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UCLA Football: 3 Games That Could Ruin the 2014 Season for the Bruins

There are three opponents in particular with the ability to upend a potentially special season for Jim Mora and the UCLA football team. 

Two of these contests exist on the road. One will test the Bruins' ability to not only travel a great distance, but to also compete against a less-than-ideal start time. The other road game will feature a daunting home crowd in addition to adverse weather conditions. 

Lastly, UCLA could theoretically be facing its biggest rival for a division championship. A loss in such an affair would likely rival a punch to the proverbial stomach. 

Here are three games that could ruin the 2014 season for the Bruins.

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UCLA Football: 3 Games That Could Ruin the 2014 Season for the Bruins

There are three opponents in particular with the ability to upend a potentially special season for Jim Mora and the UCLA football team. Two of these contests exist on the road...

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Ohio State Football: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from Big Ten Media Days

Urban Meyer and a trio of his players—highlighted by quarterback Braxton Miller—represented the Ohio State Football team at the annual Big Ten media days in Chicago this week.

Ohio State is gearing up for another run at a national title after last year's quest fell short. Meyer has the pieces to contend, but fall camp will be a pivotal time for the Buckeyes to patch their remaining holes and really grasp the vision of the coaching staff.

Meyer and the players he brought with him to Chicago echoed that sentiment universally.

Here are the biggest Buckeyes-related takeaways from Big Ten media days.

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Brady Hoke Won't Quiet Hot Seat Questions Without Michigan Victories

Brady Hoke told reporters at Day 1 of Big Ten Media Days, including MLive.com's Nick Baumgardner, that he's not worried about his job security at Michigan. But that doesn't mean the questions are going to stop anytime soon. 

Athletic director Dave Brandon has dispelled notions that Brady is on the hot seat this season multiple times, most recently to Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News. "I have all the confidence in the world that he’s bringing in the right kids, that he continues to do the right thing in terms of getting his staff lined up," Wojnowski said. "I’m convinced we’re heading to a very, very good place."

But the question is, what if Michigan doesn't get to that very good place by January? Hoke is coming off a 7-6 season entering his fourth year with the program. In a vacuum, his 26-13 overall record looks promising, but it doesn't tell the whole story.

After leading the team to a strong 11-2 finish in 2011, his squad dropped to 8-5 in 2012 before the dangerously-close-to-.500 2013 campaign.

That record included a strong undefeated start that went south quickly as the season progressed, as BTN.com's Tom Dienhart pointed out during Hoke's presser. 

And though the team was perfect at home under Hoke in each of his first two seasons at the helm, they dropped two at Michigan Stadium in 2013—including a game vs. archrival Ohio State on November 30, which has left a bitter taste in Wolverines fans' mouths. Hoke's gutsy decision to go for a two-point conversion rather than tie that game with an extra point fueled many fans' disenchantment. 

"I've done this at two other schools," Hoke said Monday, per Baumgardner. "You come in as a new coach, and you don't put a timetable on anything. Because you don't know." Though Hoke may not admit to having a timetable in place, rumblings about his days at the program being numbered will continue if the team doesn't make serious strides in 2014. 

There were some moments in the 2013 season Hoke would undoubtedly like to forget, such as the Wolverines' embarrassing loss to in-state rival Michigan State on November 2, in which the team rushed for a record-low minus-48 net yards. 

Last season's 7-6 record would have been more understandable in Hoke's first season. The Wolverines were transitioning from a spread offense under Rich Rodriguez (who, incidentally, went 7-6 in his last season in 2009 before Hoke was brought in), which is not a process that happens overnight. 

But the year-to-year decline in Hoke's squad's performance is what gives fuel to the hot seat questions, and not unfairly so. 

The expectations are elevated for the coach of the winningest program in college football, and Hoke understands that. Brandon told Wojnowski he doesn't have a target record in mind for the 2014 season because that would be "grossly unfair," but it's not hard to imagine he or the fanbase will be satisfied with another 7-6 or even 8-5 season. 

Three of Michigan's losses in 2013 were by four points or less, so the team has a foundation to build on. Hoke hired new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier and opened competition at multiple positions, according to Baumgardner.

That includes the offensive line, for which Brady has yet to name the front five starters, and the receivers group, which lost Jeremy Gallon to the NFL and now includes Devin Funchess, Amara Darboh, Drew Dileo, Jehu Chesson and true freshman Freddy Canteen. 

Of course, some key factors aren't in Hoke's control, such as Devin Gardner's performance. 

He's moving things in the right direction for the Wolverines, but college football is a numbers game, and until Hoke can deliver a record that will please the fans and Brandon, the questions surrounding his job security will continue.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Miami Football: 5 Hurricanes Poised for Breakout Seasons

College football followers are familiar with Duke Johnson, Stacy Coley and Denzel Perryman, but five lesser-known Miami Hurricanes are poised for breakout seasons in 2014.

Youth, injury and nationally popular teammates have overshadowed the members of the list, keeping them as relatively unknown commodities beyond the conference landscape.

The following 'Canes are organized by position, not by a subjective interpretation of the respective performances each player is capable of this season.

