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2016 College Football Recruits with International Backgrounds

Football may be America's game, but it continues to evolve into a global interest. The NFL and NCAA now play regular-season contests on multiple continents, while expansive media coverage provides a look at action like never before in various corners of the world. 

A new generation of promising players features phenoms from beyond United States borders, bringing a fresh element of talent into the mix. The game's growth outside of North America remains in a relatively fledgling state, but the emergence of foreign-born athletes provides a glimpse of what could lie ahead.

Foreign athletes who've flourished at the highest level of football include wide receiver Nate Burleson (Canada), defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (Tonga) and linebacker Tamba Hali (Liberia).

Here's a look at several prospects who have landed on the radar of college recruiters via their international endeavors.

 

Players listed in alphabetical order.

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College Football Coaches Who Shine and Struggle Against Top 25 Teams

Of the 128 FBS head coaches, how many do you think have a career winning record against Top 25 teams?

Half?  A third?  A quarter? 

How about 15 total?  That’s a paltry 12 percent of the field.

On the flip side, of the 110 guys who have at least one year of FBS head coaching under their belt and have played at least one ranked team, how many have never won a game against a Top 25 opponent?

Ten percent?  Twenty percent?  Twenty-five percent?

How about 32?  That’s a whopping 29 percent.

Comparing coach’s records straight-up isn’t an apples-to-apples affair. Some have 15 years of experience, while others have three—this means where one guy has faced 25 ranked teams, the other has played seven.  It’s further complicated when you have one guy coaching at Florida, while the other is at Memphis—giving one more exposure to ranked action than the other.

We’ll kick things off by looking at the top and the bottom of the barrel nationally and then switch gears to rankings within each of the Power Five leagues.

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Virginia Tech Football: 5 Players Sure to Surprise at Fall Camp

Fall camp is almost here for the Virginia Tech Hokies. In fact, it begins in just over two weeks. For college football fans, it is the best time of the year.

Virginia Tech fans hope the 2015 season is much different than the past three years. Tech's fanbase is used to the Hokies competing for the ACC title on an annual basis, and that just hasn't happened recently.

But that could change in 2015.

The Hokies return the majority of their starters on both sides of the ball, and several talented newcomers are now in the program. Which newcomer—or young player—will impress coaches this fall?

Here's a look at five players who are sure to surprise during fall camp.

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Power Ranking the Projected Big 12 Starting Quarterbacks

Though the Big 12 has consistently produced gunslinging quarterbacks such as Collin Klein, Bryce Petty, Robert Griffin III and Brandon Weeden since 2010, the conference may have its first down year in recent memory when it comes to the quality of its signal-callers. 

Trevone Boykin of TCU is the only quarterback whose name has any staying power. 

Guys like Baker Mayfield, Seth Russell and Patrick Mahomes may prove to be diamonds in the rough as the season progresses, but that's all theory and not reality. 

In a 10-team league, which team has the best quarterback? Which has the worst? 

Let's rank each Big 12 team's projected starting quarterback. 

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UCLA Football: Strengths, Weaknesses and Secret Weapons

When taking a look at a specific football program, each team will have its strong points and weaknesses. The UCLA football team heading into 2015 is no different.

Depth within the squad is as good as it's been in quite some time. Head coach Jim Mora and his staff have done an excellent job of building up the talent since he took over the post in 2012. The team is particularly strong at multiple positions—specifically with veteran leadership.

This piece will analyze not only the strengths but also the weaknesses and potential secret weapons within the UCLA Bruins' roster.

 

Strength: Running Game

UCLA should have no problem running the football in 2015. It boasts arguably the deepest stable of backs in the entire conference.

Leading the group is Paul Perkins. A season ago, Perkins led the conference in rushing with 1,575 yards and nine touchdowns. He figures to be even better as a redshirt junior this year.

Behind Perkins is rising sophomore Nate Starks. In limited time, the Las Vegas native flashed the propensity to break tackles and get tough yardage between the tackles. He reshaped his body considerably in the offseason, and it should lead to gains in the area of quickness.

Craig Lee and Steven Manfro provide depth.

Manfro has demonstrated the ability to catch the football out of the backfield—or even as a receiver in years past. Lee has yet to secure a role on this team. With that said, he may be the most innately talented member of the bunch. His quickness and speed are very impressive.

The potential X-factor in this group is Soso Jamabo. Ranked as 247Sports' second-best running back in the 2015 recruiting class, the incoming freshman out of Texas is a ridiculous athlete. His versatility enables him to line up all over the field in various spots.

Don't be surprised to see Jamabo carve out a niche for himself as a true freshman. He seems far too talented to redshirt.

 

Weakness: Quarterback Experience

Former quarterback Brett Hundley departed with a star-studded resume chock full of statistical records. He also left behind three years of starting experience.

Whether it's Jerry Neuheisel or Josh Rosen starting, neither brings much in the way of experience to the table.

Outside of garbage time, Neuheisel's main bit of experience came last season in the come-from-behind victory over Texas. Outside of that, he's green in terms of actual time on the field.

Rosen—a true freshman—has obviously not competed yet on the collegiate level.

Fortunately for UCLA, both are mature, intelligent players. That still won't prevent potential (and probable) mistakes from happening in the future.

Neither has truly faced any substantial level of adversity. Neuheisel got a taste of it a season ago, but it will be an entirely new ballgame should he find himself in a starting role.

The pressure to perform well for this veteran team will be tangible. Additionally, how will Neuheisel or Rosen fare against conference foes such as Stanford, Arizona State or Southern Cal? Will the signal-callers be able to play well in tough road environments such as Tucson, Salt Lake City or Corvallis, Oregon?

These are questions which will be answered during the season.

 

Strength: Continuity Up Front 

UCLA will have a veteran group along both the offensive and defensive line.

Run game coordinator/offensive line coach Adrian Klemm has done a masterful job of building up both the depth and quality along the offensive front. When he first took over, it was a ragtag unit comprised mostly of true freshmen.

A few years later, this seasoned bunch is littered with experience. Center Jake Brendel—a four-year starter—is the unquestioned leader. Alex Redmond and Caleb Benenoch have been starters since their freshman seasons.

Conor McDermott is a returning starter at left tackle. The fifth starting spot will likely come down to Kenny Lacy or Simon Goines. Both players have been battle-tested in their respective careers.

In terms of the front seven on defense, it's a potentially elite group.

Eddie Vanderdoes and Kenny Clark return as three-year starters. A Pac-12 coach told ESPN's Kyle Bonagura (h/t Fox Sports) that the duo is in all likelihood the most talented one-two punch of any defensive line twosome in the conference.

Defensive end Takk McKinley will most likely start as the third member of the group. While he's not overly seasoned, he did see time a season ago.

At linebacker, Myles Jack will assume the role left by Eric Kendricks. He'll be joined by pass-rushing dynamo Deon Hollins.

For the first time in the Mora era, he won't be relying upon true freshmen and inexperienced players to perform at significant spots.

