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SEC Football: Power Ranking Top 10 RBs for 2015 Season

As difficult as it is to find playmaking quarterbacks on 2015 SEC football rosters, it's every bit as easy identifying stud runners.

The league is loaded with top-shelf tailbacks for the upcoming season.

From home run threats, to grind-it-out gamers, to a few guys who can do it all, this year's group may be the strongest stable of runners the conference has seen in several years.

So, who's the best, especially when the top three seem so interchangeable? When you look at Alabama's Derrick Henry, Georgia's Nick Chubb and LSU's Leonard Fournette, you know right away they're freaks of nature.

But they're also durable workhorses who will be forced to shoulder most of their teams' offensive loads this season with inexperienced or historically inefficient quarterbacks at the helm.

Then there are the two Arkansas running backs who belong high on the list. Everybody has a favorite between Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins, but who ranks higher? How about Tennessee's super sophomore Jalen Hurd? Where does he fit?

There are numerous other former top recruits who have little or no sample sets of game reps, too. That played a factor in the rankings as well.

Considering past performance, elite potential and their dependability factor on the success of their respective teams, let's take a look at the top 10 runners in the rugged SEC.

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Alabama, Florida State Will Play 2017 Season Opener in Atlanta

The 2017 college football season is set to open with a bang, as the Alabama Crimson Tide and Florida State Seminoles have agreed to start their seasons against each other in Atlanta, according to Tom D'Angelo of the Palm Beach Post.

It will be the first time the two schools will have met in the regular season since 2007, when Florida State won, 21-14. The game will reportedly be played in the new Atlanta Falcons stadium, which is currently being built, according to Michael Casagrande of AL.com.

Few programs have had more success in recent years than Alabama and Florida State. Alabama has won three of the last six national titles and reached the first inaugural College Football Playoff this past season, while Florida State won the 2014 BCS National Championship Game and reached the playoff last year as well.

It's hard to imagine a much better way to start the season than with these two powerhouses facing off. Given the strength of these programs in recent years and the vaunted recruiting prowess of head coaches Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher, it will hardly be shocking if these schools both find themselves in the top five of the rankings when they meet.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Gator Football: 5 Florida Freshmen Who Will Take the SEC by Storm

The Golden State Warriors just won their first title in 40 years, the Blackhawks had their third Stanley Cup parade in six years this week and baseball is coming up on its All-Star break. For the most part, that means one thing, especially down south.

There are just 11 Saturdays remaining before college football season kicks off.

Heading into the offseason, Florida had plenty of questions. Chief among them, how would the recruiting class shape up?

We now know that first-year head coach Jim McElwain was able to give the Gators a top-25 recruiting class, receiving 21 total commitments. But how exactly do those recruits factor into 2015, and how do they stack up with Florida’s redshirt freshmen eager to put cleat to turf for the first time this fall?

In this list, we rank the top five Florida freshmen options to take the SEC by storm in their first year. Taking the SEC by storm is, of course, a relative term, so here are the criteria used to form this list. It’s very scientific.

Best chance to start right away. Best chance to have a major impact on the team. It’s that simple.

These players and criteria are obviously up for debate. That’s the beauty of sports, after all.

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Auburn Football: 10 Best Players in Tigers' History

Three Heisman Trophy winners, three players with retired numbers, 15 national award-winners and dozens of first-team All-Americans can make it extremely challenging to pick a school's 10 best all-time players.

But that's the challenge with Auburn, a program that has some of the most individual star power of any school in college football history.

Only 10 teams have had more than a pair of Heisman winners, and Auburn can claim that—and the fact the trophy's namesake also coached there.

The following list of the 10 best players in Auburn football history was determined by individual awards, All-American selections, school records and number of titles won. 

Auburn fans, sound off on this list—and the players who just missed the cut—and create your own top 10 in the comments below.

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Summer Predictions for Every Major College Football Award

When it comes to trophies, the one every college football player and coach hopes to get their hands on is the shiny gold obelisk that's given out following the national championship.

