NCAA Football News

Cardale Jones Returns to Ohio State: QB Battle for the Ages Begins for Buckeyes

Cardale Jones is returning to Ohio State for the 2015 season. The sophomore quarterback led the Buckeyes to wins in the Big Ten title game, the national semifinals and finally the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder discusses what this means for OSU heading into the 2015 season.

Do you think Cardale Jones is making the right decision?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Notre Dame Steals Top TE Aliz'e Jones, Puts Pressure on UCLA to Land Replacement

Aliz'e Jones ended his 14-month commitment to UCLA on Wednesday, resulting in a long speculated flip to Notre Dame. The 4-star tight end shared his decision through a series of tweets:

His second post points to a fruitful 2015 pipeline between the Fighting Irish and Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School. The picture portrays Jones and teammate Nicco Fertitta, a defensive back who pledged to Notre Dame in April, serving as captains in South Bend.

Jones, rated No. 1 nationally among tight ends in 247Sports' composite rankings, played a key role during three straight state title runs at Bishop Gorman. He established career-highs as a senior, catching 41 passes for 930 yards and 13 touchdowns.

His yards-per-reception average (22.7) provides strong evidence that Jones isn't your average intermediate tight end weapon. The 6'4.5", 218-pound playmaker is more of a wide receiver at this stage of his career, capable of evolving into a hybrid weapon with further physical development and improvements as a blocker. 

Jones, who visited South Bend twice since September, adds to a Notre Dame class that continues to be boosted by players who initially committed elsewhere. Quarterback Brandon Wimbush (Penn State), cornerback Shaun Crawford (Michigan) and linebacker Josh Barajas (Penn State) are each 4-star talents who flipped to the Fighting Irish during this cycle. 

Brian Kelly's class bursts back into the top 10 in 247Sports' composite rankings with Jones on board, and now rates ninth overall with 23 pledges.

UCLA, meanwhile, must ramp up its efforts to reel in coveted Connecticut tight end Chris Clark. The 6'6", 247-pound Avon Old Farms standout is rated second only to Jones in composite rankings and remains extremely interested in the Bruins.

He is set to spend an official visit at UCLA starting on Jan. 23, but Jim Mora preferred not to wait for an in-person conversation with Clark. The Bruins head coach was slated to arrive in Avon on Thursday, the first day after college football recruiting's month-long "dead period" ended.

The cross-country trip confirms Clark is considered a top member of UCLA's "wish list" during its final push toward Feb. 4. National signing day looms large for a team suddenly lacking top-end talent at a position of need.

Clark plays in the mold of a more traditional tight end than Jones, dishing out devastating blocks as a force in the run game. UCLA sent him a "future" article from ESPN The Magazine earlier this month, envisioning a Bruins career that includes All-American honors , the Mackey Award and a national championship.

He could serve as an immediate safety blanket in the passing game for incoming 5-star quarterback Josh Rosen, who will challenge to start as a true freshman. The potential duo would have a chance to post prolific career numbers together if allotted early opportunities.

Jones' departure from UCLA certainly seems to pave Clark's path to Los Angeles, but Michigan may stand in the way. Clark decommitted from the Wolverines following Brady Hoke's dismissal, but he became an immediate interest for new head coach Jim Harbaugh:

Michigan hosts him for an official visit this weekend, looking to lock up a re-commitment before he can head west. Clark already carries an incredible amount of respect for Harbaugh.

"I think Michigan's going to turn back into a powerhouse with him," he told Nick Baumgardner. "He's like the LeBron James of coaching it feels like."

The lofty praise presents reason for UCLA fans to feel concerned about the odds of him ultimately landing in Los Angeles.

Now that Jones is headed to Notre Dame, it's officially crunch time for Mora and company in the Clark sweepstakes. These next three weeks—and two university visits—could prove paramount for UCLA's future offensive plans.

 

Recruit ratings and info courtesy of 247Sports.

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Louisiana Man Chooses Jail over Cooperating in LSU Memorabilia-Trafficking Case

Police are looking for answers in a case involving the sale of game-worn LSU football equipment on eBay, but recently ran into a wall when the seller refused to cooperate. 

The Advocate’s Ben Wallace (h/t Dr. Saturday’s Nick Bromberg) reports that Fletcher Sanders, 25, was contacted by LSU police regarding his involvement in selling a small collection of apparel worn during the 2014 college football season.

According to the police report, officers were interested in Sanders' role in peddling a pair of cleats and gloves allegedly worn during LSU’s 10-7 win over Ole Miss in October. Moreover, authorities wanted to know which player slipped Sanders the memorabilia on the market. 

Sanders, a Baton Rouge shoe store employee, was told he’d be arrested if he didn’t divulge his source’s identity. He doesn’t care. He’s not giving up his guy.

“Do what you have to do,” Sanders responded, according to the police report. “I am not going to be responsible for ruining someone’s career.”

True to their word, police brought Sanders into the station at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison and booked him for being a principal to theft and the possession of stolen things. “Theft” and “stolen” are the operative words here, as the university “leases” gear to players, who are not allowed to sell or give it away.

Sanders was released Tuesday upon posting $3,000 bail, according to Wallace.

