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B/R CFB 250: Top 25 Cornerbacks

Bleacher Report's CFB 250 is an annual ranking of the best players in college football, regardless of NFL potential. Through interviews with B/R Experts Matt Miller, Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer, authors Brian Leigh and Brian Pedersen have studied, ranked and graded the top athletes in the country, narrowed that list to 250 and sorted by position. Today, we present the Top Cornerbacks.


Other CFB 250 Positions


The 2015 season is a strong one for cornerbacks.

If you'd like to know why, take a look at the 2013 recruiting class. Seven of that year's top 55 overall players were cornerbacks, per 247Sports' composite rankings, and six of those seven were full-time starters last season.

All six made the top half of this list.

Going forward, that leaves the position vulnerable. The 2013 recruiting class can declare for next year's NFL draft, and it's safe to say that many of them—especially of the six in question—will.

But for now, the position is in an excellent spot. And now is all that matters. The 2015 season is a strong one for cornerbacks.

FBS quarterbacks: Beware. 

But before we dig into that, a disclaimer. The cornerbacks who follow were graded as college prospects, not as NFL prospects.

Targeted skills, such as run defense, are important at both levels, but there is a difference between college run defense and professional run defense. If a cornerback can set the edge and make plays in the SEC or the Big 12, it doesn't matter if he can't set the edge and make plays in the NFC North. At least not here, it doesn't.

This is all about college performance.

Note: If two players finished with the same grade, a subjective call was made based on whom we would rather have on our team right now. Also, all recruiting info refers to the 247Sports composite rankings.

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Texas Football: 2015 Game-by-Game Schedule Predictions for the Longhorns

Texas is far too young to be a legitimate candidate in the Big 12 this season.

The Longhorns could start as many as eight redshirt or true freshmen to begin the season. And whatever the number is in the season opener, it's sure to go up as the year wears on.

But there should be no doubt that Charlie Strong's team is fighting to get better. The competitive freshman class has brought the intensity, and the entire team is responding to the extra push.

They won't be world-beaters, but reports indicate that the Horns can expect improvement from their quarterback, offensive line and running game in the up-tempo offense that's being installed. After finishing in the bottom-half of the Big 12 in every relevant offensive category, those developments will pay major dividends.

And with a defense coached by Strong on its side, there's no reason this team can't go 7-5 in 2015.

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UCLA Football: Week 2 Fall Camp Stock Report

Week 2 of fall camp in San Bernardino, California, has brought on considerable news in regard to head coach Jim Mora and the UCLA Bruins football team.

One position group has suffered multiple injuries—all to the starting unit. It's surely a cause for concern going forward.

A high-profile freshman returned to action after dealing with an ailment, and a rising sophomore has the look of a very dynamic receiving option. Lastly, an expected defensive leader on the team had a bit of an outburst at practice last week.

This piece will analyze the four aforementioned areas of interest and intrigue.

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UCLA Football: Week 2 Fall Camp Stock Report

Week 2 of fall camp in San Bernardino, California, has brought on considerable news in regard to head coach Jim Mora and the UCLA Bruins football team. One position group has suffered multiple injuries —all to the starting unit...

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Ohio State Football: Torrance Gibson Could Be Difference Maker at Wide Receiver

Torrance Gibson was one of the most coveted high school prospects during the 2015 recruiting cycle, but when it came time to make his collegiate choice, he spurned SEC schools such as Auburn and Tennessee because he wanted to play quarterback for Urban Meyer and Ohio State.

With blazing 4.4 speed and a 6'4", 205-pound frame, a lot of coaches pitched Gibson their vision to play wide receiver. It was a tantalizing thought—with his game-breaking speed and off-the-charts athleticism, he could be a matchup nightmare on the perimeter and especially in the red zone.

He signed with Ohio State, though, because the staff recruited him as a signal-caller, and he reported to fall camp as a part of a deep stable of Buckeyes quarterbacks.

But it only took him one practice to make the move to wide receiver, and it didn't take long for him to showcase his playmaking abilities. That, simply put, is why he made the move. 

“Well, I just want to play,” Gibson said, according to Austin Ward of ESPN.com. “I don’t want to sit on the bench for a whole year, just wasting a whole school year. It just doesn’t make any sense. Just helping the team out, that’s basically what I am doing. Because if I sat on the bench for a whole year [just to play quarterback], that would be selfish."

Gibson's unselfishness could provide a huge boost for the Buckeyes.

One of Meyer's biggest concerns for the 2015 season was with Ohio State's wide receiver unit, which has to replace Devin Smith, college football's best deep threat a season ago, and Evan Spencer, who was the team's MVP and emotional leader.

That concern was amplified when the Buckeyes suspended three of their most dangerous perimeter playmakers—Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Corey Smith—for the season-opening clash with Virginia Tech. The Hokies, of course, forced Ohio State into one of its worst offensive performances last year because they bottled up the Buckeyes' receivers so effectively.

Having a deep-threat like Devin Smith is what the Buckeyes need for their Week 1 matchup. According to Meyer, Gibson has that potential.

“Torrance is a guy -- we still haven't found our ‘Inside Nine’ guy -- he's the Devin Smith,” Meyer said, via Ward.

So how is Gibson coming along in fall camp? Is he adjusting seamlessly to the perimeter after spending his high school career catching shotgun snaps instead of down-the-field receptions?

So far, Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith has nothing but good things to say.

