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3 Unanswered Questions Heading into Miami's Spring Game

The Miami Hurricanes are entering the final week of spring workouts, culminating in the annual spring game at Sun Life Stadium.

But as the 'Canes approach the landmark, a few unanswered questions linger over the team. One major recent incident was prospective starting quarterback Ryan Williams tore his ACL, leaving Miami under the control of a young gunslinger.

Additionally, the defense has been preaching improvement, but how high are the expectations for the Hurricanes' more veteran-infused unit next season? Looking specifically at one key fundamental of football and one position helps, but the questions still remain.

Following two midweek practice sessions, the spring game will be held on Saturday, April 12 at 6 p.m. ET.

 

Can the Defense Tackle?

At the beginning of the 2013 campaign, the Miami defense was, to paraphrase an oft-used expression by head coach Al Golden, flying around and making plays. But as the season wore on, the 'Canes reverted to poor decisions, bad reads and, most importantly, missed tackles.

Simply put, the defensive linemen need to shed blocks and disrupt the intended flow of a given play. Then, the linebackers can close in on the ball-carrier while the secondary moves in to eliminate any potential hole.

Earlier this spring, Matt Porter of The Palm Beach Post wrote Golden said:

"We've got to tackle better. We've got to read our keys better so the windows aren't as big. There's a lot of things that we've obviously studied that we've got to fix here this spring, but our tackling already is better than it was in the fall."

Coach-speak? Or truth?

Well, at least 10 players have donned a black jersey this spring, denoting Golden's and defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio's collective praise for the respective 'Cane. But Miami needs to have physical improvement from the team leaders—not just vocal and motivational progress.

 

Have the Defensive Tackles Improved?

Is this just another rag on the defensive tackles? No, not quite.

The Hurricanes have played much of spring without their best interior lineman, Olsen Pierre. The senior has been sidelined due to an unspecific head injury, missing the majority of practices and both scrimmages to date.

According to Porter, Ufomba Kamalu and Anthony Chickillo are expected to play inside on third down when the Miami defense utilizes a 4-3 formation. However, personnel on first- and second-down situations in the 3-4 are somewhat unknown.

A handful of reserves have been given valuable reps in Pierre's absence, but is the current progression of the 'Canes' D-tackles sufficient?

Per Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald, D'Onofrio said "Earl [Moore] has been steady. He has gotten better. Probably the last three or four practices have been really consistent for him. The light went on."

Moore earned a black jersey following the second scrimmage, though it's worth nothing he has appeared in 23 career games and tallied just six career tackles. Behind Moore, JUCO transfer Calvin Heurtelou and junior Corey King are chasing the emerging lineman down.

So, after a few months in the weight room and then spring practice sans Pierre, have the D-tackles improved? While the spring game will not showcase linemen in midseason form, Miami followers are expecting some improvement from the position since the end of 2013.

 

Is Kevin Olsen Ready to Lead?

Williams' unfortunate injury means the Hurricanes offense is dependent on redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen.

Consequent to Williams' absence, Gray Crow is ultimately the only competitor for the starting quarterback job. In 2013, Crow completed six of eight passes for 75 yards, one touchdown and one interception during two appearances.

Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier will arrive on campus this summer, but asking either freshman to mentally grasp the entire playbook and properly execute the calls by September is unrealistic.

Yes, Garrison Lassiter, Michael Welch and Isaac Hoza are on the roster, but many have probably not even heard of Lassiter, let alone Welch and Hoza. Save for the trio never seeing the field, there are no logical expectations for any of those players.

Granted, though Olsen has zero game experience, he will be surrounded by Duke Johnson, Stacy Coley, Joseph Yearby and other talented playmakers. The freshman will not be asked to be a hero under center, but he still needs to learn how to become an efficient distributor—like Williams had been this spring.

Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the South Florida Sun Sentinel noted Golden has been looking for Olsen to become more of a leader.

And unless Williams has a swift recovery period or the ACL tear is somehow not that extreme, it's Olsen's team now.

Ready or not, here he comes.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

2015 Recruits Who Could Change Positions in College

Changing positions in college can be huge for a recruit. Oftentimes, college prospects are the best and most athletic players on their teams, so they're usually forced to play out of position.

Yet joining a college team allows them to settle into one home and develop. Other recruits simply are listed at one position but figure to be better suited at another spot due to their size, athleticism or speed.

Looking at the 2015 class of recruits, there are several prospects who could change positions at the next level. A 5-star cornerback could get moved to safety, while a 5-star offensive tackle may be an all-conference guard. Plus, an athlete who plays quarterback may be a better running back.

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Ohio State Football: 5 Players to Watch in Ohio State's Spring Game

After reading more than a month's worth of updates about spring practice, Ohio State fans will finally get a live look at the Buckeyes when the team takes the field for its annual spring game this Saturday.

Urban Meyer is looking to replace key starters such as Carlos Hyde, Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby. The Buckeyes are also battling through a number of injuries as Braxton Miller, Vonn Bell, Jalin Marshall and Jeff Heuerman all recover from minor surgeries.

Needless to say, Buckeyes fans will be seeing a lot of new players in action this weekend.

Here are five to watch. 

