Feed aggregator

Is Georgia's 2015 Recruiting Class in Danger of Collapsing?

With less than two weeks remaining until national signing day, Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs sit in a strong position with 26 commitments and the No. 6 class in the country.

However, the biggest chore for Richt and his staff down the stretch may be keeping the prospects they currently have in the fold.

As Michael Carvell of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes, six of the Bulldogs' pledges took visits to other schools over the weekend.

Is the Bulldogs' 2015 class in danger of collapsing? 

That depends on a couple of factors.

How many of their committed prospects are seriously considering heading elsewhere, and can the Dawgs add a few other top targets of their own?

A pair of 3-star prospects, JUCO running back Chris Carson and corner Deandre Baker, took visits to Big 12 schools over the weekend.

Carson visited Oklahoma State, and he told Carvell the trip gave him something to think about before he makes a final decision.

“I’d probably say I’m like 70-percent with UGA,” Carson said. “Maybe 80 percent. I’ve got to think about the playing time I’m going to get at Georgia. I know they have plenty of depth at running back.”

Baker took a trip to Texas, and he admits that the visit made a strong impression on him, according to Ryan Bartow of 247Sports.

"I liked it a lot," Baker told Bartow. "It's pretty close between Texas and Georgia. I'm still a Georgia commit."

Additionally, the Dawgs may have to sweat out the pledges of 4-star receiver Darius Slayton and 5-star athlete Terry Godwin until the very end—with Auburn potentially being the biggest threat with both. 

Slayton visited the Plains last weekend, while Godwin took a trip to Alabama.

According to Rusty Mansell of Dawgs247, Slayton was accompanied by his mom and his sister on his Auburn trip, which could indicate that the 6’1”, 182-pounder is serious in his interest level in the Tigers. Meanwhile, Mansell also reports that the Tigers are making a strong push to flip Godwin.

Godwin told Shane Youngblood of BamaOnline that he has cancelled his fifth official visit to Texas A&M scheduled for this weekend, and that he may take a trip to Athens if he decides to go anywhere at all.

“I will have a final announcement at school on signing day,” Godwin said. “I am going to sit down this week and discuss everything with my family."

Of that group, keeping Slayton and Godwin—who projects as a receiver at UGA—is paramount due to the Dawgs' need at the receiver position.

Even though Richt and his staff will have their eyes on keeping their commits solid, the Bulldogs still have a handful of top prospects they are hoping to add to the class.

The secondary is a primary focus for defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, with 3-star athlete Chris Williamson—who could play safety or corner—and 4-star corner and current Alabama pledge Rico McGraw as options that Georgia is heavily pursuing.

Finally, 4-star outside linebacker Roquan Smith has been another player that has been atop the wish list of Richt and his staff throughout the process.

Even though the potential exists for Georgia's class to take some hits, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which a class including standouts such as 5-star defensive tackle Trent Thompson, 4-star defensive ends Jonathan Ledbetter and Natrez Patrick is considered a disaster. 

If the Dawgs can mitigate the potential losses while closing on prospects like McGraw, Smith and Williamson, their class will remain one of the nation’s premier groups in the 2015 cycle.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Versatile 5-Star Canton Kaumatule Brings Monster Physicality to Oregon Defense

Canton Kaumatule is a 5-star strong-side defensive end, per the 247Sports composite rankings, and an early enrollee at Oregon. The 6'7", 290-pound specimen is the perfect fit for a defense looking to get more physical. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down Kaumatule's game and where he fits in the Ducks defense. 

Can Kaumatule come in and make an immediate impact for the Ducks? Check out the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC Football's 2015 National Signing Day Wish List

National signing day is just a little more than a week away, and USC football is looking to finish the recruiting season with a splash. 

The Trojans' final push to Feb. 4 began Friday with the commitment of 5-star linebacker Osa Masina. 

RT @bangulo: Big pickup for #USC with four-star outside linebacker Osa Masina. First domino has fallen pic.twitter.com/IXPTKci9kj

— TrojanSports.com (@USC_Rivals) January 23, 2015

B/R's Tyler Donohue writes Masina should be a significant playmaker for USC. Furthermore, it's unlikely Masina is the final highly-touted piece head coach Steve Sarkisian is adding to the 2015 recruiting class. 

Finishing up a lofty recruiting wish list with a few more high-profile commitments should make for a national signing day worth celebrating at USC.

Begin Slideshow

USC Football's 2015 National Signing Day Wish List

National signing day is just a little more than a week away, and USC football is looking to finish the recruiting season with a splash. The Trojans' final push to Feb. 4 began Friday with the commitment of 5-star linebacker Osa Masina ...

