NCAA Football News

Georgia Football: 2015 NFL Draft Tracker, Analysis and Results

The 2015 NFL draft should provide the opportunity for plenty of Georgia Bulldogs to realize their dreams in becoming professional football players. As many as nine Bulldogs could be drafted throughout the three-day event. 

Without question, the most intriguing Bulldog entering the draft is running back Todd Gurley. There's a real possibility he goes higher than most people are projecting—largely due to his immense upside. 

This piece will highlight the Georgia draft hopefuls. Prior to the draft, we will analyze all of the prospects and their respective strengths as football players. We also will discuss predictions on draft positioning. 

Once the draft ends, we will update the slides, detailing each player and how he fits in with his future team.

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Oregon Football: 2015 NFL Draft Tracker, Analysis and Results

The Oregon Ducks could have the most players selected in the 2015 NFL draft of any Pac-12 program.

Leading the charge is quarterback Marcus Mariota. The Heisman Trophy winner out of Hawaii figures to go early Thursday night. Defensive lineman Arik Armstead also appears to be in good shape in terms of becoming a first-round selection. 

Depth truly is the name of the game when it comes to this draft class. Outside of Mariota and Armstead, there are multiple players with the ability to contribute as first-year players. Additionally, almost all of the potential draftees were All-Pac-12 performers during their time in Eugene. 

This piece will highlight the Oregon draft hopefuls. Prior to the draft, we will analyze all of the prospects and their respective strengths as football players. We will also discuss predictions on draft positioning. 

Once the draft ends, we will update the slides, detailing each player and his fit with his future team.

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Virginia Tech Football: Top Performers from the Hokies' Spring

Spring practice concluded for the Virginia Tech Hokies on Saturday with the school's annual spring game. The Hokies did things a bit differently this year, though. Instead of the Maroon-Orange game, the teams were split up and named Team Pylon and Team Medal of Honor, to honor the school's military roots.

Also this spring, the Hokies did things a bit differently with their lineups. The first-team defense teamed up with the second-team offense, while the first-team offense paired up with the second-team defense. This guaranteed the starters from both sides of the ball would face one another multiple times. 

Well, if you're interested in the score, Team Medal of Honor—featuring the first-team offense—won the spring game 24-21. 

With spring practice in the books, head coach Frank Beamer felt really good about his team over the past four weeks, per the team's official website:

We’ve really had a good spring practice. I think our players and coaches have really gotten the most out of it. I like where we are. I like our football team. I think we’ve got a lot of good character guys and a lot of good football players. I like where we are right now and we’ve got to keep going in a positive direction.

Of course, every coach in America is probably saying the same thing as the always buoyant Beamer.

Who stood out this spring for Virginia Tech? Here are the five top performers from Tech's spring.

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Kramer's Korner's Spring Football Wrap-Up: Where Have All the QBs Gone?

Technically, it isn’t over. Oregon—in true Oregonian fashion—still has a spring game to play and neon excellence to display. Hawaii, for those interested, is also waiting its turn to flex its spring football muscles.

But outside of a handful of teams, the curtain on spring football has come down once more. And perhaps the most startling development to come from another informal practice and scrimmage season wasn’t actually a development at all.

In fact, it was quite the opposite: College football—and perhaps all of football, for that matter—is in the midst of a quarterback drought. Nothing during the past six weeks changed this whatsoever, which means said uncertainty will carry through until when the games actually matter.

Now, please exclude yourself from the present conversation, Ohio State. You, too, Notre Dame. And you as well, USC.

Outside of a handful of examples, however, uncertainty regarding the position is palpable: Alabama, LSU, Florida State, Michigan, Texas and Florida all have holes and questions at quarterback. 

Is it finally Jake Coker time in Tuscaloosa, or did David Cornwell's solid spring give him an unexpected edge?

How can LSU finally solve its quarterback woes, and will Brandon Harris grow into the QB many believe he will become?

It's Sean Maguire's job to lose at Florida State, but can he hang on to the starting spot? And for how long?

Is Jake Ruddock, the Iowa graduate transfer, Jim Harbaugh's bridge to a new era of Michigan football?

Is the long-term solution at quarterback currently on the Texas roster?

Who will Florida lean on as it rebuilds its offense along with its offensive line?

I could go on. These are just a handful of the nation's premier programs that are seeking out answers, although the list stretches well beyond this abbreviated sample size. Look elsewhere—beyond programs with seemingly endless resources—and similar concerns come into focus.

Granted, a great deal of talent has gone through the QB pipeline in the last few years. It’s also spring football, and the time for football knowledge acquisition is extremely limited. Still, there are holes that will require filling.

As a result of these question marks, handicapping teams with questions at QB and ample talent at other positions will be a Herculean task leading into the season. Alabama, LSU and Florida State are prime examples.

And while a handful of young, unexpected stars are bound to develop, it’s hard to pinpoint where they will come from. They certainly didn’t reveal themselves these past few months. In time, that will change. For teams hunting for a College Football Playoff spot, it better.

Here are some other spring observations, including an updated Top 25 and some of the finer moments.


