NCAA Football News

College Football's Top Defensive Backfields for 2015 Season

The secondary is the last line of defense in football, which usually means when things go wrong, they get the blame—fair or not. And because football (and officiating) is so geared toward offense now, life can be tough in the defensive backfield. 

So let's take a moment and recognize some great secondaries in college football. In the following slides are the top defensive backfields in college football, with a nod to some honorable mentions as well. 

Units were ranked on returning starters/accolades, plus incoming players who could boost overall depth. 


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Who Will Be Clemson's Offensive MVP for the 2015 Season?

Clemson is poised to break out in 2015. The Tigers have one of the most potent offenses in the country, and they are sure to compete for an ACC title. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder gives his pick for the offensive MVP for the Clemson Tigers. 

Who will be the breakout offensive player for the Tigers in 2015? Check out the video and let us know!

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Who Will Be Miami's Offensive MVP for the 2015 Season?

The Miami Hurricanes are doing everything they can to move in the right direction and bring back some prestige to their storied program. Quarterback Brad Kaaya is the man that could lead the charge for the Hurricanes.

Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Michael Felder joined Stephen Nelson as they went over Kaaya's emergence as the team's offensive MVP.

Will Kaaya repeat his big freshman season in 2015? Check out the video and let us know!  

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Who Will Be Notre Dame's Defensive MVP for the 2015 Season?

Notre Dame is returning one of the most fierce defenses in college football. The Fighting Irish are poised to have a top-tier defense, but who will be the most important piece?

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder gives his pick for the Notre Dame defensive MVP in 2015.

Who will be the star of the ND defense next season? Check out the video and let us know!

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Notre Dame Paid Charlie Weis More Money Than Brian Kelly to Not Coach

Notre Dame fans would like nothing more than to forget Charlie Weis and the costly failure of his Fighting Irish coaching days.

Weis was held up like Simba when his alma mater hired him in 2005, but five disappointing seasons later, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick gave the former New England Patriots offensive coordinator the boot with six years remaining on his contract. He has since been hired and fired after an unsuccessful two-and-a-half-year stint at the helm of Kansas' football program.

Now, judging by a recent report by's Matt Fortuna, Weis is still collecting well-marbled checks from Notre Dame.

Fortuna reported Monday that had obtained federal tax returns filed by the school for the reporting period of July 2013 through June 2014. The returns show Notre Dame sending Weis a payment of $2,054,744—the exact figure doled out four previous times since the school paid $6,638,403 upon his firing.

This brings us to a total of $14,857,379—the amount of money Weis has made to not coach Notre Dame over the last six years. For perspective, current Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly made $1,187,272 in 2013 to, you know, coach football.

And the fun isn't over yet. Fortuna reports that Notre Dame is slated to pay out more "additional annual payments" through December 2015, which would likely mean two more payments of $2,054,744 for Weis, bringing his total Notre Dame buyout cash to $18,966,867.

Lump on the $5.63 million remaining on Weis' Kansas contract at the time of his firing in 2014, and you're looking at two schools paying one guy a grand total of $24.5 million to not work for them anymore.

It's an absurd sum, for sure, and instincts tell you to place the onus on Weis, who did not perform to expectations.

But lest we forget: No one forced these schools to throw bales of guaranteed cash at a former pro offensive coordinator, and he's not going to turn down money that was placed willingly on the table.


Dan is on Twitter. "Get money. Get paid." — Charlie Weis, probably.

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Oregon Stat Projections: Will Royce Freeman Duplicate Breakout Season in 2015?

Oregon Ducks running back Royce Freeman enjoyed one of the finest freshman campaigns in 2014, rushing for over 1,300 yards en route to a national championship appearance. But how will he follow up his breakout season?

Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Adam Kramer joined Stephen Nelson to project the stats for Freeman's sophomore season.

Will Freeman follow up his freshman season with a bang? Check out the video and let us know!

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Which Florida Players Will Step Up to Replace Talent Lost to NFL?

The Florida Gators, despite having struggles last season, continue to churn out NFL-ready talent year after year even with coaching uncertainties. 

Stephen Nelson is joined by Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder to discuss the players to step up for the Gators. 

Which players will fill the void for Florida next season? Check out the video and let us know!

