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Cardale Jones Stood out in Spring but J.T. Barrett Is QB of the Future for OSU

The Ohio State spring game is in the books, and with star QB Braxton Miller sitting out, Buckeyes fans got a glimpse of the future in Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett. Which QB proved himself in the spring game?

Urban Meyer loves athletes on offense that can score from anywhere on the field, and Ohio State has three such players on its roster. Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall, and Curtis Samuel all have the potential to play the Percy Harvin role for the Buckeyes. How will Meyer use each on offense?

Check out Ben Axelrod from BuckeyeSports.com give some inside info on Ohio State's spring game. 

 

Highlights courtesy XOS Digital

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia Football: Why Hutson Mason Is the Next Aaron Murray for Bulldogs

The Georgia spring game is in the books, and Hutson Mason is ready to be the face of the Bulldogs. Mason threw for 241 yards and a touchdown as he led the Red team to 27-24 win over the Black team.

B/R's Barrett Sallee breaks down why Mason looked so similar to former Georgia QB Aaron Murray and what stood out to him on the defensive side of the ball with new DC Jeremy Pruitt at the helm.

Watch the video for the most important takeaways from the Bulldogs' spring game.

Highlights courtesy of xosdigital.com.

Stats courtesy of georgiadogs.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Miami Football: Brad Kaaya Will "Absolutely" Compete for Starting QB Job

The 2014 Miami spring game is in the books, and with Ryan Williams out until midseason with an ACL injury, the quarterback battle is heating up.

Neither redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen nor redshirt sophomore Gray Crow excelled in the spring game. Will the Hurricanes have to wait for true freshman Brad Kaaya to arrive on campus in the fall to pick a QB?

Olsen is the favorite to start right now, but Kaaya—the No. 7 pro-style QB of the 2014 class, per 247Sports—should make Al Golden's decision a little tougher. 

Watch as Associated Press sports writer Tim Reynolds breaks down the latest in the Miami Hurricane's QB situation. 

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital and Miami Football.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Nick Saban vs. Gus Malzahn Keeps Iron Bowl as College Football's Best Rivalry

The best rivalry in college football lived up to the hype last season.

Auburn topped Alabama 34-28 when Chris Davis returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown as time expired to win the Iron Bowl and the SEC West and propel the Tigers to the SEC Championship Game.

It was the first time since the divisional split in 1992 that the game served as the de facto SEC West title game. Judging from the coaches and the depth on each roster, that was the start of a trend rather than an aberration.

Alabama's Nick Saban successfully built and maintained a dynasty in Tuscaloosa as the BCS era wound down, winning national titles in 2009, 2011 and 2012, and quickly erased the memories of the Mike Shula era. His old-school, defensive-minded approach has proven that it not only can be successful in the age of innovative offenses, but that it can win consistently at an elite level.

Auburn's Gus Malzahn is the opposite.

His hurry-up, no-huddle power attack out of the spread has ushered in a new-school approach to old-school power football. Malzahn already has a national title ring from his days as Auburn's offensive coordinator in 2010 and nearly put another one on his finger following the 2013 season, but his Tigers fell 34-31 to Florida State.

"If you're going to win a national championship, you better have good players on both sides of the ball," Alabama athletic director Bill Battle said. "The different backgrounds adds to the chess match between offensive and defensive geniuses, but football is a game of a lot of people, all of whom are going to have influence." 

It's no accident that the two heated rivals from the same state have vastly different styles. Instead of following in Alabama's footsteps in terms of style and scheme, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs stepped out on his own to further establish Auburn's unique identity.

"That hurry-up, no-huddle is what high school kids really enjoy these days," Jay Jacobs said. "Even though we're both recruiting the best athletes and go head-to-head on a lot of recruits, our style is totally different. It's what Gus has always run since he was a high school coach, and has made the games really fun. It's a totally different style than the pro style, and it gives the prospects a choice."

While the two coaches boast different offenses, even the defensive schemes offer variety to high school prospects looking to make a splash in the SEC.

"All of the sudden, the playing field has been leveled even on defense," said Cole Cubelic, a former Auburn center from 1997-2000 and current Sun Belt football analyst. "Auburn's not trying to sign a 330-pound nose guard who's going to eat up space in the middle. You look at the defensive ends, I think [Auburn defensive coordinator] Ellis [Johnson] likes to use lighter guys who can rush the passer. The 3-4 defensive ends [at Alabama] are much different players."

