NCAA Football News

What Ohio State Football Players Were Up to on Spring Break

COLUMBUS, Ohio — After winning the national championship on Jan. 12, Ohio State didn't have much time to celebrate.

"The day we got back, we had class the next day," Buckeyes left tackle Taylor Decker told Bleacher Report.

Ohio State's return to Columbus coincided with the start of the school's winter semester, meaning nine consecutive weeks of classes—including the start of spring practice—stood between the Buckeyes and spring break. If the OSU players wanted to spend their breaks soaking up the sun and celebrating their unprecedented run in the College Football Playoff, nobody would have blamed them, only that didn't seem to be the case.

After enduring their first week of spring practice two weeks ago, the Buckeyes set sail for spring break last week and will return to the practice field Tuesday. Like many other college students, Ohio State players shared their spring break memories throughout the week via social media, only they weren't what you'd expect.

For example, take the case of Cardale Jones, who currently finds himself in the midst of college football's most-talked about quarterback competition. But rather than take off for Panama City Beach or Cancun, the national champion signal-caller simply headed back to his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, where he embarked on a tour of local schools:

Never shy to share his thoughts or personal life via social media, Jones also used his break to spend quality time with his four-month-old daughter, Chloe:

Jones wasn't the only Buckeye to head home for spring break, which seemed to be a common theme for the Ohio State players last week. Of course, that wasn't too difficult of a choice for star defensive end Joey Bosa, who didn't have to make a decision when it came to picking between visiting his family or the beach:

That "smaller bear" pictured in Bosa's post is his brother, 5-star 2016 defensive end Nick Bosa. So while Joey's trip home to Fort Lauderdale may have been for pleasure, it's entirely possible that he attempted to take care of some business as well, acting as a recruiter on Urban Meyer's behalf with his uncommitted blue-chip brother.

Like Jones and Bosa, cornerback Eli Apple also headed home, as the Garden State native took a trip back to Voorhees, New Jersey. There, he made it clear what his mission was, as he planned to take full advantage of his week off from classes:

But while Apple's Twitter feed made it seem as though he would be laying on the couch all week, his mother, Annie Apple, made it clear that wasn't the case. Like Jones, Eli used his week away from Columbus to give back to the community, continuing his annual tradition of visiting his fifth-grade teacher:

Star running back Ezekiel Elliott also enjoyed a low-key spring break, taking a week-long trip back to his native St. Louis, Missouri. But while the national title game MVP's spring break was limited to the Show Me State, that didn't stop him from using social media to enjoy it via the viewpoint of others:

Between retweeting posts encouraging fans to #SaveTheCropTop, Elliott enjoyed the NCAA tournament and also watched friend and 5-star 2016 prospect Jayson Tatum in the Missouri Final Four. But while Elliott's week was relaxing, he made it clear that by the end of it, he was ready to get back to Ohio:

Quarterback J.T. Barrett headed home to Wichita Falls, Texas, to visit with his high school coach, Jim Garfield:

While wide receiver Michael Thomas took a trip to Florida to work out with Hall of Fame and Buckeye great Cris Carter:

As opposed to many of their teammates, Decker and fellow offensive lineman Pat Elflein did opt to take a vacation, heading to Puerto Vallarta to scuba-dive and do "Buckeye things":

But regardless of where the Buckeyes were located, one common trend seemed to emerge, as they took in Ohio State star basketball player D'Angelo Russell and the Buckeyes' journey in the NCAA tournament as well as Ohio State's national championship win in wrestling:

All together, it seemed to be a pretty laid back spring break for the Buckeyes—especially compared to Alabama's. With the nine-plus-week grind Ohio State just endured, that may be just what it needed as it prepares for the remainder of spring practice and a defense of its national title.

 

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com. Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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TCU off to a 'Spectacular' Start with Key 2016 Recruits on Board

The state of Texas is on notice as the TCU Horned Frogs are off to a hot start to the 2016 recruiting cycle with many key players already in the boat. 

Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down the incoming class for TCU and what their impact will be at the next level. 

Is TCU off to the best start in recruiting? Check out the video and let us know! 

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Alabama Football Recruiting Offers of the Week

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Just because it was spring break last week doesn’t mean Alabama took a break from recruiting.

Several top prospects got offers this week, even though the list was a little smaller than usual.

Here were the Crimson Tide’s offers this week.

 

J.C. Chalk, 2016 3-Star Tight End (Clemson commit)

As Alabama continues to go hard after 2016 tight ends, it offered one with major name recognition in these parts.

Chalk, who is currently committed to Clemson, is the grandson of former Alabama coach Gene Stallings. Stallings coached at Alabama for seven years, winning an SEC and national title in 1992.

Chalk also holds an offer from Texas A&M, where Stallings also coached. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney played for Stallings at A&M.

However, Chalk says this offer doesn’t change his commitment to the Tigers.

"I'm still just as firm with [Clemson] as when I first committed back when I was a sophomore," he told Bleacher Report’s Damon Sayles. "I just want to continue to get closer and closer to the coaching staff there."

But he said there is a lot to like about Alabama.

“With Alabama, it's the history they have with winning,” he told Sayles. “You can't really find a better program than Alabama. Them being able to say that if you come here for four years, there's a great chance you can win a national championship at least once...there aren't a lot of programs that can say that."

 

Auston Robertson, 2016 4-Star Weak-Side Defensive End

Alabama officially got in on the top prospect in the state of Indiana this week. Robertson is also the No. 8 weak-side defensive end in the country, per the 247Sports Composite.

The Crimson Tide are his first SEC offer after largely being recruited by Big Ten schools and Notre Dame.

“They run a really good program,” Robertson told 247Sports’ Hank South. “I want to get down there to see the campus real soon. I talk to the coaches pretty often. Coach (Nick) Saban is supposed to call me soon. I follow the program on Twitter too.”

The offer immediately made Alabama a favorite among his top schools, including his home state of Indiana.

“I’m really interested in Alabama,” he told South. “They’re already in my top four. I was really interested in Alabama before I got the offer. My plan is to make a decision by June 7.”

 

Justin Layne, 2016 4-Star Wide Receiver

Robertson wasn’t the only Big Ten target Alabama swooped in on this week.

The Crimson Tide were the second SEC offer for Layne, who is being courted by Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan State and Penn State.

Layne is looking to a former wide receiver for inspiration, which could help in Alabama’s recruitment.

“First of all one of his favorite college receivers is Amari Cooper,” Layne’s father, DeAndre, told 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong. “He watches highlights and followed him all season. That got him looking into Alabama, and Nick Saban’s name speaks alone.”

