NCAA Football News

Is Alabama's 2015 Schedule the Toughest of the Nick Saban Era?

For all of the praise and accolades heaped on Alabama and Nick Saban during their tear through college football together—and it is all much deserved—they still have only gone undefeated, perfect, through an entire football season once.

There have been several years where the Crimson Tide have clearly been the best team in the country, but only once could they do it without sustaining a loss.

It’s a testament not only to the grueling road of the SEC but also to his teams’ resiliency to fight back and regroup.

If Alabama fans are looking for a year for their team to run the gantlet for the first time since 2009, though, this might not be that year.

The Crimson Tide have plenty of holes, yes, but even if those get filled, they face what is shaping up to be their toughest slate since the start of the Saban era.

College football guru Phil Steele is already projecting Alabama to have the toughest road in the country this year:

Elsewhere, FBSSchedules.com, using the NCAA’s purely win-loss record method for calculating strength of schedule, put Washington No. 1 with Alabama at No. 4. Bleacher Report’s Greg Wallace thought the Crimson Tide’s 2015 slate to be the toughest in the nation.

Of course, none of this will be able to be determined objectively until the end of the season, when we have a better feel for the overall strength of certain teams.

Still, 2015 is shaping up to be the toughest during Saban’s tenure.

For starters, it’s hard to imagine a time when Alabama’s division was this formidable, top to bottom.

At the top, both Auburn should be much improved, with Jeremy Johnson taking over at quarterback and Will Muschamp coming in to run the defense. LSU is loaded as usual but needs to sort out its quarterback issue, which was still able to take Alabama down to the wire last season.

It’s hard to see the Mississippi schools maintaining their momentum from last season, but there shouldn’t be too much of a drop-off. Dan Mullen and Hugh Freeze have proved that they can be dangerous coaches.

Arkansas is a sexy surprise team pick, and for good reason. The Razorbacks shut out Ole Miss and LSU late in the season and thumped Texas in their bowl game. Head coach Bret Bielema’s installation of his suffocating style on both sides of the ball is finally coming together.

The perceived “worst” team in the league, Texas A&M, will have another year of experience under a 5-star quarterback with a nasty receiving corp, and it just brought in one of the best defensive coordinators in the league, John Chavis.

And gone are the days of Alabama’s weak Eastern division schedule.

This may be the best Tennessee team Alabama has had to face, though that isn’t saying much. And it draws Georgia as its rotational opponent.

Wisconsin serves as the Power Five opener, hardly a cakewalk either.

Alabama can’t look away from home field much for relief, either. It draws Georgia, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Auburn for its road games. None of those four can be considered sure things by any stretch of the imagination.

If you’re looking for a year where Alabama may have had a tougher schedule, there’s a good argument to be made for 2010.

That year, the Crimson Tide drew Florida and South Carolina from the East, the latter handing Alabama its first loss of the year.

But what made that year especially tough was the placement. It faced six straight SEC teams who were coming off of a bye week and essentially had two weeks to prepare.

Still, the West wasn’t nearly as strong back then, and Alabama had more relief in getting Florida and Auburn at home.

This year, Alabama’s East rotation shows no mercy, and the West is as good as it’s ever been. Combine that with the grueling road schedule, and the Crimson Tide’s road to an undefeated season and national championship looks as tough as ever.

 

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

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Meet 'Competitive but Humble' Najee Harris, Alabama Commit and 2017 No. 1 RB

SAN LEANDRO, Calif. — On film, Antioch, California's Najee Harris is worth every compliment given. Every cut, every juke, every spin move, every accelerated action...there's no arguing he's a legit, 5-star talent.

As the nation's top-ranked running back of the 2017 class, Harris looks the part in person, as well, measuring in at 6'1" and 216 pounds at The Opening Oakland regional last Sunday. With every move, he impressed the general public and put smiles on the faces of his regular followers.

There's no surprise as to why a handful of schools drooled over what he does on the football field, a battle that Alabama has managed to win. Harris committed to Nick Saban and his staff on April 18.

But after chatting with Harris for a few minutes, it's not his game that impresses you the most. And that means a lot, considering he rushed for nearly 2,300 yards and 24 touchdowns as a sophomore.

Get to know the athlete off the field, and recognize that his persona is the opposite of the dominant force California football opponents hated to see each weekend.

"He's really shy, kind of quiet," said John Lucido, who has been at Antioch High School for 18 years, including a six-year run as head coach. "Once you get to know him, he opens up, and you see that he's a great kid. He's very smart, very intelligent.

"Most importantly, whatever he needs to do to help the team, he's all for it. He's definitely team first."

Harris' performance on the field makes the casual fan cheer for him. His selfless attitude makes him likable by all. Ask him to describe the person he sees in the mirror, and it's easy to see why everybody at Antioch—and everyone at Alabama—is excited about him.

"I see a competitive guy," he said. "Competitive but humble. I'm always excited. I guess I'd say he's a team player, a guy who's not all about himself."

Harris is ranked as the No. 15 overall player in the 2017 class. He's one of a handful of 5-star players, but when he's asked about his rating, he's quick to consider changing the subject. To him, stars aren't the most important thing.

"Honestly, it's really all just politics to me," he said. "All the 5-star stuff, I don't really care about all that. I don't look back and say, 'I'm the No. 1 running back. I should be able to do this or do that.' I just want to go out, play and win.

"I don't care if I'm the No. 1, No. 20 or No. 100 running back in the country. I'd still be the same person."

Lucido has watched Harris since before his high school days, and athletically, there are few—if any—who rival the potential Harris has at Antioch. Harris possesses great size, tons of explosiveness and an uncanny ability to make defenders miss on the football field. Additionally, he's a workhorse in practices and in the weight room.

Lucido also is a fan of Harris' overall character and how his work ethic permeates around the locker room. He makes his teammates better, and he makes that a priority.

"It doesn't matter who it is, freshmen or seniors," Lucido said. "He's a sophomore himself, and you sometimes forget that. He's just one of those kids who coaches other kids up. I'm glad he does that, because all the kids look up to him."