This is a fairly atypical development as far as recent memorabilia scandals go. The sporting world saw multiple college football memorabilia brokersroll over on their student-athlete suppliers over the last two years. No one stayed mum when the police came knocking.

That this shoe store employee would stand strong and do his time for the team…well, Wee-Bey would be proud. 

In any case, we’ll wait and see how Sanders' case plays out. Ironically, it may turn out that once again, the powers in charge of protecting and serving student-athletes think a couple of crusty cleats and gloves are worth wrecking a kid’s life.

 

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

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Is Trent Thompson or Martez Ivey the Real #1 Recruit of 2015?

Both Trent Thompson and Martez Ivey have consistently been rated among the nation’s Top 10 overall prospects in the 2015 class.

In fact, Ivey had been pegged as the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit in December, according to Barton Simmons of 247Sports. Right behind him was Thompson at No. 2 overall.

However, with the postseason all-star circuit completed, the nation’s top offensive and defensive linemen in the 2015 class switched places—with Thompson now occupying the top spot.

It's a return to the top spot for Thompson, who was previously rated as the No. 1 overall prospect back in February of 2014, according to JC Shurburtt of 247Sports.

But which recruit is more deserving of being billed as the cream of the crop for the 2015 class?

Both Thompson and Ivey have worthy resumes to that claim.

Differentiating between the two prospects would be akin to splitting hairs, as both project to be impact difference makers at the next level.

With Thompson, he’s a 6’3”, 313-pound wrecking ball that is simply a man among boys at the high school level.

According to MaxPreps, Thompson racked up 84 tackles—including an astounding 36 for loss during his senior season. Over the course of his career, he logged 241 total tackles, with 88 coming for loss and 21 sacks.

He then went to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio and put on a show during the entire week of practice and also had a strong performance during the game, as noted by Simmons.

According to Chris Nee of Noles247, Thompson toyed with the nation’s top offensive line prospects all week long and none were a match in their quest to keep him out of the backfield.

With his size, athleticism and skill set, Thompson—who is committed to Georgia—figures to be a rare talent who can handle the rigors of life in the trenches of the SEC right away.

On the other hand, Ivey—who is uncommitted and has Auburn and Florida at the top of his list—is a physical force as a run-blocker and displayed his dominance during an outstanding senior season.

He helped pave the way for a rushing attack headlined by friend and current Auburn commitment Chandler Cox, as the Blue Darters finished the season on a six-game winning streak to capture the Florida 8A state title.

Given the importance of the left tackle to the offensive line, Ivey is a prospect who has an NFL-type frame with the agility and strength necessary to handle elite pass-rushers on the college level.

While Ivey possesses the type of freakish athleticism seldom seen in offensive tackle prospects, at 6’6”, 275 pounds, he’s still light in terms of size—and is probably a year or two away from becoming a contributor in college, as pointed out by Simmons. 

Even though Ivey may have the highest ceiling of any recruit in this class in the long-term, Thompson’s ability to potentially contribute right away separates the Georgia product in the race to be billed as the nation’s top player in the 2015 class.

 

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

 

 

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Recruiting Buzz: Which Teams Are Leading to Land Newly Reclassified DE?

With national signing day quickly approaching, the top-level recruits are narrowing down their prospects and zeroing in on which schools they will call home.

Bleacher Report's Stephen Nelson was joined by 247Sports' JC Shurburtt to discuss all the latest in the college football recruiting world.

Where will these big names land? Check out the video and let us know!    

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Texas A&M Football: How QB Kyle Allen Needs to Improve in 2015

The Texas A&M Aggies have a future star at quarterback in Kyle Allen, but the rising sophomore needs to work on a few key areas before he can be considered an elite quarterback.

With the pending transfer of Kenny Hill, Allen is a clear-cut No. 1 quarterback on the roster. He claimed the job nine games into the 2014 season and has done nothing since that time to relinquish it even if Hill remained on the team.

Allen led the Aggies to a 3-2 record as the starter and displayed poise that is rare for such a young player. If he can fix a few trouble areas, then he will challenge Johnny Manziel's school passing record of 4,114 yards in 2015.

This is a look at some areas Allen needs to improve in order to become a complete quarterback in 2015.

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USC Football: Trojans' Top Remaining Recruiting Targets for NSD 2015

USC football's 2015 recruiting class could be the program's most highly rated group since finishing No. 1 overall in 2006. The Trojans are currently ranked fifth in the nation and climbing.

Should head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff land some of their top remaining targets, USC's first top billing in almost a decade is a very real possibility. 

Working with a full allotment of scholarships for the first time in three years has certainly bolstered USC's recruiting efforts, and Sarkisian will take full advantage in the upcoming final push.

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Oregon Football: Ducks Fall to Ohio State; Mariota Declares for NFL Draft

The Oregon Ducks lost in the first ever College Football Playoff national title game, Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota declared for the NFL draft and fans are rightfully alarmed.

Things are rapidly changing for the Ducks, and their response to an unfortunate week will redefine the program.

In the most-watched cable broadcast of all time, Oregon's weaknesses were exposed by Ohio State and Urban Meyer. The Buckeyes knew exactly what to expect from the Ducks, and while Oregon cut the deficit to just one point in the second half, Ohio State soon ran away with the game.