"He has skills that most human beings should not have," Zach Smith said, according to Eric Seger of Eleven Warriors. "His size and speed is very, very unique."

That size and speed was on full display during the Buckeyes' first scrimmage of fall camp. Gibson was featured heavily in Ohio State's video highlight of the scrimmage, most notably at the 39-second mark, when he hauled in a long touchdown pass from Cardale Jones, and at the one-minute mark, when he weaved through the defense for a huge play.

As far as Gibson's long-term future, he still envisions himself as a quarterback. But he doesn't see any point of riding the bench while he could be making an impact for the offense this year. And if he does make his way back behind center next season, that's something Zach Smith will be okay with.

"I think he can be one of the best quarterbacks in the country. That's a pretty important position," Zach Smith said, via Seger. "So if that's true, I don't know how you don't do that. But I know this: From what I've seen he can be a ridiculous receiver."

To his credit, Gibson is just taking things one day at a time. 

“If I have a great season, who knows? But it’s not a worry right now," Gibson said, according to Ward. "I just have to take it one day at a time, and I’m working at receiver right now, and I haven’t done any quarterback things since I changed position. I’m just going to focus on playing receiver now."

And with that development, Ohio State's already loaded offense has the potential to be even more dangerous.


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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

The Under-the-Radar Heisman Trophy Favorite

COLUMBUS, Ohio — If the bizarre nature of Ohio State's upcoming season hadn't set in yet, it was impossible to avoid at the Buckeyes' annual media day on Sunday.

With tables spread across the practice field of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, reporters scattered about to prepare to meet with members of the Ohio State roster.

At the table marked for Braxton Miller, media members waited for the tardy quarterback-turned-wideout, willfully ignoring the players who had made their way to media day on time. If a reporter wasn't at Miller's table, it was a safe bet he or she could be found talking to either Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett, the headliners of the most-talked-about quarterback competition in college football.

But while Miller was swarmed like a Kardashian on Rodeo Drive and Jones and Barrett answered the same questions that they have been since co-piloting the Buckeyes' run to the national championship last season, perhaps the most important member of the OSU roster went undetected as he made his way to his table.

As he began his interview session, no more than four of the 100 reporters in attendance surrounded Ezekiel Elliott, the rare front-runner for the Heisman Trophy who has somehow found himself flying under the radar this offseason.

"It's something I don't really pay attention to," Elliott said of the attention that's been paid to his teammates. "We take a team mentality. We just want to see each other shine."

That may be the case, but it doesn't make the situation Elliott finds himself in any less unique. Through the first week-and-a-half of Ohio State's fall camp, both media and fans have found themselves discussing the Buckeyes' quarterback conundrum and Miller the most, with Elliott falling somewhere between Ohio State's newest freshmen and the race to replace suspended star defensive end Joey Bosa for the season opener.

That's not to say that Elliott has been an enigma, however, as ESPN's E:60 documentary, The Rise of Ezekiel Elliott, showed Tuesday night. Chronicling the St. Louis, Missouri, native's childhood, decision to come to Columbus and breakout sophomore season, the documentary showed a side of Elliott that fans may have not otherwise been aware of.

It also thrust Elliott back into the same national spotlight that he occupied in January while carrying the Buckeyes to the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship.

"It was a little bit different. I can't say I didn't like it," Elliott said of having a documentary crew following his life. "After a while, it got a little over the top."

Over-the-top coverage is what some may have expected for Elliott this offseason after the way he burst onto the national scene with a combined 696 yards and eight touchdowns in the Buckeyes' three postseason games at the end of last year. In football-crazed Columbus, there's no bigger celebrity than a star Ohio State football player, and in January, there was no bigger star on the Buckeyes roster than Elliott.

And although the Sugar Bowl and national title game MVP still can't leave his apartment without having to stop to pose for pictures with fans, the offseason attention he's received has hardly been proportionate for a player who, according to Bovada (via Odds Shark), is currently the co-favorite, along with TCU's Trevone Boykin, to win the 2015 Heisman Trophy.

One reason that may be is because Elliott is the one known commodity on a team otherwise lacking in that category. Yes, Las Vegas favors Ohio State to repeat as college football's champion, but how the Buckeyes will go about doing so remains unclear.

That, of course, starts with the rare quarterback competition between two qualified candidates, who have now each been dissected by fans and media alike for the past eight months. But the attention the battle between Jones and Barrett has received has actually been somewhat justified, considering that the winner will instantly become a Heisman Trophy contender in his own right.

What hasn't been quite as reasonable is the spotlight that's been placed on Miller's move to wide receiver, which was the subject of the first clip released from the Big Ten Network's upcoming Scarlet and Gray Days series.

Yes, Miller is an established name in the college football landscape, a two-time Big Ten MVP with two top-10 Heisman Trophy finishes on his resume. And sports fans have always been in love with the transaction, whether it be a trade, a recruiting commitment or, in this case, a position change

But Miller has yet to play an official down at his new spot, and even Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer has been doing his best to temper expectations for Miller's new role.

"As a quarterback, you don't run [in practice]. You run for maybe four or five minutes at practice, and you're doing other things," Meyer said Sunday. "This is a big week for him."

Nevertheless, images of Miller lining up beside Jones in the Buckeyes backfield for a speed option in practice last week sent fans into a tizzy, as it at one time had seemed like something only possible in a video game.

