NCAA Football News

Preseason College Football Rankings 2015: Twitter Reacts to AP NCAA Top 25 Poll

The second major college football preseason poll has been released, and the Associated Press has declared the Ohio State Buckeyes are the nation's best team before the 2015 season begins. 

Ohio State has been a near-unanimous No. 1 coming into the year, with the Buckeyes receiving 62 out of 64 first-place votes in the Amway coaches poll released in July.

The Associated Press took things one step further, giving the defending national champions all 61 first-place votes.  

Here's how the entire AP Top 25 preseason poll looks:

Ohio State's spot atop the rankings gives the program a rare and historic distinction, per Matt Barnes of NBC 4 in Columbus:

The Buckeyes have been sneaking up on teams since Urban Meyer took over as head coach. Their undefeated regular season in 2012 was met with skepticism because of a mediocre schedule that didn't include one win over a team ranked inside the Top 20. 

Ohio State was undone in 2013 by back-to-back losses at the end of the year against Michigan State and Clemson. Last year, everything came together in surprising fashion because Braxton Miller was injured before the season and J.T. Barrett went down in the regular-season finale against Michigan. 

Now, the Buckeyes are going to be the hunted team, which isn't something that has historically worked well for the program, per ESPN College Football:

Adding to that, Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times pointed out how long it's been since a preseason No. 1 won the AP national title:

The Buckeyes will be challenged this season, particularly in the final two games against Michigan State and at Michigan. 

Even starting out the season at Virginia Tech looks more dangerous for Ohio State, with Joey Bosa, Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Corey Smith suspended for violating an athletic department policy.

Moving down the ranks, the Top Four with TCU, Alabama and Baylor lines up with what the coaches had. The Big 12 teams will try to make sure no one overlooks them when it comes time for the College Football Playoff this year. 

The Horned Frogs also made program history by starting the year ranked No. 2, per TCU assistant athletic director Mark Cohen:

It's a positive step in the right direction for college football and the voters, giving credence to schools that haven't been traditional powers for decades like Ohio State, Alabama, etc.

The first split between the coaches and AP comes at No. 5. The AP gave that spot to Michigan State; the coaches went with Oregon. 

Per Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free-Press, this is the Spartans' highest starting position in the AP poll in a long time:

The Big Ten fared well overall, with two Top Five teams and Wisconsin lurking in the shadows at No. 20. Penn State, Nebraska and Michigan were in the "also receiving votes" category. 

When it comes to conference depth, the SEC still reigns supreme, with Fox Sports' Clay Travis citing one huge difference between No. 1 Ohio State and No. 3 Alabama:

Even though Alabama is the highest-ranked SEC team, Auburn is getting a lot of love, starting the year at No. 6 despite losing starting quarterback Nick Marshall, leading-rusher Cameron Artis-Payne and leading receiver Sammie Coates. It speaks to the depth of talent and recruiting efforts of head coach Gus Malzahn that the Tigers, who finished 8-5 in 2014, would still be thought of as one of the nation's elite teams.

One team whose ranking wasn't affected by a preseason injury concern was Notre Dame, which comes in at 11. 

Per Nick Ironside, this is Notre Dame's best preseason showing in the AP poll in nearly a decade:

The big problem for the Fighting Irish is the loss of star defensive tackle Jarron Jones, who is out for the year after tearing the MCL in his knee. 

It doesn't help that Notre Dame's schedule is loaded, starting with Texas on September 5, with ranked opponents like Georgia Tech, Clemson, USC and Stanford also in the mix. 

The one conference that isn't going to be happy with its spot in the rankings is the ACC, as noted by Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post:

Despite the presence of Florida State the previous two years, it's no secret that depth in the ACC hasn't been there. The Seminoles are facing plenty of questions with Jameis Winston taking his talents to the NFL, but head coach Jimbo Fisher has been able to restock the talent year after year. 

Georgia Tech did have a breakout season in 2014, winning 11 games for the first time since 2009, and Clemson has a strong claim as the conference's best team coming off four straight 10-win seasons. 

Once you get past that, though, the ACC is a string of decent teams, like Louisville and Duke, but not one worthy of being in the national conversation. 

Meanwhile, the Pac-12 continues to get stronger, featuring six teams in the Top 25. Oregon is facing its own quarterback questions with Marcus Mariota in the NFL, but the offensive system head coach Mark Helfrich has in place is designed to make things easy for the position.

There's a lot of support for USC in the polls, which is understandable with the Trojans coming off a nine-win campaign and quarterback Cody Kessler having the tools to be a Heisman finalist. 

Some fans are certain to be upset or confused by their team's spot in the preseason ranking, so B/R's Barrett Sallee is here to offer a logical explanation:

Preseason polls are designed to build expectations, but it's always important to remember there will a lot of turnover after the games start. There are always examples of teams that started the year ranked in the Top 10 only to stumble—South Carolina last year, just to name one. 

The polls are a conversation starter, reminding everyone where things left off at the end of 2014 and how roster turnover has helped or hurt a team. 

Ohio State may be No. 1 right now, but don't be surprised if someone outside the Top 10 ends up in that spot by season's end.  

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Steve Sarkisian Apologizes for Comments Made at 'Salute to Troy' Event

USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian issued an apology Sunday for his inappropriate behavior at this weekend's Salute to Troy event, the school's yearly introduction of the team to major donors.   

"I sincerely apologize to my players and staff and to our fans for my behavior and my inappropriate language at our kickoff event Saturday night," Sarkisian said in a statement. "I have a responsibility to all of them, and I let them down. Pat Haden talked to me after the event about my actions, and I assured him this will not happen again." 

According to accounts of the event on Twitter, many of which have been rounded up by Lost Lettermen here (contains NSFW language), Sarkisian was allegedly drunk during his speech. He said Oregon, Notre Dame and Arizona State all "suck" and used profanity during team introductions. After being pulled aside by USC officials, Sarkisian was allegedly removed from the event as team assistants finished the ceremony.

"I met with Coach Sarkisian, and I expressed my disappointment in the way he represented himself and the university at our Salute to Troy event," Haden said in a statement. "While the details of our conversation will remain between us, I am confident he heard my message loud and clear."

Sarkisian, heading into his second season as Trojans head coach, went 9-4 in 2014. The program is expected to make a major leap this season, with USC ranked No. 8 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 and No. 10 in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll.