But if you ask senior linebacker Derrick Malone what it meant to lose a national championship, he’ll tell you the team isn't worried.

"You have to be a man when you win," Malone said after the game, per 247Sports. "And you have to be a man when you are defeated." 

According to 247Sports, Malone found numerous younger players and made sure they congratulated Ohio State on its victory. It was perhaps one of the tougher tasks of the night for many players, but one that embodied an Oregon season defined by resilience and brotherhood—specifically after losing so many stars (e.g. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Pharaoh Brown, Devon Allen and Tyler Johnstone) to injury.

With similar emotional intensity, senior Hroniss Grasu reportedly found every player on the Ducks roster and gave him a hug after the game.

"It's been a crazy year, a historic year,” Grasu said, via GoDucks.com's Rob Moseley. “We're Pac-12 champs, Rose Bowl champs; we just fell one short.”

The one where Oregon fell short this season, however, kept the team from making history—Oregon remains without its first national title. And on Tuesday morning, I found the University of Oregon campus deserted.

Indeed, it seemed there was a shadow cast over the city of Eugene, a much darker place than the day prior.

Meanwhile, Yahoo Sports reported nearly 90 fires in Columbus, and a group of Buckeyes fans even tore town a goalpost at Ohio Stadium. The local police chief is now investigating the use of pepper spray to settle the crowds, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

When I walked to campus in Eugene the morning after the game, it felt more like I was marching toward a funeral than to work at the radio station. I was wearing all black, including a Nike replica of the black (and pink) jersey Oregon wore against Arizona in October 2014, the only other loss of the season.

It was a crushing defeat in the national championship, and we all knew it.

“We didn't play like ourselves,” junior defensive lineman Arik Armstead said, per the Daily Emerald.

 

Armstead isn't wrong.

The Buckeyes offensive line seemed to absolutely handle the Ducks defense all game long. And with the exception of a stellar performance totaling over 170 yards from Byron Marshall, Oregon seemed unable to get anything started on offense—specifically converting on third down or turning defensive turnovers into offensive scores.

Times were changing for Oregon football, and the loss didn’t help. 

The day after the game, Armstead announced he would forego his senior season and his final year of NCAA eligibility to enter the NFL draft.

Mariota, too, unsurprisingly declared for the NFL draft on Tuesday and is now a projected top-five selection; some B/R writers even project him as the first overall pick

His final play as an Oregon Duck was a meaningless interception, down 42-20, as confetti fell on the field to celebrate a victory that belonged to his opponent.

It wasn’t the pretty, storybook ending Eugene had expected for Mariota's career. But his accomplishments—including a Pac-12 title, a Rose Bowl trophy and a Heisman Trophy from this season alone—will last forever.

 

"The support I received from the University, the city of Eugene and Duck fans has been tremendous,” Mariota said in his official statement. “I will always remember the great times and support I received. Once a Duck always a Duck.”

While it didn’t work out on the main stage, Oregon supporters have been lucky during the last few football seasons. Fans had the privilege to watch some incredible football while also witnessing the evolution of a developing program working to solidify an identity.

“It’s unfortunate and a little bit insulting in a lot of ways that whoever loses this game, the word failure comes up as a description for the season,” UO head coach Mark Helfrich said, per OregonLive.com. “That word never exists in these guys vocabularies.”

As always, of course, there were also undeniable positives to take away from a season like the one the Oregon Ducks just completed. As a writer, these silver linings are important to find, as well.

“I'm thinking about what I've been through these last five years—and especially this year," redshirt senior Keanon Lowe said, via GoDucks.com. “We came up short, but we're not ever going to forget this moment or what our season brought us this year."

Lowe, who was a true freshman and redshirting at the time, was on the team that lost in the national championship when I was a senior in high school. During my senior year of college, Lowe scored a huge touchdown in the national championship game.

Once more, however, the Ducks fell short.

Despite crushing losses in the last few years to USC, Stanford (twice) and Arizona (twice) that spoiled championship hopes along the way, it felt like everything was pointed toward my senior year at the University of Oregon culminating with a national championship. I’m not the only one that felt this way.

The dynasty that fans watched develop over the last few years will not look the same next season, and the future of the Oregon Ducks football program is uncertain. But the ride this team has taken, both for themselves and their fans, has been beyond remarkable.

"I love you guys. I love this team,” Helfrich said after the game, according to GoDucks.com. “There's not one man in this room who should feel anything but good about what you guys were able to accomplish.”

Bryan Kalbrosky is the media director for the student section at the University of Oregon and is the editor of uopitcrew.com. His work has also been published by The Huffington Post, ESPN Denver, Yahoo! Sports and various other publications.

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Get Ready for the Madness: College Football Recruiting Dead Period Has Ended

Set common sense aside for next few weeks—we've officially reached college football's crazy season. 

The recruiting "dead period" concluded at midnight Wednesday, allowing coaching staffs to enter a full-throttled frenzy while dealing with targeted prospects. Few things are certain during this 21-day stretch toward national signing day, aside from the fact that America's top senior high school players will probably spend more time speaking with grown men then their girlfriends until Feb. 4.

The dead period places restrictions on in-person contact between coaches and recruits. Whether a meeting were to take place on or off campus, it's off limits.

This stretch, which lasted Dec. 15 to Jan. 14, did permit written and electronic communication.