 

Ezekiel Elliott

Ohio State needs to replace one of the most productive running backs in school history, but the Buckeyes have a number of very talented ball-carriers.

Sophomore Ezekiel Elliott is setting himself apart.

After playing sparingly in half of Ohio State's 14 games last season, Elliott emerged as a legitimate playmaker this spring. The former 4-star prospect has added some weight this offseason, and that has shown up on the field as he has held his own against Ohio State's biggest linebackers

He still has that same explosiveness, though, so don't be surprised if he breaks a long run this Saturday.

 

Darron Lee

Ohio State's lost its most reliable defender—Ryan Shazier—to the NFL draft, so Meyer needs to fill a vacant spot at linebacker.

Darron Lee, the former 3-star athlete who played quarterback and safety in high school, has added weight and played inspired football this spring.

His move to linebacker was to add depth at a position of need, but he has beat out higher-rated players—primarily Trey Johnson—for a spot on Ohio State's first-team defense.

After redshirting as a freshman last year, this will be the public's first look at a guy who has impressed Meyer and risen to the top.

 

Cardale Jones

If Miller's first three years in Columbus taught us anything, it's that he needs a reliable backup.

Kenny Guiton, who proved to be one of the biggest safety nets in college football by saving the Buckeyes multiple times when Miller was sidelined, is gone. 

Redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones is looking to be his replacement.

Both he and redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett have gotten a long look from the coaching staff this spring as Miller recovers from shoulder surgery. Buckeyes fans will be awarded the same opportunity this Saturday.

Jones has pulled ahead in that race, though, and could solidify the backup spot with a strong outing.

 

Armani Reeves

Ohio State ranked No. 110 (out of 123 teams) in pass defense last year, allowing opposing teams to throw for an average of 268 yards per game.

The Buckeyes are losing three starters from their secondary, but the biggest hole to fill comes with the departure of cornerback Roby.

Armani Reeves started the spring as Ohio State's second corner behind Doran Grant, and while he has impressed, redshirt freshmen Gareon Conley and Eli Apple are pressing for playing time.

The Buckeyes need drastic improvement on the back end of their defense, so if Reeves doesn't step up, Meyer won't hesitate to pull him for one of the younger guys.

 

Dontre Wilson

Most are very familiar with Dontre Wilson, the speedy playmaker who piled up 460 total yards and three touchdowns in a limited role last year.

With the departure of the team's leading receiver (Corey Brown) and leading rusher (Hyde), Meyer wants to expand Wilson's responsibilities this season.

So far this spring, he has proved he's up to the task.

Wilson has been named the starting H-back, the position that Percy Harvin made famous during Meyer's tenure at Florida. The former 4-star standout has thrived in that role, and Meyer specifically singled him out as the team's top playmaker.

Much of Ohio State's offense will go through Wilson this season, and Buckeyes fans should get a preview of that this Saturday.

 

All stats via NCAA.com. All recruiting information via 247Sports.com.

David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. 
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

2015 College Football Recruits Who Play Downright Nasty

Football is a physical sport, so it takes a lot of toughness to play it. Some players get the job done with skill and finesse. Others excel by being physical, or just downright nasty.

Playing nasty and with a mean streak is always admired, no matter what position a player lines up at. Yet, the positions inside the box require players to play nasty the most.

While the 2015 class has many recruits who can get mean on the field, this list is just going to be a quick rundown of several prospects who appear to fit the mold. A few offensive linemen will be spotlighted, plus a trio of 5-star defensive tackles.

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Johnny Manziel Hangs with Robertson Brothers from Duck Dynasty

Johnny Manziel likes to hang with celebrities of all types. Even though he is reportedly scheduled to meet with the Oakland Raiders on Monday, Manziel was seen hanging out with Jep and Willie Robertson of the hit show "Duck Dynasty," presumably at Sunday's "Duck Commander 500" race.

The NASCAR event at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, was postponed until Monday due to rain.

[Johnny Manziel]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Michigan Football: Brady Hoke's 4 Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice

Brady Hoke knows that Michigan needs to improve across the board.

During Saturday’s spring game at The Big House in Ann Arbor, the fourth-year Wolverines coach said as much during sideline interviews with the Big Ten Network’s Lisa Byington (check out the spring game blog for more morsels from Byington’s one-on-ones).

Several times over, the need to bolster the O-line was stressed by Hoke, who watched an immensely talented Team 134 stumble to a 7-6 record in 2013. This year, with Team 135, hitting nine wins should be the only thing talked about.

Well, that and assembling something suitable up front for quarterbacks.

Have you heard that the O-line needs work?!

Since winning 11 games in 2011, Hoke’s fallen further behind schedule; by now, he should have had won at least one Big Ten Championship and maybe even a Rose Bowl or something comparable. Minus its 2012 Sugar Bowl win over Virginia Tech, Michigan’s yet to really give fans a meaningful, era-defining victory.

Right now, getting Erik Magnusson back to the plus side on the health meter is important. As the successor to Taylor Lewan, the redshirt sophomore left tackle has big shoes to fill. There’ve been a couple of OK guys to play that position for Michigan in the past.

No real pressure, right?

