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Inside Ohio State's No. 1 Recruiting Class: 'We're Ready to Chase Championships'

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer established himself as one of college football's premier closers on the recruiting trail during last decade's successful stretch with the Florida Gators.

Now approaching his fifth season in Columbus, Meyer continues to attract America's top talent. The three-time national champion has secured a top-10 recruiting class each national signing day since he arrived at OSU, with the Buckeyes bringing in four top-five hauls and never finishing lower than No. 7 overall in 247Sports' composite class rankings.

A top-ranked class has eluded Ohio State—and every other college program aside from one–during this impressive span. Alabama, led by Meyer's most notable coaching contemporary in Nick Saban, is riding an unprecedented six-year streak of No. 1 classes.

Still nine months shy of next national signing day, Ohio State is sitting atop national class rankings and in excellent shape to finally steal the Crimson Tide's recruiting crown. No coaching staff has accumulated more blue-chip commitments than the Buckeyes for 2017.

"It's developed to become one of the best classes Ohio State has seen, and we're not done yet," 4-star pledge and Ohio State legacy Brendon White told Bleacher Report. "I want every great athlete to join us because that creates great competition."

Rest assured, further reinforcements are on the way for a group that already boasts a pair of 5-star prospects and 10 4-star athletes, totals unsurpassed on the 2017 recruiting trail. Several standout players across America are taking long looks at a Buckeyes class that includes 10 percent of the nation's top 60 overall high school juniors, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.

"It's been awesome to watch this thing kind of snowball since I committed [in January 2015]," No. 1 offensive tackle recruit Josh Myers said. "These huge commitments keep coming. We have an incredible group of talent at practically every position."

The Buckeyes boast six pledges considered top-three overall prospects at their respective positions, and no commitment falls outside the top 25 in that category. 

As the table above illustrates, this is a regionally diverse collection of athletes. The class is represented by seven states, ranging from the product of a Las Vegas powerhouse (defensive tackle Haskell Garrett) to a linebacker attending high school in enemy territory (Ann Arbor linebacker Antjuan Simmons).

For now, the potential collective impact of these players is simply a projection. Verbal commitments aren't binding for the Buckeyes or the celebrated teenagers, but it's difficult to ignore the promise, even if things won't come to fruition until summer 2017.

"When we get to campus and actually start practicing, people are going to see we're ready to chase championships," White said. "That's when it's time for us to come together, work hard and find out where this journey takes us."

The journey began three years ago for Akron quarterback Danny Clark, who kicked off Ohio State's rewarding 2017 recruiting cycle when he committed midway through his freshman year. The Archbishop Hoban High School star has spent his prep career targeting elite peers to join him in Columbus.

"If you're playing a backyard football game, you're going to get the best players in your neighborhood," he said. "You don't want to go into a game with scrubs. We find kids with serious talent, and we go after them. That's all there is to it."

It's a sentiment that's far easier said than done for most college coaches. This is where Meyer, a legend in the eyes of young playmakers who grew up watching him hoist championship trophies with two storied programs, makes all the difference.

"He's as big as it gets," Myers said. "Coach Meyer is literally a king in his castle. He's straight-up famous but acts normal and treats people like he truly cares, which creates a feeling of comfort on campus."

The future Hall of Famer carries a 50-4 record through four seasons at Ohio State, has helped multiple assistants land head coaching jobs and, most importantly in the eyes of recruits, can point to his exemplary track record of producing NFL talent.

The Buckeyes commanded a major spotlight last month in Chicago, as 12 Ohio State players were selected in the 2016 NFL draft. That total featured five first-round picks and a single-school record 10 athletes off the board before Round 4. 

"If you're a high school player who wants to reach the NFL—and 99.99 percent of recruits do—there's no better place than Ohio State," Clark said. "Coach Meyer and his staff do a great job getting guys prepared for football and life after college."

The draft's developments demanded attention from top-tier Buckeyes targets, including 5-star wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones:

Peoples-Jones, a Detroit talent considered the country's No. 1 overall pass-catcher, includes Ohio State on his list of contenders. He has plenty of company in that regard.

The most compelling potential additions to this class could come in the form of a package deal.

Quarterback Tate Martell and receiver Tyjon Lindsey are 5-star prospects who consider themselves brothers. They visited Columbus together in March.

Following Martell's recent decommitment from Texas A&M, speculation has mounted that Ohio State may emerge as the university to beat moving forward. Both are now projected to sign with the Buckeyes based on experts' projections in 247Sports' Crystal Ball predictions, though other contenders will challenge along the way.

"It's no joke if we add those two guys," Myers said. "Bringing in two seriously good players like them would take a strong class to an even greater level. It's definitely something I'm monitoring."

Meyer already enjoys significant momentum on the 2017 recruiting trail. Imagine if he's able to land the nation's No. 1 dual-threat quarterback and a top-five receiver in one fell swoop.

"If they decide Ohio State is the perfect spot for them, what's stopping anyone else?" asked White.

Even Clark, a quarterback whose path to playing time would become more challenging with Martell on board, understands the importance of establishing elite depth across the roster.

"Coach Meyer is a smart guy," he said. "Every big-time program needs to have at least four legit quarterbacks at one time. Just like Ohio State showed in 2014, that depth is so important. The star Heisman candidate (Braxton Miller) gets hurt in the offseason, then J.T. Barrett dominates the Big Ten and sets records before breaking his ankle in the Michigan game, then the third-stringer (Cardale Jones) rises up and wins a national championship."

Ultimately, this is why coaching staffs invest countless hours into each recruiting cycle. Injuries happen, some players underachieve and others depart early for a professional payday.

"As guys leave the program, younger players have to step up big-time and take care of business," Myers said. "That's how you maintain success, and we've seen that happen every year in Columbus."

Despite losing a dozen NFL draft picks from its 2015 squad, Ohio State is still primed to enter this fall with a Top 10 ranking. As the Buckeyes continue to string together exemplary signing days, this program's mantra has never been more clear.

Don't rebuild; reload.

"We'll be ready when it's our turn," Myers said.

 

Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings.

Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake. 

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SEC Football Q&A: What 1-for-1 Trade Would Benefit Both Teams?

It's the offseason, which means it's time to get a little weird. 

What if trades were allowed in college football?

We're not talking about the pseudo-trade that landed former Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight at Texas A&M and former Aggie signal-caller Kyler Murray with the Sooners. We're talking about real, actual trades that could benefit both teams.

Which players could trade uniforms and make teams better within the SEC? That question and more are answered in this edition of SEC football Q&A.

 

This could be a lot of fun, because I'm sure that Arkansas would love to have Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara on the roster, and Tennessee wouldn't mind nabbing Dan Skipper to further solidify its offensive line.

But this is a hypothetical, so we have to think big with some quarterbacks.

Let's trade LSU starting quarterback Brandon Harris to Auburn for Tigers part-time starter Sean White. Of course, since Harris is a bit more experienced, Auburn might have to offer some cash considerations.

This trade would be huge for both teams.