Given the growth of social media and the simple act of texting, you better believe some semblance of contact was made during the past month. However, now the fun really starts.

An obvious result of the dead period lift is resumed official visit schedules. Prospects will spend the next three weekends traveling across the regions with family and friends to get a final detailed look at universities before cementing their future on signing day.

In the case of coveted cornerback Iman Marshall, four trips on the docket during an upcoming 14-day span. Florida State, Michigan and LSU and Oregon will each welcome the Southern California standout to campus. 

Marshall is one of several 5-star recruits (as per 247Sports) who remain undecided entering the final stretch of their multi-year recruitments. Many of them will be racking up sky mileage in coming weeks.

Of course, those are just the uncommitted prospects. Plenty of players who previously pledged elsewhere are still exploring other options. 

The list of possible high-profile flips includes Ohio State quarterback commit Torrance Gibson (visiting Auburn and LSU), Florida State running back commit Johnny Frasier (visiting Alabama and North Carolina State) and Florida State quarterback commit Deondre Francois (visiting Florida).

We'll be focused on these campus stays, but a bulk of notable recruiting action will take place away from school. Coaches are already being deployed to towns across the nation, attempting to entice recruits with last-ditch sales pitches.

Most began their morning at an airport terminal or in a rental car, en route to small communities far from home.

Auburn offensive line coach J.B. Grimes headed to Apopka High School in Florida to spend time with top-rated tackle Martez Ivey, per Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports (subscription required). New Tigers defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will also be in the Sunshine State to see 5-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson, who he formerly pursued at Florida.

Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin is headed to South Florida, where he'll meet with Rutgers cornerback commit Jarius Adams, per Todderick Hunt of NJ.com. Notre Dame plans to dispense assistants to Southern California for an in-home visit with 4-star wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, according to Adam Gorney of Rivals.

Nebraska head coach Mike Riley, hired just six weeks ago, showed off the Cornhuskers' recruiting range Thursday by sharing an eye-opening graphic on Twitter:

Aside from hunting down uncommitted recruits, coaches are also tasked with taking time to sit down with committed players and their families. It's an opportunity to iron out any issues and ensure that pledge stays intact through signing day.

Simply put, if Urban Meyer is sitting across from you at the dinner table and discussing the possible design of his third straight national champion ring, it's going to be much more difficult to decommit during the next few weeks than if he had simply sent you a Facebook message.

It's also worth watching how well Jim McElwain and Jim Harbaugh can revitalize ravaged recruiting classes at Florida and Michigan, respectively. Both coaches have immense work to do and will likely look to lure talent away from other programs in the process.

Some folks spout off about a lack of "ethics" when it comes to recruiting currently committed players, but this annually occurs in every corner of the country. Expect a series of high-profile commitment flips to alter the landscape of this cycle before we turn the page to 2016 prospects.

Coaching changes and the inaugural College Football Playoffs have claimed a spotlight throughout the past month, but recruiting madness now takes center stage.

Prepare for three weeks of the unpredictable.

 

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Leaders and Wild Cards for Every Uncommitted 2015 5-Star Recruit

Less than a month away from national signing day, only a handful of the nation’s 5-star prospects remain uncommitted.

In fact, only eight of the 34 prospects who have earned the pinnacle recruiting rating are still undecided at this point. 

A trio of standouts from the state of Florida—offensive tackle Martez Ivey and defensive ends Byron Cowart and CeCe Jefferson—headline the list of 5-stars whom top programs are still vigorously pursuing. 

Which schools are sitting pretty, and which schools are lurking in hopes of landing the nation’s uncommitted 5-star prospects in the 2015 cycle?

*Players are listed by the overall 247Sports composite rankings from lowest to highest.

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Which Breakout Freshman RB Is Set to Take over College Football?

2014 was a fantastic year for freshman running backs, with many of these first-year players having breakout seasons.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer debate which freshman running back will have the best college career. 

Which first-year runner will have the best collegiate career?

Watch the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia Football: 5 Goals for Brian Schottenheimer's Offense in 2015

The arrival of longtime NFL offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has piqued the interest not only of Georgia Bulldog fans, but of fans around the country.  

On one hand, the Dawgs return many components of what was a record-setting offense in 2014.  Most notably, freshman sensation Nick Chubb is back, and he'll be running behind four returning starters along the offensive line.

On the other hand, Schottenheimer is a big name who coached with debatable results at the professional level.  His ability to navigate the college game is somewhere between unproven and unknown.

With these factors in mind, what can be expected out of Schottenheimer in his first season?  Here are five goals for Georgia's offense in 2015.

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Alabama Football: Why Is Nick Saban Letting His Defensive Coaches Leave?

The coaching silly season has been eventful in the SEC and profitable for moving companies.

Assistant coaches have made road trips to find new homes all around the SEC, and this week was particularly big for moving companies in Tuscaloosa.

LSU hired inside linebackers coach Kevin Steele to become the new defensive coordinator of the Tigers, a role once occupied by new Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis. Prior to his time at the Capstone, Steele served as the defensive coordinator of Clemson (2009-2012) and Alabama (2007), and was Baylor's head coach from 1999-2002.