As Ron Higgins of NOLA.com noted, one of the reasons Sarkisian got the USC job two years ago over interim head coach Ed Orgeron was Haden's faith in how Sarkisian would deal with alumni. Saturday night's embarrassment indicates everyone, no matter how polished, has an off day every now and then.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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AP Preseason Poll 2015: Complete College Football Rankings Released

Ohio State shocked the world by winning the inaugural College Football Playoff in January. The Buckeyes, loaded with perhaps the best collection of talent in recent memory, won't sneak up on anyone this year. 

Urban Meyer's bunch opens the 2015 season as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press Top 25, receiving all 61 of the possible first-place votes. The Buckeyes are 97 points ahead of No. 2 TCU, which will look to compete for a championship after controversially missing out on the CFP a year ago. Alabama, Baylor and Michigan State round out the Top Five.

Jon Solomon of CBS Sports noted Ohio State is the first unanimous No. 1 in the AP Poll.

Here is the full AP Poll:

The Buckeyes' biggest problem this season may be sorting out how to find playing time for all their talent. The most obvious issue is at quarterback. Braxton Miller's switch to receiver helped but still leaves Meyer with two potential Heisman candidates in J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones.

Barrett, who took over for an injured Miller last season, led Ohio State to an 11-1 start and was on the fringe of Heisman contention before suffering an ankle injury. Jones subsequently stepped in and pushed the Buckeyes to the national championship with a big-play dimension through the air that was not as apparent with Barrett at the helm.

Choosing between the two will mark perhaps the biggest decision of the 2015 college football season. Barrett is closer to the Meyer prototype, a decent passer who truly excels when he gets to use his feet. Jones is the NFL prototype, a 6'5" behemoth.

"I made an error when I spoke in the spring that it can't be a gut instinct," Meyer told reporters. "It's got to be both—how they performed last year, how they performed in the summer. Then we're going to chart everything throughout training camp, an accumulation of all the information. Then I will make the decision."

Florida State, which finds itself at No. 10, has its own quarterback dilemma to figure out. The departure of Jameis Winston has left Sean Maguire and former Notre Dame standout Everett Golson to compete for the starting gig. 

"We'll know when we know. I'm not putting a timetable on it," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said of making a decision, per Bob Ferrante of 247Sports.

Aside from TCU and Michigan State, which have Trevone Boykin and Connor Cook locked in under center, respectively, there aren't many top-flight teams without some uncertainty at the position. Alabama's Jake Coker is a senior who has thrown all of 100 collegiate passes and is no lock to win the starting job despite entering camp with a leg up on the competition. Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell and Blake Barnett are each getting their chance to audition, and Coker's had intermittent injury issues during camp.

Morris or Coker is widely expected to win the job, and as John Talty of AL.com wrote, Coker's little bit of experience may be the deciding factor:

Coker entered the fall as the prohibitive favorite to win the job after losing out last year to Sims but has faced stiff competition from Morris and Bateman. Coker is the only quarterback on the roster who has thrown a pass at the collegiate level, but he hasn't been able to wrest control of the position at any point during his time in Tuscaloosa. Saban's review of Saturday's performance indicated that hasn't changed.

Bryce Petty's departure at Baylor has opened a window for Seth Russell, whose career highlight is throwing five touchdowns against FCS opponent Northwestern State last season. Russell has 11 touchdowns against four interceptions in his career thus far, but he'll have quite the shoes to fill with Petty and Robert Griffin III lingering in the minds of Bears fans.

The same goes for whoever wins Oregon's quarterback battle, as Marcus Mariota was perhaps the best player in program history. Junior Jeff Lockie and senior transfer Vernon Adams are embroiled in a contest without an obvious front-runner. Adams came on board after three years of stardom at Eastern Washington, while Lockie has patiently waited for his shot while Mariota kept the program in title contention.

With so much uncertainty at the sport's most important position, odds are the preseason top five will look nothing like the initial College Football Playoff rankings. But preseason polls aren't designed to predict the national championship race; they're there to give fans an early look at what to expect in the weeks ahead.

The teams that wind up sticking around at the top will be the ones whose coaches made the correct decision under center.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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Dear Football: The 2015 Elite 11 Story | Ep. 6

Uninterrupted is a platform that allows personalities to connect with fans on a much deeper level, with insight and content not fit for other platforms, media outlets or channels.

Interested fans get a unique perspective that brings them closer than ever to the personalities they care about.

The Elite 11 camp brings together the top high school senior quarterbacks in the country in search of the best 11.

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Preseason College Football Rankings 2015: Predictions for Initial AP NCAA Top 25

Official rankings continue to roll out as the college football season creeps toward kickoff. 

Up next after the release of the USA Today Coaches Poll is Sunday's official unveiling of the Associated Press Top 25. Like all other rankings, it promises to stir up fans around the country as they try to pass the time before the season begins.

While the defending champion Ohio State Buckeyes will be planted at No. 1 for obvious reasons, the rest of the college football landscape remains uncertain.

Below, let's take a look at how things might shake out, basing the rankings on team depth charts, coaching and personnel changes, past performance, schedule and more.

 

AP Top 25 Predictions

 

Highlighting Intriguing Teams to Watch

Auburn Tigers

Like two years ago when the team made a surprise run to the BCS title game, it wouldn't be wise to sleep on the Auburn Tigers this year.

Last year was a down year, sure. The defense caved in on itself down the stretch, allowing at least 31 points to each of its last seven opponents not named Samford.

It's the responses to these struggles that have garnered Auburn plenty of preseason hype.

Will Muschamp is back as an assistant once again, this time defensive coordinator. He has proved himself capable of putting together elite defenses and stealing top-tier recruits, such as Byron Cowart. Don't forget the return of one of the nation's most hyped defenders, either, Carl Lawson.

After comparing Lawson to Von Miller, Auburn offensive line coach J.B. Grimes explained to Brandon Marcello of AL.com what makes Lawson such a force: "He's like blocking smoke. He can slip through a crack like nothing you've ever seen. The guy is good, man."

The offense isn't anything to sleep on, either, not with Jeremy Johnson stepping in for Nick Marshall under center. Johnson's thrown nine touchdowns to two picks in two seasons of spot duty, numbers sure to take a massive uptick under the guidance of head coach Gus Malzahn.

