NCAA Football News

Why College Conference's Push for Autonomy Is NCAA's Best Option Against Union

As the NCAA fights battles on multiple fronts, the wise move would be to give some ground in order to stop the process that may ultimately lead to the destruction of its empire. The power players, composed of the five biggest conferences, have opened the door for concessions to be made, but it is on the NCAA to open the valve and release the pressure.

The NCAA's long standing course of action has been to dig in its heels, fight against change and dare anyone to contest its policies. Unfortunately for those who believe in the ideals of amateurism and view the NCAA as a positive group, digging in against the courts is more difficult than battling college kids on free tattoos, loans from agents or free shoes.

While the organization battles concussions, the O'Bannon lawsuit and eyeballs the appeal in the Northwestern union case, budging on the small things should take center stage. Especially because those small things align with the union desires, conference desires and would help slow the steady trickle of criticism that is eroding the NCAA's foundation.

Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports obtained a document that highlighted a list of desires. Desires that include lifetime education, more health and nutritional benefits, clearing up red tape surrounding sports agents and redefining what constitutes a scholarship, among other things. Desires that are remarkably pro player, yet do not come from the player side of the equation.

No, the push is still coming from the major conferences. The ACC, SEC, Pac-12, Big 12 and Big Ten are behind this strongly athlete-sided list of desires. The goals mesh with the language conference commissioners have used dating back to the 2013 media-days cycle. Despite being generated from the top down, the policies blend well with the Mission and Goals of the National Collegiate Players Association and the College Athletes Players Association.

NCAA President Mark Emmert has recognized, at times, the need for changes in an evolving landscape. As his organization takes on water from multiple punctures to the system's hull, his efforts to give have been met with grand resistance from the same schools from which the power conferences are pushing to separate. 

The players are asking for it. The conferences are demanding it. Here is a chance for the NCAA to split the difference with its players, providing some relief, while appeasing the most powerful member institutions. In a time where saving face is a must for a group that has been dragged through the mud, action to shift would help relieve some of the pressure.

As smaller factions hold back the NCAA's bigger programs by working against progress under the guise of equity, the NCAA itself is showing weaknesses at the seams. Forcing the agenda through, working to concede ground, in order to save the entity, is a must, and it starts with showing, by agreeing with the conferences, that concessions can certainly be made.

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Oregon Football: Ducks Show Up for Spring with Major Weight Changes

Oregon released an updated list of weights for its players on the morning of its first spring practice Tuesday, highlighted by a couple near-30-pound increases along with some smaller improvements from the Ducks' most important players.

Here is the complete list of notable changes, per Matt Prehm of Duck Territory on the 247Sports network:

Sam Kamp tops the list and jumps off the page for obvious reasons, having added 29 pounds from a season ago. Recruited as a sprightlier 240-pound, 3-star defensive end, Kamp now looks poised to crack the rotation at defensive tackle.

Also standing out is rising sophomore tight end Johnny Mundt, who added 20 pounds to his frame after a breakout freshman year that saw him replace troubled starter Colt Lyerla (who left the team after a cocaine arrest in October) and finish with 16 catches for 281 yards and three touchdowns.

Further but not far down the list lie some of Oregon's top projected contributors in 2014: Junior defensive lineman Arik Armstead gained 17 pounds, sophomore running back Thomas Tyner gained 14 pounds, senior cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu gained 10 pounds and junior wide receiver Bralon Addison gained nine pounds.

The last two players listed above, Ekpre-Olomu and Addison, are arguably the most talented outside-the-numbers players on Oregon's offense and defense, respectively. Though their games are predicated more on speed and agility than power, putting on weight—provided it's the good kind—should help them build on 2013 and hold up better against physical teams (read: Stanford) this season.

Oregon will hold its spring game on Saturday, May 3 at 2:00 p.m. EDT

 

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

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Georgia Football: Evaluating Jacob Park's Spring Performance

Normally, the Georgia Bulldogs have a handful of recruits that enroll early to get a leg up on the competition.

This year it’s different because there is only one early enrollee—quarterback Jacob Park.

With Park already on campus, that meant that he is currently taking part in spring practice. And he’s been doing everything the coaches have asked him when it comes to doing the individual drills as well as the 11-on-11 drills.

But Park got his chance to shine when the Bulldogs took part in the first official scrimmage on Saturday at Sanford Stadium. It was not a very good outing for the true freshman as he completed one of his seven passes for 11 yards. But according to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, head coach Mark Richt said that there were a lot of dropped balls by the receivers and tight ends.

So based on how Park did in the scrimmage, it seems like he’s not having a great spring. But the reality of the situation is it was only one scrimmage and he is still learning the system.

When Park enrolled early, he had to learn the ways of Georgia football and it started with work off the field with the conditioning, specifically matt drills. Park told Gentry Estesof 247 Sports (subscription needed) that he never had that many coaches yelling at him at the same time very early in the morning.

Park told Estes that when he was talking to fellow teammate Brice Ramsey, who enrolled early last season, he said that he would regret it. But Park has no regrets and has gotten adjusted to college life.

Park played high school football in South Carolina and was arguably the best player in the state. 247 Sports listed him as the second best player in South Carolina and the fifth best pro-style quarterback in the country. However, he was never recruited by Clemson and South Carolina.

#UGA early enrollee QB Jacob Park pic.twitter.com/5KPqNMnSC1

— Radi Nabulsi (@RadiNabulsi) March 20, 2014

 

So he made his way to Georgia because he loved the stability with the coaching staff, especially with head coach Mark Richt and Mike Bobo who are both former college quarterbacks themselves.

When he first arrived at Georgia, he did not throw right away because there was tightness in his shoulder. But he was ready to go at the start of spring practice and Estes reported that he is one of the 10 Bulldogs players that have impressed him during the spring season. Estes said Park throws a nice, tight spiral, he’s accurate and he has great footwork.

When it comes to putting a final grade on Park, it has to be an incomplete. He has looked good during the practices, but had a hard time completing passes in the first scrimmage. However, there is still another two weeks of practices left which include the G-Day game. So there’s plenty of time for Park to improve.

And even if Park gets redshirted this season, it’s not a bad thing because that will give him time to learn the offense and work on his craft. Odds are Park won’t see a lot of playing time this season, but if he continues to improve throughout the spring and fall practices, he could be in the running for the No. 1 quarterback spot in 2015.

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Texas Football: Breaking Down Texas' 2014 Early Enrolles

By enrolling early, three Texas Longhorns have given themselves an extra offseason to get a head start on their college careers. In doing so, at least one of them has increased his chances of contributing as a freshman.

Blake Whiteley, Alex Anderson and Andrew Beck are Texas' lone freshmen participants in spring practice. Whiteley is the most anticipated after being rated as the nation's top junior college tight end, while Anderson and Beck each possess the talent to become impact players before their time is up.