The Depth of the Buckeyes

I watched nearly 100,000 people watch Ohio State’s football team scrimmage. I saw quarterback Cardale Jones unleash a wide variety of deep balls that cut through the air with ease, causing a full stadium to go completely silent one magnificent toss at a time.

My biggest takeaway from Columbus, however, wasn’t actually the crowd or the star power at QB. It was the players you are unlikely to hear from next fall and the magnificent depth of talent the Buckeyes have waiting its turn.

Take Nick Conner, for example. As an early enrollee and the nation’s No. 8 linebacker in this past class, according to 247Sports, Conner should be finishing up high school and worrying about prom.

Instead, he was absolutely everywhere during Ohio State’s spring game, finishing with a game-high seven tackles, a tackle for loss, an interception and a forced fumble.

“He was good,” head coach Urban Meyer said of Conner following the game. “We had high expectations for him, though. Hope he doesn't redshirt and gets involved in the kicking game. He had a very good, had a good day today.”

Yes, it was only a spring game. Let’s blast that out with an industrial-sized megaphone.

With that fully recognized, it’s abundantly clear that Meyer has another chess piece to work with. He’s a player. Given the loaded state of Ohio State’s linebacking core, however, it will be tough for Conner to play early on. This is a theme that resonates elsewhere.

Erick Smith, a soon-to-be-sophomore safety, also picked off a pass and has drawn rave reviews within the program. But because of depth, Smith might have to wait a little bit longer to become the star many expect he will be.

When you have a program rolling, these are the situations you’re left with. The assembly line is in place, and the promise will carry on well past a promising 2015.


The Most Important Spring Absentee

Now, for a moment, forget everything I just said in that intro about quarterbacks being gone. It’s time to talk about Deshaun Watson, the sport’s most gifted young quarterback. All praise thrown his way, despite the injuries from a season ago, seems legitimate and appropriate.

I had a chance to speak with Watson just over a week ago. Now, I won’t spoil a far lengthier piece in the works, but it’s clear that superstardom is in his future if he can stay healthy. He has the attitude for it, and speaking with others around him, he also has talent unmatched by perhaps any other quarterback in the country.

“I think the kid is unbelievable,” current SMU head coach and former Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris told me. “I think he has a chance to own every record at Clemson before he’s done.”

For Watson, it’s about health. An injury-plagued freshman year concluded in knee surgery. He has spent the spring rehabbing his knee after an ACL tear, although he’s on track for the Week 1 start. If that’s the case, given some of the immense talent around him on offense, Clemson could very well find its way in the playoff.


Money Well Spent

Late last week, Missouri announced that head coach Gary Pinkel received a lovely, massive raise along with a contract extension. The new deal, according to the Kansas City Star, will extend Pinkel through 2021 and raise his annual salary to over $4 million.

That’s an enormous bit of coin being handed out by the Tigers. It’s also an enormous bit of coin well allocated.

Playing in the nation’s most taxing conference—albeit in the right division at the right time—Missouri has gone 23-5 the past few seasons, doing so with limited fanfare or appreciation. Despite losing significant talent on both sides last year, the Tigers still delivered a season that (again) smashed expectations.

The other reality of this new deal is that $4 million will soon become somewhat assumed for a quality coach, especially in a conference with money bursting from every seam. The fact that the Tigers were able to lock up one of their own during a magnificent stretch is simply good business. He has earned every penny.


The 400-Pound Tight End

You’ve heard about this, yes? You’ve seen the mountain of a man who would outrun you with relative ease? By now, if you haven’t, you’ve probably been living in a football-less, technology-deprived cocoon.

LaQuan McGowan, Baylor’s 410-pound tight end, has quickly become a football favorite. After scoring a touchdown against Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl, McGowan has become a cult hero for those of us who appreciate large human beings doing extraordinary things.

“He runs the 40 in five seconds flat,” offensive coordinator Kendal Briles told me earlier this year. “He’s a massive individual but also very skilled.”

Coming out of spring, McGowan is listed as a starter at tight end. During the team’s spring game he showed off a bit more of what he was capable of.

Now, how will he actually be used? That’s the 400-pound question. While I don’t foresee 50 catches for the freakish talent, he will absolutely be a piece opposing defenses have to account for. He’s extra time in the film room. He’s a unique and dangerous option.

McGowan, at the minimum, will be a fabulous extra blocker at the goal line, and yes, he will likely get some looks in the passing game.

Truthfully, we’ve never seen anything quite like this. Matching up a man of this size with one of the game’s most diabolical offensive minds could make for some magnificent entertainment.


(Almost) Post-Spring Football Top 25

This is the part where I rank teams, you get angry about how I ranked these teams and then you unleash the fury  in the comment section. It's this kind of passion and anger that fuels our offseason muscle car, and I welcome it with open arms.

It’s worth noting that my pre-spring football Top 25 and the list below are somewhat similar.

