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LSU Football: Just How Great Will Freshman QB Brandon Harris Be?

Freshman Brandon Harris will be LSU's starting quarterback. 

Harris is currently in a battle with sophomore Anthony Jennings to win the job. Harris outperformed Jennings in the LSU spring game, combining for four touchdowns while Jennings threw two interceptions. 

Sure, it was just one scrimmage. This is why Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said after the game they are in no rush to name a starter. 

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

While it is smart to not make a decision based on one spring game performance, Harris did every aspect of quarterbacking better than Jennings. 

Harris went 11-of-28 for 195 yards. The low completion percentage is deceiving, as his passes to the second-team players were accurately put to where only his receivers could make the catch. Also, he showed amazing decision-making and elusiveness inside and outside of the pocket.  

Expectations are high for Harris. The 4-star gunslinger earned high praise from ESPN's National Recruiting Director Tom Luginbill. 

SEC Lead Writer Barrett Sallee saw the potential in Harris since the beginning of spring. Sallee not only expected him to win the job, but have a spectacular freshman campaign. 

Throwing for 2,700 yards, as Sallee suggests in the above video, seems to be a stretch. For comparison's sake, that would be 253 yards more than what South Carolina senior Connor Shaw accomplished last season. 

Harris will be a stud. But his hype will not exempt him from growing pains. He will struggle like most true freshmen quarterbacks do, most of which will not be his fault.

In Sallee's defense, 2,700 yards would be attainable if the Tigers returned Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Unfortunately for Harris, both star receivers bolted to the NFL this offseason. Instead, his top targets will be sophomore Travin Dural, redshirt freshman John Diarse and true freshman Malachi Dupre. 

LSU will also run the ball heavily next season behind an offensive line that returns four starters. Miles will get back to his old ways by playing primarily ground-and-pound football.  

And the Tigers also have this Fournette guy coming to town to help carry the load. 

There will be times Harris makes questionable decisions with the football, which will then make Jennings the most popular man in Baton Rouge. Harris' growing pains might force Miles to play both, which he is not opposed to doing, according to Scott Rabalais of The Advocate

Reasonable expectations for Harris would be just over 2,000 total yards and 17 total touchdowns. He might not be able to lead LSU to a SEC Championship berth, but 10 wins is certainly a reasonable total.

 

*Stats and rankings via 247sports, cfbstats.com and LSU Sports Information. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower.  

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Big Ten's Commitment to Indianapolis Title Game Perfect Move for Conference

The Big Ten has the reputation—fair or not—of being stuck in the past. However, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has been progressive about conference expansion and stipends for athletes. 

But when it comes to the Big Ten Championship Game, conference presidents and chancellors are taking an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality. 

The conference announced Thursday that the football championship game would continue to be held in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium through the 2021 season. 

Via ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, Delany explained that the football championship game is still in its relative infancy. Thus, expanding the site outside the traditional geographical footprint isn't a priority—yet.

We're not at the stage of experimentation with respect to indoor quality, the centrality of it; it's a new event. We've been cautious in trying to grow it, trying to understand it. We always thought it will be central. By the time we’ll finish up [the agreement], it will be 11 years there. 

After 11 years we’ll figure out how successful it’s been, how much it’s grown, whether that kind of alternative venue makes sense. But at this point, we're building it, stabilizing it, creating a great brand around it, making it as accessible as possible.

Delany's logic makes sense. While relocating the conference's basketball tournament to Washington, D.C., in 2017 is a clear sign the Big Ten is moving East, it's not forgetting its origins. Furthermore, Indianapolis is a good city, one that's more than capable of hosting an event like this. 

The travel is doable too. The conference title game takes place one week after the end of the regular season. Unless divisions have been locked up ahead of time, there's not a lot of room for extensive planning from a fan's perspective. Since there are only two teams involved, the location needs to be as accessible as possible. 

Keeping the location centralized in an area where it can, for the most part, be reached by driving or short flights is a reasonable call. Really, only Maryland and Rutgers are at a geographical disadvantage here. 

Of course, there are other neutral-site locations in Big Ten territory that could host the game: Minneapolis (with its new stadium), Detroit and Chicago are on the short list. 

Keeping the game inside is another good idea, even though the idea of it all is very anti-Big Ten. Although Chicago has received consideration before (via ESPN's Rittenberg), playing indoors provides teams and fans with ideal conditions. 