Replacing an All-American isn’t easy, but replacing Lewan’s size may not be of concern: At 6’6” and 295 pounds, Magnusson’s close enough to 6’8” and 318 pounds. If he won’t do, there’s always Logan Tuley-Tillman, a 6’7,” 290-pound redshirt frosh who, according to his Twitter account, is also a left tackle.

However, most charts project him at right. But the blind side is his natural position.

Also projected as a right tackle, Ben Braden, at least body-wise, is a Lewan-esque option for the No. 1 job. At 6’6” and 313 pounds, the redshirt sophomore is among the most promising O-liners in Ann Arbor.

 

Don't Come Around Here No More

You know the tune...

So far, so good.

Hoke hasn’t had any ACLs blow out this spring, so he’ll have to knock on wood. Those injuries are always tricky. Some guys recover sooner than others. Some respond to treatment better than others. 

It's all a waiting game.

Easing the transition for Jake Butt is a concern, likewise as it is for Jake Ryan, who is arguably the team's MVD—Most Valuable Defender. 

Injuries are part of the game. As a coach, Hoke is always on the lookout for player safety. He can't afford to see guys down at any time, especially during practices.

According to Dr. Stephen R. Saddemi, ProMedica Wildwood Orthopaedic and Spine Hospital's co-medical director, it doesn't take much for an athlete to stress an ACL to its limits. As one of four primary stabilizing ligaments in the knee, it's subject to a range of motion and pressure, via Rachel Lenzi of The Toledo Blade

When you want to change direction, it can pop. There’s several hundred pounds of force on the knee, and in football, a lot of ACL injuries are related to contact, such as when a knee is hit by an opposing player.

The following table chronicles the recent spill of ACL-related injuries that's made its way through the Wolverines' locker room since 2012. 

Secondary

Following "practice" time, the spring game shifted to "game" time.

Then Devin Gardner, who rolled out to his right, threw an interception to Jarrod Wilson, a 6'2," 202-pound junior who has the size to be a smashing safety for Curt Mallory, who'll exclusively handle the position instead of overseeing the entire group of DBs.

Roy Manning, who moves from linebackers coach, will coach corners, per MGoBlue.com

One of those guys will be Jabrill Peppers' No. 1 man. Relationships with position coaches often run deeper than those with head coaches and other assistants; it makes sense to assume that Peppers could share his tightest bonds with Mallory and Manning. 

Greg Mattison, the defensive coordinator, is all about spreading the wealth. Wherever Peppers fits best is where he'll play. 

Jourdan Lewis, a 5'10," 174-pound sophomore, had a respectable spring game. He broke up a couple of passes and ran with top units—the former Detroit Cass Tech star appeared sharper than ever. That's what experience does, and the Wolverines have veterans such as redshirt junior Blake Countess and senior Delonte Howell on whom to rely. 

Showing signs of growth and maturity, Michigan's defensive backs could easily be the strength of Team 135's defense. Yes, despite a deep pool of linebackers, Team 135's pre-Peppers secondary looks to be in good shape. 

Hoke should focus on maintaining the quality he has now, rather than going all-in on Peppers, who arrives this fall. He is a game-changer, that much is clear. But the secondary is plural, not singular. 

 

Continuity

How does that old saying go? Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear? 

Something like that, right? 

By now, everyone has had stories about what went wrong in 2013. Those, of course, are usually rumor-driven discussions with little to no credibility. Don't believe the message boards. That being said, it didn't take a football expert to see that Team 134 had lacked togetherness.  

Sure, that may sound harsh, and it is. 

But given the coaching staff's reputation, success in recruiting and access to existing talent, winning seven games was a far cry from what was expected. If anything, 2013 should have been filed under "what not to do." 

They've had months of "hey, don't do that again," from staff members and teammates—the Wolverines don't need to be reminded of how poorly they played this past season. 

But they do need to be reminded of how they wasted their potential. Again, Wolverines football v. 2013 was capable of much more than it put forth. Four of their losses came by 11 combined points. Each of those losses were by four or less. 

Nightmares of Hail Mary passes in Happy Valley, thoughts of dropping yet another one to Michigan State and bad tastes from the one-point loss to Ohio State were enough to make everyone want to forget the year that was.

 

Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverine football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Top 2015 College Football Recruit Each SEC Coach Covets the Most

SEC coaches know they have to attack the recruiting trail hard to have success. There's plenty of talent in the league's region, but each SEC coach has that one 2015 recruit he covets the most.

Every recruit the coach goes after is told he is dear and special, but that's not always the truth. While the coach may not say who he covets the most, you're sure to find out which recruits are favorites by reading this piece.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt is smitten over a defensive tackle, while Tennessee head coach Butch Jones has his sights set on a 5-star quarterback. Plus, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze loves a linebacker.

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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Georgia Football: 4 Players Who Need to Turn It Around in Spring Practice

G-Day is one week away, and despite having more practices after the spring game, this is the week that players need to turn it up a notch.

For the most part, the Georgia Bulldogs have looked solid, especially Todd Gurley and Hutson Mason. Even players like Tray Matthews and Ramik Wilson have had good spring practices.

