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Tennessee Head Coach Butch Jones Wise to Narrow QB Race in Spring

Tennessee will hold its spring game on Saturday, and apparently the quarterback race is narrowing leading into the event.

Head coach Butch Jonestold B/R last week that he hoped to narrow the quarterback competition among senior Justin Worley, sophomore Joshua Dobbs, sophomore Nathan Peterman and redshirt freshman Riley Ferguson to two before the end of spring practice.

Now, apparently, we know those two.

Butch Jones told reporters (via: Tennessee's Twitter account) on Thursday that Worley and Ferguson have been receiving more reps than Dobbs and Peterman, and that the reps will continue to be divided that way.

JONES (on QBs):We are balancing repetitions. Justin & Riley have taken more reps and they will continue to. Nate & Josh continue to progress

— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) April 10, 2014

It's a great move for Tennessee, because Jones couldn't afford to follow the same path as he did last season when the four-man battle lasted all the way to the final week of fall camp. Worley received more first-team snaps than the others as fall camp went on, but it was still a four-man battle that lasted far too long. That battle took snaps away from Worley, and he clearly was unsure of himself when the season started.

By narrowing it down now, it makes it more likely that both Worley and Ferguson will be as prepared as possible for that opener on Sunday, Aug. 31 versus Utah State.

Who's got the edge?

Jones was very complimentary of both in our conversation last week.

"Justin Worley has really improved greatly, from leadership to his ability to make all of the throws, particularly the deep balls," he said. "It's been great to get Riley Ferguson getting a volume of repetition. You know, Riley has an innate ability to create plays. I've been very encouraged."

Worley completed 55.6 percent of his passes last season (109-for-196), for 1,239 yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions; but he was lost for the season in late October when he suffered a thumb injury versus Alabama.

Jones' comments last week suggest that he's comfortable with what Worley brings to the table, but thinks that Ferguson has more upside. 

For Ferguson, a former 3-star prospect from Matthews, N.C., getting a higher proportion of reps is huge for his development. If he can develop the consistency that Jones is looking for, he'll likely win the job. 

Can he do it?

That remains to be seen.

But now he has the chance, and it's more than the "one-in-a-million" chance Lloyd Christmas had in Dumb and Dumber.

 

* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless other wise noted, and all stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.com.

 


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Will the Ohio State Buckeyes Land 5-Stars Christian Kirk and Torrance Gibson?

Ohio State landed one of the top 2014 recruiting classes and are already rolling on the 2015 class. Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes are heavily recruiting the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback Torrance Gibson and the No. 3 wide receiver Christian Krik

Both Gibson and Kirk have amazing playmaking abilities and are just the kind of athletes that Meyer favors. Gibson has the potential to take over the starting QB role for Braxton Miller in 2015, while Kirk would have an immediate impact on any offense. 

Check out Bill Kurelic from Bucknuts.com break down the latest on Urban Meyer's recruitment of 5-stars Torrance Gibson and Christian Kirk. 

 

Highlights courtesy of XOs Digital.

Player rankings from 247 Sports Composite

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Ole Miss Insider: OT Laremy Tunsil Most Physically Gifted in Rebel History

The Ole Miss Rebels are gearing up for what should be a very productive fall. Laden with talent all over the field, head coach Hugh Freeze is building a powerhouse down in Oxford, Miss.

Bleacher Report spoke with Ole Miss Spirit's Ben Garrett, who broke down which Rebel early enrollee has been must impressive this spring, the running back situation heading into the fall, and just how good sophomore OT Laremy Tunsil truly is.

What did he have to say about QB Bo Wallace?

Watch the video, and get all your Ole Miss insight heading into next season.

Highlights courtesy of xosdigital.com

 

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Missouri's Recruiting Roll Proves It Can Stay in the SEC East Discussion

If Missouri's magical run to the SEC East title wasn't enough, it's now recruiting like an SEC big boy too.

The Tigers have been on a recruiting roll in April, securing commitments of three 4-star prospects in the class of 2015.

The most recent prospect to commit to the Tigers is Drew Lock, a 6'5", 195-pound pro-style quarterback from Lee's Summit, Mo. Rated as the fifth-best prospect in the class, Lock has a big arm, is accurate downfield and can make throws on the run. He completed 199 of 331 passes for 3,062 yards, 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions as a junior for Lee's Summit Senior High School, and chose the Tigers over Tennessee and Ole Miss.

Staying close to home was important for Lock.

"My parents and grandparents would obviously cheer for me, but I do not think they would cheer for the school as well," he told 247Sports.com's Kipp Adams. "Going to Missouri, they would be cheering for me, but at the same time they would already want Missouri to win so bad.”