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Georgia Football: 3 Games That Could Ruin the Bulldogs' 2014 Season

The Georgia Bulldogs could do a lot of special things this season.

If they can stay healthy and the defense improves from what it was last season, they could have a chance to not only win the SEC, but also be one of the four teams that reach the first annual College Football Playoff.

But the Bulldogs have been in position before to have a chance to be a national champion and came up short because they lost a game early or late in the season, and it came back to bite them.

So here’s a look at three games that could ruin the Bulldogs’ 2014 season.

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Biggest Storylines Heading into Clemson's Fall Camp

The Clemson Tigers are just days away from the unofficial beginning of the 2014 college football season. Fall camp opens, and the countdown is on for the Tigers' trip to Georgia on August 30 to open the new season. 

Much of the offseason talk has centered on Clemson's quarterback situation—and rightfully so. It's the most important position on the field, and the Tigers just graduated the top passer in the school's rich history. 

But even with the loss of Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins, there is a palpable buzz around the program. The Tigers are coming off three consecutive 10-win seasons and are in position to challenge defending national champion Florida State for ACC supremacy despite the loss of some key personnel.

Can senior Cole Stoudt replace Boyd? Or will Clemson rely on one of the most experienced and talented defensive lines in the country to carry the team in 2014?

Here are four storylines Clemson fans should keep an eye on as fall practice begins. 

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Nebraska Football: 5 Cornhuskers Primed for Breakout Seasons

Nebraska football fans will be anxiously watching the 2014 season to see which players will become breakout stars. It’s the breakout stars, not the proven commodities, who can help propel a team like Nebraska from almost-there to contending for conference and national titles.

So which Cornhuskers are primed for breakout seasons? Here are five candidates.

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10 College Coaches Who May Not See Their 2015 Recruiting Class Graduate

Every head college football coach in the country is assembling his 2015 recruiting class with much hope that every recruit graduates in four-to-five years.

However, college football is also big business, which means winning is the most important thing for a coach's future. Whether it be a coach on the hot seat, the calling of the NFL or possible retirement, there are a few college coaches who very well may not see their next recruiting class get all the way through their programs.

An SEC coach has some fire under his seat, while an ACC coach may be running out of time. Plus, a respected Big Ten coach could be replaced before his 2015 class graduates.


All recruiting class ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Recruiting Rankings.

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

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Texas Football: Biggest Storylines Heading into Longhorns' Fall Camp

2014 has been a year of change for the Texas Longhorns. When one considers the new head coach and coaching staff, multiple dismissals from the team and a change of culture in the football program, this offseason has been anything but ordinary in Austin.

All of the change has led to a number of interesting storylines, which Texas fans across the nation are eager to follow.

 

Change of Culture

One of the most significant storylines has to be the complete 180-degree culture change first-year head coach Charlie Strong has brought to the team.

Last week, Orangebloods.com first reported that running back Jalen Overstreet and defensive back Chevoski Collins were dismissed from the team due to a violation of team rules.

The duo being removed from the team was quickly followed up by news courtesy of Orangebloods.com that Strong had dismissed two other players on the roster, running back Joe Bergeron and safety Josh Turner.

In six months, Strong has dismissed six Longhorns and indefinitely suspended two others.

Some Texas fans may like his no-nonsense approach, some may not. However, whichever side of the fence you fall on does not really matter.

Strong has made it clear it's his way or the highway, and nobody is going to question him in doing so.

It will be interesting to see if he keeps it up or wavers, but all signs are pointing toward a continuing change of culture for the Longhorns.

 

Depth at Safety

A storyline that is a spin-off of the recent dismissals is the lack of depth at safety. Following Turner's dismissal from the team, the safety position became a lot less clear.

Senior Mykkele Thompson is now the only safety with starting experience. Behind him are five young players—two (Kevin Vaccaro, Adrian Colbert) have a little game experience on special teams and the remaining three (John Bonney, Erik Huhn, Edwin Freeman) have not seen playing time in college.

One could argue that Thompson's role will not be up for grabs, but the role beside him could be anyone's game.

Sophomore Colbert has a chance of being a hard-hitting safety that Texas will need this season, but he has yet to see the field aside from on special teams. True freshman Bonney could have the chance of being a contributor, but depending on an incoming freshman is not always the best answer.

In other words, the depth at safety is nonexistent. Nevertheless, Strong will need to find the best option available before Texas takes the field on Aug. 30.

 

Quarterback

At Big 12 media days, Strong said junior David Ash would be the starting quarterback for the Longhorns heading into fall camp. However, a major question surrounding Ash is his ability to stay healthy.

After missing the majority of 2013 with recurring concussion symptoms, Ash was ready to take the field for spring practice.

Unfortunately, the hopes of his return were shut down early after he suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot and missed the second half of the spring.

He has officially been cleared to participate in fall camp, but that does not necessarily mean his health issues are a thing of the past.

In fact, Strong told ESPN's Joe Schad that he has had discussions with Ash on the importance of sliding and not taking a big hit:

Even if Ash can stay healthy and holds on to the starting role, it will be interesting to see which quarterback makes a name for himself as Ash's backup.

Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes and true freshman Jerrod Heard will be battling it out to take on the No. 2 role this fall, but nobody is quite sure what either quarterback will bring to the Longhorns due to the lack of playing time between the two youngsters.

Will Swoopes' limited playing time and inconsistent spring-game performance hinder his ability to take the next step? Will Heard not enrolling until the summer hurt his chances of being the No. 2 guy?

These are all questions that could get answered during fall camp, but it may take longer to get the answers some Texas fans are anticipating.

At the end of the day, nobody truly knows what the future holds for Texas football under Strong. There are a lot of issues that will not immediately be sorted out for the Longhorns, but the time to get some of the questions answered is right around the corner.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow Taylor on Twitter @Taylor_Gaspar.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State Football: Jeff Heuerman Is Urban Meyer's Next John Simon

At Ohio State, the role of what he calls the "heart and soul" of the Buckeyes is not one that Urban Meyer takes lightly.

Two years ago, it was defensive end John Simon. Last season, it was left tackle Jack Mewhort. Type A personalities propped up in the preseason by the Ohio State head coach looking for leaders.

Asked at Big Ten media days who this year's version would be, Meyer didn't point to the star quarterback or veteran defensive lineman that he brought with him to Chicago. Rather, Meyer opted to anoint the nontraditional tight end who was hardly tailor-made for his spread offense.

"Jeff Heuerman is a guy who's got that kind of work ethic and leadership," Meyer said.

Given that the tight end position has hardly been highlighted and isn't even on the field for every offensive play for Ohio State, it's hard to imagine one being the "heart and soul" of the Buckeyes. But with Heuerman's ability—as well as fellow tight end Nick Vannett's—Meyer said that it's safe to throw away any preconceived notions about where OSU's leadership will come from.

"He will be (on the field for every offensive play)," Meyer insisted of Heuerman. "I have two legitimate pieces to the puzzle I've never had. You're going to see some two-tight end offense."

Just as dual tight ends aren't traditional in Meyer's spread offense, how Heuerman got here isn't your standard story, either. In fact, it was just three years ago that the Naples, Florida, native was admittedly unsure whether or not he had a future in Columbus.

A mere four months after arriving on campus as an early enrollee in January 2011, Heuerman witnessed the man who recruited him to Columbus get fired when Jim Tressel was ousted from Ohio State due to NCAA violations. What followed wasn't pretty, either, as the Buckeyes limped to a 6-7 season, with Heuerman catching one ball for 25 yards in his freshman campaign.

"I remember just like it was yesterday, that Memorial Day when we woke up and found out Coach Tressel resigned," Heuerman recalled. "I was like, 'What are you talking about? He was one of the reasons I came here.'"

But even as the hiring of Meyer in November 2011 breathed some much-needed excitement into the Buckeyes program, Heuerman found himself not sharing the same sentiment. A 3-star tight end in high school, according to 247Sports, Heuerman wasn't recruited by his new head coach despite playing right down the road from him in Florida.

"When he first got here, he didn't know me. He really didn't know me because he didn't recruit me," Heuerman said. "I was like, 'Oh man, here we go. A coach who didn't recruit me is coming in.'

"Everyone's telling me, 'Oh, you'll be like Aaron Hernandez.' We both know I ain't Aaron Hernandez—on and off the field. But you watch Aaron Hernandez highlights, and that's not the way I play football. We're two different body types. Obviously, some doubt crossed my mind."

Only adding to Heuerman's concern was his status on the depth chart, which pegged him as the third-string tight end entering his sophomore season. But when Reid Fragel was converted into an offensive lineman and Jake Stoneburner moved to wide receiver, it was Heuerman who found himself starting for an Ohio State squad that went 12-0 in 2012.

"I woke up one day, and I was the starting tight end at Ohio State," Heuerman recalled. "Jake and Reid were in front of me going into my sophomore year. I wasn't even supposed to play. I was the third-string tight end. And they both moved positions, and one day, I'm like, 'Here we go.' You could say I've come a long way."

Although he was merely an option as a sophomore, the 6'5", 255-pounder grew to be an integral role in the Ohio State offense as a junior, catching 26 balls for 466 yards and four touchdowns in 2013. A workout fiend who possesses the best bench press and highest vertical jump on the Buckeyes roster, Heuerman surely would have catapulted up draft boards following an impressive showing at the NFL Scouting Combine had he decided to forgo his senior season of eligibility.

But after meeting with Meyer—the same coach he was unsure of just two years earlier—mere moments after Ohio State's loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl, Heuerman decided that he had unfinished business in Columbus.

"I really didn't know until after the bowl game. Coach Meyer and I sat down in some office in the Orange Bowl stadium," Heuerman recalled. "I probably could have left, and everything would have worked out. But we sat down and weighed the options, and I decided to come back. I don't really look back or dwell on the past."

And while classmate and star quarterback Braxton Miller may be the face of the Buckeyes, Heuerman now finds himself the unlikely heart and soul of an Ohio State squad with national championship aspirations and expectations. That's just fine with Heuerman, whose natural leadership has helped him overcome the trials and tribulations that he's already faced in his college career.