Harris, formerly the third-best dual-threat quarterback in the country as a high school senior in the Class of 2014, is a fish out of water in the ultra-conservative offensive philosophy that LSU head coach Les Miles employs and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron runs. His mobility has been hidden to the point that, when he's asked to run the zone read or other more exotic plays at LSU, it's clear that he's uncomfortable with it, because it's not something that's a priority at LSU.

At Auburn, it would be.

Head coach Gus Malzahn has been most successful with a mobile quarterback, including the year he won the national title as the Tigers' offensive coordinator in 2010 with Cam Newton and when he won the SEC title and nearly another national title as its head coach with Nick Marshall taking the snaps in 2013. Put Harris in that offense, and Auburn would be right back in the thick of it.

At LSU, White would be a star. 

The 2013 Elite 11 MVP in 2013 and Under Armour All-American Game MVP in 2014 while in high school has tremendous arm strength, was more accurate than Harris last year (58 percent to 53.6 percent, respectively) despite being thrust into action on the fly due to Jeremy Johnson's struggles, and he could be even better with a true pro-style attack like LSU's.

He can make the timing throws over the middle on short drops, can stretch the field deep and push the ball consistently sideline to sideline, which would take pressure off running back Leonard Fournette and make LSU a legitimate national title contender, because he actually fits the philosophy in Baton Rouge.

 

Last year was last year, and the last 11 years were the last 11 years. They have nothing to do with this year, and this is one offseason talking point that absolutely drives me crazy. 

With that said, though, you're right about Florida's quarterback and kicking game helping vault the Gators back into the discussion.

Luke Del Rio looked like he can manage a game very well in the Orange and Blue Debut, when he completed 10 of his 11 passes and tossed two touchdowns. Additionally, the kicking game—a massive sore spot for Florida last year to the point that the Gators held open kicker tryouts midseason—seems to be in good hands thanks to YouTube legend Eddy Pineiro. 

But that doesn't change the fact that Tennessee is loaded with depth everywhere outside of wide receiver, generated more with a stellar recruiting class that includes junior college transfer and potential red-zone receiver threat Jeff George and gets to play the Gators in Knoxville.

Tennessee was one 4th-and-long away from beating Florida and winning the SEC East last year and should be even better. Florida has solved some pressing issues but is still working to fix the offensive line and needs Mark Thompson, Jordan Scarlett or Jordan Cronkrite to solidify the running game.

Florida's spring success does make me think that the game between the Gators and Vols will be the de facto SEC East title game, rather than Georgia vs. Tennessee deciding the division.

 

Barring injury, no, Auburn won't use a two-quarterback system in 2016 (except, of course, a Wildcat quarterback who's used in specific packages).

There will be one player who takes the snaps, and Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee will build the offense around him.

If it's junior college transfer dual-threat John Franklin, it'll be more of a multidimensional rushing attack based similar to the one Marshall ran with the Tigers. Franklin's arm isn't what White's or Johnson's is from an accuracy standpoint. But he does have raw arm strength, which is something the staff successfully harnessed with Marshall by figuring out the few things that he does well and rolling with them all the way to Pasadena.

If it's White or Johnson, the staff will want to breed confidence in their guy and will only replace him if things go south again. The players need to know and work on a scheme, and White and Johnson would bring more of a traditional attack that still spreads defenses out and utilizes tempo.

With a pro-style attack, Franklin could certainly be used as that Wildcat quarterback who comes in during red-zone and short-yardage situations to run the zone read. But that would likely be the extent of it.

A true two-quarterback system would be one that gives dedicated series to different quarterbacks, and I don't see Malzahn doing that in such a critical year for his career. 

 

Without a doubt, if any (or all) of those jobs become open, Houston head coach Tom Herman will be the first call for all of them.

Herman led the Cougars to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and knocked off Florida State last year—a year in which he finished 13-1 (with an inexplicable loss to UConn) and not only made a New Year's Six Bowl but knocked on the door of the College Football Playoff.

This was one year after Herman helped lead Ohio State to the national title in the face of massive quarterback issues that ultimately led to former third-stringer Cardale Jones leading the Buckeyes to the Big Ten, Sugar Bowl and national titles. 

He's the next big thing in major college football if and when he decides to move on from Houston, and he will likely wait until the perfect situation pops up before making a move. 

LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M would all satisfy that requirement, not only because of their ability to recruit at an elite level, but because offensive questions plagued all three last year.

Herman could provide that spark.

The thought of Herman at any of the SEC West schools with coaches on the hot seat would and should terrify those still in the conference. 

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Why Florida Head Coach Jim McElwain Is Every Quarterback's Best Friend

Spend five minutes with Florida head coach Jim McElwain, and you'll see why he's so likable.  

Whether it's asking reporters how their golf games are progressing or discussing his latest concoction on the Big Green Egg (it was a pizza), the second-year head coach of the Gators has an ability to relate to other people that's unmatched in college football.

It's a big reason why he has been successful as a coordinator and a head coach.

"I've been pretty fortunate to have some good guys, and guys who understand the importance of the position and what it takes to be successful at it," McElwain said earlier this month.

He arrived from Fresno State as Alabama's offensive coordinator in 2008 and helped the Crimson Tide turn from SEC West also-ran to division champ. Alabama was within one quarter of winning the SEC Championship Game and earning a spot in the BCS Championship Game against Oklahoma.

John Parker Wilson, the quarterback of that Crimson Tide team, threw 10 touchdowns, averaged seven yards per attempt and became the game manager they needed behind a stout running game and ultratalented defense.

"When [McElwain] got there, his personality was like, 'Hey guys, I got this,'" Wilson told Bleacher Report. "The offensive coordinator and quarterback coach in college is installing everything, so he's got to win the offense. He did with me really quickly, and it didn't take much longer for the rest of the group."

It is McElwain's ability to figure out the personality of the individuals on his team that has allowed him to find early success anywhere he goes.

"He does it very genuinely," Wilson said. "He doesn't change himself based on if he's talking to the media or a running back or receiver. He is who he is. He really gets people, what drives them and what motivates them."

Greg McElroy followed in Wilson's footsteps under McElwain at Alabama from 2009-2010. McElroy saw the same affable attributes play a big part in him leading the Crimson Tide to the 2009 national title in his first year as the starting quarterback.

"Every coach has a different style," McElroy told Bleacher Report. "'Mac' has a very sarcastic personality...kind of dry. I think he majored in sarcasm at Eastern Washington. We were really similar and hit it off immediately, and [he] is one of my favorite people in the business."

As the head coach at Colorado State from 2012-2014, it was more of the same for McElwain.

Garrett Grayson threw 62 touchdowns in three seasons as the quarterback of the Rams in McElwain's three seasons in Fort Collins. McElwain helped Grayson achieve his dreams by getting drafted in the third round of the NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints in 2015.

"He's serious, but he makes sure you enjoy football," Grayson said at the 2015 Reese's Senior Bowl, according to Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union. "Before he got to CSU, we were missing that. He changed the atmosphere, made it more of a family culture."