Even in the secondary, the expected starting unit will mostly be comprised of upperclassmen (Marcus Rios, Fabian Moreau, Randall Goforth, Ishmael Adams), with sophomore Jaleel Wadood being the lone exception.

 

Weakness: Depth Along Defensive Line

The depth behind the projected starting trio of Clark, Vanderdoes and McKinley is paper-thin.

Depth at defensive end is in a slightly better spot than that of tackle. When looking at the roster, sophomores Matt Dickerson and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner expect to play prominent roles.

Both saw some time as true freshmen in 2014, but neither are overly experienced. Redshirt freshman Ainuu Taua is a bit of a hybrid player from the standpoint that he can play at both end and tackle. While not a true nose tackle, he should be able to play inside and use his quickness and squatty build (5'11", 296 lbs) to get leverage.

Eli Ankou is the most experienced interior lineman reserve. However, he's battled various injuries throughout his time in Westwood. As a result, former offensive guard Najee Toran has transitioned to the defensive side of the ball.

With depth along the offensive line looking good, don't be surprised if incoming freshman Fred Ulu-Perry gets a look at nose guard. An elite center prospect, he's built low to the ground and has immense natural strength.

 

Secret Weapons

Two of the secret weapons—Dickerson and McKinley—play the same position.

Dickerson looks like a prototypical 3-4 defensive end. With terrific overall length and size (6'4", 270 lbs) for the position, he should garner a lot of playing time in 2015. He'll most likely be the first reserve off the bench for the Bruins along the defensive front.

McKinley is only scratching the surface of how good he can truly be. He's got freakish athletic ability, possessing the skills to not only rush off the edge but also run down running backs in the backfield.

Against Arizona State last season (in his first collegiate game), McKinley was a gunner on kick coverage. Using his raw athletic ability and instincts, he was able to run the returner down with ease. It's a great feat considering the former high school track star is 6'4", 230 pounds.

The last secret weapon comes on the offensive side of the ball. Receiver Jordan Lasley has the potential to be the most dynamic receiver within the corps in 2015.

A redshirt freshman from Serra High School, Lasley created some buzz for himself with two Instagram videos from practice. One showed him leaping over Adams for a long touchdown. Don't forget, Adams is an All-Pac-12 selection.

In this one, Lasley is shown unleashing a stiff arm on linebacker Isaako Savaiinaea.

Lasley has been compared to former Southern Cal receiver Nelson Agholor. Lasley played the role of Agholor last year during game preparations versus the Trojans.

Former defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich had high praise for Lasley, telling reporters, "Jordan Lasley is going to be a stud. That sucker comes out and competes his butt off every day."

Look for Lasley to start off as an outside receiver in the Bruins' scheme. He'll likely be targeted on passes stretching the field vertically.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA Football: Strengths, Weaknesses and Secret Weapons

When taking a look at a specific football program, each team will have its strong points and weaknesses. The UCLA football team heading into 2015 is no different. Depth within the squad is as good as it's been in quite some time...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

ACC Media Guide Accidentally Contains Extreme Profanity

Editors are important. You never know what might slip through a written work—maybe a spelling error, maybe a typo.

Maybe even some extreme profanity.

The ACC’s 2015 media guide fell victim to the last peg on that list, as a super NSFW phrase somehow made its way into the book (Photo courtesy of CBS Sports). Warning: The image below contains profanity.

Could it have been a joke that accidentally slipped through the cracks? A disgruntled worker’s effort to fight the power? We don't know.

But this is pretty hilarious—and unfortunate if you’re one of the people who put this together. And maybe just lost your job for it.

[h/t CBS Sports]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas A&M Hopes to Mimic, Exceed Auburn's Rise in SEC West

If an entire college football program could look in a mirror, one has to wonder if Texas A&M would see hints of blue and orange. 

Recently there have been growing similarities and parallels between it and Auburn, and not just because their head coaches are known for having uptempo spread offenses.

Both know a thing or two about being overshadowed by an in-state rival.

Auburn had Cam Newton; Texas A&M came back with Johnny Manziel.

Outside of LSU, they’re the only Southeastern Conference programs to beat Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium since Nick Saban arrived in 2007.

Even last year’s numbers were somewhat similar. Both went 8-5, and in total points Auburn finished with just three more scored, 461 to 458. That’s despite the Tigers having a 3-4 record against ranked teams while the Aggies were 1-5.

However, that one was at Auburn, 41-38, which essentially ended the Tigers’ chances of making the inaugural playoffs. Twice they appeared to be going in for a late touchdown to take the lead only to lose a fumble, including once at the 2-yard line with 2:37 remaining.

Although how they moved the ball was different that day, as Aggies quarterback Jake Allen had four touchdown passes in the first half and Tigers running back Cameron Artis-Payne totaled 221 rushing yards on 30 carries, both defenses were pretty inept. The offenses combined for 1,035 yards.

Consequently, both coaches decided they needed to make a big move and opened the coffers to land defensive coordinators who were already proven in the league. While Auburn brought back Will Muschamp after he was let go as Florida’s head coach, Texas A&M hired John Chavis from LSU.

“Their defense didn’t do anything exactly, they didn’t have the greatest players in the world, but they always had the right answers for what you were doing,” Texas A&M tackle Germain Ifedi said about facing Chavis’ defense at LSU. “When I heard he was coming to A&M I was excited. It’s a big deal.

“He’s proven he can do more with less, and even more with more.”

Specific to this season, the comparisons only continue.

Both teams have highly touted quarterbacks who had to wait their chance.

Both teams have had recent success in recruiting and boast some big-time offensive threats.

Yet Auburn was picked to win the conference title during SEC media days last week, while A&M was slated for sixth in the Western Division—leading many to wonder how two teams so similar could be expected to finish at opposite ends of the standings.

In addition to respect for the West’s other teams, it boiled down to three things: A little more success as Auburn played for the 2013 national championship, the Tigers have a more favorable schedule compared to last season and the Aggies are a little younger on paper.

For example, prize defensive lineman Myles Garrett set an SEC freshman record with 11.5 sacks in 2014. He, like Allen, is obviously only a sophomore.

Speedy Noil is a tremendous deep threat and terrific special teams player. He, along with returning starter Ricky Seals-Jones, is also a sophomore.

Linebacker Otaro Alaka was named the Defensive MVP of the Liberty Bowl. Again, he’s a sophomore, along with a pair of key players in the secondary: cornerback Victor Davis and safety Armani Watts, who both saw a lot of playing time in 2014.

“When you have that many young guys that are playing, I think what we learned as coaches and hopefully as players is what it takes to go through the grind of this league,” Coach Kevin Sumlin said. “Our first year here, we had a group of seniors who were physically and mentally tough. Last year I think guys like Armani Watts, who started off the year great playing free safety for us, had a great game against South Carolina, Week 6, 7, 8, 9, he just was worn down. So mentally it's different.

“The maturity level of this team in another year—as they say, the best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores, and for us, that's a good thing because there is no one-and-done in college football.”