But for as exciting and new as Miller lining up as the player receiving a pitch instead of giving it may seem, it's worth remembering that the Buckeyes already possess arguably the best running back—if not player—in the entire country in Elliott. He may not be switching positions or numbers this offseason, but Elliott's historic production at the end of last season should have warranted more hype for 2015 than it's received in the past eight months.

With the start of the 2015 season, however, now less than three weeks away, all of the talk about position battles, new jersey numbers, role reversals and Heisman hype will be rendered irrelevant soon enough. All that will matter is the production that's put out on the field as Ohio State attempts to win its second consecutive national title.

And if Elliott's production is anywhere close to what it was when the Buckeyes captured college football's crown last January, there's little doubt over who Ohio State's most-talked-about player will be.


Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com. Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Without Jonathan Williams, Is Arkansas' 2015 Season over Before It Begins?

You just don’t replace a running back like senior Jonathan Williams.

There’s no way for Arkansas to suddenly find his experience, talent or leadership on the roster midway through training camp, and it can’t just trade a future prospect for a comparable veteran like teams do in the pros.

Last year Williams accumulated 1,190 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, even though every opponent was geared to try to stop him. His career numbers of 2,321 yards and 5.72 yards per attempt put him among the program’s all-time leaders in both categories.

Williams was optimistic about the 2015 team, voted second-team All-SEC and represented the Razorbacks at media days, which made him a good bet to be voted a team captain.

Only his season is already over after suffering a foot injury during a scrimmage over the weekend. Many wonder if the team’s hopes of getting out of the SEC West cellar are gone as well.

“I have no doubt that Jonathan will come back stronger than ever,” Bret Bielema said in a statement. “Anyone that knows Jonathan Williams knows this is just another opportunity for him to prove the man of character and substance that he really is.

"It's an unfortunate injury to a great young man, but we are in the process of gathering as much information as possible. There are short- and long-term impacts of how he proceeds, and we want to make sure he does what's best for him and his family and his career beyond Arkansas."

The latter part of that alludes to the strong possibly that even though Williams never had a redshirt season, he might have played his last game with the Razorbacks.

It was a tough decision for him not to enter the 2015 NFL draft, and as part of the league's "I am the SEC" promotion, Williams openly talked about his family’s financial struggles while he was in high school. After his mother and father both lost their jobs, the family came close to being evicted from their home in Allen, Texas.

"I prayed a lot about it," Williams said. "Coach Bielema helped me out. A lot of it was he preaches becoming a man on and off the field, and I just wanted to graduate. It would have been easier to go to the NFL.

"Just seeing the potential of this football team and seeing where we could be going this season, I definitely wanted to be a part of it. I didn’t want to be watching on Saturday mornings, Saturday evenings, and wishing I was part of the Razorbacks still."

Nevertheless, Williams is just one class short of finishing up his communications degree. He can take it while recovering from foot surgery and participate in the fall commencement ceremony.

If this discussion was about one of the other top running backs in the league—such as Nick Chubb at Georgia, Leonard Fournette at LSU or Derrick Henry at Alabama—the doom-and-gloom talk would be nothing short of deafening, with scores of fans writing off the season before it even started.

Arkansas fans won’t, though, at least not yet. Yes, Williams is a huge loss because quality 1,000-yard running backs aren’t easy to find, and yes, to use a medical analogy, the paddles have been brought into the room, just in case.

But the Razorbacks offense wasn’t expected to live or die with Williams alone this season, and there’s enough depth at his position that the Razorbacks can compensate for his loss.

Even with a new offensive coordinator, Dan Enos, this was supposed to be the year that Bielema really seemed to have all the pieces in place to field his kind of team: physical and nasty but also diverse.

The offense has an established veteran quarterback in Brandon Allen who looks poised and ready to do more. Although the personnel have been juggled, the Razorbacks have another massive offensive line. Tight end Hunter Henry is prepared to make bigger contributions, and the young receiving corps figures to only get better.

Still, all of that was expected to revolve around the running game. Williams and junior Alex Collins were the only returning 1,000-yard rushing tandem in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and junior tailback/fullback Kody Walker stole the show during the spring game with 174 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

That’s more than Walker accumulated all of last season: 31 carries for 149 yards and one touchdown.

Collins, who had 204 carries for 1,110 yards in 2014, will have to shoulder a bigger load, which he can do, but Williams was a better receiver and short-yardage option and had played in 36 games. He knew how to get through the grind.

One favorable thing about Arkansas' not facing an SEC opponent until the neutral-site game in Dallas against Texas A&M on Sept. 26 is it will give coaches time to get some players like freshman tailback Rawleigh Williams III and redshirt freshman fullback Tyler Colquitt extra work.

But then the Razorbacks go through a meat grinder, with seven of the final nine games against ranked opponents and the only relief being a bye sandwiched between at Alabama and Auburn and a Halloween matchup against the University of Tennessee-Martin. That sets up the unbelievable final month of at Ole Miss, at LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri.

That’s brutal by any standard and means that Bielema and Arkansas now have a new primary concern/enemy for the rest of the season: attrition.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

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Ranking the Top 50 College Football Team Schedule Posters of 2015

The schedule poster is the college football version of a Rorschach inkblot test. While we may all see something different, one commonality exists: Excitement abounds.

The game dates have been set in stone for some time, but the annual release of schedule posters by college football teams signifies that the upcoming season is getting very close. And the who/when/where info is far less important than the design and images each school uses to convey the year ahead.

We've taken a look at the posters for every FBS team and ranked the 50 best ones based on a very unscientific assessment of their attributes and memorability.

