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Georgia Football: 4 Bulldogs Primed for Breakout Seasons

The Georgia Bulldogs enter fall camp with the expectations of winning the SEC East and more. They won 10 games last year and were one win away from reaching the SEC title game. And the key players from that 2014 squad will be back to make another run in 2015.

However, there will be a few players who have had their share of game experience but haven’t gotten a chance to make an impact like guys such as Nick Chubb, Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd did last year. That will change this season, as the potential breakout players now have the experience, which should lead them to take the next step.

So here’s a look at four Bulldogs primed for breakout seasons.

 

Tim Kimbrough

Because Jenkins and Floyd were so dominant last season, the inside linebackers were somewhat overlooked this spring. But Tim Kimbrough proved he can hold his own as the team named him its defensive most improved player at the end of spring practice.

Kimbrough was solid as a backup last season with 32 tackles. Now that he’s a starter, he should only get better because he plays with no fear and can hit opponents with authority. He’s not the biggest linebacker (6’0’’, 226 lbs), but he makes up for the size he lacks with his intensity. He will have no issues being one of the quarterbacks of the defense this year.

 

Sterling Bailey

Sterling Bailey is the veteran of the defensive line and has been reliable throughout his career. He has shown that he can make an impact, but this season will give him an opportunity to make more plays in his second year in defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s system.

Bailey can rush the passer and make plays in the run game. With this being his final season at UGA, he will have a chance to put everything together and help the young players like Jonathan Ledbetter and Trent Thompson.

 

Isaiah Wynn

The center position will be one battle to watch during fall camp, as both Brandon Kublanow and Isaiah Wynn will be looking to win the spot. Kublanow will start fall camp as the No. 1 center, according to Seth Emerson of theAtlanta Journal-Constitution, while Wynn will be the No. 1 left guard.

Wynn is a good run- and pass-blocker, so he will likely be a starter at one of the two positions. One advantage he'll have is that he will be working with a group of guys who know how to play the game at a high level. Wynn is just as talented as Kublanow, Greg Pyke, John Theus and Kolton Houston, so he will have no issues fitting in.

 

Isaiah McKenzie

If there was a breakout player on special teams last year in the SEC, it was Isaiah McKenzie, as he was able to notch three special teams touchdowns. Now McKenzie is making the move to be a top wide receiver, and he was able to make an impression this spring with a 72-yard touchdown reception in the spring game.

All Isaiah McKenzie did was return two punts for a TD and a KO for a score, Only returning player in the SEC with two punt returns for score

— Anthony Dasher (@AnthonyDasher1) July 17, 2015

McKenzie has great hands, and his speed is on another level. He could be the likely choice to win the No. 2 receiver spot, which would give the Bulldogs a quality pass-catcher to complement Malcolm Mitchell.

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Laremy Tunsil Situation Another Sign We Can't Be Too Quick to Judge

It’s one of those instances in which college football fans were quick to invoke the smell test, as in “if something doesn’t smell right...”

That’s what has been hanging over Ole Miss this summer following an altercation and allegations between one of its star players, offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, and his stepfather.

On Monday, Tunsil and Lindsey Miller agreed to drop domestic violence charges they had filed against each other. According to the Clarion-Ledger’s Riley Blevins, both signed the necessary paperwork last week, and instead of proceeding the case was dismissed by Lafayette County Court in Oxford, Mississippi.

While that ended the legal part of the story, there’s still no resolution to the NCAA’s ongoing inquiry or what’s going on in the court of public opinion and social media, where instead of hoping for the best, many simply assumed the worst.

Quite frankly, that’s pretty sad, but then again so are the circumstances that have come to light with this situation.

When Tunsil was a recruit out of Lake City, Florida (Columbia High School), he was not only considered the top player at his position, but 247Sports rated him in the top five overall. Combined with defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and safety Tony Conner, coach Hugh Freeze appeared to have his breakthrough signing class.

But even back then, there were red flags about Tunsil’s stepfather were only reinforced during an open court hearing for the case on July 10 as reported by numerous sites including John Davis of the OxfordCitizen.com and Neal McCready of RebelGrove.com

For example, at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, hotel security had to be called to break up a dispute between Tunsil and his stepfather. What reportedly sparked the argument was Miller being upset that he had to pay for a meal he believed should have been supplied.

Another incident, this time involving Miller and Tunsil’s father, occurred at the Chick-fil-A Bowl. If that wasn’t bad enough for Tunsil, he ended up suffering a fractured fibula and dislocated ankle during the 42-3 loss to TCU, an injury from which he’s still recovering.

The domestic violence charges in late June apparently stemmed from a confrontation following a flat tire. Tunsil said that he saw a frustrated Miller shove his mother into a table, which led to his punching his stepfather. Miller said the argument developed about Tunsil meeting with agents.

Both stated that the other was the aggressor, and the stepfather went so far as to ask for a restraining order (which was dismissed when Miller represented himself in the hearing. Tunsil and his mother hired an attorney together).

Miller also claimed that Tunsil had received multiple improper benefits from both agents and the school, including as a recruit. If any of those allegations can be proved—and the NCAA is looking into the matter—they could directly affect his eligibility and potentially cost him millions.

Physically, Tunsil is a prototype NFL offensive tackle who can protect the quarterback and also excel as a run-blocker. As a recruit he was listed as roughly 6’5”, 300 pounds, and when you’re that big and powerful, your status often doesn’t change when trying to go to the next level.

However, Tunsil needs to play this season and avoid a significant injury in order to achieve his draft potential. In addition to the leg setback, he missed games last season because of a partially torn bicep, and a knee injury kept him out of the 2013 Music City Bowl.

NFL teams want to know if he’s durable and, when he does have a setback, will do what it takes to get back on the field.

“He’s getting there,” senior linebacker C.J. Johnson said.

Tunsil has said he wants to be the first overall pick in 2016 draft, although some of that will depend on the needs of NFL teams. He also needs to stand out at his position.

The first offensive lineman selected in the 2015 draft, Brandon Scherff, signed a four-year contract for $21.2 million ($13.7 million signing bonus). In comparison, the sixth lineman picked was tackle D.J. Humphries at No. 24. He got a four-year deal for $8.9 million ($4.74 million bonus).

Meanwhile, the Rebels need Tunsil as well. They could have all five starters from last year’s offensive line returning, and this is probably the last chance for that 2013 recruiting class to put Ole Miss at the top of the SEC West standings.