But there are a few players that have gotten off to a slow start. They have to find a way to finish strong so they can impress the coaches before they conclude spring practice and get ready to hit the field again in August.

Here are four players that need to turn things around this spring.

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Why College Football Rivalries Don't Matter to Recruits

Hoover, Ala. — Fans of a rivalry as intense as Alabama-Auburn couldn't imagine switching sides. However, for a handful of the nation’s top recruits participating in last weekend’s Birmingham Nike NFTC camp, choosing between the Tide and the Tigers is all business.

You don’t need to look far for reminders about the intensity of the rivalry between Tide and the Tigers. A quick glance at the car tags in the parking lot outside Spain Park High School indicates the allegiances of the fans at the camp.

Just how tough is it to choose between the SEC powers?

A few recent examples of top-tier recruits who reneged on early commitments to one school in favor of their most hated rivals offers a glimpse.

Tide star running back T.J. Yeldon was committed to the Tigers for more than a year before switching to the Tide weeks before his enrollment.  Similarly, 2014 Auburn corner signees Stephen Roberts and Kalvaraz Bessent were long-time Alabama commitments who switched to Auburn late in the process. 

As detailed by ESPN, the saga of Auburn native Rashaan Evans—who spurned the hometown Tigers in favor of the Tide—was one of the biggest stories on national signing day two months ago.

Despite the thrill of earning offers from prestigious schools, choosing between rivals can be draining for players who don’t quite grasp the intensity.

While fans from both sides are immersed in the daily happenings, players don’t approach it with the same fervor.

In fact, a number of players attach themselves to specific players more so than a school.

Joshua McMillon, a 4-star linebacker from Memphis, has Alabama and Auburn among his lead group of schools—but his connection to each program came in the form of admiration for star players.

“I grew up being a fan of both Heisman Trophy winners, Mark Ingram and Cam Newton,” McMillon said. “My dad is a big Cam Newton fan and a Mark Ingram fan. It’s kind of iffy, but we both love both schools.”

Malik Miller, a talented athlete in the 2016 class who counts the Tide and Tigers among his early offers, can identify with McMillon’s viewpoint.

“I just really grew up following the athletes,” Miller said. “It wasn’t like ‘go Auburn’ or ‘go Alabama,’ it was more like ‘go Cam Newton’ and ‘go Mark Ingram.’”

Even players who declared their rooting interest at an early age are not letting that determine the end of their recruitment.

Tyler Carr, a 4-star offensive lineman from Gadsden (Ala.) grew up an Auburn fan.  However, after earning an offer from Alabama and visiting the Tide’s campus, a program he grew up cheering against is a legitimate threat to earn his signature.

“Sometimes you have to grow up and just make the best decision for you,” Carr said. “I feel like Auburn and Alabama are both great decisions, so I couldn’t go wrong with either one of them. But, sometimes you just have to step back from stuff, and look at it and find what best suits you.”

Carr realizes that should he choose either school, it will only be the beginning of his role in the never-ending saga between the in-state powers. While he understands the implications of his decision from a fan’s perspective, he also realizes that he has to let go of that in order to make the best decision for his future.

“Obviously, there’s fans from both sides that want to see you go to here or there,” Carr said. “I’m sure once I commit to wherever I go, I’m sure I will hear it from the other side. It’s just something that you have to have thick skin about.”

Daron Payne can identify with what Carr is going through.  Like Carr, the 5-star defensive tackle and Birmingham is considering both in-state schools.

According to Bryan Matthews of AuburnUndercover, Payne shed some insight on his dilemma by naming Auburn as his “dream school.”

He expanded on that statement before taking the field for the camp. 

“I grew up an Auburn fan, so I’ve been wanting to play for them all of my life.” Payne said. “Then, I got the Alabama offer and then, (it’s like) everybody wants to play for ‘Bama.”

For players such as Carr and Payne, the manner in which they approach the recruiting process changes after their options and exposure begin to increase.

“A lot of kids grow up fans of one school or another,” 247Sports recruiting analyst Keith Niebuhr said. “But as they get closer to the point where they start getting offers and visiting more schools, their mindset changes a bit. At that point, most kids decide to take a step or two back to really fully evaluate the situation.”

With increased media coverage and even fan interaction through social media adding extra layers to the recruiting process, arriving at a decision without any distractions or bumps in the road is nearly impossible.

“I think it puts more pressure on the kid than the kid really should have,” Niebuhr said. “This is a great time in a kid’s life. A kid with an Auburn and Alabama offer, he should be relieved because he’s got the hard part over with.”

Instead, in a state such as Alabama where the spotlight on the rivalry is so big, that pressure gets transferred to recruits caught up in deciding between the two powerhouses.

Many recruits at the Birmingham NFTC camp referred to their ultimate choice as a business decision, with their fit at the school and relationships with the coaches cited as the two biggest factors.

That doesn’t mean that the team they rooted for is eliminated. Instead, separating fanhood from the equation is the first, and perhaps, most critical step in allowing them to properly evaluate each school.

“The decision could lead back to where the heart initially was, but it may not,” Niebuhr said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with looking at the big picture for such an important decision.”

While fans never think in a rational matter when assessing the strengths of their most hated rivals, recruits cannot afford to look at it that way. 

