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UCLA Football Recruiting: 4 Former Blue Chippers Who Will Finally Shine in 2014

There are four former blue-chip prospects with the potential to impact the UCLA football team in 2014. Three of the four prospects in this slideshow are young players...

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Pac-12 Football: Every Team's Dream 2015 Recruit

Without spring practice to get us through the offseason lulls in Pac-12 country, the recruiting world carries the burden as it launches into a major stretch before the regular-season excitement begins to ramp up.

Summer camps are taking place around the country, and elite high schoolers are turning heads despite not actually playing in real football games.

If you follow recruiting, odds are you know which kids your favorite team is targeting. You know who looks like a good fit, which 5-stars are a long shot but have you crossing your fingers anyway and, finally, who would be the dream recruit for the program you follow.

Some schools desperately need speed on offense, others yearn for beef in the middle and some just want those with limitless potential. What makes an ideal recruit? Is it a talented kid spurning a nearby school and choosing your team? Is it simply the best recruit at the biggest position of need?

The only requirement here is that there must be at least mild interest on both sides, no matter how long the odds may be otherwise. For example, Jadeveon Clowney would have been Utah's (or any school's) dream recruit several years ago, but there was zero interest on his end.

Here is every Pac-12 team's dream 2015 recruit.

 

Note: You could list the same three or four players for most of the teams on this list. For the sake of mixing it up, we're listing a different player for every school despite the fact that two or three programs may have the same "dream" recruit. Remember, these are NOT predictions of where each recruit will go, but rather the dream scenario for each school.

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Pac-12 Football: Every Team's Dream 2015 Recruit

Without spring practice to get us through the offseason lulls in Pac -12 country, the recruiting world carries the burden as it launches into a major stretch before the regular-season excitement begins to ramp up...

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5 Burning Questions About 5-Star DT Trent Thompson's Recruitment

Trent Thompson is a 5-star defensive tackle who is simply a monster on the field. As a high-profile recruit, many questions are surrounding the Georgia native's recruitment.

At 6'4" and 292 pounds, Thompson's first-step quickness and ability to penetrate gaps are his top assets. However, he also has excellent strength, awareness and athleticism.

With so many questions surrounding Thompson's recruitment, it's time to take a look at the five that people most want to see answered.

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10 Recruits Who Could Join 4-Star CB Garrett Taylor at Michigan

Garrett Taylor is a 4-star cornerback who committed to Michigan in March. At 6'1" and 188 pounds, the Virginia native is an instinctive cover corner who uses his length and short-area quickness to make plays.

If things don't work out on the perimeter for Taylor in Ann Arbor, his vision will be able to help him make the transition to safety. Taylor's pledge to be a Wolverine will not go unnoticed, as he will likely attract other talented recruits to join Michigan's class.

A pair of elite defensive ends are on the radar, while a legacy recruit is also on Michigan's wish list. Another objective for Big Blue is to reel a former commitment back in.

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Biggest SEC vs. Big Ten Recruiting Battles in Class of 2015

The SEC and Big Ten are two of the best conferences in college football. Both leagues are packed with powerhouse schools who win a lot of games.

The SEC and Big Ten have several of the top recruiting programs in the nation, and they tend to bump heads somewhat frequently on the recruiting trail. As the 2015 recruiting cycle moves along, several recruiting battles are emerging between schools from both conferences.

A 5-star quarterback digs Tennessee and Ohio State, while the Buckeyes are trying to beat out Texas A&M for a stud receiver. Alabama is trying to take a 5-star linebacker from the clutches of Iowa.

 

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

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40-Foot Sinkhole Appears at Austin Peay's Football Stadium

Sinkholes are a phenomenon that are unfortunately popping up more and more around the United States, and today, Austin Peay State University felt the impact, as a 40-foot giant sinkhole appeared at the school's football stadium.

Austin Peay State University is located in Clarksville, Tennessee, an area slightly more susceptible to sinkholes than the rest of the country. No injuries were reported.

