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Virginia Tech Football: Recapping the Biggest 2014 Offseason News so Far

Between the hiring of a new position coach, the commitments of some prominent 2015 recruits and the developing intrigue at the quarterback position, it’s been quite the 2014 offseason for the Virginia Tech football team. 

This offseason might not have been quite as eventful as last year’s when the team replaced the bulk of its offensive coaching staff, but it’s still been a busy one.

In particular, the search for Logan Thomas’ replacement has captured national headlines, even if the staff says it won’t name a new starter for another couple of months.

Even still, the last few months have been eventful for the program. Read on for a quick recap of the news that’s captivated Hokie fans recently.

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Michigan Football: Projecting Who Will Win Wolverines' Open Starting Positions

Pretty soon, that 80-something-day countdown is going to dwindle down to about 10 days. 

And then there'll be three. And then, next thing you know, it'll be time for Michigan's season opener versus Appalachian State at The Big House. 

But right now, it's only early June—so there's plenty of time to analyze, discuss, think about, ponder and pontificate all things Wolverines football. Of course, one of the hottest topics is always one about starters—as in, who'll be the No. 1s heading into 2014. 

By breaking down position groups, this slideshow will present a look at potential starters. 

Fall can't get here soon enough, can it?

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5 2015 College Football Recruits Who Are Better with Pads on

Some of the nation's best players do not look impressive at offseason events, as they are better when helmets and pads are on in real games.

Looking at the 2015 class, several recruits likely can't wait until summer is over and fall is here.

A 5-star dual-threat quarterback will not be able to fully show off his entire skill set for another few months, while a pair of rugged linebackers can't hit anybody in seven-on-seven games. Plus, a powerful running back looks bored during passing league games.

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10 Best Recruits Nick Saban Has Lured from Alabama's Bordering States

If you look at a map, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida all border the state of Alabama. While Nick Saban has the ability to recruit exceptionally inside his state and anywhere else in the country, he also has done a great job of luring talent from the states around his borders.

Since arriving in Tuscaloosa as head coach in 2007, Saban has arguably put together the greatest recruiting run in college football history. Alabama has signed countless talented prospects, plus it has put many players into the NFL.

A great deal of the Crimson Tide's top players in the Saban era are from nearby bordering states. Here are 10 recruits from just outside of the state of Alabama who standout.

 

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

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10 Most Wide-Open 2015 College Football Recruits Right Now

When a recruit is said to be wide open, it means he is still considering a big group of schools. This time of year usually is when prospects start to narrow their lists, but several players in the 2015 class still do not have any favorites.

A 4-star outside linebacker doesn't seem to be leaning in any direction, while a 5-star cornerback maintains he is totally open to everyone.

Plus, a 4-star offensive tackle just recently cut his list down to a modest 15 schools.

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

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Auburn Ball Boy's Football Field Wedding Cake Includes Him Running Down Sideline

Give the Auburn ball boy some credit for being creative. He loved his job, so he found a way to include it in his big day.

The ball boy's cake includes him running along the sideline at what is supposed to be Jordan–Hare Stadium—although the logo and end zone appear to be black, not navy blue. The Tigers end zone doesn't have background paint, so it could just be a personal preference.

In case you haven't seen him in action, there is video of him running down the sideline during a game.

[Twitter, h/t College Spun]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Miami Hurricanes Football: Recapping the Biggest 2014 Offseason News So Far

Team-related news is released nearly every week, so it's easy to forget the memorable stories surrounding Miami Hurricanes football.

Remember when head coach Al Golden was discussing the head coaching position at Penn State? That feels like years ago.

As we kick the dirt waiting for the offseason to finally end, let's take a trip down a six-month Memory Lane to recap what has happened since the 2013 campaign finished in less-than-glorious fashion.

 

Note: All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. Rankings reflect 247Sports Composite.

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Nebraska Football: Recapping the Biggest 2014 Offseason News so Far

The offseason is typically a quieter time. With only an annual spring game to point to, the news is often scarce during this time of the year. Not in Nebraska, though.