With ample time to dig into rosters and depth charts, there were a handful of adjustments I decided to tweak. With that defined reasoning thoroughly out in the open, here is a list you can throw on your team-themed dart board:

1. Ohio State

2. TCU

3. Baylor

4. USC

5. Auburn

6. Oregon

7. Alabama

8. Michigan State

9. Clemson

10. UCLA

11. Notre Dame

12. Arizona State

13. Georgia

14. Florida State

15. Georgia Tech

16. Ole Miss

17. LSU

18. Wisconsin

19. Arkansas

20. Stanford

21. Arizona

22. Boise State

23. Utah

24. Missouri

25. Oklahoma State


Punting Done Right

And you thought that you were going to go all April without a Dakota State spring football highlight.

Well, let’s change that quickly.

What happens when you force people to spin around in circles before punting footballs? The correct answer, of course, is magnificent entertainment. That’s precisely what you get.


What It’s Like to be Destroyed by Myles Jack

Meet Danny Siegel. He’s running for general representative at UCLA and needs your support. As part of his campaign to earn your support, he decided to take a hit from Myles Jack, UCLA’s All-World linebacker/human wrecking ball.

It’s a bold move—one that has resulted in the attention he was after and probably a few weeks in the cold tub with a bottle of aspirin.


A Touchdown 89 Years in the Making

Bryan Sperry is 89 years old. He is a World War II veteran. He played football at Kansas State a long, long time ago. He also has more touchdowns than you do this spring.

This magnificent footage comes from the Kansas alumni flag football game, and I promise you’ve never seen anything like it.

Sperry, with some help from his blockers, was able to make his way up the field and to the end zone. Now that is how you do spring football right.


Leah Still Goes the Distance 

What a moment. Tissues might be necessary before proceeding any further.

Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still and his four-year-old daughter Leah attended Temple’s spring game. Leah, who had battled cancer and is now thankfully in remission, was the guest of honor.

Not only was she the guest of honor, but Leah also scored the first touchdown of the game, going 45 yards on a screen pass.

Hello, emotions.


And Finally, "Roll Tide"

Let’s end with a moment that did not take place in a football stadium or on a practice field. It happened at a wedding, where a small child decided it was time to unleash a “Roll Tide” during the day’s most cherished time.


As we enter the long offseason football-less abyss, I want you to take this with you and hold it close. Embrace the silence during this time, and remember that no news is likely good news from your program.

Work on your golf game or barbecue game. Interact with your family. Do things that you won’t be doing in Saturdays come September. It will be here before you know it.


Unless noted otherwise, all quotes obtained firsthand.

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Terrell Hall Believes He's 'Best DE in America,' Wants to Lead OSU's Recruiting

Defensive end Terrell Hall hopes to eventually chase national championships at Ohio State. For now, he's focused on helping the Buckeyes assemble a top-rated 2016 recruiting class.

"There are already a lot of great players committed, and I know there are more to come," he told Bleacher Report. "Hopefully we can all help make this a legendary class."

The defending national champions currently hold 12 commitments in a class that rates third overall in 247Sports' composite rankings. Hall, a 4-star prospect from Washington, D.C., committed to the Buckeyes in early March and likes the way things are shaping up around him.

"I feel like we have the best class so far, and since these guys are going to Ohio State, you know they're competitors," he said.

Hall, who checked in at 6'5.5", 254 pounds at a Nike regional camp in Virginia earlier this month, views competitiveness as the ultimate virtue in football. He's focused on convincing fellow standout high school players to join him in Columbus, but they must be cut from the same cloth.

"First off, I don't want to recruit anybody who isn't ready to compete," Hall said. "When it comes to the guys I am recruiting, I tell them about Ohio State's huge student population, its great alumni and a support system that makes sure you succeed outside of football."

He identified 5-star New Jersey defensive tackle Rashan Gary and 4-star Maryland linebacker Keandre Jones as prospects he's particularly excited to target. Linebacker Aaron Hansford, a teammate at St. John's College High School, is also in his cross hairs.

"I'm going to make sure Aaron joins me at Ohio State," Hall said. "He can't leave my school without going to Ohio State."

Hall carries the distinction as ninth-best weak-side defensive end in 247Sports' composite rankings. However, he vehemently disagrees with that assessment.

"I feel like I'm the best defensive end in America," Hall said. "I honestly feel like I'm No. 1 on that list. I played this past season at 220 pounds and did the best I could with my athleticism. Now I'm 254 pounds, and I'm ready to open some eyes. I want people who watch me play to walk away saying I'm the best defensive end in the country."

His skill set has attracted more than 30 collegiate scholarship offers. Before committing to the Buckeyes, he heavily considered opportunities at Alabama, Penn State, Tennessee, Clemson and Ole Miss.

Despite his pledge to Ohio State, several teams remain in pursuit of the disruptive defender. 

He pointed to Penn State as a primary example. The Nittany Lions and assistant coach Charles Huff have stayed diligent in an attempt to flip him from a conference rival. 

"Coach Huff hits me up every day," Hall said. "Ohio State doesn't trip off it too much because they know I'm very confident in my commitment."

A key part of that confidence is the mentality of head coach Urban Meyer. The three-time national champion instills a team attitude that fits Hall's demeanor.

"Urban is very focused on making sure his players have a competitive spirit, and that's a big part of what excited me about Ohio State," he said. "There are practice days there when everything you do is counted as a win or a loss. Either you win or you lose in football, so the focus is on winning every day. I like that."