Viewing things from the prism of a top-notch recruit, both programs have similar selling points.

For athletes such Murfreesboro, Tenn. quarterback Jauan Jennings—who has Alabama and Auburn in his final group and will make his choice next week—fans are missing the point.

“All they (fans) really see is the games and who wins and who loses,” Jennings said. “One thing they don’t understand is that both programs are trying to win. That’s the similarity that you can’t fault either program for because both programs are winning programs.”

Considering that the Tide and the Tigers have either won or played for the national title in each of the last five years and the quality of the staffs assembled by Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn, there are more similarities between the programs than most fans would care to admit.

For most players, their appreciation for the intensity of the rivalry doesn’t materialize until they step foot on campus.

Passionate fans are part of what makes rivalries so memorable—and none arguably match the zeal that is displayed on each side of the Iron Bowl. With these two fanbases, the recruiting trail is simply an extension of their annual meetings that play out on the field in November.   

For recruits, the pressures that come when considering rival schools is simply part of the beast. But in the end, rivalries have minimal impacts on their eventual choice.

“At the end of the day, they are just young guys,” Niebuhr said. “More than anything, they are trying to make as many people happy as possible. It’s probably undue pressure, but I think a lot of them are savvy these days and I think they understand that it’s just the nature of things.”

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC Football: 7 Players Who Need to Turn It Around in Spring Practice

A bit more than halfway through spring practice and head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff are getting a handle on just what they have for the 2014 college football season.

For the players themselves, many of the guys USC knew they would count on this season have not disappointed while others have been a pleasant surprise for all concerned.

However, there are some players who need to crank it up as soon as possible if they want to leave a lasting impression on the coaching staff as they prepare for the fall.

This slideshow will look at some of these players who need to find a sense of urgency if they want to make their mark in 2014.

So without further delay, here are some Trojans who need to dial it up sooner rather than later...

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USC Football: 7 Players Who Need to Turn It Around in Spring Practice

A bit more than halfway through spring practice and head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff are getting a handle on just what they have for the 2014 college football season...

Begin Slideshow

Gene Chizik Wasn't Too Excited About His Daughter Going to Prom

Former Auburn coach Gene Chizik didn't seem all that excited about his 16-year-old daughter going to prom on Saturday.

The photo above comes from the mother of Chizik's daughter's date for the dance. Despite his look in the picture, the mother claims Gene Chizik loves her son: 

Just in case you were wondering, yes, this kid survived the death stare:

[Twitter, h/t Fox Sports

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Ronald Jones II to Oklahoma State: Cowboys Land 4-Star RB Prospect

The Oklahoma State Cowboys bolstered their 2015 recruiting class on Sunday when 4-star running back Ronald Jones II announced his commitment.   

Brian Perroni of 247Sports broke the news:

Jay Fielder of Rivals.com noted the impact Jones' commitment has for the Cowboys in labeling him an "elite" ball-carrier:

ESPN.com's Max Olson outlined the sensational statistics Jones posted in his junior season at McKinney North High School in Texas, suggesting he does indeed deserve consideration as an elite prospect:

Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy was excited to learn of Jones' decision:

One enviable attribute that can distinguish the best backs from the rest is field vision, which, according to 247Sports' profile of Jones, is his biggest strength. On a scale of one to 10, with the latter number being the highest, Jones received a mark of nine in vision, feet and change of direction.

That provides an idea of what Jones brings to the gridiron—and the likely impact he will have in Stillwater in the coming years.

Jones is listed as the No. 8 running back in the class of 2015 and is the 86th-ranked prospect overall, per 247Sports' composite rankings. With a 6'0" frame and already weighing 185 pounds, there is room for more bulk as Jones prepares to adjust to the next level, which shouldn't sacrifice any of his best characteristics.

Gundy oversaw the development of current San Francisco 49ers running back Kendall Hunter, so if Jones continues progressing at his current rate, dreams of being a professional are at least feasible. The Cowboys have had a high-powered offense for most of Gundy's tenure, so Jones should thrive as he gets to the next stage of his football career.

With a time of 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash, per his 247Sports profile page, there's no question Jones is a home-run threat who can score from anywhere on the field, evident in the 39 touchdowns he put up as a junior. As long as he manages to stay healthy as a high school senior and continue to produce, excitement for Oklahoma State fans should continue to grow.

Running backs do have shorter shelf lives in the modern era, though, so perhaps Jones—despite his tantalizing talent—will be eased into a role as the No. 1 back as he adjusts to college. The hope is that he can use his unique vision and shiftiness in the open field to become an explosive, big-play threat for the Cowboys and become the latest success story to be stimulated in Stillwater.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ricky Seals-Jones Arrested: Latest Details, Mugshot and More on Texas A&M WR

Texas A&M wide receiver and former 5-star recruit Ricky Seals-Jones was arrested early Sunday morning on a charge of disorderly conduct after shouting obscenities while being carried away from a College Station bar, according to KBTX.com's Steve Fullhart.

Twitter user Chris Jones provided a screenshot of Seals-Jones' mugshot, courtesy of Fullhart:

According to the report, the freshman wideout was being "carried away by his friends" when someone bumped into him, sparking a confrontation in which Seals-Jones yelled "F--k you! You want some?," according to police.