The distinctive styles have helped propel each program to college football's peak in essentially the same era. One of the two programs has played for the BCS National Championship after each of the past five seasons and will likely enter the 2014 campaign in the top five according to Phil Steele's preseason AP poll projection.

That success has transformed the football-crazed state of Alabama to the capital of the college football world. 

For Brandon Gibson, a former wide receiver for the Alabama Crimson Tide from 2007-2011 and current sales rep inside the state for Magnolia Specialty Pharmacy, that means he not only is talking to the fans, but that the fans want to know his perspective as a former Tide player.

"I hear a little bit of everything," Gibson said. "I always hear the 'Gus Bus' thing, which is kind of funny. Being a former player at Alabama, everybody wants to talk about it. It's very exciting. To have such a big stage of football in one state. I don't think anybody can argue that college football is at its best in the state of Alabama."

Battle was in the same boat. 

Before he moved back to Tuscaloosa last March to become Alabama's athletic director, he founded the Collegiate Licensing Company in Atlanta, Ga. Even when he was one state over, the former Alabama end (1960-1962) couldn't escape Iron Bowl talk.

"I had a place on Lake Weis in Centre, Ala. which is between Gadsden, Ala. and Rome, Ga.," he said. "I'd go out to play golf, and whatever time of year it was, all the conversation was about Alabama and Auburn football year-round. I said 'dang, that's all you guys talk about.' They'd say 'yeah, if it wasn't for Alabama and Auburn football, there probably wouldn't be much conversation around the state.'"

The success has brought the eyeballs of the nation to a rivalry that is rich in tradition. From Bear Bryant to Shug Jordan to Pat Dye and Gene Stallings, this rivalry has been heated before, but nothing like this.

"It's as intense as it has ever been," said Jacobs, who was an offensive lineman for the Tigers from 1980-1983 before becoming AD. "With media access, particularly in regards to social media, a lot of people who typically wouldn't hear about it do hear about it. It's as intense today as it was when I was playing, when it was Dye against Bryant."

It's not just a game that resonates within two fanbases or between the borders of one state. It's a game that resonates nationally.

"When I was in school (from 1997-2000), getting to the BCS title game was almost not even realistic," Cubelic said. "That was really from either school's perspective. Alabama won a title in '92 and played in some SEC title games, and we played in two SEC Championship Games. But the national title wasn't realistic."

Even when Auburn was sputtering to its first 0-8 conference record in program history in 2012, the game served as the final chapter of the Gene Chizik era.

That mattered on the national scene, because it opened the door to the new era.

"It's not just David versus Goliath anymore," Cubelic said. "It's old-school versus new-school college football, which is right where it should be."

With Malzahn and Saban at the helm of Auburn and Alabama, respectively, it's going to stay where it should be for quite some time.

 

* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand.

 


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Why NCAA Should Not Expand the College Football Playoff

Proponents of an expanded College Football Playoff should have cringed over the UConn-Kentucky men’s basketball NCAA Tournament championship game.

The matchup of two underachieving regular-season teams perfectly illustrates exactly why football needs to keep the invitations to its playoff to a minimum.

UConn and Kentucky—seeded seventh and eighth in the tournament, respectively—ranked Nos. 18 and 22, respectively, in the pre-tournament USA Today Coaches Poll. The two combined for 18 losses and a collective .735 win percentage.

Such a win percentage in a 12-game college football season would approximately equate to a 9-3 regular season.

Yet basketball’s setup enabled the sports world to celebrate UConn as the national champion before the confetti and streamers hit the court inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The very nature of college football wouldn’t allow the same settled feeling for a similarly credentialed winner of a postseason tournament.

Next year, AT&T Stadium will host the first-ever College Football Playoff championship game, but the playoff format will differ greatly from basketball’s. Only four teams will qualify for the initial football playoff—a far cry from the 68 that make the men’s basketball NCAA Tournament.

And that’s a good thing.

College football has long enjoyed a history of having the most important, meaningful regular season in sports.

The same impactful regular season disappears if the sport expands its playoff beyond eight teams.

In nine of the past 10 seasons, expanding the playoff to even 16 teams would have allowed in at least one three-loss team based on BCS standings.

Moving to a 24-team playoff—such as the one utilized in the FCS ranks—would have allowed four-loss national champions, thus crippling the power of the regular season.

All of a sudden, weekly must-see contests would turn to afterthoughts.