The guess here is that Tunsil will be eligible when Ole Miss plays its opener against UT Martin on Sept. 5 (noon ET, SEC Network) if for no other reason than you have to give the player the benefit of doubt. Ole Miss is preparing as if he’ll be in uniform as well.

“We obviously will cooperate fully with, whether it’s the NCAA process or the law enforcement process, we will cooperate fully with that,” Freeze recently said at SEC media days. “I’m very confident, like I said, in the way we do things and what we can control. I’m very confident in the person that Laremy Tunsil is too, and we look forward to that coming to a conclusion at whatever time is appropriate.”

When that might be no one knows, but Tunsil’s teammates have followed their coaches’ example, saying that they’re rallying around him like with the three players competing for the starting quarterback job.

“Honestly it’s been really smooth this offseason,” junior tight end Evan Engram said. “I’m pretty sure things are going to get worked out.”

At this point we have to assume that he’s correct.

 

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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Tyler Boyd and Rori Blair Suspended by Pitt: Details, Comments and Reaction

The Pittsburgh Panthers will be without leading wide receiver Tyler Boyd and defensive lineman Rori Blair for their season-opening game against Youngstown State.

Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that both players were suspended for the game with the Penguins, while an official statement released on the school’s athletic website said: “The one-game disciplinary suspensions were the result of the players being involved in separate offseason legal situations involving motor vehicles.”

Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com noted that "Boyd was sentenced to one year of probation after he was charged with DUI in June. Blair was charged with driving under the influence of drugs after an arrest in March."

Coach Pat Narduzzi commented on the decision in the statement:

In addition to their game suspensions, Tyler and Rori have been, and will continue to be, subject to internal discipline and accountability. The situations were very disappointing and both young men have expressed their regret. Our expectation is that each of them, as well as our entire team, will learn from their mistakes and be better for it moving forward.

The loss of Boyd is particularly noteworthy because he was Pittsburgh’s best receiver during the 2014 season. In fact, he tallied 1,261 receiving yards and eight touchdowns as the team's one reliable downfield threat, while Manasseh Garner finished second on the team with a mere 201 receiving yards.

Blair is a key contributor along the defensive line and notched a sack in the team’s Armed Forces Bowl loss to Houston. He is expected to start this season.

The silver lining for the Panthers is the fact that the suspensions come against Youngstown State from the FCS. While it is important not to overlook any opponent at the college level, Pittsburgh will likely face much more difficult competition throughout the rest of the season after Boyd returns to the offense.

The Panthers face Iowa in their third game of the year and Virginia Tech in their fourth game, and they will need Boyd back on the field if they hope to walk away with early statement victories. What's more, Boyd's absence will give other receivers such as Dontez Ford the chance to establish an initial role in the passing game.

Jenn Menendez of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted that Ford in particular made an impression during spring practice as someone who can complement "Tyler Boyd at wide receiver to give the Panthers passing game more depth."

Ford, along with Pittsburgh’s rushing attack—which finished 16th in the country in 2014 in rushing yards per game—will likely fill the offensive void against the Penguins in the season opener.

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Tennessee Football: Which WRs Need to Step Up in Fall Camp?

When the Tennessee football team officially opens fall camp Tuesday, two talented wide receivers won't be among the Vols on the practice field.

As if the spotlight wasn't already burning a laser beam of scrutiny on a talented, but underachieving unit, it certainly will be as UT opens practice without senior starter Von Pearson and freshman prospect Preston Williams.

Vols coach Butch Jones confirmed their absences (both for an undetermined length of time) at Monday's press conference.

With a cloud of uncertainty hovering over the futures of Pearson and Williams, the Vols must prepare as if they'll be without them.

Williams—a former coveted 4-star recruit who was rehabbing a knee injury—was pulled off the field after the NCAA flagged his ACT score last week, and he must retake the test before regaining clearance to play, according to GoVols247's Ryan Callahan.

Pearson remains suspended indefinitely as a suspect in an ongoing sexual assault investigation. While there has been growing speculation on UT message boards that Pearson's situation would end favorably, Jones didn't exactly sprinkle sunshine on the situation Monday.

The news that neither receiver will open camp with the Vols isn't new information, but the tone surrounding Pearson's situation seemed dire. RockyTopInsider's Daniel Lewis caught up with Pearson's attorney, Chris Coffey, who had some interesting things to say concerning the investigation:

The question that I see as important in this situation is why Mr. Pearson, who has not been charged with any criminal offense, at this point, why he remains on interim suspension at the University when there are other student-athletes who are currently charged with very serious offenses and they are not suspended from school. They are listed as active students, and I’ve asked the question, but nobody will give me an answer, and certainly Mr. Pearson is interested in what the answer to that would be.

Even if Pearson is cleared as a suspect, the fact that he isn't in school further complicates matters on his eligibility this season, as he would have a pressed timetable to enroll this semester. Not to mention, he's missing valuable practice time as the investigation lingers.

In the meantime, UT must find viable options to go along with steady senior Alton "Pig" Howard, who has proven his ability and durability throughout his first three years in Knoxville.

The question remains: Who will step up to help him?

With Pearson and Williams out for the foreseeable future, that's two talented players and two bodies in a unit where three players are coming off season-ending injuries.

 

Marquez North

Many Tennessee fans are in "show me" mode with North, the 6'4", 224-pound rising junior with the talent to be among the nation's elite pass-catchers.

During the past two seasons, North has shown flashes such as the helmet-pin catch to set up the game-winning field goal against South Carolina during his 2013 freshman year and last season's early four-touchdown start to the season.

But after that, injuries robbed North of the rest of the year, and he eventually had season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum. After missing the spring, it remains to be seen whether North will come back as good as new or with lingering rust.

With the size, speed and strength to go across the middle or stretch the field, North's ceiling continues to excite everybody around the program. But the time is now for him to put everything together.

 

Jason Croom

Another world-class body, Croom stands 6'5" and weighs 235 pounds, and at times, he has used that massive frame to overpower smaller defensive backs.

Other times, he is nowhere to be found on the stat sheets and does not impact the game.

In two seasons, the redshirt junior has 39 catches for 574 yards and six touchdowns, and at times throughout the season, Jones praised his big-bodied receiver, including after a 35-32 loss to Georgia.

"Jason Croom really stepped up," Jones told the Knoxville News Sentinel's Ben Frederickson. "He played the ball well in the air."

That's the No. 1 key for Croom. He can't play timid with the size he has. Though he won't outrun many defensive backs, he has the ability to battle for balls in the air, especially in the red zone, and win.