Police took Seals-Jones into custody after he motioned toward the individual as if he wanted to fight.

The 6'5", 225-pound receiver caught just three passes for 84 yards and a touchdown in two appearances in 2013 and received a medical redshirt shortly after undergoing knee surgery in September.

Head coach Kevin Sumlin talked about the reason for sitting Seals-Jones for the year before the decision was made last fall, per MySanAntonio.com's Brent Zwerneman:

"We're doing everything that's right for him because he is a special talent. For him to lose a year if something is not correct and he's not comfortable...we're not going to do that."

As Fullhart points out, Seals-Jones' arrest is just the latest of several involving Texas A&M football players. Quarterback Kenny Hill was arrested for public intoxication last month, and in February two Aggies defenders were taken into police custody on separate charges.

It remains to be seen whether Sumlin will penalize Seals-Jones for his arrest, but it's clear that off-field behavior will be a hot topic in College Station leading up to the 2014 season.

Seals-Jones projects to be a dynamic playmaker for Texas A&M, and keeping him out of trouble and on the field will be paramount to the Aggies' success in the post-Johnny Manziel era.

ESPN.com SEC blogger Edward Aschoff explains:

With Manziel gone and top receiving target Mike Evans also departing, the Aggies are looking for consistent playmakers to fill those voids. Finding a top-flight, go-to wide receiver also would be very nice with the Aggies also breaking in a new quarterback in 2014. With his size, athleticism and speed, Seals-Jones could be that guy.

With Seals-Jones' knee surgery and latest mishap propelling him into the spotlight for the wrong reasons, the 2014 season will likely provide a shot at redemption.

The Aggies are already losing big-name players and leaders such as Manziel, Mike Evans and Jake Matthews to the NFL draft, so it's imperative for the current team to avoid the spotlight for such negative reasons and for new leaders to emerge in 2014.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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Michigan Spring Game 2014: QB Battle Won't Be Ending Anytime Soon

The last time Devin Gardner played at Michigan Stadium, he had a serious foot injury and threw a heart-wrenching interception, sealing a defeat to archrival Ohio State.

After an extended rehab, he surprised coaches and teammates by fully participating from the very first spring practice and worked hard to recapture the starting quarterback position. Midway through spring practice the competition at quarterback was described by Gardner as “fierce,” but his experience has appeared to give him the edge over his rivals.

But the first play from scrimmage was a reminder of how far he still needs to go to lead Michigan back to the top of the Big Ten.

After going through position drills and the routine of a regular practice, Brady Hoke lined up his offense and defense to scrimmage at Michigan Stadium.

Gardner took the snap and then threw an interception, not a great start for a Michigan team which hopes to recover from a disappointing 7-6 record.

Gardner realizes that this season is his last chance to leave his mark at Michigan: ”Your senior year is your last opportunity to make something happen and leave your stamp, further your legacy here at the university.”

Under ideal conditions, playing quarterback at Michigan comes with intense pressure, but last year’s disappointing finish and the dismissal of Al Borges has amped up the scrutiny of Gardner.

Heading into a his senior season, Gardner needs to learn a new offense and win a spirited competition with Shane Morris, Wilton Speight and Russell Bellomy.

“I found myself trying to be super perfect in everything,” said Gardner in response to the competition. “Obviously you can’t be perfect, but you play the best you can.”

Gardner scoffed at the suggestion that he had lost ground in the position battle due to his performance during the scrimmage.

But he acknowledged that Doug Nussmeier has high standards when evaluating the performance of his players.

“He demands perfection,” said Gardner. “Even when you have a big play he finds something that can be improved.”

Gardner has proved his toughness by playing through a severe foot injury versus Ohio State and finishing rehab to be ready for spring practice.

What remains to be seen is whether Gardner can maintain his hold on the starting position.

Morris gained valuable practice reps when Gardner went down last season.

"He's getting better every time he goes on the field, and sometimes that's making a mistake that you learn from,” said Hoke. “I am much more comfortable now because of the experience that he has had."

Even Gardner raves about Morris’ arm strength, calling it the strongest he’s ever seen.

In an offense where the quarterback will run less, minimizing one of the Gardner’s strongest traits, does he have the arm strength and accuracy to run Nussmeier's offense?

A few weeks ago, freshman Speight also made it clear that he’s not backing away from competing with Gardner.

“I’m trying to be better than Devin,” said Speight. “Every little move he makes I’m watching and taking mental notes and making sure that I do the things he does well and I don’t do things he messes up on.”

Gardner may be the starter coming out of spring practice, but fans should stay tuned—after watching the spring game, it’s clear that the competition is far from over.

 

Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via press conferences or in person.

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Brett Rypien to Boise State: Broncos Land 4-Star QB Prospect

The Bryan Harsin era at Boise State might be getting off to a great start.

After being named the successor to Chris Petersen, who left for Washington in early December, Harsin now has a notable recruit at a crucial position. Brett Rypien, a 4-star quarterback according to 247Sports, has officially committed to join the Broncos.