Hall believes his strongest attributes go far beyond an enlarged physical frame. 

"My violence separates me from a lot of players," he said. "I'm very scrappy on the field, and I hate to lose. I'm a humble guy off the field, but on the field I'm very cocky. I'm a different person when I step on that field."

Hall maintains this is a mind-set he'll always carry with him, whether he's chasing quarterbacks in Columbus or beyond.

"I'm motivated by the doubters and people ranked ahead of me who I don't feel should be ahead of me," Hall said. "I use football to channel my aggression and anger. That's the only way I know how to play."


All quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Predicting Every Starter for Top QB Battles Post-Spring Practice

It's usually the quarterback that is called upon to lead a team into a season-long war, so it probably helps that they've already been able to survive a battle along the way.

Many of the nation's top college football programs had openings at the most high-profile position on the field this offseason, which made for great competition between starting hopefuls during spring practice. Most couldn't be decided from spring ball alone, either because no clear leader emerged or because not all of the contenders were on hand, meaning a final decision on who gets the nod won't happen until sometime during preseason camp.

But why wait until then to see who ends up being the starter? We've got an idea of who they'll be now, predictions that are based on spring observations and an anticipation of what each team is looking for from its quarterback this fall.

Check out our picks for the 13 players who will win the country's top quarterback battles, then give us your selections in the comments section.

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Big 12 Football: Power Ranking Every Team Post Spring Practice

Spring time in the Big 12 has come to a close. Don't worry, not all is lost. There's still plenty of time between now and August to debate whether the conference should add a championship game, if the lack of said game hurt in the playoff race and whether you were #TeamBaylor or #TeamTCU.

(I was #TeamPizza, for what it's worth.) 

With the end of spring drills, it's time to take stock on what we learned and how everybody looks going into the summer. It's time to power rank each of the Big 12 teams. 

Keep in mind these are rankings of the moment, not a projection of where each team will finish at the end of the 2015 season. They're based on a combination of spring game performances, returning players, position battles (and whether they were answered) and any injuries. 

And, unlike some promises, the No. 1 team in our power rankings really is our "One True Champion." 

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Which Schools Hold the Edge in Chase for No. 1 All-Purpose Back Damian Alloway?

As the nation's No. 1-ranked all-purpose back, Fontana, California's Damian Alloway has his college options. He also has the recruiting world in the palm of his hand regarding when he'll make that decision.

March 23 was supposed to be the big day, as several members of the Ground Zero seven-on-seven team announced their verbal commitments. Alloway was expected to be a part of that group, but he changed his mind the night before.

"The real reason...I just felt like I wasn't ready," Alloway said. "I was on board with [committing as a group] at first, but when I started thinking about it, I thought that doing it later would be the best thing for me."

Four Ground Zero athletes announced commitments on March 23.

Lokeni Toailoa (a 4-star recruit and the nation's top-ranked inside linebacker) and 3-star Demetric Felton (the nation's No. 8-ranked all-purpose back) chose UCLA. Toailoa's brother, 3-star safety Leni Toailoa, picked San Jose State, while 4-star 2017 running back Stephen Carr ended his process early with a USC pledge.

And as they committed, there was Alloway in full support of his seven-on-seven teammates but sticking with his decision to wait to announce.

"I could picture myself with them, but overall, I knew I wasn't ready," he said. "I'm happy with my decision."

UCLA fans were hoping to score a recruiting trio rather than a duo on March 23. The combination of Alloway, Felton and Lokeni Toailoa would have meant four Ground Zero 2016 recruits committed to the Bruins (4-star inside linebacker Krys Barnes committed to UCLA on March 14).

UCLA still has a great shot at landing Alloway, but Cal is also a major contender in his recruiting race. Alloway said UCLA and Cal are his current top two schools, but that top two could become a top four—or more—with potential offers.

"In the next few weeks, I could get an Oregon offer and a Notre Dame offer," he said. "Those two could switch my recruiting process."

For now, fans of the Bruins and Golden Bears should like the positions their respective programs are in. He has built good relationships with both coaching staffs, and while UCLA holds the proximity edge over Cal, Alloway said he doesn't have an issue with going to school far away from home.

"With Cal, I like the way they use their slot guys," said Alloway, who excels as both a receiver and running back. "With the way they throw the ball and the way their offense is, I think it'd be a great fit. Plus, my grandpa really likes the education there.

"With UCLA, it's always been one of my favorite schools growing up. It's kind of my dream school. They don't really have a slot guy now, so I could help there. They've got [2015 signee] Josh Rosen, so I'd have a great quarterback if I do decide to go there."

Alloway added that he's been in heavy communication with both Oregon and Notre Dame, and both schools are supposed to stop by his high school for further evaluation.

As for a decision, Alloway said he's looking to end the process during the summer.

"I was hoping by June," he said. "If not June, then maybe if I'm invited to The Opening, I would do it there. If I'm not ready still, I could do it at an all-star game. I know I want to get to Cal and UCLA. I just want to make sure I'm making the right choice. It's a big decision."


Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon on Twitter @DamonSayles.