With so much talent on both sides of the ball, it'll be interesting to see where the Tigers land in the poll.

 

Baylor Bears 

Other than the loss of quarterback Bryce Petty, what's not to like about an offense that fell just short of the College Football Playoff last year?

Most focus on TCU as the dark-horse team to watch in the polls, but don't forget about the Baylor Bears. Baylor posted a nation-best 48.2 points per game last year and returns a whopping eight offensive starters.

This includes the entire line and receivers KD Cannon and Corey Coleman, who both surpassed the 1,000-yard mark last year.

Call it quite the comforting environment for new starting quarterback Seth Russell, who attempted just 85 passes last year but turned them into 804 yards and eight scores with one pick.

Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News passed along a quote from the Bears' head coach:

With impressive, experienced depth in the trenches on both sides of the football and explosive, proven skill players surrounding a new starter, Baylor looks to have the talent to challenge for the CFP once again.

Sunday's poll will reflect that.

 

Florida State Seminoles

Another team replacing a big-name quarterback? Try the Florida State Seminoles. 

This year's iteration of the rejuvenated national power needs to pull off an epic reload to remain among the top teams. After three conference championships, a national title and a trip to the CFP, Florida State looks like a shell of its former self without Jameis Winston and a host of other stars now in the NFL. 

Granted, these are the Seminoles, a juggernaut with an impressive recent resume. No doubt the skill position players on offense and the defense will look good in time.

The real question rests under center, where Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson and Sean Maguire continue to battle to a no-contest, as Jared Shanker of ESPN reported:

It's not an easy path for Florida State no matter who wins the job. The Seminoles have trips to Boston College and Wake Forest in their first four games of the season and also travel to Georgia Tech and Clemson over a three-week span later in the year.

Pollsters and fans should expect some growing pains. If the situation under center solidifies, though, Florida State might be doing more climbing than falling.

 

Stats and information via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

 

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Why No News Is Good News for Alabama Regarding Quarterback Competition

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Because University of Alabama officials are known for milking every last dollar out of the revenue streams stemming from Crimson Tide football, they might look back on the 2015 training camp and see a missed opportunity.

The school could have sold the quarterback competition as a month-long television show, complete with Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin handing a football to the ones who survived to the next week or stage, and those eliminated relegated to the scout team and reserve duty.

Considering the way Crimson Tide fans have been clamoring to find out anything and everything they can about who might be in the lead, it could have potentially drawn huge ratings locally and helped pay for whatever facility improvements Nick Saban wants next.

OK, maybe not. But things still played out about as well as coaches could have hoped.

After two-plus weeks of camp, the second of two preseason scrimmages was played at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, and all indications afterward were that there’s nothing new regarding the quarterbacks.

Saban didn’t proclaim a winner between senior Jake Coker, junior Alec Morris, sophomore Cooper Bateman, redshirt freshman David Cornwell and true freshman Blake Barnett, and he wasn't expected to.

The coach did the same thing last year. It was only much later that he indicated Blake Sims had essentially won the job during the final scrimmage. Saban didn’t reveal who would start against West Virginia in Atlanta until two days beforehand.

Like usual, Saturday’s scrimmage was closed to media, and the school didn’t make any players available to reporters or release any statistics other than what Saban revealed during his press conference.

“I think Bateman had 27 throws, Morris had 21, Coker had 26, Barnett had 11,” Saban said. “So we tried to give everybody some opportunity, and we will evaluate how they are doing.”

For the second-straight press conference, Saban didn’t mention Cornwell, whose stock has obviously dropped since the spring. That Barnett had fewer pass attempts than the older players was also notable.

The only quarterback Saban subsequently commented on without being prompted was Coker.

“Jake missed three days in practice this week, so the other guys got a few more reps during the course of the week,” he said. “But I thought he did a decent job today, taking that into consideration.”

Coker had been sidelined by a toe injury. It’s still unclear how the injury occurred.

Saban didn’t answer a question about how the quarterbacks were used (i.e., who saw time with the first unit or might have faced the first-team defense, etc.), but he did about Morris:

“Alec has done a nice job,” Saban said. “I think he does a really good job of understanding the offense; he helps the other players play better. And I think that he has probably shown command at the position, which I think is important.

“We’ve just got to continue to work on touch, accuracy, efficiency. But I’ve been really pleased with what Alec has done in this camp.”

Saban mentioned that he’s looking for more precision in the passing game in general and singled out wide receiver ArDarius Stewart for praise: “He had eight catches and made some really good catches—adjusted to the ball well, made some contested plays, which was good to see.”

So apparently no one took the “bull by the horns” as Saban had hoped, but that doesn’t mean things didn’t go well during camp.

• Everyone got a lot of work in as both scrimmages were pass-heavy, in part due to not wanting to open the season with a group of banged-up running backs. There was very little movement at the other offensive positions as Alphonse Taylor may have been the only other player to win a starting job during camp at right guard.

• None of the quarterbacks suffered a major injury. Actually, Alabama hasn’t had many at all, with Saturday’s setbacks limited to tackles Dominick Jackson (strained shoulder) and Korren Kirven (sprained knee). Both could be back in a few days.

• The coaches started to develop Alabama’s quarterbacks of the future, especially Barnett.

• Although it appears to be between Coker and Morris to start against Wisconsin in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 5 (8 p.m. ET, ABC), the coaching staff would probably be comfortable playing any of the top three quarterbacks, Bateman included. The old saying, “If you have two starting quarterbacks, you don't have one,” hasn’t come into play.

• Alabama avoided having the kind of drama one can easily find on bad reality TV or potentially split the team.

That alone made the Crimson Tide’s training camp a success.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

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Georgia Football: Frustrated Mark Richt Still Has Time to Find a Starting QB

ATHENS, Ga. — "I'd like to know and have peace. I'm looking for some peace."

Georgia head coach Mark Richt didn't get any Saturday morning during a scrimmage at Sanford Stadium regarding the three-headed quarterback battle going on that includes junior Faton Bauta, sophomore Brice Ramsey and Virginia transfer Greyson Lambert. In fact, that has turned into one of the biggest SEC mysteries of August, with information on where each member of the trio stands being as scarce as water in a desert.

Saturday was no different.