He's the icing on the April recruiting cake so far for Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel.

On Tuesday, Missouri got the commitment of a weapon for Lock to use in the future—4-star running back Natereace Strong. At 6'1", 210 pounds, Strong has the size to take the pounding between the tackles but is dangerous enough to be a weapon in space in that Missouri offense. The East St. Louis, Ill., native is rated as the nation's No. 14 running back and chose the Tigers over Florida State, Michigan State, Ohio State and others.

Earlier this month, Pinkel got the commitment of 6'4", 297-pound guard AJ Harris of Stilwell, Kan. Harris, the nation's 19th-ranked guard, had offers from Arkansas, Ohio State, Nebraska and others. 

This recent roll is a great sign for Missouri. Three likely contributors have committed to the program from three separate states, all in Missouri's region.

What does it mean? It means Missouri's success is resonating a bit.

The Tigers' run to the SEC Championship Game seemingly came out of nowhere, and they didn't have time to feel the recruiting effect from that in the recently completed cycle. The class of 2015, however, is a different story.

Those kids now know Missouri not as the "other expansion team" in the SEC; they know it as a champion. That's a big draw and could push Missouri over the top for kids within the region, especially if they want to move on to the NFL.

The SEC more than doubled its closest competitor in players drafted in the 2013 NFL draft, according to CBSSports.com's Chip Patterson. In that draft, either division would have led FBS conferences in players drafted. 

Is Missouri where it needs to be from a recruiting standpoint?

No. 

They're currently ninth in the SEC and 23rd in the country in the updated 247Sports team recruiting rankings. But it has a division title in its trophy case, a new identity in the nation's toughest football conference and momentum in the living room. 

That will go a long way towards keeping the program competitive in the SEC East.

 

* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.com.

 


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Steve Spurrier Ready for Run at SEC Title, but Not Before Golf Season

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina finishes up spring practice with its annual spring game on Saturday, and then the Gamecocks will enter the voluntary offseason workouts phase of their preparation for the 2014 season.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier will enter a different phase as well.

He calls it “golf season.”

“I don’t play at all during the football season,” Spurrier said. “So it’s my time to get out and enjoy golf, although I don’t play nearly as much as people seem to think I do.”

While other coaches brag about their around-the-clock work habits, Spurrier realizes the importance of down time.

It seems to work for him.

Spurrier will begin his 25th season as a college head coach with a record of 219-79-2, including a 77-39-0 record in nine seasons at South Carolina.

He’s only had one losing season, and that was his first one at Duke in 1987.

Apparently, he doesn’t lose much at golf, either.

Golf season for Spurrier begins just after the end of spring practice and carries on through most of the summer until the team reports in the fall.

Although he is not a member of Augusta National, he plays the course once a year as a guest of a member. This year, he’s bringing along Gamecock defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward.

And then there is the ongoing “Spurrier challenge.” Any current player who wants to take Spurrier on in a round of golf is free to do so. The player gets one chance only.

He has never lost to a current player.

“My latest victim was [former Gamecock placekicker] Ryan Succop,” Spurrier said. “Of course he played on the golf team in high school, hits it about 300 yards. So we went out, I shot 77 that day and he shot 79. He triple bogeyed one of the par-three holes.

“Those guys get a little nervous when they’re playing the head coach.”

If Spurrier is nervous about the Gamecocks continuing their recent success, he doesn’t show it.

South Carolina has finished 11-2, including a bowl victory, and ranked in the top 10 each of the last three seasons.

It’s an unprecedented run of success for the Gamecocks, who prior to Spurrier’s arrival had one 10-victory season and three bowl victories to their credit in more than 100 years of football.

Has the wave crested? Can the Gamecocks keep it up, or even improve on what they’ve done? Can they win a conference championship? Compete for a national championship?

“That’s the next thing we haven’t done,” Spurrier said. “Winning the bowl games and finishing in the top 10 three years in a row, we’re proud of what we’ve done here. But we still want to win the SEC. If you win the SEC, you’ll be in the final four of the national championship playoff.”

Are the Gamecocks good enough?

“You never know until you start playing the games,” Spurrier said. “We lost a lot of key players in [quarterback] Connor Shaw and [wide receiver] Bruce Ellington and [defensive end] Jadeveon Clowney. But we’ve got some players coming back, so who knows how it’s going to be?”

The players are taking their cue from Spurrier.

“Of course the talent is here,” said junior tailback Mike Davis, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season. “We have a great quarterback in Dylan Thompson, talent at wide receiver, a lot of guys who stand out. We’ve got to see how it all looks in a game. You can never rule us out.”

Thompson, a fifth-year senior, gives the Gamecocks an experienced hand at quarterback.