Consider how vital some games were at the end of this season.

Three conference championship games would have featured a pair of teams ticketed for a 16-team playoff. Even losses wouldn’t have prevented Auburn or Missouri (SEC), Arizona State or Stanford (Pac-12) and Michigan State or Ohio State (Big Ten) from qualifying.

Ditto late-season contests between Clemson and South Carolina and Alabama and Auburn.

In other words, five must-see games for any die-hard college football fan would have turned into little more than a prelude for the far more critical 16-team playoff.

College basketball has long been a sport more predicated on punching a ticket into the NCAA Tournament and attempting to make a run once there.

It has never been about rewarding teams that start strong and sustain a high level of play throughout the season. Conversely, college basketball centers on crowning teams that gel over the first 30-something games during the regular season and then grow white-hot during the postseason.

Such a blueprint never served as college football’s M.O.

Rather, football rewards teams that escape the gauntlet of a grueling regular season at least relatively unscathed.

It’s why we tune in every Saturday afternoon to watch, listening to the broadcast of Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson. It’s why we—until the coming 2014 season—focus our eyes on the Saturday night spotlight game, as called by Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit.

Every night could be an elimination night in college football.

It’s what we love about the sport.

Don’t lose tonight because there might not be another chance tomorrow.

Lose twice and forget about winning it all—the lone exception over the past 50-plus years coming from LSU, which won the BCS national championship as a two-loss team in 2008.

College football isn’t and never has been college basketball.

That’s a very good thing.

For all the shouting back and forth between conferences and fanbases, we don’t want a three-loss team hoisting the championship trophy.

We want those teams playing in the Alamo Dome.

Leave the title-game picture for the regular-season titans, who continue the legacy of making the 12 or 13 games running from late August through early December matter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

8 College Football Players Who Dazzled in Early Spring Game Action

College football spring games are a discovery zone.

The annual end-of-spring-practice competitions have little impact on the reputation and future playing time of known stars and established starters, as the scrimmage is meant more as a final tuneup than anything else.

The same can't be said for the newcomers, backups and other reserves who make up most of a team's roster. For them, this is their time to shine.

While much more stock will be placed on performance and development during preseason training camp, what happens in the spring game can be used as a springboard toward future success. Those who stand out during this competition will be the talk of the spring and summer...though whether that translates into fall success is unknown.

We're about halfway through the spring game schedule for FBS schools, and so far a handful of players have dazzled above and beyond others.

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10 College Football Coaches Who Are the Best at Out-of-State Recruiting

The first objective of recruiting in college football is to lock down your state. However, the best recruiters are skilled enough to excel at out-of-state recruiting.

Some schools have the advantage of having a brand that is recognized all over the country, which helps entice recruits from outside their state to sign with them. Other schools have great recruiters who utilize their relationships on the trail to get in good with prospects who are not from the area where their program resides.

No matter what it is, the game of college football has several coaches who can reach outside their state's borders for a talented player.

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Breaking Down Each 2015 5-Star OL Recruit

The 247Sports composite rankings features several 5-star offensive line prospects. Each blocker has a fantastic set of skills that will help them hold their own in the trenches at the collegiate level.

Strength, size, quickness, intelligence and athleticism are just a few traits these talented offensive line recruits show on tape. However, they're not all similar.

A guard prospect in Oklahoma has excellent strength, while a left tackle in Georgia has fantastic technique. Plus a big blocker in Texas has surprising athleticism.

All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports. Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

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UCLA Football: Jim Mora's 3 Biggest Spring Practice Concerns

Ahead of the UCLA football team's Spring Showcase on April 26 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., Jim Mora's focus should squarely lie upon the lack of depth at key positions—specifically at linebacker and the offensive line. 

Truth be told, there aren't a ton of holes on this team. Mora and his staff have done a tremendous job in replenishing the existing talent on the roster. The roster depth is seemingly as strong as it has been in over a decade. 

However, there are a few areas of some concern. These concerns primarily stem from injury, dismissals and suspensions. 

Here are three areas of concern relating to spring practice for the UCLA Bruins. 

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UCLA Football: Jim Mora's 3 Biggest Spring Practice Concerns

Ahead of the UCLA football team's Spring Showcase on April 26 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., Jim Mora's focus should squarely lie upon the lack of depth at key positions —specifically at linebacker and the offensive line...

