NCAA Football News

Extra Points with Barrett Sallee: Brandon Harris Speaks, Herschel's Huge Workout

Brandon Harris Speaks

It's not often that we hear from freshmen at LSU, but when they get out of the confines of Baton Rouge, it presents more opportunity for them to speak their minds in front of live microphones or, in this case, a television camera.

Harris showed up at former LSU running back Jacob Hester's camp, and KTBS in Shreveport got his thoughts on his ongoing battle with sophomore Anthony Jennings for the top spot on the depth chart at quarterback.

"I want him to put who he feels like gives us the best chance to win the national championship on the field," Harris said. "If that's me, I'm going to take it and take full advantage of it, be thankful for the opportunity and play as hard as I can. If it's Anthony, I'm going to be very supportive of him. That's how you handle the situation. Competition brings out the best in everybody, it doesn't build enemies."

That maturity is refreshing, especially from a true freshman.

If he wins the job, he'd be the first true freshman starting quarterback to ever start a season as the Tigers quarterback. His performance this spring, which culminated with a game in which he completed 11-of-28 passes for 195 yards, tossed three touchdowns, rushed for 77 yards and scored once on the ground, should have drawn him close to Jennings, if not put him ahead. 

If he's as good as Hester and the rest of the former players in the video claim he is, he should run away with the job early in fall camp.

 

Smart Sounds off on All Things CFB

As much of a shock as it was for Harris to step in front of the camera, it was also a treat to catch Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart in front of a live mic.

Smart joined The Front Row on WCNN 680 The Fan in Atlanta and covered myriad topics including his future as a head coach—if and when he decides to move on from Tuscaloosa. We already touched on why his patience is refreshing earlier this week, but what else was discussed?

  • Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton were nightmares to prepare for (not breaking news, but still noteworthy). Former Arkansas running back Darren McFadden was no slouch, either.
  • Defensive end Marcell Dareus, linebacker Dont'a Hightower and defensive backs Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Javier Arenas were some of the top players he has coached in Tuscaloosa.
  • Linebacker Trey DePriest could become a star.
  • Starting two true freshmen at cornerback, which could happen if Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey shine in fall camp, isn't ideal.
  • Jeremy Pruitt is a great coach and teacher and a solid hire for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Head coach Nick Saban's "one voice" policy makes sense, and there's no reason to change it. But it is nice when his assistants speak, even if all they do is provide a slightly different tone to the party line.

 

From Punchline to Power?

Georgia got good news this week, as junior college transfer corner Shattle Fenteng was cleared academically and will complete his transfer from Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College, according to Chip Towers of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

That's big news because Fenteng—the third-best junior college cornerback in last year's recruiting class—will join a Georgia defensive backfield that has quite a bit of personnel uncertainty.

Damian Swann and Sheldon Dawson are likely to get the nod as Georgia's starting cornerbacks, but Fenteng gives new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt just one more option to consider as he attempts to fix that inconsistent secondary.

 

The SEC's Third-String Sleeper

Everybody knows about the Arkansas dynamic duo of Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams at running back, but don't sleep on the third man up.

Korliss Marshall had a great spring game with 99 yards and two touchdowns and will serve as the home run hitter in this Hogs' offense.

"Marshall is one of the most explosive players who I've ever coached," head coach Bret Bielema told B/R. "We got a monster there that kind of reminds me of a time when I was at Wisconsin, when we had a trio of players who went on to have NFL careers in John Clay, James White and Montee Ball."

If Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen can simply pose a threat through the air, the Arkansas running game could be one of the SEC's best—even if the season doesn't go as planned.

 

Must-See TV

The SEC Network has built a pretty solid staff so far, but specific programming news has been noticeably absent. It covered both bases this week when it announced that Dari Nowkhah will host a daily, weeknight show at 6 p.m. ET called SEC Now.

This shouldn't be a shock.

This kind of show was a natural, and Nowkhah was the natural choice. He has experience with ESPN on ESPNU, knows the conference and is entertaining on camera.

Who will join him on set? There may be a revolving door of analysts with him, but he'll be the face of the show, which is a great decision for the new network.

 

Nothing to See Here

Clay Travis of FoxSports.com reported this week that the SEC Network was nearing a deal with Comcast to carry the new 24-hour cable channel upon its launch on Aug. 14. It's just another sign that the dominoes are beginning to fall.