Richt was mum on quarterback specifics from the morning scrimmage (save for Nick Robinson's 4-of-4 performance with the "threes") but certainly let it be known that this is one of the most challenging quarterback decisions of his 15-year Georgia career.

"I don't know. Walking away from the practice, I feel like I know less about what to do than going in," he said. "That's just my first impression of that. We will watch the film and make a determination. We've had 17 or 18 practices, so there's a lot of things to start making some judgments by. Is it time for 'racking them' right now? I don't know."

The absence of useful statistical information is par for the course during fall camp, but some insight into the frustration going on behind closed doors that nobody has stepped up was a slight change.

I wrote earlier this month that there shouldn't be much panic if Georgia goes deep into fall camp without much resolution to the battle, and that remains true now that we are in late August, deep into fall camp.

Offensive tackle Kolton Houston doesn't think that three-man battle is hurting the offense as a whole.

"Regardless of which quarterback it is, it's not like the quarterbacks are terrible," he said emphatically. "They're good quarterbacks. People are putting all of this emphasis on the quarterback race, but it doesn't matter which quarterback it is. They're all three good. It's not like we are choosing from three bad quarterbacks."

With that said, though, the eventual winner of the battle needs to start getting first-team reps, and that's hard to do if there is no real separation among the three contenders. 

It's a lot easier to learn on the fly against Louisiana-Monroe and at Vanderbilt with two, and if the eventual winner is robbed of those first-team snaps late in fall camp because nobody in the trio can stand out, that's going to make it hard for that eventual winner to be a difference-maker in 2015. He'd be more likely to adjust on the fly.

That's not to say quarterbacks can't succeed while adjusting on the fly.

They can.

Look last year at Alabama quarterback Blake Sims. All he did was get progressively better as the year went on under first-year coordinator Lane Kiffin and lead his team to the SEC title.

The previous season, former Georgia defensive back and junior college quarterback Nick Marshall landed at Auburn in the summer and led the Tigers—under first-year head coach Gus Malzahn—to the SEC title and to within 13 seconds of a national championship.

Neither of those situations were ideal for those programs that, like Georgia and first-year coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, were implementing new offensive systems at the time.

This isn't plan A for the Bulldogs.

Plan A for Georgia would be for two of the quarterbacks to pull away and at least allow the staff to give more first-team reps to the eventual winner. Anything more than that—like a starting quarterback being named—would be too much. After all, Lambert—the most experienced of the group based on his time as the starter with the Cavaliers—only arrived on campus in late July and has to get a fair shot at winning the job.

Make no mistake, though. This is plan B.

"I'm a pretty patient guy, but the clock is ticking," Richt said.

Gut feeling, this quarterback battle will remain a mystery until one guy trots out to the huddle against ULM on Sept. 5.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com. Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83.

Follow Barrett on Twitter: @BarrettSallee.

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Oregon Football Calls Police on Pac-12 Network TV Crew for Watching Practice

Police were reportedly called to an Oregon football practice last week after a Pac-12 Network television crew gained access to sight lines of a closed practice field.

Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports reports authorities were summoned after analyst Curtis Conway and other members of the staff were making their way to a production truck. A "standoff" occurred after a security guard asked them to move until police arrived to diffuse the tension.

The report notes the Pac-12 Network is owned by the conference, which makes the situation even more curious. Neither side has commented on the matter.

Of course, Oregon is known for its fast-paced playing style that features numerous different wrinkles to keep opponents off balance. It doesn't come as much surprise the coaching staff goes to additional lengths to ensure outsiders aren't allowed to get an early glimpse at those plans.

It's hard to imagine members of the Pac-12 Network would lead to such a stir, though. The Ducks must be working on something special to become paranoid enough to believe a television crew could pass around key inside information to other teams from a brief look at practice.

Perhaps everybody else will get to see what special gadgets Oregon was working on when it opens the 2015 campaign against Eastern Washington on Sept. 5.  

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SEC Football: Biggest Injuries That Could Impact 2015 Season

Injuries are an unfortunate reality in football, and the old bug already has bitten several SEC football teams since last season.

Considering they can be the difference between wins and losses, it's at least worth mentioning several impact bumps and bruises, twists and tears that could keep a few league members from winning championships.

And there are more than a few.

From a superstar running back on a team built to overpower opponents with the rushing game, to several road-grading offensive line starters, to a trio of defensive leaders, it hasn't been a kind offseason for several SEC teams.

Some of those setbacks happened in fall camp, and a few more were known coming into the season.

For some teams, they've got personnel who can step in and fill the void. But, in a lot of cases, it's difficult to replicate the production of the missing players no matter how much you want to paint the pig's face in the wake of the injury.

Arkansas has a stable of talented runners, but replacing Jonathan Williams will be a chore. LSU may be the new "DBU," but you can't just plug and play somebody who will match Jalen Mills' production.

Let's take a look at a few injuries facing SEC teams and what the coaching staffs may do to combat their departures.

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Preseason College Football Rankings 2015: Release Time for Top 25 Standings

The debates surrounding which teams should be considered the top 25 in college football unofficially commenced with the release of the Amway Coaches Poll on July 30, but the gridiron discourse is set to ramp up again when the Associated Press releases its own rankings on Sunday, August 23.

According to a press release, the Associated Press will roll out its preseason ranking at 2 p.m. ET on CollegeFootball.AP.org.

The Associated Press and Amway Coaches Poll are more symbolic and ceremonial than anything with the advent of the College Football Playoff and its human selection committee, but for better or for worse, the polls will frame much of the discussion in college football week in and week out. Plus, they will serve as a point of reference until the CFP releases its first rankings on November 3, per CollegeFootballPlayoff.com.

For a guide to where you might see your favorite powerhouse team in the Associated Press rankings, here is the Coaches Poll preseason rundown.

The AP poll isn't exactly a well-guarded, sportswriter trade secret before its release. Gary Horowitz of the Statesman Journal provided a sneak peek as to how he voted on August 17:

Defending national champion Ohio State tops my top 25, followed by TCU, Alabama, Oregon and Michigan State. The Buckeyes are so loaded at quarterback that two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year Braxton Miller has moved to slot receiver.

If all goes according to form, TCU will have an opportunity to make amends for last season's College Football Playoff snub by playing Ohio State in the national championship game.

That's pretty well in line with the Coaches Poll, with Oregon and Michigan State bumped up a spot at Baylor's expense.