Though each fan will likely have their own favorite, this list is meant to serve as a guideline if you were hoping to decorate a football-watching cave in your home with nothing but schedule posters.

Follow along for our den decor recommendations.

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Texas A&M Football: 2015 Game-by-Game Schedule Predictions

After an 8-5 campaign in 2014, Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M are heading into a slate with big changes on the coaching staff in hopes of building a more complete title contender in the SEC West.

The Aggies hired veteran SEC defensive coordinator John Chavis away from LSU in order to develop the growing amount of blue-chip talent in College Station. Defense has been A&M's biggest Achilles' heel in the Sumlin and SEC era, and the team has put a lot of emphasis in turning that around.

With Dave Christensen coming aboard, Texas A&M is looking for more balance on the offensive side of the ball. That should help Kyle Allen—or true freshman Kyler Murray—feed the ball more effectively to a stunning amount of talent at wide receiver.

As the offseason starts to wind down and Texas A&M inches closer to its season opener against a Pac-12 South power, let's take a game-by-game look at the 2015 schedule and offer some win-loss predictions for this year's Aggies.

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Notre Dame Football: KeiVarae Russell's Return Provides Much-Needed Spark

Just like that, Notre Dame's recent string of bad luck has ended. For a change, the Irish are getting a key player for their playoff run in 2015. Granted, the return was expected, but it doesn't diminish the impact. 

On Tuesday, head coach Brian Kelly announced that cornerback KeiVarae Russell was fully cleared by the NCAA and will be eligible to participate this season. Russell was one of five Irish players suspended last season for academic fraud. 

(On a related noted, Kelly added that defensive end Ishaq Williams, another one of the five suspended players, is waiting to hear back from the NCAA on an appeal.) 

The news is a welcome relief for Notre Dame fans. Over the past two weeks, the Irish have lost second-leading rusher Greg Bryant (academics) and starting defensive tackle Jarron Jones (MCL injury). Getting Russell back provides the defense, which took a hit late last season with injuries, with a much-needed spark. 

While Russell may be rusty at first, as Kelly noted, it's only a matter of time before he's back to his old self. 

But what, exactly, are the Irish getting back?

A veteran player, first of all. Before his suspension, Russell had started all 26 games of his career, including his first 13 as a freshman. Now a senior, Russell brings a wealth of experience to the secondary and adds to what is a defense laden with juniors and seniors. As Jerry Hinnen of CBSSports.com writes, "The Irish defense can now claim to return 11 starters—10 from 2014, plus the addition of Russell. If Kelly and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder have their schematic ducks in a row after an inconsistent 2014 ,this should be one of the nation's best defenses." 

Russell has also had a productive career to date. In 2012, he was a member of the team that made a national championship appearance against Alabama—and a member of a defense that ranked 13th nationally in yards per pass attempt allowed. Along the way, Russell earned Freshman All-American honors. In '13, Russell led the Irish with eight pass breakups. 

As B/R draft guru Matt Miller notes, Russell is a potential first-round talent in a loaded 2016 cornerback class that features the following draft-eligible players: Vernon Hargreaves III (Florida), Jalen Ramsey (Florida State) and Kendall Fuller (Virginia Tech). To be thought of as a possible first-round talent in that group is saying something. 

Notre Dame's 2015 schedule isn't loaded with offenses featuring high-profile quarterback-receiver combos, but don't confuse quantity with quality. On Oct. 3, the Irish travel to Clemson in one of the most intriguing games of the season. There, Russell will be asked to defend the pass-catching combination of Mike Williams and/or Artavis Scott, who totaled 14 touchdowns and nearly 2,000 yards receiving a year ago. Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson is one of the fast-rising stars in the game. 

Two weeks later, Notre Dame hosts USC, which has quarterback Cody Kessler and receiver Juju Smith. On Nov. 7, Notre Dame will face one of the best wide receivers in the country against Pitt's Tyler Boyd. 

Yeah, having Russell, the team's best cornerback, again should help. Though not all of Notre Dame's questions—namely involving quarterback Malik Zaire—will be answered before the start of the season, Russell's return does answer one. Once again, there's reason to be excited about this Irish football team. 


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

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Ohio State Fans Take 6-Hour, 19-Mile Walk to Spell Out 'Ohio' in Columbus

Define the word "dedication."

Some would throw in synonyms like "commitment" or "devotion." A fewer number of folks would think of classic Lil Wayne mixtapes.

A more accurate bunch might define it as walking 19 miles around the state of Ohio from 6:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. just to show support for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

That's what a Reddit user named Orweezy and a couple of his cronies did over the weekend, using GPS and Google Maps to show their dedication to the Buckeyes:

My coworker friends and thought it would be cool to start off the football season by mapping and walking the Ohio Script this past weekend and using the stadium as the "I" dotting. Would anyone be interested in doing this with us next year? Maybe even as a fund raising event for a good cause.

Another user pointed out that biking would be much easier. Orweezy agreed:

LOL, we got like 8 miles into it and thought.... "you know this would have been better if we biked it" It took us 6 and a half hours of walking but we made a few bar stops so from 6:30am through 2:45pm. We were doing a work competition about fitness and the metrics used was time, so we walked everywhere and I think we just carried it over. I would rather bike it next time for sure.

Here's a map of the journey (notice the dotted "i" is Ohio Stadium):

This is true fanhood at its finest.

