NCAA Football News
Last week we looked at the weakest position group on each Big Ten roster. This week it is time to skew positive.
And why shouldn't it be? The Big Ten is on the rise after closing the season strong, both on the field (Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin) and on the coaching circuit (Michigan). "The Big Ten is back," wrote Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports.
And that was before Ohio State won the national title game.
Picking each team's strongest position group was a fairly straightforward process. Factors such as star power, depth and experience were strongly considered, although freshmen were not ignored. How the early enrollees perform this spring might change things, but for now, this is where each team feels most comfortable.
Sound off below and let us know what you think.
Miami suffered their second decommitment from a 4-star running back within the last month when Jordan Scarlett announced he was backing off his pledge to the Hurricanes on Sunday.
The 5’11”, 222-pounder will announce his decision between Florida, Florida State and Miami on Monday.
While the ‘Canes are still stated as a team he’s considering, Scarlett’s decision is likely to come down to the ‘Noles and the Gators.
Where does Miami turn, and how do Florida and Florida State stack up in the race to land the nation's No. 12 running back?
For starters, Scarlett’s defection is a huge blow to the ‘Canes 2015 class.
Now, only Walton remains.
Williams—who decommitted from Miami on Jan. 2, per Nate Adelson of InsideTheU—still has the ‘Canes among his finalists along with Notre Dame and Louisville.
According to Adelson, Williams—who will decide on signing day—is still considering the Hurricanes for a few reasons.
“I haven’t talked to them much because I know they’re busy,” Williams said. “The coaches are still trying to see if they can open a spot in the best interests of the team. I understand where they’re coming from. At the same time, they were my first offer and I was committed there for a long time. I would like the chance at staying in Florida to play for them and that’s basically.”
If the ‘Canes are unable to land him, a class with Walton as the lone rusher headed to Coral Gables would be a disappointment considering the trio they expected earlier in the cycle.
As for Scarlett, both Florida and Florida State present him with unique opportunities.
New Gators head coach Jim McElwain would love to add Scarlett and tab him as the back that represents the future of his offense.
With Kelvin Taylor entering his junior season and sophomore Brandon Powell more of a shifty back, Scarlett potentially has a more navigable path to find the field early in his career in Gainesville.
At FSU, Jimbo Fisher has rising sophomore Dalvin Cook and incoming 4-star rusher Jacques Patrick—who is already on campus as an early enrollee—ready to form a strong punch in the backfield.
Adding Scarlett would give the ‘Noles a mix of young and talented rushers who can hurt defenses in different ways.
Fisher and his staff have consistently reeled in top talent in recent years, which lends credence to the theory that the ‘Noles offense will still be a potent unit in the post-Jameis Winston era. Scarlett would give Fisher another versatile skill weapon with which to surround his new quarterback.
All three Sunshine State powers would love to have the services of a big and powerful back such as Scarlett.
If his Crystal Ball page is any indicator, his recruitment will be a bitter fight until the very end.
Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
The Texas A&M football coaches are going to sign a top-10 recruiting class on national signing day. They will finish out the class with a couple of elite recruits, and this class will contribute immediately in 2015.
In order to compete in the SEC on a weekly basis, you need to have elite talent. The Aggies could bring in a top-five recruiting class and they still would not even sign the best class in their division.
There are currently four SEC teams with recruiting classes ranked higher than the Aggies' class. Alabama and LSU are in the SEC West along with Texas A&M, and both have classes ranked above the Aggies'.
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has done a nice job of turning over the roster and stocking it with SEC-level talent. The 2015 class is Sumlin's fourth recruiting class in Aggieland and should put A&M in position to compete for SEC titles every year going forward.
This is a look at all of the players who are expected to sign with Texas A&M on national signing day.
The first week of February is a big week for football, at every level. One can see the long throughline of a football player's career in this time, with the Super Bowl on Sunday and national signing day on Wednesday.
The Super Bowl turns regular players into heroes and legends. Before they were regular players, they were NFL draft hopefuls. Prior to declaring, they were collegiate stars. Before they became the big men on campus, they were wide-eyed freshmen, redshirting, working the scout team and maybe, just maybe, playing on Saturdays.
And before that, they were high school phenoms, stressing over which college program they would bet their future on.
Feb. 4 will see the top uncommitted football recruits finally announce their college decisions, assuaging the fears of some fans and opening up anxieties in others with a few simple words or the donning of a baseball cap emblazoned with their new home's logo.
With a few days until National Signing Day, let's take a look at the final twists and turns in some interesting recruiting sagas and predict where a trio of coveted teenagers will play college ball.
Iman Marshall, CB (No. 4 overall, No. 1 position)
Long thought to be a lock to don a USC cap on national signing day, top-rated cornerback Iman Marshall has been the subject of a late-stage recruiting frenzy, with illustrious programs such as Michigan, Florida State and LSU making late overtures.