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7 Recruits Who Could Join 5-Star ATH Terry Godwin at Georgia

Georgia has a commitment from 5-star athlete Terry Godwin, who pledged to the Bulldogs earlier this year. From Callaway High School in Hogansville, Godwin is a Georgia native who will be a star in the Peach State for years to come.

The 6'0", 168-pounder has fantastic athleticism and smooth movement skills. He can excel as a receiver or cornerback, which is why it wouldn't be shocking to see Godwin play both ways in Athens.

The 5-star prospect is among the nation's best players, and he will certainly help the Bulldogs land more elite talent before the end of this recruiting cycle. 

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Chad Kelly Dismissed from Clemson for Conduct Detrimental to the Team

The battle to replace quarterback Tajh Boyd at Clemson just got a little more clear, as redshirt sophomore Chad Kelly has been dismissed from the team.   

Head coach Dabo Swinney announced the news on Monday, via CBS Sports' Chip Patterson, saying the nephew of NFL legend Jim Kelly "has had a pattern of behavior that is not consistent with the values of our program."   

Swinney added, via the school's official statement on Kelly: "I hope he will mature and grow from this and become the man and player I know he can be. I wish him nothing but the best in the future academically and athletically."

Prior to Kelly's dismissal, there were rumors of an incident at a practice field that later turned out to be untrue (via James McCray of WYFF News 4):

Initially, CUtigers.com reported that quarterback Chad Kelly was dismissed from the Clemson football team after being escorted by Clemson University police from the football team’s facility.

But WYFF News 4 has since spoken with Clemson University Police Chief Johnson Link who said university police were not involved in escorting Kelly from the West End Zone.

The young quarterback seemed to deny those claims shortly after the news broke as well: 

Nevertheless, it appears there was enough of an incident for the Tigers coaching staff to cut ties with Kelly, who came to Clemson as a 4-star prospect and fifth-highest-rated dual-threat QB, per 247Sports' composite rankings

Kelly sat out 2012 as a redshirt, and after tearing his ACL in the spring of 2013, he returned to play in five games last season, completing 10-of-17 passes for 58 yards.

As Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel noted, he was in the mix to replace Boyd under center for the Tigers:

Although many believed senior Cole Stoudt was the front-runner, Kelly and freshman Deshaun Watson were still expected to compete for the job through the summer. 

The decision now becomes a little bit easier for Swinney, though it's never ideal to lose depth at the quarterback position. Nevertheless, with Watson recovering from a collarbone injury, the job is undoubtedly Stoudt's to lose. 

As for Kelly, you can only hope the Niagara Falls, N.Y., native lands with a program where he is able to get back on track. It would be a shame to see his kind of talent go to waste, but it's clear he needs to prove he deserves another opportunity elsewhere.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Notre Dame Football: Brian Kelly's 4 Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Spring ball is over, all wrapped up following Saturday’s Blue-Gold Game.

We saw plenty of good and also a fair share of bad, a duality to be expected from any team in the spring, but also especially for a squad as young and unproven as Notre Dame's.

At the risk of sounding apocalyptic, let’s zero in on some of Irish head coach Brian Kelly’s concerns after the 15 spring practices. Some of these are robust concerns, while others have become less problematic since the spring season began in March.

Let’s get to them.

 

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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Penn State Football: Top Performers from the Nittany Lions' Spring Game

Penn State closed out its spring camp on Saturday with the annual Blue-White scrimmage in front of an announced crowd of 72,000 fans—the most in the country for a spring game so far this year, according to Kevin McGuire of NBCSports.com.

While most of the stars saw limited snaps, Saturday provided an opportunity for fans to flock to central Pennsylvania in an effort to show support for new head coach James Franklin and the Nittany Lions.

The "Blue Team," consisting of mostly first and second stringers, beat up on the "White Team" by a score of 37-0, but players on both sides had their moments.

Here are some of the top performers from Blue-White Weekend!

 

All stats courtesy of GoPSUSports.com.

 

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Spring Game Shows Ohio State Clearly Addressed It's Biggest Issue

Following the spring game in Columbus, one thing was quite clear: Ohio State made sure to address its issues with respect to coverage in the back end. The Buckeyes defenders, under co-defensive coordinators Chris Ash and Luke Fickell, have responded to their issues from a season ago and pushed to match patterns, relate to receivers and make plays on the football.

Spring games are often difficult to use to make evaluations for a given team. Formats differ, rules vary tremendously and who is active—and to what extent—is always a crap shoot, something Martin Rickman at Sports Illustrated points out in his Buckeyes spring game recap. However, a true shift in mentality is something that is noticeable, regardless of personnel or watered-down play-calling.