Harris put on a show at The Opening Oakland, earning running back MVP honors and an invite to The Opening finals in Beaverton, Oregon, in July. The invite is a noteworthy feat, considering he'll be one of only a few underclassmen invited.

Physically, he fits the mold of the big running back Alabama traditionally likes. Harris was in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the weekend of April 17 for Alabama's annual A-Day scrimmage. He left for California as the Crimson Tide's first pledge of the 2017 class.

Outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi and running backs coach Burton Burns recruited Harris. Lupoi has several years of West Coast ties as a Northern California native and a former assistant coach at Cal and Washington. Burns is a coach who worked with two backs last year who just missed 1,000 rushing yards for the season in Derrick Henry (990 yards, 11 touchdowns) and T.J. Yeldon (979, 11).

"It wasn't the records or the championships," Harris said of choosing Alabama. "It was just the feeling I had when I got there. I really liked the coaches and everything there. I just thought I fit."

Harris said he's built a solid relationship with both Burns and Lupoi, but he added that he hasn't completely closed the door on his recruiting process. Georgia, Oregon and USC are three schools that he said he's kept an eye on. Additionally, Harris picked up an offer from Notre Dame on Wednesday.

Harris said he'll weigh all recruiting options in due time. For now, he's using the spring and upcoming summer to get better for Antioch—news that his coach loved to hear. Lucido said he's hoping to expand Harris' abilities on the field to showcase not only his running but also his blocking and pass-catching skills for his junior year.

"You see him training all the time, and you see him getting bigger, stronger and faster," Lucido said. "The sky's the limit for him. With a guy like that, you never want to wear him out, but you've got to use him as a big weapon. I think he'll have a great year."

And with every yard gained and every touchdown scored, look for more of the same from Harris—a positive thing on and off the field.

"He's not the guy who's focused on the small stuff," Lucido said. "He's just ready to work. That's just the kind of kid he is."

To which Harris added: "I'm going to be the same dude every day." 

 

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

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LSU Football: Are Tigers True SEC Contenders in 2015?

LSU won the 2011 SEC title with an emphatic 42-10 win over Georgia and advanced to the BCS National Championship Game to take on Alabama.

At the time, it was par for the course for LSU—a program that had routinely found itself in the SEC and national title races late in November.

Since that ill-fated night in New Orleans with Alabama, though, the Tigers have not won the West and are generally out of the national title talk once the leaves change color.

Last year, when the Tigers finished 8-5, and 4-4 in the SEC, marked the first time the program has been .500 or worse inside the conference since 2008 and only the second time this century.

Despite many of the same issues from last year lingering, including an uncertain quarterback situation and an inconsistent pass rush, LSU is getting some preseason love this spring.

CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd has LSU ranked 13th in his preseason Top 25. The Tigers chime in at No. 14 in SportingNews.com's early rankings. ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach and Brett McMurphy both have the Tigers playing in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, which is one step down in the bowl pecking order from the "New Year's Six."

Sounds like LSU is expected to contend again.

That might be easier written this spring than done this fall, though.

Save for Zach Mettenberger's senior season in 2013, the quarterback position at LSU has been a constant headache for head coach Les Miles ever since Matt Flynn led the program to the 2007 title. 

While Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris put up quality stat lines overall during the spring game, each did the most damage against a second-team defense that looked lost all afternoon. Against the first team (white team), the duo combined to complete nine of 16 passes for just 64 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception (Harris) and took five sacks, and the longest completion for each was just 13 yards, according to stats released by LSU.

That's concerning, because a stagnant passing game and indecisiveness in the pocket were two of the biggest problems in the passing game in 2014.

Defensively, the transition to new coordinator Kevin Steele looked smooth for the first-teamers in the spring game, but the depth wasn't even in the same zip code. Time after time, wide receivers got loose and tackles were missed, as the offense feasted on the "twos."

Just because LSU isn't there yet, does it mean that it won't be this fall?

Of course not, but while many of LSU's biggest offseason questions remain, its division rivals have taken steps forward.

Texas A&M lured former Tiger defensive coordinator John Chavis to College Station, and he has made an instant impact at his new gig—particularly with defensive ends Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall.

"Those two guys probably have gotten the biggest impact of John being here," head coach Kevin Sumlin said. "Without a doubt, Daeshon and Myles have big smiles on their faces because they like to rush the passer."

Over at Auburn, Jeremy Johnson cemented himself as the starting quarterback this spring. Running back "Roc" Thomas—who had been known as a player who goes East-West too much—looked much more like a downhill runner in the spring game. The defense, while still depleted a bit by injuries, still managed to get pressure under first-year coordinator Will Muschamp.

Alabama? All the Tide did was find two stud wide receivers in ArDarius Stewart and Robert Foster.

Arkansas? Quarterback Brandon Allen looked much more like a difference-maker than the game manager he's been in the past. If that holds over to the fall, look out for that offense.

LSU has the talent to contend. Miles and his crew have finished inside the top six in 247Sports' team recruiting rankings in each of the last three seasons. But the combination of the inability to blend a dual-threat quarterback with a pro-style scheme and the transition to the new defense has created a rocky path to Atlanta for the Tigers.

At this point, I'll have to see it before I believe it.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Is the Big Ten the SEC'S Biggest Threat on 2016 Recruiting Trail?

The SEC may no longer monopolize national championship trophies, but the conference continues to reign supreme in the recruiting spectrum.

Led by Alabama's unreal five-year streak atop national signing day rankings, SEC squads annually fill up the top tier of incoming freshman classes. Among the top seven 2016 recruiting hauls so far, more than half—Georgia, Ole Miss, LSU and Kentucky—currently belong to SEC programs in 247Sports' composite rankings.

The conference claimed seven straight national titles between 2007-2013 and still carries distinction as the most formidable collection of programs in college football. Still, we're always looking for a rival conference on the rise that could challenge for a spot atop the mountain. 

The 2015 championship matchup was the first that didn't feature at least one SEC team in nine years. The game's winner—Ohio State—headlines a conference that seems to be on the upswing on and off the field.

Big Ten football failed to produce a national championship competitor during the final six seasons of the BCS era but captured glory in inaugural College Football Playoff action when the Buckeyes beat Oregon.