But taking home some individual hardware along the way isn't a bad consolation prize, especially when it's for an award that signifies a player or coach is the best of his kind in the country. 

Watch lists have already started popping up for some of the many individual awards that college football offers, and as the 2015 season progresses those lists will be pared down to semifinalists and finalists before winners are announced in December.

We're going to go ahead and take a stab at picking those winners now, and maybe we'll get a few right. Last year saw two players (Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Arizona's Scooby Wright) claim eight total trophies, but in the spirit of spreading the wealth we're picking someone different for every award.

Check out our predictions for the major college football awards, then give us your thoughts in the comments section.

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Florida Leads for Elite 2017 QB but Alabama, Michigan and ND Making Pushes

Recruiting the quarterback position is a very difficult and precise science. Many teams' hopes can rest upon the shoulder of a young starting quarterback. 

Adam Lefkoe is joined by Bleacher Report Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue to discuss the recruitment of Jake Allen. 

Where do you think Allen will land at the next level? Check out the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Would SEC Ever Lift Its Ban on Alcohol Sales at Football Games?

Every offseason, a handful of college programs take the plunge and begin selling alcohol at on-campus facilities.

This summer, one of the most prominent programs in the country announced it had joined the fray.

According to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com), the University of Texas will sell beer and wine at home football games after it was sold at other facilities. 

As rivalries go, Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp naturally took a shot at his intrastate rival (via Gabe Bock of TexAgs Radio):

Trolling aside (which is always encouraged), the truth is Texas A&M can't sell alcohol at sporting events thanks to an SEC rule that dates back more than three decades.

Here's the rule the SEC office provided to Bleacher Report:

No alcoholic beverages shall be sold or dispensed for public consumption anywhere in the facility and the possession and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages in the public areas of the facility shall be prohibited. These prohibitions shall not apply to private, leased areas in the facility or other areas designated by the SEC. There shall be no advertising displays mentioning or promoting alcoholic beverages in the facility.

Essentially, that means no alcohol except in private suites.

Will that change, though?

There has been some talk that the SEC could lift the ban as recently as 2014.

"Right now, they drink excessively in the parking lot before they come in because they can't get alcohol inside," LSU athletics director Joe Alleva said, according to Jon Solomon, formerly of AL.com. "Perhaps if they had access in the stadium, they wouldn't drink as much when they come in. I think it's something we have to talk about."

All that is, though, is talk.

"While it’s mentioned from time to time in public domain, there were no substantive discussions, motions, votes, etc., regarding changing the policy in Destin," the conference said in a statement to Bleacher Report.

In fact, it really hasn't been brought up at all.

"I don't think it's ever been brought up in Destin [at spring meetings]," Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs told Bleacher Report. "To be brought up in Destin, that means there has to be some legislative proposal on the table, and in my memory, I don't remember that ever being the case."

But this is a changing world.

The cost of operating a competitive athletics department rises seemingly by the day, and in the age of autonomy, the inclusion of full cost-of-attendance scholarships will only accelerate those costs.

Because of that, schools are getting creative. Georgia Tech just hosted the Rolling Stones earlier this month for a concert at Bobby Dodd Stadium. As ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson reported in April, some of the money generated from the event will cover half of Tech's budget for full cost of attendance.

In the SEC, though, Mick Jagger and the boys aren't needed. At least, not for financial reasons.

"With the different revenues and expenses that we all have, I'm not sure that any one component—specifically cost of attendance or an increase in tuition—would be a reason why you would change what you do," Jacobs said. "I think we all are blessed from the SEC Network funding—I know we are here at Auburn—so we aren't forced to look for new ways to generate revenue."

If you're looking to enjoy a frosty adult beverage at a college football stadium for the low, low price of $8.50, you better try Austin, Minnesota or West Virginia, because you won't likely be able to anytime soon in the SEC.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Make-or-Break Games for Top 2015 Heisman Candidates

Successful Heisman campaigns can hinge on one performance.