In fact, the 2014 offseason has been filled with breaking news. From I-Back Ameer Abdullah's decision about his future to a cat hoisted in the air, there hasn't been a dull moment for Bo Pelini and Nebraska fans.

And not all of the news has been serious either. That's provided Nebraska fans with a little fun. With under three months still to go, it's those out-of-the-box stories that have kept the offseason interesting.

What are the biggest 2014 offseason news stories so far? Read on to find out.

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Star RB Duke Johnson and Miami Mascot Surprise Groom at Wedding

The Miami Hurricanes are looking to give back to the community as part of their "RENEWED" campaign, and they found a great way to give a season ticket holder a lasting memory on his special day.

Miami fan Pedro Lopez was set to marry his fiance, Susana, on Saturday. Little did he know, his bride-to-be had a big surprise in store for him. Actually, she didn't even know just how big the surprise would be.

Susana arranged for Sebastian the Ibis—Miami's mascot—to show up at their wedding. According to The Palm Beach Post's Matt Porter, Sebastian charges $250-300 to show up for a few hours. Because it was such a special day for the couple, the Hurricanes thought they'd sweeten the deal.

Star running back Duke Johnson, who has made the second-team All-ACC in each of his first two seasons and was named the 2012 ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year, surprised everyone by showing up to the South Florida wedding. Not even the bride knew that Pedro's favorite player would be making an appearance.

Luckily, there is video that caught the groom's reaction:

The groom loved the surprise:

There were plenty of pictures of Johnson and Sebastian at the wedding:

Although the mascot was able to get paid for the appearance, NCAA rules prohibited Johnson from receiving any money.

[Canes All Access, Twitter; h/t Dr. Saturday]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

10 Burning Summer Camp Questions for 2014 College Football Season

The summer is a difficult time for college football fans. Questions that are "burning" during June and July might be warm during August and tepid by the beginning of the fall. They might even be downright cold.

Still, the NCAA has allowed schools to make summer workouts mandatory—or at least less not-mandatory than before—which should give us a few morsels to chew on during the dead period.

Per NCAA.com, the newly mandatory workouts "can include eight hours per week of required weight training and conditioning. Up to two of the eight hours can consist of film review." Which is to say, decisively, that the workouts will be limited.

But that doesn't mean they can't shed some insight.

With transfers and freshmen who didn't enroll early arriving on campus, freshmen who did arrive early continuing to progress and general air-tight position battles continuing to be fought, these offseason drills and film sessions might determine the course of next season. So might some of the off-field storylines worth monitoring.

Here are 10 burning questions to keep an eye on.

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Penn State Football: Recapping the Biggest 2014 Offseason News so Far

It seems like the 2013 football season ended an eternity ago. Enough has changed in and around Happy Valley in the last six months to fill a calendar year and in a place not particularly accustomed to change, State College is looking at a much different program than the one that upset Wisconsin in late November.

Welcome to big time football and the constant change that involves.

Here's a recap of the evolution Penn State has encountered so far this off season.

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15 SEC Football Players You Need to Know More About

Increased coverage of SEC football means big stars shine brighter than ever.

Just because a player opens on Labor Day weekend as an unknown, though, doesn't mean he will stay one.

All it takes is one game—in some instances, one play—for the first chapter of a history or a legacy to be written.

For every Nick Marshall and Dak Prescott in the SEC—players most SEC fans know—there are scores of talented players waiting to leave lasting marks on this season.

Today, we examine SEC players who might otherwise fly under the radar during the preseason and discuss what significance they carry heading into 2014.

Some of these names will be familiar to SEC fans who pay attention, but few will be household names to open the year.

To that end, players who made All-SEC teams or earned honorable mention honors last year won't be considered. (Players named to the All-Freshman team, however, will warrant consideration if they didn't make the first- or second-team All-SEC.)