Layne hasn’t visited Alabama yet, per Wiltfong, but his father said he plans to later this summer.

Layne is a top-20 receiver in the country, and at 6’3”, he would continue Alabama’s trend of signing taller receivers. Per Northeast Media Group’s Joe Noga, he returned an interception for a touchdown to help his team win the Division IV state championship last year.

 

Other Offers from the Week

Eric Cuffee, 2016 3-Star Cornerback, per Bleacher Report's Tyler Donohue:

Collin Johnson, 2016 4-Star Wide Receiver (Texas commit):

Jeff Thomas, 2017 4-Star Wide Receiver:

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes and reporting were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Jarrett Guarantano Reveals Top 3: Which Team Is Best Fit for 4-Star QB?

Jarrett Guarantano began collecting collegiate scholarship offers before he entered high school. Now a junior, the coveted quarterback appears to be closing in on a decision with more than 30 options at his disposal.

The 4-star New Jersey prospect revealed his top three and intention to announce a commitment this spring during a Sunday conversation at the Rivals Quarterback Challenge in Atlanta.

Guarantano identified Ohio State, Rutgers and Tennessee as the teams to beat, per Rivals.com. He later confirmed that list during a discussion with Bleacher Report. 

The 6'4", 200-pound passer warranted distinction at the camp, earning honors as "Rocket Arm" after performing against a collection of quarterbacks that included former Tennessee commit Austin Kendall:

Guarantano, who previously listed four finalists last August, has altered his recruiting landscape quite a bit since then. That group of favorites featured Oklahoma, Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State, the lone holdover.

More than seven months later, this decision likely centers on his new top-three list. Guarantano told Rivals an announcement will arrive in "probably three to four weeks". 

That time frame leaves room for final assessments of each potential landing spot.

Guarantano, who rates sixth nationally among pro-style quarterbacks in 247Sports' composite rankings, is among the country's most heralded uncommitted offensive talents.

"I can read coverage, go through my progressions and get the ball out in a hurry," Guarantano told Bleacher Report. "But I can also use my feet when I need to. I’m a good enough athlete to get around the corner.”

Though he was limited by injury at times in 2014 and has fewer varsity reps than many of his 2016 contemporaries, Guarantano presents promising upside, college football pedigree and elite arm strength.

Here's a breakdown of Guarantano's top choices, and how each program factors into his final decision.

 

Ohio State

As we mentioned earlier, the Buckeyes have been in this mix throughout much of his recruitment. Ohio State extended an offer in May 2014 and welcomed him to camp a month later 

When Guarantano unveiled an initial top-four list last summer, he candidly pointed out Urban Meyer as a central figure in his recruitment.

“I’d have to say my closest relationship is with Coach Meyer," he told B/R.

The veteran leader's success with quarterbacks is beyond question at this stage in his career. Meyer, a three-time national champion, has produced multiple first-round NFL daft picks at the position and coached his second- and third-string passers throughout last season's title run.

Meyer looked back to his Utah tenure for a comparison to the latest Ohio State target.

"He made it clear to me that I’m more like Alex Smith with my passing abilities, but he thinks I’d also be able to run the read-option offense like Braxton Miller," Guarantano said. "Ohio State likes that I can do both."

Ohio State offers an opportunity to orchestrate the offensive attack for a future Hall of Fame head coach, but quarterback is a crowded spot in Columbus. The 2015 roster now features six scholarship players at the position, highlighted by three with significant playing experience and two 2015 signees.

The Buckeyes' 2017 class already includes in-state standout Danny Clark, who is the No. 2 dual-threat prospect among rising juniors.

 

Tennessee

Guarantano followed his performance in Tennessee with a visit to Knoxville. The Volunteers have been in pursuit since offering a scholarship last April, hosting him on campus multiple times since then. 

The dynamics here became more interesting earlier this month when Kendall decommitted from Tennessee. He now appears to be leaning toward Kentucky, leaving the door open for a new quarterback pledge in Butch Jones' class:

Tennessee didn't sign a quarterback in its 2014 class but made up for that by landing three players who will compete at the position in 2015. Headlined by former Florida commit Sheriron Jones, this group gives the Volunteers a far more competitive landscape on the depth chart than what existed last year. 

Guarantano was expected to meet with new Volunteers offensive coordinator Mike DeBord during Sunday's campus visit.

"We're going to sit down with their new quarterback coach/offensive coordinator, see how their offense is going to fit me," he told Rivals. "I think it fits me pretty well just the way they've been running it, but we'll see how the different changes might suit me."

How that discussion developed could go a long way in determining if Guarantano is destined to land in the SEC.

 

Rutgers

Coach Kyle Flood and the Scarlet Knights are aiming to make a statement after an eight-win season that largely exceeded expectations for the Big Ten newcomers. Rutgers relied on roller-coaster stretches of play from quarterback Gary Nova during his four seasons as starter and now turn the page. 

LSU transfer Hayden Rettig was a highly regarded 2013 recruit and now has an opportunity to make his mark at Rutgers following a redshirt season. Still, depth at the quarterback position in Piscataway doesn't measure up the kind of competition now in place at Tennessee and Ohio State (though few colleges can challenge what the Buckeyes currently have cooking at quarterback).

The Scarlet Knights made Guarantano an extremely early priority, giving him a verbal offer in 2012 when he was just a rising freshman. His father, James Guarantano, played for the team and is in the Rutgers Hall of Fame.

"I feel a little bit of pressure coming from the fans and the alumni and that sort just because my dad," he told Rivals.

Gurantano could serve as a catalyst for Rutgers to retain premier in-state talent. Conference foes Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State are among programs that perennially attempt to plunder New Jersey talent, so "border patrol" is a crucial part in the team's efforts to improve.

Though he should be considered a welcomed addition on any campus in the country, Guarantano would be greeted by more fanfare—and a clearer path to playing time—at Rutgers than anywhere in America.

His personal ties to the team, recent visits to the university and an opportunity to rapidly ascend into a paramount position within the nearby program leads us to believe that Guarantano will ultimately become a monumental commitment for the Scarlet Knights

 

Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Before the Final Rose, 'The Bachelor' Chris Soules Dominated HS Football

Chris Soules, "The Bachelor," wasn't always looking for love. At Starmont High School in Arlington, Iowa, Soules was looking for defensive linemen to block. 

Watch this compilation of Chris's high school highlights from the 1999 Iowa High School Class 1A State Championship.

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College Football's Most Important Offers of the Week

Perhaps no recruit in the country had a better week last week than 3-star Texas dual-threat quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole.