Think of the last few Heisman Trophy winners, and a few signature games will come to mind—Jameis Winston's pregame speech and 444-yard outburst against Clemson in 2013, Johnny Manziel's crazy play in an upset win over Alabama in 2012 and Robert Griffin III's game-winning strike to knock off Oklahoma in 2011.

But Heisman campaigns can come to an abrupt end in big games, too. Remember how West Virginia's Geno Smith looked like the runaway favorite in 2012 before Kansas State held him to 143 yards in a prime-time blowout loss?

In anticipation of what should be a Heisman race filled with a ton of great candidates in 2015, let's take a look at the games that could make or break the top contenders' bids for the award.

These games, one for each of the top 10 players in the latest numbers from Odds Shark, were determined by the amount of national spotlight on the matchup, the player's previous performances against the school and the caliber of the opposing defense.

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Michigan Football: 10 Best Players in Wolverines History

It’s taken more than 134 years for the Michigan Wolverines to develop one of college football’s most celebrated and respected programs. With 915 victories, 42 Big Ten titles and 11 national championships, Michigan is recognized as nothing short of NCAA royalty.

And for decades, its winged helmet and maize and blue jerseys have helped define Saturdays in a way unrivaled by most teams in the land. There have been dozens of books written about the rich heritage and proud tradition of Michigan football, yet there is always room for more. Fans and alumni just can’t get enough background when it comes to learning about “Mad Magicians” and “Harmon of Michigan.”

With that being said, it’d be nearly impossible to limit a Wolverines' top-10 slideshow to just 10 people or players for that matter. However, by covering the early days of Fielding H. Yost and Fritz Crisler, all the way to the present-day Jim Harbaugh era, this slideshow will highlight 10 (plus a few) of the greatest men who laid the foundation in Ann Arbor.

“Have you ever been to the Louvre?” asked legendary Wolverines broadcaster Jim Brandstatter, who played for the iconic Bo Schembechler from 1969 to 1972, calling the team’s games for various outlets since the late 1970s. “If you ever get there, you walk around there and there are these paintings, and there’s a masterpiece at every turn, OK?

You walk around the corner of the hallway, and you’re like, ‘Oh, there’s a Van Gogh. Oh, there’s a Monet.’ You get sensory overload. You know, when you’re playing with these guys, you see them every day in practice, and you see them doing remarkable things. You’re used to it.”

Back then, players such as Dan Dierdorf and Reggie McKenzie were “just your buddies." Today, they’re heroes who not only helped shape a program, but they also helped influence Brandstatter's career. Because of them, he knows exactly how to identify special talent. 

Michael Keller agrees "100 percent" with Brandstatter. Because of time spent playing for Schembechler and with guys such as "Brandy" and others, Keller developed a deeper knowledge of the game that helped him excel as a player and executive. He spent five decades holding various titles in the NFL, NFL Europe, XFL and USFL. 

"The types of guys that we had playing on either side of us; that’s what made me a better scout," said Keller, a defensive lineman who started a program-record 33 games during his career (1968-1971). "I knew what it took to be successful and to be great, and I applied my experiences with my teammates to find players for the teams I was going to be scouting for and building.

“I’ve built four or five championship teams because of my experiences at Michigan and being exposed to great players at Michigan. I can't say enough about what I learned from my teammates."

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College Football Fact or Fiction: Answering Offseason's Hottest Questions

The college football season approaches, and with it comes extreme excitement for the upcoming storylines that will conquer the national spotlight. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Adam Kramer, Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee debate the hottest topics during the summer in college football. 

Who will win this year's national championship? Check out the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Odds Jim Harbaugh Beats Ohio State, Michigan State or Both in 2015

It's no secret that first-year Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has a tough rebuilding project ahead of him. After going 5-7 a year ago under Brady Hoke, getting back to a bowl game would be considered a successful season. But even if that doesn't happen, Michigan could get some satisfaction if it beats either Michigan State or Ohio State—or both. 