[Reddit, h/t For The Win]

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What a Difference a Year Makes for Ohio State's Braxton Miller

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The mood around Ohio State's Woody Hayes Athletic Center was somber, far from the optimism that can typically be found in Columbus two weeks prior to the start of a season.

Billboards went up around town, expressing support. Players used interviews as therapy sessions, often falling short of finding a silver lining. Urban Meyer described himself as having gone "berserk."

To say the torn labrum in Braxton Miller's throwing shoulder, suffered one year ago Tuesday, shook the Buckeyes program to its core might be considered dramatic.

It also wouldn't necessarily be inaccurate. And if anything, it might be an understatement.

One year later, Ohio State finds itself preparing to defend its national championship as J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones compete to be the Buckeyes starting quarterback. It took stellar efforts from both players to make up for Miller's absence—and then some—leading to a quarterback battle unlike any other in college football.

Miller, meanwhile, kept good on his promise to return to OSU for a fifth year. But after the life-altering 365 days that followed last August's injury, he now seems more like a rookie than one of the oldest players inside the Buckeyes locker room.

That's because with his shoulder injury having yet to have fully healed and Barrett and Jones having each proved themselves as qualified signal-callers, Miller is no longer a quarterback, having made the move to the wide receiver/H-back position.

"I just felt like I wasn't ready to play quarterback fully," Miller said of his decision to switch spots on the field. "I'm fortunate enough that God blessed me that I can play any position on the field."

When Miller first announced his position switch a month ago, it was lauded by teammates, coaches and even NFL analysts who saw the move as the best option for his long-term NFL future. Having accumulated 3,054 rushing yards and 32 rushing touchdowns in three seasons as a quarterback with his joystick-like ability in the open field, Miller seemed like a natural fit as an H-back, the same position Percy Harvin excelled in at Florida while playing under Meyer.

But with one week of camp already in the books, the transition hasn't been as seamless as originally thought. The former quarterback has experienced muscle tightness—something Meyer chalked up to the expanded running in his practice plan—and could be seen having trouble catching the ball during Ohio State's first practice.

"I run four miles a day," Miller said of his new practice regime. "I barely ran a mile playing quarterback."

But while Miller is admittedly still adjusting to his new responsibilities, his potential is apparent.

While only the first four periods of two Ohio State practices have been open to the media thus far, one exchange during Miller's media day interview offered a glimpse into his upside. After Jones stated that Miller's first day as a wide receiver looked just like that—his first day as a wide receiver—Miller took exception to his former stablemate's message.

"Ask him again," Miller said. "Ask Vonn Bell."

The implication, of course, was that Miller had burnt the Buckeyes safety for a deep touchdown in practice. That would obviously be a promising development in his development as a wideout, as was one sight in particular at the Buckeyes open practice last Friday.

Having shifted into the backfield, the 6'2", 215-pound Miller found himself prepared to play the role of running back in a speed-option set with the 6'5", 250-pound Jones. That particular play didn't amount to much, but it allowed imaginations to run wild with the versatility that now exists in the Ohio State offense.

"It's just like playing a video game," Miller said. "They just put anybody anywhere."

But while the possibilities at his new position appear endless, Miller is still getting used to it nonetheless. He insists his goals remain the same—"Whatever I do on the field, I just want to be the best at it," he says—while also stating that he'll remain a prominent voice in his senior season.

"I still see myself in the role of leadership," Miller said. "I've still got my voice in the huddle, too, as well as the starting quarterback."

Just who that starting quarterback will be remains to be seen, with Meyer insisting he won't reveal his choice ahead of the Buckeyes' Sept. 7 opener with Virginia Tech. For Miller, however, it doesn't matter whether it will be Barrett or Jones, as he remains focused on a return to the field now more than a year in the making.

In that one year, so much in Columbus has changed.

But as Miller was quick to remind, so much may also remain the same.

"There's always going to be two quarterbacks on the field," Miller said of his team's ongoing quarterback battle. "I know that."


Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com. Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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KeiVarae Russell Cleared by NCAA in Cheating Scandal: Latest Details, Reaction

Notre Dame's defense has officially gotten a big boost with the return of cornerback KeiVarae Russell less than three weeks before the 2015 season begins.   

Per Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said during a press conference Tuesday the NCAA has fully cleared Russell following last year's academic fraud investigation. 

This is good news for Notre Dame, though Russell did post on Instagram in May he was "back" with the team:

In August 2014, per Dan Wolken of USA Today, Russell was one of four Notre Dame players removed from the football team as the school looked into allegations of "academic dishonesty."

Two months later, Keith Arnold of NBC Sports reported the star defensive back would return to school in 2015 after sitting out last season.  

The timing for Russell being cleared couldn't have been better for Notre Dame, which lost defensive lineman Jarron Jones for the season to a knee injury. 

Russell came into his own in 2013, playing in 13 games and setting a career high with 40 solo tackles and eight passes defended. The Fighting Irish have high expectations this season, starting the year ranked 11th in the Amway Coaches Poll. 

There may be some initial rust for Russell to work off when games begin on September 5, but Kelly and the Notre Dame coaching staff can rest easier knowing their best defensive back can focus on the future instead of having to worry about the past. 

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Power Ranking College Football Conferences by Running Back Depth

Yes, football may be a quarterback's sport, but here at Bleacher Report, we are huge fans of everything and everything that involves the phrase "Run the dang ball!" 