The conference scored another victory weeks before the title game when Jim Harbaugh came to Michigan following a four-year NFL stint that featured three conference championship appearances and a Super Bowl trip. With Urban Meyer and Harbaugh on board—and immediately placed against each other in one of sports' greatest rivalries—the Big Ten features two of America's most well-known coaches.

Last year, the conference welcomed Maryland and Rutgers, and it tapped into a new market. The additions opened the door for new marketing and recruiting possibilities in a Mid-Atlantic region that includes Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City.

Though some viewed the arrival of Rutgers and Maryland with skepticism, both programs proved they're more than just new doormats.

The Scarlet Knights defeated Michigan, won eight games and topped an ACC opponent in bowl action. The Terrapins won at Penn State, claimed seven victories and faced Stanford in the postseason.

Maryland is one of five Big Ten teams rated among the top 30 teams in composite 2016 class rankings after beating out Florida and Notre Dame for 4-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins earlier this month. The Terps sit at No. 21 on the list, with Ohio State (No. 2), Michigan State (No. 9), Penn State (No. 15) and Minnesota (No. 28) joining them. 

Michigan, which finally began to gain momentum with the junior class this spring, is ranked 32nd as summer approaches. 

Among non-SEC conferences, the ACC and Pac-12 also have five teams inside the top 30. Like the Big Ten, both feature two top-10 classes.

The way things are trending, it's easy to anticipate increased momentum for Big Ten recruiting efforts that could push the conference past others.

Ohio State, the reigning champ, is primed for another strong season and could produce a historic amount of NFL talent in next year's draft. The Buckeyes will challenge to dethrone Alabama atop recruiting rankings in February and already lead the 2017 cycle with two 5-star and four 4-star recruits on board.

Michigan State has developed a reputation as a program that maximizes midlevel high school talent, but the roster is steadily improving, and head coach Mark Dantonio may soon have more to work with than ever. The Spartans are perhaps the hottest team on the recruiting trail right now, with 10 commitments since April 22. 

Penn State wasn't expected to resurface on the national landscape again for perhaps a decade after unprecedented post-Joe Paterno sanctions. Instead, head coach James Franklin has full scholarship capabilities at his disposal and looks likely to secure a second straight top-15 class.

And then there's Michigan, the program that ultimately holds the key to Big Ten ascension. The SEC may stand alone as recruiting king for years to come, but any chance for the Big Ten to at least challenge that superiority hinges on things working out during a new era in Ann Arbor.

Harbaugh is arguably the hottest name these days when you speak with recruits, to the point that one blue-chip prospect called him "the LeBron James of coaching" when speaking with MLive.com. There's a lot of intrigue swirling around the new regime and a sense many players are taking a wait-and-see approach with the Wolverines this season.

Dismal seasons during stretches under Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke have taken some of the luster away from Michigan. Harbaugh, with his big personality and well-documented football pedigree, could quickly restore much of that shine with a strong start at his alma mater.

Meanwhile, new coaching staffs at Nebraska and Wisconsin can also be expected to steadily climb up the recruiting ladder. 

Searching for a conference to push aside the SEC outright probably isn't wise considering its stranglehold in talent-saturated states like Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. However, when surveying the scene for a potential "next-in-line" conference, the Big Ten stands out as top contender.

Regional expansion, coaching clout and a perennial title contender like Ohio State leave little doubt the Big Ten is in better shape than its been in quite some time. Expect this development to resonate during bowl season and, eventually, on national signing day.

 

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports. 

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Who Will Be the Georgia Bulldogs' Secret Weapon in 2015?

The Georgia Bulldogs have experienced certain levels of success over the past decade, always hanging around in the competitive SEC. Who on the offensive side of the ball could be the team's secret weapon in 2015 and potentially get Georgia over the hump?

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee joined Stephen Nelson to discuss which offensive player on the Bulldogs can explode onto the scene next season. 

How will the Bulldogs fare in 2015? Check out the video and let us know! 

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College Football Teams That Could Use New Uniforms

Uniforms are a major part to the, ahem, fabric of today's college football. There are entire websites, like Paul Lukas' excellent Uni Watch and Chris Creamer's SportsLogos.net, dedicated to tracking uniform changes and creating concepts for teams in college football and every other major sport in the world.

Programs big and small have found in the last couple of decades that updating their uniforms can generate a huge amount of buzz from players, fans, alumni and the all-important demographic—potential recruits.

Some teams have modernized their uniforms with great success. Some have made eye-opening updates that just didn't work—thanks for getting rid of the dog-face helmets, UConn!

But there are a handful of schools in college football that need a new look, either because they have stuck to the classics for far too long or because they made a move that needs to be fixed immediately.

Here are, in no particular order, eight schools that could use new uniforms. Let us know what you think about these suggestions, or submit your own ideas in the comments below.

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Who Are Auburn's Must-Get Recruits in the 2016 Class?

The Auburn Tigers, fresh off a strong 2015 recruiting cycle, have set their sights on the 2016 crop. With Will Muschamp added as the new defensive coordinator and offensive wizard Gus Malzahn entrenched, Auburn should be able to land some of the best players in the country. 

Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Sanjay Kirpalani joined Stephen Nelson to discuss who are the must-gets for Auburn.

Whom does Auburn need to land? Check out the video and let us know!

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Current Backup QBs College Football Fanbases Can't Wait to See Start

You know how the old saying goes: The most popular player on the team is the backup quarterback.

Of course, if the backup were better than the starter, he'd be playing. 

That doesn't stop fans from wanting to see what the next guy can do, however. That's the inspiration behind this, the current backups that college football fanbases can't wait to see as starters. 

The only real requirement here is that there has to be an established No. 1 quarterback in front of them. For instance, UCLA freshman Josh Rosen and Alabama's David Cornwell are technically still in the battle to win the starting job. Thus, they're not backups yet. Also, quarterbacks on this list can be incoming freshmen who haven't yet arrived on campus.

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Who Will Be Alabama and Nick Saban's Secret Weapon in 2015?

The Alabama Crimson Tide have no shortage of top offensive threats on their roster. Nick Saban has done a wonderful job of making sure his team is loaded on the offensive side of the ball.