By participating in the first offseason under the new regime, each has shown the commitment to advance that timeline.

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Oregon Football: Ducks Will Take Next Step in Year 2 Under Mark Helfrich

A two-year absence from the Pac-12 championship game isn't an eternity, but for Oregon, a team that likes to do things quickly, it's been long enough. 

The last time the Ducks made an appearance? The inaugural conference title in 2011, a 49-31 win over a then-hapless UCLA. For the past two seasons, Stanford has been the gold standard for the Pac-12 North—and the gold standard for the conference, for that matter—by winning the division. 

For Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich, Year 2 in Eugene, Ore., means taking the next step by getting back to the conference championship game after an 11-2 campaign last year. 

Can he do it? Absolutely. 

It starts by addressing some more pressing needs during spring practice—which began on Tuesday—namely in the secondary. Thankfully for the Ducks, even this storyline isn't cause for too much concern. 

Yes, this group loses corner Terrance Mitchell and safeties Avery Patterson and Brian Jackson. However, star corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who tied for second on the team in pass break-ups (six) and interceptions (three), returns.

 

Fellow corners Dior Mathis and Troy Hill have plenty of experience in backup roles, as does safety Erick Dargan. That should bridge some of the concern and make this a matter of reloading rather than rebuilding. 

In that vein, Helfrich believes that he can have a seamless transition with first-year defensive coordinator Don Pellum. A familiar face around the program as the team's linebackers coach, Pellum takes over the entire defense with the retirement of Nick Aliotti. 

“I don’t think I got hired because I’m an Oregon guy, and for the love,” Pellum said via Ryan Thornburn of the Eugene Register-Guard. “I know coach Helfrich sees the right characteristics and right integrity and right discipline … the right things to make this decision.”

The Ducks were among the best defenses in the Pac-12 a year ago, finishing first in the conference against the pass. 

On offense, there's no shortage of playmakers, even with the departures of De'Anthony Thomas and Josh Huff. Quarterback Marcus Mariota should be on preseason Heisman lists after accounting for nearly 4,400 total yards and 40 total touchdowns.

 

He'll have protection, too. The Ducks aren't lacking experience along the offensive line with seniors Jake Fisher, Hroniss Grasu and Hamani Stevens. 

For the most part, the Ducks are a year older and wiser on that side of the ball—and they're looking for payback. 

For the past two years, Stanford's defense has been the difference when it comes to winning the North Division. Oregon has averaged roughly 48 points a season during that span, yet has only averaged 17 points in two loses to the Cardinal. 

2014 could be the year to finally break that trend. Like Oregon, Stanford is breaking in a new defensive coordinator, Lance Anderson, for the departed Derek Mason. Furthermore, the Cardinal lose a lot in the defensive front seven with the departures of defensive ends Ben Gardner and Josh Mauro, and linebackers Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov. 

The final thing to look for with the Ducks is whether this team can reclaim some of the edge it lost down the stretch in 2013.

It's not something that shows up on a stat sheet necessarily, but anyone who watched the 42-16 loss to Arizona saw a more talented team get pushed around. Mariota may have been nursing a knee injury, but that had nothing to do with the Wildcats putting up 304 yards on the ground. 

It was the worst loss for the program since falling to USC 44-10 in 2008. 

If Helfrich really is cut from the same cloth as former head coach Chip Kelly, he'll have Oregon ready to go in 2014. 

With Stanford replacing so much on offense and defense, this year's Pac-12 North belongs to the Ducks. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com

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UCLA Football: Eddie Vanderdoes Suffers Injury, Torian White Kicked off Team

A couple bits of bad news came out of UCLA camp on Tuesday afternoon—one concerning injury, and another concerning disciplinary action. 

Firstly, rising sophomore defensive tackle and former 5-star recruit Eddie Vanderdoes will miss the rest of spring practice with a broken bone in his foot, according to Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times:

Vanderdoes originally committed to Notre Dame, signing to play for the Fighting Irish in February 2013. However, he got cold feet that summer and was released from his national letter of intent to transfer nearer to home and be closer to his family, which led the Auburn, Calif., native to Westwood.

After joining the team late and struggling to find his footing early, Vanderdoes slowly emerged as one of the best players on UCLA's defense and was named to the FWAA Freshman All-America Team.

Now missing his second consecutive spring practice, Vanderdoes will forfeit a great opportunity to improve his technique under defensive line coach Angus McClure. However, provided his foot is healthy by the fall, he has the build and skill to compensate for the lost reps.

Elsewhere, offensive tackle Torian White has been dismissed from the team for an unspecified reason, according to Bruin247:

White started all 14 games at left tackle for the Bruins as a redshirt freshman in 2012 and kept that role for the first four games in 2013 before breaking his ankle against Utah and missing the rest of the season. According to Foster, he was arrested for suspicion of sexual assault in November 2013, though it's currently unclear whether that incident was indeed the cause for his dismissal.

While not entirely unexpected, White's absence hurts the depth of UCLA's offensive line, as he was tentatively being counted on to reassume a starting role if eligible.

With fellow tackle Simon Goines out recovering from a broken leg he suffered before the regular-season finale in late November, the Bruins are now dangerously thin at the position.

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UCLA Football: Bruins Must Combine Toughness and Growth for Championship Goals

UCLA head coach Jim Mora promised Bruins' spring practice, which opens this week, would be "physical" and "demanding," per ESPN.com on Monday. An approach reliant on toughness is no surprise from Mora, but combining it with veteran savvy is central to the Bruins' championship pursuit in 2014. 

Instilling toughness was one of the cornerstones Mora and his staff emphasized upon their arrival at UCLA. It is also the necessary foundation for the Bruins' most anticipated season in years. 

Mora began the process of developing UCLA's collective toughness in 2012 by moving its preseason camp from campus in Westwood, Calif., to San Bernardino, Calif. Mora told Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times in December 2013 that the team will return there this August. 

Preferring a style that's a bit more Junction Boys than Hollywood, Mora transformed UCLA into one of the most aggressive teams in the Pac-12. The Bruins ranked top 10 nationally in both sacks and tackles for loss in 2012. Their output dipped somewhat in 2013, but they remained one of the more aggressive defenses in the conference. 

In 2014, they build the defense around a talented front seven that includes linebackers Eric Kendricks and Myles Jack, as well as linemen Eddie Vanderdoes and recently returned from injury Owamagbe Odighizuwa. 

Those are just a few of the veteran corps returning in 2014 that has national championship buzz swirling around the program. UCLA returns the most starters in the Pac-12 per PhilSteele.com, including quarterback Brett Hundley.

All that experience means familiarity with Mora's style, but the Bruins also need it to translate to more consistent, headier play.  

"We're in the infancy stages of where we want to be," Mora said between the Bruins' trips to Stanford and Oregon last fall, via UCLABruins.com.  

Those two October 2013 dates account for three of the Bruins' losses. The third came against South-division champion Arizona State. 