Just one day later, outside linebackers coach Lance Thompson left his post in Tuscaloosa to coach the linebackers for head coach Gus Malzahn and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp at Auburn.

"I'm excited to have Lance Thompson join our staff. Lance is very familiar with Will having worked with him before," Malzahn said in a release. "He's an outstanding coach and an outstanding recruiter who is very familiar with our state and the Southeastern Conference. Lance will be a great addition to our staff."

Is head coach Nick Saban cleaning house?

Not really. 

Steele left for a better job at LSU, and whether Saban did or didn't give him a slight nudge to walk out the door, he still got a better gig as the head man in charge of one of the most talented defenses in the SEC at LSU.

Thompson, on the other hand, might be a different story, as Aaron Suttles of TideSports.com notes:

An excuse? Probably not.

It's common for Saban—and many other coaches—to fire assistants without actually firing them in order to keep their resumes looking good.

It's unlikely, though, that Saban expected Thompson—who was the third-best recruiter in the country in 2013 and was ranked fifth in 2015, per 247Sports, before the jump to Auburn skewed his ranking—to walk out the door and head 160 miles southeast to Auburn one day before the recruiting dead period ended. 

That's where Thompson and Steele's departures will make the biggest impact.

Saban is left looking to replace two on-field assistants quickly during a time where his focus really should be in the living rooms of high school prospects.

There is a quick fix available, though.

Tosh Lupoi served as an "intern" on Saban's staff last year but was a defensive line coach and defensive run game coordinator at Washington before the two mutually parted ways amidst an NCAA investigation into improper benefits. The NCAA later cleared Lupoi, according to Andrew Gribble formerly of AL.com, but he was left without an on-the-field job.

He finished fifth in the 2010 247Sports recruiter rankings when he was the defensive line coach for Cal and, according to Michael Casagrande of AL.com, worked with Thompson during practices this year at Alabama.

If Saban promotes Lupoi from within, would it be an upgrade? That remains to be seen.

It would, however, be a tweak to a defense that needs more of a tweak than a massive overhaul.

The last time we saw Alabama's defense on the field, it gave up 230 yards on the ground to Ezekiel Elliott in the Allstate Sugar Bowl national semifinal in the 42-35 loss to the Buckeyes. Part of the blame for that debacle does fall on the linebackers, who were out of position and missed tackles on the second level, which allowed Elliott and quarterback Cardale Jones to get yards in chunks.

It also forced safeties to creep down into the box to help out against the run, which played at least a small part in the inconsistencies in the pass defense over the last couple of years.

The timing isn't ideal, but the setup of Alabama's staff—particularly the off-the-field staff—limits the impact of losing on-field coaches during critical points of the year.

Alabama will be fine. It always is.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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CFB Recruiting 200: Top 200 Overall Recruits in Class of 2015

After thorough study using specific scoring criteria, Bleacher Report recruiting analysts Sanjay Kirpalani and Tyler Donohue have graded the top 200 players in the 247Sports Composite Rankings and provided in-depth analysis. As national signing day draws near, Bleacher Report provides a position-by-position breakdown of the best college football recruits. Today, we present the Overall Top 200

 

The Class of 2015 is loaded with impressive talent. It's perhaps strongest on the defensive side of the ball, but there are still a great deal of offensive players who will be major household names. 

Stud high school players from Florida, Texas and California dominate the top overall rankings, but nearly every state is represented in 247Sports Composite Rankings, which compile ratings listed by the major media recruiting services. 

Some of the players in the top overall rankings will go on to make an immediate impact next season, while others will continue to develop and learn before getting their chance to shine. 

This list provides a glimpse of college football's future stars and how they've arrived at this point. Continue on for our review of the rankings, complete with individual scouting reports and insight on each prospect.

Be sure to sound off in the comments below with your thoughts on overall rankings, scores and recruit projections.

 

Note: 247Sports Composite Rankings are scheduled to update on Monday, Jan. 19. We will update this list accordingly once new rankings are released.

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Georgia Football: Why the Bulldogs Will Win the SEC in 2015

The end of the college football season means fans will have to wait eight months before the new season kicks off. Fortunately, news for the upcoming season is always at their fingertips because various media outlets have already made their early predictions for the 2015 season.

Paul Myerberg of USA Today recently came out with his Top 25 for the upcoming season, and he has the Georgia Bulldogs at No. 14. But Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com has the Bulldogs ranked at No. 8, making them the highest-ranked SEC team in his poll.

The Bulldogs finished ninth in the AP poll, which is the first time they have finished in the Top 10 since 2012, when they finished No. 4. The following year, the Bulldogs struggled with injuries and barely finished in the Top 25.

2015 will be an interesting year for the Bulldogs because they will have 13 starters returning and will play a favorable schedule. And if the Bulldogs are able to stay healthy, they will be the odds-on favorite to win the SEC title.

Winning the SEC is not an easy task, as the Bulldogs have not won the title since 2005. But the team coming back this upcoming season could be the best team head coach Mark Richt has fielded in three years.

It all starts and ends with running back Nick Chubb, who took the college football world by storm with his ability to break tackles play after play. Chubb was second in the conference in rushing, and he was the starter for only half the season.