For Ohio State, little was discovered with respect to the quarterback position. Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett failed to show separation as they battle for the backup job. Expected starting running back Ezekiel Elliott was extremely limited. The defensive side of the ball played four-man fronts almost exclusively.

Yet it was clear something was different in the back seven of the Buckeyes' defense.

Prior to the Big Ten championship game, the Buckeyes' issues with route relations was discussed. The same was mentioned before Urban Meyer's team took on the Clemson Tigers in the Orange Bowl. Entering spring, the need to work on pass coverage was again noted here.

And the Buckeyes went out and addressed that very issue.

Here is Ohio State from a season ago.

Notice the air between the defenders and the receiver. This was the Buckeyes' defense on short and intermediate routes for the bulk of 2013. Close to the receiver but with big enough windows for quarterbacks to hit targets and rack up yardage, as you can see in the chart below.

Although Meyer's team was able to get through the first four of those contests with wins—the closest coming against Michigan—come season's end against better teams, coverage failures would cause losses. Michigan State's passing game blossomed against the opportunity presented by the Buckeyes, as did Clemson's spread, quick target attack.

In order to get to where Meyer and his program want to go, fixing the pass coverage was a must for 2014. Part of that came with the change in mentality reported by Ari Wasserman at Cleveland.com. Although the talk centers on the cornerbacks in press, a look at the spring game shows the entire defense has shifted it's mentality from wait-and-see to an attacking-the-football mode.

That is the route combination and alignment for the Buckeyes. The running back goes from a pistol alignment to standing next to the quarterback on his left. Then he works a play-action fake as the receivers get into the designated route combinations.

As the play progresses, the difference for the Buckeyes in 2014 comes into play.

The Buckeyes have taken the air out of the play. No. 5 Raekwon McMillan, a true freshman linebacker, gets a hand on the football as he plays underneath the crosser. The safety is clearly blowing up the play; if the receiver had gotten a hand on the football, the safety was going to separate the man from the ball. The second safety, No. 16 Cam Burrows, is carrying the route over the top, closing to make a play as well.

This is not only a major improvement for the Buckeyes defense, but it was something the different units and personnel showed time and again over the course of the spring game. This was representative not of a group ready to play, but of a defensive squad that has made a full mentality change. 

That is not just McMillan or Burrows or a handful of players. It includes veterans like Curtis Grant, Joshua Perry and the rest of the linebacking corps. It includes safeties and corners that are going to take the field come September against Navy and play throughout the hopeful 2014 College Football Playoff campaign.

Meyer's offense is going to go. Fickell's defense is going to stop the run. The missing link for Ohio State in 2013 came in the form of defending the pass. The addition of Ash and a new mentality as a unit are remedies to the heel-sitting approach from a year ago. 

The Buckeyes recognized a vulnerable area and seized the opportunity to not only fix the problem, but turn a weakness into a strength. If the defense continues to build on the spring's progress, it should find defending the pass to be a treat, not a nightmare, in 2014.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Florida State Football: Top Performers from the Seminoles' Spring Game

Jameis Winston led the Garnet team to a 31-14 win over the Gold team in Florida State's annual spring game Saturday, throwing the ball 56 times—more attempts than he had in any single game during his Heisman campaign in 2013—for 27 completions, 396 yards and two touchdowns.

The pass-heavy attack can be attributed to multiple factors.

First, the team's presumed top four running backs, Karlos Williams, Ryan Green, Mario Pender and Dalvin Cook, all sat out the game for various reasons. But second, the team is auditioning a new cast of young receivers for important offensive roles, and head coach Jimbo Fisher was curious to see what he had in camp before blue-chip freshmen Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph arrive this summer.

Despite a sluggish start that saw Winston complete just 13 of his first 31 passes, Fisher was not disappointed with his young-but-merging group of receivers, per Kareem Copeland of the Associated Press:

The more they play together ... the more you're going to know each other. Early, they didn't get open as well, but that's kind of expected. But as the game went on they gradually made more plays and did things and we helped them get open with some formations and different things we did. I'm not disappointed in them.

You relax and you realize the sky's not falling, the world's not coming to an end. Relax and play and play up to your capabilities.

That group was one of the biggest stories going into Saturday's spring game, but elsewhere, a few other players made the day their own.