Not coincidentally, all three finished ahead of the Bruins in the Pac-12 standings. All three also featured more veteran leadership than the Bruins. 

Mora expounded on the challenges of playing a youthful lineup, particularly on the offensive line, where three true freshmen started.  

They have [made] their mistakes. They have their space-outs and mental errors...You're going to see that from young guys. But what's important is...they come out here and work hard every day. We're confident if they keep playing they're going to get better.

The offensive line's maturation is a crucial building block in the effort to cut down on flags. According to NFL.com's Dan Greenspan, the first day of spring practice was a positive step. 

Aggression was no issue; mistakes were. At times, too much aggression compounded those mistakes. The Bruins lost offensive tackle Caleb Benenoch in the first quarter of their rivalry showdown with USC in November 2013.

It was just one incident, but indicative of a larger, overall issue Mora and his staff must iron out in this offseason. UCLA was the most-penalized team in the Pac-12 each of the last two seasons and drew the most flags in the nation in 2012. 

Penalties cost UCLA in its late-season showdown with Arizona State, which was a de facto divisional championship. Though flagged only six times—2.1 below their per-game average—a pair of holding penalties on the Bruins' final possession doomed their rally effort. 

The veteran Sun Devils had successfully combined tenacity as the nation's sixth-most prolific sacking defense but also discipline. They ranked atop the Pac-12 in penalty yards. That combination proved to be a contributing difference between winning a championship and not. 

There's little doubt UCLA will play a brand of hard-nosed football in Mora's third year, and if the Bruins can strike the right balance of physicality and discipline, it could make 2014 a season to remember. 

  

Statistics compiled via CFBStats.com  

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What Alabama Must Pitch to 5-Star DE CeCe Jefferson During Visit

The revolving door of high-profile recruiting guests continues to spin at Alabama this week, as head coach Nick Saban is set to welcome 5-star prospect CeCe Jefferson to Tuscaloosa. 

The ferocious Florida defensive end shared his intentions on Monday afternoon:

Jefferson, a 6'2", 250-pound junior at Baker County Senior High School, emerged as a key target for the Crimson Tide during early phases of the 2015 recruiting cycle. Alabama extended an offer during a team camp held the summer before his sophomore season.

Since then, Jefferson's stock has continued to soar. He holds offers from a lengthy list of programs, including Florida State, Auburn, LSU and Missouri.

Jefferson, rated the nation's No. 1 strong-side defensive end and the No. 7 overall prospect in 247Sports' composite rankings, enjoyed an outstanding junior season. He tallied 68 tackles and 17.5 sacks, per MaxPreps.

His dominance has been on display with 42.5 sacks through three high school seasons. That production keeps college teams in hot pursuit.

Jefferson spent time on campuses at Georgia and Florida last month. He comes from a household that quickly identified the Gators as a favorite.

“If it was up to my parents, I’d be signing with Florida right now," Jefferson told Gainesville Sun reporter Zach Abolverdi last July.

Nearly a year later, the coveted defender isn't in a rush to close the book on his recruitment. Despite a disappointing 2013 season and burgeoning uncertainty surrounding the coaching staff, Florida remains in the mix but is hardly alone.

His upcoming visit to Alabama is the latest step in a journey to find the right collegiate match.

"College is a four-year deal, and it could change your life or it might be miserable if you don’t pick the right place," Jefferson told Saturday Down South in March. "You might as well enjoy (the recruiting process) and take your time and find the best fit for you. That’s my take on it.”

The Crimson Tide hope to convince him that fit can be found in Tuscaloosa. 

Alabama isn't clamoring for talent at any position after filling the roster with four straight No. 1 recruiting classes. Still, even the Tide would have a hard time keeping Jefferson off the field in 2015.

His versatility can open the door for Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart to design schemes that allow for Jefferson to start plays with his hand in the dirt or in a standing position.

"I can help you at multiple positions,” Jefferson told Saturday Down South. “They could label me as an ‘athlete’ instead of just defensive end, and I’d take that as a compliment, you know?"

And that's exactly how Alabama should address his potential role with the program. Prospects appreciate possibilities more than pigeonholes.

Many players are promised an opportunity to compete at various positions, but their fate is sealed long before they set foot on campus as an enrolled student. Given Jefferson's skill set, the Tide are likely encouraged to use an imaginative approach while implementing him within a star-studded defensive unit.

Saban can certainly stress the importance of playing alongside other elite athletes.

Alabama already landed a commitment from 5-star Georgia defensive end Mekhi Brown, but he complements what Jefferson brings to the field. The 6'6", 230-pound prospect is better suited for a career on the weak side, though he too possesses excellent range beyond the line of scrimmage.

The two have already addressed the possibility of teaming up in Tuscaloosa. Lofty expectations would undoubtedly be in place:

The Tide also hold a commitment from dominant 4-star defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter, who is viewed as another potential instant-impact performer. If Jefferson is looking to earn his way onto the field, few programs compare to Alabama.

He would also contend with members of the team's 2014 recruiting class for multiple seasons.

Standout junior college defensive end D.J. Pettway is already on campus, while 5-star edge-rushers Da'Shawn Hand and Christian Miller arrive this summer. As usual, there's a surplus of stars in the Tide's trenches.

Jefferson shouldn't have any doubt about the team's ambitions with him. The early offer, combined with multiple visits from Saban and Smart tell the story.

Alabama presents an opportunity to compete against the best before your first collegiate football game kicks off. Practice performances ultimately determine who develops as the next star players in crimson and white.

Those who can't keep up fall by the wayside, relegated to reserve duties.

Jefferson has warranted a top ranking with his efforts and growth in high school. A commitment to Alabama would further signal that he has the confidence to live up to that lofty praise by beating out some of his most impressive contemporaries for playing time.

That's the challenge Saban stands to reiterate this week, as Jefferson takes a close look at yet another potential destination.

 

Recruit rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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Auburn Football: Tigers' Run Game Won't Miss Tre Mason

It's fair to say that Gus Malzahn's first year as head coach of the Auburn Tigers was a success. All he did was turn a three-win team into the SEC champions and come within 13 seconds of winning the BCS National Championship.

Statistically, the turnaround was also staggering. The Tigers gained just 305 yards per game in 2012, but Malzahn's offense in 2013 gained 501.3 yards per game—the second-highest mark in the SEC.

A big reason for that offensive turnaround was running back Tre Mason, who rushed for 1,816 yards, 23 touchdowns and was invited to New York City after the regular season as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

Since Mason jumped early to the NFL, Auburn's running game will struggle, right?

Wrong.

Auburn's running game won't miss a beat without Mason in the backfield, and here's why.

 

Loads of Talent

Tre Mason was awesome last season and when he rushed for 1,002 yards in that ill-fated 2012 season when everybody on the planet knew not only that Mason was getting the ball, but where the play was going.

But he wasn't the only running back on campus. 

