NCAA Football News

Recruiting Offers of the Week

One week after landing 3-star California offensive lineman Dru Samia, the Oklahoma Sooners doubled down in the Golden State by offering a pair of 2015 standouts in 4-star receiver Ykili Ross and 4-star linebacker Khaylan Thomas

The 6’2”, 185-pound Ross is a U.S. Army All-American with offers from powerhouses such as Notre Dame, UCLA, Oregon and Texas A&M among others.

Thomas, a 6’2”, 210-pound outside linebacker, holds offers from the likes of Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and Miami among others.

The fact that Bob Stoops and his staff are active in California is not a new phenomenon.

As Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman described, the Sooners began to make a dent in the Golden State with a 2010 class that included future standouts such as Brennan Clay, Tony Jefferson and Kenny Stills.

“I think a lot of things,” Stoops said to Kersey. “Success, you know, the championships we've been in and won, and not won. And I think they pay attention and see a lot of the success California kids have had coming out here. I think it all goes together. And the fact that we're on TV every week.”

Oklahoma currently has 11 commitments in the 2015 cycle, with its class modestly rated at No. 31 nationally and third among Big 12 schools in 247Sports' team rankings.

If Stoops is able to land a few more West Coast blue-chippers, expect the Sooners to make a run at landing the Big 12’s top class.

 

Stanford Offers Trio of 2016 4-Star Standouts

Things have started slowly for David Shaw and Stanford in the 2015 cycle, but it appears that the Cardinal are turning up the heat on some of the nation’s top juniors.

The biggest offer was made to in-state 5-star linebacker Caleb Kelly, whose Crystal Ball is currently reflecting the Sooners as his favorite, according to Justin Hopkins of 247Sports.

Texas 4-star wide receiver Devin Duvernay also picked up an offer from Stanford. The 5’11”, 185-pounder is the No. 38 player overall and the No. 5 wide receiver in the 2016 class. Duvernay has offers from powers such as Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Alabama and Auburn, among numerous others. 

Finally, per Paul Strelow of TigerIllustrated, the Cardinal offered 4-star corner Tennessee native Nygel Edmonds. Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Duke and Virginia Tech are among the schools who have offered the 5’11”, 181-pounder.

 

Ohio State Offers a Pair of 2016 Studs

Ohio State is the newest offer for 4-star corner Damar Hamlin

The Buckeyes represent the fourth offer for the 6’0”, 175-pound Pittsburgh product. Penn State, Pittsburgh and Temple are his other three offers.

Hamlin camped at both Penn State and Ohio State in July, and he’s currently rated as the nation’s No. 12 corner in the 2016 class.

Urban Meyer also tendered an offer to 4-star North Carolina wide receiver Divine Deablo. The Buckeyes join Clemson, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia as a group of powers trying to land Deablo.

 

Alabama Offers 2015 Texas RB Commit

With T.J. Yeldon a potential candidate to turn pro after this season and the likely emergence of sophomore running back Derrick Henry this fall, a strong possibility exists that Nick Saban and his staff will look to use one of the last few 2015 scholarships available on a quality back. 

The Tide offered 3-star Texas commitment Tristian Houston last week.

Alabama already has one back committed in 4-star in-state standout Desherrius Flowers, and they are in the running for 4-star Florida native Jacques Patrick.

While pulling Houston away from Texas and landing Patrick over favorite Florida State would be upsets, the Tide may still be active in searching for another running back to complement Flowers in the 2015 class.

 

2016 Florida CB Saivion Smith Blowing Up

Miami and Tennessee are the latest schools to offer 2016 4-star corner Saivion Smith.

The 6’1”, 175-pounder is rated as the No. 60 overall prospect in the 2016 class and the sixth-best corner. 

Smith holds offers from Florida State, Florida, UCLA, Clemson and Ohio State, among others. 

The IMG Academy standout attended a summer camp at Florida and came away impressed, according to GatorBait’s Luke Stampini (subscription required). 

"I did a camp and then I did an unofficial visit after," Smith said. "It's real nice. Most schools are spread out. I like how the school is. All the athletes have easy access to all the classrooms, the dorms aren't spread out real far."

 

Best of the Rest

 

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

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Louisville's Corvin Lamb Returns Kickoff 97 Yards for a TD vs. Miami

Louisville and Miami (Florida) squared off on Labor Day in Kentucky, and Cardinals running back Corvin Lamb made a statement with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. 