Other players—like Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk, Arkansas tailback Alex Collins or Mississippi State defensive tackle Chris Jones—are well-known enough commodities that they won’t make this list either.

Uber-prospects such as Alabama running back Derrick Henry, Ole Miss defensive end Robert Nkemdiche and Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil similarly made enough of a name for themselves that they don't belong here.

The idea is to spotlight under-the-radar players who could be the difference in one or two critical games this season—who could be the difference between going 9-3 and 11-1, or 5-7 and 7-5.

Here is our list.

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NCAA Agrees to $20M Settlement in EA Video Game Lawsuit

On the morning of the first day of the Ed O'Bannon trial—a case that many think (or hope) might lead to groundbreaking changes in college athletics—the NCAA announced that it has reached a $20 million settlement in a different EA Sports video game lawsuit, per an official press release.

The lawsuit in question was filed by former Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller and was scheduled to go to trial in March 2015. The NCAA has now asked that the trial be stayed.

"With the games no longer in production and the plaintiffs settling their claims with EA and the Collegiate Licensing Company, the NCAA viewed a settlement now as an appropriate opportunity to provide complete closure to the video game plaintiffs," said NCAA Chief Legal Officer Donald Remy in a statement.

The $20 million in the settlement would be paid to "certain Division I men’s basketball and Division I Bowl Subdivision football student-athletes who attended certain institutions during the years the games were sold," per the release. It is not clear what criteria will be used to select who receives compensation and how much they receive.

However, Steve Berkowitz of USA Today, who is covering the O'Bannon trial, says some of the money could go to current college athletes:

Despite how it sounds, though, Remy and the NCAA do not think this would constitute payment for athletic performance, per the release:

Consistent with the terms of a court-approved settlement, the NCAA will allow a blanket eligibility waiver for any currently enrolled student-athletes who receive funds connected with the settlement. In no event do we consider this settlement pay for athletics performance.

This settlement marks a much smoother resolution than we're seeing in the O'Bannon case, which, again, began its long-awaited trial Monday afternoon in Oakland.

O'Bannon and his team are trying to prove that "the NCAA member schools illegally restrained trade under Section 1 of the Sherman Act by collectively preventing college athletes from controlling and selling their own publicity rights," per Marc Edelman of Forbes.com.

If U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken rules in favor of the O'Bannon plaintiffs, it could open the door for current and future college athletes to be compensated for their names, images and likenesses. Such a change would seemingly run contrary to the NCAA's current "amateurism" model, which prohibits student-athletes from receiving any compensation beyond the value of a scholarship.  

So while the NCAA has put out one fire by settling the Keller case, the O'Bannon lawsuit now looms even larger.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oregon Football: Recapping the Biggest 2014 Offseason News so Far

Bralon Addison's knee injury—suffered in non-contact practice drills on April 10—shrouded a wide receiving corps already in flux under even more uncertainty.

Losing Addison potentially for the duration of the 2014 season was undoubtedly the most noteworthy news of Oregon football's offseason.

Oregon already lost Josh Huff, the team's leading receiver each of the last two seasons. Gone too was pass-catching running back threat De'Anthony Thomas. But with Addison coming off a breakout year of 890 yards and seven touchdowns, the junior was ready to carry the mantle for the passing attack.

That leaves redshirt senior Keanon Lowe as the sole returning receiver with any considerable production to his credit. 

But if Addison's injury is the offseason's biggest news, the second edition headline it generates may be the emergence of a new crop of stars.  

Oregon's depth chart is bursting with potential playmakers, eagerly awaiting their opportunities to work with quarterback Marcus Mariota. Two such Ducks seized the spotlight in the final weeks of spring practice: redshirt freshmen Devon Allen and Darren Carrington.

Allen capped his standout string of practices in the spring game on May 3, catching touchdown passes of 45 and 49 yards.

"He was able to implement what we did in practice to the game,” Mariota said, per Tyson Alger ofThe Oregonian. “That’s huge, for as young as he is, to have his head on a swivel and be able to recognize that.”