Cameron Artis-Payne was "1B" to Mason's "1A" for the early part of the 2013 season, before Mason got hot and put the Tigers on his back. Artis-Payne, now a senior, rushed for 610 yards and six touchdowns last year, including 100-yard games versus Arkansas State and Western Carolina. 

Artis-Payne said last week that he could put up similar numbers, given the opportunity.

"I definitely feel like with those carries that I could do something similar," he said according to AuburnTigers.com. "I could put up those types of numbers."

He could, but he has plenty of competition.

Corey Grant was used primarily as the changeup/outside-the-tackles back last year. After rushing for 647 yards and six touchdowns for a whopping 9.8 yards per carry average, he's almost assured of that same role again in 2014. But the 5'11", 203-pound senior wants more, according to AL.com's Joel A. Erickson.

"That’s one thing I do want to do, establish myself, because you know it’s a question if I can run between the tackles," he said. "I want to get that established throughout spring and going into the fall."

Whether he takes over some of those inside carries or stays outside, Grant's ability to hit the home run will still be a big part of the Auburn rushing attack.

Behind the two veterans, 5'11", 225-pound redshirt freshman Peyton Barber has the build to be Tre Mason 2.0, and 5-star signee "Roc" Thomas will join the mix for fall camp.

The crowded backfield is a rich man's problem. Malzahn was comfortable letting Mason emerge as the star during the 2013 season, and he'll likely follow the same path with this talented group of running backs in 2014.

 

Malzahn's Track Record

In Malzahn's eight seasons as either a college assistant or head coach, he has produced at least one 1,000-yard rusher in every season and his offenses have produced 11 total 1,000-yard rushers.

Let that sink in for a second. 

Regardless of the school, the talent he had on the roster or the hand he was dealt coming in, he finds ways to make things happen on the ground at an elite-level consistently, without exception. Malzahn's scheme is the most important part of Auburn's running game, not the specific running back.

That's not to say Mason isn't a phenomenal running back. He is. You don't rush for 164 against Alabama's defense—which finished with the SEC's best rush defense (106.23 YPG), follow it up with 304 in the SEC Championship Game versus Missouri and then break off 195 against Florida State in the BCS National Championship Game without being talented. 

Plus, two of the three pieces of the puzzle are already put together. 

Quarterback Nick Marshall rushed for 1,068 yards and 12 touchdowns last season and is back to lead that dangerous read-option attack. Grant will, at the very least, play the same role he did last season on the edge. All Malzahn has to do is find the final piece of the puzzle to complete the running game picture. 

His track record suggests that won't be much of a challenge.

 

 

Opening Things Up

Whether Auburn was one-dimensional by choice or necessity last season, it was one-dimensional and it didn't really matter.

The Tigers wore down defenses with that diverse running game led by Marshall and Mason, and then, when the time was right and defenses stacked the box, they took the top off of them in the passing game.

But what if Marshall takes the next step and progresses as a passer?

He was only the starter for two-and-a-half weeks heading into last season, but still managed to complete 59.4 percent of his passes (142-of-239) for 1,976 yards and 14 touchdowns. Now he has all offseason to work with the coaching staff to become more efficient in the passing game. The goal, according to offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee (via Brandon Marcello of AL.com), is for Marshall to complete 65 percent to 70 percent of his passes this season.

If he meets that goal, that means opposing linebackers and defensive backs will have to respect the passing game a bit more and won't creep up into the box as much to stop the run. That means more room for Marshall and all the running backs in the running game.

Don't focus on the absence of Mason.

Sure, he is a tremendous running back with a bright future in the NFL. But Auburn has the pieces, starting with head coach Gus Malzahn, to withstand the loss.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports and all statistics are courtesy of www.sports-reference.com.

 


 

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Texas A&M Recruiting: Did Kevin Sumlin Land the Next Michael Oher?

Kevin Sumlin and the Texas A&M football coaches landed their first commitment for the 2016 recruiting class and it was a big one, both literally and figuratively. In Patrick Hudson, the Aggies have landed the physical reincarnation of Michael Oher. 

Hudson gave a verbal pledge to Sumlin and the Aggies during the Friday Night Lights recruiting event on March 28. He is a 6'6", 320-pound offensive tackle from Silsbee, Texas. 

Hudson is the most physically impressive offensive lineman in the state of Texas and is only a sophomore. Players with his frame and athleticism do not come around very often. 

Oher gained national fame after being chronicled in Michael Lewis' book The Blind Side and the subsequent movie with the same title. He was adopted by a wealthy family and developed into a star on the football field. Oher was a blue-chip offensive tackle recruit who went on to star at Ole Miss and became a first-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens.

Like Oher, Hudson is a physical freak of nature. Athletes of that size who can move around that effortlessly are rare even in the NFL. Hudson is the type of athlete who can project into an NFL offensive lineman at 16 years of age. 

Recruiting is not a science, but Hudson has the type of athleticism where something would have to go terribly wrong for him to not end up in the NFL. There are no recruiting rankings out yet for 2016, but Hudson will likely rank as the top offensive tackle in Texas and the nation. 

In Hudson, the Aggies have their future right or left tackle. If needed, he could even move inside to guard. With limited experience in pass protection right now, he looks like a future right tackle. 

Hudson is a road-grader in the running game. When Oher was in high school he once blocked a player off of the field and into a fence that surrounded the field. This incident was featured prominently in the Disney movie about Oher. 

A lot of the highlights from Hudson's sophomore season resemble that movie scene. He was quite simply the most dominant run-blocker in the state of Texas as a sophomore in high school. 

In addition to his prowess on the football field, Hudson is an accomplished power lifter. He finished third in his division at the state meet in 2014 with a three-lift total of 1,690 pounds. His best lifts for the year were 640 pounds in the squat, 425 pounds in the bench press and a dead lift of 625 pounds. Those are exceptional numbers for a sophomore in high school.

Sumlin started off the Aggies' 2016 class with a bang. They added possibly the top-ranked recruit in the class and a future NFL player in Hudson. He should be an anchor for the Aggies' offensive line for years to come.  

 

 

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Which Big Ten Team Stands the Best Chance Against SEC Contenders?

At the dawn of the College Football Playoff era, the once-dominant but currently meh Big Ten is hoping for a swift turnaround and return to its former football glory.

In order to get there, it will need to prove it can compete against the best. And though the national title resides with Florida State in the ACC, and the Pac-12 could make a compelling case for the distinction, it is still widely accepted—and, in my opinion, correct—to say the SEC is the strongest conference in the country.

In order to beat the best of the SEC, a team must be able to match its physicality—especially in the trenches but also in the second level (where linebackers meet fullbacks and guards) and on the outside (where cornerbacks meet receivers). This size and strength necessity eliminates from the discussion a minority of teams in the Big Ten, leaving a smaller but predictable group of contenders at the top.