The same thing happened at Florida last year. Quarterback had been a position of instability ever since Tim Tebow left after the 2009 season, but behind McElwain and redshirt freshman Will Grier, Florida jumped out to a 6-0 record before instability struck again thanks to Grier's yearlong suspension.

Fast-forward to this year, and stability is back, thanks to Mac.

The Gators entered spring practice with two journeymen vying for the top spot on the depth chart—Purdue graduate transfer Austin Appleby and former Alabama and Oregon State quarterback Luke Del Rio, who sat out last season after transferring from the Beavers.

Midway through spring practice, things didn't look great.

Appleby was still getting his feet wet, and Del Rio—the son of Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio—had already been tabbed as the front-runner in the battle, but he had hit a wall. Appleby and true freshmen Kyle Trask and Feleipe Franks were gaining ground.

Del Rio busted through that wall in the spring game. He completed 10 of his 11 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns, solidifying himself as the presumptive starter in Gainesville.

"I was pressing a little bit and not letting the offense work for me," Del Rio said after Florida's spring game. "They do a great job of installing plays and putting guys open for us. I just let the offensive line do what they do and let the wide receivers do what they do, and I just went through the progressions. It's easier that way. The coaches are right. Just run the offense. It works."

The ability to relate to his passers breeds confidence in the offense, thanks to the trust that's generated through McElwain's ability to relate to the most important player on the field.

"He just explains the system in a very fundamental way," McElroy said. "It's not that the system is any easier or more difficult than others that I've been in, but he gives you the answers, knows how to prepare and knows how to talk to you based on how you approach the game. So when you're discussing it, he talks to you in very matter-of-fact way so you know exactly what he needs from you. As a player, there's very little gray area."

The absence of gray area has McElwain back on the right track again following the detour Grier's suspension forced him to take midway through the 2015 season.

As a result, Florida's in good hands at quarterback despite those hands belonging to Del Rio—a journeyman who got his start by walking on at Alabama. In true McElwain fashion, his response to a question about his quarterback's success shows off that "sarcasm degree" better than if it were framed in his office.

"Maybe they're all as screwed up as I am."

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football's Most Important Offers of the Week

The Red River rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma is a constant battle that carries over regularly to the recruiting trail.

The Sooners are active in recruiting the top talent in the Longhorns’ backyard—with five of their 12 pledges in 2017 hailing from the Lone Star State.

Included among that group is 4-star receiver Jalen Reagor—who received an offer from Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong and his staff last week.

The 5’11”, 182-pounder backed off an early pledge to Texas Tech and committed to the Sooners in late March.

According to EJ Holland of Horns247, the offer from the Longhorns is likely a welcomed development in his recruitment since he’s “fond” of the program. 

There’s a reason why Texas wants to try to keep Reagor from escaping the state’s borders to one of its most heated rivals.

As a junior at Waxahachie High School (Texas), Reagor hauled in 64 passes for 1,108 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Reagor, who rates as the nation’s No. 30 receiver and the No. 227 player overall, is exactly the type of playmaker the ‘Horns offense is in desperate need of.

However, it won’t be easy to pull him away from the Sooners.

If Strong and his staff can get Reagor on campus in the coming months, his recruitment could be worth monitoring in the future.

 

Penn State offers Ohio State commit

With Ohio State currently holding the nation’s top-rated class, other programs in the Big Ten are eagerly playing a game of catch-up.

Last week, fellow league power Penn State offered 4-star running back and current Buckeyes pledge J.K. Dobbins.

The 5’9 ½”, 199-pounder—who rates as the nation’s No. 3 all-purpose back and the No. 47 player overall in the 2017 class—has been committed to the Buckeyes since March.

According to Bill Kurelic of Bucknuts, a handful of other schools are still pursuing Dobbins even though he maintains he’s fully committed to the Buckeyes.

Penn State hopes to join his list of suitors hoping to secure a visit from him in the near future.

 

Alabama after TAMU pledge 

Texas A&M had a forgetful week on the recruiting trail, and it’s clear Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff will have some work to do to bring another stellar class to College Station.

Last week, Alabama offered 4-star offensive lineman and current Aggies commitment Grayson Reed

The 6’5”, 304-pounder, who pledged to the Aggies last month, is currently the top-rated prospect in the Aggies' 2017 class

However, with their recent history of landing blue-chippers out of Texas and tradition of developing standout offensive linemen, Alabama is a school that could make things interesting with Reed if they turn up the heat on him.

 

Palmetto State rivals offer 2018 Georgia QB

With the 2017 quarterback class rapidly filling up, programs around the nation are busy scouting the top arms in the 2018 class.

Last week, Clemson and South Carolina offered Heard County High School (Georgia) standout Emory Jones

The 6’1 ½”, 193-pounder is rated as the nation’s No. 2 dual-threat passer and No. 41 player overall in the 2018 cycle by 247Sports.

Florida, Georgia, Miami and Tennessee are among the programs who are already in the mix with Jones. 

However, both the Tigers and the Gamecocks figure to heavily pursue a player who projects as one of the elite quarterback prospects in his class.

 

Best of the rest 

2017

 

2018

 

2019

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

How New Jersey Became Jim Harbaugh's Most Important Pipeline State

At 6:13 PM ET on Monday night, Rutgers sent out a press release announcing the "Rutgers Football Tri-state Showcase," a June 8 camp at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey, which will feature coaching staffs from the Scarlet Knights, Ohio State and Temple.

Initially, the Buckeyes' presence at the de facto satellite camp was curious. If Urban Meyer wanted to set up shop in the Garden State, why would he do so at a camp bearing the name of a divisional opponent, in that school's own backyard?

But after taking a look at the rest of college football's satellite camp slate for this summer, the reuniting of Meyer and former Ohio State defensive coordinator and new Rutgers head coach Chris Ash made more sense.

As fate would have it, June 8 also happens to be the day Michigan will be hosting its previously planned satellite camp at New Jersey's Paramus Catholic High School, less than six miles away from Fairleigh Dickinson.

What a coincidence.

The Wolverines' scheduled summer trip to New Jersey had already been a hot topic of conversation prior to Monday. NJ.com columnist Steve Politi declared it "an act of war on Rutgers," while Paramus Catholic president Jim Vail told the website he invited the home state school to participate in the camp alongside Michigan and that Ash declined.

But for anyone who's paid attention to Jim Harbaugh's recruiting since he arrived in Ann Arbor in 2015, his upcoming trip to the Tri-state Area should hardly come as a surprise. While they've taken a national approach on the recruiting trail, the Wolverines have keyed in on New Jersey in the past year, something that can also be said for fellow Big Ten foes Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State and of course, Rutgers.

But nobody in the conference—or the country for that matter—had more success in the Garden State in 2016 than Harbaugh, who landed six players from New Jersey as part of Michigan's No. 5 nationally ranked class in February.

"It's always been a good tradition of great football players coming out of that state, the Garden State," Harbaugh said on signing day. "We're looking for nuggets of gold anywhere. There's good, there's better, there's best."

