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Jaquan Yulee Sets Decision Date: Odds on Where 4-Star LB Lands

One of the nation's top linebacker recruits will come off the board early next month when 4-star Virginia native Jaquan Yulee will announce his commitment.

The 6'3" 240-pounder is the nation's No. 6 inside linebacker prospect and the No. 152 player overall in the class of 2016. 

He will choose from five finalists: Alabama, Florida State, North Carolina, Michigan State and Virginia Tech.

How do the odds shake out for each of the schools in the running for Yulee?

Let's break down where each program currently stands in the race to land him and imagine the odds each will have for signing the young linebacker.

 

Michigan State: 20-1

Michigan State jumped into the race for Yulee when they offered him two months ago. 

Since head coach Mark Dantonio arrived in East Lansing nearly a decade ago, the Spartans program has evolved into a defensive juggernaut. 

While the Spartans have a need at linebacker in the 2016 class, they already have a pledge from 3-star Ohio native Joe Bachie—who committed to the Spartans a few weeks ago.

Taking that into account—along with the fact that Yulee has yet to make a visit to East Lansing—makes the Spartans a long shot in the race to land his pledge.

 

Florida State: 15-1

Perhaps no out-of-state school has had more recent success in pulling studs out of the state of Virginia than Florida State. 

Considering that linebacker is a priority for the Seminoles in the 2016 cycle, coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff would love to add Yulee to that list. 

However, three of the 'Noles 14 commitments in 2016 are from linebackers—with another pair of athletes in Jamal Couch and Jamel Cook who could end up as linebackers at the next level.

It's important to note that none of their current commits project as a true inside linebacker, but that may not matter in the end.

Similar to Michigan State's chances, the 'Noles have yet to get Yulee on campus. Considering his other three finalists have hosted him before, FSU seems to be on the outside looking in with Yulee's recruitment.

 

Virginia Tech 10-1

Virginia Tech has struggled to keep elite prospects in-state recently due to schools such as Clemson, Florida State and Ohio State, among others, raiding its territory.

The Hokies were the first school to offer Yulee back in 2012, which has given them a chance to build a strong relationship with the No. 4 player in the state of Virginia.

As noted by Evan G. Watkins of 247Sports, Yulee has a strong bond with Hokies tight ends coach Bryan Stinespring.

However, the recent momentum has his recruitment seeming to be favoring the out-of-state schools. Even if the Hokies are unable to earn his commitment in June, expect them to fight tooth-and-nail to land him on signing day.

 

North Carolina: 7-1

Heading into spring, North Carolina was the school that was trending heavily with Yulee.

In fact, the Tar Heels are still the heavy favorite, according to his Crystal Ball page

"North Carolina is still my school, no matter what," Yulee told Ryan Bartow of 247Sports (via Ross Martin of 247Sports). "They were there and they are still my grandma's favorite school right now out of everybody."

Considering that UNC had one of the nation's worst defenses in 2014, Yulee would figure to be a candidate to make an instant impact under new Tar Heels defensive coordinator Gene Chizik. 

Additionally, the Tar Heels have geography in their favor, as Chapel Hill is actually closer to his hometown of Chesapeake, Virginia, than Blacksburg is.

Coach Larry Fedora and his staff are hoping that those factors lead Yulee to select the Tar Heels next month.  

 

Alabama: 5-1

With five consecutive top-rated recruiting classes under his belt, head coach Nick Saban has established himself as the nation's premier recruiter.

Alabama was able to get Yulee on campus in March, and he named the Tide his leader shortly afterward, as noted by Shane Youngblood of 247Sports.

Youngblood also notes that Yulee has already scheduled a return trip for one of the Tide's camps during the summer—which could be an indicator of the direction he's leaning with his upcoming announcement.

Alabama has a need for inside linebackers and a stout tradition of producing NFL prospects at that position.

Given that the Tide have zeroed in on Yulee as a priority prospect, it's hard to bet on Saban and his staff surrendering their lead in the days leading up to his announcement.

 

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

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4-Star CB Trayvon Mullen Reveals Why He Released a New Top 10

Trayvon Mullen is confident he's going to make an immediate impact in college.

"I can make a difference coming in as a freshman and help change a defense," the coveted cornerback recruit told Bleacher Report. "That's what I expect to do wherever I go to school."

He isn't quite sure where that will be yet but felt motivated to make an announcement Monday. 