He's a potential weapon, and he needs to stay healthy and consistent enough to be one now.

 

Josh Malone

Back in the recruiting process, teams from around the country coveted Gallatin, Tennessee, receiver Josh Malone.

Standing 6'3", 198 pounds with silky, smooth route-running ability and good hands, Malone was the perfect receiver. He also could blaze past opponents on go routes.

But like most freshmen, Malone struggled last year to provide a consistent impact. There were times when he didn't battle. Other times, nagging injuries hindered his play. Still, in a crowded receiving corps, he finished with 23 catches for 231 yards and a touchdown.

Now that he knows what it takes, Malone enjoyed a strong offseason, according to Jones. He told a group of people in Hendersonville, Tennessee, near Malone's home:

"He's going through a process," Jones said, according to the Tennessean's Chris Brooks. "He's another individual who has really dedicated himself this offseason. When he came back from the month break, you could see that he dedicated himself. Josh is a very talented young man, and he's very driven right now. I'm very excited in what we see in him right now."

ESPN.com's Greg Ostendorf listed Malone among five SEC sophomore receivers who could break out.

There's no questioning Malone's ability. Once he puts things together, he has the skill set to be special. The Vols need that right away. Other than North, Malone may have the highest upside in the unit.

 

Josh Smith

Last year, there was no doubt who the biggest early-season surprise on the team was. Sophomore receiver Josh Smith amassed 10 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown, and he was quarterback Justin Worley's go-to target through the season's first three games.

When Smith wasn't providing steady numbers, he was leaping over an Arkansas State defender for a highlight-reel play.

Then, the 6'1", 205-pound receiver suffered a nasty high ankle sprain against Oklahoma that necessitated season-ending surgery. Though Smith got that season back with a redshirt, he wasn't 100 percent this spring.

With Pearson out, Smith may have to provide some versatility as a guy who can play on the perimeter or in the slot. He has done both before, and UT needs him to get back to the player he was before the injury.

If he does, it will give new coordinator Mike DeBord another weapon to move around.

These issues will limit the quality of Tennessee's depth at the position, but there are still plenty of talented receivers in that group.

Senior Johnathon Johnson is a steady player who will play a key role. Junior Cody Blanc, freshman Vincent Perry and converted quarterback Jauan Jennings all could see meaningful snaps at the position.

After Jones noted last week that Jennings would try other positions, he said to the media Monday that he would start camp at receiver, according to GoVols247's Wes Rucker.

There are plenty of teams who would love to have that kind of depth, but subtracting a pair of potential playmakers from the equation is never a good thing. The Vols just need others to pick up the slack.

 

All statistics gathered from CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted. All recruiting information obtained from 247Sports.

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

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Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Recapping Recent Visits

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — With fall camp looming, Notre Dame football used the final week of July to welcome recruits to campus for unofficial visits.

The Irish continued to target defensive backs, and a few prospects scheduled official visits for the 2015 season.

Let’s round up the week’s recruiting news.

 

Lamar Jackson

Class-of-2016 athlete Lamar Jackson announced his intentions to visit South Bend for an official visit when the Irish host Texas in the season opener at the outset of September.

Jackson, at 6’3”, 205 pounds, is the No. 5 safety and No. 91 overall prospect in the nation. The Elk Grove, California, product hauled in his offer from Notre Dame at the beginning of June.

 

D.J. Morgan

After decommitting from Arizona State in mid-July, class-of-2016 safety D.J. Morgan scheduled an official visit to Notre Dame for the Texas matchup Sept. 5.

The No. 26 safety and No. 449 overall prospect, Morgan hails from Bellflower, California, and originally committed to the Sun Devils in May.

 

Jordan Fuller

Class-of-2016 athlete Jordan Fuller took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame on Thursday, his first trip to campus.

The 4-star defensive back is the No. 10 athlete and No. 120 player in the class. Fuller shared his thoughts on the school with Irish247’s Tom Loy following his visit:

I’d say they’re up there now. They’re definitely up there now. 

[The Notre Dame staff was] selling Notre Dame as a really, really good opportunity for me. It’s one of the expensive scholarships you can get and I’d be able to go there for free. They told me that the degree truly means something in the world and it could help me with my future. They said that they can help me and that I can help them with my athletic ability and my play in the secondary.

Per Loy, Fuller is not naming leaders or committing to official visits for the time being.

 

Cole Kmet

Notre Dame already has one tight end, Brock Wright, in its class of 2017, but the Irish are still pursuing classmate Cole Kmet.

The Arlington Heights, Illinois, native is the No. 6 tight end and No. 246 overall prospect in the class as he heads into his junior campaign. Kmet took an unofficial visit to South Bend on Thursday.

Kmet was on campus in June for the Irish Invasion camp.

“Coach [Brian] Kelly talked to me about how well I did at the Irish Invasion and how much the entire staff wanted me at Notre Dame,” Kmet told Loy. “He told me that I am the type of person they look for to come to Notre Dame, a person who is willing to compete in both the classroom and the football field. Overall, it was a great day.”

 

Damar Hamlin

The Irish welcomed one of their top defensive back targets to town when class-of-2016 cornerback Damar Hamlin descended on Notre Dame on Friday.

Currently slotted as the No. 13 cornerback and No. 145 prospect in the class, Hamlin also visited Ohio State and Penn State in July.

 

Paris Ford

Class-of-2017 safety Paris Ford, a Pittsburgh native, also visited campus Friday.

The No. 6 safety and No. 91 overall prospect in the class, Ford also visited Ohio State and Penn State in July.

Ford told Loy about his visit: 

I think sitting down with Coach Kelly was the most impressive part. We sat down and talked about a Notre Dame degree and how he really liked me and he wants to be a part of his defensive back group. He was telling me that they played like nine freshmen on defense last year and they aren’t scared to play guys early. The best players will play, and I’m definitely looking to play early, so that’s big.

Per Loy, Ford said Notre Dame is one of six schools that has caught his attention, though the safety said he hasn’t trimmed his recruitment.

 

David Adams

Class-of-2017 inside linebacker David Adams was the third Pittsburgh-area prospect to visit campus Friday.

Adams is slotted as the No. 3 inside ‘backer and No. 96 recruit in the class. He visited Penn State two weeks before the trip to South Bend.

 

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

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

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Schools to Watch After 2017 5-Star LB Dylan Moses Decommited from LSU

The nation's top-ranked 2017 prospect is growing up in front of our very eyes.