(Of course, defeating the Spartans and Buckeyes in the same season likely means Michigan is good enough to go bowling. In that case, it would be an added bonus.)

However, what are the odds of Michigan pulling off at least one of those upsets? Both games are at home, which is a plus, so let's set the early odds of beating Ohio State at 3-1, assuming as of today that the Buckeyes will be about a two-touchdown favorite at best. We'll put beating Michigan State at 2.5-1, assuming the Spartans will be a touchdown or so favorite. The odds to beat both? Let's put it at 8-1. 

These odds are just opinion, of course, but they are based on what some early Vegas lines are saying (with an assist from B/R in-house betting guru Adam Kramer). 

Still, the odds aren't great, and history alone tells you why. 

Compounding the misery of Michigan football over the past several years is the fact that the program has fallen far behind not just Ohio State, but Michigan State as well. Things have certainly changed dramatically since 2007 when former Wolverines running back Mike Hart referred to the Spartans as "little brother." 

At that time, Michigan had won its sixth straight game over its in-state rival. Since then, the Spartans have won six of the last seven meetings.

Things are even worse against the Buckeyes. Since 2003, which also happens to be the last time Michigan beat both teams, the Wolverines are 1-10 against Ohio State. Over the past eight seasons, Michigan is 3-13 against Michigan State and Ohio State. The Wolverines have lost to both teams in the same season five times. 

Heading into 2015, Ohio State is a runaway favorite to make the College Football Playoff again and potentially repeat as national champions. Michigan State returns quarterback Connor Cook and defensive end Shilique Calhoun and looks to play spoiler for the Buckeyes' Big Ten and national title hopes. 

In other words, barring an unforeseen development, Michigan isn't catching either team in a down year. To beat even one of them, it's going to require an ugly, grind-it-out game. (For what it's worth, Michigan went 2-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less last year.)

That won't be easy. The Buckeyes and Spartans posted the top two scoring offenses in the Big Ten in 2014 at 44.8 and 43.0 points per game, respectively. Sure, both offenses lost some key contributors, especially at the skill positions. Tony Lippett and Jeremy Langford, the top receiver and rusher for the Spartans, are gone; Devin Smith, the Buckeyes' deep threat, is also no longer around. However, there are plenty of returning players to believe there won't be a major drop-off. 

Michigan's not going to get into a shootout with these teams. That's not their game right now. The Wolverines' concerns lie on offense because of an unresolved quarterback competition, a running back unit that has underperformed and an offensive line that has never quite come together. Under Hoke, there was never any improvement on that side of the ball. In fact, scoring offense actually got worse from 2013 to '14, dropping about 11 points per game. 

As Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com wrote in April following the spring game, Harbaugh's rebuilding job isn't impossible, but it has a long way to go: 

There's a reality here, whether fans want to admit it to themselves or not. Michigan's offense was completely broken a year ago. Harbaugh has to rebuild it. Not quite from scratch, but in terms of fundamentals and mental toughness, it's pretty close. It'll take far more than 15 practices to accomplish this feat, but at the same time, he's got a pretty good track record.

Will the Wolverines offense go from a total mess to something serviceable or better by mid-October (vs. Michigan State) or late November (vs. Ohio State)? Possibly, but turning around three years of mediocrity takes practices and more practices. And then some more practices. It wasn't fixed in the spring, and it may not be fixed in preseason camp. For all anyone knows, the best players Harbaugh will coach at Michigan may not even be on the roster yet

To upset Ohio State and/or Michigan State, Harbaugh's team will need to rely heavily on its defense—not to mention it'll need to catch some breaks as well. There's no denying the defense is ahead of the offense at the moment, but even then, that side of the ball has to be stingy.

In 2014, the Wolverines finished fourth in the Big Ten in scoring defense (18.4 points per game) against unranked teams; against three Associated Press-ranked teams, that number nearly doubled to 34.3 points per game. 