Begin Slideshow

Buying and Selling 2015 Hype for Bowl-Season Breakout Stars

The prudent college football fan reacts without overreacting to bowl games. For every James Conner at Pittsburgh who carries his postseason momentum into the following year, there is a Trevor Knight Oklahoma who doesn't.

The breakout stars of the 2014-15 postseason are no different, although it's hard to tell so soon which ones are Conners and which are Knights. It's tempting to buy stock in all of them, even though we know that some will flame out. (Thanks a lot, recency bias.)

The following list includes the breakout players of bowl season. It does not necessarily include the best players of bowl season, omitting those whose stats were in line with the norm. Georgia running back Nick Chubb, for example, had his best game of the season with 266 rushing yards against Louisville. But that was the sixth time in eight weeks he rushed for at least 140 yards. Even if he had missed the Belk Bowl, he would be considered a 2015 Heisman Trophy contender.

He did not necessarily "break out."

Once the list was built, a decision was made to buy, sell or hold based on each player's stock. Selling a player doesn't mean we don't like him; it means we don't think he's a good value. If he's regarded as a Heisman contender, that might be an overreaction. If he's regarded as a one-game wonder, that might be an underreaction.

Sound off below and let us know what you think.

Begin Slideshow

The SEC's 4 Most Surprising Recruiting Classes of 2015

Death, taxes and recruiting national championships.

Barring a wild close to the recruiting season, Alabama will finish with the nation's best recruiting class for the fifth straight season. News that head coach Nick Saban is winning inside the living rooms of America's top prospects is akin to national networks breaking into prime-time reality shows to inform viewers that the sun did, indeed, set.

Other SEC programs, however, are a bit more surprising.

With only a week and change left before prospects can sign on the dotted line, which SEC programs are the most surprising?

 

Tennessee Volunteers

It's been a long time since Tennessee was a destination program for blue chip prospects, but head coach Butch Jones—now in his third year as the man on Rocky Top—is doing his best to change that.

Despite a slow building process and the first bowl game since 2010, the Vols rank fourth in the updated 247Sports team recruiting rankings, and that class is a product of both quantity and quality. 

The headliner is Kahlil McKenzie, a 5-star, 6'3", 354-pound monster from Concord, California, who quick off the ball, insanely strong and quick enough to play just about anywhere along the defensive line.

"When I talked to McKenzie, he said he felt like he was good enough to play anywhere on the defensive line, from a 0-technique to a 7-technique," said B/R national college football video analyst Michael Felder. "The kid isn't wrong. Seven might be a stretch, but he certainly is athletic enough to be a 5-technique in a 3-4 but then turn around and play zero or one on the next snap. His speed is going to give centers and guards problems, and his strength will help him no matter where he lines up for the Volunteers."

The class isn't top-heavy, though. 

Preston Williams, a 5-star wide receiver prospect from Hampton, Georgia, will join McKenzie this summer, and 12 4-star players are included in the class, including 4-star early enrollee defensive end Kyle Phillips and defensive tackle Shy Tuttle.

What's more, the Vols have two offensive linemen already enrolled in the class of 2015, and two more coming in this summer. That should add depth to the team's primary question mark this summer, offensive line, which returns four of five starters.

Jones has been building the program "brick by brick" since taking over prior to the 2013 season, and the bricks that he's laying with this recurring class have the program closer to being a skyscraper than a shack.

 

Ole Miss Rebels

Seeing Ole Miss up in the middle or the top of the team recruiting rankings shouldn't be a shock anymore. After all, head coach Hugh Freeze and his staff have proven over the last three recruiting cycles that they consistently win the living room, even when the tradition of winning didn't exist in Oxford.

This class, though, is loaded with prospects, immediate contributors and has plenty of room to grow.

The offensive line was a problem for Ole Miss last year and will get a boost from 4-star offensive guard Javon Patterson and 4-star offensive tackle Drew Richmond. They should help running backs Jordan Wilkins and Akeem Judd solve the Rebels' between-the-tackles woes.

Van Jefferson, a 4-star wide receiver prospect and former Georgia commit, will join Laquon Treadwell, Cody Core, Quincy Adeboyejo and the rest of the talented receiving corps in Oxford. They brought in 3-star dual-threat quarterback Chad Kelly to push for the starting quarterback job along with incumbents DeVante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan. Leo Lewis, a 4-star linebacker from the Magnolia State, will also add some pop to the middle of the stout Rebel defense.

The Rebels are currently ranked 13th in the nation according to 247Sports' team rankings and only have 18 prospects so far. With stud defensive end CeCe Jefferson, wide receiver Demarkus Lodge and several other top-tier prospects still on the board, it could get even better when all is said and done.

How are they doing it? Well, creative cakes are one way, as Lodge pointed out over the weekend.