Michigan State sticks out from that list as the most "SEC-style" team, in large part thanks to the culture established by head coach Mark Dantonio and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi.

The Spartans even beat Georgia, 33-30, in the Outback Bowl three seasons ago, although they also lost by 42 points to Alabama in the same game the previous year.

This current MSU team is more of a legitimate defensive force but not by much. Those old MSU teams were also quite good defensively and even better than the current team on offense. Which brings us to the second vital quality for a team that can beat an SEC contender—and the reason Michigan State, the defending conference champion, is not the horse I will choose to back in this race.

Ball control.

Even with its steady improvement at the end of last season, Michigan State finished No. 43 in Football Outsiders' offensive F/+ ratings.

When it appeared to have turned a corner for the first time during the middle of conference play, MSU regressed and put up 14 points and averaged 4.39 yards per play in a fair-weather game against Purdue.

Yuck.

You can't beat an SEC team without an offense that is capable of consistently moving the chains. A three-and-out is death-dealing against an SEC offense, because it puts the defense back on the field with minimal rest. And as every Big Ten team would be at least slightly overmatched in the trenches against Auburn, Alabama or LSU's offensive lines, a tired defense would likely be a doomed one.

As good as Sparty looked on offense against Stanford, that sample was just one game. Over the course of the past few seasons—the more adequate sample—two Big Ten offenses from the table above have stood out with capable-enough defenses behind them to boot.

Wisconsin and Ohio State are both traditionally good programs with NFL talent along the lines and offensive systems that could give an SEC team trouble. The recent history of pitting them against SEC foes is unfavorable—Wisconsin having lost most recently against South Carolina in the 2014 Outback Bowl—but the Badgers will get a shot for revenge against LSU in Arlington during the first week of next season.

If forced to choose between the two, I would ignore Ohio State's recent program history against the SEC—see: the 2007 and 2008 BCS National Championship Games—and focus instead on the new era of Buckeyes football before us. Specifically, I would focus on the presence of head coach Urban Meyer.

From 2005-2010, Meyer led the Florida Gators, one of the SEC's own, to a 65-15 record, three 13-win seasons and two national titles. He once hung 51 points on a Les Miles-John Chavis LSU defense and beat Alabama in the conference championship in the same year. He knows the conference from the inside and is well-versed at how to beat it.

Meyer admitted the SEC's dominance in a recent interview with Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com, but he lauded the league for its parity more than its top-heaviness.

"The SEC is so unique because there are just so many," said Meyer, who does think some other conferences are (slowly) gaining ground. "I don't know if you'll ever catch them top to bottom. The talent down there—there are so many players."

Meyer's claims are undoubtedly true—Ole Miss finished sixth in the SEC West, for example, and might have contended for a league title in the Big 12 and ACC—but he knows that the gap has closed between the Alabamas of the world and the Ohio States. Having slain each SEC blue blood at least once and recruited just as well in Columbus as he did in Gainesville, why shouldn't he beat the best?

To go with Meyer's scheme, the Buckeyes have a senior QB in Braxton Miller who is capable of keeping the chains moving with his arm and his feet.

On the other side of the ball, a defensive line with Joey Bosa and Noah Spence could give any offensive line, even that of Auburn, headaches for 60 full minutes.

The Buckeyes secondary is a weakness, but this might be the year that they can mask that against the powers of the SEC. Almost every contender is breaking in a new quarterback, and the primary one that isn't (Auburn) trots out a converted defensive back at QB and had 11 or less completions in eight different games last season.

I'm not sure I would pick any Big Ten team to compete against the best SEC teams next season. I'm not sure I would pick only one. That's the beauty of talking college football in April: Anything can still reasonably happen. Especially at the start of an important new era, we can tear up the record books and look straightaway toward the future.

Will the Big Ten become a national contender in the first few years of the College Football Playoff? Your guess is as good as mine.

If it does, though, Ohio State should be the team at the vanguard.

 

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UW's Damore'ea Stringfellow Reportedly Will Be Charged with Misdemeanor Assault

Washington wide receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow is expected to face charges of misdemeanor assault and malicious mischief in connection with two separate incidents on the night of the Super Bowl.

Adam Jude of The Seattle Times reports Stringfellow was identified as the suspect by a woman who was struck and had her camera damaged during a melee near campus as well as a man who was assaulted after telling two men he was a Seattle Seahawks fan.   

The report also notes quarterback Cyler Miles is not expected to face charges after being previously linked to the situation. Official word from prosecutors is expected soon as both players remain suspended from the team, per Jude:

The prosecutor's office released a statement on Monday evening saying that an announcement would be made "shortly."

Both players remained suspended from the team as of late Monday afternoon, with the Huskies set to resume spring practices Tuesday morning.

The female victim told police that a male "had attempted to rip a video camera from her hands and then knocked her out." The extent of the damage done to a camera lens and the cost to replace it will decide the level of the malicious mischief charge, according to the report.

It also notes the second victim replied "something like, 'Yeah of course, are you Broncos fans?'" when the two men asked him if he was a Seahawks supporter. The man who was assaulted worked with a friend to identify the attacker based on roster photos for the Huskies.

Washington has not provided an update on the suspensions based on the information.

Stringfellow showed promise as a freshman. He caught 20 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown while playing a rotational role in the offense. A bigger role was likely on the horizon next season following multiple departures in the passing game.

Now his status is very much up in the air as the legal process runs its course. The last comments on the matter came from new head coach Chris Petersen in early March. Jude provided his brief remarks: "I have nothing new to report on that. We’ll just let that play out and see how it goes."

If the report is accurate and charges are filed in the near future, the next step in the process for Stringfellow should then become available.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Why the Pac-12 Will Get 2 Teams in the Inaugural College Football Playoff

The attention of the college football world has centered on the southeast part of the country for the better part of a decade. Come 2014, there's one conference that could be poised to take some of that attention away—the Pac-12. 

With the start of the College Football Playoff era, changes are afoot, so why not change the balance of power along with it? After all, everything is cyclical in the world of college football.

No one stays on top forever, and that's where the Pac-12 is poised to take advantage. 

The conference has been building its credibility back up over the past few years, and when it comes time to announce the four teams meeting in the inaugural College Football Playoff, it could be in a very strong position.

So strong that the Pac-12 could make up half of the teams announced at the end of the conference championship games.

It may be a bold statement, but there are some things that work in favor of the Pac-12 getting two teams into the inaugural College Football Playoff. 

 

Bye-Bye, East Coast Bias

A Top 25 ranking won't mean as much as it used to in the BCS system. Since the College Football Playoff will have its own Top 16 going on periodically throughout the year, the old polls will have little to no importance other than for argument's sake.

The fact is, college football fans and Americans in general like to rank things. It's what we know and love, and in college football, the higher the ranking to start the season, the better visibility you receive in the press. 