The SEC Network already has major carriage deals with AT&T U-verse, DISH Network, Google Fiber and several other smaller carriers, which, as we reported in early March, makes it more successful than the Big Ten Network the day it launched in 2007.

Everybody calm down and take a deep breath. It'll be OK.

If you don't have the SEC Network and want it, you will be able to get it when it hits the air—most likely on your current carrier. These carriage discussions are all started at different times, often on purpose to put pressure on other carriers within the market.

ESPN, which wholly owns the SEC Network, already used its other Disney properties to work out a deal with DISH. That's the beauty of the format of the SEC Network. If it needs to leverage Disney Junior or some other non-sports network to get the leverage it wants, it can. It will.

I have DirecTV. DirecTV doesn't have a carriage deal with the SEC Network yet. I need the SEC Network to do my job. I'm not worried.

 

Freak

Former Georgia running back Herschel Walker told TMZ he does 750-1,500 push-ups and 3,500 sit-ups every day. At age 52. EVERY DAY.

Related: My dedication to keeping my New Year's resolution to get shape seems much less significant now.

 

* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted, stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.com.

 


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Dorial Green-Beckham Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation Surrounding WR

Updates from Thursday, July 3

Oklahoma announced that Dorial Green-Beckham has joined the program. The release specifies that Green-Beckham is not eligible to play until 2015.

Head coach Bob Stoops discussed Green-Beckham's arrival in the announcement.

We are pleased to welcome Dorial to the University of Oklahoma, where he is excited to continue his education and resume his playing career. Dorial understands the privilege and responsibilities of representing the Oklahoma Football program. He is a talented young man who is eager to get to work with the rest of our team in the classroom and on the field.

Green-Beckham also commented in the team's release:

I appreciate this opportunity from Coach Stoops and the University of Oklahoma. There are people here who will help me build a strong foundation. I’ve disappointed myself and others in the past. I know that I have a lot of work to do and I’m ready to get started. OU is a great program and I feel privileged to be part of it. The university has made the expectations clear and I want to live up to them and be a positive part of the campus and team. I also want to thank Coach Gary Pinkel and the University of Missouri.

Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report weighed in on the news of the transfer:

Original Text

Dorial Green-Beckham's football career might be back on track "Sooner" rather than later.    

The former Missouri wideout was spotted in Norman visiting the Oklahoma campus, per Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman:

The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey snapped a photo of Green-Beckham outside the Barry Switzer Center with Oklahoma's co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Jay Norvell and recruiting director Cale Gundy:

There was some confusion about whether this kind of visit is permissible during a "dead period," during which contact in-person with potential recruits is explicitly prohibited. Athnet's John Infante explained how Green-Beckham might be a special case:

First is if Green-Beckham is not actually "meeting" with the Oklahoma coaches. The dead period does not prevent Green-Beckham from being on Oklahoma’s campus. It also does not prevent the coaches from calling him or taking his phone calls. Picture Green-Beckham strolling around the OU campus while chatting on the phone with the coaching staff. That is permissible.

Second is if Green-Beckham signed a financial aid agreement with Oklahoma. Then dead periods do not apply. And because Green-Beckham is not a midyear enrollee intending to graduate high school early, this interpretation does not apply. So Oklahoma is not at risk for a violation of the letter of intent restrictions if Green-Beckham does not ultimately enroll at OU.

Kersey indicated that Green-Beckham signed the financial-aid agreement:

Missouri dismissed the would-be junior in April while he was being investigated for shoving a woman "down at least four stairs," per Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com. Prior to that, he also had two marijuana-related arrests.

Because of the circumstances surrounding his departure from the Tigers, Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said that he'd be surprised if Green-Beckham is granted a waiver allowing him to forgo the one-year transfer rule:

As NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweeted, that would mean the wide receiver is eyeing the 2016 NFL draft rather than 2015:

Green-Beckham had a breakout sophomore season. His numbers jumped from 28 receptions for 395 yards and five touchdowns in 2012 to 59 receptions for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013. On talent alone, he'd be a great addition to the Sooners offense.

Putting him together with Trevor Knight would give Oklahoma a great one-two punch in the passing game come 2015. If he can stay out of trouble, bringing Green-Beckham into the fold would be well worth the wait.