Allen's terrific spring included a tremendous effort for the Oregon track team. The speed that makes him a standout hurdler seems strangely apropos for the Ducks' style and pace of play. 

Allen told Gary Horowitz of the Statesman Journal his goal for 2014 was contributing in any fashion possible: 

I just wanna get out there and contribute no matter what it is. Special teams, offense, just get on the field and play and help our team win. I think that's the biggest part. If I can catch a few touchdowns, that's a bonus.

With the shake-up in the unit, Allen is on his way to catching more than a few touchdowns from Mariota come autumn. 

Of course, other voids remain in the Ducks receiving corps that need filling by the time the season kicks off—and particularly by Week 2, when Oregon hosts Michigan State and its "No-Fly Zone" secondary. 

Carrington's made strides to that end, according to head coach Mark Helfrich, along with Allen. 

"They're doing a good job as far as that whole situation, as far as building from their redshirt year," Helfrich said on the May 1 coaches teleconference call, per Pac-12.com. "Darren's really shown the dynamic capabilities of what we expected him to be."  

With Allen and Carrington emerging as the leaders, the Ducks might actually have surprising depth at receiver. Dwayne Stanford and Austin Daich offer size at 6'5" and 6'3", respectively, and veterans B.J. Kelley and Chance Allen should see more work in the rotation. 

Losing Addison was indeed the most important headline of Oregon's offseason thus far, but should be a challenge this team is equipped to handle.  

 

Statistics compiled via CFBStats.com. Spring game statistics via GoDucks.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oregon Football: Recapping the Biggest 2014 Offseason News so Far

Bralon Addison's knee injury—suffered in non-contact practice drills on April 10—shrouded a wide receiving corps already in flux under even more uncertainty...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Alabama Football: Recapping the Biggest 2014 Offseason News so Far

It’s been another busy offseason in Tuscaloosa, where there never seems to be a dull moment when it comes to University of Alabama football.

Like usual, some players have left (including Luke Del Rio, Dee Hart and Parker McLeod), along with some coaches (Doug Nussmeier, Chris Rumph and Greg Brown), while the Crimson Tide have started working on the 2014 season.

There was spring practice, A-Day and the National Football League’s draft, not to mention a graduation ceremony that included former Alabama standouts Terrence Cody and Andre Royal.

Overall, Nick Saban has a lot of talent on the roster, with 15 5-star players (six on offense, nine defense), and 50 (25 and 25) who were rated as 4-four prospects.

“I am very encouraged by the team that we have; I’m very encouraged by the attitude that we have on our team,” Saban said before going on his usual tour of spring/summer speaking events and charity golf events.

Here’s a look at the Crimson Tide’s offseason so far.

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Why Nick Marshall Will Be the Most Dangerous College Football Player in 2014

A year ago, very few college football fans knew the name Nick Marshall. Now, months after leading his Auburn Tigers to an improbable championship run that came 13 seconds short of a title, Marshall is among the preseason favorites to win the Heisman Trophy.

Even with quarterbacks like Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley stealing the spotlight because of their pro potential, Marshall will be the most dangerous of the four because of the system he plays in.

 

Finding Success in Gus Malzahn's System

Marshall, who was a defensive back at Georgia at one time, found consistent success in Malzahn's offensive system a year ago. He averaged 234.2 yards of total offense per game and became the fourth quarterback in SEC history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

Auburn was so successful running the ball that Marshall didn't have many opportunities to air it out, only throwing for 1,976 yards last year. He had 20 or less passing attempts in eight of Auburn's 14 games in 2013.

This year that could change, though. Playing in the first half of Auburn's spring game, he threw for 236 yards and four touchdowns. Needless to say, Marshall was named the offensive MVP for the spring game.

Per Joel Erickson of AL.com, Coach Malzahn had good things to say about Marshall's progression as a quarterback: "Nick feels a lot more comfortable. Even in the spring game, the casual eye could see, he's a lot more relaxed, he's throwing on the bounce, his eyes are in the right place with his progression."