Marc Torrence, Bleacher Report's lead Alabama writer, joined Adam Lefkoe to discuss who on the Crimson Tide offense will break out this season.  

Who will be the Tide's secret weapon this season? Check out the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Who Are USC's Must-Get Recruits in the 2016 Class?

After USC's monster recruiting class in 2015, Steve Sarkisian and his staff have turned their sights to the current crop of recruits. In order to build off their recent success, they must keep adding top-notch talent to the boat. 

Who are USC's must-gets in the 2016 recruiting class? 

Bleacher Report's National Recruiting Analyst Sanjay Kirpalani breaks down just who USC needs to land in the video above. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Why Oklahoma Transfer RB Keith Ford Would Be Perfect for Texas A&M

Former Notre Dame and new Florida State quarterback Everett Golson has dominated the transfer headlines this week, when he announced that he'll play his final year in Tallahassee.

Another high-profile transfer could make a big impact at a high-profile program too, just not in 2015.

Former Oklahoma running back, Keith Ford, announced his intention to transfer from the Sooners earlier this month, and it's no secret where he wants to go. According to Taylor Hamm of GigEm247.com, Ford—a native of Cypress, Texas—wants to play down the road from home at Texas A&M.

Ford commented on his options to Hamm:

Utah has called me, Louisville is showing a lot of interest and so has [University] of [Houston]. Texas A&M has also reached out to me. I don’t want to leave the state of Texas so I’m kind of leaning towards Texas A&M. It’s not official yet because I still need to talk with the coaches but I am leaning towards Texas A&M.

According to the report, Ford—who was suspended last semester due to academics and team policies—has spoken with Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin over the phone. Hamm reported on Thursday that the two are meeting on Thursday to discuss the possibility of Ford joining the program.

Ford will have two years of eligibility left and will have to sit out in 2015 if he transfers to an FBS school, but he would be a solid piece to the revitalized Aggie rushing attack. The former 5-star prospect and top-ranked running back in the state of Texas in 2013, according to 247Sports, rushed for 526 yards and six touchdowns over the last two years for the Sooners.

He got off to a hot start in Norman early in the 2014 season, when he rushed for 194 yards and five touchdowns over the first three games, but a foot fracture sidelined him for five games. That opened the door for then-freshman Samaje Perine, who ran through it with authority.

If all goes well and Ford—who says he's in the clear academically now—becomes an Aggie, it'd be a match made in Heaven. 

At 5'11", 202 pounds, Ford is a true all-purpose back. He has tremendous speed, sneaky power, can be a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield and has quick feet—particularly in traffic. If he plays in 2016, he'll instantly become part of a solid rotation in a system that's had time to evolve in College Station.

The Aggies will lose Tra Carson and iron man running back/defensive back Brandon Williams to graduation this year. That means James White—a 6'0", 218-pounder who will be a junior in 2016—will be the veteran of the running back corps in Aggieland.

White is much more of a power runner than Ford and can lean on defenses and open up those running lanes for Ford. The duo can essentially create a "thunder and lightning" situation in the Aggie backfield.

What's more, Sumlin realized that his offense was way too unbalanced last year (514 passing plays to 421 running plays) and brought in new offensive line coach Dave Christensen to bring a more downhill attack to College Station.

"It's not a dramatic change from what we were doing, but we are doing some things—without giving away any secrets—where we can run the ball not only when we want to run it, but when we need to," Sumlin said during the coaches teleconference in May. "That was a point of emphasis [this spring]."

Ford's agility in traffic and ability to turn two-yard gains into 10-yard gains will fit nicely into the more downhill attack.

Will Ford become a star in the Aggie offense?

Until we see the new scheme in action, it's hard to say. But he would give the staff a nice option opposite of White, and options are like gold to a bright offensive mind like Sumlin.

It didn't work out as planned for Ford at Oklahoma, but College Station would be a nice landing spot that could benefit both Ford and Texas A&M.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Michigan Football: How Wolverines Can Take Back in-State Recruiting

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio seems to have gained a clear advantage when it comes to in-state recruiting, especially recently. With that said, it has now become the job of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh to combat the moves of his rival.

The Wolverines can't afford to surrender any more ground to the Spartans. 

"I'm a big proponent of, 'You build your base in your backyard,' and then you branch out from there and try to cherry-pick top talent from across the country," Rivals.com recruiting expert Josh Helmholdt said during a recent in-state recruiting interview.

Having done well so far, Harbaugh's reputation, pedigree and methodology are of great influence with in-state recruits, according to Helmholdt. There is a buzz surrounding the new coach. In terms of perception, Michigan has experienced a huge in-state boost since Harbaugh's arrival. 

However, for the time being, Harbaugh seems glued to the national scope, as his creation of satellite camps evidenced. Those out-of-region events will certainly lead to success, but there needs to be a stronger emphasis on re-establishing a local presence. 

There is no substitute for being the big kid on the block. Luckily for Michigan, Harbaugh is one, and he has plenty of like-minded friends to help aid his cause. 

Defensive line coach Greg Mattison and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin are nationally recognized recruiters. Mattison was named recruiter of the year in 2013, and Durkin earned the honor while at Florida in 2012. Those accolades were won, in part, because of the grips they had on their teams' home state.

Mattison got the best locals for the Wolverines, and Durkin often did the same for the Gators.

Combine their efforts with the energy of tight end coach Jay Harbaugh and passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch, both of whom have recently tweeted from the trail, and Michigan has more than enough ambassadors to cover the Great Lakes State in maize and blue.

They just need to get Dantonio and Ohio State's Urban Meyer out of the way—or at the very least, do more to subdue their efforts. That's not a wish-list thing, that's a realistic thing. It can be done. 

 

Power Play

The act of flipping recruits is a common occurrence these days, as verbal commitments are anything but ironclad. Generally speaking, the practice of luring a kid away from a school is frowned upon. But the poaching of talent and extension of behind-the-scenes offers will never stop—those methods are ingrained into the culture.

Coaches who flip appear powerful. Power attracts talent.