These were the three brightest stars.

 

Third Star: LB Matthew Thomas

According to the 247Sports Composite, Matthew Thomas was the eighth-best player and second-best linebacker in the 2013 recruiting class. After a shoulder injury ended his freshman season in October, though, his opportunity to become a meaningful defensive player was delayed for at least one more season.

If Thomas' play in the spring game was any indication, however, the wait won't be much longer than that. He recovered a Jameis Winston fumble, stuck out to Warchant.com after hunting down Freddie Stevenson and impressed Brandon Mellor of Seminoles.com with his playmaking instincts throughout the game:

This is precisely what FSU fans wanted (needed?) to see from Thomas, from whom much is expected in 2014 and beyond.

The rotations at linebacker are unsettled, with Terrance Smith being the only surefire starter, and Thomas is competing with such players as Ukeme Eligwe, Reggie Northrup and E.J. Levenberry for a chance to start. The whole group played well Saturday, however, so Thomas has not locked up a spot.

One thing that might help him? The addition of even more weight. According to Dustin Tackett of Tomahawk Nation, Thomas said after the game that he is planning on getting to up to 235 pounds next season (after being listed at 224 in 2013):

Already a dangerous combination of height (6'3"), bulk and speed, a good summer of workouts would make Thomas a safe bet at seeing action, a good bet at starting and an intriguing bet at becoming an All-ACC-type player in 2014.

 

Second Star: WR Rashad Greene

There is nothing loud about Rashad Greene's game; Kelvin Benjamin was the sexy receiver last season and is now likely to become a first-round NFL draft pick, while Greene is known better by FSU fans and ACC coaches than casual observers of the sport.

Because of such things, it is easy to forget that Greene has led the Seminoles in catches and yards in each of the past three seasons, and he stands poised to make it a clean sweep by doing so a fourth time in 2014. Now the undisputed No. 1 receiver on the depth chart, he and Winston might both be in store for All-American years.

That became painfully clear Saturday, when Greene was his normal, dominant self, racking up 11 catches (all from Winston) for 127 yards and a touchdown. Yes, he was wearing a green non-contact jersey for precautionary reasons, but that does not provide an excuse to the secondary for how often he got open.

To boot, Greene was also presented the Matt Schmauch Academic Achievement Award during a break in the game:

Greene is the type of player championship teams are made of—both on and off the field. He didn't need to prove that to anyone Saturday, but with certain fans uneasy about the losses of Benjamin and Kenny Shaw, it wasn't a bad idea to remind them.

Consider this reminder received.

 

First Star: DL Ro'Derrick Hoskins

Defensive end might be the keystone position for Florida State in 2014.

Mario Edwards and Eddie Goldman are being counted on to reach their potentials on the outside, which should help compensate for the loss of Timmy Jernigan at tackle. Behind them, though, there are questions about depth in the rotation, especially with Chris Casher playing the hybrid DE/LB role vacated by Christian Jones.

On Saturday, redshirt freshman Ro'Derrick Hoskins—himself a converted linebacker—silenced some of those questions and had the best game of anyone on the roster. He finished with two sacks and took an interception off Sean McGuire back 63 yards for a touchdown, sticking out as a breakout star to both Noles247.com and broadcaster Gene Deckerhoff:

Barring injury, Hoskins will almost definitely not start a game next season. Edwards and Goldman have those jobs locked up.

However, if he continues to come on as he did Saturday, Hoskins can earn a progressively bigger role behind that starting duo. If he does, it would benefit not just himself (by virtue of real-time reps) but the team, which would not, as predicted, be relying too heavily on the contributions of its first-team defensive ends.

This could be a nice development for FSU's defense.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

5-Star DE Jashon Cornell Sets His College Decision Date

Jashon Cornell plans to kick off his senior year with a commitment.

The menacing defensive end from Minnesota will unveil his collegiate intentions Aug. 28, the first day of school at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, per 247Sports reporter Steve Wiltfong. Cornell is currently considering dozens of scholarship offers from across the country.

He is rated the nation's No. 3 weak-side defensive end in 247Sports' composite rankings. Cornell comes in at No. 30 among all 2015 prospects, earning his status as a 5-star recruit.

The 6'4", 270-pound playmaker punished opponents throughout his junior season. He secured 70 tackles and 15 sacks in 10 contests, commanding double-team blocking assignments throughout the fall.

Cornell collected 20 tackles for loss and also scored on a fumble recovery return during a dominant campaign.