“We’ve got a chance to be good, but a lot of teams right now have a chance to be good,” Thompson said. “At the same time, I think it’s really important what we do from right now until August 28th. We want to put in the work until then and focus on that.”

Neither Davis nor Thompson is likely to get much work in Saturday’s spring game, which will follow a casual format.

The game will be played in 12-minute quarters.

“The year before I got to Florida, they divided up into teams and had a steak and beans game,” Spurrier said. “Emmitt Smith carried 31 times in the spring game trying to win it for his team. We don’t do that.

“We’ll let the younger guys do most of the playing. It’s a chance for most of the young guys to show the coaches they can play. The defense will only rush four guys so hopefully we’ll get off some passes.”

The game will also feature what has become a spring game staple for Spurrier—a receiver stepping off the sideline to illegally catch a long pass.

“It’s going to be a little different this year,” Spurrier said. “It’s going to be a surprise. We have a surprise, celebrity catcher on the off-the-bench play.”

There’s one other note on the spring game. It begins at noon, and the clock will run continuously in the second half.

Chances are, the head ball coach has a tee time.

Unless otherwise indicated all quotes obtained first hand.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ranking the Top 50 Sophomores Heading into the 2014 College Football Season

When it comes to college football players, there's a certain pecking order for hype bestowed on the various classes.

The junior class tends to get the most recognition, since it's loaded with the best of the draft-eligible standouts whom we expect to see playing on Sundays next year. That's followed by the seniors, the veteran unit that's stuck it out all four years and will be relied on for experience and leadership.

Next come the freshmen, a class full of promise and (often) overwhelmingly high expectations. Their exploits at the prep level are considered a blueprint for how they'll perform in college.

And that leaves us with the sophomores, collectively the least regarded of the classes, despite being home to the previous season's top first-year players. And that was a heck of a group in 2013, which makes the 2014 sophomore class one of the best in the game in some time.

Here's a look at the top 50 sophomores heading into the 2014 season.

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Boise State Football: 5 Players to Watch in Broncos' Spring Game

At 5 p.m. Saturday, April 12, the new look, new coached Boise State Broncos are hoping to break a spring scrimmage attendance record. Coach Bryan Harsin has been actively campaigning for a crowd of at least 20,000 to take over Bronco Stadium for the annual blue and orange spring game.

If that were to happen, it would be a tremendous accomplishment. However, even if the number was to fall a bit short, it should still be an exciting day on The Blue.

Boise State is in the process of installing a brand new offense and defense this spring, and although scaled down, this will be the first time the public will get a look at the progress.

In the midst of this transition, there are some key position battles brewing, and some new talent trying to impress. The spring game gives some of the key players a platform to show coaches and fans alike what they can do.

Let's look at five of the players who will be doing all they can to make waves on The Blue this Saturday.

 

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Big Ten Football: Will East Division Spending Spree Tilt Balance of Power?

When not considering whether players can unionize or the ramifications of the Rutgers and Maryland athletic departments joining the Big Ten this summer, a big portion of offseason news has focused on new coaching salaries. Seemingly all over the Big Ten, strike that, all over the East Division, head coaches and assistants are garnering huge paydays.

But does this more help the Big Ten keep up with the SEC, or does it more create a competitive disparity that will unbalance the new divisions over the next few years?

Hopefully, the West Division steps up and gives deserving coaches a big payday as well, especially following the new television contracts signed in a couple years. That would moot this potential issue.

But count me among the "hesitant to believe it" camp when it comes to increased spending. If an athletic department can find a way to pinch a penny to blow that dollar somewhere else, it will.

So let's take a look at some of the top salaries in the Big Ten as of 2014, and where that leaves the balance of competitive power between the new divisions.

 

East Division

Michigan State likely made the biggest waves of the offseason in salary news by giving Mark Dantonio a huge pay increase up to $3.7 million. Dantonio has stayed loyal to East Lansing for almost a decade, and his proven success of double-digit wins in three of the last four seasons speaks for itself.

Plus, winning the first Rose Bowl since 1984 and finishing in the top three in the country certainly doesn't hurt when your school has to compete against the image of being a "little brother" to Michigan and perhaps even to Ohio State. That provides a huge interest boost in the football program and sells more season tickets, which leads to a pay bump.

But the size of the pay bump was notable, as Dantonio made less than $2 million in 2013. His old salary would have made him the lowest-paid coach in the SEC (Mark Stoops, $2.2 million at Kentucky, for the record), but his new salary puts him among the elite coaches nationwide. Dantonio would now be close in salary to elite SEC coaches like Guz Malzahn and Steve Spurrier, for example.