But if there's one thing Michigan has on its side, it's experience. Seventeen starters are returning, according to Phil Steele. Another returning player is safety Jabrill Peppers, the former blue-chip recruit who had his '14 season cut short because of a leg injury. 

Michigan hasn't been great in close games over the past couple of years—it's basically been a coin flip—but the important thing is that they've been in those situations. As former Wolverines lineman Jon Jansen said at a Michigan Alumni Alumni Association luncheon recently, per James Gensterblum of the Petoskey News-Review, that experience should pay off with Harbaugh's brand of mental toughness: 

Regardless of who was coaching this team, we would be a much better team this year just because of the experience these guys have gained. There's no way to simulate what it's like being on the field, and when you're an 18 or 19-year old kid running out of the tunnel to face 110,000 screaming fans, it's overwhelming.

Once you've gotten a year or two under your belt, you're not overwhelmed anymore, you're thinking about your assignment and focused on taking on the guy across from you. The game starts to slow down for you, and when you're playing fast and everything around you is slow, then everything is going to go better for you.

That's it. That's how Michigan upsets Michigan State and/or Ohio State. It's not terribly complex, but that doesn't make it easy, either. The Buckeyes and Spartans are the Big Ten's best right now and either could be playoff-bound next season. Michigan is simply trying to get things turned around in the right direction. 

Beating either one of those teams is about bringing them down to Michigan's level, not the other way around. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Odds and Prediction on Where Playmaking WR Ahmir Mitchell Lands

Ahmir Mitchell is a 4-star athlete, per 247Sports' composite rankings, who is uncommitted. Mitchell is an explosive player who will make an immediate impact at the next level.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer gives his odds on where this 2016 stud will go to college.

Where do you think Mitchell will play at the next level? Check out the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SEC Football: Optimistic, Pessimistic and Realistic Predictions for Every Team

It's summertime and your team—yes, you, the fan of a team who lost everybody off of its depth chart—is a stone cold, lead pipe lock to win the SEC, correct?

Well, it's not that easy.

Upsets happen, major injuries occur and sometimes coaches forget the intricacies of proper clock management. We will account for all of those variables in our optimistic, pessimistic and realistic prediction slideshow for the SEC in 2015.

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Breaking Down the Best Offensive Players in Each College Football Conference

Over the past few years, college football has become an increasingly offensive-oriented game. Spread offenses like Auburn, Clemson, Oregon and TCU's have piled up points from coast to coast, making the game truly fun for fans to watch.

With that said, there’s still room for power rushers who chew up three yards and a cloud of dust (or 50 yards and paydirt) each time out and powerful passing games that feature dropback signal-callers who’ll fit right into any NFL offense. The point? Offenses rule the game, and having talented offensive players on your roster is paramount to sustained success.

Here’s a look at the best offensive players in each FBS conference. Players were selected for their on-field impact, as well as their potential to make a difference for their respective teams in 2015.

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Jennings' On- and Off-Field Mistakes Give Harris Clear Lead in LSU QB Battle

According to the Baton Rouge Advocate's Ross Dellenger, LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings was arrested on Thursday for unauthorized entry of a dwelling. 

Watch as Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee explains what this means for the LSU QB battle. 

Who will be the starting signal-caller for LSU in 2015? Check out the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Predicting Where the Tennessee Volunteers Will Finish in 2016 Recruiting Ranks

The Tennessee Volunteers' back-to-back top-10 recruiting classes probably won't have company in 2016.

When a program gets a complete makeover the way the Vols have in coach Butch Jones' first two classes—signing 62 players, which is more than two-thirds of a roster—the numbers game catches up eventually.

That's what is expected to happen this year.

With a monster class of in-state players and prospects the Vols coaching staff has established relationships with set for 2017, this year's haul may be slimmer than normal.

The final ranking could suffer because of that too.