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News has Ohio State at No. 1 and, surprisingly, Notre Dame at No. 2 (Wilner's complete top 25 is in his column). He expects those two to be in the national championship game, with the Fighting Irish getting there in a true grind-it-out fashion:

I'm projecting Notre Dame to play Ohio State for the national title and have the Irish in the No. 2 slot. Their defense should be dominant (maybe better than '12). The schedule is challenging but manageable. If Malik Zaire is merely average, there's no reason they can't win every game 17-10.

Ohio State makes sense here, seeing as they're coming off a national championship, one that was thankfully decided in a rousing playoff format thanks to the CFP. Head coach Urban Meyer has the enviable dilemma of picking either Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett to start the season under center. His choice could've been between three superstar QBs, but Braxton Miller has moved to the wide receiver corps.

Barrett broke scoring records in his redshirt freshman season with 45 total touchdowns (34 passing, 11 rushing), but a late-season ankle injury paved the way for Jones to acquire instant folk-hero status, as he led the Buckeyes to wins over Wisconsin, Alabama and finally Oregon on the way to the national championship. 

Don't expect them to split snaps, though.

"I don't think it would be as efficient," Barrett said of a two-QB system, via ESPN.com's Austin Ward. "I did that in high school and switched every series...and that's kind of tough to do being that you can't get into a rhythm, get a real vibe off the defense."

Both the Associated Press and Coaches Polls will see a ton of churn and turnover as the season progresses. Injuries, upsets, fluke plays and meltdowns can (and, in many cases, will) derail a team's run to College Football Playoff glory. Also, nobody has yet seen the 2015 version of these programs playing full speed, 100 percent against real competition from another university.

It may be a fool's errand to pick a top 25 right now—and can probably lead to some primacy effect biases when top-ranked teams maybe don't plummet down the rankings as far as they should because people remember them as a preseason list-topper—but the trash-talking and debate has to start somewhere.

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Notre Dame Football: 2015 Game-by-Game Schedule Predictions

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Set aside all the talk about conferences, independents and 13th games, and Notre Dame's 2015 football schedule stands out for its difficulty.

The Irish clash with Texas, Georgia Tech, Clemson, USC and Stanford, and there are few true cupcakes on the docket.

Let’s take a game-by-game look at the schedule and offer our early predictions for each matchup.

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Art Briles Denies Knowing of Sam Ukwuachu's Past, Baylor Holds Internal Inquiry

Baylor Bears head football coach Art Briles has denied having any knowledge of the circumstances regarding the transfer of former defensive end Sam Ukwuachu from Boise State.

According to Briles, then-Broncos head coach Chris Petersen never mentioned the allegations of past violence. Briles also had a discussion with Ukwuachu's high school coach, who spoke of Ukwuachu in glowing terms.

ESPN.com's Jake Trotter provided Briles' full statement:

Baylor released a copy of Ukwuachu's official transfer request, which seems to show Ukwuachu wasn't dismissed for disciplinary reasons (via Trotter):

The school also announced Friday it will launch an internal investigation into the details surrounding its inquest into the sexual assault allegations leveled against former defensive end Sam Ukwuachu.

Shehan Jeyarajah of the Dallas Morning News provided the official statement from the school:

Baylor President Ken Starr posted a letter, which included Baylor's stance on sexual violence:

Acts of sexual violence contradict every value Baylor University upholds as a caring Christian community. In recent years we have joined university efforts nationally to prevent campus violence against women and sexual assault, to actively support survivors of sexual assault with compassion and care, and to take action against perpetrators. We have established and fully staffed a Title IX office that employs a Title IX Coordinator and two full-time investigators. Maintaining a safe and caring community is central to Baylor’s mission and at the heart of our commitment to our students, faculty and staff.

A judge in McLennan County, Texas, sentenced Ukwuachu to 180 days in county jail and 400 hours of community service Friday after he was found guilty of second-degree sexual assault, per Tommy Witherspoon of the Waco Tribune. Ukwuachu will also remain on felony probation for 10 years.

Writing for Texas Monthly, Jessica Luther and Dan Solomon first broke that Ukwuachu had been indicted for sexual assault on June 25, 2014, a fact which had gone unreported for over a year. Luther and Solomon detailed the circumstances of the case and the potential shortcomings in Baylor's investigation of the claims.

Based on Tommy Witherspoon's Waco Tribune report, Deadspin's Diana Moskovitz wrote about the aspects of the case overlooked by Bethany McCraw, Baylor's associate dean for student conduct administration. McCraw failed to obtain the results from a sexual assault exam on the victim in question, and she never spoke with a university psychologist who diagnosed the victim with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Another critical question asked both of McCraw and Briles is whether they knew the facts regarding Ukwuachu's transfer from Boise State.

Friday morning, Briles told reporters he was unaware of any significant issues Ukwuachu had before his departure.

"No mention of anything beyond Sam being depressed and needing to come home," he said, per ESPN.com's Max Olson and Mark Schlabach. "So that was our information. And that's what you go by."

Petersen then released a statement in which he claimed to have called Briles and "thoroughly apprised (him) of the circumstances surrounding Sam's disciplinary record and dismissal."

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Former Baylor DE Sam Ukwuachu Sentenced for 2013 Sexual Assault of Soccer Player

A judge in McLennan County, Texas, sentenced former Baylor and Boise State defensive end Sam Ukwuachu to 180 days in county jail Friday after he was found guilty of second-degree sexual assault from an October 2013 incident. Ukwuachu will also remain on felony probation for a period of 10 years, per ESPN.com's Max Olson.

According to Tommy Witherspoon of the Waco Tribune, the jury recommended an eight-year probated sentence for Ukwuachu.

Little was known about why Ukwuachu had yet to appear for the Bears after transferring from Boise State. He was eligible to play during the 2014 season but failed to see the field.

In July, Bears defensive coordinator Phil Bennett told reporters Ukwuachu could soon be joining the team.

"Ukwuachu is a guy we’re expecting to be back," Bennett said, per Shehan Jeyarajah of the Dallas Morning News. "We expect him to be eligible in July. That gives us probably five or six guys we can play at end."

Then came a report on Thursday by Jessica Luther and Dan Solomon for Texas Monthy. Luther and Solomon detailed the sexual assault allegations leveled against Ukwuachu by a former member of the Baylor women's soccer team, stemming from an incident Oct. 19, 2013. Ukwuachu was subsequently indicted June 25, 2014.