Mullen, a 6'2", 175-pound prospect at Coconut Creek High School in Broward County, Florida, shined some light on his whirlwind recruitment process Monday by tweeting an updated top-10 list in order of preference:

Rated fifth nationally among cornerbacks in 247Sports' composite rankings, Mullen holds more than 40 scholarship offers from across the country. He was compelled to release the list based on new developments in the process.

"It's a situation that I've been able to get to know some other coaching staffs," Mullen explained. "I felt like it was the right time."

As he noted in the post, Mullen isn't excluding any teams at this stage. Even if they didn't make the cut on his latest list of favorites.

"I'm not in any hurry to make a decision," he said. "There's still a long way to go and schools I need to see in person."

Interestingly, Mullen hasn't visited TCU to this point. That didn't stop the Horned Frogs from landing atop his list.

TCU was ranked seventh in a top-10 list he released last month. Florida State, now sitting at third in this crowded race, was the former leader.

"I don't want to say that FSU dropped. This is just how I'm feeling at the moment," Mullen said. "Even though I haven't visited TCU yet, I really like the school and I've had some good conversations with the coaches."

Baylor, the second of three Texas programs to land on his list, extended an offer last Friday. Mullen explained that was a school he was eagerly waiting on and placed the Bears at No. 4.

"I just think I could really stand out at both Baylor and TCU," he said. "Not a lot of South Florida kids play college football in Texas, so I could be different. I feel like I could be a big fish at both schools. They've had a lot of success lately and I could help get those programs to the point they want to be at."

Mullen again flashed self-confidence by stating another element that intrigues him about TCU and Baylor.

"I like Big 12 football because they throw the ball a lot," he said. "That means I can make a bunch of big plays."

LSU has long been considered a top contender in this group and that doesn't change after the Tigers land second on Mullen's list. The team is projected to sign him by 68 percent of expert predictions in 247Sports' Crystal Ball.

"I can see myself being the next big cornerback at LSU because they've had a lot of guys like me there before who had similar talent," he said. "I love the coaches there too."

SEC squads comprise half of the list. LSU is joined by Auburn, Florida, Georgia and Texas A&M.

Mullen pointed to Auburn's coaching changes as motivation to explore the program further moving forward. He spoke highly of new defensive hires Will Muschamp and Tavaris Robinson.

"They're going to do big things at Auburn because that's exactly what the team needed," Mullen said. "They always move the ball offensively, so it was important for them to bring in some coaches to make things happen on defense. I feel like they can win a national championship in these next couple years."

Clemson is another program to keep an eye on here. Though the Tigers round out this list at No. 10, Mullen called the university a "dream school" and said he expects them to rise in coming months.

"I grew up watching Clemson and always really liked them," he said.

It's another sign that this seems to be an extremely fluid list, regardless of whether Florida State or TCU is occupying the top spot. Mullen mentioned Tennessee and Ole Miss as programs that could potentially enter the equation.

Baylor is proof that he's willing to thrust a new interest into the forefront of his recruitment.

"I'm not rushing anything and I'll keep updating my list depending how I'm feeling," he said.

Mullen doesn't currently have any upcoming visits planned, but reiterated Baylor and TCU are two campuses he intends to spend time at in an unofficial or official capacity. His current mindset is leaning toward taking all five official visits before any decision is made.

This is easily one of the most open-ended and unpredictable recruitments in the 2016 class. With a talent like Mullen up for grabs, expect a wide variety of programs to continue their pursuit as long as possible.

 

All quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Physical 2016 WR Bryan Edwards the Perfect Fit for South Carolina

Bryan Edwards, a 3-star wide receiver, per 247Sports, has committed to play his college ball at South Carolina. The talented wideout from Conway, South Carolina, will bring his size and athleticism to the Gamecocks this fall. 

Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down Edwards' game and what he can bring to South Carolina. 

Will Edwards make an immediate impact? Check out the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Which Program Would Give Everett Golson Best Chance to Improve on NFL Skill Set?

Former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson has one year of eligibility left to show he's an NFL quarterback. If he wants NFL training, his best option is to go to college football's current NFL factory. 

That would be a team he nearly beat a year ago: Florida State. 

According to 247Sports' Ryan Bartow, "Florida State is seen as the eventual destination" for Golson, who released a statement last week announcing he would transfer from Notre Dame. "Barring a last-minute change of heart or any influence from elsewhere, [Florida State’s] where he’s headed," a source told Bartow. 