With a week and change before national signing day, it's already a stellar class and has the chance to make a late push and make waves in the SEC.

 

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Mississippi State earned the No. 1 ranking for the first time in program history in 2014, earned its first Orange Bowl berth since 1941 and won 10 or more games for just the third time ever.

A recruiting boost should be expected, but typically, it's the first full cycle after major success that gets the biggest bump, not the one two months after the fact.

Mississippi State currently ranks 19th in the nation in recruiting according to 247Sports, which may not seem like a big deal. Make no mistake, though—it's a departure from the norm. This is a program that's averaged the 30th-best class in the country over the last five years.

It has six early enrollees who could step in and fill immediate needs, including 4-star slot receiver Donald Gray and 4-star offensive lineman Martinas Rankin. Plus, there are potential stars on defense in safety Jamal Peters and Fletcher Adams coming later in the year.

The goal for head coach Dan Mullen is to keep building the program, and this is the perfect class to help him do it. The real bump will come in the class of 2016, but the class of 2015 keeps momentum going in the right direction in Starkville.

 

Florida Gators

It's not surprising that Florida has been having issues getting players to commit. After all, former head coach Will Muschamp had been on the hot seat for quite some time, and that uncertainty led to several top prospects holding off on their commitments.

What is surprising, though, is that, with a little over a week to go before national signing day, new head coach Jim McElwain hasn't made a ton of headway.

The Gators are currently ranked 81st in the nation, according to 247Sports, well behind Sunshine State "rivals" UCF and South Florida. McElwain has only notched two commitments since taking the job, 3-star tight end early enrollee Daniel Imatorbhebhe and 3-star linebacker Rayshad Jackson.

It could get better, though.

The Gators are squarely in the mix for 5-star offensive tackle Martez Ivey, 5-star defensive end Byron Cowart, 5-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson, 4-star linebacker Jeffery Holland and several other elite prospects.

McElwain better get on it, though. The Gators only have nine prospects, and if the class doesn't fill up, the lasting effects of a small class could have a similar impact as schools that have scholarships taken away due to NCAA probation. 

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

T.D. Moton Commits to Mississippi State 4 Days After Decommitting from Alabama

The wild recruiting journey for T.D. Moton has come full circle, with the 3-star defensive tackle reaffirming a pledge he originally made more than 14 months ago.

Moton took to Twitter on Monday to announce he plans to sign with Mississippi State, the school he first committed to in November 2013 only to later back off that pledge and switch his allegiance to Alabama.

The 6'2.5", 310-pound native of Shreveport, Louisiana, is rated by 247Sports as the No. 469 player in the 2015 recruiting class and the 28th-best defensive tackle. He's ranked 22nd overall in the state of Louisiana. Moton committed to Alabama in June while attending a camp at the school, but on Jan. 22, he changed his mind and reopened his recruitment.

This came six days after making an official visit to Mississippi State and the day before taking a trip to Missouri. He has another visit scheduled this weekend to Miami (Florida), but it's uncertain if he still plans to take that visit.

Moton's stock has been on a rapid decline since he originally committed to the Bulldogs. At the time, he was rated No. 97 overall and had 4-star status. He had remained at four stars until Jan. 19, when 247Sports dropped him to three stars and lowered his overall ranking from 293rd to 469th.

Despite going from MSU's top-rated pledge back in November 2013 to its 11th among 28 commitments or enrollees in the 2015 recruiting class, his value is still there. He is the only defensive tackle in the class, and with Kaleb Eulls graduating, the Bulldogs have an opening to fill on the interior of their defensive line.

Alabama, now with 26 commits (including seven already in school), still has 5-star defensive tackle Daron Payne lined up to sign, while 3-star junior college transfer Jonathan Taylor has been on campus since Jan. 7.

 

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

The Real Inside Story of What It's Like Being a Top College Football Recruit

Former football players Jonathan Vilma and Chris Simms have gone through the recruiting ringer, and both made it to the NFL. 

Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe sits down with Simms and Vilma to discuss what they learned from their college experience and the recruiting process. 

Check out the video and let us know what you think!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Van Jefferson Commits to Ole Miss: Will 4-Star WR Compete Right Away?


Van Jefferson quickly found a new home in the SEC just days after announcing his decommitment from Georgia. 

The 4-star wide receiver announced intentions to attend Ole Miss on Sunday following an unofficial visit to Oxford:

Jefferson, a 6'2", 183-pound playmaker from Ravenwood Academy in Brentwood, Tennessee, previously pledged to Georgia in August. He remained locked into that verbal pact until Jan. 20, when he elected to reopen an expansive recruitment. 

Given the timing of his decommitment—Jefferson had just returned from an official visit at Oklahoma and hosted Bob Stoops for an in-home visit—many experts suspected he was leaning toward the Sooners.