[Twitter, h/t CollegeSpun]

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Top Questions for 2014: Who Will Surprise in Playoff? Winston Heisman Repeat?

We are just 100 days away from the start of the 2014 college football season, so let's celebrate by breaking down some of the biggest questions heading into the season. 

Which surprise teams will reach the first College Football Playoff? What should we expect from Jameis Winston and FSU in 2014?

Check out the video above for Michael Felder's answers to the biggest questions fans have about the upcoming CFB season. 

 

Highlights courtesy XOS Digital.

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Nebraska Football: 4 Former Blue-Chippers Who Will Finally Shine in 2014

The 2014 NFL draft has come and gone. With it, a slew of new opportunities have opened up for Nebraska's former blue-chippers.

Typically, top recruits find early playing time for the Cornhuskers. However, there are the occasional blue-chippers that hang around waiting for the opportunity to step up and shine.

For a few players, that time is now.

While a couple of the listed players have seen playing time already for Nebraska, they haven't fully reached their potential. That's what makes 2014 their year.

Which former high school standouts are poised to shine for the Huskers in 2014?

Take a look at the four former blue-chippers that have a chance to step up and make their mark for Nebraska come fall.

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B/R's 2014 Early Preseason Freshman All-American Team

It is a grand time for freshmen in college football. Although they were redshirts instead of fresh-out-of-high-school players, Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston have won the past two Heisman Trophies in their first seasons of active eligibility.

Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III was a second-team AP All-American as a true freshman in 2013, and "freshman" head coach Gus Malzahn—as he was considered by the FWAA—came within 15 short seconds of winning a national title at Auburn. Instead, Winston threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin and became the first freshman QB to win the national title since 1983.

With all of that in mind, and with spring practice officially behind us, it is time for our first early look at next year's brightest youngsters.

As criteria for this list, a mixture of skill level, game-readiness and opportunity were accounted for. The most talented freshman at a position is not necessarily the best bet to make the All-Freshman team; if he's buried behind two upperclassmen on the depth chart, 2015 might be the year he begins to make an impact.

Coaching style was also a heavy consideration. Fair or not, stats are typically used as a baseline for postseason teams. A freshman with a clear path to playing time on one of the nation's top offenses was preferred over one in a more conservative scheme. Make sense?

Chime in below and let me know who I missed.

 

Note: All recruiting information courtesy of the 247Sports Composite.

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Predicting Where Top Dual-Threat QBs Will Land with JC Shurburtt from 247Sports

The 2015 recruiting cycle is heating up, and now top quarterback talent is drying up. Most of the top QBs in the 2015 class have already committed, but key recruits like Torrance Gibson and Kyler Murray have yet to announce their decisions. 

Torrance Gibson is the No. 1 dual-threat QB in the class, according to 247Sports Composite Rankings. Gibson recently announced his top choices, but he will not make a final decision anytime soon. Where will he end up on national signing day in 2015?

Check out JC Shurburtt's predictions for where the top uncommitted quarterbacks will land. 

 

Highlights courtesy XOS Digital. All rankings and stats from 247Sports

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Garrett Williams Commits to Clemson: Tigers Land 4-Star TE

Garrett Williams decided against following in his father's footsteps to Florida State, instead electing to carve his own path at Clemson.

The 4-star tight end prospect revealed those intentions Monday afternoon, announcing a commitment as his junior year comes to a close:

The 6'4", 220-pound Orlando First Academy playmaker selected the Tigers from a collection of four top contenders. He revealed Stanford, Auburn, Florida State and Clemson as his favorite options in March during a conversation with Orlando Sentinel reporter Chris Hays.

Williams, rated No. 8 nationally among tight ends in 247Sports' composite rankings, never seemed to waver from that stance throughout a whirlwind period of his recruiting process. Stanford, certainly the outlier among the bunch in terms of proximity, received a campus visit from Williams in April.