Typically, converting a player from a rival, such as Michigan State or Ohio State, means a little more to fans than if their team were to steal one from School X. However, Big Ten foe Penn State has 4-star cornerback Lavert Hill of Detroit Martin Luther King, and outsider Louisville has 4-star wide receiver Desmond Fitzpatrick of Farmington.

Flipping one or both of the targets would be an ultimate display of authority, and it could make others reconsider their position on and perception of Michigan. 

Reclaiming Detroit Cass Tech, a prep powerhouse that has been jokingly referred to as one of the Wolverines' farm teams, would also assist Harbaugh in winning recruiting scrums within home boundaries. 

The "Cass Tech Pipeline" is certainly a real thing for Michigan, and it's been very good to the program in the past. Despite all of that, Dantonio has consistently poked around that well for the past two years. He hasn't fended off Michigan (or Ohio State), but it seems as if Cass Tech's doors are open wider than ever for Dantonio. 

At the moment, 4-star receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones is the No. 1-ranked player in the state's 2017 class. His teammate, 4-star safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell, is the No. 5-ranked sophomore in Michigan. They're each climbing the ranks, and like some before them at Cass Tech, they could be ranked among the nation's best come signing day.

They're each of high priority for Dantonio and Harbaugh. 

The swift formation of a relationship—and proper maintenance of said bond—with coach Thomas Wilcher could prove vital down the road for Harbaugh, who has five former Technicians on his spring 2015 roster. Jourdan Lewis, a junior cornerback, is among the most valuable players on the team and among the best cover men in the country.

It'd be wise to keep things flowing with one of the most prolific Division I player factories in the Midwest. Really, casting a broader net over the Detroit area would be smart decision. Schools such as MLK, home of 4-star receiver Donnie Corley, the No. 2 in-state player of 2016, continuously manufacture next-level talent. Cass Tech isn't the only major program around, but it's certainly one of the most important. Harbaugh mustn't compromise that connection. 

As Bleacher Report's Ben Axelrod recently pointed out, there is an NCAA bylaw that could be finessed into a huge advantage for Harbaugh. According to the rule (13.1.2.1), there are loose regulations on camp-employment eligibility, and Harbaugh just so happens to be on a camp rampage.

The shoe fits.

Essentially, Harbaugh could hire just about anyone he wanted. He could, in theory, "employ" people close to prospects in order to gain a strategic edge. In addition to having former players in attendance, which also helps, the future creative usage of Axelrod's findings could certainly pave the way to in-state supremacy for Harbaugh.

 

Keeping Up

Dantonio's rise, coupled with the Wolverines' well-documented decade-long downfall, has turned the tables when it comes to recruiting. In the past, Michigan was the clear No. 1 choice for in-state talent. Recently, elite locals have gone as far to say that the state's best play in Ann Arbor, not in East Lansing.

Some may feel that way, but a string of Big Ten titles, a Rose Bowl victory and double-digit win seasons has Michigan State appearing as the better destination—for now.

Thus far, Michigan has the state's only 2017 commit, and that's 3-star tight end Carter Dunaway of Birmingham Brother Rice. Gaining an early pledge from the 6'6", 225-pounder was certainly a great start for Harbaugh, but his primary focus should be on the junior class—he has just one high-profile local commit, and that's 4-star running back (No. 9 RB overall) Matthew Falcon of Southfield.

As of May 21, the Spartans have two of the top seven commits in the state's 2016 class: 3-star safety Demetric Vance of Detroit Cass Tech and 3-star offensive tackle Thiyo Lukusa of Traverse City West.  They also have good chances of landing Khalid Kareem, a 4-star defensive end out of Farmington Hills Harrison, and Corley, a 4-star receiver out of MLK.

During this past cycle of 2015, Dantonio snagged four of the top 15 prospects in the state: 4-star offensive guard Kyonta Stallworth of MLK, 3-star outside linebacker Tyriq Thompson of MLK, 3-star cornerback Tyson Smith of Orchard Lake St. Mary's and 3-star athlete Khari Willis of Jackson Lumen Christi.

In February, the Wolverines signed a pair of former Brother Rice standouts in 4-star quarterback Alex Malzone and 3-star wide receiver Grant Perry, and they also acquired 4-star athlete Brian Cole of Saginaw Heritage.

Malzone and Cole were two of the best in the region, and in terms of in-state perception, they were hefty pickups for the Wolverines. Dantino heavily recruited Cole, the most coveted athlete in the state. 

It's not impossible to close, but the gap between Michigan and Michigan State's in-state recruiting balance is growing more noticeable by the year. Harbaugh has time to counter; it'll just take roughly two years of earth-moving on his part to even the playing field with Dantonio. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and references were obtained firsthand by the writer via press conference, press release or other media availability. All recruiting information comes via 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas Football: Early Grades for the Longhorns' 2016 Recruiting Class

Sporting a mere four commits, incomplete is the only appropriate characterization of Texas' 2016 recruiting class, even this early in the game.

For a while there seemed to be little cause for concern with this group. Fresh off an epic finish to the 2015 class, Shane Buechele's February commitment gave the Horns one of the best quarterback prospects in the country and plenty of momentum on the trail.

Since then, Charlie Strong and his staff have gone ice-cold.

It's bad enough that they're seeing interest wane from some top targets. Kendell Jones, Tren'Davian Dickson and Brandon Jones all look SEC-bound, trimming down the list of elite in-state talents.

But what's becoming truly problematic is that former no-doubters like Baylor commit JP Urquidez, who nearly pledged at Texas' junior day, have been looking elsewhere. The offensive line has been hit especially hard, with Urquidez, Jean Delance and Chris Owens almost certain to never become Longhorns. Burnt Orange Nation's Wescott Eberts noted Owens' commitment:

This is a long process, and Strong has shown he's never out of the fight for the players he covets. There's also no mistaking that he's brought in good talent—it's just time for him to grab more.

 

Who's on Board

If you're only going to have four commits, you can do much worse than Buechele, Collin Johnson, Reggie Hemphill-Mapps and Demarco Boyd.

Buechele has a chance to be something special at quarterback. Horns247 scouts him as having "flawless mechanics" with a good football IQ and strong work ethic. With above-average athleticism, he can be a true "triple threat" who wins from the pocket, throws on the move and picks up first-downs with his legs.