Last Sunday, the 6’3”, 171-pounder out of Westfield High School in Houston was named the MVP of the quarterback group at the Dallas Nike Opening Regional camp and he also was one of 13 prospects to earn an invitation to The Opening, according to Barton Simmons of 247Sports.

A couple of days later, Sterling-Cole landed an offer from childhood favorite Texas A&M—where his father, Chris Cole, was a standout receiver in college. 

Sterling-Cole told Bleacher Report’s Damon Sayles that the offer was one that he was waiting for. 

"I'm really excited about it," Sterling-Cole told Sayles. "I mean, it's truly a blessing to receive the offer, not only because of me being a legacy kid but based on them seeing me progress and continue to mature as a player and also a young adult."

Sterling-Cole also picked up an offer from Boise State last week, bringing his offer list to eight schools. 

Arizona State, Oklahoma State and Utah are among some of his more notable offers.

However, Sterling-Cole admits that he grew up cheering for A&M.

"A&M was at the top of my list of favorite schools growing up," Sterling-Cole said. "Jerrod Johnson was a person that I looked up to besides my dad." 

With the Aggies now firmly in the picture, the tenor of Sterling-Cole’s recruitment has changed drastically, and Kevin Sumlin’s club could prove tough to beat for his services.

 

Penn State After 2016 DBs

James Franklin’s prowess as a recruiter has only grown since he’s arrived at Penn State. 

On the heels of bringing in a 2015 class that rated as the 14th-best class in the country, Franklin is busy building another strong class in 2016.

Last week, Franklin and his staff tendered a pair of standout defensive backs in 3-star corner Rontavius Groves and 4-star safety Deontay Anderson.

While the Nittany Lions brought in five defensive backs in the 2015 class, the offers to out-of-state defenders such as Groves and Anderson is a sign that Franklin is looking to continue to upgrade his roster at that position.

 

Miami Hands out Pair of Offers to Big-Time Out-of-State Stars

Miami has gotten off to a fast start in securing the nation’s No. 1 class, mainly due to the fact that they’ve racked up on top talent in the Sunshine State.

In fact, all 18 of the commitments that Al Golden and his staff have landed to date are from in-state prospects.

Last week, Golden branched out and handed out offers to two prospects from states that are similar to Florida in terms of producing talent.

Scout’s Brandon Huffman reports that the ‘Canes offered 4-star California offensive lineman Jonah Williams.

The ‘Canes also tendered 4-star Texas defensive end Justin Madubuike.

With the majority of their class already in the fold, Golden and his staff can now afford to go after a handful of top targets around the country.

 

2016 3-Star TE Thad Moss Nets Trio of Offers

It’s not exactly a surprise to see the recruitment of 3-star tight end Thaddeus Moss pick up steam.

The son of former NFL star receiver Randy Moss picked up offers last week from Nebraska, Oregon and South Carolina.

The 6’4”, 240-pounder is now up to 15 offers. 

Duke, Michigan, NC State and West Virginia are among the group of schools that have already offered Moss. 

However, with the new surge of interest in Moss, expect his recruitment to be one of the more interesting ones worth following in the coming months.

 

Best of the Rest 

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Notre Dame Football: Week 1 Spring Practice Stock Report

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame football is still in the preliminary stages of spring ball, with Monday marking the fourth practice session.

Last week, we outlined what to expect from the Irish at the start of the spring season. After watching the first 30 minutes of Wednesday’s opening practice and hearing from Irish head coach Brian Kelly as well as select players afterward, we have a glimpse into Notre Dame’s progress from its first week.

 

Quarterbacks

No beating around the bush here. Let’s talk quarterbacks.

When the doors opened and the media flowed into Notre Dame’s indoor practice facility on Wednesday morning, there were No. 5 and No. 8 in red jerseys, standing out from the rest of the Irish.

Everett Golson and Malik Zaire will command plenty of attention in the coming weeks and months, but there’s nothing too noteworthy to report just yet.

Golson, for what it’s worth, did take the first snap of the spring during tempo drills. But that probably means little. Working with a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in Mike Sanford, we’ll see how much Golson and Zaire develop throughout the spring.

Both Kelly and Sanford have made it clear the new coach’s first priority is coaching quarterbacks.

“I want to see a consistency and attention to detail more than anything else and eradicate any of the gray area as it relates to the fundamentals of the quarterback position,” Kelly said of his expectations for Sanford’s work at the position.

“It’s exactly what I was hoping for on the first day. There’s no misunderstanding about what’s being taught, how it’s being taught and what’s expected.”

Stay tuned.

 

Position Changes

After LSU freshman sensation Leonard Fournette sprinted 89 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter of the Music City Bowl, Notre Dame countered with a long rush of its own. But it wasn’t Tarean Folston, Greg Bryant or even Zaire ripping off a long scamper.

Slot receiver C.J. Prosise counterpunched for the Irish, scurrying 50 yards for a game-tying touchdown. In total, Prosise tallied 75 rushing yards on three carries in the win over the Tigers.

This spring, Prosise is cross-training with Notre Dame’s running backs and in the meeting room with Folston, Bryant and new running backs coach Autry Denson.

“I think during the year we saw that potential,” Kelly said of the 220-pound senior.

“We had always kinda talked about it during the year in terms of we always liked getting the ball in his hands because he was outstanding with his run after the catch. ... He gets the ball in his hands, he’s got a chance to go. Certainly his speed when he has the ball in his arm is pretty clear even against SEC talent.”

Kelly said pad level will be the biggest adjustment for Prosise as he shifts into another position.

Fifth-year senior Nick Martin returns to center, where he started in 2013 and the first few games of 2014, from left guard.

“I really think it’s my natural position,” Martin said.

Kelly praised Martin’s football intelligence and said Martin is “ideally fitted” to play center and also called it his “natural position.”

Notre Dame shuffled its offensive line early last season in order to add more size at the guard positions without burning the redshirts on blue-chip true freshmen like Quenton Nelson and Alex Bars.

 

Depth Chart Tea Leaves

Reading into Notre Dame’s early depth charts from a 30-minute window of one practice certainly isn’t conclusive, but it can be instructive.

Redshirt sophomore Durham Smythe was the top tight end, and the offensive line—from left to right—featured Ronnie Stanley, Nelson, Martin, Steve Elmer and Mike McGlinchey. Nelson and Bars will compete for the starting left guard spot.

On the defensive line, senior Romeo Okwara and junior Isaac Rochell patrolled the perimeter, while senior Sheldon Day and redshirt sophomore Jacob Matuska (in for the injured Jarron Jones) handled the interior.