In this new era, having early visibility will help, but it will be the opinions of the 13 members of the selection committee that matter most. The challenge facing those 13 committee members may be to tune all the chatter out and focus on what they see in front of them. 

That's where the Pac-12 has an advantage—it could get the best of both scenarios.

On the one hand, schools like Oregon, Stanford and UCLA are likely to be pretty high in the Top 25 polls, giving the early visibility needed.

On the other hand, the Pac-12 won't have to worry about pollsters having to submit ballots quickly after games are completed on a weekly basis. Instead, the committee will get to see as much football as they can handle before coming out with their own periodic polls. 

The so-called "East Coast bias" of poll voters is all but guaranteed to be gone thanks to those two factors, and that's to the Pac-12's advantage.

 

Teams With a BCS History

Yes, technically there has never been a BCS National champion from the Pac-12 (USC was forced to vacate the 2004 title), but it doesn't mean the conference hasn't had a lot of history in the old system. 

While the new system has a different name and format, the people running the show are exactly the same. Getting multiple teams into the BCS on a pretty regular basis makes the Pac-12 a pretty familiar place for the College Football Playoff selection committee to go to. 

Two Pac-12 teams made BCS bowl game appearances in three of the past five years, but they were the same two teams—Oregon and Stanford. 

The good news there is that both of them stand poised to be at the top of the Pac-12 North once again this season. 

On the other side of things, UCLA continued its rise toward prominence in 2013, and USC is coming off probation. All four of those teams have BCS bowl game history behind them, and that lends to credibility. 

The only issue is a 4-4 record by the Pac-12 in the last five years. Yet on the whole, the Pac-12 was 13-8 overall in the BCS era—which was second best of any power conference during that time.

It's those kind of results that will help show the Pac-12 can be a real threat to dominate the College Football Playoff.

 

Quarterbacks Win Championships

How do teams win a national title? Usually, it's good defense combined with a breakout quarterback performance. Whether it was Tim Tebow at Florida, Cam Netwon at Auburn or Jameis Winston at Florida State, they all were major reasons in helping their respective teams hoist the crystal ball trophy as champions. 

This season, there's no conference more loaded at the quarterback position than the Pac-12. A look at the returning quarterbacks reads like a who's who of the position nationally. 

Taylor Kelly (Arizona State), Marcus Mariota (Oregon), Sean Mannion (Oregon State), Kevin Hogan (Stanford) and Brett Hundley (UCLA) are all well-known names in college football. 

All of them also happen to be Heisman Trophy hopefuls, and that's not to mention names like Jared Goff (Cal) and Connor Halliday (Washington), both of whom play in offenses that are designed to make a quarterback shine. 

No matter who wins the Pac-12 title, there will be a nationally recognized name at the helm of that team's offense. 

As for getting the second team in to the College Football Playoff, it won't hurt to know that there will be a very capable quarterback leading any one of the contenders in the conference. 

 

All About the Schedules

While there are marquee matchups across the country, there isn't a conference with a tougher set of tests for its teams than the Pac-12. 

Even if you take the annual contests between Notre Dame and USC and Stanford out of the equation, there is plenty to like about the 2014 schedule in the Pac-12. 

Arizona State faces Notre Dame in Tempe, Oregon hosts Michigan State, USC hosts Fresno State and pays a visit to Boston College and UCLA has to visit Virginia and host Texas.

In conference play, there are cross-divisional matchups like UCLA vs. Oregon, USC vs. Oregon State, Arizona State vs. Stanford and Oregon vs. Arizona. 

By the time everything is settled in the Pac-12 title race, there will be a pretty clear picture of where everyone stands—not just in the conference, but nationally as well. 

Should the Pac-12 get a second team into the College Football Playoff, it will have had a lot to do with the strength of the schedules of its two contenders. Few other conferences can boast the schedules these teams will play, and that will make a huge difference down the stretch. 

All of these factors add up to a conference with a very good chance to put two teams in to the inaugural College Football Playoff. Now it's on the teams to navigate the season, with a few teams rising to the top to make it a reality. 

 

Andy Coppens is a national college football featured columnist. You can follow him on Twitter: @ AndyOnCFB

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Which Team in Cordell Broadus' Top 5 Is Best Fit for 4-Star WR?

Wide receiver Cordell Broadus has captured plenty of national headlines throughout his recruiting process due to a combination of football skills and family background. The 4-star prospect and son of superstar rapper Snoop Dogg is in the news again after telling Rivals.com reporter Adam Gorney (subscription required) he's assembled a list of his five favorite programs.

Broadus, rated No. 7 nationally among receivers in 247Sports' composite ratings, revealed USC, Notre Dame, Florida State, UCLA and Oregon State as squads that stand above the rest. The 6'2", 195-pound prospect left several notable offers out of his preferred mix, including Cal, LSU, Tennessee and Baylor.

He is set to hit a crucial stretch of his widespread recruitment while acclimating to new surroundings. He recently transferred from Diamond Bar High School in Los Angeles County to Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman.

His high school career will conclude with a program that perennially contends for state titles and appears in national rankings. Broadus joins forces with Aliz'e Jones, the country's top-ranked tight end, to form a feared aerial attack.

He caught 60 passes for 685 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior.

Now that Broadus has begun to trim down his collegiate options, we focus on the five teams that sit atop his list to examine which situation is the best fit for the son of a hip-hop icon.

 

USC

Let's get this fact out in the open: Snoop Dogg ranks among the Trojans' most recognizable fans.

Will Ferrell may give him a run for his money, but it's close.

With that said, there's been no public indication that he is pushing his son toward USC. It's also important to note that teenagers often do the opposite of what their parents desire, and we see that sentiment reinforced during every recruiting cycle.

The Trojans are in better standing with Broadus than they were last year. His outlook began to change when head coach Lane Kiffin was fired in September, which he explained to 247Sports at the time.

“I feel that he should have been fired a while ago," Broadus said. "USC is going to raise the bar now because the new coaching staff next year and I’m anxious to see what they are going to look like.”

The Trojans finished 2013 in impressive fashion, rebounding from a disheartening start. Since the hiring of former Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian, recruiting efforts have also been on the upswing.

California quarterback Ricky Town became the centerpiece of USC's 2015 class in January, when he flipped his commitment from Alabama. The 5-star prospect is rated the nation's No. 2 passer in 247Sports' composite rankings (we'll discuss No. 1 in a bit).

The Trojans already feature a quality corps of quarterbacks, but Town is capable of competing for the starting job as a freshman. USC aims to add top-tier recruits at offensive skill positions, where the team has suffered an erosion of talent level while coping with scholarship sanctions.

Sarkisian landed 5-star athlete John Smith on signing day, who will likely be given an opportunity to immediately contribute at receiver, a position on the Trojans with plenty of unknown commodities. Broadus would also have an excellent chance to crack the lineup early if he pairs up with Town at USC.