The Texas Monthy report raised questions about the investigation carried out by Baylor and whether the school was aware of the circumstances leading to Ukwuachu's departure from Boise State, which reportedly included an act of punching "through a window while drunk."

Baylor head coach Art Briles denied he had knowledge of Ukwuachu's past indiscretions.

"No mention of anything beyond Sam being depressed and needing to come home," Briles said, per Olson. "So that was our information. And that's what you go by."

Olson and ESPN.com colleague Mark Schlabach then provided a statement from Washington head coach Chris Petersen, who coached the Broncos at the time of Ukwuachu's transfer, which seemingly contradicted Briles' story: "After Sam Ukwuachu was dismissed from the Boise State football program and expressed an interest in transferring to Baylor, I initiated a call with coach Art Briles. In that conversation, I thoroughly apprised Coach Briles of the circumstances surrounding Sam's disciplinary record and dismissal."

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Alabama Requests Media to Stop Reporting What They See at Practice

Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide aren't taking any chances when it comes to maintaining a tactical edge this season. 

According to the Tuscaloosa News' Aaron Suttles, "Alabama has requested that the media not report on what is seen at practice." Suttles added the Crimson Tide's desire revolves around reporting injuries, although it's not restricted to such narrow criteria.

Alabama's request makes sense from a competitive standpoint, as limiting the dissemination of injury reports through the media could keep opponents guessing as they attempt to game-plan for the reigning SEC champions. 

However, the other side of the issue has to do with the media's ability to do its job properly and without obstructions.

Since reporters have an obligation to keep fans and readers up-to-date with pertinent information, constraints on publishing crucial elements of the team's well-being stand to impact how much detail they can divulge.

As the season approaches, it will be fascinating to observe how specific the program gets when it discloses injury-related updates—particularly during the weeks leading up to some of Alabama's biggest SEC clashes.

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Bold Predictions for Every Top 25 Team's 2015 Season

Soon, bold predictions won't matter because actual college football games will be played and results will speak for themselves. 

Oh, who are we kidding? Piping hot takes will always be part of the game. But now is as good a time as any to get one last good dose of bold predictions in before the 2015 season gets under way. So, we've listed off things that could happen in the right circumstances, good or bad, for each top 25 team as determined by the preseason USA Today Amway Coaches Poll

(As a reminder: The Associated Press preseason Top 25 will be released at 2 p.m. ET Sunday, Aug. 23.) 

With that, let's get to those predictions and throw all caution out the window. Mmmmmm....bold flavor.

Begin Slideshow

Ohio State Hydrates Players with 'Club Buckeye,' Hands out Shots of Gatorade

Most college football programs would probably want their players to stay away from the club scene.

Far, far away.

But Ohio State does things a bit differently. On Friday, OSU opened its own “club”—Club Buckeye—featuring Gatorade shots, some throwback dance music, a top-notch security team and overall good vibes.

It was basically a creative way for the strength and conditioning staff to get players hydrated for practice:

Hey, whatever works.

[Twitter, Instagram]

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Kevin Sumlin Aiming for Texas A&M to Be Tougher, More Physical in 2015

There aren’t too many college football coaches who can send a loud, distinct message without saying a word, but Kevin Sumlin recently pulled it off at SEC media days.

When the Texas A&M coach walked through the front door of the Wynfrey Hotel, he was accompanied by approximately 900 pounds of players, easily making the Aggies this year's biggest contingency.

Specifically, representing the Aggies were Germain Ifedi, Mike Matthews and Julien Obioha, who are all linemen. Not making the trip were the young quarterback, any of the speedy receivers or even the pass-rusher who set the program record for sacks last season.

“It’s kind of cool, he brought the fat kids,” offensive tackle Obioha said. “That’s really, really nice.”

Although Sumlin isn’t about to ditch the spread or make major wholesale changes to the program, he does want this year’s team to develop a different personality. In short, he wants them to toughen up both mentally and physically.

“We need to be better and tougher,” Ifedi said. “Five losses is unacceptable.”

But if you look at the Aggies' recent draft history, the offensive line is where the program has really made its mark (minus Johnny Manziel). This last draft tackle Cedric Ogbuehi was the 21st selection, by the Cincinnati Bengals, and guard Jarvis Harrison was taken in the fifth round by the New York Jets.

In 2014, Jake Matthews was the sixth-overall pick, by the Atlanta Falcons, and in 2013, Outland Trophy winner Luke Joeckel went second to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

So that’s three straight first-round draft picks in the same number of years, and yet the Aggies still developed a reputation as not being tough enough, especially when it counted the most.

Last season Texas A&M averaged 4.6 yards per carry on just 421 attempts. This resulted in 149.9 rushing yards per game, which ranked 12th in the league. Against SEC opponents the average dropped down to just 3.8 yards per carry.

It gave up 26 sacks and was 13th out of 14 teams in turnover margin at minus-seven. Texas A&M converted 40.78 percent of its third-down opportunities, which put it in the middle of the league (73 of 179 attempts), yet the more the season progressed, the more the Aggies struggled to run for a first down on third-and-short or in goal-line situations.

“At times last year, it seemed like we didn’t have the tools together to run the ball,” Ifedi said.

Thus, Sumlin made two important additions to his coaching staff with the aim of improving the Aggies’ biggest concerns. The first was veteran SEC defensive coordinator John Chavis, who had previously had the same role at LSU and Tennessee.

The other was to hire former Wyoming coach and Utah assistant Dave Christensen as offensive line coach and run-game coordinator. His addition made nowhere near the same splash with fans as Chavis, but it could have a huge impact in this fall.

What makes Christensen such an interesting addition was that even though he was an offensive lineman himself at Washington (1980-82), he was Gary Pinkel’s offensive coordinator when Missouri adopted the spread.

While at face value Pinkel and the spread would seem to go together about as well as chocolate and anchovies, what spurred the switch were back-to-back losses to Bowling Green in 2001-02—and some coach named Urban Meyer. When Meyer moved on, Pinkel asked his replacement Gregg Brandon to teach the Tigers offensive staff the scheme.