Thus, even though the majority of college football players improve the most between their first and second years, Auburn is getting the benefit of doubt because juniors and seniors will fill most of those same key positions.

In terms of measuring sticks for the Auburn and Texas A&M comparison, we’ll get two of them before they play Nov. 7, as the Mississippi schools will first face both on back-to-back Saturdays.

The Bulldogs go first, at Auburn on Sept. 26 and at College Station on Oct. 3, and then the Rebels host the Aggies on Oct. 24 before visiting Auburn on Oct. 31.

Oddly enough, in both cases the non-Mississippi team will be coming off a game against Arkansas, which plays an exact opposite style of play, grind-it-out, and aims to be the most physical team in the league.

“Yeah, Arkansas is a really good team,” said Texas A&M center Mike Mathews, one of the few offensive starters who is a senior. “We’re really excited for that game. Last season was nail-bitter. Thankfully, we were able to pull it out. They’re a great team with a lot of style.”

That was also when the Aggies’ 2014 season turned south. At 5-0, Texas A&M then lost three straight games, including 59-0 to Alabama. The win against No. 3 Auburn and 45-37 over West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl salvaged the season somewhat.

“Our guys left the season feeling a heck of a lot better about themselves than they did during the middle of the year,” Sumlin said.

How well the sophomores develop will go a long way in determining Texas A&M’s success this fall, and who’s to say if things come together that the Aggies won’t end up being better than even Auburn. After all, there was a reason why Sumlin was told by a passing Steve Spurrier during media days: “You guys had the same record as Auburn last year right? You should tell (the media) that.”

 

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

Kliff Kingsbury out to Show He's Not Just the Big 12's Best-Looking Coach

DALLAS, Texas — After a while, it gets old.

Kliff Kingsbury, the Ryan Gosling of the Big 12 and of college football.

"I think we're past that," Kingsbury told reporters at Big 12 media days. "It's time to win football games and be a good coach."

Texas Tech's favorite son returned to his alma mater as a head coach at the end of the 2012 season after a brief stint as Texas A&M's offensive coordinator. Kingsbury was viewed as a bright, young offensive mind that would bring the Red Raiders back into the Air Raid days of the Mike Leach era.

And, yes, his looks—right, wrong or otherwise—were a part of the story.

At first, the Kingsbury-to-Tech marriage seemed ideal. In Kingsbury's first season in 2013, the Red Raiders started 7-0, but then lost the final five games of the regular season. Only a surprising Holiday Bowl victory over Arizona State kept Tech from being a complete Jekyll and Hyde case.

Things didn't improve in 2014. In fact, they got worse. Tech struggled to put away Central Arkansas and UTEP in the first two games and went on to finish 4-8. The shine of the young, attractive Kingsbury storyline had worn off. Now, Kingsbury doesn't want it to be any part of the story.

Entering his third year, this is firmly Kingsbury's program. And it's time to win.

That's not just anyone's opinion. That's his own.

"I don't think I like the attention," Kingsbury said. "Early on, attention is good for a program when you're trying to get recruits. Now, it's about winning games."

Sometimes, winning is a matter of a couple of things going right or wrong. A four-win season can be a six- or a seven-win season if one or two things break differently. But it seemed like just about everything went wrong for Kingsbury in '14. Just a few weeks into the season, defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt abruptly resigned. Tech would go on to finish the season last in the Big 12 in points per game allowed.

There were mental mistakeslots and lots of mental mistakes. The Red Raiders finished near the bottom nationally in turnover margin and penalties. Those two areas have been a problem in Kingsbury's two years.

Injuries took their toll. Namely, quarterback Davis Webb sustained a shoulder injury in an early season loss to Oklahoma State and eventually had to be shut down for the year.

"This past year, going through the tough times, a lot of our young guys never experienced (losing)," Kingsbury told Bleacher Report. "So it was a learning experience for everyone. It upped the ante for them wanting to win."

Interestingly, Kingsbury said he saw a bright future in Tech's final game of the season against Baylor, a 48-46 loss. There would be no bowl for the Red Raiders. There was nothing to play for, yet Kingsbury's team kept battling, outscoring the Bears 31-6 in the final quarter-and-a-half. Though they came up just short, Kingsbury knew it was an encouraging sign.

"That's when I knew we had a chance to be good quickly," Kingsbury said. "We had nothing else to play for other than pride. They stood up, bowed their necks and played hard."

The momentum, if you want to call it that, carried over into the offseason. More players are coming into Tech's facilities building on their days off, he said. There's more film study and more work being put in the weight room.

But no one feels the pressure to succeed more than Kingsbury. Forget the laid-back demeanor. Those who know him attest he's as competitive as anyone in the business.

That's a big part of the reason why Kingsbury was able to land a head coaching job after just five years as an assistant. But the flip side to that is Kingsbury is still learning how to coach, let alone run an entire operation. It takes time.

Being a position coach, or even a coordinator, and a head coach are two completely different things. Kingsbury's responsibilities more closely resemble that of a CEO, in which delegating responsibilities and developing players and coaches alike are paramount.

It's all a learning experience, Kingsbury explained, and there's not exactly a manual for how to handle situations that arise. Shortly after his first season with Tech, quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Michael Brewer transferred with multiple parting shots.

"You learn on the go," he said. "Nothing can prepare you for being in that seat. I wasn't in it as long as others, but I've been fortunate enough to have been around great coaches. I got to see it done a lot of different ways.

"You get an overall understanding of what's going on day-to-day," Kingsbury continued. "When I first got here it was all about offense. 'What are we doing on offense?' That's all I knew. Then, as I evolved, it was 'Hey, I have to keep an eye on special teams and know the personnel there. I have to know the defense and know what's going on there.'"

You can bet Kingsbury knows now. First-year defensive coordinator David Gibbs comes to Tech from Houston, where he coached up one of the top defensive units in the American Athletic Conference in 2014. These are the types of decisions Kingsbury knows he has to make now. Despite having a high-paying contract and the admiration of an entire fanbase, Kingsbury eventually has to prove that he is the right guy for the job.

Kingsbury is a brilliant Xs and Os football mind, no doubt, but being a successful head coach is more than that. It's about being able to make changes and adapt on the fly. Until now, Kingsbury hasn't had the opportunity to do that.

Armed with a team that returns lots of juniors and seniors in the two-deep, Texas Tech has the talent and experience to be the biggest turnaround team in the Big 12. But do they have the mental discipline to cut down on the mistakes and negative plays that proved so costly the last two years? Can the Red Raiders improve on finishing drives and red-zone efficiency?

There are no more excuses in Kingsbury's mind. It's time for everyone, himself included, to start acting their age.

"They have fun with me being a younger guy, it comes with the territory," Kingsbury said. "But we're serious about our program and winning games and that's what we're trying to do."

 

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

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Big 12 Media Days 2015: Biggest Quotes and Reaction from Day 1

DALLAS, TX—Day 1 of Big 12 media days is all but officially in the books. As expected, there were no shortages of storylines to be told. From expansion and playoff conversations, to player safety and scheduling philosophies, the Big 12 state of the union was eventful. 