 

Florida State

When it comes to "cool factor," the Seminoles take the cake in recruiting. Florida State is fresh off an undefeated season, features the most familiar player in college football and sends several standouts into the upcoming NFL draft.

The Seminoles are set to lose more offensive talent following the 2014 season, with Jameis Winston among the candidates who are expected leave campus early. However, help is already on the way to replenish head coach Jimbo Fisher's roster.

Florida State welcomes outstanding reinforcements at receiver this summer.

The Seminoles signed 5-star speedster Ermon Lane in February despite his lengthy commitment to Florida. Travis Rudolph, a 4-star receiver, will also arrive in Tallahassee for the upcoming campaign.

Both pass targets are rated among the top six receivers in the 2014 class, per 247Sports' composite rankings. Broadus would add even more balance to Florida State's passing game, but reps might not be as plentiful with the Seminoles than they will be with other squads.

It remains to be seen if Florida State has a true star prospect positioned behind Winston to take over when the Heisman Trophy winner departs. The Seminoles secured a 2015 commitment from 3-star Jacksonville quarterback De'Andre Johnson before his sophomore season, but other teams on Broadus' list have young passers who are held in higher regard.

 

UCLA

The Bruins present another opportunity for Broadus to pair up with one of America's premier passers for multiple seasons. UCLA landed 5-star Southern California quarterback Josh Rosen last month, which strengthens Jim Mora's sales pitch with every offensive recruiting target.

Broadus quickly took notice of the Bruins' big acquisition. He has personal history with the nation's top-ranked quarterback.

"It’s really big...Me and Josh have known each other since eighth grade and that’s a lot of chemistry right there," Broadus told Rivals.com. "As great of a player as Josh Rosen is I can complement his game and coming in there as his No. 1 receiver that could be big."

Head coach Jim Mora will attempt to capitalize on that chemistry and create a scary scenario for Pac-12 defensive backs in coming years. However, Rosen isn't Broadus' only connection to UCLA's 2015 class.

In his senior season, he will run routes alongside Bruins tight end commit Aliz'e Jones, who could convince him to pair up again at the next level.

 

Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish also feature an impressive California quarterback commit. Corona native Blake Barnett, rated No. 3 nationally among pro-style passers in 247Sports' composite rankings, pledged to head coach Brian Kelly last fall.

Broadus picked up an offer from Notre Dame in October, which provided another news-worthy moment in his high-profile recruitment. The program has a proud tradition at receiver in recent years, with plenty of current NFL pass-catchers to prove it.

Notre Dame added a commitment from 3-star Texas receiver Jalen Guyton last weekend and should look to add at least another two players at the position before signing day. Broadus has the makings of a possession receiver for the Fighting Irish, with the abilities to develop into a red-zone mainstay.

Though it may not play a role in his decision, he must consider the climate change that would await him in South Bend. Long winters can be a culture shock for recruits from consistently warm regions, and any element of campus lifestyle may emerge as a factor in his decision.

 

Oregon State

The Beavers round out Broadus' preferred Pac-12 programs. Oregon State isn't on the national stage nearly as often as the other four teams on this list, but perhaps that doesn't matter for a young man who spent his entire childhood in the limelight.

The team features an explosive offensive attack that produced at a high level through the air last season. Junior Brandin Cooks caught 128 passes for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns before entering the NFL draft.

Broadus' presence is in high demand at Oregon State, which is in need of depth and top-level talent at receiver. The team added a trio of 3-star prospects at the position on signing day, but none is in the mold of a playmaker like Broadus.

The Beavers' best selling point is a strong promise of early playing time. Still, it's hard to see Broadus competing in the Pac-12 for a college outside of California.

 

Verdict

It comes down to another turf war between USC and UCLA. Both programs appear to have outstanding offensive prospects for the future with elite quarterbacks orchestrating the attack.

Broadus grew up in an area where both the Bruins and Trojans are adored. His decision may come down to established personal relationships with those involved.

USC's coaching change helped the team gain ground in this race, but Mora was involved with the recruitment as early as Kiffin's staff. It would also be unwise to overlook Broadus' connection with members of the current UCLA class.

Rosen is a player he obviously respects and views in high regard, while Jones is now a high school teammate. The prospect of hooking up with those two for years to come pushes UCLA to the forefront as a favorite to sign Broadus.

 

Recruit rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

5-Star WR Christian Kirk Labeled as Next Percy Harvin

2015 5-Star wide receiver Christian Kirk is one of the top prospects in his class. The 5'11", 197-pound athlete has great speed and spectacular hands. Kirk is being courted by most of the top programs in the country but has not yet made a decision about where he will be playing his college football.

Bleacher Report went one-on-one with the star WR, who talked Percy Harvin, his favorite play from high school so far and how he likes to celebrate his touchdowns.

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

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Michigan QB Battle: Shane Morris Will Start over Devin Gardner

The Michigan Wolverines struggled last season, finishing with a 7-6 record and a 31-14 loss to Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

Senior QB Devin Gardner threw for almost 3,000 yards last season but also tallied 11 interceptions.

Sophomore QB Shane Morris was one of the top prospects at his position coming out of high school and showed signs of his potential last season.

Bleacher Report's Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee break down what to expect from the Wolverine QB battle heading into the fall, and Sallee explains why Morris will be the man for the job.

Highlights courtesy of xosdigital.com.

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Don't Expect the Rest of the SEC to Follow LSU's Lead in Scheduling Pac-12 Teams

You have to hand it to LSU. With the University of the Incarnate Word apparently booked for all future dates, the Tigers have done the next best thing scheduling-wise.  

Monday afternoon, the university announced on its website that it has added a pair of home-and-home series with Pac-12 members Arizona State and UCLA. The Tigers are scheduled to travel to Tempe in 2022 before hosting the Sun Devils the following year. Likewise, LSU is scheduled to travel to Los Angeles in 2021 and host the Bruins in 2024.

Of course, both of these series are a long way off. For all anyone knows, Tiger coach Les Miles may have finally kicked his grass-eating habit by then. 

Still, these are the kind of matchups fans enjoy, and theoretically, the College Football Playoff selection committee will take into account when drafting the four-team postseason field. 

It would be all kinds of fun if more SEC teams scheduled either home-and-home or neutral site series with Pac-12 opponents. College football doesn't see it nearly enough in either the regular season or the postseason, as B/R's Barrett Sallee tweets. 

In 2013, it was clear the Pac-12 was the second-best conference in college football behind the SEC, if it hadn't closed the gap entirely. 

But what are the odds of the rest of the SEC following LSU's lead by scheduling Pac-12 teams? Not great, in all likelihood. 

Like LSU, there are other future series that are a long way off. Texas A&M has a home-and-home against Oregon scheduled in 2018 and '19; Tennessee is scheduled to play USC in 2021 and '22 at sites to be determined. Furthermore, there have been isolated series with Pac-12 teams in the past. 