One thing is simple: Malzahn's offensive philosophy works, and he has the numbers to prove it. The year before he arrived, Auburn's offense ranked 117th nationally. In just one year, the program did a complete U-turn with Malzahn behind the wheel. The Tigers became the second team in SEC history to gain more than 7,000 yards in a season in 2013.

The scariest part of all? Malzahn has never had an offseason with a returning quarterback. Per Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports, Marshall will be Malzahn's first starting quarterback to return for a second season since he has been at the collegiate level.

Last season, Marshall was effective running the football, evident by the 1,068 rushing yards. Per ESPN, Marshall was 30th in the nation in rush yards per attempt and tied for fourth among quarterbacks.

Marshall improved as the season went on in 2013. The dual-threat quarterback threw four interceptions in his first four games, but he threw only two in his final nine. ESPN Stats & Info showed just how dominant he was down the stretch, with a 88.3 total quarterback rating.

 

What Auburn Has Returning

Marshall certainly won't be short on offensive weapons this fall, with eight returning starters on offense. All of Marshall's top wide receivers from 2013 return this season, including rising junior Sammie Coates. Coates was Marshall's primary target last year, going for 902 yards and seven touchdowns.

D'haquille Williams, 247Sports' No.1-rated junior college prospect, played well in Auburn's spring game, with 88 yards receiving and a touchdown.

Ricardo Louis, Quan Bray and Marcus Davis also return at receiver for Malzahn's squad.

With the exception of Greg Robinson, four starters from last season's offensive line return for the 2014 campaign. Robinson was a big part of Auburn's success on the ground last season, but returning four linemen will be huge for this Tigers offense and for Marshall's success.

Marshall is in the driver's seat of a 2014 offense that will be among the most explosive in the nation. Returning eight guys from an offense that averaged 39.5 points per game a season ago sounds like a sure thing, especially with Malzahn calling the shots.

 

Auburn's Schedule

While Auburn faces a tough schedule with teams such as LSU, Alabama and South Carolina, it also allows opportunities for the Tigers to put up a lot of points. This, in turn, likely means big numbers for Marshall.

Of the 11 FBS opponents the Tigers face in 2014, five of them had defenses in 2013 that ranked 60th or higher in points allowed. San Jose State, the Tigers' opponent on Sept. 6, was especially bad, ranking 105th in the category.

The Tigers play South Carolina in late October, and if they would have played a year ago, it would have created a slight matchup problem because of the Gamecocks defensive line. This year, the Gamecocks sent three defensive linemen to the NFL, including No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney, so this game presents an opportunity for Auburn to establish a solid run game.

For what it's worth, Alabama loses six starters on the defensive side of the ball. While typically this would be something to stress about, the Crimson Tide recruit well enough to simply reload.

Other notable games that involve chances for Auburn to score high are Texas A&M (96th in points allowed in 2013), Louisiana Tech (61st) and Arkansas (89th).

 

 

Why He's So Dangerous

Marshall may not be the prototypical pro-style quarterback, but he is the perfect fit for this Auburn offense. With Malzahn developing the senior quarterback this summer, Marshall is set to shine. A heavy dose of the run game should be expected again, but Marshall's 22 first-half pass attempts in the spring game speaks for itself.

Malzahn is one of the most creative offensive minds in the game and will find ways to utilize every bit of Marshall's potential this fall.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tostitos and Discover Will Not Renew Fiesta, Orange Bowl Sponsorships

The introduction of the College Football Playoff has not meant the disbandment of the sport's former BCS bowls. The system by which they rotate as national semifinals is a little bit confusing, but they will continue to exist and to be important.

However, this was not enough to convince a couple of well-known sponsors to renew their deals with their big-name bowls. According to a report by Michael Smith, John Ourand and Terry Lefton of the SportsBusiness Journal, Tostitos and Discover will no longer be affiliated with the Fiesta Bowl and the Orange Bowl, respectively.