"Sources have indicated that Jefferson's visit to OU over the weekend blew him away," wrote Barton Simmons of 247Sports last week. "Many have seen Jefferson's recruitment as a Ole Miss-Georgia battle but Oklahoma's January push is going to be tough for either program to beat."

Instead, he's staying put in the SEC and adds a new dimension to the Rebels' 2015 recruiting class. It's a move that has been on Jefferson's mind for some time, though he wanted to ensure the support of his family.

“It’s just a home environment,” Jefferson told Simmons. “I always wanted to go down there but my dad had reservations about it. He’s on board with it now. He told me he wants what’s best for me. I picked it so it’s time to get rolling.”

Hugh Freeze secures a dynamic downfield threat who caught 154 passes for 2,481 yards and 27 touchdowns as an upperclassman at Ravenwood Academy. Jefferson rates 11th nationally among wide receivers in 247Sports' composite rankings and 108th overall in the 2015 class. 

He becomes the first Ole Miss receiver commit in this cycle but could soon be joined by fellow 4-star talent Damarkus Lodge. The Texas product piled up 135 receptions for 2,473 yards and 47 scores as an upperclassman en route to consecutive state title game MVP honors.

Lodge decommitted from Texas A&M early during the 2014 season and spent time in Oxford this past weekend with Jefferson. 

"We hit it off real well," Jefferson told Simmons. "I know Damarkus from The Opening so we already had a really good relationship so this weekend, it was pretty fun. ... I’m definitely going to do some recruiting."

Jefferson can expect a tough test while attempting to break into the Rebels' receiving rotation. 

Quincy Adeboyejo, Laquon Treadwell, Cody Core and tight end Evan Engram are each expected to reprise key roles as veterans in the Ole Miss passing attack, while rising sophomore Markell Pack is poised to build off a strong finish to his freshman year.

An opportunity for immediate reps may not present itself in Oxford, but replacements will be needed atop the depth chart in 2016. That's when Jefferson—and perhaps Lodge—will he able to truly make their mark at Ole Miss.

"I’m very confident in myself coming in and playing early. I have no doubt in that. No matter who they have on the roster," he told Simmons. "I'm going to go down there and get to work."

 

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Michigan Football's 2015 National Signing Day Wish List

Jim Harbaugh is on the march, filling his first Michigan recruiting class with players formerly committed to other schools. His first commitment, defensive end Reuben Jones, was headed to Nebraska before Harbaugh convinced him to join Michigan, and offensive lineman Nolan Ulizio had been on the way to Connecticut.

But Harbaugh’s biggest flip of the weekend was prying quarterback Zach Gentry from Texas. Gentry is the first quarterback commitment under Harbaugh and will join fellow recruit Alex Malzone in competing with Shane Morris, Russell Bellomy and Wilton Speight for the starting position.

Harbaugh has a little more than a week to make up ground but is undaunted by the challenge. According to 247sports.com he told commitment Grant Newsome that, “…we’re building an army and that it's going to be a great ride for all of us.”

Here are the players that Harbaugh has left on his wish list.

Begin Slideshow

Can UCLA Land Another Texas Standout in 4-Star WR Carlos Strickland?

Tuesday is scheduled to be the big announcement day for 4-star wide receiver Carlos Strickland. And with UCLA's recent luck with college football recruiting in Texas, Bruins fans are hoping to score big once again.

Strickland, who currently plays for Skyline High School in Dallas, is set to announce his college plans and, per Skyline recruiting coordinator Eric Mims, will choose one of three schools—UCLA, Cal and Texas Tech. Strickland committed to Texas Tech in October but decommitted earlier this month to explore other options.

Traveling west may be that "other option." Strickland isn't married to the idea of playing close to home, as Texas Tech is roughly five hours away from Dallas, but in looking at his leaders, the idea of playing on the West Coast is very intriguing.

"That really isn’t a factor," Mims said of Strickland, regarding proximity. "I think with the national exposure of all of the schools, it won't matter. I know that he always talks about California and how much he likes the West Coast."

UCLA is fresh off landing 4-star slot receiver/special teams returner Ryan Newsome, also from Texas, on Friday. The Bruins are hoping Strickland will be the third Texan in the 2015 class, joining Newsome and 3-star cornerback Will Lockett, who committed in August.

At 6'5" and 200 pounds, Strickland can be that huge target who can cause matchup problems for the smaller defensive backs in the Pac-12. With 5-star quarterback Josh Rosen an early enrollee, the Bruins could be looking at a nice future in the passing game with Rosen, Newsome, Strickland and 4-star receiver L.J. Reed.