Beyond that, though, there are a few obstacles for a "Pac-12-SEC challenge" of sorts to exist. 

The first is the upcoming SEC Network. As Sallee pointed out earlier this month, that likely spells the start of a nine-game conference schedule in the not-too-distant future. With the ever-growing demand for quality inventory, money is going to take precedence over the traditional line of thinking, which is set on having eight conference games. 

Along those lines, ESPN.com's Heather Dinich reported in February that the ACC was looking into an "8+1" scheduling partnership with the SEC. However, the legs for that concept have yet to fully grow. 

SEC commissioner Mike Slive told ESPN.com through a spokesman that his conference wants to create a scheduling format to take effect in 2016, but no details have been finalized.

"Achieving that objective involves exploring as many options as possible, which we are currently doing," Slive said. "Anything more is pure speculation."

Scheduling games with the ACC makes sense as four SEC teams—Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and South Carolina—have long-standing rivals there. Additionally, one can only hold out hope Texas A&M will eventually have Texas back on its schedule. 

All of this makes it more difficult for the Pac-12 to find its way onto more SEC schedules, whether through a conference-to-conference agreement or on a per-school basis.

Even though the ACC-SEC concept is far from finalized, there are at least discussions. The same thing can't be said about the SEC and Pac-12. 

And no one wants to over-schedule. Finding balance in scheduling is difficult. While it's important to have at least one quality non-conference opponent per year, no one wants to schedule their way out of a playoff spot, for example. 

There may be some interesting Pac-12-SEC games in future playoffs, but for the time being, that's about it. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All scheduling information courtesy of fbschedules.com

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Alabama's Derrick Henry Will Be No. 1 RB Next Season

Alabama has had exceptional talent at the running back position in recent years, and this year will be no different.

Junior RB T.J. Yeldon received the majority of the carries last season, but don't expect the same going forward.

Sophomore RB Derrick Henry showed signs of brilliance last year, especially in the Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma. Henry is a man-beast and reminds many of a young Eddie Lacy.

Bleacher Report's Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee weigh in on what to expect from the Crimson Tide backfield next season.

Watch the video to learn why Sallee predicts Henry will be the No. 1 RB to start next season and what kind of stats Henry and Yeldon will put up for Alabama next fall.

Highlights courtesy of xosdigital.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas A&M Football: Why Kyle Allen Will Win Aggies' Starting QB Job

The race to replace Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel took a detour over the weekend when Sam Kahn Jr. of ESPN.com reported that rising sophomore Kenny Hill was arrested for public intoxication and suspended indefinitely.

Hill passed for 183 yards, rushed for 37 yards and tossed one touchdown pass in mop-up duty behind Manziel last season. He is competing with senior Matt Joeckel and true freshman early enrollee Kyle Allen for the starting quarterback job in College Station this spring.

According to Gabe Bock of TexAgs.com, head coach Kevin Sumlin commented on what Hill's absence does to the quarterback race Monday afternoon:

Sumlin said that Kenny Hill being suspended and not practicing (obviously) has an affect on his ability to compete for the starting QB job.

— Gabe Bock (@GabeBock) April 1, 2014

In Bleacher Report's updated position battle tracker, Michael Taglienti noted that it was essentially a two-man race between Hill and Allen. Hill's absence now means his reps will be divvied up between Joeckel and Allen, which is huge news if your money is on Allen winning the job.

All three contenders have desirable attributes for Sumlin.

Joeckel is the veteran with the most experience, Allen is the hot-shot gunslinger who can throw the ball around the field and Hill is the dual threat who could keep the scheme as similar as possible to the one Sumlin was successful with while Manziel was taking the snaps.

Now, for the last week of spring practice, that spread element is gone. That means the offense is going to veer a little bit more towards the strengths of both Allen and Joeckel as spring practice winds down, which means more opportunity for the offense to come to Allen as he adjusts to the offense.

Ultimately, it's what could win him the job.

Not only are those reps valuable to his acclimation to college life, the weapons in that offense—including running backs Trey Williams, Tra Carson and Brandon Williams as well as wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones—will be forced to make a transition of their own.

With spring practice coming to a close this weekend, an offense that's suited for the strengths of Joeckel and Allen will be fresh in the minds of the entire offense as the Aggies hit the summer conditioning session.

There's a lot to like about what Allen—who was the top-ranked pocket passer in the 2014 recruiting class—brings to the table.

The 6'3", 205-pounder from Scottsdale, Ariz., has a big arm, is accurate on both short and deep routes, and has tremendous pocket presence.

Does he have the legs of Manziel? No, but he's mobile enough to extend plays behind the line of scrimmage and doesn't lose accuracy when he makes throws on the run.

Hill's arrest and suspension open the door for Allen to make a big-time statement in the race to replace Manziel during the final week of spring practice. Expect Allen to waltz on through that door and win the job early in fall camp.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.com and all college statistics are courtesy of CFBStats.com.

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Florida State Football: RB Ryan Green to Miss Rest of Spring with Injury

Florida State has lost another former blue-chip recruit and projected contributor at running back for the rest of spring practice, as Jimbo Fisher announced Monday that Ryan Green will miss the rest of camp with a shoulder injury.

Per Jared Shanker of ESPN.com:

Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher announced Monday sophomore running back Ryan Green will miss the remainder of the spring with a shoulder injury. Green, seen with his right arm in a sling at Monday's scrimmage, had surgery the shoulder within the last week. Fisher did not disclose what specifically Green injured, electing to just call it a shoulder injury.

Green joins 5-star early enrollee Dalvin Cook Jr. on the injury report for the rest of spring practice. Cook, who was competing with Green and Mario Pender for snaps behind presumed starter Karlos Williams, also hurt his shoulder in camp in a freak accident on the stairs in the team's workout facility.

With Green and Cook now gone, the rest of spring practice becomes imperative for Pender, who has a chance to stake his claim for the No. 2 running back role. He, Green and Cook were all top-50 recruits on the 247Sports composite coming out of high school, and each is capable of developing into a quality backup at the very least.

Green, though, is the most experienced option of the trio, having rushed for 163 yards on 33 carries as a true freshman in 2013. Playing behind Devonta Freeman, Williams and James Wilder Jr., he found his way onto the field in mostly a garbage-time capacity but made his presence known with agility and quick feet.

"Ryan Green has tremendous upside and has really developed," head coach Jimbo Fisher said recently, according to Shanker. "He may be the fastest, quickest guy on our football team...he was off the charts."

According to David Hale of ESPN.com, Fisher's offenses since arriving at Florida State have given just 27.5 percent of their carries to the lead tailback. As good as Williams was last season—730 yards and 11 touchdowns on 71 carries—the one or two primary backs behind him will be just as vital to the Seminoles' continued success in 2014.

Losing Green is another step in the wrong direction, but with three sound options that should all be healthy come the fall, it may still be too early for coaches and fans to fret.

 

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

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