Which is why we're power ranking each of the 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences based on their running back depth. And when we talk about "depth," it's not just the sheer number of running backs on each team added up. Rather, which 1,000-yard rushers are returning? Are there returning players who are household names? Are these players in their final year, or are they coming back for another two or three years? What kind of rising stars could break out in 2015 to add to that list? 

These are the types of questions we asked when exploring the best conferences by backfield. Agree or disagree? Let the debate begin (and let it also be settled once and for all in a few months on the field). 

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Odds on Where 4-Star WR Tyler Vaughns Commits to on Wednesday

One of the nation’s most explosive playmakers will come off the board on Wednesday when 4-star receiver Tyler Vaughns announces his commitment.

According to Scout’s Greg Biggins, Vaughns will choose from a group of four finalists that include Alabama, Georgia, USC and Washington.

The 6’3”, 175-pounder is the nation’s No. 2 wideout and the No. 33 player overall in the 2016 class. As a junior, Vaughns hauled in 83 receptions for 1,183 yards and 12 touchdowns, according to MaxPreps.

Which school holds the inside track on landing the Golden State speedster? 

Let’s break down the odds for each of his finalists.


Alabama and Georgia: 25-1

Two of the finalists in the race to land Vaughns are SEC powers Alabama and Georgia. 

Both programs extended offers to Vaughns earlier in the spring, and both have a high need for receivers in the 2016 cycle.

However, neither school has been able to get him on campus for a visit. 

While both programs have proven themselves as powerhouses in the recruiting world, it’s hard to imagine Vaughns choosing to leave California and attend either school sight unseen.


Washington: 12-1 

Vaughns visited Washington last season when they hosted Arizona State, according to Scout’s Scott Eklund.

While the Huskies are rebuilding under second-year head coach Chris Petersen, Vaughns came away from the visit high on the Huskies program and its potential to grow in the future.

"The school was really impressive,” Vaughns told Eklund. “I really liked the facilities and the academic stuff they showed us. They support their players well, and they are like a family. The coaches are great, and I really like what the program there and the school have to offer."

That visit will have to be the lasting impression on the mind of Vaughns if the Huskies are indeed the pick.


USC: 5-1

USC has been the longtime favorite to land Vaughns, and there are a few reasons that is the case.

For starters, Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff also have the receiver position as a priority in the 2016 cycle.

USC already has three receivers committed in its 2016 class, including Vaughns’ prep teammate and fellow 4-star Trevon Sidney.

The Trojans have proximity to home in their favor, and they were able to host him last week, as he visited to watch the team’s first two practices of fall camp, as noted by Scott Schrader of FightOn247.

As noted by Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports, USC is Vaughns’ childhood favorite.

“I grew up watching USC and everything,” Vaughns told Wiltfong. “That was my first school and my first offer so that was pretty big.”

Taking all of those factors into consideration, it would be a huge shock if Vaughns announces for any program other than USC on Wednesday.


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


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The State of High School Football Recruiting in Texas

DALLAS — It's no secret; for years the state of Texas has been known as a major recruiting hotbed nationwide.

Teams like TCU and Baylor were on the outskirts of playing in the College Football Playoff tournament with the help of a roster loaded with in-state players. Last year's national finalists, Ohio State and Oregon, featured eight Texans combined.

The talent is there in the Lone Star State, and while it's important for the nation to notice, it may be even more of a priority for the in-state coaches to recognize this—and keep those players in the state.

How important?

"In Texas? Very," said Jeff Fleener, head coach at Brandeis High School in San Antonio. "Everyone recruits Texas, so if you don't recruit them, you're playing against them."

Aug. 10 kicked off regular-season practices for many Texas public high schools, which, from a recruiting standpoint, means more and more athletes are preparing to finalize official visits for the coming months. It's that time of year in which prospects, 5-stars on down, look for the college homes that best fit them athletically and academically.

It's also that time of year in which college coaches are not only trying to win football games on the field but also win important recruiting battles. And ask any coach in the state—keeping the Texas athletes close to home is a priority.

"If you're a Texas school and you miss out on Texas kids," Fleener said, "where are you getting [players] from?"


Talent east to west

At first glance, no coach was happier to be at Big 12 media days than David Beaty. For the new Kansas head coach, being at the Omni Dallas Hotel last month was a homecoming of sorts.

Beaty cut his teeth coaching high school football in the Dallas area, and he was emphatic in reminding the media about his Texas roots, name-dropping high schools, junior colleges and coaches throughout his Monday press conference.

"I'm an old Texas high school football coach," Beaty said, "and I consider those guys [Texas high school coaches] to be my brothers."

Beaty said he's preparing to create a faster, stronger, more disciplined brand of football for the Kansas fans. Part of that will involve a new recruiting philosophy—a philosophy that will include targeting the state he has so many ties to.

It's a philosophy that makes sense—and one that works.

"I think it's important for any school anywhere to recruit Texas," said Joey McGuire, head coach at Cedar Hill School outside of Dallas. "For instance, when Tulsa and Kansas were going to bowl games, they had a large number of Texas kids on their rosters.

"If you are a Texas school, you better start by getting the best this state has to offer, in my opinion."

McGuire's argument can be supported by recent numbers. Of the 2015 class' top 300 players in 247Sports' composite rankings, 42 came from the Lone Star State. The 2014 class had 35 Texans in the top 300, while 41 Texans were a part of the top 300 in the 2013 class.