Justin Hopkins of 247Sports announced the commitment on Twitter:

The report was confirmed by Rypien, who simply texted Hopkins, "Yes, I just did."

Scott Enyeart of Sports Radio KJR also provides a text conversation from Rypien:

The pro-style quarterback was also being courted by the likes of Washington State, Arizona State and Illinois, but shunned them all by giving a verbal commitment to Harsin.

Rypien's story is very similar to another former Broncos quarterback in Mark Rypien, who committed to the school as Pac-12 offers came flying in, as Kyle McCall of Rivals.com notes:

Bringing in top talent is exactly what Harsin will need to do to continue the string of dominance that Petersen had at Boise State. With a great player under center, the Broncos now have a 6'2" quarterback to build around for the future.

While Rypien has verbally committed to the Broncos, Johnny Mallory of ESPN Boise brings up one of the most difficult parts of college recruiting:

If Rypien does keep his word on signing day, the Shadle Park quarterback brings with him a confidence behind center and the build to get the job done in Boise. In a traditional system with Harsin, this quarterback-coach partnership could mean great things for the future of the Boise State program.

 

Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter.

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Michigan Spring Game 2014: Scrimmage Results in More Questions Than Answers

Spring practice was supposed to signify a new beginning for Michigan, a fresh start for a team hoping to bury the disappointment of last season’s tailspin.

But the first play from scrimmage dredged up bad memories from the team’s last game at Michigan Stadium.

Quarterback Devin Gardner took the snap from center and threw an ill-advised interception, hearkening back to November’s last-minute failure against Ohio State. Michigan not only lost that game, but it also lost Gardner to a foot injury that would put him on crutches for the next two months.

Gardner appears to be recovered from his injury and seems poised to claim the starting quarterback position, but he did little to distinguish himself during this scrimmage.

Gardner’s interception was the first play during a scrimmage that lasted for about an hour after what appeared to be a standard practice for the team. Michigan moved through drills for various position groups followed by a scrimmage that consisted of the team running through a series of plays and game situations based on field position.

No score was kept, although the defense dominated most of the proceedings. The kicking game was not part of the scrimmage.

The offensive line, a major reason for last season’s failure, also failed to impress. Running backs Derrick Green, De’Veon Smith and Justice Hayes all appear to be in competition for carries next season.

But those hoping for new coordinator Doug Nussmeier to unleash an offensive juggernaut left Michigan Stadium sorely disappointed.

What they saw was an offense running base plays into the middle of the defense and passes that were mostly dropped or batted away. Defensive back Jourdan Lewis and safety Jarrod Wilson had some great pass breakups while the defensive line, led by Frank Clark, smothered the offense. Linebackers Ben Gedeon and Brennen Beyer dominated the running attack.

In the weeks prior to this final spring practice, head coach Brady Hoke made it clear that he intended to show very little of his new offense.

Mission accomplished.

One bright spot is freshman wide receiver Freddy Canteen, who hooked up with Gardner for one of the longest plays of the day. Practically every player raves about his growth, and the praise appears to be well-earned.

When Al Borges was fired after last season, Nussmeier was brought in to reboot an offense that alternated between being lights out in some games and fast asleep in others. Nussmeier responded by streamlining the offense and introducing a frenetic pace in practice.

Players have been enthusiastic about the changes, even if the progress wasn't evident today. Hoke seemed satisfied the team was able to avoid tipping its hand to opponents while avoiding injury.

The big question is whether the offense could have put on a show even if the coaching staff wanted it to.

 

Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via Press Conferences or in person.

 

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Ryan Williams Injury: Updates on Miami QB's Knee and Recovery

The Miami football team suffered a devastating injury during spring practices, as quarterback Ryan Williams was diagnosed with a torn ACL.

Chip Patterson of CBS Sports confirmed the news on Twitter:

Brandon Odoi of CanesInsider.com provided some more details of the incident:

Williams was projected to be the Hurricanes' starting quarterback in September, replacing the departed Stephen Morris. In limited playing time last season, he went 22-of-32 and passed for 369 yards with three touchdowns. 

The junior actually had a bigger role as a freshman when he threw for over 2,000 yards, but he returned to backup duties for the next two years.

Matt Porter of The Palm Beach Post provides a look at the quarterback situation going forward:

"For the spring at least, that responsibility will on the shoulders of redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen. This summer, freshmen Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier will arrive on campus. Redshirt sophomore Gray Crow will be the backup to Olsen in spring drills."

No matter who earns the starting role for the first game against Louisville in September, he will have a lot of work to do to not only replace Williams but also Morris. The departed senior passed for over 3,000 yards with at least 20 touchdowns in each of the past two years and was a major reason the team was able to win nine games last season.

Unfortunately, only Gray Crow got any experience in games last year, going 6-of-8 for 55 yards one touchdown and one interception. Still, Olsen has plenty of ability and should be able to step in and be productive early in his career.

On the other hand, the Hurricanes could be in serious trouble if he struggles early with not a lot of experience on offense.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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LSU Spring Game 2014: Brandon Harris Shines, but Tigers' QB Battle Far from over

Baton Rouge, La. — On a dark, cloudy day in Tiger Stadium, LSU freshman signal-caller Brandon Harris shined. 