Marshall had positive things to say about all three schools, highlighting key aspects of each school that illustrate the difficulty of the choice ahead of him.
"At Florida State, the football atmosphere and the coaching staff is great," he said, via ESPN Insider's Erik McKinney. "At Michigan, the networking and the new coaching hire. And LSU, that's DB U."
However, there is one top-tier program that has Marshall on its wish list but could be out of the running. According to ESPN's Craig Haubert, Marshall decided to cancel a late visit to Oregon:
With so many top programs to choose from, it makes sense that Marshall is trying to simplify things before he makes his announcement—scheduled for 4 p.m. ET on Feb. 4, for those interested.
The Long Beach Poly product is the type of player who can make an immediate impact on campus with his strong frame (6'1", 190 lbs) and undeniable athleticism. Marshall racked up 79 tackles and 16 passes defensed as a senior in 2014.
UCLA and USC are still in the running apparently, with the Trojans perhaps the favorite to win the local kid over. According to 247 Sports' Crystal Ball predictions, 98 percent of experts polled see Marshall heading to Southern California. That's an outsized level of confidence for such a highly recruited player, but USC showed this past year there is room for true freshmen to compete should they prove themselves worthy.
With Marcus Mariota leaving Oregon and Brett Hundley leaving UCLA, there could be a bit of a power vacuum in the Pac-12. Look for Marshall to stay close to home and commit to USC.
Prediction: USC Trojans
Daylon Mack, DT (No. 14 overall, No. 4position)
Daylon Mack, a bruising Texas high school football product through and through, is deciding among some of the top programs in the Lone Star State.
At 6'0" and 330 pounds, you could theoretically line Mack up against some NFL squads, and he would hardly look out of place.
The wide-bodied mauler racked up 17 sacks and a staggering 89 tackles for loss in three varsity seasons at Gladewater (Texas). He also moonlighted as perhaps the most terrifying prep fullback in the nation his senior year, rushing for 264 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Texas A&M, TCU and Texas all appear to be contenders for Mack's signature, but the Horned Frogs may have slipped in the race, per ESPN's Gerry Hamilton:
They could still very well be in the running, but the canceled visit doesn't bode well for the program. The Aggies also have to be quite nervous considering Mack was a former commit before re-opening the process in recent months.
Apparently, Mack has already made up his mind, per his Twitter account:
Maybe his Twitter account has a potential clue. Let's take a look:
I think he's trying to tell us something. Charlie Strong's commitment to the Longhorns program will sway the young lineman, and Texas fans will be delighted watching the young man wear burnt orange in the coming years.
Prediction: Texas Longhorns
K.J. Hill, WR (No. 152 overall, No. 16 position)
Urban Meyer and Nick Saban's storied rivalry isn't limited to furious gridiron battles and championship contests. With Meyer running Ohio State and Saban presiding over Alabama, it's of little surprise that the two men will fight for the same prep recruits from time to time.
The latest such example is the saga of wide receiver prospect K.J. Hill, a 4-star player who was thought to be heading to Arkansas but could now very well end up a Buckeye or member of the Crimson Tide.
247 Sports' Trevor Hewett has the latest on the young wideout:
On Wednesday night, Nick Saban and wide receivers coach Billy Napier had an in-home visit with North Little Rock (Ark.) four-star wide receiver and top Tide target K.J. Hill and his family. The 6-foot, 188-pounder recently decommitted from Arkansas following his official visit with the Tide earlier this month.
Arkansas is a program on the rise, but it's hard to beat the allure of Alabama, where SEC and national championships are expected instead of merely aspired to.
However, Ohio State isn't out of the running, although it could be a long shot as Cleveland.com's Ari Wasserman noted: "Ohio State hosted Hill for an official visit last weekend, but the Buckeyes are still seemingly on the outside looking in for the 6-foot, 188-pound prospect. A former Arkansas commit, Hill is very high on Alabama and is officially visiting the Razorbacks this weekend."
A national championship is a nice asset to flaunt when persuading young recruits. Ohio State could have a very real shot at landing Hill if he's looking for programs that can virtually guarantee success in the coming years—a reassurance the Razorbacks cannot provide after a 7-6 season.
The rousing success of wideout Amari Cooper and his departure to the NFL ranks make the Crimson Tide a uniquely compelling destination for a top wideout. Cooper racked up 124 receptions in 2014. The next-best player in that category was DeAndrew White, who racked up 40 catches, a relatively meager sum.
As an Arkansas kid, Hill knows all about the allure and power of the SEC. Look for him to take his collegiate chances with this hard-nosed conference and give Saban at least one small victory over Meyer this winter.
Prediction: Alabama Crimson Tide
Composite rankings, stats, recruiting info and measurements courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com