Unfortunately for LSU, his maturation process means the loss of a huge commitment—at least for the time being.

Monday afternoon, linebacker Dylan Moses announced via social media that he has decommitted from LSU. Moses said he made the "very tough decision" after chatting with his parents and reassessing the definition of the word "commitment."

"After talking to my mom, I now realize that when you're truly committed to something, there's no room for others to compete," Moses wrote in a message broadcast through Twitter:

There shouldn't be any outside interest. I was younger and doing what I thought was right at the time. Now that I truly understand what being committed means, I want to think things through and make sure that the next time I commit, I will be signing a letter of intent, and there will be no other schools in the mix.

This is good news for all of the schools interested in Moses, a 6'2", 220-pound stud who can play either outside linebacker or running back. Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Texas, UCLA, USC and a host of other programs will take this opportunity to resell their programs to an athlete who better understands the process.

Moses has made unofficial visits to a myriad of schools. After committing to LSU, Moses—whether it was for an unofficial visit, junior day or camp—visited Baylor, Texas A&M, TCU, Texas, Alabama and Florida State. He took in Auburn and Georgia prior to his commitment.

Although Moses—who committed as a freshman on Sept. 22, 2013—is uncommitted once again, don't be surprised if LSU isn't in the race when he commits again. In fact, look for the Tigers to be the team to beat.

He is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His school, University Lab, is located on the LSU campus. He has built great relationships with head coach Les Miles, recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson and the rest of the Tigers coaching staff. His cousin is LSU defensive backs coach Corey Raymond.

Moses, in short, knows everything about LSU. He doesn't know as much about some of the other programs recruiting him.

This is where the decommitment truly comes into play.

According to his social media message, Moses decommitted to explore other options and treat his process with honor. He didn't decommit because he disliked LSU.

It's easy to see why he committed 23 months ago. He was a freshman. How many freshmen can say his college football plans were already solidified?

Now a junior, Moses will give all 25 reported offers—and the multiple other schools interested—a fair shot at recruiting him—and also a shot at winning him over.

"I will be doing what's best for me versus what is expected of me," Moses said. "My plan now is (to) focus on bettering myself as a high school student-athlete, perfecting my craft and helping my teammates win another championship."

For the rest of the schools, it'll be tough to completely lure Moses from LSU. There's a good shot that he'll recommit after taking visits, unofficial and official. He even mentioned in his message that "LSU is my No. 1."

The recruiting game now resumes for Moses, a phenomenal athlete who had 152 tackles as a junior and 176.5 tackles as a sophomore.

Look for LSU to stay No. 1. But look for the other schools to do everything possible to knock the Tigers off the top spot.

 

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

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Braxton Miller Makes 1-Handed Catch While Holding 5 Footballs

It looks like the transition from quarterback to receiver/punt returner is going well for Ohio State's Braxton Miller.

The redshirt senior showed off his hands while practicing catching punts in a video he posted to Instagram on Monday. After hauling in five footballs, the former signal-caller managed to snag a sixth with just one hand—while holding on to the other balls.

Miller has already proven he can be a game-changer with his arm and legs. If this video is any indication, his hands appear to be on par with the rest of his abilities.

[Braxton Miller]

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No. 1 2017 Recruit Decommits from LSU: Where Will Dylan Moses Land?

Dylan Moses, a 2017 5-star outside linebacker, has decommitted from LSU, according to 247Sports.

Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer drops his odds for where this stud linebacker may land.

Where do you think he'll end up? Watch the video and let us know!

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Maquedius Bain Tweets Decision to Transfer from LSU

Just a few days after his reinstatement to LSU's team, defensive lineman Maquedius Bain announced he will take his second chance in football somewhere other than Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Bain, a sophomore from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, tweeted on Monday afternoon that he will no longer play football at LSU and is transferring to Pearl River Community College in Mississippi:

LSU updated Bain's profile on the team website on Monday to reflect that he "left the program prior to the 2015 fall semester."

The 6'4", 299-pound defensive end was one of three LSU players reinstated last Friday by head coach Les Miles.

According to Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com, Bain, quarterback Anthony Jennings and defensive back Dwayne Thomas were indefinitely suspended after their arrest for unauthorized entry into an inhabited dwelling on June 18. Last week, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III decided to not file charges.

Bain played in 10 games for the Tigers last season as a redshirt freshman. He recorded six tackles and a pass breakup as part of LSU's rotation at defensive tackle. The former 4-star tackle was one of several blue-chip defensive line signees for LSU in the Class of 2013. Bain played in the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game.

Kleinpeter reported that Bain moved to defensive end this spring, as the team "apparently is transitioning from a 4-3 to a 3-4 base defense" under new coordinator Kevin Steele.

As Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee notes, Bain's transfer is a blow for a defensive line unit that has already had to deal with some departures this offseason.

Defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao was dismissed from LSU last month after he was arrested for simple battery and simple robbery. He allegedly hit a woman after she tried to stop him from robbing her unconscious boyfriend, according to Ross Dellenger of the Advocate

Kleinpeter reported that fellow tackle Travonte Valentine transferred from the program later in July because of academic issues.

"That's a lot of uncertainty in the middle of a defensive line that really doesn't need any more uncertainty," Sallee wrote last month. "Sure, players such as Frank Herron and Greg Gilmore can step in and provide that depth. At this point, though, they might have to step in and provide that depth via rotational snaps to give the starters a break."

Fortunately for LSU, the depth might receive a small boost in the form of Mickey Johnson.

The senior defensive tackle didn't participate in spring practice and was rumored to be on his way out of LSU, but according to Hunter Paniagua of TigerSportsDigest.com, his name was back on the team's roster on Monday.

"Johnson did not have a noticeable impact through his first four years in the program, but LSU sorely needs depth along the defensive line with all the attrition this summer," Paniagua wrote.

 

Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

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Michigan Football: Recruits Dish on Wolverines BBQ at Big House Visit

The new Michigan Wolverines coaching regime enjoyed its first opportunity to host the "Barbecue at the Big House," an annual summer recruiting event dating back to Rich Rodriguez's tenure. 

Head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff welcomed several premier prospects from various recruiting classes August 2. The guest list in Ann Arbor included 4-star commits Brandon Peters (quarterback), Ben Bredeson (offensive tackle), Ron Johnson (defensive end) and Matthew Falcon (running back).