Georgia Bulldogs & NCAA Football Fans, can you say Nick Chubb for Heisman in 2015? This guy looks like a legitimate NFL RB & he's a Freshman

— ADJ Sports (@ADJSports) December 31, 2014

But Chubb is not the only one to watch on offense. His backup, Sony Michel, was able to be a key contributor when he was healthy. Michel has top-notch speed and has the ability to catch passes out of the backfield.

The offensive line was a big reason Chubb and Michel were able to run with success. They will miss David Andrews, but the line will return Greg Pyke, John Theus, Brandon Kublanow and Kolton Houston. The four returning starters made great strides in 2014, and they will have no issues meshing with the new starters.

But the one question on offense is quarterback. Brice Ramsey will likely be the new starter, and he was able to make some plays in the limited time he saw this season. But 2015 will be the first year Ramsey will have to face a full SEC schedule, which is not easy to get through.

The Bulldogs are hoping new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer can utilize his NFL experience to get Ramsey more prepared for what he will face in September.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was in the same boat last season as he tried to get the players up to speed in terms of what he wanted on defense. And while the defense had some growing pains in the early stages of the season, it finished with very solid numbers.

The Bulldogs ranked second in the conference in passing defense, fifth in scoring defense and sixth in total defense. The defense will miss Ray Drew, Mike Thornton, Ramik Wilson, Amarlo Herrera and Damian Swann, but Pruitt will have a talented group of players to work with, including Lorenzo Carter, Jordan Jenkins, Dominick Sanders, Quincy Mauger and Aaron Davis.

Pruitt’s defense is about creating turnovers, and the Bulldogs were able to do that in a big way with a plus-16 turnover margin, which ranked fourth in the country. There is no reason they can’t do the same thing in 2015, especially with the players coming back in the secondary.

As it was mentioned earlier, the Bulldogs have a favorable schedule, which was not the case the last couple of seasons. The Bulldogs have only four true road games, and two of those games take place in the first two months of the season. The Bulldogs do have to face Alabama on October 3, but the game will be played in Athens, and the Crimson Tide will be fielding nine new starters on offense.

The Bulldogs will always have the talent to win the SEC, and as long as Richt is under center, they will always be in the hunt to contend for the conference title. They just can’t have too many slip-ups like they did last season; they must remain focused.

The Bulldogs will have their share of struggles in 2015, but with a guy like Chubb running the football, guys like Jenkins and Carter rushing the quarterback and a guy like Ramsey leading the offense, 2015 could be the season the Bulldogs stand tall at the Georgia Dome in December.

 

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Ranking Which 1st-Year College Football Head Coaches Will Succeed Most in 2015

There's already been a slew of coaching changes around the college football ranks as we now gear up for the second season of the new College Football Playoff—who else can't wait? 

From Jim Harbaugh at Michigan to Mike Riley at Nebraska, there are seven new coaching regimes being implemented at Power Five schools and a total of 15 new head coaches already signed up across the FBS. 

But which new head coaches will have the most success in 2015? Let's find out.

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Isaiah Holland Suspended: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

The University of Colorado football team has indefinitely suspended freshman Isaiah Holland, who faces four felony charges after being arrested in October on allegations of sexual assault.

Alex Burness of the Daily Camera reported the news, noting that Holland is no longer enrolled at the school.

"We hold our student athletes to very high standards, and they know that when those are not met, there will be consequences," said athletic director Rick George, via Burness.

Holland was arrested early the morning of October 24. According to the campus police report, he allegedly entered a woman's dorm room uninvited and touched her without consent. He's charged with "sexual assault of an at-risk victim, sexual contact with an at-risk victim and two counts of second-degree burglary."

He has a preliminary hearing on Thursday, Jan. 22.

Holland, a 3-star offensive guard recruit from Littleton, Colorado, redshirted in his first season with the team. According to the school's athletics website, he is the son of Darius Holland, who enjoyed a successful career at Colorado and eventually won a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers.

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Revenge of the SEC: College Football's Dominant Conference Won't Be Down Long

ATLANTA — I checked with my sources. The SEC is not surrendering to Urban Meyer.     

Y'all think the Mississippis and the Tide and the Dawgs and the Tigers, both of them, look like potted plants right about now, but their answer to the Urbanator is coming the next three weeks.

SEC coaches are going to roll up the long driveway at Buford High School in Buford, Georgia, and confirm commitments of some of that school's nine Division I prospects. SEC coaches are going to roll a few miles down the road to Grayson, where there are five seniors with D-I ability. They are going to swing around I-285 to Stephenson High in Stone Mountain, which has eight players with D-I offers.

Cedar Grove, also in DeKalb County, has Division I players. So does Archer in Gwinnett. Mays in Atlanta has five seniors committed to Division I schools.

These are schools within 25-32 miles of each other. We're not talking about the talent in the rest of the state, or the rest of the South. We're talking the same neighborhood.

Tom Lemming, a national recruiting analyst, said Gwinnett County, Georgia, in the Atlanta area, is the second-best county in the country for D-I talent, behind Broward in South Florida. Lemming had a seminar for Gwinnett rising seniors last fall, and 30 Division I prospects walked through the door.

Of the 75 players on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's thoroughly researched Super 75 for the state of Georgia, more than half are heading to SEC schools. That's one state.

On ESPN's Top 300, 56 of the top 80 prospects were in the SEC footprint. I stopped counting after 80 because, well, you get the point.