Strickland visited UCLA the weekend of Jan. 16 and really enjoyed what Westwood had to offer, per Mims. Strickland visited Texas Tech and Cal back in October, and while UCLA may be the fresh topic, the Red Raiders and Golden Bears are still very much in the hunt.

Texas Tech quickly won Strickland over with the style of offense run by Kliff Kingsbury and Co. The wide receiver was obviously a fan of an offense that can throw the ball as many as 60 times in a game.

Many wonder if Strickland decided to take a step back after stud quarterback Jarrett Stidham decommitted in December to give his pledge to Baylor.

"Early on, he was solid on Texas Tech," Mims said of Strickland. "I'm really not sure what changed for him to decommit. Early when he committed, Texas Tech was the only school he was thinking about. He was solid. He loved the scheme and coaching staff."

The wild card of the three may be Cal. The team finished 5-7 in 2014 but lost four of those games by eight points or fewer. The Golden Bears loved to produce offense, averaging 38.2 points and nearly 500 yards of total offense—with more than two-thirds of that coming via the pass.

Assuming Strickland doesn't postpone the announcement, Tuesday will be an interesting day. Will it be another big recruiting win for UCLA in the Lone Star State?

"Here, lately, he's reverted back to the California lifestyle," Mims said. "He likes being on the West Coast. I don't know if he’s nodding to UCLA or Cal because [he's] been on trips to both. He'll get with his family, and they'll make the best decision for him."

 

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were retrieved firsthand. All star ratings are from 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon on Twitter: @DamonSayles.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Is 4-Star Zach Gentry the Quarterback That Can Bring Michigan Back to Glory?

Jim Harbaugh was a splash hire for Michigan. However, he had failed to land a splash recruit since being named the Wolverines head coach last month.

Consider that part rectified.

It wasn't completely surprising, but Harbaugh managed to flip longtime Texas quarterback commit Zach Gentry over the weekend, according to Chris Balas of TheWolverine.com:

On a related note, Harbaugh also picked up a pledge on Saturday from defensive end and former Nebraska commit Reuben Jones.

Gentry had been verbally committed to the Longhorns for the past seven months and would have been a prize recruit for head coach Charlie Strong. Instead, Gentry becomes that class-defining type of prospect for Harbaugh even though the Wolverines' 2015 group is only nine players strong.

The important part here is that Harbaugh was able to sell the 4-star prospect on the future and his role in it.

So what does that future look like? Certainly, Gentry can be the face of the program, but it may not happen right away and other pieces need to fall into place.

For one, Gentry isn't going to be handed the job even though he's "Harbaugh's guy." Michigan lacks experience at quarterback, but not necessarily raw talent. Junior Shane Morris, senior and longtime backup Russell Bellomy, as well as early-enrollee freshman Alex Malzone should be the primary candidates to compete for the starting job in 2015.

Gentry won't arrive on campus until the summer. As Scout.com national recruiting analyst Greg Biggins told Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com, that decreases Gentry's chances of starting next season:

Every quarterback I've ever seen that's kind of come in as a true freshman and did something was an early grad who had spring ball. I'm brainstorming as I'm talking here trying to think of a guy who didn't enroll. It's just a huge advantage. If you play high school football and Florida, Texas or California, it's a huge adjustment (from high school to college). So, going from New Mexico to the Big Ten -- that's just a huge adjustment.

I think physically he'll be able to compete, but the mental side, learning the offense and seeing the defense, it might be best for him to see a redshirt year and go from there. But we'll see.

That's not a bad thing, however. On the contrary, not having the pressure of transforming Michigan in Year 1 could be good for Gentry. Like Andrew Luck at Stanford in 2008, Gentry can take the first year to learn the offense and develop under Harbaugh and quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch.

Listed at 6'7" and 230 pounds with a big arm, Gentry has the physical maturity to succeed at the next level. Still, the college game is faster and there's more to digest.

With the rise of seven-on-seven camps and competitions like the Elite 11, football is a year-round commitment for high school prospects. That, coupled with early enrollment, helps the transition into college. Still, there's nothing wrong with not wanting to put too much on a freshman too soon.

If the development of the offensive line remains an issue, throwing Gentry to the wolves right away could have long-term repercussions.

Besides, 2015 could be a learning-curve year for the Wolverines. Keep in mind that it took Harbaugh two seasons before he took Stanford to a bowl game. Michigan may not be as bad as Stanford was when Harbaugh took over the program for the 2007 season, but it's not in great shape, either.

Harbaugh's resume indicates he'll get Michigan turned around once he puts his stamp on the program and brings in his players. Gentry is one of the first recruits to have that stamp, assuming he signs his letter of intent with the Wolverines.

It may not happen in 2015, but don't be surprised if Gentry becomes a key part of Michigan's return to the top of college football over the next few years.