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Schools to Watch After 4-Star WR Kyle Davis Decommitted from South Carolina

Top-rated Georgia wide receiver Kyle Davis backed off a 10-month commitment to South Carolina on Monday night, announcing his decision via Twitter:

The 4-star prospect initially pledged to head coach Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks last summer while attending an on-campus event. However, his latest college visits have occurred elsewhere in SEC country and things seemed to be trending away from South Carolina for the Archer High School junior.

Davis, a 6'3", 211-pound playmaker, is rated fifth nationally among wide receivers and 58th overall in 247Sports' composite rankings. He caught 67 passes for 1,183 yards and nine touchdowns in 2014, per The State.

His imposing physical frame and smooth receiving skills have garnered attention from college programs since his sophomore year. Davis holds nearly 30 scholarship offers, and that list is likely to expand now that he's back on the open market.

South Carolina shouldn't be ruled out for a rebound in this recruitment, but the Gamecocks clearly lost traction during recent months.

Davis visited Georgia, Auburn and Tennessee since the last time he set foot in Columbia. The in-state Bulldogs have actually hosted him four times during that span, per Rusty Mansell of 247Sports.

Georgia is the public favorite to land Davis as he enters a new chapter in his recruitment. The Bulldogs claim 100 percent of expert predictions to sign him in 247Sports' Crystal Ball.

Several campus visits and increased rapport with the coaching staff, including new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, set the stage for Georgia to emerge as a front-runner. The team holds just one wide receiver commitment—fellow 4-star Peach State product Darion Anderson—and claims a pledge from the country's top-ranked quarterback in Jacob Eason.

Eason is one of the most impressive passers we've scouted this decade and is a strong selling point for Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt. The combination of elite quarterback talent and close proximity could separate Georgia from the pack.

Auburn always recruits well in Georgia and actually flipped 4-star wide receiver Darius Slayton from the Bulldogs late in the 2015 recruiting cycle. Davis has visited the Tigers on campus and the team has a void at receiver in this class.

Josh Imatorbhebhe, another 4-star Georgia pass-catcher, received a ton of attention from Auburn in recent weeks. However, he announced his commitment to USC on Monday morning.

That development, and Davis' announcement less than 12 hours later, may result in head coach Gus Malzahn shifting the focus of his recruiting staff. It would be a surprise if the Tigers haven't already reached out to Davis since Monday evening.

Tennessee continues to work on its reputation as "Wide Receiver U," though that's a title currently claimed by several college squads and their fans. The Volunteers landed top Georgia wide receiver Preston Williams last signing day and now have Davis in the crosshairs.

He's visited Tennessee twice since last fall. Head coach Butch Jones picked up a pledge from 4-star New Jersey quarterback Jarrett Guarantano in April, and he's the program's top-rated passer since a new regime took over.

Guarantano has vowed to recruit ardently on behalf of Tennessee and helped get 4-star wide receiver Austin Mack on campus last weekend. Davis would become the top-rated commit in another outstanding Volunteers class if he hops on the bandwagon.

Aside from the SEC trio, a pair of newcomers also warrant some attention in this race. Ohio State and LSU each offered earlier this month.

Don't be surprised if additional interest begins to pour in for the prized Peach State prospect as things progress. Georgia looks to be in strong position for an eventual pledge, but this is a fluid situation with several suitors in the mix.


Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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The 10 Best Emerging College Football Rivalries

What makes a rivalry great?

Is it how far back into history the matchup stretches, the traditions surrounding the game or how many combined championships the teams share?

Though these aspects all matter, at least historically speaking, they don’t whip fans into a frenzy like a game with a little more meat on the bone.

Rivalries are at their best when the outcome of an annual game consistently means something more than just bragging rights.

Losing out on the opportunity to compete for something bigger—a title, a playoff spot or even a bowl game—is something a fan never forgets.  It fuels the flame of hate that can only be quenched with sweet revenge.

These matchups aren’t in the same league as the Iron Bowl, The Game, Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate or the Civil War, but they do have all the makings of something beautiful.

If that's not enough, they are power-ranked for your pleasure.

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Coach Mora's Biggest Challenges for Bruins in 2015

In his fourth year as the head coach of the UCLA football team, Jim Mora and his staff are slated to encounter a few potential issues in 2015. 