That report was corroborated by Keith Arnold of NBC Sports, but it's not clear yet if FSU reciprocates the interest: 

If Golson does end up transferring to Florida State, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better situation if he wants to end up in the NFL—which, of course, sums up pretty much everyone at this level. This goes for any program, regardless of whether Golson is eligible to transfer there or not (the SEC, for example, has a graduate transfer restriction that would be a roadblock). 

The first—and maybe only—thing to look at is the track record Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher has of putting quarterbacks into the NFL. These players aren't just getting drafted, either; they've been first-round selections. 

In the past 10 years, Fisher has coached four quarterbacks who went on to become first-round picks:

Say what you will about the NFL careers of those picks to date—Jameis Winston excluded; his pro career is only beginning, and he's easily the best prospect of any of the four—but Fisher gets his players drafted high and paid handsomely. That's part of his job. What happens after that is no longer under his control. 

If you're Golson, how do you look at that and not come away impressed? He's not transferring to switch positions. He could have done that at Notre Dame. Golson has one year of eligibility left to prove he's worth taking as a quarterback in the 2016 draft. This decision has a lot of weight behind it. 

There will be challenges if Golson does transfer to Florida State. All the quarterbacks listed above were multiyear starters who fit the prototypical NFL passer mold. The current front-runner to succeed Winston, Sean Maguire, is cut from the similar physical cloth as well. 

Golson is on the smaller side (he's listed at 6'0" and 200 pounds), but that's never going to change for him. For Golson, it's about controlling what he can control. 

Could Golson learn a more NFL-friendly playbook in a few months time and make the necessary reads/decisions quickly? Can he improve dramatically on the ball-security issues that plagued him a year ago? Can he come in to the locker room as a new face, develop chemistry and be viewed as a leader quickly? 

Despite his shaky spring game last month, Maguire is still viewed as the favorite to start in Week 1, because he has that experience. 

Those are NFL problems rookie quarterbacks face, too. Right now, you're not going to find a better spot to train them than Florida State. And Golson's history at Notre Dame suggests he would be up for the occasion. 

Golson won the starting job as a redshirt freshman in 2012 and helped lead the Irish to a national championship appearance against Alabama. He missed the '13 season because of academic, but spent that time working with quarterback guru George Whitfield. Golson returned in '14 and had one of the more prolific passing seasons in Notre Dame history. 

It might be the most ridiculous qualifying statement uttered in a while, but when Golson wasn't turning the ball over, he looked like a completely different passer from 2012-14; a much better one. He has ability but hasn't been able to consistently use it.

Fisher's job would be to get that consistency out of Golson. If there's a head coach/quarterback guru who can get the most out of his signal-callers and prepare them for the NFL, it's Fisher. 

None of this is to say that Golson will win the starting job at Florida State or anywhere else. He would have to beat Maguire in preseason camp first before we have that discussion. But if Golson is looking for a place where he could start and get an NFL crash course at the same time, the Seminoles seem like a great fit.  

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Which Recruiting Powerhouses Are After Future 'Superstar' CB Deangelo Gibbs?

Deangelo Gibbs is a 5-star cornerback in the 2017 class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. He's currently uncommitted but is leaning heavily toward Georgia. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down Gibbs' game. 

How good can this cornerback be at the next level? Check out the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Auburn Football: Why Ricardo Louis the Real Key to the Auburn Offense

When you think of who might be the centerpieces of the Auburn offense in 2015, the obvious names come up.

Quarterback Jeremy Johnson is shooting for a 3,000-yard passing, 1,000-yard rushing season, wide receiver D'haquille "Duke" Williams is a freak as a possession receiver who lines up all over the field and running backs "Roc" Thomas and Jovon Robinson are both potential stars in an Auburn ground game that's well-versed in creating stars.

Let's dig a little deeper, though.

If you're looking for the true "key" to the Auburn offense, look no further than wide receiver Ricardo Louis.

The 6'2", 215-pound senior who seems like he's been at Auburn for a decade is best known for being on the receiving end of the "Miracle on the Plains" vs. Georgia in 2013, but the best could be yet to come in a variety of ways.

