comfortable for me because we play a 3-4 defense at my high school, and it’s the same type of defense they play in college, even though it’s more in-depth.”

Lamar, who plans to major in engineering in college, was also pleased to learn about the opportunities Auburn can offer him in that academic field. Next up for Lamar includes trips to Florida State on March 20 and Florida on March 21. 

For now, he said that Auburn has made a move for his services.

“They definitely made a push for me,” Lamar said. “Now that they have a new defensive staff, I see them in a whole new way. I’m definitely open to them in my recruitment and this visit moved them up for me. “


Tigers Impress Pair of In-State 5-Star LBs

Perhaps the biggest prizes in-state for the Tigers are 2016 5-star linebackers Lyndell Wilson and Ben Davis.

Wilson—who is teammates with fellow Auburn target and 5-star defensive end Marlon Davidson—said that one of the highlights of his trip was speaking with Muschamp in-depth about his plans for him at the next level, according to Justin Hokanson of Auburn Undercover.

"It went well. I sat down with Muschamp and talked defensive fit in the system," Wilson told Hokanson. "He said I could play any of the three linebacker spots and I think I can do very well. There aren't too many guys that can play linebacker in space and cover guys."

Davis’ ties to in-state rival Alabama have been well-documented, as his father Wayne was a star linebacker for the Tide in the '80s.

However, Auburn is still making a run at the 6'4", 230-pounder.

Muschamp gave Davis some high praise, comparing him to a few all-time greats and one player that he helped mold into a potential first-rounder in next month’s NFL draft, according to Hokanson.

"He showed me Dante Fowler, that's who he said my game reflects on him," Davis told Hokanson. "He showed me Junior Seau and Jason Taylor, those are some of the guys I look like when I play football. It's humbling and I'm honored to be compared to those guys.”

While Alabama is a factor with both Davis and Wilson, Auburn seemed to put its best foot forward with both over the weekend.


Muschamp Compares Top 2016 DL to Former UF Great

One frequent visitor to Auburn’s campus in recent months has been 2016 4-star defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson.

According to Keith Niebuhr of Auburn Undercover, Jackson was in town last weekend—which marked his eighth visit to the Tigers campus.

Muschamp developed his share of strong defensive linemen at his previous stop as the head coach at Florida. As Niebuhr notes, Muschamp told Jackson that his game reminds him of a former Gators standout who currently plays for the New England Patriots.

“They were laying out how they’d use me in their 3-4 and 4-3 defense,” Jackson told Niebuhr. “(Muschamp) said I’m an all-around player and I reminded him of Dominique Easley from Florida.”

Jackson, who is being pursued by a bevy of top programs, told Niebuhr that Auburn and Georgia are the two schools coming after him the hardest.

He also mentioned Alabama, LSU and USC as schools that have his attention at the moment.

However, the Tigers seem to be in a good position with Jackson—who rates as the nation’s No. 8 defensive tackle and the No. 51 player overall in the 2016 cycle.

Similarly, it’s Muschamp’s presence that has the Tigers trending with a number of their top targets on the defensive side of the ball in the 2016 class.


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

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Alabama Football 2015 Spring Practice Check List

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — With several SEC teams back on the practice field for the spring, Alabama will finally join that mix on Friday. The Crimson Tide will hit the practice field Friday afternoon, then get the following week off for spring break, before returning 10 days later the following Monday.

It’s somewhat of a strange schedule to kick things off, but at this point, it’s hard to question Nick Saban’s practice and preparation tactics.

Anyway, with everything kicking into high gear in a couple of days, let’s take a look at Alabama’s spring practice checklist—a list of things the Crimson Tide need to get done during these next 15 practices, including the spring game, before leaving the pads behind for the summer.

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Which QB Will Be SEC's Leading Passer in 2015?

The SEC has always been loaded with top-tier talent. On both sides of the ball, fans have been accustomed to seeing big-time performances, especially from the quarterback position. 

Bleacher Report's College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee offer their predictions regarding who will be the best passer of the SEC in 2015. 

Who will light it up next season under center in the SEC? Check out the video and let us know! 

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Why Experience No Longer Matters for Starting QBs in College Football

It's almost time to hit the beach or the pool with your favorite college football preview magazine, soak up the sun and get prepared for the season.

If that magazine tells you "Team X won't contend because of uncertainty at the quarterback position," wind up, toss it into the water and turn it into fish food.

That's all it's good for.

First-year starters have won five of the last six national titles, and eight of the last 12 starting quarterbacks in college football's national title game were first-year quarterbacks.

That's not an aberration. It's a trend that you should pay attention to.

Quarterback is the most important and most visible position on the field, but it isn't always what makes or breaks a team's success. If there are talented players around—even ones who aren't experienced—that's still a recipe for college football success.

"Teams that win national titles can run the ball, play good defense, and have good quarterback play," South Carolina quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus told Bleacher Report. "It takes a complete team, but good quarterback play always helps."

Mangus' team not only has a new quarterback taking the snaps this season after Dylan Thompson moved on, but has a new-look offensive line and needs to find a replacement for running back Mike Davis.