For one, the squad is tasked with replacing arguably the most productive quarterback in UCLA history in Brett Hundley. Mora will also have to prepare his team for a fierce Pac-12 Conference schedule that includes two tricky nonconference foes.

An early portion of the upcoming season is also not for the faint of heart. In some aspects, it could define UCLA's season. 

This piece will analyze the three biggest challenges facing the UCLA Bruins in 2015. 

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Notre Dame Football Recruiting Offers of the Week

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — As the weather warms and summer approaches, the Notre Dame football coaching staff continues to hit the recruiting trail hard.

Each week we’ll be keeping tabs on the new scholarship offers sent out by the Notre Dame coaches, tracking the recruiting process, as the Irish focus their attention toward the classes of 2016, 2017 and maybe even 2018.

This past week, the Irish coaches dished out double-digit offers. Head football coach Brian Kelly shared an overall positive report from Irish assistant coaches regarding player observations:


Quayshon Alexander

Class of 2016 weak-side defensive end Quayshon Alexander reeled in an offer from Notre Dame on Sunday, news he shared via Twitter:

The New Jersey native is slotted as the No. 32 weak-side defensive end and the No. 527 overall player in the country. Alexander, whose 247Sports' Crystal Ballleans heavily toward Nebraska, has made multiple visits to Rutgers and holds offers from Arizona State, Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, Nebraska and Michigan, among others. Alexander racked up 19.5 sacks last season for DePaul Catholic.


Austin Andrews

Three days after Columbus, Ohio, native Austin Andrews committed to Michigan State, the class of 2016 cornerback hauled in an offer from another Midwest school when the Irish offered Friday, which's Tom Loy announced via Twitter:

The 6’1”, 180-pounder is the No. 68 cornerback and No. 696 overall player in the class. He committed to the Spartans on Tuesday. Loy describes Andrews as “a long, fast cornerback who covers a ton of ground.”

“He is a heavy hitter and one that plays aggressively,” Loy wrote. “He is a good tackler, although he seems to tackle too high at times. One thing that stands out [is] his overall technique. There is enough to like about him athletically that shows he is able to play corner or safety at the next level.”


Andre Anthony

Notre Dame dove into New Orleans to offer class of 2016 weak-side defensive end Andre Anthony on Monday, which Anthony disclosed:

At 6’3”, 214 pounds, Anthony is pegged as the No. 486 overall prospect and No. 29 player at his position. Anthony also boasts offers from Texas A&M, Florida, Oregon, Alabama and Oklahoma, all of which have offered since the beginning of May, as Loy notes.


Tomon Fox

Notre Dame stayed busy throughout the week, targeting class of 2016 defensive ends, and the Irish extended an offer to Suwanee, Georgia, native Tomon Fox on Tuesday, which he confirmed:

Other schools to offer the No. 34 weak-side defensive end and No. 542 player include Penn State, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia Tech, among others.


Jaylon Jones

Class of 2016 cornerback Jaylon Jones landed his Notre Dame offer Tuesday, which Jones noted via Twitter:

The Allen, Texas, native is the No. 19 cornerback and No. 199 overall player in the country. Jones has also received offers in recent months from Auburn, Michigan, Ohio State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, USC and Mississippi State, in addition to others.

Jones is a rising senior at Allen High School, from where Irish incoming freshman receiver Jalen Guyton recently concluded his senior season.


Jaleel Laguins

The Irish extended an offer to class of 2016 linebacker Jaleel Laguins on Sunday, which Laguins said he was "blessed" to receive:

The Georgia native checks in as the No. 15 outside linebacker and No. 212 overall player in the nation. Laguins also holds offers from Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida State, Georgia and Florida, among others.

Before his Notre Dame offer arrived Sunday, Laguins listed his top six schools in order, with Georgia leading the pack ahead of Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama, Florida State and Florida.


David Long

The Irish have been busy in Los Angeles in recent weeks, and Notre Dame offered another southern California prospect in class of 2016 cornerback David Long on Wednesday. David stated he was "proud" to have received an offer from the Irish:

As the No. 13 cornerback and No. 154 player in his class, Long has also added offers from USC, Stanford, Oregon, Oklahoma and Michigan, in addition to others.

“It feels great,” Long said to Loy of his Irish offer. “It’s a little unexpected, but it’s a big one for sure.”