This past year, New Jersey was home to the best—literally—with Paramus Catholic laying claim to the nation's top-ranked player in 5-star defensive tackle Rashan Gary, who committed and signed with the Wolverines on national signing day. Even prior to that, New Jersey had already made a big contribution to Harbaugh's first full recruiting cycle at his alma mater, as he received letters of intent from four 4-star Jersey prospects—running back Kareem Walker, athlete Ahmir Mitchell, wide receiver Brad Hawkins and defensive end Ron Johnson—and one 3-star prospect—defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour.

Altogether, Michigan signed four of New Jersey's top 10 players for 2016.

"I definitely see that as a key factor, seeing all the New Jersey guys coming in and seeing the love that we get in Ann Arbor being from New Jersey," said Mitchell, the state's fifth-ranked player, who committed to the Wolverines over Rutgers. "That definitely solidifies the security blanket for us."

Targeting a talent-rich area like New Jersey isn't exactly a ground-breaking approach.

Even before Harbaugh was hired, Michigan had already found success with Jabrill Peppers, who was the highest ranked player to come out of New Jersey since 2000, according to 24/7 Sports, until Gary took that title this spring. At Ohio State, Meyer has also found steady success in the Garden State, landing a New Jersey native in each of his past four recruiting classes—including the state's fourth-ranked player in 2016, 4-star athlete Jordan Fuller—and Penn State has long considered the Tri-state Area one of its primary pipelines, as has Notre Dame and Miami (Fla.).

"I love New Jersey. I recruited there for many, many years," Meyer said last fall. "It's very much like Ohio. I think the respect I have for the high school coaches, the seriousness they take, not just in coaching football, but you get those really good New Jersey high schools, I think it's a lot like here."

How would Meyer rate his success in the state that gave him Will Hill at Florida in 2008 and Eli Apple while with the Buckeyes in 2013?

"We've done OK, probably not good enough," he said. "We can always do better."

Doing so, however, is only going to be tougher moving forward, with his arch-rival's recruiting footprint now firmly implanted throughout the state. Perhaps that's why Meyer is so willing to aid Ash's effort this summer, as any slowdown of the Michigan momentum in the state can be considered a victory for the rest of the Big Ten—and is also something Rutgers wouldn't be capable of accomplishing on its own.

Except one opposing satellite camp—no matter the star power present—still pales in comparison to the effort Harbaugh has put forth in New Jersey over the last 16 months. The second-year Wolverines head coach hasn't merely recruited New Jersey, he's entrenched himself in it, as evidenced by Michigan hiring former Paramus Catholic head coach Chris Partridge last offseason.

Partridge has since been promoted from director of player personnel in recruiting to linebackers coach for the Wolverines and earlier this year Scout.com named Partridge its 2016 National Recruiter of the Year.

A day after his satellite camp, Harbaugh will give the commencement speech at Paramus Catholic's graduation.

"I was asked to do it," Harbaugh said of his upcoming speech. "My default is usually, 'Yes,' when asked to do things."

Of course, there's the obvious benefit of further increasing his already strong presence in New Jersey, specifically at a school that happens to possess 2017 4-star linebacker Drew Singleton and 3-star defensive tackle Corey Bolds, as well as 2018 quarterback Allan Walters, each of whom the 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions peg to land in Ann Arbor.

And with all three Paramus products also possessing offers from Rutgers, it's no surprise Ash has taken notice of Harbaugh's summer plans.

"Do I necessarily like it? No, I don't. I don't want another coach from another program to be able to to come to our state and be able to basically present their logo and their team and their program in our state," Ash said, per Keith Sargeant of NJ.com. "But the rules are rules. It's legal. I can't complain about it. I gotta go out and do it myself if I get the opportunity.''

With that opportunity yet to come, Ash finds himself enlisting the help of his former boss for a mutually beneficial cause.

But at this point, both are playing catch-up to Harbaugh, who continues to plant more seeds than anyone in the Garden State.

 

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. Recruit rankings and info courtesy of 247Sports.

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Kevin Sumlin Releases Statement on Texas A&M WR Coach Aaron Moorehead

Texas A&M Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin announced Monday (via Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee) he disciplined wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead for a series of critical tweets he made last week shortly after high school quarterback Tate Martelldecommitted from the school:

Last week, one of our assistant coaches, [Moorehead], abused the privilege of social media and the result reflected poorly on Aaron, on our football program and on Texas A&M. He has apologized publicly and privately for his actions and I am confident that he understands the expectations moving forward. However, there are consequences for actions and Aaron has been disciplined and the details will remain private. We will use this as a learning tool for all of our coaches, staff and student-athletes, and we are now moving forward as a program.

The Dallas Morning News' Tim Cowlishaw argued the tweets were out of line but didn't meet the standard needed to put Moorehead's job in jeopardy:

Moorehead has since deleted the tweets in question, but EJ Holland of the Dallas Morning News captured the details of the rant before they were erased. Moorehead talked about what he felt was a lack of loyalty from "this next group of kids."

He subsequently apologized on Twitter:

Last night, I made some impromptu comments on social media out of frustration and out of a true love for Texas A&M Football. I want to apologize to all of the young men in high school who work so hard to achieve their dreams of playing college football & I wish them all well wherever they end up. I also want to apologize to Coach Sumlin and the Aggie Family for not representing our university the right way. I need to do better and I will.

One could understand the general frustration of the Aggies' staff for having lost Martell, who is the No. 1 dual-threat QB in the 2017 recruiting class, per 247Sports' composite rankings. Moorehead stepped over the line, though, and his tweets appeared to have had a somewhat significant impact on the team's recruiting.

Wide receiver Mannie Netherlyannounced he planned to decommit from Texas A&M, and wideout Tyjon Lindsey said he'd no longer consider the Aggies a potential option going forward, per ESPN.com's Sam Khan Jr.

As a result, A&M is lagging behind its rivals on the recruiting trail, with its 2017 class ranking 11th in the SEC and 43rd nationally, per 247Sports' composite rankings.

The timing of the Moorehead's misstep couldn't have been much worse for Sumlin either. He's already on the hot seat, having led the Aggies to back-to-back eight-win seasons. His top two quarterbacks from last year, Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray, bothtransferred in the offseason as well.

Trevor Knight's arrival gives Texas A&M a starting quarterback for 2016, but Martell's decommitment leaves the team without any sort of long-term plan at the position.

Moorehead's comments will be quickly forgotten if Texas A&M gets off to a hot start next year. Should the Aggies struggle out of the gate—a distinct possibility given they face off with UCLA, Auburn, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama in the first half of the season—Sumlin's critics will have more ammunition behind them should they call for his ouster.

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Predicting Preseason AP Top 25 Poll for 2016 College Football Season

The Associated Press has been conducting a weekly college football poll since the 1930s, tapping into the opinions of sportswriters across the country to assess who are the best teams in the game. This poll used to determine who would play for the national title each year, though the creation of the BCS, as well as the current playoff system, has rendered it mostly obsolete.

Mostly.

The AP Top 25 remains incredibly relevant in college football as a conversation piece, something to spark debate, and nowhere is this more prevalent than with its annual preseason poll. A few weeks before the 2016 season begins, the AP will release its initial rankings, which will essentially be a mass of educated guesses.