Andrew Trumbetti, Jay Hayes, Daniel Cage and Grant Blankenship comprised the second unit, while Jhonny Williams, Micah Dew-Treadway, Jerry Tillery and Jonathan Bonner rounded out the third group.

There weren’t too many surprises here.

 

Hurry-Up Notebook

As Notre Dame stretched on Wednesday morning, Kelly stood chatting with Jeff Quinn, a former Kelly assistant and most recently the head coach at Buffalo (2010-14).

After practice, Kelly confirmed Quinn has been hired as an offensive analyst for the Irish in an off-the-field capacity. Quinn will handle different offensive projects, Kelly said, and his role will vary.

“Just more brainpower in the room is what we’re looking for and a lot of experience,” Kelly said.

Asked Wednesday what he’s seen from wide receivers Justin Brent and Corey Holmes, both entering their second seasons in South Bend, Kelly challenged Brent, who was an early enrollee last spring and did not play as a freshman.

“He’s got a lot of physical tools,” Kelly said. “He’s got the athletic ability to compete at a high level. What I see from him is inconsistency with somebody with the kind of tools that he has. So we’re demanding more from him. And he’s gotta bring it. This is his second spring. And I’m not gonna wait around for him for the light to go on, because there’s too many good players. And I really like him as a football player in terms of his skill set. But he’s gotta practice better and he’s gotta be more consistent.” 

Strong words from the head coach toward the former 4-star recruit.

It seems like yesterday when Jaylon Smith arrived as the much-hyped freshman linebacker. Now, Smith is entering his third season with the Irish, and he has a year of familiarity both within defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder’s system and with his position as the “Will” linebacker. 

“He’s really trying to break out from just worrying about his own position and taking care of that to really bringing other guys along,” said Kelly, who added Smith has been a great mentor to early enrollee linebacker Tevon Coney.

“He’s really just been outstanding in terms of reaching out and doing more than just worrying about himself. He’s really thinking about others now and so that’s one of the real great signs of being a leader. I think he’s much more comfortable with his own position where he can now start to influence others.” 

Smith aims to build on a sophomore season in which he earned second-team AP All-American honors.

New Irish defensive line coach Keith Gilmore took an interesting angle upon joining the Notre Dame coaching staff.

Rochell said Gilmore came to the defensive linemen and asked them what they wanted to work on and where they needed to improve—not the other way around. Rochell said the linemen have done similar D-line drills with an added emphasis on hand work.

Notre Dame has increased its depth at the linebacker position, but just how sturdy that depth is depends on health.

Linebacker Jarrett Grace is back fully from the leg injury that forced him to miss the entire 2014 season and the last half of the 2013 campaign. At Wednesday’s practice, Grace moved smoothly around the field—a stark contrast from when we last saw him lumbering around in August with an uneven running style.

Fellow veteran linebacker Joe Schmidt isn’t as far along in his recovery from the ankle injury suffered against Navy last season—Schmidt practiced without a helmet—but Notre Dame’s 2014 defensive MVP appeared to move freely.

Notre Dame is slated for three more practices this week (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday).

 

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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

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Alabama, Auburn QB Target Jawon Pass Dominated Elite 11 Regionals in Atlanta

BUFORD, Ga. — Florida State commit Malik Henry won MVP at the quarterback position and earned an invitation to The Opening finals in July at the star-studded Elite 11 regionals at Buford High School outside of Atlanta on Sunday, but he wasn't the only signal-caller who shined.

Jawon Pass dominated as well.

The 6'5", 220-pounder from Carver High School in Columbus, Georgia, looked every bit like a superstar as well, and was the only other quarterback invited to the Elite 11 finals in Beaverton, Oregon, when the camp wrapped up in rainy Buford.

"It's exciting and a blessing more than anything," Pass told Drew Champlin of AL.com. "I'm just thankful to get the invite. I came out here and competed. It was tough, but we had to fight through (the weather.)"

Here's just a small glimpse of his size, arm strength and athleticism in a drill in which the wet ball slipped through the receiver's hands:

North Carolina, Louisville and Auburn are Pass' top three schools, according to 247Sports' Steve Wiltfong, with Alabama also in the mix, according to his 247Sports crystal ball.

He has a live arm, can push the ball downfield and showed during the regional qualifier that he has the ability to create behind the line while keeping his eyes downfield and hitting his receivers in stride deep. What's more, he has the speed and power to be a monster on the ground.

He's the second-ranked dual-threat passer in the country, according to 247Sports, but too often dual-threat quarterbacks get labeled as athletes who run first and pass later.

Pass is anything but that.

The thought of Pass in Auburn's offense, with head coach Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee calling the shots, is frightening. Malzahn has already proven that he has the ability to produce a potent offense with a true dual-threat quarterback with a bruising running style and big arm.

As B/R national recruiting analyst Sanjay Kirpalani noted during the event, Pass was sporting a subtle hint that he could be favoring the Tigers:

He's already drawn comparisons to another quarterback who was quite successful on the Plains—2010 Heisman Trophy winner and national champion Cam Newton:

Is that a stretch? 

Not really.

Sure, he has more work to do as a passer, needs to refine his motion a little bit and become more accustomed to fitting passes into the tighter windows that he will find at the college level. But he has a year to do that in high school and, before then, will have the chance to compete against some of the best high school players in the country with some of the best coaches in the world at the Elite 11 finals.

Don't sleep on Alabama, though.

While the Crimson Tide aren't in his top three, there's still a long way to go before national signing day. If Pass can progress as a passer, he could absolutely thrive in offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's system. Blake Sims proved last year that dual-threat passers can succeed in the more traditional Bama offense if they can prove to Kiffin and head coach Nick Saban that they can still operate within the pro-style principles of the offense.

He would be the perfect "next step" for the Crimson Tide offense, which isn't going to go full-Oregon and run spread and tempo but could offer the threat of that with a player like Pass, who would essentially be a "sure thing" as a rusher on short-yardage and goal-line situations.

The two powers in the state of Alabama can't let him go to the ACC.

Pass plays essentially in Auburn's backyard across the state line in Columbus, which is a talent-rich area in which Alabama has had success as well. If he ends up on the Plains or in Tuscaloosa, he will be a superstar.

He proved it on Sunday.

 

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.

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. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Tennessee Football: Starters on the Hot Seat in 2015 Spring Practice

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones by no means has his starting lineup written in ink heading into 2015 spring practice, but there should be much fewer position battles this year than in his first two seasons.

That's good news for a program that is inching toward firmer footing personnel-wise.