The quarterback is the big name, but Johnson's the highest-rated player in the group. Already 6'5", 200 pounds, the son of Longhorn great Johnnie Johnson exploded as a junior, showing off the speed, quickness, hands and competitiveness of a No. 1 wideout. He should be a top-50 player by the time he signs his letter of intent. CBS Sports Network's Tom Lemming called Johnson a "major catch for Texas":

Hemphill-Mapps isn't quite the same physical specimen as Johnson, but he's a smooth route-runner with deep speed. Fans will see a lot of Marcus Johnson in him, though Hemphill looks a little more elusive with the ball in his hands.

The lone defensive commit in the class, Boyd possesses a stout build and knows how to hit. Strong will enjoy the latter trait, but Kris Boyd's younger brother has got to improve in space to be more than an early-down run-stopper.

With two potential stars and two with promising skill sets, this is a good foursome to have. They're just not enough to distract us from the fact that signing day is eight months away.

 

Outlook

Texas looks like it's in good shape with a few solid talents with the potential to end this three-month drought, but nothing's set in stone. Strong can only hope it doesn't take too long to break the ice.

Looking through the Longhorns' list of targets, few of them are trending toward joining this 2016 class. It'll be a dogfight for the best players in the state, and the staff hasn't generated much of a head start.

Right now, the most potential lies with the linebacker and pass-rushing crop, led by destroyer Dontavious Jackson. Though anything could happen with a guy who has 50 offers, the Horns hold a nice edge with Jackson, Jeffrey McCulloch and Jordan Carmouche, as well as Fox prospect Erick Fowler.

Any one of these guys could commit soon, which would help draw more of the state's best defensive talent.

Another name to watch over the next couple of weeks is Christian Wallace. The 6'2½", 211-pound athlete declared Texas as his leader at a 7-on-7 tournament and has the versatility to play running back, linebacker, safety or even receiver. Rivals.com also noted Texas holds the top spot on Wallace's list:

Past these guys, it's hard to be overly confident about any of Texas' top targets ending up in the burnt orange. There's a ton of work to be done this summer.

 

Final Grade: C+

As stated before, this class is incomplete, and we're a long way from giving it a fair assessment. At this point, there's a foundation to build on, and that's good enough for now.

This is a long process, and there are still a lot of uncommitted prospects out there. The problem at this stage is not many of them project to end up at Texas, and that has to change this summer before you can feel good about the trajectory of this class.

Still, there's no reason to hit the panic button just yet. Persistence is the name of Strong's game on the recruiting trail. After all, he pulled in 11 more recruits after nabbing Malik Jefferson and DeAndre McNeal on December 18.

If we're not singing a different tune by the time the summer camps and unofficial visits come to an end, then it might be time to worry.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all stats and information courtesy of 247Sports.com.

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UCLA Football: Early Grades for 2016 Recruiting Class

The recruiting efforts of the UCLA football team in 2016 are off to a fast start. 

To date, the Bruins have 10 public commitments. That is roughly half of how many they're expected to sign this coming February. Interestingly, eight of the 10 commitments hail from within the state of California.

This piece will take a look at the committed prospects, as well as targets and some misses early in the current recruiting cycle.

 

Grade For Committed Prospects: A-

It's a very good start for Jim Mora and his staff—especially on the defensive side of the ball. 

UCLA has shored up the middle of its future defense for years to come with the commitments of middle linebackers Lokeni Toailoa and Krys Barnes. 

Both 4-star prospects, Toailoa and Barnes rank as the No. 1 and No. 2 middle linebackers in the entire western region respectively. Landing both prospects was significant—especially considering each had offers from Southern California and other big programs across the country.

Another elite defensive player currently committed is 5-star defensive end/linebacker prospect Breland Brandt. The Los Angeles native is still raw from a technique standpoint. However, he's extremely gifted athletically.

Also a basketball player, he has the mobility to function as both a defensive end and as an outside linebacker rushing the passer. It was key for UCLA to land Brandt. Like Toailoa and Barnes, he had an offer from Southern Cal, among other schools. He is considered to have one of the highest upsides of any defensive-line prospect in the country.

The Bruins have also landed three very versatile 4-star prospects in Darian Owens, Michael Pittman and Jordan Parker. 

Parker is one of the most talented corner prospects in the state. With UCLA needing an influx of depth and talent at the position, his commitment was huge. Owens is slated to come in as a wide receiver but could play safety in a pinch.

Pittman is arguably the most intriguing of the commitments. At 6'4", he could end up at a multitude of positions—including safety, outside linebacker, defensive end, wide receiver or even at tight end. His physical development down the road will likely determine where he plays in college. Regardless, it's a nice problem for UCLA to have.

Continuing with its strong reputation for special teams, UCLA has landed long snapper Johnny Den Bleyker. According to the famed Rubio Long Snapping, Den Bleyker is the top long snapper in the entire country. 

UCLA needed to upgrade its speed and quickness from within its wide receiver corps, and it was able to do so with the commitment of 4-star receiver Demetric Felton. A local prospect from Temecula, Felton can line up all over the field. This sort of versatility enables UCLA to look at him as an inside receiver, an outside receiver and even as a running back. 

The Bruins are doing exceptionally well throughout the state of California with this class. They've effectively put themselves in position to land an extremely talented linebacker group—especially considering there's a very realistic chance Mique Juarez, Caleb Kelly or both could become Bruins. At the very worst, UCLA is in the top three for both prospects.

Above all else, there's real positional versatility within the committed prospects. This has been a real point of emphasis for Mora and his staff when targeting players. 

 

Minor Disappointments

There have been some minor issues to begin this cycle. 

UCLA lost out on 4-star quarterback Devon Modster, who opted for Arizona. With depth issues at the position, the Bruins had been targeting a signal-caller for this class. 

With Josh Rosen potentially starting as a true freshman, the general thought is that an elite quarterback prospect in the '16 class wouldn't want to sit behind Rosen for multiple years.

UCLA did garner a pledge from 3-star Colorado quarterback Matt Lynch. While not as highly ranked as Modster, Lynch does have some physical tools to work with. Perhaps most importantly, he's a developmental prospect who'll need time behind Rosen to mature physically. 