"It was a pretty great experience to spend that time together on campus in person," Falcon told Bleacher Report. "It was an opportunity to check out the school and football facilities we'll be sharing for four years. It was also a chance to get to learn a little bit more about everybody's backgrounds."

The day provided pledges and uncommitted Wolverines targets to explore campus in detail. An expansive collection of athletes were split into groups and sent on "quests" based on clues that led them to various educational buildings and school landmarks.

"It showed us the non-football aspects of the university, which is huge because we're not just going up there to play football," Falcon said. "We got to see a different side of university, including athletes and students who've gone on to do big things after Michigan. It's all important stuff to know since this is where a lot of us will be living for a while."

Some groups stuck to the basics, like the library and dining hall:

Others were a bit more exploratory during the process, particularly a group led by Harbaugh himself. 

"Coach Harbaugh's group crashed a wedding, so that was pretty funny," Falcon said.

Fortunately, Peters caught this fantastic development on his camera:

While prospects like Peters and Falcon were already quite familiar with Ann Arbor, promising 2019 Detroit linebacker/defensive end Tyrece Woods Jr. caught his first glimpse of campus life.

"My first impression was great. I liked everything about it, and I plan to get back to Michigan very soon, Woods said.

He asserted that, regardless of age, Harbaugh makes it a point to make recruits in each class feel welcome.

"Coach Harbaugh does a really good job trying to make a connection with every recruit he wants to bring into the program now and in the future," Woods said. "A lot of the older players who were there told me they had a stronger relationship with this coaching staff than when Brady Hoke was there."

For established Wolverines targets, Sunday was more about confirming earlier feelings rather than searching for new developments in Ann Arbor.

"This was a solidifying thing for me. I'm very confident in my commitment," Falcon said.

Michigan has surged to eighth overall in 2016 composite class rankings, further enhanced by a Sunday commitment from Maryland defensive back Sir Patrick Scott.

The Wolverines are one of just a few programs with enough possible pledges out there to challenge for a top-ranked recruiting class. Falcon said a pair of coveted targets were on campus Sunday.

"We're focusing on [wide receiver] Donnie Corley and [cornerback] Lavert Hill right now," he said. "I think Lavert is close, but neither of those guys have said anything yet. Those are definitely a couple players we want on the squad."

Hill committed to Penn State early this year, while Corley was previously viewed as a Michigan State lean.

“I had a great time,” Corley told David Goricki of the Detroit News. “I got there in the morning and had a chance to talk to recruits and their parents, then build relationships with the coaches. Coach Harbaugh is very energetic."

New Jersey wide receiver/defensive back Ahmir Mitchell, who is expected to choose either Ohio State or Michigan, was also on campus.

Following his latest trip to Ann Arbor, Mitchell told Bleacher Report his decision date is "coming soon."

Another Wolverines target in attendance was 2017 safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell. The Detroit standout expressed excitement in Michigan's direction.

"Things are changing a lot there," he said. "Coach Harbaugh is creating a new culture to get everything on track and make Michigan a top dog again. He does a phenomenal job getting recruits to believe in those goals."

His Sunday experience included expansive time spent with secondary coach Michael Zordich, along with peers.

"It was a family atmosphere at the barbecue," Kelly-Powell continued. "We got to catch up with players and coaches we already knew and meet new people at the same time. I think everyone definitely enjoyed it."

 

Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bold Predictions for College Football Fall Camp

The 2015 college football season is officially on countdown watch, as the opening games are only a month away. That means that training camp has either started or is right around the corner for all 128 FBS programs.

The weeks leading up to the start of the year are critical to every program because this is when the real work begins to sculpt a team into its current form. Spring practice and offseason workouts can only do so much compared to fall camp because the entire team is able to work together, and specifics related to offensive and defensive schemes are put into play.

It's also when open position battles get sorted out and when we get our first glimpse of what kind of impact most newcomers will be able to make.

After months of mostly talking, now we should have a steady stream of newsworthy items coming out of training camp. Here are some predictions of what could happen in the next month.

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Top College Football QB Battles to Watch in 2015 Fall Camp

Fall camp marks the official return to the practice field for every player in college football regardless of position, but August always puts a special spotlight on the quarterbacks.

For the schools that must replace a starting signal-caller and didn't settle their battles in spring ball, fall camp will represent a chaotic final few weeks for one of the most important roles on the team.

Florida State and Oregon are both looking to replace a former Heisman Trophy winner with the winner of a competition between a high-profile transfer and an experienced backup. Others, such as LSU and Texas, want answers at quarterback after disappointing outputs in 2014.

And then you have the unique battle going on at defending national champion Ohio State.

Here are 12 of the top quarterback battles to watch when summer behind-the-scenes work gives way to more publicized competition over the next few weeks.

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Why Playing Two Quarterbacks vs. Notre Dame Can Work for Texas

You know how the saying goes: If you have two quarterbacks, you have none. But what if the Texas Longhorns actually have one and don't know it yet?  That's what second-year coach Charlie Strong is going to try to find out by playing both Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard in the season opener at Notre Dame. 

"I’m not going to play musical chairs with them. They both are going to play," Strong said on ESPN's "Car Wash" last month, via Chris O'Connell of the Alcalde. "When we line up in South Bend, whoever is going to start, the other guy is going to play also."

There isn't a named starter (yet), but Swoopes is the most likely candidate to get the nod. He was the front-runner exiting spring practice, and Strong and senior running back Johnathan Gray mentioned Swoopes extensively during Big 12 media days. Swoopes will also practice with the first-team offense when preseason camp starts up this week. 

Unless something changes in camp, which is entirely possible, the guess is that Swoopes will take the field first. However, the actual term "starter" matters little in this case, because it doesn't necessarily mean that same player will take the field last.

It's all about finding the best option. That's why playing two quarterbacks initially could actually work for the Longhorns. 

The fact that Strong has confirmed both quarterbacks will play against the Irish indicates that the race is tight. This could be interpreted in a few ways. It could mean that Heard has improved significantly, which would corroborate the comments made about him by Strong and quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson in the spring. It could also mean that Swoopes hasn't progressed as desired. 

Or it could mean both have taken big steps forward this offseason, which is what Strong and Co. maintained at media days. 

Sometimes when a competition is that tight, though, the best way to break it open is to throw each player into live situations to see how they react. Swoopes' leadership has been praised this offseason, so perhaps it's on display on the field, as Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News wrote: 

Swoopes’ arm strength unquestionably is superior to Heard’s. And early failure doesn’t always mean a quarterback is a bust. Both Vince Young and Colt McCoy faced struggles and outside doubts during their first year as a UT starter. No one is saying Swoopes owns that kind of potential, but coaches praise his work ethic and eagerness to learn from his mistakes.