In the Big Ten, the pay increase puts Dantonio fifth overall in planned compensation (although Brady Hoke is only higher because he is receiving deferred salary now).

He is now firmly entrenched in the $3 million-plus club, which includes six B1G coaches: Urban Meyer ($4.8 million), Brady Hoke ($4.3 million), Kirk Ferentz ($4.0 million), James Franklin ($4.0 million), Dantonio and Bo Pelini ($3.1 million). Those numbers are at least competitive with the SEC, the gold standard for paying coaches.

But note that four of those salaries, and four of the top five, belong to the top football programs of the East Division. Only Iowa actually competes with the coaching pay at the head coach level, and Kirk Ferentz's salary and buyout have become a bit of a joke nationally, so it's hard to count him.

Why else would Bret Bielema bail a dominant position to get more pay for his staff at a train wreck of a program in the SEC? It's all about money, and the Big Ten has finally realized that.

The top assistant coaches are also getting huge paydays, mostly in the East Division. The top-paid assistants include MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who was bumped to $905,000 this offseason; new hire Michigan offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, who will receive $857,000; Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison (about $850,000); Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck (over $700,000) and Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell (over $600,000).

Once again, four of the top five paydays go to East Division teams (and Penn State may also pay this well, although the institution does not report that information publicly). If nothing else, it is clear that Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State blow away what the other league competitors are paying for coaches, which means better coaches will stick around longer or come into the Big Ten, like Chris Ash and Nussmeier from the SEC this season.

With the extra money put into the assistant coaching staff as well, Michigan State is now one of only three schools that pays more than $3 million total for the assistant coaching staff. The other two are Ohio State and Michigan. See a trend? The West Division probably does.

 

West Division

Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue will at least find more company than just Indiana on the bottom end of the assistant coaching staff pay list when Rutgers and Maryland join the Big Ten. Maryland currently pays Randy Edsall's staff comparably to these lower-tier pay scales in the conference, while Rutgers pays like a mid-major rather than a BCS conference program.

For example, Kyle Flood earns less than $500,000, and he's the head coach. However, Rutgers is not the team that the West Division needs to worry about. Instead, it's the three known (and likely four counting Penn State) powerhouses running away with higher coaching salaries that will be sitting in the way of Big Ten titles when the West Division champion goes to Indianapolis each December.

Nebraska and Wisconsin are the only assistant coaching staffs making about $2.5 million a year or more, and that is relatively a baseline amount for retaining competitive talent away from more lucrative schools and better pay in head coaching and coordinator positions.

Of course, these schools also need to pay head coaches enough to run good programs and encourage those young coaching talents to develop at the Big Ten schools as well. Right now, discounting Iowa and the infamous Ferentz contract, the only head coach in the West Division making much more than $2.25 million is Pelini at about $3.1 million.

The other five head coaches (Pat Fitzgerald, Gary Andersen, Darrell Hazell, Jerry Kill and Tim Beckman) all make about $2.0 million. That is certainly good money, but it simply does not compare to the top of most BCS leagues and all of the SEC.

So even though Kill now makes more money and Andersen received a raise, these numbers are not coming close to the four top programs in the East Division. Right now, that may not make much of a difference.

But if you let that disparity sit for a number of recruiting classes, then the West Division will inevitably lose more good assistant coaches (and possibly head coaches), leading to more turnover and lower likelihood of top recruiting classes. Meanwhile, the East Division will show recruits stability and a commitment to compete for the College Football Playoff.

 

Summary

Does higher coaching pay lead to better results on the field? It certainly seems that way, but it may be a self-fulfilling prophecy: As programs stay more consistent and make more money, athletic departments will spend more money to give coaches a fair piece of the pie, and the cycle repeats.

It is definitely true that going too low on the pay scale can be disastrous when it leads to too much coach turnover. Of course, lower and mid-tier programs have to be careful to not commit too much money to unproven coaches, as a long rich contract with a hefty buyout can hamstring a school's future decisions. So there is risk there to go with the potential reward.

If four of the top five paying athletic departments continue to be in the East Division over time, then in five years, these seemingly unbalanced divisions (now) could be a real balance problem.

As painful as it seems, the solution is simple: The West Division has to step up and pay more. Otherwise, the Big Ten Championship will be decided most seasons well before two teams make a trip to Lucas Oil Stadium.

That's not a good situation for the conference, or the fans.

 

Thanks for reading! I am the Featured Columnist focusing on Big Ten Football for B/R.

You can follow me on Twitter, and please leave comments below regarding whether you think the current coaching pay disparity will have long-lasting competitive balance consequences. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pac-12 Football: 5 Sleepers Who Will Shock the Conference in 2014

College football is a cyclical sport, and just when you think there can't possibly be a better player than Joe Quarterback over here, a Mr. John Football (no relation to Manziel) comes along.