The huge second-quarter run put the Cardinals up 14-10 over the Hurricanes.

[SB Nation]

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David Ash, Dominic Espinosa Injuries Force Charlie Strong to Adjust, Again

The entire narrative around the Texas football program changed Monday when head coach Charlie Strong announced the injuries to two key contributors on the Texas offense.

Redshirt junior quarterback David Ash suffered a head injury against North Texas last Saturday and will miss the BYU game on Sept. 6.

According to Strong, Ash believes the injury occurred on the first contact he faced in the first quarter, but he did not begin experiencing symptoms until after Saturday's game.

This injury is nothing new for the redshirt junior quarterback. Ash suffered a concussion against BYU last season, returned to the field two weeks later, only to have recurring concussion symptoms and was sidelined for the remainder of the season.

Strong does not know if Ash will miss more than one game.

But Ash's injury was just a portion of the bad news Strong delivered Monday.

Senior center Dominic Espinosa—who left Saturday's game with an injury—will undergo surgery Wednesday to repair a broken right ankle. No timetable has been set for his return.

 

Constant Adjustments

Strong has only been in Austin for eight months, but it probably seems like an eternity for the head coach. 

Whether it was getting adjusted to the extra attention or added pressure of public speaking, going on a 12-city publicity tour across the state of Texas or dismissing seven players for violating his rules, Strong's short career at Texas has not been a breeze. 

The injuries to Ash and Espinosa is just another hiccup for the first-year head coach.

Losing a starting quarterback is a difficult blow for any team to overcome. Replacing a starter with a quarterback who's game experience primarily includes garbage-time play is even worse.

But that's the reality for the Texas offense.

The Longhorns will rely on sophomore Tyrone Swoopes to lead the charge against BYU Saturday.

Nobody truly knows what Swoopes is capable of doing at the college level because of his lack of playing time. And kneeling on the ball to run out the clock in the Longhorns game versus North Texas hardly counts as game experience.

The Longhorns' ground game will need to be utilized more than ever with the inexperienced quarterback under center.

Senior Malcolm Brown and junior Johnathan Gray are two of the best one-two punches in the Big 12, and the pressure will be on both running backs to carry the Texas offense moving forward.

But opening up holes to allow the duo to run wild will be a greater task without Espinosa.

The fifth-year senior has 40 career starts for the Longhorns. His backup, redshirt freshman Jake Raulerson, has yet to start a game.

Espinosa's experience is impossible to replace on the offensive line, which is one of the least seasoned position groups on the team.

 

Time to Step Up

One could argue losing Espinosa is just as big of a blow as losing Ash.

Throughout the offseason, Strong has constantly said he does not need Ash to carry the offense. In fact, the head coach specifically told the quarterback that all he truly needs him to be is a game manager.

But the reasons why Strong did not need Ash to be outstanding was because of the talent Texas has at running back and the leadership the offense had with Espinosa at the helm.

Strong needs his players to step up and help the team move forward with Ash and Espinosa's futures unknown.

"We have a football team, and we have to go play," Strong said. "Other players have to step up and other players have to go play. It's no different. Now the challenge of this football team is how well we can bounce back and what we're all about."

One positive note for the offensive line is senior Desmond Harrison, who was suspended for the first game of the season after violating team rules, will return to the team for the BYU game, per Wescott Eberts of SB Nation (via Yahoo Sports).

Many Texas players and coaches mentioned Harrison as one of the best players on the offensive line throughout fall camp. And senior defensive end Cedric Reed—whom ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has listed as the No. 1 senior DE for the 2015 NFL draft—said Harrison is one of the toughest opponents to face.

The 6'8", 313-pound senior needs to play up to his potential to protect Swoopes and block for the Longhorns' run game.

 

Tough Road Ahead

Much of the offense's success is dependent on offensive line coach Joe Wickline's ability to find the right group to help the ground game. And he will need to find that solution as soon as possible as the Longhorns prepare to face some of the toughest opponents on its schedule in the coming weeks.

The next opponent on the schedule is the same team that embarrassed Texas last season and ultimately cost the job of former defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. BYU is coming off of a road victory against UConn, which saw the Cougars defense hold its opponent's offense to only 74 rushing yards.

But BYU is only the first hurdle the Longhorns will need to overcome over the next few weeks. 