"It's special," Heuerman said. "Guys look at you differently. You're a captain now. You're not a young sophomore or junior. You're kind of up there. Guys are always looking at you or what you're doing. But also, it's nice.

"I embrace it. Being a captain at Ohio State's a pretty big deal."

If Heuerman can have the same impact that Simon did two years ago, it will be an ever bigger one.

 

*Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Michigan Football: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from Big Ten Media Days

Brady Hoke is quite familiar with the song and dance of Big Ten media days. 

During the conference's big day on stage in Chicago, the Wolverines' fourth-year coach answered questions about rebounding from a 7-6 season, facing off against rivals Ohio State and Michigan State, the quarterback situation and Jabrill Peppers, Team 135's incoming super frosh. 

This slideshow will cover all things Michigan-related that came out of the Windy City. And to get your motor revving, here's Hoke on Shane Morris, a sophomore, versus Devin Gardner, the senior incumbent, via MLive.com's Nick Baumgardner

I think (Morris) has a legitimate chance (to win the job), but I would also say that Devin's done a nice job of working every day to try and solidify that. To some degree, we all need motivation.

But Devin did a nice job, in my opinion, of processing his performance from a year ago (from both a positive and negative standpoint).

Hoke touched on the subject but didn't say anything that would indicate that the job is anyone but Gardner's. Now in his second year, Morris should be competing for top reps. After all, he was one of the best quarterbacks of the 2013 class, not to mention one of Hoke's highest-rated signees.

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Winners and Losers from 2014 Big Ten Media Days

CHICAGO — “Talking season,” as Steve Spurrier likes to call it, is over. It’s time for football.

The best and brightest of the Big Ten flocked to the Chicago Hilton for Big Ten Media Days, one of the final stops before fall camp.

Day 1 consisted of a more formal podium session, giving each coach in the conference 15 minutes to address the media and answer questions. Day 2 wasn’t nearly as structured. All players and coaches in attendance sat at roundtables, answering questions for roughly two hours as media members pinballed around the room.

As for the winners and losers of the weekend—including a cameo from Kenny Bell and his fabulous media-day attire—here are some takeaways.

 

Adam Kramer is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats courtesy of CFBStats.com.

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20 College Football QBs Who Have a New No. 1 WR Target in 2014

Of the 12 players who had more than 1,340 receiving yards last season, only one, Duke wide receiver Jamison Crowder (1,360), is returning to college football in 2014.

Which is crazy because only three of those players—Jordan Matthews, Jeremy Gallon and Chandler Jones—were seniors in 2013. Seven of them were juniors, and two of them, Mike Evans and Davante Adams, were only redshirt sophomores.

But you can't really blame them for leaving, can you?

Other than Willie Snead of Ball State (who went undrafted), every underclassman from that group who declared early was taken in the first or second round of the 2014 NFL draft. This is just the world that we live in, a climate where players have every reason to leave after posting a 1,340-yard season, to strike while the iron is hot.

College football will go on without them, just as it will without the players who departed via graduation. And for 20 FBS quarterbacks who are returning to starting jobs this season—here defining that as "players who threw at least 200 passes in 2013"—it means they will have to break in a new No. 1 target in the passing game.

Chime in below and let me know which QB you think will fare the best.

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4 Florida State Football Players Star in Terrible Rap Video

Florida State's football team may have been the best in the nation last season, but this year's recruiting class doesn't look like it will be winning a Grammy anytime soon.

Four Seminoles defensive players—Demarcus Christmas, Derrick Nnadi, Lorenzo Featherston and Jacob Pugh—just released a music video for their single, "Gotta Make It to the Top."

The Florida State freshmen (otherwise known as New Seminoles) gave rapping a shot, but it's probably best if they just stick to playing football.

[YouTube, h/t Lost Lettermen]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

How Charlie Strong Is Slowly Building His Brand in Texas

Warren McCarty didn't mince words: "It's a cliquish and secretive brotherhood." 

That's how McCarty, a former high school football player from Amarillo, Texas, described the fraternity of the state's high school football coaches. "It's an old-school mentality," says McCarty, who now runs a recruiting service in Colorado called "My Passion is Football"."Everyone knows someone who knows someone."  

And that is what first-year Texas coach Charlie Strong is trying to break through. Get to the coaches. Get to the recruits. 

 

The Network

At more than 20,000 members, the Texas High School Coaches Association's connections within it run deep. Many coaches move from one job to another within the state. Some get promoted to the college level.

Baylor coach Art Briles famously got his start in the Texas high school ranks, as did Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris. Both served terms at Stephenville High School among other places.  

Many of Texas' high school coaches stay in contact with one another or check in with scores from around the state after the Friday night lights have been turned off. 

"Everything is cliquish," said Todd Moebes, the head coach at Abilene Cooper High School. "You have your loyalties, the people you trust." But he also defended the fraternity. "That's not any different than coaching anywhere else," he added.

The network is a close circle where word travels fast, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on the impression a college coach makes.