That might make it difficult for his Gamecocks to contend, but for other schools a new quarterback isn't the end of the world.

Four of Bleacher Report national lead writer Ben Kercheval's post-national signing day top 25 boast new quarterbacks—No. 3 Baylor, No. 5 Alabama, No. 7 UCLA and No. 9 Oregon. Over at, it was more of the same, with No. 4 Alabama, No. 5 Baylor, No. 6 Oregon, No. 8 Georgia and No. 9 UCLA all in the top 10.

What do all of those teams have in common?

Brilliant offensive minds either as the head coach or offensive coordinator (or both), and veterans all over the place.

Quarterback experience is nice, but in this day and age of exotic offenses it isn't the most important thing.

Having a head coach and/or offensive coordinator who has proven over time to adjust his offense to fit his offense around the strengths of his quarterback—regardless of age and experience—is what will make or break a team's offensive success.

That means a team like Auburn, which was on the periphery of the top 10 in each of the two rankings mentioned above, is dangerous with the combination of Gus Malzahn and quarterback Jeremy Johnson. Sure, Johnson still has to actually win the job, but he has proven over two years as a backup that he has the potential to be a superstar.

Malzahn adapted his offense to become even more of a multidimensional power rushing attack to fit the dual-threat capabilities of former quarterback Nick Marshall, but he's also the same coach who produced a 5,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher and three 1,000-yard receivers as Tulsa's offensive coordinator in 2007.

Is Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich suddenly going to forget how to coach offense now that former quarterback Marcus Mariota is gone? If we've learned anything over the last decade, it's that the Duck offense is plug-and-play at quarterback after Jeremiah Masoli and Darron Thomas each have led the program to success.

"I want to earn the starting spot, earn everyone’s trust, win games, win a Pac-12 championship, hopefully a Heisman and a national championship," potential Oregon starting quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. told Bleacher Report national lead writer Adam Kramer.

Florida State's quarterback situation is very much up in the air with Sean Maguire as the safe choice among several others, including true freshman early enrollee De'Andre Johnson and incoming freshman Deondre Francois. But head coach Jimbo Fisher has still recruited his tail off over the last five years and has a loaded roster that very much can continue to compete in the ACC and on the national scene.

Don't fall into the trap, look who's returning starting quarterbacks and write those teams off.

That's just lazy.


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.

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. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Jamal Couch Commits to Florida State: Will He Bring Two 4-Star Teammates With?

Florida State’s 2016 class received a major boost when 2016 3-star linebacker Jamal Couch committed to the Seminoles Monday evening via his Twitter account:

The 6’4”, 214-pounder from Central High School in Phenix City, Alabama, selected FSU over offers from Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Mississippi State, among others. 

Couch becomes the 11th member of the Seminoles' 2016 class and the fourth linebacker who has verbally committed to Jimbo Fisher and his staff.

But what is the impact of his commitment for FSU and its class?

For starters, Couch is a versatile player who could play inside or outside linebacker at the next level. 

It’s clear that Fisher and his defensive staff have targeted the linebacker segment as one of the main needs to fill in 2016.

According to Ourlads, the ‘Noles will bring back one junior and a pair of senior starters at linebacker next year. However, with the offseason transfer of E.J. Levenberry, FSU will need to hit a home run at linebacker in terms of quality and quantity in hopes of restocking the cupboard with talent in the middle level of its defense.

Couch adds to a haul that already includes 4-star Emmett Rice, 4-star Josh Brown and 4-star JUCO product Tyree Horton.

Couch is a terrific athlete who also plays tight end for his high school team. In fact, according to MaxPreps, Couch hauled in 17 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns—which resulted in an average of nearly 26 yards per catch—last season.

Additionally, his commitment could help FSU out with a pair of his prep teammates who hold offers from the Seminoles—2016 4-star corner John Broussard and 2017 4-star linebacker Markail Benton

Both Broussard and Benton took to Twitter to chime in their thoughts on their teammate heading to Tallahassee, and the early returns seem to indicate positive vibes for the Seminoles' chances to pull off a potential package deal, per Chris Nee of Noles247.

Aside from linebacker, another position of emphasis for FSU in the current cycle is at corner. Broussard, who is the nation’s No. 6 corner and the No. 87 player overall in the 2016 cycle, would fill another major need should he join Couch. 

In order to make a move on Broussard, the ‘Noles will have to beat out a pair of SEC West powers that are currently in the lead for the 6’0”, 164-pounder.

“As of right now, Auburn and LSU are my co-leaders,” Broussard told Bleacher Report last month. 

Benton represents one of the elite talents in the 2017 class, and he is currently rated as the top rising junior in the state of Alabama. 

Although he was scheduled to join Couch at FSU’s junior day in late February, Benton didn’t make it to Tallahassee. However, he did mention the ‘Noles as a program that has grabbed his attention in the early stages of his recruitment. 

“They are just smooth,” Benton said of FSU. “They got good coaching. I just like the atmosphere.”

Landing Couch gives FSU another player who has great long-term potential at a position of need. His commitment is also a signal that the ‘Noles could become a bigger player for both Broussard and Benton than perhaps they were previously expected to be.


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

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