And those numbers don't include the 4-star, 3-star and 2-star in-state athletes whom college coaches take a chance on. Coaches will tell you that the talent level stretches more than 800 miles west to east, north and south, from El Paso to Texarkana and all points in between.

"I think any of us who have been around the state coaching at in-state universities know that's where the bread and butter is," Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "You want to keep those players in the state and keep those high school coaches knowing you're recruiting their players."


Numbers don't lie

There are 11 FBS schools in Texas: Baylor, Houston, North Texas, SMU, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas State, Texas Tech, UTEP and UTSA. Those schools combined to have 266 commitments from high school and junior college in the 2015 class. Of those 266, 194 hail from Texas.

In other words, nearly 73 percent of the talent recruited in Texas colleges are home grown. That number would be elevated if UTEP was taken out of the equation. The Miners had 23 committed players, but only seven were from a Texas school. On the flip side, all of SMU's committed and signed athletes are in-state products.

For Baylor coach Art Briles, recruiting is quite simple. Get the best players from the area you know—and the area that, in turn, knows the player.

"If you're going to get home cooking, you need to be at home," he said. "It's vitally important to the nature of football in the state of Texas to stay—for these guys to stay in state.

"Why would you run off and make Granmama watch it on TV when she can jump in the car with family members and come watch you play in person, hug your neck, take you out to dinner and tell you she loves you in person? That's why you stay home—family."

Of the top-50 ranked 2016 athletes from Texas, 29 are committed to an FBS program. Of those 29, 12 are committed to out-of-state schools.

"It's all about keeping those guys close," Kingsbury said.

Beaty was the wide receivers coach and a recruiting coordinator at Texas A&M before taking over the head-coaching gig at Kansas. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach at Rice. From 1994 to 2005, he was a high school coach.

Beaty knows the state. He's ventured all over Texas looking for talent as an assistant college coach. As Kansas' head coach, Beaty has made Texas a recruiting priority, as four of the eight 2016 commits are from the Lone Star State. Seven of the 24 in the 2015 class who signed with Kansas in February are Texans, as well.

"One of the things for me is we are located in one of the finest, most fertile grounds for high school athletes in the country," he said at Big 12 media days, "and those athletes are coached by some of the finest high school coaches in the country."


'We will always recruit this state'

The Texas Longhorns statistically have been the recruiting leader of the state throughout the 21st century, save a year or two from Texas A&M. The majority of those years were under the leadership of Mack Brown.

Now with Charlie Strong as head coach, Texas is not only trying to keep its recruiting relevancy but also win over in-state athletes who are looking at playing for TCU or Baylor because of recent success or Texas A&M because of the opportunity to play in the SEC.

The Longhorns, who only have seven commits in the 2016 class, currently are sitting at 48th overall in 247Sports' recruiting team rankings. They also sit in sixth place among the in-state team rankings, less than a point ahead of No. 49 SMU.

For many, that number comes as a shock. The prestige of the program hasn't helped with 2016 recruiting, but Strong is hoping for a big finish closer to signing day—something similar to what the Longhorns did with the 2015 class.

Strong has been criticized for not landing more star in-state players. While he landed the No. 1 in-state 2015 prospect, Malik Jefferson, he was unsuccessful in getting any other top-10 Texans, including Alabama cornerback Kendall Sheffield, Ole Miss receiver DaMarkus Lodge and the Texas A&M combo of quarterback Kyler Murray and defensive tackle Daylon Mack.

Strong's response to that: Keep shooting for the stars, and never forget that even though Texas is a priority, other states have quality athletes, as well. He is big on recruiting the state of Florida.

"There are a lot of good players, and the high school coaches do a great job in this state," Strong said. "We will always recruit this state, because we're the University of Texas, and they will always be our home ground.

"But it's like anything else; when you have needs and if you can't get what you want, then you have to go outside the state. But we're always focused on this state."


Prospects galore for coaches

More and more Texas athletes are looking at SEC or Pac-12 opportunities. Multiple broadcasts show the Alabamas, Auburns, Ohio States, Florida States, Oregons, UCLAs and USCs of the world to the point that a Texas athlete won't have to leave his house to watch a game.

TCU and Baylor coaches can use an important fact in their recruiting pitches with 2016 and 2017 targets: Both teams were that close to playing in the College Football Playoff last season.

Briles believes a national-title opportunity isn't far away, particularly with athletes he considers "some of the best in the nation."

"These guys grew up in Texas, and we play the best football in the nation right here and can win a national championship. Right here," he said.

Fortunately for Briles and the rest of the coaches, there are quite a few uncommitted athletes still available. Among those are the top-ranked Texan, and the nation's top-ranked offensive tackle and No. 2 overall player, 5-star Greg Little.

Add in players like 5-Star safety Brandon Jones and the 4-star trio of safety Deontay Anderson and receivers Devin Duvernay and Tyrie Cleveland, and it's clear to see there's plenty of opportunity for an in-state to boost its class with a stud athlete.

For Patterson, getting highly rated in-state athletes is a bonus, but it isn't the end-all, be-all. Getting coachable in-state athletes is the overall objective.

Patterson uses Jerry Hughes as an example. The Buffalo Bills defensive end was rated a 2-star athlete by Rivals.com before he went to TCU.

"People said he was a 2-star," Patterson said. "Jerry Hughes was never a 2-star. He was a 4-star or higher.

"There's no way you're going to keep everybody in the state, unless you go back to the old scholarship rules to where you can go out and take 50 guys a season and keep them all. The ones that we want, that fit what fits TCU, I think that's very important to put a circle around the ones we think we'll make us better."