Elysee Mbem-Bosse

Notre Dame stayed busy in Georgia on Sunday with another offer to a Peach State linebacker, as inside linebacker Elysee Mbem-Bosse received his Irish offer, in addition to Laguins. And like Laguins, he also expressed that he was blessed to receive the offer—in fact, "more than blessed":

Ranked as the No. 27 inside linebacker and No. 706 prospect, Mbem-Bosse holds an impressive offer list that includes Oklahoma, Auburn and Alabama.


C.J. Pollard

Class of 2016 defensive back C.J. Pollard is slotted as the No. 10 safety and No. 251 player in the country, and the California native earned an Irish offer Tuesday. Pollard announced the offer via Twitter:

Per Loy, Notre Dame is now in Pollard’s top six schools, along with Utah, Oregon, Arizona State, USC and Michigan.

“It’s a blessing to receive an offer from one of the most prestigious universities in the nation,” Pollard said to Loy. “They have a great tradition and put players in the NFL.”


Robert Beal

Class of 2017 weak-side defensive end Robert Beal’s busy spring continued with his Notre Dame offer May 11. Beal expressed gratitude in receiving an offer from the Irish:

Beal took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame in early April to check out spring practice. Throughout the rest of his spring, Beal visited Florida State and Georgia and received offers from Alabama, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State, Florida, Georgia and Auburn, among others. 

“It’s an amazing school,” Beal told Loy in April. “From the academics to the football side, it has it all.”


Josh Ross

Class of 2017 inside linebacker Josh Ross nabbed a Notre Dame offer Sunday during an unofficial visit on campus. Prior to the offer, Loy had noted Notre Dame was included on Ross' top-three list:

The West Bloomfield, Michigan, product is the No. 3 player at his position and No. 114 overall prospect in the country. Ross visited Michigan State in late April, three weeks after one of multiple trips to Michigan.

“Notre Dame is in my top three,” Ross told Loy. “It’s them, Michigan and Michigan State. I definitely can say that those three are sticking out right now.”

Ross had visited South Bend previously, according to Loy.

“It was awesome,” Ross said. “I have been here before, but it was nicer than I remembered. It was all really nice. The highlight of the trip was meeting defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. He was telling me that I’m quick and I’m explosive and I’m a good player. He really likes me a lot. And I like that he’s from the NFL. He is really experienced, and he’s coached at all levels of football.”


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


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

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Texas Football: Charlie Strong's 3 Biggest Challenges for the Longhorns in 2015

Charlie Strong has a tough challenge ahead of him this season.

Coming off Texas' second losing season since 2009, the second-year head coach will be expected to improve on last year's 6-7 record. 

Fair or unfair, Strong will have to do it with continuing question marks at quarterback and along the offensive line. To make matters worse, he also won't be able to lean on an elite defense, having lost six of his starters to the NFL.

Ultimately, any sort of improvement will have to involve Strong finding a dependable quarterback, developing his offensive line and overcoming a defense riddled with inexperience.

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Frank Beamer's Four Biggest Challenges for Virginia Tech in 2015

To say the Virginia Tech Hokies have struggled the past three seasons would be an understatement. A record of 22-17 over the last three years represents mediocrity for a school that was accustomed to 10-win seasons. Prior to the 2012 season, the Hokies posted eight consecutive seasons of 10 or more wins.

Last season was full of ups and downs for Tech. The Hokies opened the 2014 season with a 2-0 record after a Week 2 upset win at eventual national champion Ohio State. Offensive problems would plague the Hokies and it took a win in the regular season finale against Virginia just for Tech to become bowl eligible.

What will 2015 bring the Hokies?

Every person who scored a point last season returns this fall. Led by Isaiah Ford, Bucky Hodges and Cam Phillips, Tech has a ton of offensive firepower. Senior quarterback Michael Brewer is also back and won't be learning a new offense this summer. 

Legendary head coach Frank Beamer will turn 69 years old in October of this year. With a new administration in place, how many more years will Beamer be in charge of his alma mater?

Here are Beamer's four biggest challenges in 2015.

All recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports. 