Each of the 61 voters will submit their preseason top 25 based on a combination of what happened in 2015 and what they expect will occur this season. There's no set criteria they use, though sportswriter Phil Steele has noticed some commonalities that seem to go into making these choices:

  • The number of returning starters, particularly on offense. AP voters tend to place more value in returning offensive talent than losses on defense.
  • End-of-season performance, most notably in bowl games. Teams coming off big wins in bowls—not just the high-profile games—often gain a boost in the preseason rankings.
  • Being ranked to end the previous season. Though there's some parity in college football, the best of the best seem to remain as such each year.

Using these observations as a guide, we've made our own prediction as to how the preseason AP Top 25 will look. These are not Bleacher Report's own rankings—the latest of which were published on April 26 and will be updated again during the preseason—but rather our guess at how the AP voters will rank them. Last year, we correctly picked 23 of 25 teams, eight in their exact spots, including each of the top five schools.

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Alabama Football: Predicting the Crimson Tide's 2016 Win-Loss Record

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It was nothing short of an aberration.

The University of Alabama football team had stumbled in the month of September and was heading to Georgia with some serious questions, beginning at the quarterback position.

Jake Coker had finally won the starting job, but his hold on it appeared to be tenuous. How would he hold up against Southern Conference competition and playing in opposing venues? The defense had a lot of potential, only the young secondary was still experiencing growing pains and hurting from the 43-37 loss to Ole Miss.

Similar to 2008, Alabama visited Sanford Stadium with the Bulldogs enjoying a lot of momentum and the advantage of being at home. The previous meeting between the teams had gone down to the wire, 32-28 in the 2012 SEC Championship Game, and many smelled the potential for a loss.

There hadn’t been many since the last trip to Athens, 12 to be exact, and even head coach Nick Saban acknowledged it was a pivotal point of the season.

"It's kind of time to really start thinking about what you want, what you want to accomplish, what you want to do, how you want to play and get zeroed in psychologically on what we've got to do,” Saban said at the time. “I think you have to have the right mindset when you play on the road. It's difficult circumstances.”

Make that different circumstances but the same result. Similar to that 2008 game, a 41-30 victory against the No. 3 Bulldogs that was sort of a coming-out celebration of Saban with the Crimson Tide, Alabama crushed No. 8 Georgia in impressive fashion, 38-10.

While 2015 was a deja-vu season for numerous reasons, the Georgia win stood out in part because it marked the first time since the 2009 SEC Championship Game that Alabama was considered an underdog.

Odds Shark had the game listed as a pick’em during the days leading up to kickoff, but it ended up with the Bulldogs as a one-point favorite.

That snapped the streak of 72 games in which the point spread had been listed in Alabama’s favor, a span of 2,128 days. To put that into perspective, when the string began, the movie Avatar was breaking Titanic’s records at the box office, and the Marvel movie universe was just gaining momentum, square between the release of Iron Man and Iron Man 2.

Of course, Alabama subsequently started another streak, as it was favored against each opponent after the Georgia win, and by a touchdown or more against everyone except Texas A&M (five points) and Clemson (6.5).

The trend will continue in 2016, because even though Southern California is on the short list of teams with talent comparable to Alabama’s, the reigning champions will clearly be the team to beat when they meet opening weekend at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (September 3).

Coming off an 8-6 season (1-5 against ranked opponents), the Trojans have a new head coach, Clay Helton, new quarterback Cody Kessler has moved on and the entire starting defensive line has to be replaced.

Plus, one has to think that Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is especially looking forward to facing the school that fired him as a head coach.

History alone dictates that an upset wouldn’t be out of the question, just pretty unlikely, as Alabama has yet to lose one of these high-profile neutral-site openers under Saban. Moreover, not having a set quarterback coming out of training camp hasn’t been nearly as big a problem for the Crimson Tide as it would be with most teams.

Regardless, expect talent-rich Alabama to be assigned big point spreads against most of its 2016 opponents including Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Auburn (which won’t change unless Gus Malzahn finds lightning in a bottle with a quarterback).

It’ll likely be favored against Ole Miss as well, even though the Rebels have won the last two meetings and will be home for this year’s game. Except for quarterback Chad Kelly, nearly every offensive starter has to be replaced, and the revamped line will be tested by Florida State in its season opener in Orlando on Sept. 5.

That leaves the tough three-game span from October 15 to November 5—at Tennessee, Texas A&M and at LSU—a stretch that would cause nearly any team to stumble and will more than test this team’s mettle.

Fans can hope that this Crimson Tide team can run the table, and it certainly has the talent to do so if everyone stays healthy, but it’s simply not a realistic expectation considering the conference, division and schedule.

Even with his five national championships, Saban has had only one team finish undefeated (2009), and it was led by a proven running back who won the Heisman Trophy. In contrast, this team doesn’t have any proven players in the backfield.

“I think it's very difficult in this day and age,” Saban said about finishing undefeated, and that was before the playoffs were created. 

Odds Shark's early odds have Alabama and Ohio State as the favorites to win the 2016 national title, just ahead of Clemson and Michigan State, but even then you’re still probably talking about an 11-1 record during the regular season—and that’s assuming that a whole lot of things go right for this team.

But few would bet against it.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Michigan Football: Predicting the Wolverines' 2016 Win-Loss Record

The 2016 Michigan squad has College Football Playoff aspirations, but the Wolverines must capitalize on a home-heavy early schedule before hitting the road down the stretch.

Returning starters all over the roster highlight Jim Harbaugh's second year at his alma mater, so the Maize and Blue should enjoy a fast start to the season.

While that experience and a soft schedule will allow new contributors to steadily become comfortable, Michigan must be ready for a tough slate beginning on Oct. 29. The Big Ten's top three finishers from 2015 await the Wolverines.

And the level of success—or lack thereof—in those contests will determine whether Michigan reaches the Big Ten Championship Game and potentially the CFP.

Note: Some predictions may change at a later date, especially when we have a better idea of what to expect from programs like Michigan State and Ohio State. But most results won't change.

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10 College Football QBs with Most to Prove in 2016 Season

College football quarterbacks typically garner the most national attention at any given program, and with that recognition comes high expectations.

However, even at schools such as LSU where a different player dominates the headlines, the man under center often provides the difference between a successful season and a disappointing one.

Each of the following gunslingers fits at least one of these categories: He lost his No. 1 target (or multiple key contributors), leads a nationally hyped 2016 squad, underperformed last year or must assemble a productive season to bolster his draft prospects.

The order is loosely based on national championship contenders, starting with a Group of Five player and working toward a quarterback at a powerhouse program.

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5 Top-Performing Quarterback Recruits from 2016 Columbus Elite 11 Regional

After weeks of working its way up the East Coast, Elite 11 action began to shift west Saturday with a showcase in Columbus, Ohio. With just three regional events remaining—Chicago, Oakland and Seattle—opportunities are dwindling for quarterbacks to claim a spot in national finals. 