That's a big if, however, so this situation will be very interesting to follow as more information develops.

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SEC Football Q&A: What Do We Really Know About Alabama QB Jacob Coker?

Players are gearing up for fall camp, summer workouts are well underway and position battles are ongoing.

Which players will shine? Which transfers will live up to the hype and what offseason questions remain in the SEC?

Find out in this week's Q&A, which was moved up a week to Thursday due to Independence Day.

 

@BarrettSallee Barrett what's your opinion of Jacob coker. If you can tweet me back

— My Info (@Ahavis8My) June 27, 2014

I don't have one. I'm not sure how anybody has one.

Coker, the 6'5", 230-pounder who transferred from Florida State to Alabama this summer and is the likely starter for the Crimson Tide, is very much a mystery.

What do we know? He completed 51.2 percent of his passes in Tallahassee over the last two seasons, has a big arm and can run a little bit. 

Aside from that, though, his reputation is built for the most part on hearsay.

I'm not going to base an opinion of him on what his former coaches say he did during closed practices, and I don't believe he pushed eventual Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston for the starting quarterback job at Florida State last year for a second. Sure, he may have according to coaches, but that easily could have been a motivational tactic for Winston, who had all the buzz exiting spring practice in 2013.

The jury is out on Coker—at least it should be. Until he actually plays a game as Alabama's starting quarterback, it's really premature to have a definitive opinion on him one way or the other.

Luckily for Alabama, with all the weapons around him, he doesn't have to be Peyton Manning out there for the Crimson Tide to be successful.

 

@BarrettSallee what will have the bigger impact for UGA: new DC or attrition in the secondary?

— Chase Paris (@chaseparis) June 27, 2014

Definitely new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

The departures of safeties Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews aren't exactly ideal, but head coach Mark Richt told me in May that it's safe to assume that the transfer of Shaq Wiggins and the move of Brendan Langley to wide receiver meant that some of the pieces were starting to come together following spring practice.

Plus, Georgia has talent back there. Corey Moore, Quincy Mauger, J.J. Green, Damian Swann, Sheldon Dawson and several other members of the Georgia secondary are talented players; they were just lost last year. The reason they were lost is because former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is a terrible teacher.

Pruitt's strengths are his abilities to teach and simplify the scheme, which are precisely the two things that Georgia's secondary needs.

The beauty about Georgia this year is that the secondary doesn't need to be great, it just needs to be adequate. With all the weapons around new quarterback Hutson Mason, the Bulldogs will be able to move the football. If the defense can just force some turnovers and put the offense in good positions, they'll be all set.

 

@BarrettSallee Vandy's conference record? And does UK match it?

— Erik (@gothlaw) June 27, 2014

Oh man, it's going to be a rough year in Nashville.

Right now, I have Vanderbilt at 0-8 in the SEC and Kentucky at 1-7, with that one win being over Vanderbilt (subject to change before the start of the season, of course).

The overly simplistic reason is that Vandy is hitting the reset button with its personnel and coaching staff, while the rest of the division is taking steps forward. 

Georgia and South Carolina are legit national title contenders, and I wouldn't be shocked at all if Florida jumped into that mix as well. Missouri is the defending division champ, and Tennessee has more talent on the roster and more experience with its coaching staff. The 'Dores draw Mississippi State and Ole Miss from the west, both of which will be better and much more consistent.

Where are the wins coming from this year?

New head coach Derek Mason will have a rough go of it in Year 1, but that doesn't necessarily have to be permanent. The biggest challenge he has to face right off the bat is expectations generated from back-to-back nine-win seasons. With time, and patience, he'll be fine.

 

Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC Lead Writer Barrett Sallee on Twitter at @BarrettSallee. If your question wasn't answered this week, it has been saved and could be used in the future.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All recruiting rankings are courtesy of 247Sports.com, and all stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com.

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Is 4-Star Tyler Petite's Verbal to Duke over USC Starting a Trend or Aberration?

Stating the obvious is a good place to start because it is, if nothing else, a necessary reminder: Duke's David Cutcliffe is doing as good a job as any head coach in college football. 