With his announcement date four months away, coaches still have a significant span to promote their respective programs to the pass-rusher. The goal for many teams is to line up a campus visit with him during the summer.

Cornell has been a frequent traveler this year, with trips to Notre Dame, Northwestern, Mississippi State, Minnesota and Iowa. Plenty of squads are attempting to keep him in Big Ten Conference territory. Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Michigan State are among those in the mix. Stanford, Texas and USC present options elsewhere if he elects to leave the region.

Wiltfong reports Cornell will spend time visiting schools along the West Coast "soon."

In 247Sports' Crystal Ball projection, 79 percent of experts predict he'll end up at Notre Dame. Michigan follows behind with 14 percent of total prognostications.

The race for Cornell's commitment has been underway for a while. With an ending in sight, expect his recruitment to heat up in a hurry.

 

*Recruit information and statistics courtesy of 247Sports, unless otherwise noted.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Report States Market Value for College Football Player Is $178,000 Per Year

A March 2014 study conducted by Drexel University and the National College Players Association has found that the annual fair market value of an average college football player between 2011 and 2015 is $178,000, per Mark Coba of NBC News:

The March survey, from the National College Players Association and Drexel University, said that the projected fair market value of the average college football player is $178,000 per year from 2011 to 2015, while the projected market value for the average college basketball player for the same time is $375,000.

The report also said that football players with the top 10 highest estimated fair market values, like Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, might be worth as much as $547,000, during the year 2011 to 2012.

The NCPA was founded by Ramogi Huma, who joined forces with Kain Colter to form the College Athletes Players Association earlier this year and recently won a huge victory when the National Labor Relations Board deemed Northwestern football players were employees of—not just students at—the university, according to ESPN.com.

However, it is important to note that pay-for-play is not one of CAPA's primary, explicit goals. The organization argued in January for "cost of attendance" stipends and the right to "be compensated for commercial sponsorships consistent with evolving NCAA regulations," per Teddy Grenstein of the Chicago Tribune.

"A lot of people will think this is all about money; it’s not,” Colter said at the time. "We’re asking for a seat at the table to get our voice heard."

These newly published numbers are staggering, however, and given Huga's connection to both the NCPA and CAPA, it is reasonable to think they might be used in pro-compensation arguments in the near future.

Here are some other important findings from the report, published on the NCPA's official website:

  • The average full athletic scholarship at an FBS school left “full” players with a scholarship shortfall (out-of-pocket expenses) of $3285 during the 2011-12 school year.
  • FBS football and men’s basketball players would receive full athletic scholarships plus an additional $6 billion between 2011-15 if not for the NCAA’s prohibition of a fair market.
  • The lost value over a four-year career for the average FBS football and men’s basketball player is $456,612 and $1,063,307, respectively.
  • The lost value over a four-year career for the average football and men’s basketball player in the six BCS conferences is $715,000 and $1.5 million, respectively.
  • University of Texas football players will be denied approximately $2.2 million, incur scholarship shortfalls of over $14,000, and live below the federal poverty line by $784 per year between 2011-15.

Like so many developments since the formation of CAPA in late-January, it remains to be seen how, exactly, these numbers will be used. The association is still in its early phases, teaching itself how it will operate and whom it will preside over.

Still, it seems like the days of unpaid college athletes are just about numbered. The earning potential is too big to ignore.

"The bidding war for athletes would likely be in the millions," said Ellen Staurowsky, a professor of sports management at Drexel University and co-author of the report, according to Coba's story.

For how long can we not address those numbers?

 

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SEC Football: 4 Teams Having the Best Spring Camp

As players jockey for starting positions and coaches experiment with new schemes and formations, teams across the Southeastern Conference are building toward the 2014 football season. The losses on both sides of the football, but particularly on offense, are acute, and the need to rebuild is significant.

Through key injuries or emerging players, new schemes and coordinators, spring camps have a massive impact on the performance of teams during the regular season. This year's sheer amount of questions that teams have to answer makes that even more true in 2014.

Several teams have either answered those questions outstandingly, have had leaders emerge or simply are fulfilling expectations, and those great spring performances follow.

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No News Is Good News for Your College Football Team This Offseason

Boredom is not sexy. It does not sell. It does not entertain the masses. But when it comes to the college football offseason, boredom—or perhaps silence is the more appropriate term—is everything you should hope for.