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Post-2015 Spring Practice College Football Playoff Predictions

Now that spring football is wrapping up, all that's left until the real games of the 2015 college football season is the waiting. About four months' worth, to be exact.

But once that's over, before you know it we'll be watching the second edition of the new playoff format that was such a wild success a year ago. Full of intrigue and excitement, as well as some healthy controversy, we got four of the best teams in the country battling it out in a single-elimination winner-take-all format to crown an undisputed national champion.

So much can happen between now and then, but based on what we've seen in spring practice as well as how all of the top teams stack up, this is our best guess as to who will make the final four and who will walk away with a shiny gold trophy for the school to proudly display.

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No. 1 Recruit Rashan Gary Adds UT to SEC Visit Tour, Compares Meyer and Harbaugh

Rashan Gary emerged a coveted college prospect before his first high school snap and has since ascended to the No. 1 spot in 247Sports' 2016 composite recruiting rankings.

The 6'5", 240-pound defensive tackle holds scholarship offers from most marquee programs in the country and continues to validate expansive attention. Gary, a rising senior at Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey, just earned an invitation to The Opening for a second straight year after warranting positional MVP honors at a regional camp in the Garden State.

He is a rare repeat selection for the star-studded showcase, which is held in July at Nike's world headquarters:

Gary is coming off a junior season that featured 55 tackles, 24 quarterback hurries and 14 sacks. He credits much of that success to a maturation process spurred by his first experience at The Opening.

"Last year gave me a lot of confidence because I knew I could compete against the top linemen in the country who were a year older than me," Gary told Bleacher Report. "Now I'm looking to go back with that confidence and bring that defensive line MVP back home to Jersey."

His list of suitors spans the nation, providing him with an abundance of opportunities. Potential landing spots range from nearby Rutgers, which extended an offer in middle school, to West Coast universities such as USC.

"It's been a journey since I got that first offer in eighth grade," he said. "I didn't think much of it until I got to high school and realized there were seniors who worked really hard and still didn't have any offers. Seeing players struggle to get colleges interested at camps kind of puts things in perspective and keeps me humble. A lot of people want to be in my shoes."

It's good to be Gary these days. 

He made a road trip to Ohio State and Michigan in late May, receiving VIP treatment from two of America's most well-known coaches. 

The stay in Columbus included personal conversations with Urban Meyer, defensive line coach Larry Johnson and reigning Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Year Joey Bosa. Gary then journeyed to Ann Arbor, with a chance to become more familiar with the new Wolverines regime.

"Michigan is going to do great things in a couple years," he said. "You may not see it this season, but Michigan will be an up-and-rising program soon."

Gary offered up his outlook on Meyer and Jim Harbaugh after seeing each coaching titan within a short span.

"Harbaugh is more laid back, while Urban is more intense," he said. "They run practice differently and handle things differently, but they're both great coaches."

Though no dates have been set yet, Gary anticipates another upcoming trip. This time he plans to head into the heart of SEC territory.

Gary aims to spend time at Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss and Tennessee. He admits the conference's track record is appealing to him.

"It's grown-man football down there, and these teams have had a lot of defensive players reach the next level," Gary said. "I've been interested in the SEC since those schools started offering me early."

Fellow New Jersey star and recent Tennessee commit Jarrett Guarantano has encouraged him to visit the Volunteers. 

"I'm trying to go to Tennessee with Jarrett and a couple other guys," he said. "A lot of guys are trying to get me to go places, but that's one that stands out a bit."

Volunteers head coach Butch Jones landed 5-star defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie in the 2015 class. The thought of a duo like that joining forces should send shivers down the spine of every SEC quarterback.

Gary explained he and McKenzie bonded last July at The Opening, where the latter won defensive line MVP. 

"I was asking Kahlil questions throughout The Opening because he was doing so good," he said. "He broke down a lot of stuff for me out there, so I definitely like him as a player."

Gary's list of past campus visits includes South Carolina, Georgia and Clemson. They each managed to make a strong impression.

"All three of those schools have a strong academic plan, and that's a key part of this decision for me. I want to be in a good academic situation," he said.

The 5-star standout has been relatively tight-lipped about identifying any favorites during a frenzied recruiting process. However, he plans to shed some light on his intentions following a few more months of collegiate assessment. 

"I will have a top-five list before the first game of my senior season," Gary said.

America's most prized high school football player is approximately four months away from whittling his choices. At this stage, every campus visit and coach interaction is sure to command attention.

"My mom and I are taking this step by step," he said. "I'm not feeling a lot of pressure, but I'm focused on finding the best place for me."


All quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Oregon Ducks Athletes Thank Marcus Mariota in Video Prior to NFL Draft

Former Oregon Ducks star quarterback Marcus Mariota is preparing to take the next step in his football career with the 2015 NFL draft just days away. Now, current Ducks athletes have one thing to say to him:

"Thank you."

Oregon athletes paid tribute to the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner with a special video. Even Puddles, the Ducks mascot, offered his respects to the quarterback. Maybe Puddles is just thankful Mariota helped him to build arm muscle, considering all of the pushups the mascot had to do as a result of Oregon's Mariota-led offense putting up a lot of points.