With all the injuries impacting the Vols, some of the starting spots won't be ironed out until much closer to the season. Others are so wide-open right now—especially with some starters, such as middle linebacker A.J. Johnson and nickelback Justin Coleman departed—there's nobody in place to supplant.

Still, though, there are several UT starters who are probably feeling their seats getting a little warm, and it isn't just because the weather is improving.

For the first time in several years, those Vols who'll have to battle for their jobs aren't doing so because they're mediocre players, either. It's because there are quality guys coming in from Jones' excellent recruiting classes who'll push them.

That makes for a competitive environment that even a thinned-down version of the wounded Vols will witness firsthand once spring drills begin March 24.

There are a handful of players who need strong springs to secure starting spots heading into fall practice. Let's take a look at a few.

 

LaDarrell McNeil, senior safety

Following a forgettable sophomore year in which he had a difficult time adapting to defensive coordinator John Jancek's scheme, the Dallas native's career was at a crossroads.

Rather than be content with mediocrity, the 6'1", 215-pound safety devoted himself to getting in better shape and learning the defensive scheme. What transpired was a breakout junior season that was more what UT had in mind when it recruited the 4-star talent.

He recorded 76 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for a loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, three pass break-ups and two interceptions. When anybody came over the middle, UT's own version of hockey's "goon" enforcer made them pay.

With another season such as last year's there's no reason to believe McNeil would relinquish the job, even with a hot-shot sophomore breathing down his neck.

UT legacy Todd Kelly Jr.'s first season on the Hill was extremely productive, as he earned Freshman All-SEC honors with 33 tackles and three interceptions, including a toe-tapping sideline pick against Vanderbilt that proved huge in the Vols' narrow victory.

He is big (6'0", 203 lbs) and fast, and TKJr. is the future at the position for UT. But is he too good to keep off the field when McNeil is producing? That answer is going to materialize this spring.

Both will play and play a lot. But who will start?

 

Emmanuel Moseley, sophomore cornerback

Exiting last spring, no casual Tennessee fan without intimate inside knowledge of the program would have guessed that a skinny midterm enrollee would be starting along with Cameron Sutton at cornerback.

Yet, that's just what Emmanuel Moseley did.

Though he lost the job at one point to Michael Williams (who is no longer on the team), Moseley earned the job back, and the 5'11", 178-pound first-year player showed flashes of brilliance at times despite being thrust into a starting job before he was ready.

There were struggles, such as the Ole Miss game, but the Greensboro, North Carolina, native played admirably and has a very bright future.

So, why is he on this list?

The Vols went out and signed Nashville native Justin Martin, the nation's second-ranked JUCO cornerback prospect, according to 247Sports' Composite, who is blessed with a 6'2", 190-pound frame and track speed. All the top teams around the Southeast wanted him, but he elected to stay home.

If everything checks out and he gets on campus from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M this summer, Martin could contend with a player even as talented as Moseley right away.

Also, Moseley's status isn't currently clear, either, following a scary car wreck in which he was involved along with his family. He tweeted afterward: "Glad that my family and I were able to make it out of this accident. Thank you Jesus we are safe."

If Moseley is full-go this spring (and nothing indicates he won't be), it'll be a big opportunity for him to solidify the starting cornerback job before Martin even gets on campus. Sutton is definitely starting, so that other spot is up for grabs.

Perhaps Martin could play nickelback, and that would allow all three on the field. The coaching staff will have some decisions to make once everybody arrives, but the job is Moseley's this spring.

He needs to run away with it.

 

Mack Crowder, senior center

When Mack Crowder went down with a late-season injury in 2014, UT really struggled on the interior of the offensive line.

During that period, Dylan Wiesman appeared overmatched at times, and a line that already had underperformed throughout the year was worse. Then, once Crowder returned against Iowa, he played perhaps his best game of the season.

So, entering his senior year, there may not be a lot of concern for a leader whom Jones tabbed to represent Tennessee at last year's SEC media days to lose his job.

But the bottom line is the 6'2", 295-pound Bristol, Virginia, native has to be much more consistent than he was a season ago.

He had a difficult time through the first part of the year. Though he improved as the season matured, UT can't wait around for that gradual incline this year.

Wiesman returns to provide depth on the interior. Also, if a pair of strong offensive tackles emerge, Kyler Kerbyson could shift inside.

With Marcus Jackson and Jashon Robertson seemingly entrenched at guard, it's possible Kerbyson (who definitely will play because he's one of the team's best linemen) could get a look at center.

Perhaps the biggest wild card in the bunch is sophomore Coleman Thomas. He started some games as a true freshman at offensive tackle last year and took plenty of lumps. His versatility allows him to play every position, but his natural spot is at center.

That's what Thomas was listed as coming out of high school in Virginia, and it may be his future spot in Knoxville.

Those are options that may be speculative, but they're reasons why Crowder can't be complacent. If he is, he could find himself getting pushed.

 

Danny O'Brien, junior defensive tackle

How can a player who won't even get to be on the football field this spring be on the hot seat?

That's precisely why.

Because O'Brien can't play, he can't prove to the coaches he should be solidly in the starting lineup. That's not great news for him considering UT is bringing in elite defensive tackle recruits Kahlil McKenzie and Shy Tuttle.

Even though he struggled last spring, the 6'2", 286-pound O'Brien played well during his redshirt sophomore season in 2014, finishing with 23 tackles, 4.5 for a loss and a sack. He teamed with Jordan Williams to form a quick but undersized pair of interior linemen.

With Williams gone, O'Brien's leadership will be needed. The Flint, Michigan, junior could nail down a starting job if he gets healthy. While he's out, however, Tuttle will get more reps along with sophomores Dimarya Mixon and Kendal Vickers.

At 6'3", 315 pounds, Tuttle, who is a midterm enrollee, has impressed coaches with his speed and agility despite his advanced size.

He has a good first step and solid strength for a first-year player, and he may help right away. The duo of sophomores showed flashes of being solid contributors last year, but the biggest future cog arrives this summer with former 5-star McKenzie.

An infusion of talent makes no jobs safe on the interior of Tennessee's line. It's going to be interesting watching those battles this fall with everybody healthy and vying for reps. Until then, O'Brien must wait to get back on the field where he can prove he should keep trotting out there with the first team.

 

All statistics gathered from UTSports.com, unless otherwise noted. Quotes and observations obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted.

Brad Shepard covers SEC football and is the Tennessee Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow Brad on Twitter @Brad_Shepard.

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Big Ten Football: Ranking the Best Seniors in the Conference

With spring practices underway at all but a few Big Ten programs, coaches and fans alike will be looking for the next crop of top Big Ten football seniors to emerge.  With experience comes expectations, not only for outstanding statistical impact, but for on-field and locker room leadership as well.