Missouri ended up playing in the Big 12 Championship Game in both 2007 and 2008, quarterback Chase Daniel finished fourth in voting for the 2007 Heisman Trophy and Christensen was on the short list for assistant coach of the year honors including the Broyles Award. Not surprisingly it led to a head coaching opportunity, and from 2009-13 his teams went 27-35 at Wyoming with two bowl appearances.

“Schematically, I think he brings attitude and experience to the table,” Sumlin said. “It gets back to what I said. We've had to change our practice style. I think we came into the SEC with an attitude that, hey, we want to win right now, and the best way to do that is by scoring points and then building off of that with recruiting and generating excitement and doing those things. We've done that. Now let's take the next step and, from a recruiting standpoint, develop a depth standpoint that we need.

“I've said it before. The SEC is not only a line of scrimmage league. It's a line of scrimmage and depth league.”

Christensen arrived at College Station with a reputation of being as straightforward as demanding and not hesitating to be brutally honest with his players.

So his initial message would be important, and sure enough it was that the line had to be tougher and more physical.

“I think everybody bought into that,” Matthews, a senior center, said. “We understand that maybe we were a little softer than we needed to be. Being offensive linemen, you have to be really physical guys, and he’s really pushing on that.

As for Matthews’ reaction to that first position meeting, he said, “I loved that. That’s the stuff I wanted to hear.”

Since then, Christensen has told his linemen they’re the most talented group he’s ever had and the Aggies should be able to do what they want up front. He has also tweaked their approach, installing more zone-read and inside zone plays and putting a heavy emphasis on attention to detail.

The players say nothing is drastically different, maybe the hand placement on a certain block or the way someone steps, but they know those small alterations can potentially lead to much bigger things.

Like having more confidence in the running game, which can only make the Aggies offense more challenging and unpredictable.

“You want to see that look on defensive linemen’s faces… “ Ifedi said.

  

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

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How Tate Martell's Commitment Shakes Up 2017 QB Recruiting Class

Less than two weeks shy of his junior season, 5-star quarterback prospect Tate Martell committed to Texas A&M on Thursday evening. 

The 5'11", 180-pound prospect picked the Aggies over fellow finalists Michigan, Washington, Alabama and USC. He'll join top-ranked 2014 quarterback recruit Kyle Allen and Texas high school legend Kyler Murray on a crowded depth chart in 2017:

Rated 12th overall in 2017 composite rankings and first among dual-threat talents, Martell is one of the most impressive players in America. He collected nearly 3,000 total yards and 45 touchdowns in 2014, leading Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas) to its sixth straight state title and national championship consideration.

He joins TCU pledge Shawn Robinson as the only 5-star quarterbacks to announce their collegiate decision in the 2016 cycle. Martell actually first committed in middle school, accepting a verbal scholarship offer from Washington before eighth grade.

Robinson and Martell boost the future fortunes of two Texas programs, while sending other coaching staffs searching elsewhere for options behind center. They have company when it comes to contemporaries who also puled the trigger on early pledges.

Danny Clark (Ohio State), Jake Allen (Florida), Sean Clifford (Penn State), Kellen Mond (Baylor), Chris Robison (Oklahoma), Bailey Hockman (Georgia), Braxton Burmeister (Arizona) and Lowell Narcisse (Auburn) are each 4-star quarterbacks in the 2017 class who already announced collegiate intentions.

Among the 22 total 4- and 5-star quarterbacks in this cycle, 10 are set to start their junior high school campaign already committed to a college team.

The situation at quarterback becomes convoluted earlier every year. If your program doesn't land a top-tier passer at least 12 months shy of national signing day, that player could be difficult to find.

Of course, each of these commitments is strictly verbal and non-binding. It's almost a guarantee at least one 2017 quarterback will change his decision before signing day because of coaching changes, depth-chart concerns or alternative opportunities that appear more ideal. 

With Martell off the board, it forces a few marquee teams to re-establish 2017 recruiting priorities. His announcement immediately impacts Alabama, Michigan and USC.

The Trojans were runner-up in this race and tugged on his heartstrings as a former Southern California resident. Martell's longstanding relationship with head coach Steve Sarkisian wasn't enough to seal the deal days after it was announced 4-star 2015 signee Ricky Town opted to leave the program midway through his first college training camp.

USC still has true freshman Sam Darnold and 4-star 2016 commit Matt Fink to provide youth at the position. Former top-rated quarterback recruit Max Browne, now a redshirt sophomore, is likely to ascend into the starting role once senior Cody Kessler departs.

Keep a close eye on Hawaiian standout Tua Tagovailoa, who also holds an offer from Oregon. He is the top-rated dual-threat quarterback who remains uncommitted, though USC could also target in-state talent such as Los Angeles-area 4-star Tristan Gebbia.

Michigan is sure to remain a team in the spotlight for quarterbacks, considering head coach Jim Harbaugh's history at the position. The new Wolverines staff is on track to sign its third 4-star quarterback since arriving, as long as Indiana product Brandon Peters remains on board.

Dylan McCaffrey is probably the most notable fallback option in Ann Arbor. The son of former Stanford and Denver Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey threw 22 touchdowns as a sophomore, per MaxPreps, and is rated fourth nationally among pro-style passers.

Alabama never appeared primed to land Martell, so this shouldn't be seen as much of a blow in Tuscaloosa. Head coach Nick Saban signed 5-star California quarterback Blake Barnett in February and holds a commitment from 4-star 2016 Texas dual threat Jalen Hurts.

Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin seems motivated to infuse his attack with increased mobility behind center. Martell certainly would've fit the bill there, but other options are in place.

Alabama is always selective at quarterback, but early offers went out to a small collection of 2017 prospects. Georgia recruit Jake Fromm may be the most viable candidate to land in a Crimson Tide uniform, though Saban must contend with South Carolina and Ole Miss.

Martell's commitment leaves Indiana product Hunter Johnson as the only 5-star passer who enters his junior season undecided. Tennessee and Notre Dame are top contenders.

 

Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.

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The Ballad of Chad Kelly's Last Chance

OXFORD, Miss. — The only thing that's certain for Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly is that this is it. This time there won't be any more "second chances," not with his checkered past.

Like it or not, Kelly is poised to become the most interesting man, or at least the most intriguing man, in the Southeastern Conference in 2015. And while his character may be up for debate, his resume is not. When it comes to football, he's always won. High school state titles, JUCO national titles—he even won the Punt, Pass & Kick competition four times.