Maybe Heard is more of a gamer than a practice player. He redshirted his freshman season, so no one—not even Strong—knows how Heard will play in an actual game. On occasion, this can actually serve as a benefit in game preparation, because opposing defenses don't know what they're up against. 

It's known that Heard is more mobile, while Swoopes has the stronger arm with more experience. Whichever one works better with Texas' new wide-open offense could be a matter of plugging and playing. 

That's not to say this isn't a precarious situation, of course. The difficulty in playing two quarterbacks, especially on the road against a potential playoff team like Notre Dame, is finding a balance. How often do you rotate between Swoopes and Heard? Is it by feel or performance? This isn't a home opener against North Texas, in which Strong could have more liberty to experiment. 

Let's say Swoopes does get the start in Week 1. Strong has never explicitly come out and said it, but one would have to imagine Swoopes is on a tighter leash this year. With a young defense, can he afford to get behind too far, too quickly? All the same, you don't want to pull him too soon and not allow him a chance to recover. The backup quarterback may be the most popular player on the team, but that doesn't always mean he's the best. 

There's a lot to consider and manage. But if done correctly, Texas could find its quarterback answer sooner rather than later. Ultimately, what Texas doesn't want is to still be figuring this out in November. 

The vibe from Big 12 media days was that Texas' offense simply needs a game manager at quarterback to keep things moving. It's not like Swoopes or Heard will be asked to go out and consistently win games single-handedly. Theoretically, that should take a lot of pressure off both of them. 

"You talk about what you see out of Swoopes and what you see out of Heard, both those guys are very competitive, but everyone else around them needs to play well also," Strong said at media days. 

Texas' goal is to win all of its games in 2015, but another goal should be to start answering big questions in Week 1. And the Longhorns don't necessarily need to beat Notre Dame to find an answer at quarterback. 

But they won't find that answer until Swoopes and Heard are given a fair shot to prove their worth. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Solving Michigan's Quarterback Conundrum

As Jim Harbaugh exited his first spring game as Michigan's head coach, he appeared confident in knowing who his starting quarterback for the 2015 season would be.

At least more so than he does now.

At the time, the first-year Wolverines head coach had fewer options and one who seemed to be standing out from the rest.

But with the start of fall camp just days away, Steve Kornacki of MGoBlue.com reported that Harbaugh has gone back on naming Shane Morris the front-runner in favor of placing the junior in a full-on competition with Iowa graduate transfer Jake Rudock:

Everybody in the football-loving free world loves knowing who the quarterback's going to be.

...

Jake and Shane impress me the most. Those two are focused and serious. They've both got a plan. They've both got a lot riding on this. And you can tell they're excited about it ... they're embracing it. And they can't wait to get out there and prove that they're the guy.

Harbaugh's change of tune from the spring wasn't necessarily unexpected, as this was the way most anticipated his quarterback conundrum would ultimately play out. After all, the ink on Rudock's transfer papers had hardly dried when Harbaugh named Morris the favorite. The former Hawkeye was still months away from arriving in Ann Arbor.

But the fact that Rudock has gained so much ground on Morris in a short period of time is telling nonetheless and perhaps indicative of how Harbaugh's quarterback competition will continue to take form.

While Morris has had all offseason to lock up the Wolverines' starting job, Rudock appears to have done enough in less than two months' time to find himself on equal footing with his primary competition at his new school.

Harbaugh has yet to run an official practice with Rudock in a maize and blue uniform, but he's been impressed by the poise of the fifth-year senior.

"He's got a bounce in his step. He's got some real pizzazz," Harbaugh said of Rudock at Big Ten media days in Chicago last week. "Shane Morris and Jake, they're very serious, very focused, but very loose and confident at the same time. Very excited to watch both of them compete. They both have a lot at stake."

Harbaugh's not wrong either, as this could be seen as the last shot that both players have at making an impact in their respective college careers.

For Rudock, that literally rings true as 2015 will mark his final season of eligibility.

As for Morris, losing this year's competition could put him behind the eight-ball for another one in 2016, when Michigan's quarterback depth chart will only be more crowded with the additions of Houston transfer John O'Korn and 4-star quarterback Brandon Peters.

Only adding to the intrigue of the QB derby in Ann Arbor is the contrasting styles of both Rudock and Morris, which can be seen in both their playing styles and personalities.

A former 4-star prospect himself, the strong-armed Morris has always been marked by his high-risk, high-reward nature. But at the midway point of his college career, it's been much more of the former, as evidenced by a stat line that currently includes a 48.3 completion percentage, five interceptions and zero touchdowns.

Only that hasn't stopped the 6'3", 209-pounder from possessing the type of confidence that one would imagine Harbaugh can't help but admire, as Morris has spoken bluntly about his upcoming competition with Rudock.

"Right now it's my job to lose," he said at the Ann Arbor Aerial Assault quarterback camp in June. "I'm just going to keep working hard and fight off any competitors that are trying to take it away from me."

Rudock, meanwhile, has been much more conservative when it's come to talking about the quarterback race, stating that while he'd obviously like to play, he isn't placing too much focus on the competition with Morris.

His quiet nature is also reflected in his play, as he completed 60.3 percent his passes in his last two years as Iowa's starter but never tallied more than 2,500 yards or 18 touchdowns in either the 2013 or 2014 season.

With a Wolverines defense that appears to be much further along than the offense, Rudock's safer style of play could be preferable to Harbaugh, who got the most out of the similarly efficient Alex Smith during his time with the San Francisco 49ers.

At the moment, that appears to be the way the battle between Rudock and Morris is trending with Michigan's season opener against Utah exactly one month away.

Both candidates seem to have support of their teammates, even though Rudock has spent a fraction of the time on campus that Morris has.

"He's doing a great job," Wolverines wide receiver Jehu Chesson said of Rudock. "He's slinging it. He's a good passer and I like catching from him—I like catching it from Shane too.

"In terms of his game experience, it's not a mystery who has more game experience. [Rudock] probably has the most game experience of the quarterbacks we have now."

According to Harbaugh, however, that will only count for so much in the coming weeks.

"I'm just going to observe. Can learn a lot by watching," Harbaugh said. "We're going to roll the balls out there and let them all compete. Whoever is playing better will be our quarterback."