Last season, the Blue Devils went 10-4, winning the ACC Coastal and recording double-digit wins for the first time in the program's history. Say what you will about the messy history of ACC divisional title races, but Cutcliffe won a division over Miami, Virginia Tech and even Georgia Tech with a roster full of 2- and 3-star players. 

And since things are coming up Milhouse in Durham, Duke got a pleasant boost on the recruiting trail Wednesday with the verbal commitment of 4-star tight end Tyler Petite

Petite, who is from Moraga, California, chose Duke over USC. Clearly, this is a big moment for Duke as a program, which grabbed a big-time recruit from across the country. However, since verbal commitments are non-binding, there's plenty of time for Petite to change his mind. 

But Duke has quietly been improving on the recruiting trail. Though the Blue Devils didn't exactly see a surge following last year's landmark season—the 2014 class was ranked 13th in the ACC by 247Sports—the early returns on the 2015 class are different. 

Duke has 17 pledges for the 2015 class, ranking sixth in the conference and 21st nationally. Though the quantity of pledges in a given class shouldn't be confused with quality, Duke is making more noise than ever before. ESPN's Andrea Adelson explains

Perhaps most impressive of all? Duke is getting pledges from players who are spurning more prestigious football programs. Not only did Petite pick Duke over USC; ESPN 300 receiver Keyston Fuller chose the Blue Devils over offers from Auburn, Clemson and hometown Georgia to name three. 

Just last month, Duke also picked up a commitment from 3-star offensive lineman Reno Rosene, who had offers from Notre Dame, Nebraska and Wisconsin. 

If Petite's verbal commitment is viewed in a vacuum, it's somewhat of an aberration. The highest-profile recruits to sign with Duke under Cutcliffe have been running back Desmond Scott in 2009 and quarterback Sean Renfree in 2008. 

In other words, blue chips have been a rarity for the Blue Devils. 

If Petite's commitment is viewed through a lens looking into the near future, it appears to be more of a trend. The overall quality of Duke's class would stand out if, by next signing day, it was still ranked somewhere in or around the top 25. 

Building and winning at Duke hasn't been an easy task for a long time. It's taken Cutcliffe a few years to get things rolling, but there's momentum for the program now. Perhaps one good class leads to two and divisional titles aren't so monumental. 

It has to start somewhere. Maybe it starts with Petite. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports

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10 FBS Teams on Upset Alert vs. FCS Opponents in 2014

FCS upsets have long been a factor in college football—just ask the 2007 Michigan Wolverines—but they reached an apex in Week 1 of last season, when eight teams from the senior circuit were defeated by teams from the junior.

Eight more FCS teams would beat FBS opponents over the course of the regular season, raising the total to 16. Of those 16 wins, three came against Georgia State, lowering the number of teams that were upset to 14. And of those 14 beaten parties, only seven came from non-power conferences. The other half came from leagues with automatic BCS berths…but still lost to an FCS team. Valar Morghulis!

The headliners of that group included Florida—an SEC power that was one year removed from the Sugar Bowl—Kansas State and Oregon State. Three proud programs were not able to overcome Georgia Southern, North Dakota State and Eastern Washington, respectively.

Which raises an important question: Who will fall victim to the FCS curse this season?

It is not a matter of if it will happen but when, where and to whom. At least a few marquee programs will lose to "inferior" competition; we know this as an near-statistical fact.

Here is a look at 10 candidates to fall in 2014.

The list was based on the strength of the FCS team in question—major props to Athlon Sports for these thorough preseason FCS rankings—and where the game lies on the schedule. A good deal of these matchups stand out for their "trap game" potential.

Chime in below, and let me know where you disagree.

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Which Program Will Build 2015 Marvell Tell into All Pac-12 Safety?

Marvell Tell is one of the biggest hitters in the 2015 class. His size and speed will allow him to develop into an amazing safety at the next level.

The California native has not pledged to a program, but he seems mostly interested in west coast schools. Where do you think he will go?

Watch College Football Analyst Michael Felder break down this future star.

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

Rankings from 247Sports' composite rankings.

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Georgia Football: 4 Bulldogs Who Are Poised for a Breakout Season in 2014

In some regards, an awful lot is known about the 2014 Georgia Bulldogs.  