In March, William Wilkerson of HornsDigest.com published the opinions of four "prestigious"—albeit anonymous—high school coaches and their take on the direction of the program. The results were understandably mixed, but this response from "Coach D" about relationships with high school coaches stood out:

It's going to be the key. Mack was the best I'd ever seen. Mack welcomed them with open arms. And he remembered names. You don't think Mack knows your name? He'd walk up to you and have a conversation with you like there was no tomorrow. He's very friendly. It was unbelievable. I'll give Charlie the benefit of the doubt because I want those guys to be successful. I have kids down there. But if you don't get the relationship with the high school coaches, especially the right ones, recruiting is going to be hard at UT. A&M and Baylor are killing the state.

Suffice to say, relationship-building is paramount, a point Strong has driven home from his first press conference. 

"You can be at the world's greatest school," said Tom Nolen, the head coach at Lamar High School in Houston, "but you have to have good relationships with high school coaches." 

For Strong, that began with proving he was a man of action. 

 

The Strong Impression

On Thursday, July 24, the clock hit zero. 

In the span of two days, Strong suspended or dismissed six players. Wide receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander were arrested in connection to a sexual-assault allegation, but four other players—defensive backs Chevoski Collins and Josh Turner and running backs Jalen Overstreet and Joe Bergeron—were reportedly released for various undisclosed reasons. 

According to ESPN.com's Max Olson, "as many as five more Texas players could be facing dismissals due to violations of team rules." Chip Brown of HornsDigest.com advanced the story Monday, reporting that three more players—receiver Daje Johnson, senior offensive tackle Desmond Harrison and junior offensive tackle Kennedy Estelle—were risking suspension. 

It had been roughly six months since Strong took over the program. That was more than enough time for the Texas roster to adjust to Strong's core values—honesty, treating women with respect, no drugs, no stealing and no weapons—and expectations. Anyone who still wasn't on board was shown the door

Strong was blunt at Big 12's media days. "Do what I ask," he said. "It's not hard." 

The cuts resonated not only with the media and fans but with those who know the Texas high school system. "The high school coaches I've spoken with say they want to send players to a place where there is sound discipline," said Daron Roberts, a former West Virginia assistant and Texas graduate who is preparing to teach at his alma mater. "Everyone knows that Strong means what he says." 

Moebes agreed. "We're in the development business," he said. "We want to make our players better citizens in society, but you also have to look at how that affects the program. I admire him." 

The results show. Instead of scaring away prospects, Strong received two verbal commitments in 48 hours: 4-star wide receiver John Burt, who has family ties to Austin, and 3-star defensive tackle Du'Vonta Lampkin

The moves even registered in California with La Mirada coach Mike Moschetti. 

"He'll ease off in a few years," Moschetti said," but right now, he has to change the culture." 

 

The Recruiting Question  

The dismissals sent a message. Will the players and coaches in Texas' high schools get it? That's what Strong is banking on. 

Over the past two recruiting cycles (2013'14), the Longhorns have been losing to Texas A&M, and Baylor has been gaining ground. The 2015 classes are shaping up similarly. And while there's still talent on Texas' roster, the previous staff did a poor job in their final years of developing it. Nothing proved that as much as the Horns being shut out of the 2014 NFL draft. 

Beyond any skepticism over how Strong would handle the politics of Texas, both internally and with the media, was the recruiting question. Strong has longstanding ties to the state of Florida dating back to 1983, when he began his career as a graduate assistant with the Gators. He would coach three more stretches as an assistant in Gainesville over the next 27 years. 

Those connections helped Texas when Strong was desperately trying to keep the Horns' 2014 class together. In February, Strong signed two last-minute defensive-tackle prospects—Poona Ford from South Carolina and Chris Nelson from Florida—after a string of decommitments. 

Strong's connections to Florida are a great supplement and could be viewed as an advantage. As Gerry Hamilton of ESPN tweets, former Texas coach Mack Brown never recruited a kid out of Florida during his 16 years in Austin. 

There's no need to abandon those recruiting lifelines altogether—Moschetti believes there's no reason Texas can't recruit nationally—but in-state recruiting is a battle Strong and his staff have to win. 

"Our coaches have broken down, and each one of them have a part of this state," Strong said during media days. "They know just how critical it is, how critical it is to go recruit the top players and get them into our program."

 

The Pitch

The recruiting plan started once the wheels were down in Austin. 

"As soon as the new coaching staff landed in Texas, they reached out and made the high school coaches aware that they wanted to bring the top in-state talent to Austin," Roberts said. 

That could take time—it's no secret Strong and his staff haven't started hot on the recruiting trail—which goes against a culture bred on instant gratification. Texas' 2015 class is first in the Big 12 and 16th nationally, but it's difficult to asses the overall success or failure of a class in July when it's nowhere near complete. 

It's an interesting challenge for Strong. At Louisville, Strong molded mostly 3-star recruits with chips on their shoulders into a hardened football team that took Florida and Miami behind the woodshed in the Sugar Bowl (33-23) and Russell Athletic Bowl (36-9), respectively.