With fall camp kicking off on Friday in Ann Arbor, there's still a chance that Morris will put it together and be that player when all is said and done.

But at this point, Rudock appears to have momentum on his side, and that ultimately could matter more than anything else.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

ESPN College GameDay Headed to Alabama vs. Wisconsin for Week 1

College football returns in less than five weeks, and now fans know where the game's most popular pregame show is headed to open the 2015 slate—back to the Cowboys Classic for Wisconsin and Alabama.

ESPN announced Monday it will host College GameDay at the Fort Worth (Texas) Stockyards for the Sept. 5 neutral-site matchup between Alabama and Wisconsin at Arlington's AT&T Stadium.

The announcement came during an event at Atlanta's College Football Hall of Fame.

College GameDay opened the 2014 season at the same venue last season, when defending national champion Florida State played Oklahoma State in the Cowboys Classic. The Seminoles held off a strong second-half push by the Cowboys to avoid the upset and earn the 37-31 victory.

The show has picked the Cowboys Classic for its first marquee game of the season four of the last five seasons. GameDay was also there for Oregon-LSU in 2011 and Michigan-Alabama in 2012.

The 2015 season-opening edition of College GameDay will be Rece Davis' debut as a host. The studio host and play-by-play man is replacing longtime voice Chris Fowler this year.

According to the Amway preseason coaches poll, which was released last week by USA Today, both Alabama and Wisconsin are Top 20 programs heading into the season.

Alabama is No. 3 in the preseason poll after a 12-2 season in which the Tide won the SEC and earned a spot in the first-ever College Football Playoff.

Wisconsin, now under new head coach Paul Chryst, went 11-3 last season with a Big Ten West crown and an overtime Outback Bowl victory over Auburn.

The Crimson Tide are currently 10.5-point favorites to beat the Badgers, according to Odds Shark, but several of Wisconsin's players are confident they could pull off the upset this year.

"Who's to say we can't beat Alabama?" running back Corey Clement told Brian Bennett of ESPN.com during Big Ten media days last week. "They proved they can be beat. This conference can play with the best of them. I think [Ohio State's Sugar Bowl win] kind of gave Alabama a wake-up call."

The game will kick off at 8 p.m. ET and will be televised by ABC.

 

Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Derrick Brown Sets Official Visits: Odds on Where 5-Star DT Lands

The SEC is expected to add a premier defensive tackle in Buford, Georgia, 5-star Derrick Brown. Over the weekend, Brown, the nation's No. 9 player overall and No. 3 defensive tackle, tweeted the schools he plans on taking an official visit to this season.

The SEC is expected to be Brown's future home. Which SEC school is the question.

Much of the recruiting world believes Brown is Georgia's to lose, and if the 6'4", 322-pound athlete's April quote still holds true, the Bulldogs should be excited about where they stand. However, the substance of official visits never should be counted out, as they are the perfect opportunities to help an open-minded recruit narrow his choices.

Here are some odds on where Brown ultimately ends up. These can change as he further prepares for his official visits.

 

Georgia (2-1)

Of the 28 prognosticators who participated in Brown's 247Sports Crystal Ball, all 28 have chosen the Bulldogs to win the recruiting race. It's a safe pick, as Brown is a big fan of head coach Mark Richt, defensive line coach Tracy Rocker and running backs coach Thomas Brown.

Brown once publicly considered Georgia as his favorite, but he backed away from that statement to keep all of his options open. If he chooses the Bulldogs, he'll join a solid class that already includes 5-star defensive tackle Julian Rochester, 4-star defensive end Chauncey Manac and 4-star defensive tackle Tyler Clark.

Proximity also could play a major role in Georgia being a front-runner. Athens, Georgia, is less than an hour away from Buford. As the state of Georgia's top-ranked player, Brown is a player the Bulldogs want to keep close to home.

 

Alabama (3-1)

As long as head coach Nick Saban is around, Alabama will be considered by many as a potential landing spot for elite recruits. The Crimson Tide always appear to be in the hunt for a national title, and being a consistent discussion piece in the highly competitive SEC gives them an advantage.

Alabama fans are envisioning a class with Brown and 4-stars Kendell Jones Jr., Raekwon Davis and Khalid Kareem as the foundation of the defensive line of the future. Brown is being recruited to Alabama by defensive line coach Bo Davis.

Alabama fans also will like the fact that during a recent 247Sports interview, Brown chose Bear Bryant when asked who he'd like to meet in history, dead or alive.

 

Auburn (3-1)

Auburn currently has 12 verbal commitments. Of the 12, five are 4-star players, and of those five, none are linemen.

This is where Auburn is hoping to make their selling pitch count. Brown can be the keystone to the defensive line and, as a 5-star talent, the overall headliner of the 2016 class. Defensive line coach Rodney Garner has spearheaded the charge in attempting to land Brown.

As for a sidenote, Auburn fans will be happy to know that one of Brown's all-time favorite players, according to a 247Sports interview, is Bo Jackson. He's made a few visits to Auburn, including one last week.

 

Mississippi State (4-1)

Why wouldn't Mississippi State be considered a school to watch? Both of Brown's parents went to Mississippi State, and he spent the first months of his life in Starkville, Mississippi. If anything, he knows the campus, and he knows the history of the program.

What some are wondering is if Brown will follow his parents' footsteps as a legacy or set his own college path. The Bulldogs are hoping to win him over come national signing day, and head coach Dan Mullen and defensive line coach David Turner have made him a priority of the class.

Brown would be Mississippi State's top-ranked commit if he chose to give his verbal pledge Monday. There's a shot he would be the Bulldogs' top-ranked signee overall when the ink is dry early February.

 

Tennessee (4-1)

Tennessee has 4-star defensive end Chidi Okonya committed. Adding Brown would give the Volunteers a solid nucleus for the future of the defensive line.

Head coach Butch Jones and defensive line coach Steve Stripling have high expectations for Brown, who visited the campus in June and also took in the school back in April. Collectively, Jones, Stripling and running backs coach Robert Gillespie have done a solid job of recruiting Brown.

The grind of recruiting can take its toll on an athlete. Brown's latest visit to Tennessee, however, was highlighted by a relaxed environment, one where he said "didn't even talk recruiting," according to 247Sports' Ryan Callahan. Off-the-field camaraderie is key with every recruit.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

B/R 5th Down: Jim Harbaugh Tweets Nicki Minaj, FSU Coach Shows off Insane Rings

Editor's Note: The 5th Down captures the top social college football stories of the week. Because the long, grueling offseason is underway, we'll focus on things that make us laugh, think or maybe cry, but mostly laugh.