Hutson Mason, who started the final two games of last season at quarterback, is coming back to throw to a handful of familiar receivers. Meanwhile, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall will lead a host of talented running backs behind an offensive line that returns three starters.

Much is needed on the defensive side of the ball, but the majority of last year's key personnel will return in 2014.

Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera will anchor the middle of the field, while talented pass-rushers Ray Drew, Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd will chase quarterbacks.

Even the defensive backfield, which has been plagued by premature departures, returns Damian Swann, Corey Moore and Quincy Mauger—three players who started at least seven games last season.

Ultimately, however, the fate of this team will be decided by less-heralded players who rise to the occasion and establish themselves as household names among Bulldog fans.  

Just in time for the holiday weekend, here are four Georgia players poised for breakout seasons in 2014.

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The Opening 2014: Schedule, Dates, Invites, Roster and TV Info

Following months of buildup, one of the biggest recruiting events on the schedule will officially get underway on Tuesday. The Opening will see several recruits make their commitments during the week, with many hoping to shine and improve their ranking heading into the summer.

Both rosters have a plethora of talented 5-star recruits ready to take the big stage in Beaverton, Oregon, to make their case as the top player at their respective position. With only 162 players making the final cut, each team will have to wait until Monday to find out who their quarterback will be.

Though the prospects won't find out until Monday about the signal-caller for their squad, Elite 11 posted a preview of the finalists:

Between the 7-on-7 matchups and linemen challenges, there will be plenty of prospects for scouts to drool over throughout the three-day event. Though some have already become popular names thanks to committing to a school, others hope to prove their worth to fanbases as they continue on the recruiting trail.

Here's a look at everything fans need to know heading into Nike's The Opening.

 

Top Recruits to Watch

Josh Sweat, Defensive End, Uncommitted

The top defensive end in the 2014 class, according to 247Sports, still hasn't committed. Oh, you better believe there will be some watchful eyes on this outstanding prospect out of Chesapeake, Virginia.

With an astounding 57 programs reportedly interested in Josh Sweat, only one will ultimately add his immense talent to their roster in the 2015 class. Chris Nee of 247Sports notes the latest predictions for the huge recruit:

He added a new Crystal Ball prediction this week, which was for Virginia Tech. The Hokies lead on his Crystal Ball with 48 percent of predictions. Florida State is second with 38 percent. Tennessee (10 percent) and Ohio State (5 percent) claim the remainder of predictions.

He has visited all of those schools with the exception of Florida State. He is due to see the Seminoles in July.

Sweat posted 94 tackles and an absurd 22 sacks last season with Oscar Smith High School and has clearly made a name for himself with his elite-level play on the field.

In a loaded field with some of the best offensive linemen looking to knock him off, this will be a huge test for Sweat. If he can shine once again on one of the biggest stages on the recruiting calendar, Sweat might just secure the top defensive end spot heading into his final season.

 

Kevin Toliver II, Cornerback, LSU Commit

Unlike Sweat, Kevin Toliver II has already announced his intentions for his college future.

The LSU commit is the No. 1 corner in the 2015 class, per 247Sports, and will look to put his elite coverage skills to the test yet again. The young man might not have hit a college field just yet, but he's already had some great coaching at the position, as Josh Newberg of 247Sports notes:

Toliver is already viewed as the top corner and knows exactly where he's heading next year, so he surely doesn't have to worry about proving himself anymore. But gaining more experience from covering top receivers like Preston Williams, George Campbell and DaMarkus Lodge will be great for his future.

With all three of those receivers potentially landing in the SEC, Toliver will have his hands full in the years to come with the Tigers. Getting experience now against the big-name wideouts and best quarterback prospects will simply better him for the road ahead.

 

Josh Rosen, Quarterback, UCLA Commit

Do you like big arms? How about pinpoint accuracy from a pro-style quarterback? Well, quite frankly, who doesn't?

Josh Rosen offers all of those things and more from his 6'4", 205-pound frame and looks every bit the part of the future star quarterback at UCLA. The St. John Bosco signal-caller discussed why he ultimately chose the Bruins for his college future, per Erik McKinney of ESPN.com:

I knew for sure it would be UCLA four days ago. I put UCLA in front a few months ago, but the Michigan visit made me go in depth about why UCLA was the right place for me. A lot went into the decision and it wasn't made just for football. I'm going to the university where I fit best in all aspects.