Darren Rovell of ESPN.com quickly confirmed the SBJ story—which cited ESPN as its source—and gave Tostitos' reason for dropping out:

According to the SBJ story, Tostitos may also have been put off by the expected price increase for a title sponsorship. In the BCS era it cost between $15 million and $20 million, but it's expected to be closer to $25 million for the CFP, and ESPN wants a six-year contract.

That is a pretty steep commitment.

There is no word on who might replace Tostitos as the title sponsor of the Fiesta Bowl. Capital One is reportedly in the final stages of replacing Discover as the title sponsor of the Orange Bowl, and the SBJ reported that the former Capital One Bowl is expected to disband.

Earlier this offseason, Chick-fil-A agreed to become the title sponsor of the Peach Bowl—which is newly a CFP-level—and Northwestern Mutual agreed to replace VIZIO as the title sponsor of the Rose Bowl.

The national championship game, which was also sponsored by VIZIO in 2014, does not have a title sponsor.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Jimbo Fisher Says Jacob Coker Is Most Talented QB During Nick Saban's Tenure

Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher knows Nick Saban well, having served as his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at LSU from 2000-2004.

Fisher also knows Jacob Coker well, having recruited the now-former Seminole out of high school and coached him the past three seasons in Tallahassee.

Now that Coker has arrived in Tuscaloosa and seems likely to win the starting job under center for Saban's Crimson Tide, D.C. Reeves of TideSports.com reached out to Fisher for a comment. 

His remarks were exceedingly flattering:

Including what they've had, he's much more talented than anything they've had. I don't mean to discredit the previous guys, they were all great. But this guy is extremely talented. Arm and mind. He's a backup because he's behind the best quarterback in America. (Coker) may have been one of the top three or four quarterbacks in America physically.

We could have been right there in the same position last year with him, I really believe that. You just had to make a choice. If he had played, got his reps and got in that role, we would have done extremely well. I'm a Jacob Coker fan.

Comments like this are colored, obviously, by bias, as Fisher knows Coker well and ostensibly likes him and wants him to succeed. His words must be viewed with these factors in mind.

However, it is hard not to see the physical potential Coker possesses. He is 6'5", 240 pounds with a strong arm and decent mobility for a player his size. Because he has yet to take a meaningful snap in a college game, it is hard to speak with confidence about his effective accuracy, leadership skills and decision-making.

But in a vacuum, those proportions are Andrew Luck-esque.

"I've never had anybody with his size who throws it as well as [Coker] does," said Florida State quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders, per Bruce Feldman (then with CBS Sports). "Rarely does [the ball] not spiral or not go where he wants it to go."

Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston stands 6'4".

Still, many folks might take issue with Fisher's comments, which tacitly insulted Saban's previous Alabama quarterbacks.

Whether they were intended this way is up for debate, but to call someone who's yet to take a meaningful snap more talented than AJ McCarron and Greg McElroy—who combined to win three national championships as starters—is questionable to say the least.

Or at least it will be viewed that way in Tuscaloosa.

Coker's ceiling is higher than that of McCarron or McElroy, which I think is what Fisher was getting at. He said Coker is "more talented" than any other QB Saban has coached, not necessarily "better."

We'll see if that potential can translate. 

 

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Best College Fit for 2015 Monster OT Martez Ivey to Succeed at Next Level

At 6'6" and 270 pounds, 2015 5-star offensive tackle Martez Ivey is an absolute monster. The Apopka, Florida, product has the ability to contribute immediately at the next level.

Ivey is rated as the No. 1 overall OT in his class and has received scholarship offers from many of the top schools in the country.

Watch as Bleacher Report's college football analyst Michael Felder beaks down Ivey's game film and explains which school is the best fit for the 5-star athlete.

Is it Florida? Alabama? Auburn?

Watch the video and find out.

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital. Rankings and recruit information courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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