These players are entering their final season of eligibility, but simply being a senior isn't enough to make a list.  We're looking for players that have the ability to be a leader for their respective teams or units, both as voices of experience for underclassmen and where it matters: on the field.

In that vein, we've gone ahead and identified the top returning seniors in the conference you should watch in 2015 to make a major impact. 

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Notre Dame Football Recruiting Offers of the Week

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — One of the biggest recruiting weekends in Notre Dame football’s offseason resulted in three new commitments and a few additional offers.

Hosting a junior day Saturday, the Irish welcomed more than 20 prospects to campus.

Two new offers quickly turned into commitments in the class of 2016, and the Irish also extended offers to a pair of 2017 prospects. In addition, Notre Dame landed class of 2016 running back Tony Jones Jr. on Sunday afternoon.

Let’s get to the offers.

 

John Shannon

Class of 2016 long snapper John Shannon arrived on campus at Notre Dame without an offer. A few hours later, he was the second member in the class of 2016, joining offensive lineman pledge Tommy Kraemer.

The 6’2”, 225-pound long snapper is a Wilmette, Illinois, product and attends Loyola Academy. According to Tyler James of the South Bend Tribune, Shannon said he committed “on a full ride,” which would make him Notre Dame’s first scholarship long snapper pledge since Scott Daly signed with the Irish.

Per Matt Freeman of Irish Sports Daily, Shannon’s family has Notre Dame football connections.

“It was a very big day,” Shannon told Irish Sports Daily. “It took about five seconds to commit after Coach [Brian] Kelly offered.”

Daly, set to be a senior in 2015 and the starter since 2013, has two years of eligibility remaining.

 

Julian Love

Mere hours after Shannon gave his verbal commitment to Notre Dame, class of 2016 cornerback Julian Love followed suit. Like Shannon, Love was waiting on an Irish offer.

A 3-star prospect from La Grange Park, Illinois, Love is slotted as the No. 52 cornerback and No. 583 player in the country. Love also boasted offers from Rutgers, Kansas, Boston College, Iowa, Indiana and Illinois, among others.

“It’s been a lifelong dream to play here,” Love told Irish247’s Tom Loy. “The community behind Notre Dame is outstanding. It was an easy decision.”

 

Corey Malone-Hatcher

One of the top-ranked defensive ends in the class of 2017, Corey Malone-Hatcher added a Notre Dame offer Saturday.

The No. 4 weak-side defensive end and No. 111 prospect in the Top247, Malone-Hatcher hails from Saint Joseph, Michigan, a 45-minute drive from South Bend. The 4-star prospect checks in at 6’3”, 235 pounds and holds offers from Kentucky, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State, among others.

According to 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong, Notre Dame “immediately becomes a top contender for his signature.”

“It’s an amazing school,” Malone-Hatcher told Wiltfong. “The staff is built from some of the best coaches in the nation and the academics are a huge upside.”

 

Brock Wright

Class of 2017 tight end Brock Wright visited campus and hauled in an Irish offer Saturday.

Wright also added offers from Georgia and Oklahoma earlier this month. The 6’4½”, 243-pounder visited Texas A&M for junior day in late January and left with an offer. Wright also attended Oklahoma’s junior day two weekends ago.

Wright is the first class of 2017 tight end to earn an offer from the Irish.

 

 

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

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

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Ohio State Football Recruiting Offers of the Week

Urban Meyer and Ohio State broke out of a recruiting lull last week by throwing their hat in the ring for a number of elite high school prospects.

The Buckeyes broke out of that slow stretch—they sent out just one offer in back-to-back weeks leading up to last week—by keying in on six new targets.

Here's a rundown of Ohio State's latest recruiting activity.

 

Parker Braun, 4-Star Offensive Tackle (2016)

The Buckeyes spent the first part of the week focusing on linemen, which started when the staff offered 4-star prospect Parker Braun.

The 6'4", 272-pound standout from Kissimmee, Florida, has seen his recruitment blow up over the last month with schools such as Auburn, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Missouri, Florida and Georgia offering scholarships.

The Buckeyes are hoping to pull the Florida prospect out of the SEC's footprint.

To do that, Meyer is hoping to use a unique connection to his advantage. Ohio State co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner coached Parker's father (Mike) during his tenure in late 1980s, according to Charles Doss of Land-Grant Holy Land.

Warinner, who was named FootballScoop's Offensive Line Coach of the Year in two of the last three seasons, will be key in Braun's recruitment.

 

Malcolm Pridgeon, Unranked Offensive Tackle (2016)

Ohio State doesn't recruit many JUCO prospects—Meyer has signed just one (wide receiver Corey Smith) during his tenure in Columbus—but the Buckeyes are making an exception for Malcolm Pridgeon.

One of the biggest JUCO prospects in this year's class—literally and figuratively—Pridgeon held offers from programs such as Alabama, Arizona State, Louisville and Virginia Tech before Ohio State offered on Wednesday.

The massive 6'8", 290-pound tackle is an imposing lineman with incredible strength and surprising agility. He excels in run-blocking and has the ability to pull in zone schemes, something Ohio State does frequently under Meyer.

If the Buckeyes can land the star out of Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York, Warinner would have an elite tackle who would be ready to line up immediately.

 

Chris Daniels, 4-Star Defensive Tackle (2016)

Switching focus to the defensive trenches, the Buckeyes offered one of the most coveted defensive tackles in the country in Chris Daniels—a 6'3 ½", 299-pound mauler from Euless, Texas.

In desperate need of help in the interior of its line, Ohio State has made defensive tackle a priority in this year's class. Daniels, ranked 17th at his position and the No. 176 recruit overall, is hoping the Buckeyes' interest is legit.

"I talked to [offensive coordinator Tim Beck] and he offered me. I was excited," Daniels said, according to Bill Kurelic of 247Sports. "I told him it’s an honor to be offered by the national champions. I said I hope Ohio State is as interested in me as I am in them. He said they are.”

Beck, who replaced Tom Herman as Ohio State's offensive coordinator and primary recruiter in Texas, will be leading the charge in Daniels' recruitment. The Buckeyes are expecting to host him for a visit soon.

“I’m going to talk to my dad and see when we can get up there,” Daniels said. “It should be soon. I’m definitely interested in Ohio State. They’re in my top 10. I haven’t released anything like that, but they would be in there.”

 

Kyshaun Bryan, Unranked Running Back (2017)

The Buckeyes have placed a premium on running the ball under Meyer, and that's why they are absolutely loading up on ball-carriers over the next few recruiting classes.