With the status of Adrian Klemm in limbo, UCLA's offensive-line recruiting efforts have been minimal. Many of the top OL prospects in California have already committed to other programs. The absence of Klemm has firmly put UCLA behind the proverbial eight ball with other offensive-line prospects. It will be fascinating to see when Klemm does return—if he indeed comes back in any capacity at all.

 

Areas of Need

The defensive line—particularly at defensive tackle—is arguably the biggest need in this class. 

There's a real chance both Kenny Clark and Eddie Vanderdoes will depart for the NFL after this season. Depth behind the starting duo is rather shallow and inexperienced. 

Boss Tagaloa, a 4-star defensive tackle out of De La Salle High School, is the top target for the Bruins. He's the type of prospect with the ability to play right away, which is something UCLA will likely need if it loses either of its starting defensive linemen after this year. 

Defensive end Oluwole Betiku is also a big target for the Bruins. The Serra High School product, originally from Nigeria, has considerable potential. One would be hard-pressed to find a more physically impressive specimen. He's eerily similar to how former UCLA Bruin Owamagbe Odighizuwa looked coming into college.

Betiku's guardian, former NFL player LaVar Arrington, played under current UCLA defensive coordinator Tom Bradley at Penn State. This relationship surely cannot hurt the Bruins' efforts to land the talented defensive end.  

Speaking of Odighizuwa, UCLA's lone defensive-tackle commitment comes courtesy of his younger brother, Osa.

The Portland native is an excellent wrestler, ranking among the best in the country for his age group. While still raw to the position, Osa has all of the tools to eventually become a productive interior lineman. 

As has been mentioned, UCLA needs to address its offensive line. There's not a pressing need for a ton of signees along the offensive front, but it's always important to add depth. The Bruins could look to add a true tackle prospect more than anything. 

Finally, UCLA could stand to upgrade its talent at wide receiver. With a deep receiver class hailing from California in '16, the Bruins will likely attempt to add two, if not three, prospects.

Targets for the Bruins at the position include Damian Alloway, Dymond Lee, Steffon McKnight and Jack Jones. Jones, who is an excellent athlete, could ultimately wind up at corner. 

 

*All recruiting rankings come courtesy of Scout.com.

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Notre Dame Football: Predicting the Irish's 2015 Win-Loss Record

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The Notre Dame football season is fast approaching, and with summer OTAs around the corner, let’s take a glance at the 2015 schedule.

We’re still more than 100 days away from the start of the season, but an early look at the schedule and how Notre Dame stacks up against its opponents can be instructive.

In breaking down the Irish and their 2015 prospects, we’ll consider the regular-season matchups in different categories. The following aren’t equal tiers; rather, they’re ranges of confidence.

Let’s have a look.

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Every Power 5 College Football Team's Toughest Nonconference Game

In just 15 (!!!) short weeks, the 2015 college football season will be upon us, and it won't waste any time getting to the good stuff thanks to a whopper of an opening-week lineup.

Now that almost every power program has seemed to buy in to the importance of lining up quality out-of-league competition, the weeks before conference play gets into full swing are no longer reserved for just walkover games. Nearly every team from a power conference has at least one nonconference game that has some level of difficulty to it, and in many cases, these contests are toss-ups that could go either way.

Here's a look at the toughest nonconference game that every team from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC (as well as Notre Dame) has on its 2015 schedule.

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Georgia Football: Early Grades for 2016 Recruiting Class

One of the best things Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt has done since 2001 is getting top recruits to come play in Athens. And it looks like it won’t be any different for 2016 as the class is ranked No. 4 in the country and No. 1 in the SEC, according to 247Sports.

Richt and his coaching staff never had an issue recruiting in Georgia. They may not always get the top player in the state, but they always get good players who have the ability to contribute right away.

But Richt also gets great players from the pipeline. A couple of good examples are Aaron Murray from Florida, and Todd Gurley from North Carolina. Richt has 12 players committed for the upcoming signing class, and he’s been able to keep the same formula that has helped him be a contender in the SEC consistently.

So here are some early grades for the 2016 recruiting class.

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Georgia Football: Mark Richt Is Under Immense Pressure to Deliver in 2015

Despite his 74 percent win percentage with the Georgia Bulldogs, Mark Richt will have to deliver more than just wins in 2015. In 14 seasons, Richt has won 132 games, a result that wouldn't have many coaches on any hot seat.

Most coaches would be safe averaging nearly 10 wins per year. However, at a powerful program like Georgia, nine- and 10-win seasons become irrelevant if there's nothing more than a Capital One Bowl trophy to show for them.

Even with success Richt has had, it's worth wondering if he's taken the Georgia program as far it will go under his watch.

This upcoming season, Richt will be under pressure to take Georgia's program to the next level and establish the Bulldogs as a legitimate contender in the SEC and on the national stage.

Since his last SEC Championship in 2005, the consistent knock on Richt has been his teams' untimely losses that have cost them spots in SEC and national championship games.

Georgia has often had above-average teams in SEC play but they've proven incapable of winning "the big one."

No matter how strong a Georgia team may look in certain parts of the season, slip-ups against an inferior opponent almost always seems to keep them out of Atlanta.

For example, last season Georgia should have almost been a lock to win the SEC East, but losses to mediocre teams like Florida and South Carolina paved the road to Atlanta for Missouri, a team Georgia pummeled, 34-0. 

Richt's most heartbreaking blown opportunity came in 2012, when Georgia blew a fourth-quarter lead to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.

Instead, of playing Notre Dame in the national championship game that season, the Bulldogs took a postseason trip to Orlando for the Capital One Bowl. 

With the 2015 season quickly approaching, Richt will once again be given a chance to prove to Georgia fans that he can lead the program to another SEC Championship and possibly the College Football Playoff.

Each season that ends in disappointment for Georgia causes the temperature of Richt's seat to rise. Another season eight- to 10-win season without a trip to Atlanta might finally cause the end of Richt's 14-year tenure in Athens.

Talent has never been an issue with any of Richt's teams, as Georgia has consistently brought it highly rated recruiting classes and put players in the NFL.