Keeping as many athletes as possible in state is the goal. It's a goal every in-state coach aspires to achieve, and telling future stories of winning with a Texas-dominated lineup is something that can be used as a recruiting tool.

What's more important, it's an achievable goal, particularly with the personalities of the in-state coaches.

"There are so many players out there," Kingsbury said, "and you can find them."


Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand and at Big 12 media days. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

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10 Biggest Upset-Alert Games of the 2015 College Football Season

When preseason predictions are made—much like the ones you'll see these next few weeks at Bleacher Report—potentially tricky contests for big-time programs are chalked up as sure wins. They're easy calls.

But each and every season, college football shows everyone that they should expect the unexpected.

Last year, Ole Miss and Mississippi State kicked off their times in the spotlight with wins over top-10 foes Alabama and LSU, respectively. Arizona began its surprise Pac-12 South title run with a win over Oregon, and Virginia Tech went into the Horseshoe and beat Ohio State—although it all worked out in the end for the Buckeyes.

Then there were the real shockers, like Indiana's win over SEC East champion Missouri and Northwestern's defeat of Wisconsin. In the Group of Five, UConn cost UCF its shot at an outright AAC title with an upset few saw coming.

With the race for the four College Football Playoff spots looking wide-open heading into the 2015 season, let's take a look at 10 contenders who should be on high-alert for one of these upset losses to an unranked opponent this year. These matchups were based on timing on the schedule, potential matchup problems and past history with certain opponents.

Of course, a lot can change between now and the time several of these games kick off, but they look like possible giant-killers on paper in the preseason. Tell us who you think should be on upset alert this season in the comments below.

Begin Slideshow

Predicting the 2015 College Football Playoff

With the 2015 college football season beginning soon, Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer sat down to predict the top playoff contenders.

Who do you think they missed? Hit the comment section below.  

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Dear Football: The 2015 Elite 11 Story |Ep. 2 'Rucksack Run'

Uninterrupted is a platform that allows personalities to connect with fans on a much deeper level, with insight and content not fit for other platforms, media outlets or channels.

Interested fans get a unique perspective that brings them closer than ever to the personalities they care about.

The Elite 11 Camp brings together the top high school senior quarterbacks in the country in search of the best 11. Watch above as they complete a "Rucksack Run" that tests them mentally and physically. 

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Georgia Football: Keith Marshall, Sony Michel Are Keys to Nick Chubb's Success

"Twenty-seven left and 27 right sounds pretty good to me. So as long as we’ve got that we’re gonna be all right." 

Those are the words of Georgia offensive tackle Kolton Houston after Saturday's scrimmage, according to Seth Emerson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

He's not wrong. 

That game plan helped Georgia go 6-2 down the stretch last year, including a Belk Bowl win over Louisville that saw "27"—star running back Nick Chubb—rush 33 times for 266 yards and two touchdowns.

"Not until he really had to start carrying the load did I realize how much stamina he could have in a game, in an SEC game, at times carrying it 25, 35 times in a game," head coach Mark Richt said at SEC media days in July. "That's pretty impressive."

Pretty impressive, indeed.

In a pinch for suspended star Todd Gurley and in place of banged-up reserves Sony Michel and Keith Marshall, Chubb—a 5'10", 222-pounder with track star speed and a bruiser's mentality—proved that he could be a home run hitter, a workhorse and one of the best closers in college football.

That wasn't Plan A for the 2014 Georgia Bulldogs, and it won't be Plan A in 2015 either.

"That's not our goal for our back," Richt said. "I don't want a guy to carry 35 times a game his whole career all season long. We want to share the load."

As he should, despite the success Chubb had last year.

While Chubb was awesome for a half-season last year, replicating that success for a full season and absorbing twice as many carries (or more) is a lot to ask. Because of that, senior Keith Marshall and sophomore Sony Michel are huge keys to Chubb's success and the success of the 2015 Bulldogs.

Marshall came to Georgia in the same class and with more hype than that of Gurley. But the 5'11", 212-pounder with enough wiggle to shake leaves off of a tree has been hampered by injuries throughout his career. Now healthy, Marshall has been the talk of fall camp, according to Bruce Feldman of FoxSports.com:

Michel, the 5'11", 212-pound home run hitter from Plantation, Florida, was the freshman sensation in 2014 long before Chubb. Michel rushed for 206 yards and three touchdowns over the first three games of the season, while Chubb earned just 12 carries over the same span. Michel earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors with his 155-yard performance vs. Troy, but a shoulder injury derailed his freshman campaign and opened the door for Chubb to shine.

As Logan Booker of Cox Media Group noted on Twitter, Richt and new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer could get creative with how they use Michel this season:

Michel and Marshall are vital to the success of Chubb and the Bulldog offense.

They'll not only take pressure off of Chubb but give Schottenheimer the option to be diverse within the running game. That could take on extra meaning if the new quarterback—whoever wins the job—can't stretch the field and/or the wide receiving corps doesn't progress like it needs to.

A solid, diverse, deep running back corps will help Chubb stay fresh for a full season and keep opposing defenses from keying on Chubb too much.

If  that happens, all the quarterback needs to be is a game manager—just like Hutson Mason was last year.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. Statistics courtesy of cfbstats.comBarrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93 XM 208.

Follow Barrett on Twitter: @BarrettSallee.

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