Ohio State already has commitments from Kareem Walker (the nation's No. 1 running back) and George Hill (the No. 4 running back) for its 2016 class, and it currently leads the race for the No. 3 running back in Demario McCall

Last week, the Buckeyes took a deep look into the future and offered 2018 prospect Zamir White.

Last Wednesday, though, they targeted 2017 running back Kyshaun Bryan.

Bryan, the running mate of incoming freshman quarterback Torrance Gibson at American Heritage High School, rushed for 824 yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman last year, according to Tony Gerdeman of The O-Zone.

It's a safe bet that Meyer will lean on Gibson heavily as an advantage in Bryan's recruitment.

 

Lyndell Wilson, 5-Star Linebacker (2016)

Ohio State is just two-and-a-half months removed from beating Nick Saban and Alabama on the field, but Meyer is looking to lock horns with the Crimson Tide again after offering 5-star standout Lyndell Wilson.

The 6'2", 220-pound outside linebacker from Montgomery, Alabama, grew up a Tide fan, but he told Drew Champlin of AL.com that he's not letting that impact his recruiting process.

"All my family grew up Alabama fans. I'm still an Alabama fan but taking everything in," Wilson said, via Champlin. "Just because they're my favorite school and I grew up liking them, doesn't mean I'm going to go there. I'll take everything in and see what I'll do."

It will be very hard for the Buckeyes to pull Wilson out of the state, however. According to 247Sports' Crystal Ball predictions, 87 percent of the recruiting experts project him to wind up at Alabama, while the remaining 13 percent see him at Auburn.

Can Meyer steal the nation's No. 9 overall prospect and the second-best outside linebacker away from Alabama?

It's possible, but the Buckeyes would need to get Wilson up north for a visit to have any kind of chance.

 

Deontay Anderson, 4-Star Safety (2016) 

The final offer of the week was sent out to one of the hottest safety prospects in the country in Deontay Anderson.

The 6'1", 191-pound defensive back out of Manvel, Texas, has a loaded offer list that includes schools such as Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Texas and USC.

Last month, he released his top 10 schools on Twitter:

Rated as the No. 3 safety and No. 37 recruit overall, Anderson has incredible closing speed and packs a huge punch when he lowers his shoulder. He's dynamic with the ball in his hands, which makes him a dangerous option in the return game as well.

The Buckeyes join Michigan—which offered Anderson in late January—as two of the schools trying to pull him north into the Big Ten.

These rivals will have a hard time doing so, however, because the home state Texas A&M Aggies are a huge favorite to land his commitment, according to 247Sports' Crystal Ball.

 

All recruiting rankings and information via 247Sports.

David Regimbal is the Ohio State football lead writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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Michigan Football: Week 5 Spring Practice Stock Report

A little more than a week ago, Michigan linebacker Joe Bolden said the Wolverines, who play their spring game April 4, had the two best defensive coordinators in the country; however, Greg Mattison politely begged to differ by delivering a D.J. Durkin-stock-booster for the media to digest.

“He’s the coordinator,” Mattison said of Durkin. “I am so excited about him being the coordinator because he’s done such a great job everywhere he’s been. He’s successful and I enjoy working with him.”

Yes, Durkin has been successful. While at Florida, the 36-year-old orchestrated a defense that rivaled what Mattison has done during the past four—particularly the past two—years at Michigan. When it comes to football, they’re essentially two of a kind. They both preach the same fundamentals, Mattison slightly louder than Durkin, and demand the same results and, more importantly, attitude from players.

But this past Thursday, Mattison wanted to make one thing clear: There is only one defensive coordinator at Michigan. He’s the defensive line coach, and that’s his job.

Now, it’s an entirely different story if players see him differently—and really, there’d be nothing wrong with that. Mattison has, without question, earned the respect of the program. But he did the right thing by publicly stepping back and redirecting attention the man in charge—and that’s Durkin.

Besides, coaching the D-line isn’t exactly a demotion for Mattison, who has mentored tackles and ends since 1975. He truly enjoys the science of the trenches.

“I really like the defensive line,” he said. “It’s a place, I think, that technique and teaching—[it’s where] you can get guys to be better. You can make improvements there through technique and hard work. I’m excited about coaching the D-line.”

Four months ago, Mattison wasn’t sure if he’d remain at Michigan. Fans and media weren’t, either. His good friend, Brady Hoke, had just been fired, and Mattison was part of Hoke’s inner circle; it made sense to predict his departure.

But on the other hand, it made more sense for Michigan to retain Mattison, who was asked how he felt during the “interim” period by Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press.

“Well, I had a number of offers, you know, some in the NFL and things like that,” Mattison said. “But I made up my mind that if I had the opportunity, I’d love to stay here—and I did. So I stayed.”

This time of year, at least lately, has been productive for Mattison. During the past spring workouts, he’s seen players such as Willie Henry, Taco Charlton, Henry Poggi, Matt Godin and Bryan Mone emerge. When it comes to progress this year, Mattison says things are, well, progressing. He didn’t want to get ahead of himself, but he did say that he’s been pleased with what he’s seen thus far.

The coming weeks, of course, will tell him more about what he has for 2015.

 

Latest on Rudock

An interview between George Smith and Angelique Chengelis of the Detroit News has added fuel to the Jake Rudock-to-Michigan fire. Smith, a 34-year veteran coach at St. Thomas Aquinas (Florida), was Rudock’s high school coach and recently said some things that will certainly rile up the Wolverines fanbase.

He started 30 games for us, he was [a] two-year starter as a junior and senior. He holds a bunch of records, he’s extremely smart. He was a backup in 2008 when we won our first national championship and was our quarterback when we won another.

We played at Paul Brown Stadium, at Ohio State and at Cowboys Stadium, so he’s been in big venues, and obvious he played at Iowa. We have 12 kids on NFL rosters, more than any high school in the country, so he’s been around those types of players here and in college. He’s a very intelligent young man, quiet, soft-spoken, and a tremendous leader.

Buying Rudock stock might be a tad risky, but he’s been on campus and, according to Smith, per Chengelis, wants to play at Michigan. In 2014, Rudock threw for 2,436 yards and 16 touchdowns with five interceptions. Despite a rough season with the Hawkeyes, he completed 61.7 percent of his attempts and threw for 250 or more yards four times.

The Wolverines could certainly use every bit of the 6’3”, 208-pound senior.

 

Peppers on the Rise

Speaking of buying into a player’s stock, it’s time to hit on Jabrill Peppers, whose stock hasn’t been higher since last year, when it seemed to be at a record peak.