The Pac-12 will be highlighted by the sensational talents of Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley and others, but perhaps more fun will come from discovering new players waiting in the shadows, hoping to be discovered.

We're not talking about the players primed to take that natural step forward, either. We're looking at the sleepers who will step into the spotlight and put up big numbers. Think wide receiver Jaelen Strong in 2013 or Ka'Deem Carey from the year before.

So who will begin to create their true legacy in 2014?

 

All stats via cfbstats.com

 

 

 

 

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Pac-12 Football: 5 Sleepers Who Will Shock the Conference in 2014

College football is a cyclical sport, and just when you think there can't possibly be a better player than Joe Quarterback over here, a Mr. John Football (no relation to Manziel ) comes along...

Begin Slideshow

Drew Lock to Missouri: Tigers Land 4-Star QB Prospect

One of the most critical components for any football program is having a reliable quarterback behind center.

The Missouri Tigers now have that in Drew Lock, a 6'5", 195-pound signal-caller from Lee's Summit, Mo., after he committed to the Tigers on Wednesday afternoon. Kipp Adams of 247Sports reported the news following the announcement.

Lock discussed his reasoning behind committing to the Tigers, per Adams:

I think home is a good word to use for Missouri. It is two hours and 15 minutes away, and my dad and my granddad played there. One of the things that really hit me was thinking about possibly committing to a school other than Missouri.

My parents and grandparents would obviously cheer for me, but I do not think they would cheer for the school as well. Going to Missouri, they would be cheering for me, but at the same time they would already want Missouri to win so bad.

That parent that Lock spoke of is Andy Lock, who played right tackle at Missouri from 1986-89. The elder Lock was in attendance and clearly happy about his son's decision, as David C. Morrison of the Columbia Daily Tribune points out:

Derek Young of Scout.com also shared his reaction to the commitment for Mizzou:

Mizzou made it all the way to the SEC Championship Game last season before falling to eventual national championship runner-up Auburn. Following that historic run for the Tigers, head coach Gary Pinkel received a contract extension.

While it may have seemed like a small move in the college football world at the time, it was a game-changer for Lock. The class of 2015 recruit touched on how that solidified the decision for him, per Adams:

I was sitting in class one day, my phone vibrated and it came up that Gary Pinkel had signed a contract extension. That was a real big deal to me and what I wanted to see. I feel like I really relate to Missouri’s offense since we both operate out of the shotgun, and the relationship with the coaches has been great. The family atmosphere is there as well.

As for his final thoughts, Lock made sure he let fans know one more time where his heart lies, per Morrison:

Considered the No. 5 pro-style quarterback in 247Sports' composite rankings, Lock gives the Tigers a quarterback of the future and one who can continue the tremendous resurgence the program experienced after some mediocre seasons.

His cool demeanor in the pocket and outstanding arm would make a great fit with any program, but Pinkel's system is custom built for Lock to thrive under center.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State Football: What to Watch for in Buckeyes' 2014 Spring Game

Ohio State will be one of the dozens of spring games taking place Saturday. After dropping the final two games of the season—the Big Ten title to Michigan State and the Orange Bowl to Clemson—the Buckeyes are looking for a more positive ending to the 2014-15 season. 

The road back to a national championship takes a major step forward on Saturday. What should Buckeye fans be looking for when the team takes the field in coach Urban Meyer's third year?

 

Which backup steps up in a battered offense?

Quarterback Braxton Miller is out. So is tight end Jeff Heuerman. Receiver Evan Spencer has been hampered with a leg injury, too. So who takes the opportunity to showcase what they can do when asked to be the next man up?

Nick Vannett, who had eight receptions for 80 yards last year, has gained a ton of praise from head coach Urban Meyer as the Buckeyes' No. 2 tight end. ”Nick Vannett’s had an excellent spring. He’s one of the two or three most improved players on the team," Meyer said via Kyle Rowland of ElevenWarriors.com

At quarterback, redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones and redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett have been in the biggest battle to be Miller's backup. That position battle may not be solved during the spring game, but it may provide some clarity of the pecking order heading into preseason camp. 

 

Finding new starters on offense

The Buckeyes aren't just banged up on offense, they're also inexperienced. 

Ohio State must find a replacement for bell-cow running back Carlos Hyde. Depending on who steps up, this could be done with one player or by committee. Ezekiel Elliott appears to be the overwhelming favorite to win the starting job, but Rod Smith and Bri'onte Dunn are also in the mix in some form or fashion.

Even freshman running back/wide receiver hybrid Curtis Samuel is getting noticed on offense. 