Strong's job got a lot tougher following the 38-7 blowout over North Texas. And the damages from Saturday's win could very well impact the Longhorns' success for the rest of the season.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow her on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.

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Oregon Ducks vs. Michigan State Spartans Complete Game Preview

On Saturday in Eugene, Oregon a team will claim an inside track to the first ever College Football Playoff. Pac-12 powerhouse Oregon will host Big-10 co-favorite Michigan State in a battle of Top 10 programs.

Let's just call it flash versus smash. 

Oregon, currently ranked third in the country according to the Associated Press, comes in fresh off a 62-13 blowout over South Dakota. Michigan State, the defending Rose Bowl champion, is ranked eighth in the country and took down Jacksonville State 45-7 this past weekend. 

The Ducks come in featuring one of the best offenses in college football. The offense ranked second in the nation in total yards in 2013 and third in points per game. Meanwhile, the Spartans defense was ranked third in the country last season in points per game and second in total yards.

It’s a clash of clashes and should be treated as such. ESPN’s College Gameday will be broadcasting from the University of Oregon campus on Saturday morning. This will be the sixth consecutive year that the program has taken its talents to Eugene, though it will be the first featuring Oregon and a non-Pac-12 opponent. 

In terms of the actual game, here’s what you need to know:

Date: Saturday, Sept. 6th

Time: 3:30 p.m. PT

Place: Autzen Stadium (Eugene, OR)

TV: FOX

Spread: Oregon -11 according to 5dimes.eu

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2 Recruits Who Are Teammates Receive the Same 'Personalized' Letter from USC

Recruiting for a major college football program is no easy task, as attempting to make big recruits feel special is likely extremely time consuming. 

Two teammates from Clovis West in Fresno, California, 4-star wide receiver Darian Owens and 5-star linebacker Caleb Kelly, received the exact same letter from the school that ironically underlined the word "personally." Not surprisingly, they spoke to each other about it and realized they had the same letter. 

It's safe to say this likely won't reflect well for USC.

[Caleb Kelly, h/t College Spun]

All recruiting star rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. McNeese State Cowboys Game Preview

After a 55-7 victory over Florida Atlantic, the Huskers are ready to take on the Cowboys of McNeese State. While Nebraska has a game under its belt so far, this weekend’s matchup is the season opener for the Cowboys.

The two programs have only ever met once before in 2002. In that matchup, the Huskers won 38-14. Twelve years later, Nebraska is ready to take on the Cowboys once again.

McNeese State finished 10-3 in 2013, while also making an appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, per Huskers.com. Additionally, the Cowboys return 16 starters.

Who will come away victories in this Week 2 matchup?

 

Where: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.

When: Saturday, September 6 at 12 p.m. EST

Watch: ESPNU

Listen: Husker Sports Network or Sirius Channel 119, XM 203

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South Carolina State vs. Clemson Complete Game Preview

The Clemson Tigers will return to action this Saturday to take on the South Carolina State Bulldogs. The season opener left some Tigers fans in shock, but this week is an opportunity for Dabo Swinney and company to prove it was nothing more than a sloppy second-half performance.

The Tigers will look to get into the win column against a Bulldogs team that beat Benedict College 63-0 this past weekend. It was their seventh consecutive victory against Benedict, and now they will attempt to pull off an upset victory over Clemson.

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Clash of the Ball Boys: FSU's Red Lightning vs. Auburn's Blue Thunder

Ali versus Frazier. Palmer versus Nicklaus. Harper versus walls.

The sporting world is stuffed with more storied rivalries than a Greek epic, and every year a new crop of legends rise up to give us another marquee matchup.

We’re scarcely a breath into the 2014 college football season, and it may be said that we’ve already found the hulking, king-hell rivalry of the fall: Red Lightning versus Blue Thunder. 

For the college football agnostics, the two young men I speak of are the fleet-footed equipment managers of the Florida State and Auburn University football programs. They are the winged messengers—the sideline speed merchants scorching grass and turf alike as they go about the business of delivering pigskin and raising team morale.

Which is to say, they are ball boys. Fast, badass ball boys. 

First we must reacquaint ourselves with the senior statesman in this clash: Frankie “Red Lightning” Grizzle-Malgrat. 

The world first met Grizzle-Malgrat during the Seminoles’ march to the 2013 BCS title game.

Even the most disinterested eye couldn’t help but notice the red-headed hustle comet burning up the FSU sideline every Saturday, and it wasn’t long before the bearded maven was dubbed “Red Lightning” by Florida State fans.