Even though he's come close, in the past decade, Richt hasn't been able to bring that talent together to win the SEC or compete for a national title. 

Obviously, it's no easy task to win a title in the SEC, but in recent years, Georgia has had the benefit of having as fortunate of an SEC schedule as a team could hope for.

The Bulldogs play in the weaker SEC East division. Also, they haven't played the SEC's most dominant team, Alabama, in the regular season since 2008 and have matched up against LSU just once in the regular season in the same time span. 

Richt's Bulldogs will once again have high expectations in the 2015 season. ESPN's Mark Schlabach put Georgia at No. 8 in his initial preseason top-25 list for 2015. Once again, the Bulldogs will be among the favorites to win the SEC East. 

This year's schedule will feature a few tougher tests than previous seasons. Georgia will square off against Alabama in Week 5 and will also travel to Knoxville to take on a Tennessee team that Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee has already predicted to win the SEC East.

2015 has to be the year that Richt is able to break through and silence his many critics. He's tested the patience of the Georgia fanbase long enough.

Unless, he can deliver an SEC title or a berth in the College Football Playoff, it may finally be time for Richt and Georgia to part ways. 

Sami Harb is a Bleacher Report Contributor. Follow him on twitter @SamiPHarb

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25 Greatest Games in History of College Football

Here's a reminder, as if you needed one: College football is unpredictable. That makes this sport, however bass-ackwards it may be at times with the way it's operated, so much fun. 

Right now, we're missing out on the fun. Week 1 of the 2015 season is still more than three full months away. It's times like these that we feed the itch by looking back at some of the best moments from the game. 

Or, in this case, the games themselves. That's how this topic was born. Ranking all-time games is always a challenge, but we feel we have a healthy mixture of older and newer games, shootouts and defensive struggles, nail-biters, comebacks and improbable finishes. From regular-season games to national championships, everything was under consideration. 

Here are, according to us, the best games in the history of college football—which will undoubtedly be universally agreed upon by everyone, right? Right. 

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Why Nick Chubb Is the Best Candidate for SEC Player of the Year in 2015

In 2014, Nick Chubb backed up his 5-star status and then some.

The Georgia star finished second, behind Auburn senior Cameron Artis-Payne, for the most rushing yards in the SEC.

He did that as a true freshman despite limited touches in almost half of Georgia's games, when he backed up the later-suspended and injured Todd Gurley.

When he got his opportunity to take over, Chubb showcased an all-around running game that was beyond his years. Speed and strength, agility and acceleration, tiptoeing and trucking—Chubb checked off all the boxes for an elite back.

This season, if Chubb avoids the off-field trouble and on-field injuries that hurt Gurley, he should run away with the title as the best player in the SEC.

Here's why.

 

Time to Improve on a Stunning Debut

Three other true freshman running backs in the SEC (LSU's Leonard Fournette, Georgia teammate Sony Michel and Auburn's Roc Thomas) were rated higher than Chubb coming out of high school.

Even with more carries than Fournette, Michel and Thomas, Chubb averaged more yards per touch than the trio ranked ahead of him—and everyone else in the SEC.

His mark of 7.06 yards per carry was the best for any SEC running back with at least 100 carries since Arkansas' Felix Jones ran for 1,162 yards on 133 carries in 2007.

In the seven games following Gurley's suspension, starting with Georgia's blowout victory over eventual SEC East champion Missouri, Chubb averaged 189 yards per contest. That is more than Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon averaged per game, and he led the nation in that category.

Now that he will be Georgia's No. 1 running back from the opening kickoff of the season, Chubb has the potential to put up more dizzying stats in his sophomore campaign.

And if his spring break workouts were any indication, per 247Sports' Rusty Mansell, he definitely did the work to accomplish just that this offseason:

 

Strength of Georgia's Front Five

With that said, even the most talented of running backs will struggle at the college level if he doesn't have adequate offensive line play in front of him.

Good news for Chubb and Georgia fans everywhere: The Bulldogs' offensive line is so much better than adequate.

Georgia is returning four of its five starters on the offensive line that paved the way for Chubb, Gurley and Michel to average an SEC-best 257.8 rushing yards per game.

Although the Bulldogs have to replace longtime center David Andrews, they have a great amount of experience and talent in their projected starting line:

Not only is Chubb going to get better after his first season at Georgia, his blockers up front are going to continue developing their skills and chemistry with one another.

That's how you improve on a top-15 rushing attack.

 

Focal Point of Georgia's Entire Offense

With the Bulldogs breaking in a new quarterback and replacing their top two receivers from the 2014 season, a lot of Georgia's offense is going to rely on the legs of Chubb.

Bleacher Report's Andrew Hall wrote in February that Chubb's workload in 2015 might be something Georgia fans haven't seen since Knowshon Moreno was between the hedges:

In 14 seasons under Richt, Georgia's offense has averaged just shy of 480 attempts per year. If Chubb matches Moreno's usage rate of more than 60 percent of all carries, he could register 290 carries. That's 30 more touches than any Georgia running back of the Richt Era.

Georgia still has talented depth at the running back position behind Chubb in Michel and Keith Marshall, who missed most of 2014 with an injury.

But with the success rate he enjoyed last season and the injury history for both Michel and Marshall, the Bulldogs will probably be in the position to use Chubb more than what they're used to in a normal running back rotation.

Part of that change might come from new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who was more of a run-first guy in the NFL.

Simply put, Georgia fans can expect the Bulldogs to "run the dang ball" in 2015.

And that ball will mostly be carried by Chubb, whom Hall says has the potential to produce the best season in Georgia history:

290 carries split over 12 regular-season contests and a bowl game yield a per-game average of just more than 22 rush attempts. Over the final eight games of the 2014 season, Chubb averaged more than 24 carries per game.

With that workload and seven yards per carry—slightly less than what Chubb posted last season—would make him the first single-season 2,000-yard rusher in Georgia history.

If Chubb even comes close to those numbers, he'll definitely be on the path to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

Although recent history suggests that award will most likely be handed to another quarterback, that's never been a problem for the top-player award in the SEC.

 

Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Justin Ferguson is an on-call college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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