Minutes away from an Ohio State campus that's produced several star Buckeye passers, high school standouts battled for recognition in front of Elite 11 coaches. Instructor Matt James joined Bleacher Report to break down top performers from Columbus, where B/R was also in attendance during the action.

On a day that saw unrated athlete Drew Keszei set an Elite 11 record for highest SPARQ rating score (124.86) based on combine-like testing, Penn State pledge Sean Clifford established himself atop the pack in passing drills. Here's a glimpse at five quarterbacks who particularly stood out to Columbus camp leaders and took part in "pressure chamber" sessions that concluded Saturday's competition.

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B/R Recruiting Notebook: 5-Star OT Discusses Top 5; 4-Star DE SEC-Bound

As we venture into May, recruiting for the 2017 class is starting to pick up. More and more players are beginning to narrow their top lists and plan their official visits for the fall.

And let's not forget those athletes who've already committed.

Look for May to continue being a trending topic in regard to recruiting, particularly with athletes finishing up spring football at their respective high schools. Here's a look at where a few of the nation's top athletes currently stand recruiting-wise.

 

5-star OT weighing options for top schools

Isaiah Wilson still remembers his first offer. Boston College made him a very happy freshman.

As the Brookyln, New York, 5-star offensive tackle wraps up his junior year, he's now faced with a decision to choose out of his top five consisting of Michigan, USC, Alabama, LSU and Georgia. A decision is expected to be made sometime shortly before national signing day.

For now, the process is moving at a slow pace for Wilson, who claims more than 50 offers. He said he'll begin planning official visits soon.

"I'm taking my time. This can be really fun, but it can be tedious, too," Wilson said. "I'll put my officials out soon. I think I'm going to make a decision either in December or early 2017.

"It's an amazing opportunity to be able to say I can have my pick of the litter and choose the school I want. I just want to make sure I explore all the options."

At 6'7" and 322 pounds, Wilson is ranked as the No. 5 offensive tackle and No. 20 player overall in the 2017 class. Additionally, he's the top-ranked player from the state of New York, something he takes pride in and works extremely hard to protect.

The five schools being considered all have the qualities of a great on-campus environment, solid player-coach relationships and overall game atmosphere, Wilson said. Academics will also play a role in his final decision.

The X-factor, however, in making a decision: Wilson wants to go somewhere that feels like his home in Brooklyn.

"Once it feels like home, that's it," he said. "If I can find a place where I can see myself the next three or four years, a place where I feel really comfortable, then it's a wrap."

 

4-star DE ends process, chooses Ole Miss

He never announced a list of top schools, but Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 4-star defensive end Bryan Jones kept a close eye on the schools taking the extra steps to recruit him. Ole Miss was one of those schools that always ranked high because of the constant communication.

On Sunday, the nation's No. 6-ranked strong-side defensive end in the 2017 class chose to end his recruitment and commit to head coach Hugh Freeze and the Rebels.

Jones is Ole Miss' fourth commit of the 2017 class and the first 2017 pledge for the Rebels since February.

Recruited by defensive line coach Chris Kiffin, Jones chose Ole Miss over LSU, Tennessee, North Carolina State, Texas, Texas A&M and several other programs. Jones claims 32 offers.

"I love the great job Coach Kiffin is doing with the [defensive linemen], and I love the way the defense attacks offenses and uses its best players to get the job done," Jones said. "I love Coach Freeze because he's a players coach, and he's down to earth. The whole coaching staff has been in touch with me since they offered me, every day, nonstop."

Jones, now at 6'5" and 243 pounds, is Ole Miss' highest-ranked defensive pledge. He is expected to team up with 3-star junior college pledge Markel Winters on the defensive line.

 

Top 5 for RB, son of former NFL back

As the son of a former NFL running back, Chase Hayden constantly gets advice from coaches and older individuals to become the consummate student-athlete at the next level.

The best advice comes from his father, Aaron Hayden, who played college ball at Tennessee, then spent four years in the NFL and was a part of the 1997 Green Bay Packers team that advanced to Super Bowl XXXII.

"He says all the time that everybody arrives on campus talented. You've got to show something to separate yourself," Chase said. "You've got to be a student of the game. You've got to know your playbook inside and out and do all of the little things if you want to stand out."

Hayden's parlayed that advice and more into success on the football field, which includes 16 reported offers. The Collierville, Tennessee, 3-star running back rushed for 2,625 yards and 37 touchdowns as a junior. 

On May 5, Hayden announced his top five of Arkansas, Illinois, Oklahoma State, South Carolina and Tennessee, his father's alma mater.

"I'm trying to find out more about them," Hayden said of the five schools. "Out of all the offers, those were the most serious about me. I'm trying to choose the best place for me and pick a place where I feel I can fit in. I want to go to a place where I spend my years and be happy, even if I wasn't playing football."

Hayden said he's relying on his father, mother and other family to assist in making the right decision.

He added that while he has a top five, he's keeping his recruiting door ajar in case he receives a marquee offer by the end of the spring or early summer.

 

Offers galore for versatile 2-sport standout

From a recruiting standpoint, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, athlete Jordan Wright is playing with house money. He's a two-sport standout with a total of 24 college scholarship offers for football and basketball.

On the football field, Wright is a 3-star defensive end/tight end who has 20 offers. His latest offer came from Alabama last week, and Wright said the Crimson Tide offered him as a tight end.

Wright has football offers as both a defensive end and tight end, and he also has offers as a shooting guard and wing on the basketball court. Wright holds a Virginia Tech basketball offer and has also been offered by Florida International, Binghamton and San Francisco.

"It's been hard, but it's a blessing to have this opportunity," Wright said. "Most kids don't even have a chance to play at the next level. To be offered in both [sports], it's a blessing."

Wright admits his first love was basketball. He first picked up a basketball at two years old, compared to first trying football at age five. Wright said there are many who feel football would be his best path athletically, but he's looking to give both sports a try in college.

"I feel I can step up to the challenge and work hard in both," said Wright, who has football offers from Alabama, Michigan, Miami, Mississippi State, USC and a host of other programs.

Wright said he will make public a top-10 list after spring football. The winning school will get a long, athletic playmaker who is focused on being in a good environment where he has solid relationships with the team and coaching staff.

Wright also said academics will play a major role in his decision. He is looking to major in sports medicine.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SEC Football: Ranking the Top 16 Players Heading into 2016

The SEC led all conferences with 51 players selected in the 2016 NFL draft, but that doesn't mean the cupboard is bare in the nation's deepest college football conference. 

Far from it, actually.

Stars such as LSU running back Leonard Fournette, Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly, Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen and others return in 2016 to carry the torch.

Who are the best players in the SEC heading into 2016? Our picks based on talent and production are in this slideshow.

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Big Ten Football: Ranking the Top 16 Players Heading into 2016

The start of the 2016 season is officially less than four months away, and college football is set to enter the quietest portion of its offseason.

But as fans begin to look toward the coming year, they'll notice an impressive crop of players returning to the sport and particularly the Big Ten, as recruiting in the conference has seen a boost in recent years.