Put simply, Red Lightning became the Robin to Jameis Winston’s Batman. 

Thus Grizzle-Malgrat reigned over the NCAA, appropriating a spot as the Usain Bolt of ball boys and ending his breakout year with a BCS title win over Auburn in January.

That reign is being threatened, however, and the heir apparent to Red Lightning’s throne is Jack “Blue Thunder” Longenecker, a sophomore equipment manager at Auburn who dropped jaws around the SEC on Saturday when he toasted a khaki trail down the sideline alongside Tigers wideout Melvin Ray. 

Longenecker’s big debut came on Ray’s 49-yard touchdown catch against Arkansas. The wide receiver snagged the ball, shed a Razorback defender and screamed up field for God’s country.

The only person with a chance of catching Ray was Longenecker, who came sprinting down the Razorbacks' sideline, closing distance like a khaki-panted puma and striding with the wideout for several seconds.

Now we come to a quandary: Who is the NCAA’s “It Boy” in the field of equipment management? Who is the Ball Man on Campus? 

In the name of discerning this all-important truth, I’ve put together a highly scientific rating system comparing the two in a number of salient ball-boy categories.

Let’s start with the most obvious:

 

1. Speed

Red Lightning: Grizzle-Malgrat is what I like to call “nimbly-bimbly.” 

That is to say, he’s not a thoroughbred as much as he’s a do-it-all beast of burden. At 5’7”, Red Lightning wasn’t built for breakaway speed, but rather the rough-and-tumble life of a ball boy behind enemy lines.

As he proved against Oklahoma State on Saturday, you could send Red Lightning into the jungle butt-naked and he'd walk out the other side wearing a leopard suit. He is more than comfortable in hostile territory.

Blue Thunder: Longenecker is a pure burner. 

In a simple, A-to-B race, Auburn’s equipment manager is winning nine out of 10 times against Red Lightning—an ironic matter considering his past.

A former high school football player, Longenecker told The War Eagle Reader’s Jeremy Henderson that his high school coach once told him he couldn’t play running back because he wasn’t fast enough 

“I said ‘I want to play running back because it was the easiest practice,” Longenecker told Henderson in a recent interview. “And he said, ‘No, Jake. You’re too slow for that.’”

Advantage: Blue Thunder.

 

2. Facial Hair

Red Lightning: A key facet of being a ball boy at the college level is having thick, luxurious facial hair. Behold its power below, as Grizzle-Malgrat talks with ESPN's Colin Cowherd:

Blue Thunder: N/A. 

Longenecker is a young warthog. He still has time to cultivate a fine face pelt.

Advantage: Red Lightning.

 

3. Swagger

Red Lightning: No one can pimp a chest rug quite like Red Lightning, as The Tuscaloosa News' D.C. Reeves tweets:

Blue Thunder: Considering his nubile existence in the national eye, we only have a small sample of Longenecker’s personality to work with.

What I do know is that he rocked a subtle fist pump after Ray's touchdown and looked more than ready to provide an additional chest bump if needed:

Advantage: Red Lightning.

 

4. Intangibles

Red Lightning: There are too many to name—the foremost being his giving nature and paternal protectiveness for his players.

 

Blue Thunder: He has a determination to run fast everywhere.

“We like to go fast as possible, just like our offense," Longenecker told Henderson. “We have to be ready to give the ball to the refs at all times."

Advantage: Red Lightning.

 

5. Team Spirit

Red Lightning: You’d be hard pressed to find a non-player who puts a bigger smile on Seminoles fans’ faces than Red Lightning. He’s like the Yukon Cornelius of Tallahassee.

Blue Thunder: Again, we’re working with a small subset of data on Longenecker, so we’re still waiting for him to command War Eagle VII to swoop down and scoop out Nick Saban's eyes. 

Advantage: Red Lightning.

 

Final Tally: Red Lightning 4, Blue Thunder 1. 

There you have it, folks. Red Lightning won this one in a landslide. He has the portfolio and tenure. It's difficult to compete with a curriculum vitae that includes an image of this magnitude.

In any case, the season is young, and I fully expect Longenecker to take his game to the next level as the weeks pass.

It’s a breakout year for Blue Thunder, and the nation could very well see a ball boy showdown come the playoffs. Should an FSU-Auburn rematch come to pass, keep one eye on the sideline. That’s where the real stars ply their trade. 