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. Unless otherwise noted, recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia Football: Bulldogs' 2015 National Signing Day Wish List

The Georgia Bulldogs are in good shape as national signing day approaches, but there's still plenty of wishful thinking going on in Athens. A sure-fire top-10 class and the signing of Trent Thompson, the nation's top overall prospect (per the 247Sports Composite), would certainly signify a collective recruiting victory for head coach Mark Richt and his staff.  

And yet, there's reason to believe Georgia could accomplish even more.

Here's a look at the Bulldogs' 2015 national signing day wish list.

 

Keep Commitments Firm

There's never a bad time to quote Bon Jovi, and a savvy veteran coach like Richt has to be preaching to his staff that "we've got to hold on to what we've got." Fortunately for Richt, a man of faith, strong relationships with talented recruits should leave him with a little more than a prayer to live on.

In that regard, some of the work is already done. With seven early enrollees, Georgia hauled in four 4-star prospects (according to 247Sports) in Jonathan Ledbetter, Natrez Patrick, Jackson Harris and Michael Barnett. The other three commitments, Chuks Amaechi, Jarvis Wilson and Johnathan Abram could also contend early for playing time on defense.

But Georgia's work is not yet over, and keeping commitments firm will be a challenge until papers are signed.

After all, longtime Georgia commit Van Jefferson decommitted recently and is now headed to Ole Miss, according to Barton Simmons of 247Sports. He may not be alone in his change of heart.  

Georgia's lone running back commit in this class, Chris Carson of Butler Community College, is hearing good things from Oklahoma State. Carson told Rusty Mansell of 247Sports that the Cowboys are selling him on immediate playing time and the idea of getting NFL draft-ready in "one year or two." He added, "There is no doubt it is one of my goals to get to the league."

According to Mansell, Carson says the race is close between Georgia and Oklahoma State. "It may just be the end vibe I get at the end," he offered while explaining his decision-making process.

Georgia's 2015 recruiting class is particularly heavy on defensive players. That emphasis is merited. But that means holding on to offensive players is of utmost importance. Georgia's first wish is to keep offensive talent in the fold.

 

Finish the Drill

The most important drill to finish for Georgia right now is the push for uncommitted in-state talent.  

Roquan Smith, a 4-star outside linebacker, tops this priority list as the nation's 47th-best prospect, according to the 247Sports Composite. Smith plays most naturally as an outside linebacker but could contribute immediately at the inside linebacker position in obvious running situations thanks to his hard-nosed, physical style of play.

His recruitment seems to be down to two schools, Georgia and Michigan, and new Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh is making a strong push. Fending off such a presence as Harbaugh is not easy, but Georgia had a great head start with Smith thanks to a 2013 scholarship offer.

Next on this list is Arden Key, another Top 100 prospect. Key is still entertaining a slew of offers from the likes of Miami and LSU, but South Carolina and Auburn appear to be the leaders. But Georgia is not out of the running.  

A number of recruiting experts, including Shannon Terry (CEO of 247Sports) and Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, project Key to Georgia, according to the Chrystal Ball Predictions tracker on 247Sports.com.

Getting Smith and Key would be an absolute coup for Georgia.

 

Rabbit out of a Hat

On February 2, 2014, Isaiah McKenzie was a relative unknown to Georgia recruiting experts. The next day he received a scholarship offer from the Bulldogs. On February 5, he signed with Georgia.

The unexpected Bulldog was a spark plug on special teams, scoring three times as a true freshman and a highlight reel waiting to happen on offense, averaging more than 11 yards per rush attempt and tallying 145 receiving yards on 13 catches.

Georgia needs another Isaiah McKenzie on national signing day in 2015. No, the Dawgs don't need another return specialist or another versatile offensive threat—at least not necessarily. But the Bulldogs need a commitment to come seemingly out of nowhere and demonstrate the draw the program still has for elite recruits.  

It's hard to predict who this might be, because the pattern established with McKenzie last year was one of frantic hunting and gathering. But if Georgia can make a last-minute push for a 4-star talent, national signing day could be something special for the Bulldogs.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand, all stats courtesy of sports-reference.com and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Lane Kiffin's Return Is a Huge Boost for Alabama QB Jake Coker

That isn't a slight breeze you felt over the weekend when you stepped outside, it was Alabama quarterback Jake Coker.

Coker should be breathing a sigh of relief, after Alabama announced over the weekend that offensive coordinator Lane Kiffinwill return for a second year in Tuscaloosa. Kiffin, now entering his second season with the Crimson Tide, had been mentioned as the front-runner for the same role with the San Francisco 49ers by ESPN.com.