Meanwhile, NFL teams will sign more players from the SEC than those conferences in the Midwest, East, West and Southwest. Per NFL.com's Mike Huguenin, the SEC has had the most players drafted for eight straight years, which proves the conference hauls in talent and develops it.

That casket being lowered into the ground, the one supposed to be full of an SEC corpse, is empty.

There is no question Meyer is back as the best coach in college football, but he's won just a single title at Ohio State. Alabama had three in four years. The SEC just finished a run in which it was in eight straight title games with four different teams. Georgia was on the doorstep in 2012.

Alabama is still the NFL's 33rd franchise, not Ohio State.

This bunk about the SEC shriveling up started in New Orleans. I had a reporter from a national outlet tell me Mike Bobo left Georgia to become head coach at Colorado State because UGA would not take care of its assistant coaches with raises. Two days later, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt got a new deal for $1.3 million.

Let's stay there for a moment, on the subject of money. John Chavis, the veteran defensive coordinator, was snatched away from LSU by Texas A&M for $1.7 million. Will Muschamp, the new DC at Auburn, the old coach at Florida, was just lured in by $1.6 million a year.

Does that look like a white flag fluttering in the breeze? No, it looks like a lot of cash fluttering in the breeze.

The Big Ten just won its first national title since Ohio State beat Miami in 2002, with the help of a late, late flag that is still fluttering in the air. And the Buckeyes are supposed to be all things 'Bama?

Meyer is a terrific coach. I get it. The idea he ran from Nick Saban with some made-up ailments in 2010 is a crock.

I watched from the sidelines in New Orleans as Meyer used motion and formations to get Alabama unbalanced and then ran around the end. It was great scheming, helped by the fact that on Ezekiel Elliott's 85-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, All-American safety Landon Collins and 'Bama's best linebacker, Reggie Ragland, were not on the field because of injuries.

It was interesting to see Ohio State's players up close when the Buckeyes were down 21-6 to Alabama. No panic. That's coaching and leadership. I thought all along that the loss to Virginia Tech, which was tied around the neck of the Buckeyes for two months, was overblown. Tech was riddled with injuries and was not the same team at the end of the season that beat Ohio State at the beginning of the season.

Ohio State has most of its offensive line back, as well as its defensive line and Elliott. That is so Alabama-like. The Buckeyes, I've heard, also have a few quarterbacks to choose from.

An esteemed colleague, Matt Hayes of Sporting News, wrote that Meyer is the new king of college football because he is ruthless and relentless.

You want ruthless desire to win? How about Saban? Last week he welcomed a 340-pound early enrollee, defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor, who was kicked out of Georgia after allegedly committing theft and choking a woman. This is after another defensive end, D.J. Pettway, was brought back to 'Bama even after he allegedly had a role in an on-campus robbery.

Nobody is going to out-ruthless the SEC.

Relentless? Alabama had a ferocious defensive line, and it will welcome into the 2015 rotation the best defensive line prospect from 2014, Da'Shawn Hand. He will team with A'Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen and Pettway to give Alabama a defensive line better than Ohio State's. LSU just hired a superb defensive line coach, Ed Orgeron, who also happens to be a terrific recruiter. Ask around.

How is this for relentless? Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and LSU are relentless for stockpiling talent. They will do it again on national signing day in a few weeks. Eight of the top 20 schools on the Rivals board are SEC schools. Recruiting analysts get their information from college assistant coaches. These rankings are not bunk.

There are some things I detest about the SEC. The number of junior-college players. The number of juniors who leave school too early because they are going nowhere academically, and they want the money for their families.

The fraudulent courses these football players take are abominable. The made-up degrees are insulting. The 40-hour work weeks for football players to help a coach keep his multimillion-dollar job are distasteful. The SEC Network making us pay for things we used to get free every Saturday afternoon aggravates me, too. All that should be troubling to the fan of SEC football.

What should not be troubling is the future. Signing day will affirm the SEC's superiority in college football. Ohio State is still in Ohio. The best football players are still in the South.

 

Ray Glier covers college football for Bleacher Report.

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Clemson Football: Tigers' Top Remaining Recruiting Targets

We’re less than a month away from national signing day, but there isn’t a ton of excitement for the Clemson Tigers on the recruiting trail at this point. The Tigers’ class is almost full, and with the exception of a few names, the 2015 cycle is complete.

Clemson owns the nation’s No. 13 recruiting class, according to Scout.com, and a lot of that can be attributed to success in Georgia and Florida. The Tigers hold a verbal commitment from 5-star offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt as well as 4-star Sunshine State wide receivers Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud.

There are plenty of other 4-star-caliber players in this class, and the Tigers have worked to fill the needs of the team moving forward. The offensive and defensive lines were the priority, and the Tigers have done a solid job of meeting those needs.

Hyatt is the prized recruit, but some may be overlooking how important the addition of Jake Fruhmorgen is. The 4-star offensive tackle from Tampa, Florida, ranks No. 15 at his position, and he was sought after by many top-notch programs around the country.

The most recent commitment for Clemson was 4-star defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. Wilkins, the No. 7 overall defensive tackle on Scout.com, has the kind of size (6'4", 290 lbs) to come in and make an impact early in his career. Other defensive line prospects currently committed to Clemson include Albert Huggins, Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell, LaSamuel Davis, Sterling Johnson and Gage Cervenka.