 

1) Your Weekly Harbaugh Is #TEAMNICKI (or Something) 

As if you needed another reminder, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is a man of many passions. One of his passions is your passion—if your passion is Michigan, that is. 

And, apparently, Michigan is a passion of Nicki Minaj, which means she is a passion of Harbaugh's. 

The only question is whether Harbaugh's #TEAMNICKI stance makes him #TEAMMEEK or #TEAMDRAKE, because hip hop feuds are complicated like that: 

 

2) This Week in HOLY BLING

Holy moly. Is there a hand under there? Look at those rings. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven...seven rings! 

Yes, life is good at Florida State on the football field right now, and the recruiting pitches are simple, as noted above.

 

3) Mike Leach Updates You on Dating Advice

It's a beautiful thing when Washington State head coach Mike Leach opens his mouth, because you're never sure what's going to come out. In a world of coachspeak and stock answers, Leach is basically a human Mad Libs game. 

Which is why he's predominantly featured in this week's 5th Down. Speaking at Pac-12 media days last week, Leach was asked once again to give dating advice (Leach, as you may recall, had thoughts on dating while at Texas Tech): 

As far as creative first-date options go, rattlesnake hunting is at the top. Art or cooking classes are too cliche. You can't get to know someone at a movie. Restaurants can be awkward, and if it's clear there's no chemistry, you're painfully committed until you get the bill. Bars can be tricky because alcohol makes people say and do dumb things. 

But nothing quite says "you know, I think we might just make it as a couple" like tag-teaming a rattlesnake hunt. One person traps the snake while the other bags it. 

Wait, do you bag rattlesnakes? You don't actually kill them, right? Or do you? I guess figuring that out is part of the adventure. 

 

4) What's in the Water at Clemson?

Clemson is projected to not only win the ACC's Atlantic Division this year, but the entire ACC as well. We previously thought this was because quarterback Deshaun Watson was returning (and because Florida State has so many key players to replace). 

Oh, how wrong we were. How horribly, horribly wrong. 

Clemson is clearly picked to win the ACC because its roster is made up of those Monstars from "Space Jam". 

Here's receiver Artavis Scott, who led the team with 76 receptions and eight touchdowns as a freshman, dropping dimes into a net in Clemson's indoor practice facility: 

Now, here's lineman Eric Mac Lain, he of 305 pounds, dunking a basketball: 

Moral of the story: Expect to see Scott throwing touchdowns to himself before alley-ooping the touchdown celebration to Mac Lain over the crossbars of the goal post. 

 

5) Ohio State's Trashcan Prank is the Best Thing You'll See This Week

What else is there to say? Sit back and watch other people (some barely clothed) get the ever living daylights scared out of them. 

  

6) New Uniforms: They're for the Players

With the start of the new football season upon us, new uniform concepts are being dropped all over the place. From new helmets, like this one from North Carolina: 

And Oklahoma State: 

To alternate jerseys, like this concept for Ohio State: 

And this alternate Nebraska:  

Change, even for something as innocent as uniforms, can be hard to accept. This is especially true when you're a blue-blood program and classic uniforms are synonymous with the program. But the reality is kids like them and that's the only opinion that matters. (That and merchandising.) 

College football is a big-time business now, but the game should still be fun. If sporting new threads keeps things light for the players, then by all means, change up the unis. 

 

7) Your College Football Smack Talk of the Week (Part 1):

Conference realignment has changed the landscape of college football for the worse by taking away some of the best rivalries in the game. One of the now-defunct rivalries is the Backyard Brawl between Pitt and West Virginia. While there have been murmurs that the two sides will meet on the gridiron down the line, nothing is close to being set in stone yet. 

But that hasn't stopped each side from exchanging jabs: 

Which, wonderfully, led Holgorsen (or WVU's director of football operations) to tweet this: 

Yes, Penn State-Pitt used to be huge, but so did the Backyard Brawl. And, even though it was one-sided, Penn State was a big game for West Virginia too back in the day. The Nittany Lions have upcoming games against the Panthers and Mountaineers. Now, we just need to get Pitt and WVU to play again. 

We get it: Realignment means the Backyard Brawl won't happen every year. But let's at least try to make this happen on occasion. 

 

8) Your College Football Smack Talk of the Week (Part 2):

We've spent so much time this offseason focusing on things indirectly related to college football that we have to remind ourselves that the 2015 season is a mere month away. Soon enough, defending national champs Ohio State will be taking the field in Week 1 against the lone team that beat the Buckeyes in 2014, Virginia Tech.

Ohio State will be without four players, including star defensive end Joey Bosa, due to suspension. Still, that doesn't seem to hamper the confidence of Buckeyes tackle Taylor Decker. Decker has every reason to be confident, but can the Hokies pull another upset—this one far more monumental than the first?

The summer is great and all, but it's August now so we can officially say it: The season can't get here soon enough. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. He's on Twitter beefing with other B/R writers @BenKercheval.  

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ranking the Top 5 Players in the Pac-12 Heading into 2015 Season

Stephen Nelson sat down with Michael Felder to discuss the top guys in the Pac-12. Check out who made the list.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ranking the Top 5 Players in the Pac-12 Heading into 2015 Season

Stephen Nelson sat down with Michael Felder to discuss the top guys in the Pac -12. Check out who made the list...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Every Big Ten Football Team's Odds to Make College Football Playoff

Another college football season means it's time for a fresh round of season predictions for the Big Ten and the College Football Playoff. While that's simple in its premise, it's not so simple when it comes to boiling things down to the final chances of actually reaching the playoff at season's end.

We're a year into the College Football Playoff era, and hopefully, we're all a year wiser about where the Big Ten stacks up nationally. Last season, the Big Ten was a bit of a mystery. Heck, it wasn't even considered all that crazy to believe the Big Ten would be completely left out of the inaugural College Football Playoff.

How crazy those predictions seem now.

Michigan State overcame a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter to shock Big 12 champion Baylor, while Ohio State took care of both Alabama and Oregon fairly easily en route to the CFP title. All told, the Big Ten was 3-0 in the CFP (meanwhile, the ACC and Big 12 were each 1-1, the Pac-12 was 1-2 and the almighty SEC was 0-3).

So what will the Big Ten do for an encore? What do these results mean for 2015? Who has the best shot of carrying the banner for the conference this time around?

We're glad you asked.

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