Along the offensive line, there are a few spots up for grabs beyond the ones occupied by tackle Taylor Decker and guard Pat Elflein. Fellow linemen Billy Price and Antonio Underwood are also competing for spots along the interior of the line. 

At wide receiver, someone needs to start alongside Devin Smith. Johnnie Dixon is generating some buzz as an early enrollee. 

 

Who emerges in the back seven on defense?

There are no questions about Ohio State's defensive line, which should be one of the best, if not the best, in the Big Ten. 

There are more questions, however, about the Buckeyes playing behind that defensive front. 

Josh Perry feels like a sure thing at the strong-side linebacker spot as one of the most improved players on defense. However, Curtis Grant, Darron Lee and Raekwon McMillan are names to watch in this unit as well.  

With cornerback Vonn Bell out for spring with a knee injury, the secondary has taken a bit hit. It's going to need all the help it can get from the linebacker group this year. 

Along those lines, the Buckeyes have to get better in pass defense after finishing 112th in the nation against the pass last season. Additionally, Ohio State finished 122nd in the country in long pass plays allowed.

With Bell out, Cam Burrows and Ron Tanner will be called upon to shore up the secondary. There's a lot of youth in the secondary, so this is a group that has to grow up quickly. 

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pros and Cons to 4-Star WR Cordell Broadus' Top Schools

A talented 4-star receiver, Cordell Broadus is out to prove that there is more to him than just being the son of hip-hop superstar Snoop Dogg.

Broadus is an outstanding 6'2", 195-pound pass-catcher with good speed and athleticism. He has natural ball skills, and he looks fluid getting in and out of his breaks when running routes. The Los Angeles native's skill set has attracted many of the nation's best programs, but Broadus told Adam Gorney of Rivals.com (subscription required) in March he is favoring five schools right now.

Whenever the time comes for him to make a final decision, Broadus will have to weigh the pros and cons of his top schools.

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

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Western Michigan Football Coach Surprises 4 Walk-on Players with Scholarships

Walk-on players work just as hard as those on scholarships, but they don't get the same financial benefits as their teammates. When a team is able to reward the walk-ons for their hard work, it creates an awesome moment.

Four of Western Michigan's walk-ons were in for a pleasant surprise during Tuesday's team meeting. Coach P.J. Fleck had some fun with the team at the beginning of the video, but he was just getting warmed up.

The coach's celebration may be even better than the reaction of the players who received the scholarships. 

[wmuathletics, h/t SI's Extra Mustard]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

2015 College Football Recruits with Strong Interest in Both USC and Notre Dame

USC and Notre Dame have shared a storied rivalry that has lasted for several generations. Both programs are among the nation's elite and boast terrific tradition.

Within the 2015 class, several recruits have strong interest in the Trojans and Fighting Irish. Whether it's heading to Los Angeles to play in a big city for USC or signing up to spend four years at Notre Dame's legendary campus in South Bend, it can be tough for a recruit to decide between the heavyweight programs.

A cornerback in California could give the Irish a strong look, but USC will have something to say about it. Notre Dame and the Trojans also both love a big defensive tackle, while a receiver and pass-rusher are also in play.

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Big Ten Football: 6 Sleepers Who Will Shock the Conference in 2014

Everything is new again in the Big Ten in 2014—from the division names (East and West now) to the makeup of the divisions and even the membership of the conference itself. So, 2014 could bring a lot of surprises to those who live and breathe Big Ten football. 

With the inclusion of Rutgers and Maryland, the B1G will get its first introduction to East Coast football, if you will. Add in the spice of a new recruiting class, plus a lot of talent headed off to the NFL, and there are plenty of opportunities for new names to take giant steps forward. 

Sleepers played a big role in the Big Ten last season, with names like Jeremy Langford (Michigan State) and Steve Hull (Illinois) playing big roles despite very little attention paid to them in the offseason. 

Just who those players will be in 2014 could be a mystery to some, but spring football has given us a few indications as to some who might shock everyone. 

Let's find out who the biggest sleepers in the Big Ten will be this season (in no particular order). 

 

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Notre Dame Football: What a Successful 2014 Would Look Like for Everett Golson

To be clear, Everett Golson's triumphant return to Notre Dame isn't complete when he runs out of the tunnel on Saturday to take part in the 85th annual Blue-Gold game.

But the fourth-year quarterback (Golson has two seasons of eligibility remaining), last seen battling Alabama for a national championship, has completed the most difficult part of an odyssey not many return from. 

Golson's dismissal from Notre Dame shocked the college football world in late May of last year, when the university confirmed the Irish quarterback was no longer enrolled in school. Golson owned up to his mistakes, releasing a statement through the university, taking full responsibility for "poor academic judgment" and pledged his return in the winter of 2014. 