Although Ducks fans wish Mariota had stayed for one more year, they are very appreciative of everything he did during his career in Eugene.


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Texas Football: NFL Draft Projections for Every Former Longhorn

Nearly a dozen Texas Longhorns are hoping to hear their names called in this week's NFL draft. Not all will be selected, but the Horns' draft success will be greatly improved from a year ago.

Last year, the draft came and went without a single Longhorn draftee for the first time since 1937. The humiliation snapped the nation's longest streak of having at least one player selected and served as one last reminder of how far the program had fallen since reaching the national championship in 2009.

After a year under Charlie Strong, this year's group should have much better luck. Led by probable first-rounder Malcom Brown, the Horns have at least five players who should expect to hear their names called. 

Only Brown will warrant early-round consideration, with four of his teammates hoping to populate the middle and late rounds. Past them, there are five or six other Longhorns who should get training-camp invites after going undrafted.

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Why Big Ten Coaches Won't Take Jim Harbaugh Up on His Open Challenge

Ever since he won the WWE United States Championship at WrestleMania last month, John Cena has been issuing open challenges as a means to defend his new title on a weekly basis. One by one, competitors have lined up to take Cena up on his offer, ultimately walking away unsuccessfully, allowing the champion to stand strong in the center of the ring each Monday night.

Unlike Cena, Jim Harbaugh doesn't have a title to defend—unless we're giving him one for creating headlines—but the new Michigan coach appears to be taking a page out of the WWE superstar's playbook nonetheless.

College football may not qualify as sports entertainment like pro wrestling does, but boy, it's hard to remember an offseason as entertaining as the months that followed Harbaugh taking over in Ann Arbor. From apparently subtweeting Ohio State's Urban Meyer to appearing on HBO's Real Sports and ESPN's Draft Academy, Harbaugh hasn't stepped out of the college football universe's spotlight in 2015.

And while many of his antics have seemingly been just for show—take for instance, his incomparable Twitter account—his latest headline-worthy act could have real ramifications across the college football landscape.

That is, if anybody actually takes him up on it.

After catching heat from SEC coaches following the Michigan staff's announcement of a nine-stop, seven-state satellite camp tour in June, Harbaugh seemingly continued to needle his counterparts in the South. On Friday, Harbaugh issued an open invitation via Twitter to every coach in the country to take part in Michigan's on-campus camp, which will be held from June 14-17.

The SEC forbids its coaches from taking part in camps further than 50 miles away from their respective campuses—hence their issue with satellite camps in the first place—which means that the likes of Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn won't be able to take Harbaugh up on his offer.

That wasn't lost on the former San Francisco 49ers head coach, who toward the end of his Twitter letter wrote, "Where college coaches are restricted from working a camp outside of a 50-mile radius of their campus, we cordially invite your head football coach to be our keynote speaker."

And while that may be an intriguing idea, it's more likely that Saban and Malzahn would answer one of Cena's open challenges than show up as the keynote speaker at a Michigan-branded camp.

But what about the coaches who are actually allowed to participate as coaches at the Wolverines camp, including Harbaugh's new rivals in the Big Ten? Could they possibly show up in Ann Arbor in two months ready to make their presence felt on the Michigan campus?

It's possible, but not probable.

Although Harbaugh is essentially giving his fellow Big Ten coaches extra access to some of the nation's top prospects—including many they'd be battling the Wolverines for—the risk ultimately outweighs the potential reward that would come along with taking part in Michigan's camp.

No matter which coaches are in attendance, the camp still belongs to the Wolverines, meaning anything that would happen there would benefit Harbaugh, one way or another.

Perhaps that's why Harbaugh was so comfortable making what appears to be an empty gesture with his invitation, knowing that any coach who shows up would likely be from a school he's not even competing with for prospects in the first place.

It remains possible that several coaches from non-Power Five schools could ultimately show up to generate some interest in their programs, but don't count on Meyer, Michigan State's Mark Dantonio or Penn State's James Franklin making the trek to Ann Arbor anytime soon.

That's not to say Harbaugh isn't changing the way recruiting is happening in the Big Ten, as evidenced by the recent revelation that Ohio State will take part in a satellite camp on Florida Atlantic's campus this June. Weeks ago, Meyer admitted he's not a fan of the practice, before stating his staff was looking into holding one.

“Am I a fan of that? Not really," Meyer said when asked about satellite camps. "If it helps us, we'll do it."

Meyer was adamant that the Buckeyes weren't following a pattern of "monkey see, monkey do" with Penn State holding satellite camps last year and Michigan now taking them to a new level with Harbaugh's arrival. But it's tough to imagine the Wolverines' heavy presence across the country didn't force Meyer's hand in the matter, causing him to keep pace with the practice or risk falling behind.

"We do keep score against our rivals in everything we do," Meyer said on national signing day in February.

And it's a safe bet that Harbaugh does as well.

Which is what makes the possibility of Meyer—or Dantonio, Franklin or any Big Ten coach—answering Harbaugh's open challenge so exciting. But for now, Harbaugh's offseason championship appears safe, unlikely to even be challenged until the real card begins this fall.