It's a different story at Texas, which got its pick of the top in-state talent for years. As recently as 2012, the Horns had the No. 2 recruiting class in the country. 

"A fascination with the star ratings can get you in trouble," Roberts said. "Strong evaluates players and projects how they'll develop as football players." 

The other facet is the culture change. Strong was able to implement his brand of toughness at Florida as a defensive coordinator from 2003-09. Can he do it at Texas? 

"It's a different sales pitch for Strong," said McCarty. "Football is all about being fundamentally sound, not making mistakes and playing with fire.

"Do those three things and you're going to have a lot of success." 

Strong may not win a conference title right away, but the general consensus among the coaches interviewed was that Strong is the right man for the job long-term. 

"I think he's going to do fine," Nolen said. "Anyone who has that job has the respect of the coaches in this state." 

Debating which part of recruiting is more important—relationship-building or having a pre-existing level of respect—will find no clear-cut answer. However, it would appear Strong is using the latter to develop the former. It's unconventional, so only time will tell if it works.  

 

The Product

The 2014 football season is officially less than a month away. Strong knows he has to impress with "the product"—how Texas looks as a football team on Saturdays. That, according to Strong, is his best recruiting pitch. 

It's not a wins-and-losses pitch, however. At least not entirely. According to Jerry Palm of CBS Sports, the Horns have the 15th-toughest schedule in the country. Early non-conference games against BYU and UCLA act as appetizers for back-to-back games against Baylor and Oklahoma in early October. Road games against Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State on the back end of the season are rarely easy. 

It's not far-fetched to think Texas could go 8-4, the exact same record that resulted in Mack Brown's "resignation" last December. Or it could be better if Strong is as good a coach as his high school counterparts say he is. It could also be worse—much worse—if players don't buy in. Truth is, it's hard to get a gauge on the Longhorns, who have a new coach but also a talented roster that has underachieved. 

Whatever the win total, there are a few questions that need to be answered: Will quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson finally get the most out of starter David Ash? Can the offensive line come together and provide a solid foundation for the offense? Can the defense live up to its potential?

Improvements on those fronts may lessen the sting of another so-so regular-season record and provide hope for the future. 

It could also show recruits that Texas is finally back on the upswing. Despite underwhelming results, players still know Texas is, well, Texas. 

"Texas is never a team to take lightly," Iowa State senior defensive end Cory Morrissey told David Ubben of Fox Sports Southwest. "It's like waiting for the dragon to wake up and come out of its lair."

There's no doubt Strong has the fire to succeed. It's starting to show with Texas' high school coaches. In time, that may rub off on the state's top recruits. Perhaps, then, the Longhorns could be considered "back." 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.com

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Q&A: 3-Star OL Tyree St. Louis Commits to Miami

The Miami Hurricanes added a huge piece to their 2015 recruiting class when Bradenton, Florida, (IMG Academy) 3-star offensive tackle Tyree St. Louis committed to the Hurricanes Tuesday afternoon.

St. Louis selected Miami over offers from Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Ole Miss among others. 

The 6'6", 300-pounder is one of the nation's fastest-rising recruits, and he becomes the 21st pledge for head coach Al Golden's club.

In this exclusive Q&A with Bleacher Report, find out why the talented lineman is headed to Coral Gables.

 

B/R: Discuss your recruiting process up to this point and what made you decide to pull the trigger now?

Tyree St. Louis: Well, I had an amazing recruiting process. I know now because I've taken all my visits and looked at all of my options. I've sat down and discussed it with my family, and I know now that this is the final decision. This is where I want to go. There's no more questions that need to be asked.

B/R: What set the Hurricanes apart? Who recruited you from Miami, and what did you like about their approach?

St. Louis: It was mainly [offensive line] Coach [Art] Kehoe. He's the best in the business. I know I can learn a lot from him. He's sent a ton of guys to the NFL. He's the best coach doing this right now, and I think that's why it's the best choice for me. He's been doing this for over 30 years, and most of those are at Miami as the offensive line coach. Miami is an up-and-coming program. They put more players in the league than any school, other than probably USC. They have amazing fans and family tradition. Great facilities. Great coaches. It seems like the perfect place for me.

Coach Kehoe and Coach [Larry] Scott approached me by laying everything out for me. They basically told me that if I chose Miami, I would be playing for the best OL coach in the business, have a chance at playing early, and I'd also be playing against some of the best players in the country. I'd also be close to home, and it would be easy for my family to come and see me. It won't be a tough place to go transportation-wise.

B/R: Miami is building a strong class. Have you reached out to any of Miami's commits? Who are you most excited to play with?

St. Louis: A few guys from IMG Academy are committed to the University of Miami. One guy, Ryan Fines, he's committed to Miami, and we might get a few more guys down there, too. One player I'm excited to play with is Tyriq McCord. He played at Jefferson High School here in Tampa, and I went up against him a few years ago when I was a freshman. He's a great player.

B/R: Who is your all-time favorite Hurricane?

St. Louis: It wasn't just one guy. It was all of the great players. The guys like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Dwayne Johnson, Bryant McKinnie and so on. Just a lot of legendary guys.