After throwing for 3,000 yards and 27 touchdowns last season, Rosen burst onto the scene and is now viewed as the No. 1 quarterback by 247Sports. Already committed and showing flashes of what is to come in the next several years for the Bruins, Rosen might have to compete against players like Toliver and others to prove himself.

In a 7-on-7 setting, look for Rosen to yet again emerge as a star by finding his elite-level receivers down the field with his huge arm. With a huge Pac-12 audience expected in Beaverton, Rosen will prove yet again why he's the next in line of great quarterbacks for the Bruins.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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Elite 11 2014: Finals Schedule, Dates, Events and Trent Dilfer's QB Roster

When it comes to the best crops of quarterback prospects, the Elite 11 competition always brings out the biggest stars ready for the next level.

Trent Dilfer's quarterback roster this year includes several big names that have already committed to schools like Florida State, UCLA and Texas A&M. Then there are several others who have yet to announce their intentions and will look to prove their worth on the big stage.

Here's a look at the full roster provided by the Elite 11 Twitter account:

In an event that once saw names like Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford and recently Jameis Winston rise to stardom, the Elite 11 offers some of the best signal-callers from around the country in one competition. All 18 quarterbacks invited will hope they make the final list when it's whittled down to 11 at the end of the week.

Before the finals officially get underway, here's a look at the full schedule for the Elite 11 competition.

 

Dates and TV Coverage

Saturday, July 5: Not televised

Sunday, July 6: Not televised

Monday, July 7: Not televised

Tuesday, July 8: ESPNU at 8 p.m. ET

Wednesday, July 9: ESPNU at 8 p.m. ET

Thursday, July 10: ESPNU at 8 p.m. ET

 

Prospects to Watch

Josh Rosen, UCLA

Josh Rosen has all of the essentials for an elite quarterback. He has the big arm, pinpoint accuracy and a 6'4" frame that makes him a prototypical pro-style signal-caller.

After committing to UCLA, Rosen heads into the competition looking to only prove that he's better than any other player in the running. The St. John Bosco quarterback spoke about why he ultimately chose the Bruins for his college future, per Erik McKinney of ESPN.com:

I knew for sure it would be UCLA four days ago. I put UCLA in front a few months ago, but the Michigan visit made me go in depth about why UCLA was the right place for me. A lot went into the decision and it wasn't made just for football. I'm going to the university where I fit best in all aspects.

The No. 1 quarterback by 247Sports threw for 3,000 yards and 27 touchdowns last season. Given the immense talent also in the competition, Rosen will look to hold down the top spot in the rankings by outdoing every other signal-caller in Beaverton.

In a 7-on-7 setting, Rosen will yet again emerge as a star with his huge arm and outstanding pocket presence. With a huge Pac-12 audience expected in Oregon, Rosen will look to show UCLA fans why he is better than another quarterback set to play for their rival in the future.

 

Ricky Town, USC

That quarterback Rosen will be compared to is none other than Ricky Town.

The rivalry between UCLA and USC is always exciting on the football field, but it starts early for both Rosen and Town. Formerly the top quarterback in the class, Town spoke about the reasons he chose USC after decommitting from Alabama, per Blair Angulo of ESPN.com:

I'm proud to be a part of the Trojan Family! I've seen many of the top programs and what they have to offer. However, when I had the chance to get on the USC campus last week and spend time with Coach Sarkisian and his staff, I knew after those meetings that USC is where I want to be. ... I chose USC because of the tradition, the academics and the incredible coaching staff.

Despite a knee injury, per the ESPN report, Town still threw for 2,300 yards and 25 touchdowns in just nine games last season. After a gutsy performance, he earned the final spot on the roster and will look to make the most of it.

Between the two top quarterbacks, both will put on a show for the fans on the West Coast. As for Alabama fans, they will have to watch and think, "What might have been?" while also enjoying Blake Barnett, who recently committed to the Crimson Tide.

 

Ryan Brand, Uncommitted

No, he's not the top overall, a 5- or even 4-star recruit, but Ryan Brand has proven he's worthy of being considered one of the top quarterbacks in the 2015 class.

Barton Simmons of 247Sports wrote about Brand's talent: "If we’re talking purely about performance and not factoring in how he projects to the future due to size, Brand was probably the best thrower in attendance."