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4-Star Chad Clay Commits to Georgia, Says 'Goal Is to Get the No. 1 Class' Now

Georgia’s 2016 recruiting class took a huge step forward in powering toward a top-rated recruiting class when 4-star corner Chad Clay committed to the Bulldogs on Monday.

The 6’1”, 180-pounder, whose father, Willie, was a standout safety in the NFL for eight seasons, chose the Bulldogs over Florida, Georgia Tech and Ohio State among others.

The Buckeyes, in particular, made a late run at Clay, but he chose to stay closer to home for a few reasons.

For starters, his bond with the coaching staff played a pivotal role in his decision. 

“It’s just the relationships I’ve built with all of the coaches there,” Clay told Bleacher Report. “They are a winning program. I’m from Georgia, so they have always been showing me love.”

While his father starred at Georgia Tech, his mother is a Georgia grad—which made for an interesting spring at the Clay household. Although Chad notes his parents left the decision up to him, he admits his mother had an affinity for one particular coach.

“My mom seems to talk about [Georgia defensive coordinator] Coach [Jeremy] Pruitt a little more than some of the other coaches,” Clay said with a laugh. 

In the end, Clay—who mentioned sports medicine, business or broadcasting as potential majors in college—cited his comfort level with being a student on Georgia’s campus as a huge factor in his choice.

“It’s [Athens] where I can see myself off the field,” Clay said. “I wanted to find a place that I could succeed as a student in the classroom and just where I fit in on campus and with the football program. It feels like home even when it’s not football season.”

Clay contends that he will still take his official visits in the fall.

However, his next order of business is to get to work on helping the Bulldogs land a handful of other top prospects from the Peach State. 

Some of the notable standouts included in that group are players such as 5-star defensive tackles Julian Rochester and Derrick Brown, 4-star defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson, 4-star receiver Kyle Davis, 4-star athlete Mecole Hardman and 4-star safety Nigel Warrior.

“A lot of people know we’re close because we play against each other on Friday nights,” Clay said. “We all played together in the Rising Seniors game and we’ve built a bond with one another. If we just take all of those people and go to the same school, I think we’d have a really good chance of winning. People always talk about how much talent there is in Georgia. So instead of everyone in Georgia going all over the place, we can just play together in college.”

Hopping on the other side of the fence to play recruiter is a role that suits the outgoing Clay.

Georgia has had just two classes finish inside the top five of the 247Sports team rankings in the last decade.

However, the metro Atlanta product didn’t hesitate when asked about his plans for Georgia’s 2016 class. 

“Our goal is to get the No. 1 class,” Clay said.


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

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Best College Football Program Fit for Each Uncommitted 2016 5-Star

Prospects in the 2016 recruiting class are approaching their final summer break of high school, and several key questions in this cycle remain unanswered. Pivotal storylines feature many uncommitted standouts, including approximately two-thirds of the 5-stars in 247Sports' composite ratings.

Some of these recruitment processes seem to be nearing their conclusions, while others are sure to last until national signing day.

Here's a look at the ideal landing spot for each uncommitted 5-star player, based on recruiting developments and scheme fits.

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Momentum Report for Every Power 5 CFB Team: Is Program Trending Up or Down?

With spring practice in the rearview mirror and the 2015 season still months away, it's a good opportunity to take stock in how college football's power programs look.

Every team's goal is to continue moving forward, and as a result on an upward trend, but that isn't always the case. Injuries, roster defections, off-the-field issues or just poor performance can all lead to a halt in momentum, and often in a turn downward.

Where does your favorite team sit? How about their rival, or the rest of the teams in their conference? We've compiled a progress report for every power-conference team (as well as Notre Dame) where we run down what, if anything, has happened since last season ended and where things are headed in the future.

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USC Trojans Invading SEC Territory on Recruiting Trail

Part of USC’s quest to regain its footing as a recruiting powerhouse is an effort to expand the Trojans' reach throughout the country.

Judging by the early returns from the 2016 class, it appears as if the Trojans are out to make their mark with top prospects—with a special emphasis placed on stud recruits residing in territories occupied by SEC powers.

On Monday, the Trojans landed 4-star metro-Atlanta-area receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe over the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and Ohio State, among others.

Imatorbhebhe joins 3-star Alabama wideout Velus Jones as SEC-area products who have committed to the Trojans.