B/R: Miami is a school famous for playing with swagger. What do you feel needs to happen for "The U" to rise to prominence once again?

St. Louis: We just need guys who want to go to work. I'm a player who is a hard worker. I just try to play with great technique. I'm always ready to work.

B/R: Any final message for Hurricane fans?

St. Louis: I'll see you soon. It's an amazing place, and I can't wait to get down there!

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand. 

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Texas A&M Football: 4 Aggies Primed for Breakout Seasons

The Texas A&M football team enters the 2014 seasons as an afterthought in the SEC West race. If the Aggies want to compete for the SEC title in 2014, then they are going to need a number of players to have stellar seasons. 

Fortunately for Texas A&M fans, they have a number of players who are poised to do just that. The 2013 season was a disappointment, as injuries and inexperience caused the Aggies to finish with a 9-4 record. The team will benefit from going through those youthful growing pains in 2014 as they return a more experienced team. 

Some of the freshmen who were thrown into the fire in 2013 will make an impact on the 2014 squad. There are a couple members of the 2014 recruiting class who will play large roles on this team. 

This is a look at some of the players who are going to have breakout seasons for Texas A&M in 2014. 

Begin Slideshow

SEC Coaches Have No Business Complaining About James Franklin's Satellite Camps

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

For SEC coaches to curb what they perceive as an unfair recruiting practice, that's the attitude the league office should take. 

A hot-button issue this offseason has been the rise of satellite camps. NCAA rules prohibit schools from holding out-of-state camps outside of a 50-mile radius from campus, but only the SEC prohibits "guest coaching" on other campuses.

The result has been the creation of "satellite camps," where coaches from schools "guest coach" at the camps of other schools, hoping in part to create some recruiting momentum in other parts of the world.

Current Penn State and former Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin and members of his staff worked at camps at Georgia State and Stetson this summer, hoping to capitalize on the fertile recruiting grounds of metro Atlanta and central Florida, respectively. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly intends to set up a camp in the near future at Georgia State, Oregon and Oregon State coaches routinely visit camps in California, and Oklahoma State has its fingerprints all over the state of Texas.

There's a good reason coaches are interested in satellite camps. A total of 156 of the 316 4-star players in 247Sports' class of 2015 rankings hail from Georgia, Florida, Texas and California. As the old saying goes, "It's not the X's and O's, it's the Jimmys and the Joes."

"It's our job to do everything in our power within the rules to give Penn State a competitive advantage," Franklin said at Big Ten media days this week, according to ASAPSports.com. "And whatever that may be, whether it's recruiting certain parts of the country, whatever it may be, whether it's the satellite camps, we're going to look into all those things."

Franklin told Matt Hayes of SportingNews.com in June that it isn't about quantity.

“If we get one player from this camp,” says new Penn State coach James Franklin, “it’s worth it.”

Outrage in the SEC? It exists, but Franklin doesn't understand why.

Franklin says he didn't understand why his satellite camps received as much attention as it did. #PSU

— ESPN Big Ten (@ESPN_BigTen) July 28, 2014

Good for Franklin for standing up for himself and his job, because leading up to Big Ten media days, SEC coaches were up in arms about the rise of satellite camps.

From Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze to Georgia's Mark Richt to Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin, the "loophole"—as SEC coaches refer to it—has irked them this spring.

"I wish it was a national rule," Freeze told ESPN.com during spring meetings in May. "I don't particularly want another school in a BCS conference coming into our state and running a camp. So we would like to see our rule be a national rule. I'd love to see it be the same."

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive intends to address the issue with the NCAA, but there's a more appropriate reaction for the SEC's coaches: Get over it.

If the rest of the NCAA comes back to the SEC's rule, it regionalizes what has increasingly become a national sport.

Yes, coaching in the SEC comes with the perk of being in the middle of one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country. But that doesn't mean there's a brick wall surrounding the territory. If programs want to recruit nationally and feel it's worth it, they should be allowed to do so with no restrictions.

Is it unfair to SEC schools? Sure.

The SEC, however, should lift its rule and let its coaches work "satellite camps," not have the rest of the country come back to it.

Besides, it's not like the SEC gets the short end of the stick from a recruiting standpoint. Why do you think Alabama routinely plays in high-profile kickoff games to open the season? Those programs want big-time programs to play in their games. Alabama knows that by going to places like Atlanta and suburban Dallas on opening weekend, it gains more of a foothold in the area.

Is that fair to the Texas schools and other schools that routinely depend on the Lone Star State? Of course not. Those are the breaks.

It's nothing new. Holding camps and making its presence felt in Florida was a big reason Rutgers made a splash on the national stage in the mid-1990s, according to The New York Times.

"Rutgers showcased the program as a unique alternative for recruits, especially from the Broward and Miami-Dade County areas, where they could receive a world-class education, grow up beyond their comfort zone, make an early impact and be of a foundation capable of taking the team to another level on the national radar," said Tyler Donohue, B/R's national recruiting writer and former recruiting assistant at Rutgers from 2006-2008.

For Rutgers back then, it was all about creating options.