 

Follow Dan on Twitter for more sports and pop culture news.

 

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Miami vs. Louisville: Live Score and Highlights

Miami 7, Louisville 7—Early 2nd Quarter

The Miami Hurricanes are battling the Louisville Cardinals, capping Week 1 of the 2014 college football season in style.

ESPN is carrying the ACC clash. Bleacher Report will provide live scoring updates and in-game analysis throughout the contest. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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6 College Football Recruits Who Had an Explosive Week

Another weekend of high school football action provided plenty of highlights across the country. Several collegiate prospects elevated their efforts, compiling impressive statistics along the way.

Each week here at Bleacher Report, we review premier performances by top recruits. Here's the latest look at those who stepped up during the final slate of August matchups.

 

4-star tight end Hale Hentges (Jefferson City, Missouri)

The Alabama commit established a new Helias High School receptions record, catching five passes for 94 yards in a 52-14 win over Hannibal, per Tom Rackers of the News Tribune. Hentges, rated fourth nationally among tight ends in 247Sports' composite rankings, surpassed his uncle's total.

“They all count the same,” he told Rackers. “We know Hannibal is a very good team and we expected a battle from the very beginning. But we just got hot right at the start of the game. We got on a roll and we overwhelmed them.”

Hentges caught 61 passes for 940 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior.

 

4-star quarterback Brady White (Newhall, California)

The 6'2", 190-pound passer posted a memorable performance in a season-opening loss. Though his team fell 63-48 in a shootout, White set a Hart High School record by throwing for 537 yards, per Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times.

He tossed six touchdowns in the process, giving him 71 career scoring strikes. Rated third nationally in 247Sports' composite rankings, White builds off a 4,500-yard, 41-touchown effort in 2013.

The Arizona State commit connected with 4-star receiver Trent Irwin on 10 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown. The Sun Devils remain in the mix for his commitment, which would keep their connection in place.

 

3-star defensive end Rick Wade (Rancho Santa Margarita)

Wade, who committed to UCLA in July, dominated the trenches in a 26-21 win over Bishop Amat High School. The 6'6", 225-pound prospect punished opponents while piling up 13 tackles and a sack, per Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times.

Wade, who also holds offers from Wisconsin, USC and Washington, helped Santa Margarita Catholic halt a final drive by Bishop Amat in the red zone to lock down the victory.

 

3-star running back Aca’cedric Ware (Cedar Hill, Texas)

The Cedar Hill High School playmaker came up big in the opening game of his squad's bid for a state championship repeat. Ware carried the ball 23 times for 193 yards and four touchdowns, per Corbett Smith of The Dallas Morning News.

Cedar Hill surged to a 56-34 victory over South Oak Cliff High School. Ware helped the team score on all but two possessions during the contest, gaining nearly nine yards per carry.

He committed to USC in June. His other offers include Iowa, Oklahoma and Ohio State.

 

4-star RB Jordan Scarlett (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

Scarlett, who transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas High School for his senior season, lived up to the hype Friday evening. He rushed for 125 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-7 victory over defending state champion American Heritage High School, per Daniel Flynn of FanSided150.com.

Rated seventh nationally among running backs in 247Sports' composite rankings, his commanding effort included a 63-yard score in the first half. Scarlett committed to Miami in July after backing off a verbal pledge to FAU.

 

5-star quarterback Blake Barnett (Corona, California)

The Alabama commit came out firing in his season opener, completing 18 of 30 pass attempts in a 47-21 victory over Redlands High School, per Drew Champlin of AL.com. Barnett buried the opposing defense with 311 passing yards and a touchdown.

Rated No. 1 nationally among dual-threat quarterbacks in 247Sports' composite rankings, he also flashed rushing skills that set him apart in a talented crop of California quarterbacks. Barnett rushed for 83 yards and another score.

His pledge to the Crimson Tide came just weeks after he decommitted from Notre Dame.

 

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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BYU Football: 4 Lessons Learned from Blowout Win over UConn

BYU left the East Coast last Friday with a huge 35-10 win to kick off the 2014 season. Led by a monster game from quarterback Taysom Hill, the Cougs quickly built a three-possession lead, and UConn never recovered.

Although BYU has a huge game at Texas this weekend, it's never bad to look back at the previous week's game. There are many lessons to be learned from Friday's victory, and here are four of them.

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