In fact, the Big Ten's talent entering 2016 might be as impressive from top to bottom as any year in recent memory. So much so, in fact, that when ranking the Big Ten's top players, it's hard to find a fair cutoff point to end the list.

But with 2016 being the upcoming season, this particular writer opted to limit his list to 16 players.

With that said, here are the 16 best players in the Big Ten entering 2016, based on both past production and potential for the coming year. 

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B/R 5th Down: Trick Shot Videos and Top CFB Social Stories of the Week

Editor's Note: Bleacher Report's 5th Down captures the top social college football stories of the week. As the long, bitter offseason continues, we'll focus on moments from the schools, coaches and players that kept us entertained as we wait for actual college football to make its long-awaited return.

 

1. SJSU's QB and Florida's kicker show they've got range

It's trick shot season, the time of the offseason when college football players perform some crazy challenge with a ball and try to set social media ablaze with videos of it.

Distance was the name of the game for San Jose State quarterback Kenny Potter, who was taped chucking a football from the top of Spartan Stadium into a trash can sitting on the sidelines:

The field-level angle of the trick shot is quite impressive, as it shows just how narrow of a gap he needed to hit with his toss at a high elevation. Accuracy is Potter's thing when he's not throwing to trash cans, too, as he completed 67.4 percent of his passes in 2015.

This past week, new Florida kicker Eddy Pineiro showed he wasn't going to take it easy this summer by drilling a 64-yard field goal on a practice field:

Pineiro, who commanded huge applause from Florida fans in the Gators' spring game last month by hitting attempts from 56, 52 and 46 yards out, isn't new to these distance-kicking videos. While he was a recruit, Pineiro hit a jaw-dropping 72-yard field goal that made him an overnight sensation.

After seeing those distance shots from both coasts, we just have one question—who's next? Get your cell phone cameras ready.

 

2. Baker Mayfield takes his dance moves to a new sport

Before leading Oklahoma to a Big 12 title and a College Football Playoff berth last season, Baker Mayfield first captured the Internet's attention as a Sooner by hitting some absolutely perfect whips:

Football has its famous touchdown dances, but it's not a sport that can fully unlock Mayfield's potential for moving and/or grooving. Gymnastics, on the other hand, can.

According to Jenni Carlson of the Oklahoman, Oklahoma filmed several videos for a recent athletic awards night that featured Sooner athletes switching sports. Members of OU's national championship gymnastics team played football, while Mayfield and former teammate Nila Kasitati tried gymnastics.

Mayfield performed a choreographed floor routine, and it was as spectacular as expected:

Notice the determination in his eyes on those early moves and that final cat pose. Look at the form on his cartwheels and forward rolls. And he definitely knows how to stick his landings.

So whenever Mayfield finds the end zone later this fall for Oklahoma, keep an eye on any celebration techniques he picked up during his time on the mat this spring. His moves have developed past the unbeatable whip.

 

3. Jim Harbaugh is all about those dingers and dabs

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is a football machine, but he has time every now and then for a little baseball. He coached first base for the Oakland A's in a spring training game last year, and he did the same for the Detroit Tigers this spring.

Now Harbaugh is focusing on his skills playing on the diamond more than coaching on it. He practiced for a charity home run derby with the Michigan softball team, cranking some home runs off a tee while wearing his signature khakis:

And, of course, he had to celebrate one of his bombs with the dab—the dance move popularized by his good friends in Migos:

Unfortunately for Harbaugh, his dabs wouldn't extend to the actual derby. According to Jackson Alexander of ESPN.com, Harbaugh didn't hit a single home run in his showdown with Rick Leach, a former MLB player who also played quarterback for Michigan.

But if a rematch happens, rest assured that Harbaugh will attack it with "Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind."

 

4. Bret Bielema is going global

While the SEC wasn't in support of satellite camps throughout this offseason's biggest debate, they're now going to be a reality for the 14 head coaches in the conference.

One of those head coaches, who is not shy about making headlines with his quotes, has huge plans for his camps down the road, per Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee: 

Just the thought of international satellite camps with Bret Bielema sent Twitter into a brief frenzy. Here are the best destination ideas for the Hogs from the college football corner of the Internet:

Bielema is already ahead of the last suggestion, which was posted by Dan Wolken of USA Today. As David Ching of ESPN.com noted on Twitter, Arkansas currently has Hjalte Froholdt, an offensive lineman originally from Svendborg, Denmark, on its roster via Florida's famed IMG Academy.

It may sound like a joke now, but don't be totally surprised in a few years when entire European countries know how to do the "Woo Pig Sooie" chant.

 

5. Boise State's stadium is still not a lake

One of college football's best quirks popped its head up on social media last week thanks to an A-plus tweet from Boise State.

There's an urban legend that birds fly into the blue turf at what is now Albertsons Stadium at Boise State—sometimes to great injury—thinking it's a lake. The Broncos are here to remind all types of fowl that this just isn't the case:

Boise State isn't the only college football team in the country that has a non-green field, though. Since the 5th Down is a friend to all creatures, here's a helpful guide to any geese, ducks and birds who might be flying over in the future:

  • Boise State's blue turf IS NOT a lake. (Neither is Division II school New Haven's blue turf.)
  • Eastern Washington's red turf IS NOT a gaping pit of lava. (Not that birds would try to land in that.)
  • Eastern Michigan's gray turf IS NOT a giant parking lot.
  • Central Arkansas' purple and gray turf IS NOT a trippy scene caused by the Cheshire Cat from Alice In Wonderland.

Be aware and be prepared, birds.

 

6. UCF hired an Oregon coach and got some Oregon uniforms

New UCF head coach Scott Frost used to lead players who wore seemingly countless uniform combinations during his days as the Oregon offensive coordinator. Now his new players will get close to the same treatment from Nike.

UCF's new duds include white, gold, anthracite and pewter options for helmets and black, white, anthracite and pewter jerseys and pants. Those choices give the Knights 64 different uniform combinations.

That means a UCF player could make it all the way to the College Football Playoff National Championship each year for all four seasons of his eligibility and still never have to repeat a uniform.

According to Shannon Green of the Orlando Sentinel, the uniforms also include player names—something the Knights haven't had on the back of their jerseys since 2004. 

With a slick sword design on the new helmets and some striking jersey numbers, the Knights are definitely going to look better on the field in Frost's first season in Orlando. 

 

7. Freeze fires in an eagle and Dabo dances with a cow

The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge is a highlight of the offseason in the Southeast, as coaches from the SEC, ACC and some Group of Five conferences team up with celebrities to raise money in a charity golf challenge.

The golf action itself was good this year, as Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee wrote in his piece from this past week's event in Greensboro, Georgia. Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze helped his team take home the victory with a stunning eagle from 150 yards out:

But that wasn't the most viral video from the event.

That happened off the course, when Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney led the way in a Running Man Challenge featuring Mississippi State legend Fred McCrary, former Heisman winner Andre Ware and a Chick-fil-A cow mascot:

What Swinney lacks in foot speed for the average Running Man Challenge entry, the dance-happy coach makes up for it with what he can do with his hands. He's locked in during this video, refusing to let the former NFLers or the giant cow one-up him.