However, if Steve Sarkisian and his staff have their way, this push could be just the beginning of their forays into the Southeast.

Among the current targets from the talent-rich region on the Trojans' radar are a trio of Floridians in 5-star receiver Nate Craig-Myers, 4-star receiver Freddie Swain, 4-star defensive tackle Keyshon Camp and 4-star Louisiana receiver Mykel Jones.

In fact, Camp recently named the Trojans his leader in part because of how aggressive they have been pursuing him, despite the fact that he lives on the other side of the country.

“(USC) makes me feel like I’m one of the top players on their board,” Camp told Bleacher Report. “Being all the way here in Florida, it makes me feel like they want me. I know there are a lot of recruits and players that play like me across the nation, so it means something. For them to come out here and offer me, it makes me feel good about them.”

Craig-Myers recently mentioned USC as one of the schools he’s hoping to visit in the near future in the wake of his decommitment from Auburn.

The fact that the Trojans just had two former prep stars from Florida, receiver Nelson Agholor and defensive lineman Leonard Williams, selected as first-round picks in the NFL draft can’t hurt their efforts in the Sunshine State.

However, USC is also spreading out into territories that haven’t been as familiar in recent years.

Aside from Florida, the Trojans have offered at least two players each from fellow SEC breeding grounds such as Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.

The Trojans reeled in a big fish out of the Peach State with 5-star Class of 2015 offensive lineman Chuma Edoga and were able to pull Imatorbhebhe despite the fact that his older brother, Daniel, enrolled at SEC power Florida in January.

As noted by Bleacher Report’s Tyler Donohue, Imatorbhebhe picked up his USC offer last month while on a visit to the West Coast during spring break. It immediately resonated with him because of the Trojans history and his immediate bond with receivers coach Tee Martin.

“I enjoyed my time with all the coaches I met during spring break, but Coach Martin was my favorite,” Imatorbhebhe told Donohue. “He broke everything down in detail for me, from what they do in practice to how things happen in games and where I would fit in. Coach Martin trained Sammy Watkins and Calvin Johnson when they were preparing for the NFL combine, so obviously that's pretty big-time.”

Given the momentum surrounding USC’s program, it’s clear that the program is closer to being the recruiting juggernaut they were during Pete Carroll’s tenure in Los Angeles.

Perhaps the best illustration of that logic is the response they are receiving from top prospects all over the country—including those residing in SEC territory.


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

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Rapid-Fire Predictions for Top Uncommitted Recruits from California

The state of California has long been a hotbed for some of the best recruits in the country, and the 2016 recruiting class is no exception. From Dylan Crawford to Caleb Kelly, these West Coast ballers have been opening eyes on the recruiting trail.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder was joined by Recruiting Analyst Damon Sayles as they went through all the best uncommitted recruits from California and where they could land.

Who among this group is likely to make the biggest splash at the next level? Check out the video and let us know!


Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Texas A&M Football: Aggies' 2015 Offseason Checklist

The Texas A&M Aggies have another season of intrigue ahead of them as they enter their fourth year of competition in the SEC West.

There's a new "Chief" in charge of a struggling defense, and fans could see another quarterback battle between two members of head coach Kevin Sumlin's elite recruiting classes.

Sumlin seemed pleased with some of the progress his team made in spring practice, and he knows that doesn't have to stop just because the players are done with live practices for a while. New players are set to arrive in College Station, and real improvements can be made during the wait for fall football.

"I thought we had a very productive spring," Sumlin said during a recent SEC coaches teleconference, per 247Sports. "A lot of our guys got out of school yesterday and we gave them a little break before summer school. We had a change in defensive schemes and philosophy ... We developed players that haven’t seen a lot of action. As we move into the fall with guys who missed the spring due to injuries and surgery, we like where we are now."

With the offseason now rolling into the long summer months, here are five important goals for Sumlin and the Aggies.

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SEC Football: Power Ranking Best Defenders Heading into 2015 Season

The SEC rose to prominence in the late 2000s thanks to some stifling defenses that featured tremendous secondaries, fast and physical linebackers and tremendous defensive lines that rotated throughout games. 

That could be the case again this year, thanks to a virtual All-Star team of quality defenders within the conference.

Who are the best defensive players in the SEC? Our picks based on talent, production and importance to their teams are in this slideshow.

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