Given the relatively slow start from a rankings standpoint (Tennessee is currently ranked 16th nationally in the 247Sports composite rankings and seventh in the SEC) and considering UT already has 12 commitments, the team can't make a massive jump up the charts. 

While Jones recruits well enough that a top-20 class is virtually guaranteed, sneaking into the top 15 may be a tall task unless there's considerable turnover in the current class or several prospects receive ratings bumps.

GoVols247 recruiting analyst Ryan Callahan sees a sunnier outlook.

"It's hard to say where Tennessee might finish in the final rankings, at least in part because we don't know for sure how many players the Vols might end up signing," Callahan told B/R. "Their preference would be to sign a class of around 18 as of right now, but it's always possible that they could squeeze in a couple more guys if they feel they need to.

"If they stick with that plan and sign somewhere around 18, I would expect Tennessee to finish somewhere between 11 and 15 in the final team rankings. It's going to be tough for the Vols to sign a pretty small class that's still deep enough to finish in the top 10. That's just the reality of the situation.

"That doesn't mean they can't still sign 18 really good players and have a nice class. But it's going to be tough to crack the top 10 unless they decide to sign a class of 20-plus players."

Perhaps UT's ceiling for this class would be signing one comparable to what the UCLA Bruins did in the 2015 cycle.

Coach Jim Mora signed 19 players, but the class featured three 5-star prospects, 10 4-stars and six 3-stars and finished 12th.

A more logical comparison based on the Vols' current commits (four 4-stars and eight 3-stars) may be what Ole Miss and Oregon did last year in 22-player classes that wound up 16th and 17th, respectively.

Also, a glimpse of the 2014 rankings shows that Stanford, Clemson, UCLA and Michigan all finished ranked in the top 20 with 20 or fewer commitments.

It can be done, but the Vols need a big finish.

Considering there are at least a couple of players on the commitment list who likely won't be there on national signing day, there's some wiggle room. But another talk-of-national-signing-day finish like the last couple of years is not expected.

That hasn't kept analysts from raving about what Jones has done with limited space thus far:

Here are a few targets Tennessee could sign who would send it surging up the rankings.

 

Kareem Walker

The top-ranked running back in the nation and 4-star Ohio State commitment from New Jersey is good friends with UT quarterback commit Jarrett Guarantano. He plans on visiting the Vols soon, and as OSU has two other potential running backs already committed in this class, it's not outside the realm of possibility that Jones could steal him. Still, at this point, it's wishful thinking.

 

Rashan Gary

Like Walker, Gary hails from New Jersey. Like Walker, he's a long shot to commit to Tennessee (nobody has picked the Vols on the Crystal Ball). But he also has ties to Guarantano, and he's expected to visit UT. If the Vols could somehow convince the nation's top-ranked player to come to Knoxville, they'd surge up the rankings.

 

B.J. Emmons

After the 4-star running back recently decommitted from Georgia, 100 percent of the Crystal Ball projections have him heading to Knoxville. Tennessee desperately needs a running back (or two) in this class, and the staff loves him. If he can qualify, he'd be a perfect fit for this class. He is a power back who also possesses breakaway speed and elite all-around ability. Alabama is also interested.

 

Derrick Brown

Brown is monstrous defensive tackle prospect from the Peach State who is big and athletic and somewhat comparable to Trent Thompson from a season ago. He had Georgia out front early, and the Bulldogs are still in the top group with usual suspects Alabama and Auburn. But after visiting Knoxville this past weekend, the 5-star told Callahan he "definitely" wants to get back up there soon, so UT is in this race.

 

Nigel Warrior

One of the three most realistic huge targets on this list, Warrior is a Tennessee legacy (his father, Dale Carter, is a UT legend) who once referred to the Vols as his leader. Like Brown with Georgia, the star safety has since backed off that statement, but the Vols are in his lead group with teams such as Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State and others. UT should be in this battle until the end.