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

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89-Year-Old Bryan Sperry Scores TD in Kansas Alumni Flag Football Game

At age 89, World War II veteran and former Kansas Jayhawks football player Bryan Sperry stole the show at the Kansas alumni flag football game.

Sperry got his hands on the football around the 37-yard line and started to make his way down the field. Thanks to some blocking by his teammates, he was able to make it all the way to the end zone.

This latest feat is just another chapter in Sperry's incredible story, which The Kansas City Star's Rustin Dodd detailed. Sperry played football at Kansas State when he was 17 years old. However, by the time he was 19, Sperry was serving his country in World War II. After he returned from duty, he earned a spot on the Jayhawks football team and wound up playing in the 1948 Orange Bowl.

Now, nearly 70 years later, Sperry is still playing the game he loves.

[Kansas Athletics]

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UCLA LB Myles Jack Levels Student Council Candidate for Campaign Video

With a chance to endorse a fellow student for a student council position, UCLA Bruins linebacker Myles Jack did his part to help.

UCLA student Danny Siegel, who is running for general representative, asked Jack to take part in a campaign video. It turned out to be the perfect role for the football player.

The 5'8", 160-pound Siegel decided to prove his worthiness as a candidate by taking a huge hit from the 6'1", 232-pound Bruins linebacker. The best part is the tackle resulted in Siegel completely missing the padded mat, which was supposed to provide some cushion. He should get bonus points for that. 

It may have been a painful experience for Siegel, but the general representative candidate likely earned himself some votes with this idea.

[YouTube, h/t Dr. Saturday]

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Alabama Football Recruiting Offers of the Week

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It was a big week for skill position players on both sides of the ball this week, as Alabama continued its recruiting efforts after spring practice.

The Crimson Tide offered a handful of those this week, including one who could potentially play right away out of junior college.

It also got a big head start on a very young up-and-coming prospect.

Let’s break down all of the offers of the week.


Keiondre Jones, 2019 prospect from Hogansville, Georgia

The pandering when LSU offered Dylan Moses two years ago seems like a thing of the past. Recruiting is continuously getting to be an earlier and earlier process.

Alabama showed that this isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

The Crimson Tide have offered Jones, a 14-year-old Georgia native, with a scholarship after he’s already made five visits to Tuscaloosa so far, according to Chad Simmons of

Right now, Jones stands 6’3” and weighs 254 pounds. He could end up projecting as an offensive tackle. For now, Jones says his favorite player is former Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley.

"I want to do everything I can to maximize my size and my ability,” Jones said, per Simmons. “Not everybody has the size I was blessed with, so I want to use that to be great. I have the drive, I will work hard, and I just want to do what it takes to be the best I can be."

For now, obviously, he has a long way to go before he has to make a final decision on college.

"At Alabama, I like their football of course -- it is one of the best, but I like more than that," Jones said. "The facilities are great, I like the coaches and the people there, but I also like their academics. They are supposed to have a good engineering program too, so I like that about Alabama.

"Alabama is a top school and everything they do and have is great," he continued. "It is exciting to have an offer from them already. It will make me just work harder."


Travis Homer, 2016 3-star running back from West Palm Beach, Florida

Alabama made Homer its 10th running back offer of the 2016 class on Tuesday. Nick Saban called him and gave Homer the good news.

"Coach Saban told me that he saw my film and he liked my ability," Homer said, according to Drew Champlin of "He was talking to me about the football program and the education. I was extremely excited."

Homer is only rated a 3-star prospect right now, but he holds offers from several top schools, including Florida State, Florida and Miami.

The 5’11”, 195-pound back says he can do it all.

"I believe I'm more of a balanced back," Homer said, per Champlin. "I have speed and I can also put my shoulders down and run over someone if I need to."


Other Offers from the Week

Calvin Ashley, 2017 5-star offensive tackle from Orlando, Florida (Florida State commit)


CJ Avery, 2017 4-star safety from Grenada, Mississippi (Mississippi State commit)


Karamo Dioubate, 2016 4-star defensive tackle from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Kendell Jones, 2016 4-star defensive tackle from Killeen, Texas


Kelejawan Leflore-Chriss, 2016 4-star safety from New Orleans, Louisiana


Riley Smith, 2016 JUCO wide receiver from Ventura, California


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

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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5 Top-Performing QB Recruits from 2015 New Jersey Elite 11 Regional

Several of the area's top high school quarterbacks invaded the New York Jets facilities in Florham Park, New Jersey, on Sunday. A talented group of passers swarmed to the complex for another installment of Elite 11 competition, which continues to make its way across America.

Headlined by Tennessee commit Jarrett Guarantano, the event featured top-tier prospects and a few off-the-radar performers who opened eyes. Bleacher Report settled in along the sidelines to analyze the action.

Here's a look at the top five passers from a busy day, along with insight from Brian Stumpf, Elite 11 leader and Director of Football Operations at Student Sports. 

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College Football's Most Important Offers of the Week

Ever since Texas A&M arrived in the SEC in 2012, more of the league’s members have began to roam the Lone Star State in search of top talent.

While Auburn hasn’t had a huge presence in the state of Texas with its recruiting efforts, it appears as if Gus Malzahn and his staff are looking to change that in the 2016 cycle. 