So what caught our eye in Dallas? Here are a few of the major highlights, plus some odds and ends. 

 

Expansion? What Expansion?

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby started the inevitable expansion question off with a joke. 

"I lost the pool, by the way," he quipped. "I thought that would be the first question."

Bowlsby reiterated his previous stance on expansion, which was that "a majority of our presidents and chancellors believe ten is the right number." However, the money quote from Bowlsby was that there were about "four or five" presidents in the middle who were "persuadable one way or the other." 

We know where Oklahoma president David Boren stands. He's wanted 12 teams from the get-go. But now that we know roughly half of the Big 12 presidents could be persuaded one way or the other, it makes for some interesting conversation. Boren is an influential individual, especially since there's a changing of the guard at Texas with a new president and athletic director, both of whom have been quiet on this topic lately. 

If there is anyone in Boren's corner, it's Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder. "I favor a 12‑team conference, I favor two divisions, and I favor a championship game," Snyder said before adding, "I do the easy part of it. I can identify issues. Solution is another story."

Sorry, Memphis, BYU or Central Florida. Secretly, Snyder may be in your corner, but he's not saying so publicly. 

But it's ultimately not Snyder's call, nor is it Bowlsby's. He's there to serve the best interests of the member presidents, whom he rightly calls "CEOs." It's going to take massive change for the Big 12 to seriously explore expansion targets. However, that doesn't appear imminent.

"At the present time, I don't think there's critical mass for expansion," Bowlsby said. "It will continue to be a topic about which we spend at least a little time at every meeting talking about it.  But until that majority shifts, it's a purely academic conversation."

 

Finding the Path to the Playoff

Guerin Emig of the Tulsa World said it best on Twitter: 

Much has been made about Boren calling the Big 12 "psychologically disadvantaged" because of its size. It is, after all, the only Power 5 conference without a conference championship game. Last year, it was the Big 12 that was left out of the College Football Playoff. 

However, if the Big 12 is to change up its format, it would far more likely be with a deregulated conference championship game rather than expansion. This makes sense because legitimate expansion targets are, at best, few and far between. 

"I don't think one year makes a trend," Bowlsby said about the Big 12 being left out of the playoff. "We were very close to having two teams in last year, and you really don't have to have much of an imagination to see how that might have worked out where we would have gotten one and maybe two without too much of a stretch."

So, as it is with expansion, the Big 12 is in a holding pattern with regards to a deregulated championship game. "We need to play better, and we need to do what we can to get better in every single way," Bowlsby said. At the absolute earliest, we could see one by 2016 if the conference decides after this season that it really is disadvantaged with its layout. 

Bowlsby brought up the Big 12's previous track record with championship games, noting that the conference has oftentimes cannibalized itself with that extra game. "Fifty percent of the time our best team was eliminated from consideration by losing in the championship game," Bowlsby said. 

While the past may not always indicate the future, it does at least give some reason for pause. 

"For me, I think every year is different," said TCU coach Gary Patterson, whose team fell three spots in the final CFP standings and out of the playoff field. "I'm not a big believer that you have to have a conference championship.  I thought the whole thing about going to a playoff was that they picked the four best teams.  You didn't even have to have a championship game."

"That's what I was led to believe."

Patterson has been on the short end of the playoff stick already. With practically the same schedule and path to the playoff this year, it'll be interesting to see how the Frogs are viewed, provided they win enough games to be in the conversation. Is Patterson confident things will be different this time?

"After last year, I don't feel confident about anything," he said. 

 

Focusing on Player Safety

One of the truly interesting nuggets from Day 1 was the reduction of the amount of live contact a player can participate in during a game week. According to the conference, "in-season live contact opportunities" will be limited to "no more than two times per week, including game day, per student-athlete."

This is a Big 12 rule and will take effect this season. The national rule allows three incidents of helmet-to-helmet contact during the week.

Here's Bowlsby's explanation: 

We have also taken another step because we don't think the national rule goes far enough.  The national rule is three incidents of helmet‑to‑helmet full contact with live tackling and the like three times a week, including a game.  Three times including the game, or a scrimmage if you didn't play in the game.

We have adoptedour ADs just adopted this, that we will go with a two‑contact‑per‑week rule that will be the game plus one other day of full contact, or a scrimmage for those that didn't play in the game and one other day of full contact.

We believe it's the right step, and we hope it will become the national rule.  Even if it doesn't, we think that that's the right way to conduct our practices.  It's another way in which we're a little different, but our ADs have felt strongly about it and our coaches have supported.  That's our rule moving forward.

Reducing the amount of live contact is something that Bowlsby hopes will improve overall player health during the second half of a season. But how much will this affect coaches and their game preparation?

Not as much as you'd think. In fact, Bowlsby said the rule was supported by the conference's coaches. The bottom line is, not too many coaches want their players to get too physical anyway during the season when health is at a premium. As a result, Bowlsby said the rule eliminates an unnecessary extra day of hitting. 

All five coaches interviewed on Day 1—Patterson, Snyder, Kansas coach David Beaty, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen and Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury—were asked about this reduction. Not one complained about the move.

"We haven't had a two-a-day at West Virginia in four years," Holgorsen said. "The way the model is right now is something that I've supported and something that we've done at West Virginia since I got there."

"It's not going to change our approach just a whole lot," Beaty added. "Honestly, we adjust to the landscape pretty good." 

Fresher bodies theoretically means healthier players in November and December. That's important to coaches. 

"(With coaches) there's a false sense of we just try to bang our kids around, but I think all of us, we like keeping our jobs, and we want to keep our kids healthy," Patterson said. 

 

Odds and Ends

— There's nothing close to official yet, but the Big 12 is keeping an eye on the strength of the out-of-conference schedules of its members. Currently, the conference doesn't have a mandatory standard, like scheduling at least one Power 5 opponent each year. 

"Our athletic directors have not chosen to make it mandatory," Bowlsby said. "They have respected those prerogatives on an institutional basis. I think we will continue to have that conversation, and it's possible that we could get to a point where we need a little more structure around it." 

— The Big 12 is taking a hands-off approach to field/court storming. "We are choosing to manage it rather than prohibit it," Bowlsby said. "We think that, properly managed, those kinds of celebrations can be a lot of fun." 

This is a good policy. Fan safety is always a concern, but no two home atmospheres are the same. Bowlsby has a lot of trust in his membership, and he's clearly allowing them to handle things on their own. 

— The Winner of Day 1? Beaty, by far. The first-year Jayhawks coach inherits a rough situation, made worse by the fact that his projected starting quarterback, Michael Cummings, sustained a knee injury during the spring game. However, it's easy to see why Beaty is such a regarded recruiter. He mentioned high school coaches at least a half-dozen times during his opening remarks and Q&A. 

"One of the big things for me is we are located right now in one of the finest, most fertile grounds for high school athletes in the country, and those athletes are coached by some of the finest high school coaches in the country," Beaty said. 