 

Replacing Sammie Coates

Sammie Coates was one of the best deep threats in the nation over the last two seasons, when he averaged 21.62 yards per catch and helped kick-start an Auburn offense that barely knew what a downfield passing attack was in 2012. 

Williams can provide that threat, but if you're head coach Gus Malzahn, it's a better move to simply try to replicate Coates' production with somebody else and keep Williams in the same role as last year.

Louis can do that. 

He doesn't have the same frame or strength of Coates, but he is bigger than most realize and has the speed to create space downfield.

"We need someone to assume that role and we've been really good the last couple of years of taking the top off and opening things up," offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said this spring, according to James Crepea of the Montgomery Advertiser. "But I think Ricardo, he can still be an all-around, well-rounded receiver."

He doesn't have to match the production of Coates, but if he poses the threat of being able to do it, that might be all Johnson and Malzahn need to open up the passing game. Those windows to Williams and the rest of the receivers will be a little bit more open, safeties won't be able to focus so much on the run and that balance that Malzahn has been searching for over the last year will finally be attained.

 

Edge Threat

For the majority of the last two seasons, running back Corey Grant was the primary edge threat in Malzahn's multidimensional ground attack. 

Down the stretch last year, though, things changed a bit.

Grant saw his production decrease, and Louis saw his responsibility on the ground grow. Louis earned just five carries over the first six games of the 2014 season, but against South Carolina, his role changed. He rushed three times for 102 yards against the Gamecocks—including a 75-yarder for a score—which set the tone for the rest of the season.

He rushed 10 times for 111 yards, 50 of which came against Texas A&M and 41 of which came in the Outback Bowl against Wisconsin.

Will the Auburn defense look different this year with Johnson—who's more of a pro-style passer—taking the snaps?

Yes, but the multidimensional rushing attack will still be in place, and it will likely be Louis providing that edge threat before the snap as the option on jet sweeps.

 

Veteran Leadership

Auburn saw several veteran offensive skill players move on to the NFL this offseason, including Coates, quarterback Nick Marshall, running back Cameron Artis-Payne and tight end C.J. Uzomah. That has left a void in the leadership structure of the Auburn offense.

Enter: Louis.

Malzahn is expecting big things from Louis on and off the field in 2015.

"He's one of those guys—one of those seniors that has a lot of experience, a lot of big-game experience and has played well in big games," he said, according to Tom Green of the Opelika-Auburn News. "We really just want (him) to take that next step. He's one of our leaders, so we'll expect big things out of him next year."

He'll have help, though. Williams has a year in the system under his belt, and with veterans Marcus Davis and Melvin Ray with him in the receiving corps and Johnson's experience as a backup, there are plenty of players to help him provide that leadership.

Because of all that he's been through—from the frustrations of the 2012 season to the highs of 2013 and the step back in 2014—Louis can help the Tigers through the good and bad times that pop up this fall, and potentially back to the Georgia Dome for a shot at the SEC title.

 

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

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

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Versatile 4-Star Josh Brown Will Make FSU's Defense 'Frightening'

Josh Brown—a 4-star outside linebacker, per 247Sports' composite rankings—has been turning heads on the recruiting trail. With Brown's commitment to Florida State University, Jimbo Fisher and his staff are getting a true gamer and all-around athlete. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder offers his insight on Brown's game and what he brings to the Seminoles. 

Can Brown step in and contribute right away? Check out the video and let us know! 

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10 College Football Players Who Will Take Huge Strides Forward in 2015

As good as Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott’s 1,878 rushing yards looked in 2014, did you know he only posted 262 yards in 2013?

That’s when he was a freshman playing behind Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall, seniors who posted 1,521 and 536 yards, respectively.

Elliott, once a 4-star prospect from St. Louis, proves an important point—even if you’re good, really good, the situation has to be just right for you to flourish.

The following athletes are all really good, but each has been waiting, some longer than others, for the right combination of factors. 

The time is here.

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Alabama Football: Redshirt Freshmen Set for Breakout 2015

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Fourteen scholarship members of Alabama’s 24-member No. 1-ranked 2014 recruiting class saw the field for the Crimson Tide in 2014.

For the other 10, they sat on the sidelines for a redshirt year while their teammates went to an SEC Championship and the inaugural College Football Playoff.

But several of them could be in line for a much different 2015.

Through offseason work and spring practice, a handful showed they could play big roles in 2015.

Let’s take a look at some redshirt freshmen who could breakout next season.

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