Don't think for a moment that he couldn't do the same with Hugh Freeze's stacked Ole Miss offense. If he can just beat out reigning backup Ryan Buchanan and dual threat DeVante Kincade to start at quarterback.

Despite all the winning, Kelly is known throughout college football as "that kid who gets in trouble." Through a roller coaster six-year stretch leading up to his arrival in Oxford, his highs and lows can only be described as extreme.

It began at Red Lion High School in Pennsylvania, where Kelly was suspended for seven games as a freshman and then kicked off the team as a sophomore for reasons that were never publicly disclosed. After moving to the Buffalo area, where there is no bigger last name in football, since his uncle Jim Kelly led the Bills to four straight Super Bowls, Kelly turned things around at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute.

Not only did Kelly became the region's top quarterback prospect since Don Majkowski (who played in the NFL from 1987 to 1996) and Ron Jaworski (1973-89), but as a junior, he was named a captain of both the football and basketball teams.

"Obviously he was a phenom," said Dennis Gilbert, the Marauders' football coach whose primary job is being a full-time police officer. "To me, the thing that set him apart was his level of competitiveness. Everything was competition to him, whether it was diagramming plays or getting water, he wanted to be the first to get water.

"He's a guy who practiced the same on Monday and played in games on Friday. It didn't matter what it was, even basketball or lacrosse, he competed like crazy."

Kelly's ultra-competitive nature has proved to be both the angel and devil on his shoulder. It helped drive him to 3,050 passing yards, 991 rushing yards and 41 total touchdowns as a high school senior, but it also led to his downfall at Clemson.

It didn't culminate until after Kelly redshirted, suffered a torn ACL in the 2013 spring game and feverishly worked to get back ahead of schedule. The spark was a decision not to go for it on fourth down during the 2014 spring game, a decision the competitive Kelly just couldn't let go. He yelled and screamed and even got into Dabo Swinney's face in front of 33,000 witnesses. Shortly after, he was dismissed from the program due to a "pattern of behavior."

A few days later, Kelly was at East Mississippi Community College, located just across the Alabama border in the small town of Scooba. It's a wrong-turn destination where there's no downtown, no luxuries and no distractions.

While running a spread offense like he did in high school, Kelly passed for 3,906 yards and 47 touchdowns, and the Lions averaged 539.1 yards, including 358.8 in the air, and 55.5 points per game. While posting an undefeated record, EMCC won by scores of 83-7 and 65-7, and the final five games of the regular season saw a combined 269-0 score.

"We threw it around a good bit," offensive coordinator Marcus Wood said. "He was a dynamic player all around. Good leader for us, did a good job. He came in with a chip on his shoulder and with a lot to prove.

"He's a very heady kid, kind of your gym rat kid. All he wants to do is study tape. He's always asking questions."

And just like that, Chad Kelly's football career was back from the dead. But for how long?

After the season, LSU, Indiana and even Alabama checked him out, but Kelly had been talking to Freeze even before unpacking in Scooba. The combination of the Rebels' pass-friendly offense and the open QB spot made Ole Miss a very attractive option for Kelly, but the clincher was the relationship that started developing with the coach.

Kelly needed a coach who could also provide fatherly influence. Freeze was up for the challenge and vowed to keep a closer eye on him off the field than on.

Kelly described their early conversations as having as much to do with life in general as ways to get the football to players like wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and tight end Evan Engram. The coach and quarterback watch film—a lot of film—but also attend church and Bible study together.

"We both had faith in God, first of all," Kelly said. "He's pushing me on and off the field a tremendous amount. I'm just so thankful that he gave me an opportunity."

However, true to his tumultuous past, Kelly almost blew that opportunity less than two weeks after he signed to play with Freeze, when he was arrested following a 3 a.m. altercation at a downtown Buffalo bar and restaurant, according to the Buffalo News' Joseph Popiolkowski. He faced numerous charges after allegedly punching a bouncer and scuffling with police.

Kelly didn't provide any details about what his subsequent conversation with Freeze was like, only describing it as an extremely uncomfortable phone call. But when they hung up, the coach still stood behind the transfer. Freeze told Houston Sports Zone he and Kelly would "give it a go together." Kelly enrolled in January and eventually accepted a plea agreement to a non-criminal charge of disorderly conduct and 50 hours of community service.

"I've been through a lot, that I have," Kelly said about what he's learned. "You have to approach every day and try and get better on and off the field. You need to keep looking forward, don't ever look back."

So far, he's done just that.

At the urging of his coach, Kelly went on Freeze's now annual spring break mission trip to Haiti, where they and numerous other people in the Ole Miss program helped build a reservoir to provide clean drinking water for thousands of people.

Kelly also put real effort into his classes instead of just getting by, and described his offseason routine as watching film, working out, watching more film, studying and then watching even more film.

"All I can tell you is to this point I cannot be more pleased," Freeze said as training camp opened earlier this month. "The guy had a 4.0 GPA this summer, a 3.6 in the spring. One of the strength staff's favorite kids, finishes first in every drill.

"He's just like a lot of us, he's made some mistakes in the past and he's ready to move beyond them. I think he deserves that opportunity now."

Yet the coach wasn't going to just hand Kelly the starting job. It took Buchanan a year to start getting comfortable in Freeze's spread scheme, and only then did he win the job as Bo Wallace's backup last season. Just the pre-snap reads alone can take a long time to get down.

"Honestly there are about three or four things that happen in about a second, and sometimes right as I get the ball it happens in a heartbeat," said Buchanan, who ended the spring with a slight lead in the quarterback chase.

"It's who is more consistent and more comfortable [who will win the job]. It's being able to move the ball and not take the negative plays."

The opportunity is there for the taking. It's now on Kelly to earn the starting job and write the happy ending to his redemption saga.

"I'm ready to go," Kelly said.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

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QB Ricky Town Adds New Dimension to Arkansas' 'Ground-and-Pound' Offense

Former 4-star quarterback Ricky Town has transferred to Arkansas, according to ESPN's Joe Schad. The No. 6 pro-style QB of the 2015 class, according to 247Sports, enrolled at USC in January but decided to transfer after fall practice started. 

What does the stud QB bring to the Arkansas Razorbacks? Watch Michael Felder break down what this means for Bret Bielema's squad. 

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