Other collegiate opportunities included Ohio State, Ole Miss, Michigan State, Tennessee and Alabama. Many of those offers arrived before the start of his junior season.

His father, Dayne Williams, played fullback at Florida State in the 1990s. The Seminoles appeared to be a clear early leader upon offering him as a sophomore.

"This one means a lot because my dad played there," he told the Orlando Sentinel at the time. "I wouldn't say one means more than the other, but I have been an FSU fan my whole life, watching them all through growing up." 

Instead, Williams headed north to play for ACC rival Clemson. Based on his physicality and fundamentals, he figures to compete for playing time as an underclassman in head coach Dabo Swinney's offensive attack.

Williams, who contributes in multiple roles at First Academy, should be just as versatile at the next level. The Tigers could look to utilize his skill set in the backfield as an H-back who can lead block, carry the ball himself, protect the edge on passing plays and run intermediate routes.

Clemson was ultimately the only option that could challenge Williams' familiarity with life at Florida State.

"That's a school I've been to more than any other one besides FSU," Williams told the Sentinel. "I know under Coach Swinney's leadership they will keep going up, and up, and up."

Clemson now holds 17 commits for the 2015 class. The group rates fourth nationally in 247Sports' composite team rankings.

 

Recruit information via 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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Notre Dame Football: 5 Former Blue-Chippers Who Will Shine in 2014

As we've seen in Brian Kelly's recent recruiting classes, landing the blue-chip recruits hasn't been a problem. Since taking over at Notre Dame, Kelly and his coaching staff have landed more than their fair share of the nation's top prospects.

According to 247Sports.com's team rankings, all four of Kelly's recruiting classes (we'll keep 2010 out of this both because 247 didn't collect data and Kelly took over Charlie Weis' class) have been Top 20 groups. Both the 2011 and 2013 classes were judged Top 10 efforts, with last year's class falling just outside that standard at No. 11. 

Stockpiling talent isn't necessarily a precursor to playing winning football—just ask Mack Brown. But as Kelly enters his fifth season in South Bend, Indiana, the personnel on the Irish roster continues to improve. 

That's been proved by Notre Dame's success in the NFL draft. But that success has also come at a price, with roster attrition with early entrants to the NFL creating challenges we haven't seen in recent years for the Irish. 

But those departures have created opportunities. And as Kelly has built his program around the motto of "Next Man In," let's take a look at five former blue-chippers who will finally have a chance to shine in 2014. 

 

*Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand. 

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Oregon Football Recruiting: 5 Former Blue-Chippers Who Will Shine in 2014

Oregon's success in the 2014 season will rely in part on the production of its most highly rated recruits. The blue-chippers that headlined recent classes will have the opportunity to validate the lofty praise given to them as prep prospects. 

These 4- and 5-star prospects will be expected to take on more prominent roles—some at positions of particular importance to the team's goals.

One-time recruiting stars landed both by former head coach Chip Kelly and current head coach Mark Helfrich are ready to take the next step toward collegiate stardom.   

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Oregon Football Recruiting: 5 Former Blue-Chippers Who Will Shine in 2014

Oregon's success in the 2014 season will rely in part on the production of its most highly rated recruits. The blue-chippers that headlined recent classes will have the opportunity to validate the lofty praise given to them as prep prospects...

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Florida State Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

Florida State has just 10 verbal commitments for the 2015 class, but the total should jump significantly in the next few months.

Derwin James of Haines City Senior is the top prospect, a consensus 5-star safety. For FSU, the rich get richer. The Seminoles have loaded up on talented defensive backs, and Jimbo Fisher landed 5-star Jalen Ramsey and unheralded Nate Andrews in 2013. Both became starters on the national championship team.

Here's a look at FSU's 10 commitments as well as some players that Fisher and his staff may be targeting.

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Alabama Football: Nick Saban's Biggest Challenges for Crimson Tide in 2014

It’s not easy being Nick Saban.