With that being said, there isn’t much more room in this class for prospects. Here are a few of the remaining targets left for Clemson in the 2015 class.

 

Mark Fields, CB

Fields decommited from South Carolina on December 16, and from that point on Clemson has emerged as the perceived favorite to land him. He is a 4-star prospect, and with the loss of Garry Peters, signing a cornerback is important to this class.

Juwuan Briscoe, a 3-star from Waldorf, Maryland, decommited from the Tigers in November, so the slot is open to sign another guy. The Tigers already have a lockdown cornerback in Mackensie Alexander, so signing another quality defensive back could mean big things for the Tigers secondary down the road.

Fields will be in Clemson this weekend, with his official visit date listed as January 16 on 247Sports. He will then visit Texas on January 23 and LSU on January 30. The Gamecocks, the team he was committed to before, also still remain as a potential school for him to sign with.

 

Denzel Johnson, WR/DB

The 3-star from A. C. Flora High School in Columbia, South Carolina, will also be in Clemson this weekend for a visit. Johnson averaged 19.7 yards per catch this season, and per Brandon Rink of orangeandwhite.com, former Clemson receiver Airese Currie was his position coach at A.C. Flora.

N.C. State is also in the picture for Johnson, and he has a visit set there for January 30. With a young group at wide receiver, signing Johnson isn’t a priority, but he could also play defensive back for the Tigers.

 

Kareem Orr, DB

The 3-star from Chattanooga, Tennessee, has been in contact with Clemson as of late, so he could also be a prospect to keep an eye on. If the Tigers receive a verbal commitment from Fields, they may be unlikely to also sign Orr, but he is a good option to have if Fields decides to go elsewhere.

Per Phil Kornblut for orangeandwhite.com, Orr said he “might visit there,” referring to Clemson. Kornblut also states that Orr expects an Ohio State offer soon, and that was one of his favorite schools growing up.

 

Recruiting information courtesy of Scout.com and 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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Nebraska Football: Huskers DC Mark Banker Has Right Idea for Blackshirts

When Mark Banker became Nebraska's defensive coordinator, he also become the man in charge of the Blackshirts. It's not a task he plans to take lightly, either.

Part of that is getting the tradition back on track.

He said he's heard from former players who want the tradition to return to what it once was, via the Omaha World-Herald's Lee Barfknecht and Rich Kaipust. Banker would like the same.

“I was like, ‘Well, OK, so exactly how was it? What happened to it?’ ” he said.

The history of the Blackshirts dates back to the 1964 season when Bob Devaney was head coach. Hail Varsity's Mike Babcock compiled all of the information known on the tradition for Huskers.com in 2009.

Essentially, the jerseys were an "accident of availability." Intended to distinguish between offense and defense, the black jerseys were purchased at a bargain because they typically didn't sell well.

As one might say, the rest is history.

When Tom Osborne took over, the jerseys were handed out to the top defensive players at the end of preseason practice. That was a departure from what Devaney did, which was to hand out the jerseys before and after each practice.

Osborne's tradition lasted until 2008. That's when Bo Pelini was hired.

"That’s not part of our philosophy," Pelini said, per Huskers.com.

Instead, Pelini felt his team needed to earn the right to wear the black jerseys. This left fans and the media wondering when, and sometimes if, the jerseys would be distributed.

As Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star wrote in 2012, "He makes it clear he wants competition both in preseason camp and during the season."

And for the seven years Pelini was in charge, that's how it was. Banker is ready for that to change.

"If you’re going to carry on a tradition, let’s carry on the tradition and do it the right way, and don’t make a mockery of it," he said, per the Omaha World-Herald.

Is that the right approach? It absolutely is. 

Linebackers coach Trent Bray believes so, too.

"We're going to do all our research to make sure we do it right, because I know that's been an issue around here," Bray said, per Michael Bruntz of Huskers Illustrated. "Alumni have reached out to us and want it done right, so we're going do our research and make sure that when it's done, it's done right."

Bray was clear he didn't want to be disrespectful to any previous staff, but it's obvious what Pelini was doing will not be how Mike Riley's staff does things.

The defensive coaches want to return to the true Blackshirt tradition.

Fans should be excited. Players should be, too.

Earning a black jersey prior to the season establishes a player as a leader. It puts each person wearing one in a position to step up and be a role model.

Plus, it makes the Blackshirt tradition relevant again. Under Pelini, the Omaha World-Herald's Tom Shatel asked a simple question: "Has the Blackshirt tradition ever been less relevant?"

Requiring the players to work for a black jersey might have made it more meaningful, as Shatel pointed out, but it strayed from the tradition.

That's ultimately what it all comes down to: What is the tradition truly worth?

For Riley and his staff, it's worth enough to get back to it.

That's why athletic director Shawn Eichorst hired Riley. His attitude is a nod to the past Nebraska loves. That's why it makes sense his staff wants the tradition to return to what it once was.

In a time of change, this shift toward something familiar is exactly what Nebraska needs. The Blackshirts will still need to be earned—they'll just be hanging in the lockers at the end of preseason practices.

And that's how it should be.

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