While most Notre Dame fans have been shell-shocked into expecting the worst, Golson did exactly that, returning for the spring semester and to the Irish football team exactly as he'd planned. Regarded by some as college football's most important player, Golson now has to finish what he started, leading the Irish back to the top of the mountain. 

With all due respect to Malik Zaire, this is Everett Golson's football team. And while the South Carolina native tantalized college football fans with an impressive rookie season, he'll need to do much more in 2014 for the Irish to be successful. 

 

What's the Proper Statistical Measuring Stick for Golson?

Brian Kelly came to Notre Dame with the reputation of being an offensive guru. With a system built and refined at Grand Valley State, Kelly's meteoric rise to Notre Dame came after successful stops at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, where his offenses put up points by the bushel. 

But things haven't been so easy in South Bend. Inheriting a quarterback depth chart that put all of its faith in Dayne Crist, a combination of injuries, attrition and ineffectiveness created chaos at the most important position on the roster, almost from the start. 

From the first day that Kelly was able to officially talk about Golson, it was clear that he represented a different kind of quarterback than the ones the head coach inherited on his roster. On signing day in 2011, Kelly laid out exactly how he saw Golson fitting into his offense. 

"I think what you'll see you'll see Tommy Rees and most likely Dayne Crist and the other quarterbacks fit into one category," Kelly said when comparing his quarterbacks skill sets. "Then on the other side of the ledger you'll have Everett Golson. And within our offensive structure, we can go full out spread with Everett Golson."

After putting the training wheels on Golson in 2012, we should finally see what this offense looks like with a quarterback designed for Kelly's system. But after four years of some alternate universe in South Bend, what does that actually look like? 

To get a better idea of what Golson's statistical benchmarks should be, let's take a trip down memory lane and look at Kelly's quarterbacks of old. 

At Central Michigan, many remember Kelly's star quarterback Dan LeFevour. But before LeFevour, Kent Smith became a dangerous triggerman that Kelly took from the bench and turned into one of the MAC's most dangerous weapons. Smith finished 12th in the nation in total offense during his second year under Kelly's direction, setting a school record with 3,242 total yards while throwing for 295 yards per game. 

At Cincinnati, Kelly turned Tony Pike into one of the nation's most prolific quarterbacks in his second season starting. Even though Pike didn't possess the dual-threat skills that Kelly usually utilizes, Pike finished 2009 as one of the nation's elite, finishing inside the top 25 in almost every statistical category, the nation's 12th most efficient passer.

At Notre Dame, even Tommy Rees saw a significant statistical jump in his second year in Kelly's system. While his 14 interceptions held back the Irish and contributed to a disappointing 8-5 record, his completion percentage jumped nearly five points, and he threw for almost 100 yards more a game than he did during his freshman season. 

This should be Everett Golson's third season starting in Kelly's system. But after spending last season training with George Whitfield, there's hope that 2013 wasn't a completely lost year. Kelly acknowledged that Golson's understanding of the Irish system and its complexities are much improved.

But there's still plenty of work to do. 

"What we're doing offensively this year is new math for him," Kelly said this spring. "I knew there was going to be a learning curve there, and I think he's making really good progress from that standpoint.

"He's just still learning in my perspective about the quarterback position... He knows he's got work to do." 

 

How Do You Measure Golson's Success?

Statistically, there should be a significant jump in Golson's production. Much of 2012 was spent limiting Golson's impact on the offense until he found a rhythm later in the season. That meant taking away his options as a ball-carrier and relying heavily on the running game and a stout defense instead of a young quarterback. 

2014 will be a different story. Much of the Irish's success will rely on Golson being the engine of this team. While it's too soon to judge the schematic changes Brian VanGorder has implemented on the defensive side of the ball, just about everybody inside the Gug understands that the Irish are going to have to win some games this season by outscoring their opponents. 

The pieces are in place for that to happen. Running backs Greg Bryant, Tarean Folston and Cam McDaniel should solidify the ground game. A young but talented receiving corps has big-play ability that'll only be magnified when DaVaris Daniels returns. And the opportunity to play at tempo—something Kelly has talked about since arriving at Notre Dame— is finally an option with the read-option forcing defenses to stay more honest. 

"I think that's the direction we're certainly moving into," offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock said in January. "With the athletes that we have we feel like we're in a position offensively to push the tempo more and to put our playmakers in positions where they can make big plays and do the things that all of us hope our offense looks like, one that's dynamic and can score more points and move the football consistently."

All of the individual production Golson could put up has Irish fans salivating. But the ultimate measure by which a quarterback is judged is wins and losses.