As soon as the last light goes out on national signing day, and your head coach ties one final bow on his annual WWE-ish “look at how good we are!” speech, you don’t want hear from him until fall.

The occasional spring football headline is unavoidable. Maybe it’s a video game stat sheet from a quarterback in a scrimmage against tackling dummies or a slight hamstring tweak that will have no impact on the actual season.

And then, of course, there’s the annual "Gathering of the Quotes," better known as conference media days. Sometime in summer you will hear how strong the team got (again), how [insert young hopeful quarterback here] got better and how a coach, shockingly, really likes his team.

But that’s it. Anything else on the headline front will likely spell trouble. Outside of a few faint (and mostly unnecessary) news items here and there, you should not crave storylines until September.

If there’s any other noise—outside of the release of a new uniform you will likely despise—it likely won’t be greeted with applause. While that might seem pessimistic, it’s simply stating the obvious: Football is still remarkably dangerous—even in its condensed, slowed, spring form—and young people often make spectacularly dumb mistakes during some of the most volatile years of their lives.

As is the case with most breaks between seasons, we were recently reminded just how valuable a headline-less offseason can be in one week alone.

Arguably the most physically gifted player in all of college football—and some would argue the best returning wide receiver in the country—Dorial Green-Beckham was booted from the Missouri Tigers after his latest legal run-in.

After being suspended indefinitely following an incident at a Columbia apartment—one that came with no official charges but featured some rather terrifying details—Missouri announced it had dismissed him from the program.

Head coach Gary Pinkel addressed the following in a release sent out by the school (h/t ESPN):

"This decision was made with the best interests of all involved in mind," Pinkel said in a statement. "Dorial's priority going forward needs to be focusing on getting the help he needs. As we have all along, we will continue to do everything we can to assist Dorial and his family. We care deeply about Dorial and his well-being, but hopefully he can benefit from a fresh start."

Green-Beckham had been involved in two other offseason issues prior to his latest, both involving marijuana. The latest came in January of this past year, which likely forced the Tigers into making a swift decision.

Unfortunately, such shocking offseason developments really aren’t all that shocking. While the particular details surrounding Green-Beckham’s situation are difficult to read and should by no means serve as a representation of the sport, the terms “suspended” and “dismissed” have become exhausted offseason terms.

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson served as last year’s high-profile departure. Golson was suspended for what he later referred to as “poor judgment on a test.” After missing the 2013 season, Golson is back in South Bend and just threw for 154 yards in Notre Dame’s spring game.

The two situations are obviously vastly different, but they also highlight the wide variety of trouble that young people can find themselves in, especially on a college campus.

You were in college once, and you know the stupidity that can easily (or perhaps did easily) fall into your lap. When 18- to 22-year-olds get free time on a campus that is built around nightlife, things happen. It can be much more than that—as it was with Green-Beckham and has been with so many others—but it’s a starting point.

This, unfortunately, is where most offseason headlines start and end.

If it’s not an arrest, suspension or violation of team rules—which is a really polite way of saying “failed drug test” 99 percent of the time—then it’s likely a serious injury that has your team in the news.

At about the same time it was learned Green-Beckham would not playing for Missouri in 2014, Texas announced that its likely starting quarterback, David Ash, would miss the rest of the spring due to a broken bone in his left foot.

Via the Associated Press:

The school said Friday that the senior fractured a bone in his left foot during spring practice and will undergo surgery next week. Head football trainer Anthony Pass says that will put Ash out of action for the rest of the spring workout season, but he is expected to return to action in time for preseason camp.

Ash, who missed most of last season due to concussion-related symptoms, has been unable to realize his wealth of potential at the position. Although early returns seem promising for his availability for fall camp, this latest news is without question another roadblock in his development.

There’s a clear-cut difference between injury and misbehavior, one that is so blatantly obvious it requires no further disclaimer. In the case of your team, however, this is what the offseason has become: a buffet of mainly negative storylines that can be increasingly difficult to stomach.

The only hope is that you won't have to stomach it.

Now that realignment has been put in the rearview—and thank goodness for that—the spotlight often shifts to the negative in the sport. It’s unavoidable, alarmingly consistent and rarely absent for too long. The news that often comes from this time period can mean nothing but bad things.

There’s no possible way to predict bad decisions or unfortunate noncontact knee injuries. All you can do is hope that your team is content with an offseason slumber.

While quiet won't make the months without football pass any more quickly, the likely alternative won’t be good for business. Silence is golden.

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