"This time of year, there are lots of things out there regarding other coaching opportunities, but I want to reaffirm my commitment to the University of Alabama, Coach [Nick] Saban, and our team," Saban said in a statement. "I'm excited about what our offensive staff was able to accomplish last year, but I also think there are a lot of things we can do a better job of in terms of putting our players in the best situation to have success."

Coker is one of those players.

The rising senior for the Crimson Tide came to Alabama last summer after graduating from Florida State, and was expected to take over the No. 1 spot on the depth chart. Instead, Blake Sims took control and took Alabama to the SEC title and the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Coker, though, was in the mix to win first-team snaps as late as the third game of the 2014 season. 

Of the quarterbacks vying for the starting job this season—Coker, Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell and Blake Barnett—Coker is the most familiar with what Kiffin wants to do and what he expects from his quarterbacks.

As Matt Hayes of SportingNews.com points out, that's enormous for Coker.

A clean slate is the last thing that Coker needed. Last season's battle that lasted into September gave him a head start on this offseason's battle, and Kiffin's return allows him to take full advantage.

"Our offense was extremely productive last season and we look forward to building on some of the good things we did on that side of the ball with this year's team," Saban said in Alabama's statement.

What's more, many of the receivers working with Coker this offseason will be players he's familiar with.

Alabama's top three wide receivers from last season—Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White and Christion Jones—are all gone, as are running back T.J. Yeldon and three starting offensive linemen. For the most part, Coker will begin his quest to win the starting job at Alabama with a cast of characters he's familiar with.

Cam Sims, ArDarius Stewart, Robert Foster and Chris Black were all able to build a rapport with Coker last season, and that familiarity should allow Coker to hit the ground running this offseason rather than adjusting on the fly, as he did last summer.

There's no denying Coker's arm strength. Here's Coker slinging it 60 yards with ease without warming up too much prior to the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game vs. West Virginia.

The question was whether or not he can play within an offense. Now that the offense won't change, the things Kiffin taught him all offseason will be applicable to the current quarterback battle, and the experience he gained as a junior at the Capstone will benefit him as a senior.

He didn't earn the chance to live up to what, in retrospect, was insurmountable hype in 2014. 

Kiffin's return allows him the chance to do it in 2015.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football's Most Important Offers of the Week

It’s crunch time for top programs across the country hoping to close out the 2015 cycle on a strong note. 

Last February, Steve Sarkisian and the USC Trojans were among the biggest winners on signing day.

With big names such as 5-star corner Iman Marshall and 5-star defensive tackle Rasheem Green still left on the board, Sarkisian is poised to try to repeat that feat in the final days leading up to national signing day.

Another player the Trojans are hoping to land is 3-star defensive tackle Kevin Scott—who picked up an offer from Sarkisian and his staff while on an official visit to USC on Jan. 19.

The 6’5”, 282-pounder from Bishop Mora Salesian High School has been a hot prospect of late, as he’s added recent offers from the likes of Kansas State, Miami, Ole Miss, Purdue and Texas.

According to Ryan Bartow of 247Sports, Scott had scheduled visits to Miami last weekend and Ole Miss this weekend.

Scott has blown up after a senior season that saw him record 32 tackles, including 15 sacks with one interception and one forced fumble.

"I like Miami, Ole Miss, Purdue, San Diego State and Texas," Scott told Bartow shortly before the Trojans offer. "USC is in the picture too but I haven't been talking to them like that."

With the offer from his hometown school in hand, it will be interesting to see if he reverses course and sticks close to home for college.

 

Oregon Offers 2015 JUCO LB, Pac-12 Commit

Oregon is one school hoping to join USC in finishing out the 2015 class on a strong note.

Landing quality players at linebacker appears to be one of Mark Helfrich’s chief goals heading down the stretch.

The Ducks offered 3-star JUCO linebacker Jonah Moi—who is currently committed to Washington State, per Justin Hopkins of 247Sports.

Hopkins notes that the Ducks are trying to get Moi to come on a visit this weekend. Ole Miss, Oregon State and TCU are among the schools hoping to flip the 6’2”, 235-pounder from his pledge to the Cougars.

 

Florida State Offers Rising 2016 WR

One player Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles are hoping to close their 2015 class is 5-star defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr.

However, per Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports, the ‘Noles offered 2016 wideout Karon Randolph—who is Beckner’s teammate at East Saint Louis (Illinois) High School.

The 6’4”, 190-pounder also has an offer from Kansas, but Wiltfong reports that more offers could be on the way for the rising senior.

The offer is another strong signal that FSU’s presence is growing in the metro St. Louis area.

 

LSU After 2016 5-Star CB

When it comes to developing standout corners, not many teams can boast a recent resume as strong as LSU’s.

The Tigers are looking to restock the secondary in 2016, and last week, Les Miles and his staff offered the nation’s top-ranked 2016 corner in 5-star Saivion Smith.