"Many of them arrived at Rutgers feeling they had something to prove after being passed over by in-state powers Florida, Florida State and Miami," Donohue said. "They knew there would be an early opportunity to make an impact, something that might not have existed on those other rosters. It made for a great locker room. Friendly rivalry and competition between the Northeast natives and Florida transplants."

Other than the SEC's rule prohibiting its coaches from working at satellite camps, what's not to like about them?

As B/R national lead writer Ben Kercheval noted this spring, they're great for the prospects. After all, isn't that what it should be all about? They allow lesser-known prospects to display their talents in front of big-time coaches, give local prospects more options nationally to choose from and expand the reach of smaller schools that are looking to be more competitive.

What's not to like?

SEC coaches love the conference due in part to the accessibility it has to some of the country's top recruits, but they can't have their cake and eat it too. 

Satellite camps are great for the sport, and they should be here to stay. 

 

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

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Teammates React to Former Georgia Player Josh Murray's 'Bachelorette' Win

When you think of sports and reality television colliding, it's typically professional sports making the waves. 

Emmitt Smith, Jason Taylor and Hines Ward are just a few of the former NFL players who have competed on Dancing With The Stars, former pro baseball player Jose Canseco has appeared on The Apprentice and The Surreal Life, and former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens once had his own show on VH1 called The T.O. Show.

College sports made its presence felt this year on The Bachelorette, as former Georgia Bulldog Josh Murray won the show, stealing the heart of former prosecutor Andi Dorfman in the process.

Murray, who is a former minor league baseball player and the brother of former Bulldogs quarterback (and current Kansas City Chief) Aaron Murray, proposed to Dorfman after winning the season finale on Monday night, much to the delight of his former coach, Mark Richt.

"I was actually at one of my friends, Chris Davis', wedding recently, and Coach Richt was there, and we talked about my journey thus far," Murray said. "I wasn't able to give out a lot of details, but he told me he was watching and praying for me. I know a lot of the Georgia guys were as well."

They were, in droves.

Murray hadn't had time to run through all of his messages as of Tuesday morning but expects there to be plenty of former and current Bulldogs analyzing his performance in the finale.

"There are so many 'congrats' and so many friends that have been congratulating me, and I really need to get back to them," Murray said. "I really don't know who's been texting me because my phone has been dead [since the finale aired]."

He may not have checked his messages from his former teammates, but there are plenty out there on social media.

Former teammate and linebacker, and current Georgia graduate assistant coach, Christian Robinson shared the big moment with the happy couple from what appears to be his office at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.

So glad I got to share this moment with you guys 😂 pic.twitter.com/mEX4hOhJKx

— Christian Robinson (@crob45) July 29, 2014

He is making plans for the wedding, which Murray suggested on ABC's broadcast should be sometime next spring.

I'm going to dance my tail off at this wedding.

— Christian Robinson (@crob45) July 29, 2014

Will he bring a date? Josh's brother, Aaron, suggested that may not be the best idea in the world.

@crob45 I don't know if you want to haha

— Aaron Murray (@aaronmurray11) July 29, 2014

Former tight end Arthur Lynch was impressed with the intensity of Dorfman's pre-rose ceremony breakup with Nick, the other finalist from the finale.

I hope my first breakup is as intense as this. That would be so much fun. #TheBachelorette#HopelessRomantic

— Arthur Lynch (@alynch1788) July 29, 2014

Former cornerbacks Blake Sailors and Chad Gloer were pleased with Murray's win as well as Richt's reaction to it.

Tweet of the night has got to go to @chadgloer47pic.twitter.com/T3m2omiZLt

— Blake Sailors (@BlakeSailors07) July 29, 2014

Murray wasn't technically a teammate with current offensive lineman Watts Dantzler, but he is a Twitter superstar. The senior wondered how all of the contestants get from point A to point B and also makes a prediction on which former SEC player will be next in line to join the show.

The Bachelorette must have used a lot of Uber rides

— Watts Dantzler (@wattsdantzler) July 29, 2014

Hey @aaronmurray11 , you're next.

— Watts Dantzler (@wattsdantzler) July 29, 2014

As for what it means for Georgia, my B/R colleague Ben Kercheval has an opinion.

THIS TOTALLY MAKES UP FOR THE SEC TITLE AGAINST BAMA

— Ben Kercheval (@BenKercheval) July 29, 2014

It also means the Bulldogs win a national title, of sorts.

BREAKING: Georgia claims 2014 #TheBachelorette national title.

— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) July 29, 2014

USA Today's Nicole Auerbach wonders if other SEC institutions will claim it as their own.

I am surprised and also completely not surprised that the SEC has claimed the Bachelorette title.

— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) July 29, 2014

Even Georgia's rivals were happy, including Florida wide receiver Raphael Andrades.

Once again the SEC wins #TheBachelorette 🌹💍😍

— Raph Andrades™ (@poloRAPHlauren) July 29, 2014

The Bachelorette united Bulldog Nation and the SEC this summer, and it culminated with one of their own claiming one of reality television's biggest prizes. 

Nothing like a little "midsummer national title" to hold us over until football season.

 

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


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