The 2014 LSU spring game was hyped up to be the battle of the quarterbacks. Sophomore Anthony Jennings and Harris both took the field for the first time in the public eye this spring. 

Jennings withered. He tossed two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns and was sacked four times.  

Harris dazzled. The freshman went 11-for-21 for 195 yards and three touchdowns. He scrambled for 77 yards and a touchdown as well. 

"He (Harris) has been doing great things all spring. I wouldn't expect anything different," said Jennings. "He's a great athlete and is really smart with the football."

In the first quarter, Jennings started with the white team, which was mostly made of first-team players, while Harris was with the purple. For the second quarter, they flipped. Once Harris was surrounded by better talent, he threw three touchdown passes—all to different receivers. 

Harris looked like the quarterback with college experience, not Jennings. He showed great pocket awareness, accuracy and playmaking ability. Jennings stared down his receivers and was off-rhythm. 

Though Harris may have won the spring game battle, but he has yet to win the war. LSU head coach Les Miles said he will not name a starter anytime soon. 

"I think both of those guys are good enough to be our starting quarterback," said Miles. "We're going to let this competition continue and see how this thing plays out."

LSU wide receiver Travin Dural caught two touchdown passes, one each from Jennings and Harris. Dural said both quarterbacks have had their good and bad days this spring. 

"Every quarterback has games where he throws an interception or two, so you can't really hold that against them," said Dural. "I'd say both of them had a decent spring and a pretty good spring game."

LSU offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Cam Cameron said though he was impressed with Harris, he still has much room to improve.

"He has some instinct. We knew that from his high school days." said Cameron. "He's very confident, but he has a long ways to go. And he knows that."

Cameron said he likes that the battle between Jennings and Harris is close. 

"I hope these guys don't separate themselves. We expect everybody that plays quarterback for us to perform at a championship level," said Cameron. 

The spring game marks the end of spring football for LSU. The Tigers will continue working out until strapping up the pads again in late summer. Despite the break, the Jennings vs. Harris chatter will not slow down amongst the college football world. 

Bleacher Report's SEC featured columnist Barrett Sallee believes Harris will ultimately be the starter: 

I feel 100 percent confident in my pre-spring prediction that Brandon Harris will be LSU's starting QB.

— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) April 5, 2014

Jennings said he looks forward to the summer with Harris. The sophomore stresses he should be defined by one average performance in a scrimmage. 

"You want somebody that is going to bring out the best in you, and that is what he (Harris) is going to do. We make each other better," said Jennings. "I don't think I took a step back today. Some things didn't go my way. From all 15 practices this spring, I think I improved drastically."

The quarterback battle will be a close one, and the LSU coaching staff is not looking to make a decision based off one scrimmage. But if Jennings performs in the offseason like he did today, he will be signaling in plays to Harris from the sideline next season.  

 

*All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Stats provided by LSU Sports Information. 

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Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald Advises Players to Vote Against Unionization

Starting a movement is one thing. Getting others on board is a completely different task altogether.

For Northwestern and the National Labor Relations Board's fight to change the landscape of college athletics, there has been plenty of pushback. One influential person strongly against the notion of a union for college athletes is Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern's head football coach.

Fitzgerald spoke about the decision on which his players have to decide by April 25, urging them to vote against the potential union, per Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com:

I believe it's in their best interests to vote no. With the research that I've done, I'm going to stick to the facts and I'm going to do everything in my power to educate our guys. Our university is going to do that. We'll give them all the resources they need to get the facts.

... Right now, we have great protocols in place, and we haven't been forced to do that by any third party. I know our guys trust me. I've been pretty clear with my support. 

The ninth-year coach is not allowed to promise players any sort of benefits they would receive if they choose to vote against unionizing. Fitzgerald made his stance pretty clear, but it seems he's not the only person in the program that opposes the union.

Ryan Baker of CBS Chicago reports that many players are siding with their coach rather than Kain Colter, a former quarterback for the Wildcats:

While Baker notes several players are on Fitzgerald's side, offensive lineman Brandon Vitabile, a member of the team's leadership council, also believes many of his teammates will side with their coach, per Rittenberg:

I think a lot of guys feel the same as I do. Coach Fitz has done everything in his power and been a voice for us and he has gotten changes. He goes to [American Football Coaches Association] meetings and does act in our interests. I've had conversations with him before all this happened.

Guys have to realize the ramifications of what may occur.

Colter is still fighting for the rights to a union in college athletics, and despite the resistance from Fitzgerald, he remains very fond of his former coach:

It is difficult to predict what will come of all of this. Colter is working hard to make his voice heard, but Fitzgerald and others certainly have a well-founded case.

Moving forward, Colter hopes that he can give college athletes the rights that they deserve, including a visit to Capitol Hill. The vote on April 25 will determine whether the Wildcats are allowed to unionize and could be a game-changer in college athletics.

With just 20 days remaining before the ultimate ruling is handed down, both men will stand up for their cause in a public battle. And while they each have a valid opinion, the outcome can only satisfy one of them.

Could this be a movement that transforms the game forever or one that falls flat on a national stage? We'll find out on April 25.

 

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