Not to mention, he also got a pretty special shoutout when he earned his invitation to the finals:

When Russell Wilson gives you a shoutout, you know you've done something special. Wilson, a quarterback who had to prove a lot despite his short stature, has shown that quarterbacks of any size can be elite.

For Brand, it will be about showing that he deserves to be offered by a power-five conference. While he's earned offers from both Indiana State and Air Force, the 3-star signal-caller might be able to emerge and get the letter he's worked so hard for during the recruiting process.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

One Commitment Every Pac-12 Team Wishes It Could Get This Summer

Earlier in this way-too-long offseason we wrote about every Pac-12 team's dream recruit, a piece which took realistic options out of the equation and went warp speed into fantasyland.

This time, we're tweaking the subject matter a bit and taking a look at one player from whom every team wishes it could secure a commitment over the summer. We're still a month away from the start of fall camp, so prime time for recruiting is happening as you read this sentence.

The following players don't necessarily have to be considered "locks" to the school, but we're focusing strictly on guys who actually have an interest in the program. So while Utah would love to get a commitment from 5-star cornerback Iman Marshall, the chances of that happening are nonexistent.

The quarterback dominoes have begun to fall, but there is still plenty of top talent available. Which players are Pac-12 schools hoping to get a commitment from in the next couple months?

 

All recruiting info via 247sports.com

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What Would Nile Sykes' Absence Mean for Notre Dame in 2014?

Blue and Gold Illustrated’s Dan Murphy (subscription required) reported Wednesday that incoming Notre Dame football freshman linebacker Nile Sykes won’t be playing for the Irish this fall, citing unnamed sources.

Soon after the report was published, Sykes tweeted, “I am still currently a Notre Dame student.” The tweet has since been deleted from Sykes’ Twitter account.

Further reports from Chris Hine of the Chicago Tribune and Tyler James of the South Bend Tribune suggested the possibility of Sykes transferring.

If—and that's still an important distinction to make—the linebacker were to leave the university, what impact would that have on Notre Dame in 2014?

Sykes, a 3-star signee from Oak Park, Illinois, was slated as the No. 36 outside linebacker in the country and ranked at No. 459 overall. On national signing day, Irish head coach Brian Kelly called Sykes a “great addition to our class.”

“[We] really like Nile and his personality,” Kelly said. “He's got a great family. Mom and dad, really excited about being a part of the Notre Dame family. Listen, that matters, too. We want people that want to be part of Notre Dame and be part of our family.”

Kelly praised Sykes’ ball skills and instincts and said the Montini Catholic High School product has the versatility to play inside and outside.

Sykes is one of three linebackers in Notre Dame’s class of 2014. According to Murphy, Sykes has been projected to play outside linebacker for the Irish. While Sykes—the lowest-rated linebacker signee in Notre Dame’s class—likely would not be making major contributions as a freshman, a potential departure would further thin an already questionable position.

Notre Dame returns sophomore Jaylon Smith but must replace Carlo Calabrese, Dan Fox and Prince Shembo in the linebacking corps. With Jarrett Grace’s status still up in the air and Ben Councell also returning from injury, Smith is the only healthy player with starting experience.

Still, Sykes probably would not be expected to leapfrog other returning players such as John Turner and James Onwualu on the depth chart.

Thus, a potential departure would mainly impact the Irish down the road. Should Sykes leave the program and free up a scholarship, Notre Dame could take on another player in the class of 2014. Thanks to a recent run of commitments, the Irish currently have 17 players in their class of 2015. Over the past 34 days, Notre Dame has landed 10 new commitments. The surge has bumped the Irish to No. 8 in the class rankings.

But Notre Dame may also be approaching its upper limit for commitments in the class of 2015. A host of players in the senior class could have fifth-year options, which would further tighten the strings on the size of this cycle’s recruiting class.

Whose is next to join? Class is closing out quickly. Go Irish!

— Kerry Cooks (@CoachKerryCooks) July 3, 2014

First, however, there is clarity needed on Sykes’ situation.

Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting stats and information courtesy of 247Sports.com and all quotes obtained firsthand. Star ratings reflect 247Sports composite rankings.

Mike Monaco is a lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco_ on Twitter.

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