He led all coaches with four national championships during the BCS era, three at the University of Alabama. When his team loses two games, the whole offseason turns into “What’s wrong?”, with critics claiming that there are cracks in the dynasty even when it was just one play short of a perfect regular season. 

It’s pretty much the same as what was said after the 2010 season, when Alabama, perhaps the victim of its own success, lost three games and for the only time since 2007 didn’t play in a BCS bowl. The Crimson Tide responded by winning the next two crystal footballs.

Alas, it’s a new season, which brings new challenges, and the coach is making sure that his talented team is hearing every criticism and doubt. He knows better than anyone that such negative talk can only spur the Crimson Tide. 

Although the goal remains the same, to continue winning championships, here are 10 of those challenges for the 2014 season:

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Auburn Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

After securing another Top-10 class earlier this year, Gus Malzahn and his Auburn coaching staff have wasted no time in putting together another talented group of future Tigers from the class of 2015.

Auburn already has 14 commitments for its 2015 class, which is ranked No. 3 nationally by 247Sports' Composite Team Rankings. Ten of the Tigers' current commitments are 4-star or 5-star recruits, setting up this next year's class to be one of the most star-studded ones in recent seasons.

The Tigers are gearing up for "Big Cat Weekend," an invitation-only event for some of the Tigers' top targets and commitments for the upcoming recruiting class. The weekend, which is two weeks away, has been a summer staple on the Plains the last few years and usually ends with a high-caliber commitment or two.

While many Auburn fans are looking forward to what the coming months will hold for the Tigers' growing class of 2015, the start of the summer semester in Auburn is a good time to take a look at the defending SEC champions' commitments.

Here is a position-by-position report card of Auburn's current recruiting class. Grades are determined by the caliber of Auburn's commitments and their ability to fill team needs for the seasons ahead.

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Darrin Kirkland Jr. Commits to Michigan: What 4-Star LB Brings to Wolverines

Linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. is the latest top-tier defensive prospect who plans to call Ann Arbor home during his college career.

The 4-star Indianapolis native announced a commitment to Michigan on Sunday afternoon, providing another key piece for head coach Brady Hoke's 2015 recruiting class:

Kirkland, a 6'2", 228-pound playmaker, spent time on campus this past weekend and capped off his trip with the pledge. He returned home as the newest member of a Wolverines class that includes seven players.

"As soon as I saw the Block M on campus, I knew I was committing on this trip," Kirkland told 247Sports reporter Steve Wiltfong. "I felt great about Michigan. My parents really like Michigan and I'm excited to be a part of the Michigan program."  

The coaching staff should be equally excited to welcome Kirkland into a class that now features four 4-star defenders. Hoke and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison have built a solid foundation on that side of the football, starting last summer with commitments from Ohio defensive backs Shaun Crawford and Tyree Kinnel.

Coveted Virginia cornerback Garrett Taylor added to the haul in late March. After landing a serious infusion of defensive backfield talent, the team aims to locate upgrades across the front seven.

Kirkland, rated No. 5 nationally among inside linebackers in 247Sports' composite rankings, instantly helps that process. He provides an intimidating presence in the middle, displaying balanced coverage that presents the Wolverines with options along the second level.

Kirkland collected 110 tackles and eight sacks last fall during his first season at Lawrence Central High School. He previously played at Park Tudor High School, where a strong 2012 campaign earned him scholarship offers from the likes of Toledo, Akron and Louisville.

He ultimately chose Michigan over Oregon, Texas, Penn State and Oklahoma, among others.

His performance as a junior exhibited significant strides in multiple capacities, particularly against the run. He maintained excellent spacial awareness while weaving and fighting through blocks along the line of scrimmage.

Kirkland does an outstanding job of detaching from opponents by maintaining low pad level and churning upfield with a powerful lower body. His physicality at the point of impact halts lead-blockers in their tracks, bottling up the offensive backfield.