Last week, the Tigers offered a pair of 3-star offensive linemen in twins Austin and Riley Anderson.

The brothers are both projected to play offensive tackle, which, as Keith Niebuhr of Auburn Undercover notes, is a huge need for the Tigers in the current cycle.

Both players have extensive offer lists, with powers such as Arizona State, Texas, Texas A&M and TCU among the programs who are in the running to land the talented duo. 

While it will be tough to pull them away from their home state, both players possess the type of size and athleticism that would mesh well with Malzahn’s uptempo scheme.

The next step for the Tigers will be trying to get them to take a visit to the Plains.

However, regardless of how this particular recruitment plays out, it appears that Malzahn and his staff, like many other SEC schools, will continue to target Texas in the 2016 cycle and beyond.


Clemson After 2017 FL WR

The Clemson Tigers are among the out-of-state programs who have had tremendous success recruiting the state of Florida in recent years.

Dabo Swinney and his staff have poached studs such as C.J. Spiller and Sammy Watkins out of the Sunshine State in recent years.

The Tigers already have a pledge from 2017 4-star Florida wideout T.J. Chase, but as Luke Stampini of Gatorbait reports, they are after another talented pass-catcher in 4-star James Robinson.

Robinson, who also holds offers from Florida, Florida State, Marshall, Ohio State and Tennessee, is the nation’s No. 31 wide receiver and the No. 205 player overall in the 2017 class.


Penn State Offers Top 2017 GA LB

Given James Franklin’s recruiting ties in SEC territory dating back to his tenure as Vanderbilt’s head coach, it makes sense that Penn State is getting aggressive in the southern part of the country.

Last week, Franklin and his staff offered 2017 4-star linebacker Breon Dixon.

Dixon is the No. 26 player in the state of Georgia in the 2017 class, and he’s part of a loaded junior class at Peachtree Ridge High School in the metro Atlanta area.

The 6’0”, 216-pounder already has 11 offers, with programs such as Arizona State, Florida, Georgia Tech and Tennessee showing early interest.


2018 RB Nets Two Big Offers

Most coaches are currently focusing their recruiting efforts on the 2016 and 2017 classes, but there are a few rising sophomores who have already drawn the attention of big-time schools.

One such player is 2018 Virginia running back Ricky Slade.

Last week, the 5’9”, 175-pounder picked up his 13th and 14th offers from Nebraska and West Virginia, respectively.

Given the amount of early interest in Slade, he figures to be one of the nation’s elite prospects in the 2018 class.


Best of the Rest


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

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4-Star DB Eric Cuffee Opens Up on Summer Visit Plans, Is 'In No Rush' to Decide

DALLAS — For some recruits, balancing 31 offers can be stressful. For Waco, Texas, defensive back Eric Cuffee, stress is simply something you allow to happen.

And he's not allowing it.

Following a Quick Twitch skills training session Sunday, Cuffee called his recruiting process "slow motion" and said he's in no rush to make a decision or even trim his list down to 10 or 12 schools. The 4-star cornerback—who, at 5'11.5" and 188 pounds, also can play safety—said he's enjoying the overall process, adding new offers and speaking with new coaches each day.

"Right now, I'm just at a chill point and looking at every college and taking it easy," Cuffee said. "At this point, no school sticks out. I see them all the same."

Although Cuffee doesn't have a favorite, he did mention a couple of potential summer visits in the works. Cuffee has several SEC offers, and he said he is considering a trip through the Southeast.

"I'm going to go down to Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn, schools like that," he said.

Cuffee, who has earned an invitation to The Opening this summer and the Under Armour All-America Game in January, has SEC offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri and Vanderbilt, in addition to Ole Miss, Auburn and Mississippi State. Auburn is Cuffee's latest offer.

And then there are the schools closer to home. Cuffee has Big 12 offers from Baylor, Texas, TCU, Oklahoma and others. Cuffee visited Texas twice in April, and with him living in Waco, Baylor is a simple drive down the street.

Back in February, Cuffee named TCU as a leader in the process, and while he still likes the Horned Frogs, he's now keeping all options open. One in-state school to keep an eye on is Texas A&M. While the Aggies haven't offered, Cuffee said there's a chance they could get a summer visit, as well.

For now, the idea of making recruiting a major priority is taking a back seat. Cuffee said he is thinking about announcing a top 10 during The Opening.

But if that doesn't happen, don't be surprised. He's keeping the speed of his process on cruise control.

"I'm just looking for a great coaching staff, that family-type tradition and a good system," he said. "But I'm in no rush."


Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

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College Football Stock Watch: Who Is Rising and Falling Post Spring Games?

Across the nation, spring football 2015 is almost completely in the books. Almost all of America's FBS programs have finished their spring drills, with only two programs (Hawaii and Oregon) left to hold spring games this weekend.

College football coaches have 15 practices and a spring game to evaluate while players dive into offseason workouts, honing technique and preparing themselves for the grind of another long season beginning in early August.

Inevitably, some players and programs were impressive while others were left with questions entering the summer. Here's a look at who is rising and falling as spring wraps up.

Begin Slideshow