The guy knows to whom he's marketing himself. Beaty is energetic, optimistic and his personality is infectious. Those players will run through a wall for him, without a doubt. No lie, it felt like the press room was going to explode in applause when he finished his Q&A. 

— Snyder said that Kansas State has not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six but seven quarterbacks on its roster. While that's a huge number on paper, Snyder noted that only four were really in consideration for the starting job. Still, that's as wide open as any quarterback battle you're going to find this time of year. 

— Speaking of quarterback battles, Kingsbury has one going on at Tech between Patrick Mahomes and Davis Webb. Kingsbury feels confident that he can win with either player, but he still plans on having a starter named before the end of preseason camp so that team chemistry can be developed.

However, just because Kingsbury feels he can win with both players doesn't mean he plans to make them interchangeable. "It will be a feel situation because bothIf we name a starter, we're going to ride with that guy knowing that we have a great insurance policy behind him, but I wouldn't expect a quick hook on whoever we name the starter," Kingsbury said. 

— How's this for coachspeak hyperbole: Holgorsen said this year's defense "should be the best that I've had potentially since I started coaching 20-some years ago." The Mountaineers were historically bad on defense in 2012 because, in part, so many players were freshmen. Those freshmen are now seniors who have seen just about every possible scenario. Holgorsen also has a lot of faith in second-year coordinator Tony Gibson, who did a nice job in '14. 

But the best defense he's ever coached? No pressure, guys.

 

They Said It 

— What was the low point for the Mountaineers defensively? Baylor, 2013, when the Mountaineers lost 73-42. "That's when we knew it was going to be a long season," said linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski. Kwiatkoski, along with safety Karl Joseph, lead a far more veteran defense that could be asked to win games this season. 

— Want to feel old? TCU center Joey Hunt said his favorite player in middle school was former Texas quarterback Vince Young.

— Kingsbury was asked whether he wanted to coach when he was in his 70s, like Snyder does. "I don't know about that," he laughed. "He (Snyder) still looks like he did when I was playing."  

— Beaty had some high praise for Michael Cummings, who is back on the field throwing after having knee surgery this offseason. "He is only a better kid than he is a player," Beaty said. "If anybody can make it back this year, it would be him." 

 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben at Big 12 media days on Twitter @BenKercheval

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Every Power 5 Conference Team's Biggest Concern Heading into Fall Camp

The preseason is a time for hope among college football fans across the country, but it's also a time of concern. After all, it wouldn't be "talking season" without some good, old-fashioned pessimism.

Analysts break down every part of schools' rosters and stat sheets as the slow crawl toward actual football continues. Therefore, every team, from the biggest title contender to the smallest rebuilding program, has question marks heading into the upcoming season. 

While teams started to sort out these issues during spring practices, plenty of them still remain as fall camp draws closer. How will one powerhouse address its need for new starters at a given position? Will a team end a certain woe from 2014?

Here are the biggest concerns for each of the power-conference teams—and Notre Dame—in college football, which were determined by projected depth charts and statistical performances from last season.

What area are you most concerned with for your favorite school? Let us know in the comments below.

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Did Les Miles, LSU Have ​a Chance to Steal Braxton Miller from Ohio State?

COLUMBUS, Ohio — When Braxton Miller confirmed two weeks ago to the Columbus Dispatch that he will be spending the 2015 season at Ohio State, it was supposed to bring an end to the speculation that has surrounded the Buckeyes quarterback throughout the college football offseason.

But while there's no longer any doubt about what team Miller will be playing for this fall, LSU head coach Les Miles has provided some interesting insight into the process that led to the two-time Big Ten MVP's return to Columbus.

Speaking to ESPN during his "car wash" tour of the network on Monday, Miles revealed that he was interested in making a run at Miller, who as a graduate transfer would have had the ability to gain immediate eligibility for the 2015 season had he opted to leave OSU. While he declined to mention Miller by name, the Tigers head coach made it clear that discussions about adding Miller to the roster had taken place within his program following a season in which LSU struggled mightily at the quarterback position.

ESPN.com's Trav Haney relayed a few of Miles' comments:

That second part, pertaining to Miller's surgically repaired shoulder—which cost him his 2014 season before it even started—is particularly interesting, as it would imply that Miles had insight into the Buckeyes signal-caller's recovery process. That doesn't jibe with the message that Miller and Ohio State have been sending for the past few weeks, as each has insisted that his return to Columbus was never in question.

"Nah, I'm a Buckeye, man, I've got [an Ohio State] tat on my shoulder," Miller said when asked if he ever considered leaving OSU during a two-minute meeting with reporters prior to leaving for the ESPYS last Tuesday. "My son's gonna come here one day."

Added Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer: "I wasn't surprised. I knew [Miller was returning] since last January. Just 'cause he's a quiet guy I guess, but the rumors went on and on and on. I keep hearing questions and I'm like, 'Where is this coming from?'"

That seems to be the company line in Columbus—repeated by multiple Ohio State teammates of Miller's—that he was always going to remain a Buckeye. But Miles' comments show why that always seemed to be in question up until recently, and perhaps it's not a coincidence that LSU was one of the many teams linked to Miller as a potential destination as a transfer back in January.

Miller's 10 months of silence on the topic didn't do much to quell the speculation, either. And once he did talk, he admitted to the Columbus Dispatch that other programs had tried to convince him to leave Ohio State.

"Schools reached out. They reached out hard," Miller said. "And I kept my head where it needed to be, and I stayed smart with my situation."

While Miller would later distance himself from that statement, clarifying that he was just referring to rumors, the reality remains that for a period of time this offseason, the two-time Big Ten Quarterback of the Year's status was uncertain. Meyer admitted as much following the Buckeyes' national championship celebration in January, when Miller made reference in a speech to Ohio State attempting to repeat in 2015.

"That's what he said," Meyer said when asked about Miller's comments. "I don't know. We've been talking all along. It's a unique situation, which we'll cover that later."

While Meyer insisted throughout the process that it was his expectation that Miller would return to Ohio State, his health made it nearly impossible to speak in definites regarding the situation. Still not yet fully recovered from the torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, leaving the Buckeyes could have proven to be a monumental risk, as Miles alluded to.

But Miller will still face plenty of uncertainty moving forward at Ohio State as well, especially as he prepares to take part in an unprecedented quarterback competition with Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett. That's why it certainly would have made sense for the Huber Heights, Ohio, native to spend his senior season somewhere else, avoiding the Buckeyes' loaded quarterback depth chart in the process.

As Miller and Meyer now each seem determined to deny that Miller ever considered doing so, we'll never know for certain whether LSU—or any other school—ever truly had a shot at landing the services of the dual-threat quarterback. Miles' comments, however, leave plenty of reason to believe that there was merit to the speculation, while also hinting that Miller's uncertain health played the largest role in him choosing to stay in Columbus.

Ultimately, though, all of the Miller-related rumors this offseason were for naught as, barring any medical setbacks, he'll be suiting up for the Scarlet and Gray this fall. Now the only uncertainty in his situation is whether or not he'll be Ohio State's starting quarterback, and if not, will he be willing to play a new position?

And while the earlier whispers that followed Miller never amounted to anything, Miles' comments show just why they existed in the first place.

Maybe had he recovered quicker, there would have been a different outcome. But as it played out, the Buckeyes now have three quality quarterbacks to choose from, while Miles is left wondering whether he has even one.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Biggest Takeaways from ESPN's New 2017 Recruiting Rankings

ESPN released its revised ESPN 300 for the 2017 class late Monday morning. Offensive and defensive linemen dominated the top 10, two states are well represented in the top 25 and only one quarterback is in the top 30.

But when it comes to the cream of the crop, Dylan Moses is still the athlete the rest of the class has to catch. Whether he's playing linebacker or running back, Moses has shown that he's extremely versatile and can play both positions effectively.

Here are some takeaways from the new 2017 rankings.

 

 

Versatile Dylan Moses is No. 1

Dylan Moses doesn't want to be called the next LeBron James. Or the next Bo Jackson. Or the next Ray Lewis.

"I'm just me," Moses said at The Opening earlier this month. "I just do what I do."

What Moses does is prove that he belongs in the conversation among the elite athletes, regardless of class. At 6'2" and 220 pounds, Moses can be either a powerful-yet-shifty running back or a reliable, versatile linebacker who can play inside or outside.

Many feel Moses' future will include time as a linebacker. In two varsity seasons, he already has accumulated 328 tackles and six forced fumbles.

 

Linemen here, linemen there

Moses is the top-ranked player, but the top 10 features six athletes who play on the line, including four offensive linemen.

Offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson is the No. 2 player in ESPN's rankings. He is followed by Ohio State commit Josh Myers at No. 3. Tackle Trey Smith is at No. 5, and tackle Calvin Ashley, an Auburn commit, is No. 6.

Defensively, tackles Tyler Shelvin and Marvin Wilson are fourth and ninth, respectively. Shelvin is an LSU commit. Wilson is the No. 1 defensive tackle in 247Sports' composite rankings.

 

 

Name to watch: CB Chevin Calloway

There was a time when 4-star cornerback Chevin Calloway was just another name in college football recruiting.

Long before Calloway was trying to establish himself as an elite athlete, his head coach, Dallas Bishop Dunne High School's Michael Johnson was calling him "the hardest-working athlete I have ever coached." Calloway, who checked in the new ESPN rankings at No. 25, is now considered one of the top shutdown cornerbacks in the country.

"Chevin is a smooth and explosive athlete who has excellent hips. His press coverage is superb, and his field awareness is excellent," Johnson said of Calloway. "He is a hard worker who trains like he is the last man on the roster, but that is what makes him great."

 

Florida, Texas dominate top 20

When discussing where the elite recruits reside, Florida and Texas are two states that always come up. The two states made their marks in the revised rankings, as 10 of the 20 come from either the Sunshine State or the Lone Star State.

Both states feature five athletes each. Ashley is the highest-ranked Florida player, followed by Miami running back commit Robert Burns (No. 7), Ohio State cornerback pledge Shaun Wade (No. 14), offensive tackle Tedarrell Slaton (No. 16) and Alabama offensive tackle commit Alex Leatherwood (No. 19).

Texas is led by Wilson, followed by safety Jeffrey Okudah (No. 10) and running back Toneil Carter (No. 13). Notre Dame tight end commit Brock Wright (No. 21) and Calloway also are in the top 25.

 

Buckeyes getting their share of the elite

Ohio State is fresh off winning a national championship, and the 2017 class liked what it saw.

The Buckeyes lead the race in commitments from the ESPN 300 for the class with seven. Along with Myers and Wade, cornerback Marcus Williamson (No. 17) and running back Todd Sibley (No. 33) are in the top 50. Offensive tackle Jake Moretti (No. 112), athlete Bruce Judson (No. 135) and quarterback Danny Clark (No. 216) also are a part of Ohio State's class.

Baylor and Miami each have five commits from the ESPN 300. Alabama and Florida State each have four.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

NCAA Football Week 1 Betting Lines and Trends

The start of another season of college football in early September inches closer and closer as we head into the final two weeks of July. Odds Shark has already posted a few early betting odds for some of the top matchups on the board. This should be a great start to another run to the top four spots in the nation for the College Football Playoff Rankings.

The following is Doc’s Sports brief preview of the pertinent betting trends for some of the top matchups on the board in Week 1 of the 2015 college football season.

 

North Carolina Tar Heels vs. South Carolina Gamecocks

This ACC/SEC clash features a North Carolina team that came up one game short of a .500 record last season at 6-7. This came after dropping its last two games to NC State and then to Rutgers in the Quick Lane Bowl.

South Carolina’s 2014 campaign ended with a 24-21 victory against Miami in the Independence Bowl to go 7-6 overall. But a 3-5 record in SEC play left the Gamecocks hungry for bigger and better things heading into the 2015 season.

The Tar Heels have opened as 2.5-point road favorites in this Carolina border clash. While the total line is still off the board, recent betting trends tend to favor the “under” in this matchup. The total has stayed under in eight of North Carolina’s last 12 road games while staying under in four of South Carolina’s last five games at home.

 

TCU Horned Frogs vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers

The Horned Frogs come into the 2015 college football season with high expectations after going a stellar 12-1 last season. That lone setback came against Baylor in a wild 61-58 loss in early October that eventually decided the Big 12 title last year.

Minnesota lost three of its final four games in 2014, including a 33-17 defeat against Missouri on Jan. 1 in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. The Golden Gophers still had to be encouraged with their 5-3 record in Big Ten play that included a 28-24 victory against Nebraska.

The betting spread in this contest has TCU favored by 14 points on the road. The Horned Frogs have successfully covered against the spread in 13 of their last 15 games. Minnesota is a healthy 4-1 ATS in its last five outings.

 

Louisville Cardinals vs. Auburn Tigers

Louisville’s first season in the ACC after coming over from the American Athletic Conference was a mixed bag at 5-3. The Cardinals, for the most part, beat the teams they were supposed to beat. But against the better teams in the conference (Florida State, Clemson and Virginia) they went 0-3.

Last season, the Auburn Tigers made their presence felt in the stacked SEC West Division with a 4-4 record in conference play that included big wins against LSU and Ole Miss. The Tigers lost a heartbreaker in the Outback Bowl in a 34-31 overtime defeat to Wisconsin to finish 8-5 on the year.

The Cardinals have opened as 10.5-point neutral-site underdogs against Auburn, with the game being played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Saturday, Sept. 5. Louisville has now won 20 of its last 25 games straight up and it is 5-1 ATS in its last six games played away from home. Auburn is 17-6 SU in its last 23 games.

 

Texas Longhorns vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The Longhorns battled their way to a 6-6 record in the regular season that included a 5-4 record in Big 12 play. But they ended their season on a down note with a 31-7 rout at the hands of Arkansas in the Texas Bowl. They went just 1-5 against ranked teams last year.

Notre Dame started the 2014 season with six straight wins, but it was all downhill from there with just one win in its final six regular-season contests. The Fighting Irish ended the year on a high note with a 31-28 victory against LSU in the Music City Bowl to go 8-5.

Texas comes into this season’s opener as a 10-point road underdog. This game could be another one to watch as far as the total line. The total has stayed under in five of the Longhorns last six games overall, and it has stayed under in seven of their last eight games on the road. Notre Dame is 21-4 SU in its last 25 games at home.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Predicting 2015 SEC Offensive Player of the Year

The start of the 2015 season is just a few weeks away, so let's take a look at some end-of-year predictions. Who will be the SEC Offensive Player of the Year after the 2015 season?

Auburn's new starting quarterback Jeremy Johnson wants to put up huge numbers this season. Will he do it?

Check out Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee break down who should win the SEC Offensive Player of the Year award. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Biggest Snubs and Surprises from College Football's Preseason Awards Watch Lists

Much like the first bulbs blooming on a barren tree signifies the arrival of spring after a long winter, the annual award watch lists mean that college football is just around the corner.

Each major national award (other than the Heisman) uses this time to put out an initial list of potential candidates, lists that are so lengthy it seems like almost every good player in the country is included. All told, nearly 1,000 names are cataloged on 16 watch lists, with a whopping 144 included on the Lombardi Award given to the nation's top defensive player.

The organizations behind these awards are trying to cover their bases and avoid leaving anyone out, though most end up adding names to the mix as the season goes on. This results in some surprising initial inclusions, but also a handful of notable omissions.

Here's our look at the biggest snubs and surprises from the 2015 award watch lists.

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B.J. Emmons Commits to Alabama: 4-Star Gives Tide Another Potential Feature RB

Alabama continues to be an attractive destination for top-tier running back recruits, further evidenced by a Monday afternoon commitment from dynamic 4-star playmaker B.J. Emmons:

Emmons' Twitter post mentioned Florida, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Georgia among programs that played a role in his recruitment. The Bulldogs initially landed a pledge from the North Carolina product in December, shortly after a monstrous junior campaign.

He thoroughly dominated last fall, averaging 12 yards per carry. Emmons tallied 2,348 yards and 38 touchdowns, per Paul Schenkel of the Morganton News Herald

The 5'10", 232-pound Freedom High School standout officially backed off his verbal commitment to Georgia on June 11, just weeks removed from receiving a Crimson Tide offer. 

"I think that he just wanted to be fair enough to say ‘Hey look, I want to open things up and see what else is out there.’ He wants to make sure that he’s going to the right school," Freedom head coach Brandon Allen told Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Emmons didn't require much time to find his right fit in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama lands a rusher who rates third nationally among prospects at the position in 247Sports' composite rankings. Emmons was graded the top uncommitted running back in America.

He is a bullish runner, plowing through traffic with formidable physicality. Despite carrying more weight than most of his 2016 contemporaries, Emmons also carves up opponents with quality quickness.

He finished the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds earlier this year while competing at the U.S. Army All-American combine. Emmons' combination of aggression and acceleration suits Alabama's offensive scheme well.

"Alabama is known for their power-running game. They always want a tailback that they can put back there who can run between the tackles and be a physical presence," Allen told Carvell. "I certainly think that B.J. can do those things."

He adds to a strong tradition in the Tide offensive backfield. While some players have panned out better than others, this is the sixth consecutive Alabama class with a top-five recruit at running back.

Emmons follows the footsteps of Damien Harris (2015), Bo Scarbrough (2014 non-qualifier), Derrick Henry (2013), Alvin Kamara (2013), T.J. Yeldon (2012) and Dee Hart (2011).

Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban is already in excellent shape to extend the streak. He secured a commitment from top overall 2017 running back Najee Harris this spring.

Saban also extended scholarship offers to 4-star 2016 running backs Devin White (Louisiana) and Elijah Holyfield (Georgia). The chances of either target ending up in Tuscaloosa likely take a significant hit with Emmons now in the mix.

He is the 18th member of Alabama's 2016 recruiting class, which sits fourth nationally in composite class rankings and second among SEC squads behind only LSU.

 

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

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Georgia Football: Recruits React to UGA's Dawg Night Camp

The University of Georgia was the epicenter of all things recruiting over the weekend as the Bulldogs hosted their annual ‘Dawg Night’ camp.

As noted by Jeff Sentell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, more than 800 campers made their way to Athens over a two-day period. 

Included in that group were dozens of elite prospects from the 2016 and 2017 classes.

Current commitments such as 5-star quarterback Jacob Eason and 4-star corner Chad Clay were in town, as were a host of top targets such as 5-star receiver Kyle Davis, 5-star defensive tackle Derrick Brown and 4-star athlete Mecole Hardman.

What were some of the main storylines to emerge from ‘Dawg Night,’ and how did a few of the main prospects on the radar of head coach Mark Richt and his staff react to the atmosphere over the weekend?

Find out in this review of Georgia’s premier summer-camp showcase.

 

2016 CB Commit Plans to Enroll Early

One of the key pieces to the Bulldogs 2016 recruiting class is Chad Clay.

Not only does he fill a big need at the corner position, he’s been one of the more vocal recruiters for the Bulldogs since he committed to Georgia back in May.

Clay was definitely in the ear of friends such as Davis and 2017 5-star corner Deangelo Gibbs—who is his prep teammate at Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Georgia.

“’Dawg Night’ was great,” Clay told Bleacher Report. “It was a lot of great players and great people there. It’s always fun when you get a chance to be around some good people.”

The event also gave Clay a chance to talk with his future coaches about their expectations for him when he gets on campus.

“The main thing I really got out of the trip was just being ready when I get there in January because they’re really expecting me to come in and contribute to the team, whether it's defense or special teams,” Clay said. “They just want me to be ready.”

As for when he arrives to Athens, that could be a little earlier than expected. 

“As of right now, I’m going to be an early enrollee,” he said.

 

2016 4-Star ATH Says UGA “Will Be One of Top Schools Until the End”

Given the show he put on at The Opening as a corner, Mecole Hardman is a priority recruit for the Bulldogs.

However, he admits that he enjoyed the fact that the atmosphere was laid back with recruiting discussion—whether it be with other prospects or coaches—kept to a minimum.

“It was a great experience being my first time at ‘Dawg Night,’” Hardman said. “It was so many people there. There were a lot of top prospects there and they had a lot of their commitments there too. We just were there to have a good time and compete. That’s what we did. Nobody tried to push me to commit or anything like that.”

Hardman, who noted that he will not decide until signing day, said he’s still open to all schools that are recruiting him.

In addition to Georgia, he mentioned Alabama, Auburn, Miami, Ole Miss and Tennessee as other schools that he’s hearing from regularly.

Given that he could excel as either a receiver on offense or as a corner on defense, Georgia is one of a handful of schools pitching Hardman the opportunity to play on both sides at the college level.

However, he understands how difficult that can be and instead plans on making a choice on which position he will play when he arrives on campus at the school of his choice.

One thing that caught his attention about Georgia is the class the Bulldogs are currently assembling.

“I think they are doing a great job,” Hardman said. “First of all, they got the biggest piece in Jacob Eason. He’s the No. 1 quarterback and I feel like that’s what every class needs at the top is a great quarterback. With Jacob, they have a great quarterback with a great frame and a great arm. He’s coming in in January and I know they [coaches] are very excited about him coming in. That’s a big piece there.”

While he’s in no rush to make a commitment, it’s clear that the homestanding Bulldogs will be in the picture with Hardman until he makes his commitment. 

“[Georgia] is still in my top group, no doubt,” Hardman said. “They are still one of my top schools until the end, and I know that for a fact. This was another chance to visit and just have a good time and try to build a better relationship with the coaches.”

 

2017 ATH Gets Answer He Was Looking for from UGA Coaches

When 2017 4-star athlete Jamyest Williams released his group of top 10 schools earlier this month, Georgia—which is located less than an hour away from his hometown of Lawrenceville, Georgia—was curiously low at the No. 9 spot.

The reason, Williams said, is because he wasn’t sure where the Bulldogs staff wanted to play him if he were to choose Georgia.

Williams could play receiver or running back, but his preference is to line up at corner.

After a standout showing at Florida State earlier in the week, Williams went to Athens with designs on proving to defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt that he could play corner in the ‘Dawgs system.

Consider his mission accomplished. 

“Basically, I got to see where they wanted me,” Williams said. “I got to be around the coaches and see how Coach Pruitt was and how he coaches. There was a lot of talent there so I was able to compete against a lot of top guys. It was like The Opening all over again. I was just very blessed to be a part of it. Coach Pruitt loved me.”

After getting confirmation from Pruitt that he can play the position he prefers, the Bulldogs have moved up the list for one of the nation’s most electric juniors.

“[Georgia] moved up into my top five,” Williams confirmed.

The Bulldogs are also heavily recruiting a few of his prep teammates at Archer High School—including Davis, 4-star offensive lineman E.J. Price, 4-star corner Dylan Singleton and 2017 4-star safety Isaiah Pryor.

Williams said that it would be fun to go to college with a few of his buddies but noted that his decision will come down to where he feels most comfortable.

The only trip he has confirmed on his schedule is a potential visit to Auburn this weekend. As for a decision, he plans to play his upcoming junior season and then concentrate on finding his landing spot at the next level.

“I probably will make my decision after my junior season and going into my senior year,” he said.

  

Nation’s Top 2017 CB Paying Attention to Detail

Given that two of his uncles had long and successful careers in the NFL, Deangelo Gibbs has been well-versed on the recruiting process.

The 6’2”, 204-pounder, who also plays receiver for his prep squad, has nearly 30 offers to his credit heading into his junior season.

He’s been to Athens a few times, and he said that his main focus on this trip was watching the Bulldogs coaching staff in action.

“Coach Pruitt coaches all of his guys the same,” Gibbs noted. “Whether it’s his current players or guys just there for the camp. All of the coaches there are like that. Everybody there was just cool. The coaching staff was coaching hard, but it was still them having fun with us."

Richt and his staff have already made it clear to Gibbs that he is on their wish list as far as 2017 prospects go.

While his good friend and teammate Clay is in his ear about joining him in Athens, Gibbs said he’s still in the infant stages of his process.

As with all of his visits, Gibbs is studying each campus from a variety of angles.

“I want to feel comfortable in the atmosphere of the school,” Gibbs said. “I want it to feel like a family vibe. I don’t want to be just another robot or football player. Do I get along with the team? Can I fit in with the program? Can I fit in their system? I want to pay attention to all of those small details.”

Gibbs has yet to narrow his list and maintains that he is still open to all suitors. However, Georgia was able to make a favorable impression on the top prospect from the Peach State in the 2017 class. 

“Georgia is a great place,” Gibbs said. “It’s the home state school and it’s not too far away from home. The atmosphere there is a family atmosphere. Everybody gets along there. They always hang out together. Coach Richt, he’s a great guy and a great coach.”

 

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

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Buy or Sell Potential Top Picks in 2016 NFL Draft

College football will be back in a little over a month from now. It’s been a long wait since Ohio State won the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship against the Oregon Ducks. A new season filled with hope and drama is right around the corner, though.

Whether an NFL draft enthusiast, college football fanatic or just someone who loves football, much is at stake for the best collegiate football players. Those with NFL aspirations must turn in a season filled with more bright spots than bad, and prove they have the physical and mental fortitude to succeed at the next level.

The 2016 NFL draft class is shaping up to be deep and filled with potential franchise players. These things are very fluid, but there are nine players who have earned a great amount of hype for the 2015 season. We’ll buy or sell whether each of these players can be a potential top pick in the 2016 draft.

To have good draft stock, it’s important to show consistent growth over the course of two or three years. That’s a major part of what we’re looking for. Inconsistent players are less likely to be considered for the top overall pick.

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Notre Dame Football Recruiting Offers of the Week

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — After a mid-July lull, Notre Dame football recruiting was back in full gear last week, as the Irish landed another commitment and extended two more offers.

Notre Dame received a commitment from class-of-2016 weak-side defensive end Adetokunbo Ogundeji on Thursday evening, pushing the class to 13 members.

Each week, we’ll be keeping tabs on the new scholarship offers sent out by the Notre Dame coaches, tracking the recruiting process as the Irish focus their attention toward the classes of 2016, 2017 and maybe even 2018.

 

Nate McBride

Class-of-2017 linebacker Nate McBride hauled in an offer from Notre Dame on Thursday.

The Vidalia, Georgia native is the No. 3 outside linebacker and No. 37 overall prospect in the class. McBride also holds offers from Florida State, Duke, Michigan, Stanford, Clemson, Alabama and Penn State, among others.

“It was unexpected, but it was really great news,” McBride told Irish247’s Tom Loy. “Especially since it’s from Notre Dame, it’s a blessing. It’s unbelievable.”

McBride told Loy he plans to visit Notre Dame for either the Texas or USC game, both prime-time matchups at Notre Dame Stadium.

“As soon as I head up there for a visit, they’ll definitely be in my top five, if not top three,” McBride told Loy. “They’ll be in my top group. They have a lot of history behind them and they’ve had great players and great coaches. They are always a winning program, and the stadium is beautiful.”

McBride added that Alabama and Georgia have the early lead, but he’s still open to all programs, per Loy.

 

Deangelo Gibbs

Class-of-2017 defensive back Deangelo Gibbs, one of the top players in the country, grabbed a Notre Dame offer Tuesday.

Like McBride, Gibbs is a Georgia product, hailing from Suwanee. He’s slotted as the No. 1 cornerback and No. 4 overall player.

“It means a lot to me,” Gibbs told Loy. “I’ve been waiting for this offer for a moment.”

Gibbs also boasts offers from Oregon, Oregon State, USC, Texas, LSU, Ohio State, Auburn and Alabama, among others.

 

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

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

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