May this trend never die.

 

8. And, finally, this recruit posts one of the strangest commitment videos of all time 

Meet Logan Rudolph. He's a 4-star weak-side defensive end from Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Over the weekend, Rudolph decided to announce his commitment to play for the in-state Clemson Tigers. But he didn't do a big ceremony with all the hats. He didn't shoot a long video with dramatic music, either.

Instead, he posted a short Twitter video of him chopping a tree, thanking his family and coaches, nonchalantly saying he'll attend Clemson and then continuing to chop said tree:

He's also doing these things while wearing some short shorts as "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins plays in the background.

Of all the commitment announcements I've ever seen, this is definitely the most bizarre one in my memory. However, I have a feeling Rudolph is going to be a real force in the trenches for Clemson down the road. He's obviously got all the confidence in the world.

 

Justin Ferguson is a National College Football Analyst at Bleacher Report, and now he can't get "Danger Zone" out of his head. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State Football: Predicting the Buckeyes' 2016 Win-Loss Record

With road games against College Football Playoff contenders Oklahoma and Michigan State, Big Ten contenders Wisconsin and Penn State and the regular-season finale against rival Michigan, Ohio State's 2016 schedule is one of the most difficult in all of college football this year.

This would have been a great schedule for last year's loaded team, which looked like it was sleepwalking through most of its walkover slate. But with 16 new starters this year, the young Buckeyes will have a hard time keeping pace in the playoff race.

How will head coach Urban Meyer's fifth Ohio State team fare this fall?

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Tennessee Football: Predicting the Vols' 2016 Win-Loss Record

This could be a special season on Rocky Top for the Tennessee football team.

Not only do the Volunteers have a slew of talent, but they also have several players who've held key roles on the team since they stepped foot on campus and more depth than they've had in a decade, making this year's schedule finally manageable.

That's not to say there aren't pitfalls. Those will always exist in the SEC. But that won't dampen the excitement, which Knoxville News Sentinel columnist John Adams says may match 1998's.

The Vols should not only win the SEC East. They seemingly have enough talent and experience to challenge for greater championships. The most optimistic fan's excitement is approaching the 1998 level. That's when the Vols last won the SEC title. It's also when they went undefeated while winning the national championship. So a comparison is in order—as long as you make it for preseason only.

He goes on to say nobody was talking about national championships that year, either. Yet, the Vols went on to win one. While few are talking about the possibility of UT going all the way, it isn't out of the question for the first time since the early 2000s.

Championship ingredients are in place, and the hiring of defensive coordinator Bob Shoop along with the return of stars Cameron Sutton, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Alvin Kamara only enhance that.

But to have the opportunity to do great things, the Vols must accomplish some goals they haven't achieved in a long, long time, beginning with beating rivals Florida and Alabama. 

Those are just two of the obstacles standing between the Vols and taking another tangible step forward after last year's 9-4 season culminated with a domination of Northwestern in the Outback Bowl. So, just how far can the Vols go?

The guess here is a 10-2 regular season with a trip to Atlanta. But where will those setbacks come from, and can the Vols get over the two biggest humps they have as a program?

Let's take a way-too-early look at a game-by-game prediction for UT's 2016 season.

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Penn State Reveals Settlements Over Jerry Sandusky Alleged Abuse Go Back to 1971

According to a Sunday report from Michael R. Sisak of the Associated Press, “Penn State’s legal settlements with Jerry Sandusky’s accusers cover alleged abuse dating to 1971.”

University spokesman Lawrence Lokman confirmed the date to the AP. Sisak noted 1971 was 40 years before the former assistant football coach was arrested for sexual abuse.

“Penn State President Eric Barron decried newly revealed allegations that former football coach Joe Paterno was told in 1976 that Sandusky had sexually abused a child and that two assistant coaches witnessed either inappropriate or sexual contact in the late 1980s,” Sisak wrote.

Barron called the allegations “unsubstantiated” and said Penn State “is being subjected unfairly to what he called rumor and innuendo,” according to Sisak.

Before his death in 2012, Paterno said he hadn’t heard a complaint against Sandusky until 2001, per Sisak.

The allegations came from a ruling by Philadelphia Judge Gary Glazer during a case between the school and an insurance company regarding the percentage of the settlement costs Penn State is responsible for moving forward.

Sisak noted Penn State has already paid more than $90 million in settlements for claims against Sandusky.

USA Today shared some of Barron's statements: "I want you to know I am appalled by the rumor, innuendo and rush to judgment that have accompanied the media stories surrounding these allegations. All too often in our society, people are convicted in the court of public opinion, only to find a different outcome when all the facts are presented."

Sandusky graduated from the school in 1965 and accepted a spot as the defensive line coach in 1969. He then moved to linebackers coach (1970-76) and defensive coordinator (1977-99) before he retired. Paterno was the head coach at Penn State from 1966 to 2011 and won the most games in major college football history (409).

In 2015, the NCAA reinstated 111 of those wins after having vacated them as part of the punishment for the Sandusky scandal. Paterno was fired in the aftermath.

Sandusky is 72 years old and in prison for the sexual abuse of 10 children, per Sisak.

Sisak noted three Penn State officials are still awaiting trial for criminal charges because of the way they handled the Sandusky scandal. Among them is former President Graham Spanier.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Greg Bryant Jr., UAB RB, Dies at Age 21 from Gunshot Injuries

UAB Blazers and former Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Greg Bryant Jr. died Sunday after he was found shot in a car on Interstate-95 near West Palm Beach, Florida.   

Bryant's family confirmed the news to Lynda Figueredo of CBS 12.

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry expressed his condolences on Twitter after learning of Bryant's passing:

According to the Palm Beach Post's Hannah Winston, the 21-year-old was originally listed in critical condition after arriving at St. Mary’s Medical Center on Saturday. Maurice Grover, 25, was the lone passenger in the car. Grover was also transported to St. Mary's Medical Center after reportedly suffering "minor injuries."

Suspects in the shooting have yet to be named, per Winston.  

A native of Delray Beach, Bryant Jr. committed to Notre Dame after he rose to prominence as a 3-star recruit, per 247Sports, and captured a state title with the American Heritage High School Stallions during his junior season.

He proceeded to rush for 303 yards and three touchdowns in two seasons with the Irish. However, head coach Brian Kelly deemed him ineligible for the 2015 season shortly after suspending the running back for the first four games of the year.

Bryant Jr. then left Notre Dame and transferred to ASA College Miami before committing to join the Blazers for the 2016 season.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

8 College Football Coaches Facing Make-It or Break-It Seasons in 2016

In a perfect world, coaches always receive at least four seasons—and maybe a fifth if the team is promising enough—to turn around a program.

But this is college football. No matter the circumstance, winning is expected immediately in this imperfect realm.

Plus, though some coaches notch the victories right away and establish themselves at the school, a couple frustrating losses or string of disappointing seasons often result in grumblings for a change from that long-term leader.

In 2016, several power-conference and Group of Five coaches face a critical moment in their respective tenures: the demand to win. Or they'll probably be hoping another school will call.

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