Michigan is likely to implement him as an immediate asset on special teams, where his tenacity and tackling skills provide value in kick coverage. His ability to handle those initial duties will go a long way toward determining how quickly Kirkland can claim a role in the Wolverines' two-deep. 

Hoke remains in pursuit of multiple 2015 linebackers who could challenge Kirkland for early playing time. However, edge-rushing linebackers like Justin Hilliard (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Osa Masina (Salt Lake City, Utah) are targets who would complement his skill set well.

With the addition of Kirkland, Michigan's class rates 24th nationally and fourth among Big Ten members in 247Sports' team rankings.

 

Recruit information via 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

 

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What AT&T's Purchase of DirecTV Means for SEC Network

A move that could revolutionize the television industry could have a secondary effect on college football—particularly the SEC Network.

AT&T announced over the weekend that it will acquire DirecTV for $48.5 billion, in a ground-breaking move that will revolutionize the television industry.

"This is a unique opportunity that will redefine the video entertainment industry and create a company able to offer new bundles and deliver content to consumers across multiple screens—mobile devices, TVs, laptops, cars and even airplanes," said AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson in a press release.

This presents an interesting scenario for the SEC Network.

The 24-hour cable network hits the air on Aug. 14, and it already has a deal in place with AT&T U-Verse. Noticeably absent from its list of current providers is DirecTV.

Does the acquisition of the deal make it more likely that DirecTV customers will get the SEC Network before its launch? 

Of course.

This deal is all about synergy and bundling, and if the two companies have similar carriage deals in place with networks, then achieving that synergy is far more likely. But that's more of a long-term issue that will be solved eventually.

Fans of SEC football programs—all of which will compete on the SEC Network during the first four weeks of the 2014 season—aren't interested in long-term solutions. They want answers now.

Justin Connolly, ESPN's Sr. Vice President of college networks, told Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson (Miss) Clarion-Ledger last week that the then-rumors of the deal wouldn't have much impact.

“Any proposed merger of that size will take a whole lot of working out from a regulatory standpoint, so I don't think the marketplace will change materially between now and then,” Connolly told Kellenberger.

As Clay Travis of FoxSports.com points out, AT&T's acquisition of DirecTV won't have an impact on ongoing carriage negotiations.

Merger won't be completed until long after @secnetwork debuts so this is still a @directv decision in meantime.

— Clay Travis (@ClayTravisBGID) May 18, 2014

Until the deal is closed, the two companies are independent. So the pressing issue of whether you'll be able to watch the South Carolina vs. Texas A&M game on Aug. 28 if you're a DirecTV customer is still very much that—a pressing issue.

If you were worried about the deal before, you should be just as worried now. But there's still plenty of time between now an the launch of the SEC Network for deals to be made. It already has deals in place with AT&T, DISH Network, Google Fiber and other rural carriers, which total around 19-20 million based on end-of-the-year reports, and will grow as Google Fiber expands its customer base.

That's impressive in and of itself, considering the Big Ten Network had just over 16 million upon its launch, according to a release on Penn State's website.

There's already pressure on providers to get the SEC Network, and while the AT&T merger won't have a direct impact, that pressure still exists. When the announcement of the SEC Network's existence took place in May of 2013, AT&T U-Verse was already on board, giving interested fans the option of signing up with the growing cable provider. The deal with DISH only created more pressure from both a local and national perspective.

These things take time, and when the rubber meets the road and the network gets closer to launch, it's hard to imagine the SEC Network not being picked up by all major providers. 

Unlike it's Pac-12 counterpart, which is wholly owned by the conference, the SEC Network is owned by ESPN—which can leverage countless other networks under the Disney umbrella to get the network carried. 

SEC Media Days from July 14-17 in Hoover, Ala. always serves as the de facto kickoff to the college football season. This year, it will also act as a one-month warning and a week-long infomercial for the SEC Network. That month between Media Days and the launch of the network is crunch time for your provider.

You know you can get SEC Network and they know you can get it elsewhere, so there's not much to worry about quite yet.

 

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