The 6’1”, 175-pounder has more than 20 offers already—with powers such as Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State and UCLA among the schools that have tendered him.

Per Josh Newberg of Noles247, Smith maintains that he doesn’t have any favorites in his recruitment—which means the Tigers have an opportunity to jump in the race for one of the top defensive playmakers in the 2016 class.

 

Best of the Rest

  • 2015 3-star offensive lineman Sam Madden picked up an offer from Florida, per Bartow.
  • Per Bartow, Wisconsin, Clemson and South Carolina all offered 2017 safety Cyrus Fagan.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Most Intriguing Coaching Changes from College Football Coaching Carousel

The 2014-15 coaching carousel is slowing to a crawl. With national signing day just 10 days away, there is only one FBS head-coaching opening, created when Central Michigan coach Dan Enos left to join Bret Bielema’s staff as Arkansas’ new offensive coordinator. When Central Michigan hires a coach, it’ll be the 15th program to change head coaches this offseason.

There are still a handful of staff and coordinator openings, but the pace has slowed to the point where we can evaluate the changes as a whole. Here’s a look at the most intriguing coaching changes (head coach and assistants) from this season’s round of college football coaching changes.

Begin Slideshow

CFB Recruiting 200: Top 21 Running Backs

After thorough study using specific scoring criteria, Bleacher Report recruiting analysts Sanjay Kirpalani and Tyler Donohue have graded the top 200 players in the 247Sports Composite Rankings and provided in-depth analysis. As national signing day draws near, Bleacher Report provides a position-by-position breakdown of the best college football recruits. Today, we present the Top Running Backs. 

Other Positions 

The 2015 recruiting class is stocked with rushers who can wear opponents down with chunks of yardage at a time or rip off game-changing runs. These backs have enjoyed success in various offensive schemes across the country, but they'll arrive on college campuses this year prepared to prove themselves all over again in a new environment. 

We broke down the latest high school game film for each running back rated among the top 200 overall 2015 prospects in 247Sports' composite rankings, looking to see how each playmaker progressed as a senior. These evaluations, along with in-person accounts, led us to grade all 22 athletes on a 100-point scale centered on ball security, power, vision, hands, speed and agility

Here's an in-depth look at the future of offensive backfields at powerhouse programs throughout college football.

*All prospects studied and graded by Bleacher Report national recruiting analyst Tyler Donohue

*Players listed in order of 247Sports' composite rankings.

Begin Slideshow

Tennessee's 2015 National Signing Day Wish List

With national signing day just two weeks away, the Tennessee Volunteers are basically in maintenance mode with their fifth-ranked recruiting class.

The Vols have 28 commitments, and after taking a huge class in 2014, there simply aren't that many spots remaining. That doesn't mean, however, that they're finished in this cycle. 

A couple of positions remain needs, and there are a few prospects left on the recruiting board who would be luxuries for a roster rebuilt and seemingly ready to win.

UT has met most of its needs, but there are still holes, especially at offensive tackle. There are a couple of players left on the board who could fill that role nicely.

Also, the Vols have a couple of longtime commitments worth sweating in the days leading up to signing day. Then there's another target who has been high on the Vols forever but still hasn't pulled the trigger.

The way head coach Butch Jones has recruited the past two years, there hasn't been a ton of late-January and early-February drama. It's much the same this year.

None of the players on this list will break a strong class if they don't commit. But a couple could push a great class to elite if they decide on the Vols.

Let's take a look at six players who are on Tennessee's wish list or who the Vols want to keep on that list leading up to February 4.

Begin Slideshow

Miami Hurricanes' 2015 National Signing Day Wish List

The 2015 recruiting cycle is quickly approaching its most important date, so Al Golden and the Miami Hurricanes coaching staff are hard at work on the trail.

Since national signing day is Feb. 4, the leaders at Miami will be making their final pitches to highly touted recruits, hoping to add some elite prospects who should bolster the 'Canes in future seasons.

Obviously, Miami can't earn a signature from everyone, but "The U" would love to receive a national letter of intent from a handful of key players on its wish list.

Remaining targets are broken down into five categories based on various criteria, including proximity, common school, position, location and current commitment status. The prospects are organized on each slide according to their ranking.

Begin Slideshow

Ohio State's 2015 National Signing Day Wish List

Fresh off their surprising run through the College Football Playoff, Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes have refocused their attention to the recruiting trail in the hopes of finishing strong on national signing day. 

The Buckeyes, who have already secured 24 commitments, are carrying the flag for the Big Ten, as their class currently ranks seventh nationally. With a strong finish, Meyer could sign his fourth top-five class in a row. 

How can the Buckeyes make that jump?

Begin Slideshow

Pages