NCAA Football News
With just one more weekend to go before the start of the 2013 college football season, it's officially acceptable to make predictions for the upcoming season. The Tennessee Volunteers have had fans wondering and debating what kind of season they'll have all offseason because of the renewed energy in Knoxville.
All credit goes to Butch Jones and his relentless staff for embracing the Volunteer tradition, adding their own flair and pressing forward with their "brick by brick" strategy to get Tennessee back. Until now, Jones has done everything right.
But the one and only way he'll be graded in the long term is his on-field success. Recruiting is great. Developing is even better. But winning is king of kings, lord of lords. It's the be-all end-all to the future of a coach.
So how does the 2013 season look? I believe there are too many people on the poles on this subject—some thinking nine-plus wins, while others think an unprecedented fourth consecutive losing season is imminent.
As usual, the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle.
College teams know that they must always haul in as much offensive talent as they can to make sure they have the firepower to score a ton of points.
However, some teams go to the extreme and spend a recruiting cycle focusing primarily on offense. Defense may win championships, but offense wins the games needed to get those championship opportunities.
An SEC program known for its strong defense is using this cycle to strengthen its offensive units. Plus, an ACC program known more for its special teams is bringing in good offensive talent in 2014.
The Big Ten Conference has a competitive recruiting trail, and its schools also have to deal with neighboring Notre Dame lurking around its recruiting targets.
Ohio State and Michigan have the ability to recruit nationally, but even the two powerful Big Ten programs have to fend off other schools.
Speaking of Big Blue, the Wolverines are fighting two prominent SEC programs for a defensive end. Penn State has high hopes for a big defensive tackle, and Minnesota is trying to keep its top committed prospect away from its conference rivals.
Bo Jackson is one of a few players in the history of modern college football to transfix football experts as completely as Jadeveon Clowney does these days.
A physical phenomenon, Clowney does things on the gridiron most professional players can't touch, and he's only 20 years old. Barring an unfortunate injury, nobody would be surprised to see the junior defensive end win the Heisman Trophy this season and become a perennial All-Pro pass-rusher in the NFL for one lucky team.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame isn't out of the question, either.
This is no jest.
Clowney's potential is immeasurable.
There's a good reason he's being considered as a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this year. With 21 sacks in 25 career games as a freshman and sophomore, Clowney has a proven track record of being one of the nation's most disruptive defenders.
The last defensive player to win the trophy was Charles Woodson back in 1997, but many, including a panel of ESPN.com experts, expect the defensive end from South Carolina to break the long drought.
If he had been eligible, Clowney would have almost certainly been the first pick of the 2013 NFL draft, and he'd have likely generated a bidding war for that pick by teams clamoring for his services.
Former NFL scout and current NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah recently polled five NFL executives with over 10 years of experience, and all five of them concluded "that Clowney was the best defensive player they had seen in college football over the last decade."
No pressure, kid.
Should the young man fail to live up to the enormous expectations being placed on his shoulders, Clowney will go down in history as one of the biggest busts in the history of football.
Thankfully, from recent reports out of South Carolina, Clowney isn't resting on his laurels. He has his own teammates catching hell from head coach Steve Spurrier for not blocking him in practice, as noted by USA Today's Willie T. Smith:
Our pass protection stinks right now. Our offensive line was not very good today, some of them. Some of them may have played decent, we'll wait and see. But obviously we act like we didn't even try to block Clowney today. I don't think at any time was he blocked. We act like we're afraid to block him, I don't know. But anyway, hopefully he's that good, but I've seen other people block him. He doesn't get to the quarterback every play like he did just about today.
Perhaps I'm alone in this, but it appears Spurrier was slyly giving his pass-rusher an underhanded compliment while simultaneously bashing his offense.
Chances are, the South Carolina offensive linemen are sick and tired of getting beat up by the freak of nature we call Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney's legend is only beginning to take shape.
In addition to the sheer numbers he's put up and his freakish size, speed and strength, which are impressive enough, Clowney has sent millions scrambling for their computers to log onto YouTube after he destroyed Vincent Smith in the backfield before Smith ever knew what hit him.
The play earned Clowney an ESPY award for the Best Play. Yeah, it was kind of a big deal.
Just to make things interesting this summer, he flipped a blocking sled like it was made of cardboard, as noted by ESPN's SportsCenter:
In case you didn't already know this, those sleds aren't light.
Given the magnitude of the myth he's already created, the weight of carrying out such an epic vision is one most of us could never fathom.
Should he overcome the pressure of his own hype and continue to blossom as a football player, the majority of fans will only appreciate his physical feats of might.
They would all miss the beautiful truth.
Far greater than his raw speed and power, more impressive than a multitude of sacks and more meaningful than winning the Heisman Trophy, measuring up to the legend of Clowney will be Jadeveon's greatest feat.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
The 25 best uncommitted recruits are certainly focused on their upcoming seasons and trying to finish their career strong. However, recruiting never stops, and they must also begin to narrow their lists.
With the start of the season now only days away, that is a sign the recruiting cycle is moving to a pivotal stage. Some of the best uncommitted prospects are close to making a decision, while several remain open.
A defensive end has three schools who are standing out for him, while a cornerback could still like upwards of 10 programs. Also, one receiver is facing pressure to stay home, but several major schools are trying to lure him away.
After a resurgent 12-1 season last year, you may have hopped on the bandwagon by calling yourself part of the most loved, most hated and most relevant fan base in the world.
Before you avow your allegiance to the Fighting Irish faithful, make sure you're ready to take the next step. It's not always easy being green, and not everyone is cut out to be a loyal son or daughter of Notre Dame.
Think you're already there? Here are 13 surefire signs that you might be a Fighting Irish fan: