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Sun Bowl Betting: Duke Blue Devils vs. Arizona State Sun Devils Odds, Analysis

Two schools that had hoped to finish the season stronger will square off in the Sun Bowl, as the Arizona State Sun Devils will take on the Duke Blue Devils. The Sun Devils and the Blue Devils have each dropped two of their last three games both straight up and against the spread and will try to finish 2014 on a positive note.


Sun Bowl point spread: The Sun Devils opened as nine-point favorites; the total was 67 (line updates and matchup report).


Odds Shark computer prediction: 38.3-35.9 Blue Devils


Why the Blue Devils can cover the spread

Duke had an excellent shot at winning the ACC Coastal but lost two straight home games to the Virginia Tech Hokies and the North Carolina Tar Heels before defeating the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in their finale. Surprisingly, offense was an issue for the Blue Devils in the last month, as they combined for 36 points against the Hokies and the Tar Heels before routing the Demon Deacons 41-21 on November 29.

Like Arizona State, Duke went on a winning streak midseason, going 4-0 SU and ATS, with three of those victories coming on the road. Two of the wins for the Blue Devils came as underdogs, including a 31-25 victory at the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, who won the division but lost the ACC Championship Game to the Florida State Seminoles.


Why the Sun Devils can cover the spread

Arizona State finished tied for second in the Pac-12 South at 6-3, with two of those losses coming on the road over a period of 13 days. The Sun Devils were competitive in both of those setbacks but faltered in the second half each time; otherwise, they might have gotten the opportunity to play the Oregon Ducks for the Pac-12 title.

They enjoyed a five-game winning streak in the middle of the season, which gave them a shot at the conference championship, beating the USC Trojans, the Stanford Cardinal, the Washington Huskies, the Utah Utes and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, all teams that will be playing in bowl games this year. They also went 4-1 ATS during the winning streak.


Smart pick

The quality of competition is worth noting here, which is why Arizona State is favored by a little more than a touchdown in this spot. Only two of the four teams Duke beat during its four-game winning streak are in bowl games, and the Pac-12 was a stronger conference than the ACC overall.

Another key factor for bettors to consider when handicapping the Sun Bowl is how each team lost two of three to get to this point. The Blue Devils were blown out by intrastate rival North Carolina 45-20 at home and also fell to a bad Virginia Tech team 17-16, while the Sun Devils could have easily won one or both of the games they lost down the stretch.

Arizona State is clearly the better team and should win this game against Duke by double digits to cover the spread.



  • Duke is 17-5 SU in its last 22 games.
  • Arizona State is 16-5 SU in its last 21 games.


Note: All spread and odds data powered by Odds Shark. Follow us on Twitter for injury updates and line-move updates.

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Oregon Football: Final 2014 Positional Grades for the Ducks

The second-ranked Oregon Ducks (12-1, 9-1) have completed one of the most successful regular seasons in school history, capped by Marcus Mariota ’s Heisman Trophy victory on Saturday night...

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Virginia Tech Football: The 5 Best Moments of the 2014 Season for the Hokies

The Virginia Tech Hokies finished the 2014 season with a record of 6-6. In the past three years, the Hokies have a combined 21-17 record and have competed in bowl games each season.

Most schools would love that, right? Not in Blacksburg.

Before a seven-win season in 2012, Virginia Tech went eight consecutive years winning at least 10 games. 

It spoiled fans and alumni, who expect and deserve more. 

As for the 2014 season, it began with minimal expectations. Most fans figured Tech would win eight or nine games with a schedule that wasn't too imposing. It didn't quite work out that way. 

The Hokies won just six games and needed a season-ending win over in-state rival Virginia just to become bowl eligible. 

Can you guess the top moment of Virginia Tech's recently completed 2014 season?

Here are the top five moments of 2014 for the Hokies on the gridiron.

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Marcus Mariota vs. Jameis Winston: Who Will Lead Their Team to Rose Bowl Win?

The 2015 Rose Bowl. Oregon vs. Florida State. Marcus Mariota vs. Jameis Winston. The last two Heisman Trophy winners squaring off for a shot at the national championship. But who has the edge?

Stephen Nelson was joined by Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder to scroll down the tale of the tape for the two talented signal-callers.

Who will win: Marcus Mariota and the Ducks or Jameis Winston and Florida State?

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

25 Best College Football Games from 2014 Season

We just wrapped up one of the wildest and most thrilling regular seasons in college football history, 16 weeks of competition that seemed to never have a dull moment. Massive comebacks, (multiple) Hail Marys and memorable finishes made 2014 among the best seasons ever.

The addition of the four-team playoff contributed to the increased excitement this season, but that was only part of it. With only one team making it through unbeaten—yet seemingly being in jeopardy of losing nearly every week—there were no outright dominant teams or schools that avoided drama, which made for plenty of great games.

How many? Well, far more than we could fit into a Top 25 list, but we found a way to pare down the candidate pool and rank the 25 best games this season. The rankings are based on a series of factors, including impact on the national landscape, the way the games ended and the performances within those contests.

Think we missed one or two, or had the rankings all wrong? Be sure to let us know in the comments section.

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Christian Kirk Sets Decision Date: Which Program Is Best Fit for 5-Star WR?

One of the nation’s most explosive playmakers will come off the market on Wednesday when 5-star receiver Christian Kirk makes his commitment, per Rob Cassidy of Rivals.

According to Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports, Arizona State, Auburn and Texas A&M are believed to be the finalists for the 5’10”, 191-pound Arizona speedster.

Regardless of where he ends up, Kirk is a threat to change the numbers on the scoreboard anytime he touches the ball.

But which program among his final group is the best fit for the nation’s No. 4 wideout in the 2015 class?


Arizona State

All three of Kirk’s potential landing spots offer their share of positives.

In the case of the home-standing Sun Devils, adding the dynamic Kirk would help mitigate the potential blow of losing All-American (h/t ESPN) wideout Jaelen Strong—who is a candidate to forgo his final season in favor of entering the 2015 NFL draft.

In fact, Kirk told Taylor Hamm of GigEm247 (subscription required) that replacing Strong is part of the Sun Devils’ pitch to him.

“ASU, with the season they are having, they are really pushing the fact they can compete at the top level,” Kirk told Hamm. “They are not the ASU they once used to be. They feel I can step in and take over for Jaelen Strong.”

Todd Graham and the Sun Devils have also put together a class that ranks among one of the best in the Pac-12.

The Sun Devils have a stud quarterback committed in 4-star passer Brady White, and Graham and his staff are in good position with White’s prep teammate and 4-star receiver Trent Irwin.

Adding the state’s top prospect would ensure that the Sun Devils arsenal is well-equipped to be one of the nation’s most potent offenses in the country for years to come.



In recent years, Gus Malzahn’s offenses have been more prolific on the ground than through the air.

However, in 2014, the Tigers enjoyed their best season through the air since Cam Newton led them to the national title in 2010.

With Sammie Coates already announcing his intention to turn pro, and Duke Williams a candidate to follow suit, the Tigers depth chart is appealing for a player such as Kirk to step in right away.

Additionally, Malzahn has proven his acumen as one of the brightest minds in all of college football with his body of work as a coach and coordinator on the Plains.

There’s no doubt that he could put Kirk’s expansive skill set to use in the nation’s toughest division.


Texas A&M

Similar to Malzahn, Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has found success with his high-powered offense since he arrived in College Station.

In the two seasons prior to the 2014 season, the Aggies offense finished in the top five nationally in total offense.

While they took a step back this year, Sumlin’s offense is still friendly to receivers. This season, four different receivers caught at least 40 passes, according to CFBstats.com.

Additionally, Sumlin has stockpiled some of the nation’s top offensive talent in recent classes—including landing 5-star passers in each of his last two classes.

However, per Ourlads, the Aggies have only one senior receiver on their depth chart. Plus, they also landed a number of talented receivers in the 2014 class—including former 5-star standout Speedy Noil, who is a similar prospect to Kirk.


Final Choice

Kirk’s final choice will boil down to what criteria he places importance on.

He shed some insight on the factors he will heavily weigh when he spoke with Hamm (subscription required) in late October.

I think the big thing is where I can go in and play early and make an impact as a true freshman. Just the scheme, and me being developed as a receiver, I think those are the two big factors right now. Up to this point, my comfort level is high with all these schools. I’m familiar with all the coaches, I’m familiar with all the players, so now it’s about where I can go in and play and get developed as a receiver.

Considering Arizona State offers him a chance to play early in a powerful offense, Kirk’s best opportunity may lie within his home state.


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

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Christian Kirk Sets Decision Date: Which Program Is Best Fit for 5-Star WR?

One of the nation’s most explosive playmakers will come off the market on Wednesday when 5-star receiver Christian Kirk makes his commitment, per Rob Cassidy of Rivals ...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Does Alabama Have a Lock on the Nation's No. 1 Recruiting Class Once Again?

Alabama has a knack for bringing in the best players in the country, and the 2015 recruits are no different. Nick Saban continues his recruiting success with another sensational class.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee review the 2015 Alabama recruiting class.

How will the Crimson Tide fare next year?

Watch the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Where Ole Miss, Oklahoma and Texas Turn After Missing on 4-Star Darrin Kirkland

Darrin Kirkland revealed his collegiate decision Monday afternoon during an announcement ceremony, verbally committing to play at Tennessee. The 4-star Indianapolis linebacker chose the Volunteers from a group of finalists that featured Texas, Ole Miss and Oklahoma:

Tennessee lands one of its top defensive targets in Kirkland, who decommitted from Michigan last month. The 6'2", 232-pound prospect picked up dozens of scholarship offers at Lawrence Central High School, where he tallied more than 200 tackles as an upperclassman.

Kirkland is considered the nation's fourth-best inside linebacker recruit in 247Sports' composite rankings. He's the latest addition to another top-10 recruiting class assembled by Tennessee coach Butch Jones and his staff.

While there's reason to celebrate in Knoxville, the commitment reveal will incite much different reactions on the campuses of his three other finalists. Let's take a look at what Kirkland's choice means for each program moving toward national signing day.



The Sooners could use an infusion of defensive talent, and though Bob Stoops has done a solid job addressing his secondary during this cycle, there's a lot of work to do in that department. Oklahoma has struggled to land top-tier linebackers, and that remains the case after whiffing on Kirkland.

The team is set to welcome several quality additions at cornerback and should improve depth along the defensive line, but it must secure young, versatile talent in the middle. Oklahoma remains a contender for top-ranked outside linebacker Malik Jefferson, but the Sooners are a long shot, with Texas and Texas A&M leading the chase.

Fellow Texan Anthony Wheeler is a more realistic target. The Dallas Skyline High School standout has been a frequent guest in Norman since securing a Sooners offer in January.


Ole Miss

The Rebels are in much better shape at linebacker than Oklahoma in this class. Hugh Freeze is faced with the task of replacing the position coach, as ESPN's Derek Tyson (h/t CBS Sports' Jerry Hinnen) first reported Monday that Tom Allen had accepted a defensive coordinator opportunity at South Florida, but player commitments in place appear solid.

Top-rated inside linebacker Leo Lewis pledged to Ole Miss this season. The in-state star initially committed to Alabama and has the makings of an SEC stalwart.

Florida prospect Zedrick Woods and junior college pickup Terry Caldwell are best-suited for outside roles and should immediately challenge for special teams reps. Expect the Rebels to explore other options after seeing Kirkland head to a conference opponent, but edge-rushers CeCe Jefferson and Kyle Phillips are more crucial priorities than any inside linebacker at this stage.



Charlie Strong made a late push for the prized Indiana prospect, hosting Kirkland for an official visit earlier this month. Despite the trip to Austin, he elected to commit elsewhere, leaving the Longhorns with a need.

The new coaching regime is attempting to rebuild Texas' defensive approach and made some strides during its first season. However, the most impactful efforts will come from the recruiting trail.

No Texas target is currently more important than Malik Jefferson, who is also considering LSU, Texas A&M, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma and UCLA. The 5-star Poteet High School linebacker can provide pass coverage, rush the quarterback and stuff the run when called upon.

Strong secured a commitment from 4-star outside linebacker Cameron Townsend in October. If he's able to pair him up with Jefferson, a culture change at Texas could accelerate on defense.


Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Which Big-Time Recruits Must Notre Dame Land to Rebound in 2015?

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish suffered through an up-and-down 2014 season, with their final record falling to 7-5. With every intention of rebuilding, head coach Brian Kelly is putting his final touches on an explosive recruiting class.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Adam Kramer discuss the Irish's 2015 recruiting class and who else they need to bring in. 

Is this the best 2015 recruiting class?

Check out the video and let us know!  

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Darrin Kirkland Jr. to Tennessee: Volunteers Land 4-Star LB Prospect

Linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. has officially committed to attend Tennessee after making his announcement Monday afternoon. Kirkland is a 4-star prospect in the Class of 2015, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.

Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports reported the news of Kirkland's decision:

Kirkland attends Lawrence Central in Indianapolis and has been a heralded recruit by multiple Division I programs. Florida, USC and Mississippi State were among the programs he turned down in favor of Tennessee.

Part of what makes Kirkland special is speed and intelligence on the field. Lawrence Central head coach Jed Richman spoke about both abilities for Kirkland, via Wiltfong:

He was able to flip a switch, that I haven’t seen around many high school players. The speed he played with, he was moving faster than opposing offenses, he knew what they were going to do before they did, and often times he’d overrun plays because he was there before they were there.

He was at an absolutely different level on Friday nights as far as speed, intensity, tempo, the way he hit. He really hit through guys.

Prior to his announcement, Kirkland had initially committed to play for Michigan. However, he decided to decommit from the Wolverines and ultimately decided to play for the Volunteers

The decision was part of a mass exodus for some of Michigan's top recruits, as Tom VanHaaren of ESPN.com notes:

Bringing in a player of Kirkland's caliber instantly boosts Tennessee's already solid recruiting class. He might not make an instant impact on defense, but he clearly has the talent to be a difference-maker during his tenure.

The program appears to be on the right track under head coach Butch Jones, and Kirkland's commitment helps make this year's class a special one. With his combination of size and speed, look for Kirkland to help the Vols become a contender in the SEC East.  


Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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4-Star RB Cameron Scarlett Commits to Stanford over UCLA, Washington

Stanford received a much-needed recruiting boost Monday when Cameron Scarlett committed to the Cardinal. The 4-star prospect picked Palo Alto as his collegiate destination after considering a pair of Pac-12 alternatives:

Scarlett, who is expected to play running back at Stanford, is rated 23rd nationally among "athletes" in 247Sports' composite rankings. He is considered the top overall 2015 recruit in Oregon.

The 6'1", 210-pound Portland, Oregon, playmaker is a product of Central Catholic High School. Scarlett seemed destined to land in the Pac-12, and his three finalists reflected that sentiment.

Aside from Notre Dame, his top interests were found on the West Coast. Oregon initially emerged as a contender, but the probability of him landing in Eugene gradually decreased as the Ducks assembled a class with similar players.

Scarlett gives Cardinal coach David Shaw an impressive offensive weapon. 

He rushed for more than 1,600 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2013, leading Central Catholic to a state title. However, his senior season was plagued by health issues, and a torn ACL ultimately ended Scarlett's high school career.

The outlook remains a bit murky for his recovery, but he aims to return for freshman training camp.

"I'm going to be out until the start of summer," Scarlett told Andrew Nemec of The Oregonian, "but hopefully I can rehab it up and be ready for camp this summer."

Stanford adds a player capable of lining up in multiple roles. He's an adept receiver and could see time in the slot or spread out wide when shifted beyond the backfield.

His rushing style is enhanced by above-average vision. Scarlett is patient as blockers create space and appears to have a strong grasp of how lanes develop downfield.

His size makes it difficult for defenders to finish off solo tackles, and there's an element of elusiveness that also helps maximize carries. Improved blocking in pass-protection settings could put Scarlett in position to emerge as an every-down back in college.

Stanford hosted him for an official visit last month. Longstanding respect for the program played a pivotal role in his decision.

"I just felt like this is the place where I was meant to be," Scarlett told Nemac. "I've been really fond of the program since I was young. ... I get a lot of love from the coaching staff, which is huge for me. They showed me they were serious about me."

Stanford now holds 11 commitments in a class rated 10th among Pac-12 members in 247Sports' composite class rankings.


Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

4-Star RB Cameron Scarlett Commits to Stanford over UCLA, Washington

Stanford received a much-needed recruiting boost Monday when Cameron Scarlett committed to the Cardinal...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Bold Predictions for 2014-15 College Football Bowl Season

The 2014 regular season was uncomfortably predictable.

All four College Football Playoff teams were in the Associated Press' preseason Top Five, and two more teams that finished in the CFP Top Eight began in the AP Top 10.

There are two ways to look at these results: (1) as a sign of things to come or (2) as an outlier that needs to be corrected. Will chalk reign supreme throughout bowl season? Or will chaos return to fore?

If answer (2) is correct—and my personal belief is it is—that means "bold" predictions are the way to go this bowl season. The safe picks have already had their moment. It's time to bank on long shots.

That doesn't, however, mean it's time to start predicting nonsense. This list does not pander to shock value. Everything here stands a realistic chance of happening, even if they aren't "likely."

Sound off below with your own bold predictions for bowl season.


Note: All spreads courtesy of Odds Shark, and all recruiting info refers to the 247Sports composite rankings.

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Nebraska Players Who Will Benefit Most from Extra Bowl Practices

The Holiday Bowl will be here before we know it. In the meantime, the Nebraska football team is taking advantage of every last practice it can before heading to San Diego.

As the Huskers prepare for their December 27 bowl game against USC, there are key players who can benefit from the extra time on the field. Defeating USC won't be easy and those additional practices could be make-or-break for Nebraska.

So, who exactly are those players?

All eyes will likely turn to quarterback Tommy Armstrong first. The sophomore didn't have the smoothest regular season this year, which has left some fans unsure of what to expect from him.

He ended the regular season with a 51.7 completion percentage. That's pretty much on target with his 2013 number( 51.9 percent). He's thrown more interceptions in 2014 compared to 2013 (11 versus eight), but it's important to remember that he played in more games this past season.

Turnovers have to be a primary focus for Armstrong before the Holiday Bowl.

Against Iowa, for instance, he threw two interceptions. While the Huskers won that game, it still doesn't mean Armstrong can be excused from those mistakes.

With the remaining practices, Armstrong will need to focus on staying calm under pressure. When an opposing team targets Armstrong and forces him to win a game with his arm, that's when things typically go south.

Knowing and understanding this should help Armstrong properly prepare if the Trojans put him in a similar situation.

Another player who will use the extra practices to his benefit is center Paul Thurston. After Mark Pelini went down, Ryne Reeves stepped in. All was well until Reeves went down against Iowa and Thurston was thrust into the job.

He had been the Huskers' third-string center, but that likely won't be the case come the bowl game. According to the Fremont Tribune, interim head coach Barney Cotton confirmed that both Pelini and Reeves are out for the Holiday Bowl.

Cotton also made note of Zach Hannon and Dylan Utter as possible candidates for the center position, but Thurston has to be ready.

The job could very easily be his alone in San Diego and his performance will impact Armstrong. If the two can find a good rhythm with one another, Armstrong will have less to worry about.

On the defensive side of the ball, safety Nate Gerry is likely using these last practices to his advantage. USC is expected to throw the ball a lot against Nebraska, and that's where Gerry can step up for the big plays.

During the regular season, Gerry had five interceptions and two forced fumbles. As USC quarterback Cody Kessler prepares for the Husker defense, Gerry is likely someone on his mind. After all, the sophomore can wreak havoc when he wants.

Gerry should expect the Trojans to be preparing for him. As a result, he can use the bowl-game prep to make sure USC isn't able to stop him so easily.

As a whole, the Nebraska football team will do nothing but benefit from the final weeks of bowl-game practices. With former head coach Bo Pelini gone, there's a lot that needs to be figured out. The extra practices will help.

Some players, like Armstrong, Thurston and Gerry, may benefit the most from the extra practices, but it'll truly be a team effort.

That's reason enough for every player to be putting in the time before the Holiday Bowl rolls around.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

4-Star Darrin Kirkland Commits to Tennessee, What Impact Will He Have in 2015?

Darrin Kirkland Jr., a 4-star 2015 linebacker, as per 247Sports, has committed to Tennessee.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder discusses the impact Kirkland can have on the Volunteers next season.

What sort of impact do you think Kirkland can make at Tennessee?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Sammie Coates Declares for 2015 NFL Draft: Latest Details, Reaction

Auburn Tigers star receiver Sammie Coates is forgoing his final year of college eligibility and declaring for the 2015 NFL draft.

Justin Hokanson of 247Sports reported the news Monday, noting that Coates graduated from school on Saturday and will also play in the Senior Bowl.

Coates would later confirm the news via Alex Byington of the Opelika-Auburn News:

The Hokanson report includes the thoughts of ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr., who weighed in on Coates and another Auburn wideout who could declare for this year's draft, D'haquille Williams:

I think they're both similar in terms of where they'll go, maybe late one but probably early to mid two. But like I said with strong workouts, I think you saw all these receivers this year do a great job, some were major bargains. That could be the case with these two if they drop into the second round with late first not remote, but a possibility.

Bleacher Report draft guru Matt Miller offered his take on Coates:

BBC Radio's Rob Staton evaluated the amazing raw potential Coates has:

There is no denying Coates' talent, but he ran a limited route tree in the Tigers' run-heavy offense. The pass-friendly rules in the modern NFL should help him and other receivers make a more immediate impact than in the past, though.

That should allow Coates to land somewhere near the first round, provided he impresses in pre-draft interviews and thrives in workouts. He's listed at 6'2" and 201 pounds, so he has the kind of size NFL teams covet at the position.

In an Iron Bowl loss to Alabama, Coates had five receptions for 206 yards and two touchdowns. That presents an idea of the explosiveness he brings to the field. Over the past two seasons, the dynamic pass-catcher has averaged well over 20 yards per reception.

Due to the big adjustment the NFL represents with a far denser playbook and schematic concepts, whichever team drafts Coates will probably have to be patient as he grasps tougher concepts and works on route running.

However, if Coates falls to Day 2 and lands in the right situation, he could wind up being a special playmaker, making those who passed on him regret it for years to come.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Which 5-Star Does USC Need to Land to Put Its 2015 Class over the Top?

The USC Trojans, under head coach Steve Sarkisian, are starting to hit their stride on the recruiting trail, scooping up some major talent along the way. But there is still work to do. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Adam Kramer discuss the impact players coming into USC and the recruits that the Trojans could still land before national signing day. 

Who does USC need to land to round out its recruiting class?

Check out the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Which 5-Star Does USC Need to Land to Put Its 2015 Class over the Top?

The USC Trojans, under head coach Steve Sarkisian , are starting to hit their stride on the recruiting trail, scooping up some major talent along the way. But there is still work to do...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

UCLA Football: Early Look at Bruins' 2015 Roster

The 2015 season will bring with it one considerable change for the UCLA Bruins roster: After two years of playing one of the younger rotations in the Pac-12, UCLA will be among the most veteran teams in college football.

"We're an extremely young football team," head coach Jim Mora said after the Bruins' regular-season finale against Stanford last month. "We are still developing." 

That development takes a crucial step with next year's lineup. 

Running back Paul Perkins, the first Bruin to lead the conference in rushing since Karim Abdul-Jabbar in 1995, was just a sophomore in 2014. 

Perkins will be back and could run at some more history as a junior. And he's just one prominent returner for the UCLA offense. 

Several key contributors to a receiving corps that produced 3,222 yards in 2014 have eligibility remaining, starting with leading target Jordan Payton. 

Should Payton return for 2015, he'll head a unit that should be among the nation's very best considering it also returns Devin Fuller, Thomas Duarte, Eldridge Massington and Kenneth Walker.

Like the receiving corps, the Bruins offensive line in 2015 will look an awful lot like the 2014 version, just more experienced.

Jake Brendel is a redshirt junior, Simon Goines is a junior, Conor McDermott is a redshirt sophomore, Kenny Lacy is a redshirt freshman, and the trio of Alex Redmond, Caleb Benenoch and Scott Quessenberry are all sophomores with two years of starting experience. 

Redmond, Benenoch and Quessenberry are part of an important class to the UCLA football program's immediate future. 

They were among the 18 true freshmen who saw playing time in the Bruins' 10-win 2013 campaign and will be upperclassmen in 2015.

Linebacker Myles Jack is the star of that group, entering his third season starting at linebacker.

Along with Jack, the linebackers return 2014 breakout performer Deon Hollins. Hollins became UCLA's most effective pass-rusher, filling the void left on the outside by first-round NFL draft pick Anthony Barr.

The Bruins have another huge gap to fill at linebacker next season, as they did replacing Barr this past campaign.

Eric Kendricks is on his way out after capping an outstanding career with the Butkus Award. Kenny Young figures to be the leading contender to take Kendricks' spot in 2015.

Young saw significant playing time as a true freshman, coming on particularly strong late in the campaign. He fits the mold of a player that Jack said can break into the rotation. 

"If you're one of those guys that feels like you can make a difference, Coach Mora has no problem playing freshmen," he said. 

Mora's willingness to play freshmen immediately means the cream of UCLA's 2015 recruiting crop will find prominent roles from the outset of next season.

Among that cast of newcomers who could vie for a spot is 5-star quarterback Josh Rosen

The celebrated prospect out of Southern California prep powerhouse St. John Bosco should be a top contender for the job redshirt junior Brett Hundley is likely to vacate. Asiantii Woulard will also figure prominently into the equation. 

The 2015 campaign will be Woulard's third in the program. He spent the last two working primarily as a scout-team player and came to UCLA with 4-star fanfare out of Winter Park, Florida. 

Along with Rosen, UCLA added another 5-star recruit to the 2015 class just last month: defensive end Keisean Lucier-South.

Lucier-South is another Southern California product and a potential immediate addition to a defensive line that is shaping up to be one of the conference's most talented.

The unit returns Kenny Clark and Eddie Vanderdoes next season as well as midseason addition Takkarist McKinley.   

McKinley progressed quickly in 2014 and could fill the void that senior standout Owamagbe Odighizuwa leaves. After all, as McKinley described himself in October, he is "a little Owa." 

The Bruins secondary will remain largely in tact. Junior Fabian Moreau and redshirt sophomore Ishmael Adams, UCLA's starting cornerbacks in 2014, should both be back.  

So, too, should a returning Randall Goforth. The Bruins lost Goforth early in the season, which opened an opportunity for freshman Jaleel Wadood to make an impact—which he did, making seven starts. 


Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited. Statistics courtesy of CFBstats.com. Recruiting rankings and information via 247Sports

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