 

Joejuan Williams

Williams is another prospect many SEC teams have offered, and Jones seems to have the Vols positioned well for the defensive back's signature early in the process. The UT head coach has a strong track record of keeping coveted stars in state, and Williams fits both of those categories. He'd help Tennessee's final ranking, and he's a must-get for the staff.

Toss this cluster of targets into a group of many more, and you see that Tennessee could make a positive move between now and national signing day. And that list doesn't include the 10 or so 4-star receivers who include UT in their lists of favorites.

You have to figure the Vols will land at least a couple of them.

During the past couple of recruiting cycles, Tennessee heated up with the weather. The Vols are about to run a stretch of camps that was productive for them a year ago, starting with this weekend's "Orange Carpet Day."

UT has experienced a strong past couple of weeks with commitments from two JUCO targets who were high on the want list. Receiver Jeff George and defensive tackle Alexis Johnson committed to the Vols, giving Jones important targets at positions where immediate assistance will be needed in 2016.

Local tight end Austin Pope, whose stock has risen recently with offers from teams such as Missouri, Arkansas and Nebraska, pledged less than a week after receiving an offer from UT. The Christian Academy of Knoxville produced Vols Josh Smith and Brett Kendrick in recent years, and now Pope will make a third.

All three of those players are 3-star prospects, but UT didn't hesitate in taking them, regardless of the shortage of spots in the class. So, that should tell you all you need to know about how concerned coaches are with rankings.

The past two years, the Vols were the talk of college football, seemingly rising from the ashes to become a major name in recruiting again. They may go about it more quietly this year, but that doesn't mean they're struggling to promote their brand.

They're just facing the reality of having a young roster loaded with underclassmen and limited spots for players in this class.

The end result may not cause the gurus to gush, but the Vols are putting together a solid class.

 

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

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Biggest Remaining Challenge Every Power 5 Coach Faces This Offseason

Now roughly 11 weeks from the start of the 2015 college football season, we can begin to see the horizon. And it's dotted with stadiums, tailgating and pre- and postgame shows—all there to entertain us and carry us through the fall.

There's nothing left to do but wait, at least for the fans. College coaches, however, still have plenty left to do.

Coaches are making the final arrangements to ensure the next crop of incoming recruits arrive without incident. They're tinkering with the playbook and drawing up early depth charts. And that's just the tip of the iceberg as far as what coaches still have to worry about this offseason.

Each coach and team has its own specific concerns and challenges to deal with over the summer. We've identified the biggest one for every power-conference team (and Notre Dame) and explain what impact this issue could have on the 2015 season.

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UCLA Football: Recapping the Biggest Offseason News so Far

It's been a period of transition throughout this offseason for head coach Jim Mora and the UCLA football team. 

The program has bid adieu to integral members of the roster (Brett Hundley, Eric Kendricks, Owa Odighizuwa). Dually, there's been a change at one of the coordinator spots. 

There have also been some problems surfacing—which include a suspension of a coach and legal problems for a highly prized recruit. 

Accordingly, this piece will delve into the biggest offseason news for the UCLA Bruins. 

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UCLA Football: Recapping the Biggest Offseason News so Far

It's been a period of transition throughout this offseason for head coach Jim Mora and the UCLA football team. The program has bid adieu to integral members of the roster (Brett Hundley , Eric Kendricks, Owa Odighizuwa )...

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Ohio State Football: 10 Best Players in Buckeyes' History

The Ohio State football program has been up and running for 125 incredible seasons, and the amount of talent that has filtered through Columbus is staggering.

The Buckeyes have produced six Heisman Trophy winners (and seven trophies total) and sent 416 players to the NFL via the draft, 69 of which went in the first round. 

But who are the 10 best players to ever suit up in the scarlet and gray?

Determining that starts with Ohio State's six Heisman winners. They're part of a fraternity that is comprised of the greatest players in college football history, so they're on this list by default.

The other four spots? Those went to guys who played key roles in their respective championship teams, dominated their position like no other players ever have or own the distinction of putting Ohio State on the map (in a literal sense).  

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