This past Thursday, Greg Jackson, Michigan’s new secondary coach, compared Peppers to Rodney Harrison, a two-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro defensive back who played nine years with the New England Patriots and six with the San Diego Chargers.

But Jackson didn’t hesitate to calmly praise “Pep” with a hefty compliment.

“[He’s] enthusiastic, intense during practice…full speed to the ball all the time,” Jackson said of the 6’1”, 205-pound redshirt freshman. “He’s a kid that’s hungry, ready to prove himself and, you know, a guy like Peppers, you can’t teach hustle.

"I mean, he’s just got ‘it.’ He’s just got that knack of being a football player. We just keep him going in the right direction, coaching him—I mean, I think he’s going to be a really good player.”

During the offseason, Peppers tweeted photos of his physical transformation. He’s cut more than ever. He’s also doing backflips in practice, which suggests that he’s feeling pretty good these days.

Buy into "Pep." The investment should pay dividends. 

 

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.

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Tony Jones Jr. to Notre Dame: Fighting Irish Land 3-Star RB Prospect

Notre Dame bolstered its future backfield on Sunday, landing running back recruit Tony Jones Jr.   

Tyler James of the South Bend Tribune had the report:

BlueAndGold.com on Twitter added:

According to the 247Sports' composite rankings, Jones is a 3-star recruit from the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Listed at 6'0" and 212 pounds, he's considered the No. 25 running back recruit in the country and the No. 54 prospect from the state of Florida overall.

Jones has been rising on many recruiting boards after a strong spring on the camp circuit, impressing at the Adidas Georgia Showcase and the Orlando Nike Regional camp, which earned him an invitation to the exclusive Nike camp, The Opening, this summer.

He rushed for 771 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns in the 2014 season, per his 247Sports profile, adding a touchdown reception and flashing his big-play potential as a runner in the process. At the talented IMG Academy, however, he found himself in a backfield with several other strong players, limiting his touches.

Still, Jones made the most of his touches and has impressed folks with his athleticism (he's also an excellent baseball player). Notre Dame appears to have gotten a recruiting steal here, as Jones' stock was really starting to soar.

 


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410-Pound Guard LaQuan McGowan Catches Pass During Baylor Scrimmage

At 6'7", 410 pounds, LaQuan McGowan may not look like your typical pass-catcher. However, he could turn out to be a very valuable member of Baylor's passing attack next season.

You may recall that McGowan scored a "big man" touchdown against Michigan State in the 2015 Cotton Bowl. Since that play, the Bears have been trying to involve him more in their offense.

Baylor has been using McGowan at tight end and H-back during spring practices, according to ESPN.com. During a scrimmage on Friday, the versatile big man got a chance to catch another pass. And his teammates had to try to bring him down.

Here's another look at McGowan's latest catch:

[bufootball, h/t Dr. Saturday]

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10 College Football Brands That Won't Ever Need a Redesign

College football is at an interesting crossroads. On one hand, the history, tradition and pageantry are what make it so unique. On the other hand, part of the game now is about changing up uniforms and logos to keep things interesting. 

Oregon really took the lead on that approach, but programs like Oregon State, Maryland and even Florida State have undergone various rebranding efforts. But that doesn't mean everyone should follow suit. 

In the following slides are 10 college football brands/logos that can, and should, go untouched. Don't be surprised to see these programs go with the K.I.S.S. approach (keep it simple, stupid). 

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6 College Football Teams off to a Rough Start in Spring Practice

Spring football is a time when anything seems possible, where every team is a potential playoff contender and all schools are set for big seasons. Hope springs eternal, and optimism is at an all-time high.

Until something goes wrong, which for a handful of teams has already happened.

Injuries, arrests, suspensions and recruiting concerns have put a cloud over the spring practice sessions of some FBS schools, who while trying to work on schemes and tactics for the upcoming season must also deal with these unplanned issues.

As the calendar officially turns over to spring, click through for updates on schools who haven't gotten their spring practices off to the best start.

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Power Ranking Top 10 2016 Recruits from State of Texas

How big is the state of Texas to college football recruiting in 2016? One look at the invitations offered to The Opening nationals this summer in Oregon tells all.

A record 13 athletes were invited to the prestigious Nike event, and 11 of the 13 were from the Lone Star State. Of the top 100 players in 247Sports' 2016 composite rankings, 12 are from Texas. Seven of those 12 are in the top 50.

Competition for the top spot in the state is as competitive and fun to watch as the athletes are on the football field during the regular season and in spring and summer camps and combines. And while it's still early for some athletes to make moves up the ladder, here's a list of 10 of the top recruits the state has to offer.

These athletes were chosen from game video analysis and combine analysis. The order was developed with the assistance of where they are ranked in the 247Sports composite rankings.

All player size measurements, unless noted, come from The Opening Dallas regional, which took place March 15 at Cravens Field in Arlington, Texas.

 

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Projecting the 20 Most Dangerous Offenses for 2015 College Football Season

For the most part, offense carries over.

Even with graduation demanding frequent roster turnover, the most dangerous offenses from one year typically remain dangerous the next year, provided they don't lose their coach, change schemes or suffer some sort of recruiting drop-off.

The following list accounts for all four factors. To project next year's top 20 offenses, we looked at how each team performed last season, how many players they return, how they've recruited to replace lost starters and whether they kept constant their schemes.

The 20 teams included are the 20 in which we feel most confident, but any of the 15 honorable mentions, along with countless off-the-radar dark horses, could supplant them next season.

Therein lies one of the great things about college football: Even when you think things carry over, there's always an exception to the rule.

Who saw TCU's offense coming in 2014?

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SEC Football: Top Candidates for 2015 Defensive Player of the Year

When it comes to candidates who'll fill the shoes of departed SEC Defensive Player of the Year Shane Ray of Missouri, there are five or six sure selections and everybody else.

That doesn't mean there will be a shortage of defensive difference-makers in the conference. Actually, it's quite the opposite.

There are so many uber-talented playmakers who've not yet taken a step forward into stardom that the race for the award is wide open.

Will the award again reside in Columbia, Missouri, as it has the past two seasons with Ray and Michael Sam? Or will another player from another team make his mark?

Ole Miss still has a roster full of defensive stars. LSU's defensive backs look loaded. Georgia and Alabama have stockpiled tons of talent. Florida and Tennessee even have a handful of guys who could have made the list.

There are candidates throughout the league.

Let's take a look at 10 contenders for the league's top defensive award who either have the talent, experience or load up the stat sheet enough to be included.

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