Nobody remembers the struggles Golson had during his rookie season: that he was pulled against Purdue, with Tommy Rees marching the team down the field for the game-winning field goal; that he froze early against Michigan and was replaced after making critical mistakes against the Wolverines. He didn't break the 50 percent completion barrier against Michigan State or Stanford, either. 

Those things don't matter when you win.  

Golson has done much of the heavy lifting needed to rehabilitate his image. He's grown from the mistakes he has made and returned to campus to reclaim the starting quarterback job.

But to lead the Irish back to greatness, and to win a spot in the new College Football Playoff, his work has only just begun. Because against a schedule that's among the toughest in the nation, Notre Dame needs Golson to be great. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

What a 16-Team College Football Playoff Would've Looked Like in 2013

The Oklahoma Sooners, your 2013 college football national champions!

Would you have a problem with that?

If you don't, then you must have loved the NCAA basketball tournament, where a fourth-place team from a slightly-less-than-power conference just won the national title. If you do, perhaps you're more of a college football purist who thinks the regular season should matter—a lot.

Either way, we're not here to take sides. Rather, we're here to present some hypotheticals mixed in with facts. Transitive property is used—but not too liberally—to advance a scenario where the Sooners would've won it all last season.

Pundits and critics who disliked the BCS have long advocated for a playoff that involved more than two teams, and they're not even close to being satisfied with the upcoming four-team College Football Playoff. At a minimum, they want 16 teams.

So they'll get 16 teams in our model, and it works because proportionally it best resembles the basketball tournament:

Now, this is how the playoff field at the end of the 2013 regular season would've looked like after the selection committee picked six at-large teams to go with 10 conference champions and then seeded them. The only restriction is that no conference may place more than two at-large entries:

 

First Round (campus sites)

No. 1 Florida State (ACC) vs. No. 16 UL-Lafayette (Sun Belt)***

No. 2 Auburn (SEC) vs. No. 15 Rice (C-USA)***

No. 3 Michigan State (Big Ten) vs. Bowling Green (MAC)***

No. 4 Stanford (Pac-12) vs. Fresno State (MWC)**

No. 5 Baylor (Big 12) vs. Central Florida (AAC)*

No. 6 Alabama (at-large) vs. No. 11 Oklahoma (at-large)*

No. 7 Ohio State (at-large) vs. No. 10 Clemson (at-large)*

No. 8 South Carolina (at-large) vs. No. 9 Oregon (at-large)**

South Carolina just edged Missouri for the last at-large spot from the SEC because it won head-to-head and had a much better out-of-conference schedule. 

Based on results from actual games (*), use of transitive property (**) and simulation (***), these would've been the quarterfinal matchups. We decided to use an NFL-style format where the highest-seeded team always plays the lowest-seeded team instead of using a rigid bracket:

 

Quarterfinals (campus sites)

No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 12 Central Florida***

No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 11 Oklahoma**

No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 10 Clemson**

No. 4 Stanford vs. No. 9 Oregon*

The winning teams then would take a week off before heading to the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl for the semifinal games:

 

Semifinals

No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 11 Oklahoma (Sugar Bowl)**

No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 4 Stanford (Rose Bowl)*

 

Championship

No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 11 Oklahoma (AT&T Stadium)**

The Sooners, pulling off a string of upsets thanks to the hot hand of freshman quarterback Trevor Knight, advanced to the national championship game in Arlington ... er, North Texas. In the same JerryWorld where UConn's basketball team completed its improbable run, OU upstaged Michigan State for its own national title.

Is this a just outcome? You decide. Vote in our poll and comment below.

Follow on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

LSU Football: Les Miles' 5 Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice

Les Miles has a job other coaches can only dream about. Talent-rich Louisiana is his own backyard, he wins 10 games annually in the nation's best conference and has become a celebrity by being his quirky self.

But to whom much is given, much is required.

Miles has a stressful, pressure-packed gig in Baton Rouge. Critics still bash him despite winning 95 games in nine seasons.

LSU has won 20 games in the past two seasons, which would satisfy most schools. But Tigers fans want more.

LSU's spring practice was officially completed with the spring game last Saturday. It could have left more questions than answers for the Tigers coaching staff. 

Miles has much to ponder over the offseason. 

 

*Stats provided by LSU Sports Information and cfbstats.com and recruiting rankings from 247Sports. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.  

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Oregon Football: 4 Ducks Standing out in Spring Practice

Oregon is a little more than one week into its spring practice schedule, and some Ducks are making early impressions. 

On both offense and defense, from veteran reserves to young up-and-comers, Oregon's spring standouts are shaping the identity of the 2014 team. 

 

Statistics compiled via CFBStats.com. Recruiting rankings and information culled from 247Sports.com 

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