Yes, sub-freezing temperatures and snow is football weather—when you're watching the game from the comfort of your climate-controlled home. 

This isn't to say the site won't change down the road, but the Big Ten has found a site that works. The SEC found one with Atlanta, and the Pac-12 recently moved its title game to Santa Clara, California. 

To deviate from what works isn't on the agenda for the Big Ten. Nor should it be.

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. 

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Florida State Football: Plan in Place to Improve Doak Campbell Stadium

Just five months after winning a national championship, you can’t blame Florida State for wanting more. And not just another title.

Coach Jimbo Fisher has rebuilt the program from a struggling, fading dynasty into a national champion. And now, FSU administrators and the Seminole Boosters are working to fund a plan that will improve the look of FSU football, including dorms, locker rooms, coaches' offices and Doak Campbell Stadium.

In the next few years, pending approval from the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors this month, plans are in place to build a premium club seat section in the south end zone of Doak Campbell that will help to fund some of football’s facility needs.

Picture an indoor/outdoor experience, where fans can hear the roar of the crowd from cushioned chair back seats and enjoy the comfort of air-conditioned spaces with views of the field. Think “great rooms” where friends can gather, talk and watch football games from around the nation, while eating and drinking and keeping an eye on the field below.

Doak Campbell Stadium looks impressive from the outside, a picturesque building that was decades ago called an "erector set" before it received a stylish brick facade in the early 1990s. Judge a stadium by its cover, and it’s certainly attractive. Inside, a football team that is 45-10 under Fisher is a compelling reason in itself to show up seven Saturdays each fall.

But flip open the first page, and the introduction is less than appealing. The concourses under Doak Campbell are mostly gray. There is rust, there are old bathrooms, there is no way to escape the extreme heat with a cool zone.

College football fans have choices on Saturdays. One of them is simply staying home and watching games on HDTVs, saving hundreds of dollars in gas, food and hotels.

So, school officials and boosters decided to put a plan into action. And buoyed by the success of the product on the field, Doak Campbell will get some needed improvements that will modernize the stadium and also improve the fans’ experience.

The campus, especially the areas close to Doak Campbell, have already changed in the last year. FSU completed the construction of Fisher’s longtime No. 1 wish, an indoor practice facility, in August 2013. The IPF was used frequently to keep the team’s practices on schedule when thunderstorms hit the area. And the boosters opened College Town, a mixed-use development that generates additional money for FSU athletics. Finally, the boosters broke ground on an apartment complex to house the football team. The complex, now named Champions Hall, will also house other FSU students (in compliance with NCAA rules).

The next phase was to address the football team’s facilities, specifically the locker room, players' lounge and coaches' offices, and that work began in late April after FSU's spring football game. FSU isn't adding square footage to these areas as part of the remodeling. But at $5 million to $6 million, FSU should get plenty of bang for its buck.

"With a championship comes many expectations," FSU senior associate athletics director Monk Bonasorte said. "When you're trying to recruit the best athletes in the country and our recruiting has gotten to where it is now, you've just got to stay at that level and maintain that level in all areas of your department. The locker room and the players' lounge, players' meeting rooms, coaches' offices, it's just the total picture of the program as being an elite program."

One of the most striking locker room displays will be statues that pay tribute to FSU players that have retired numbers. Jerseys for players like Chris Weinke, Charlie Ward and Deion Sanders will be displayed and permanently lit. The goal is to display the jerseys like works of art but also motivate current players to strive for individual and team success.

Names and numbers of those who wore that specific number will be on current players' lockers to remind them about FSU's football history.

"The number will always be lit," Bonasorte said. "And that's the belief behind the fact that you're sharing a locker with all the great players who have played here at Florida State."

Minor repairs to Doak will take place this summer but the heavy lifting—sandblasting, removing rust, welding, replacing steel plates, priming and painting—will be put off until money to fund those projects has been secured. Boosters plan to launch the "Champions Campaign" this summer, which will address all of FSU football's facility needs, according to Jerry Kutz, Sr. Vice President of Seminole Boosters, Inc.

"The first stage of the Champions Campaign will address all areas within our football program that coach Fisher and athletic director Stan Wilcox have identified—areas where our players live, work and play," Kutz said. "The second stage of the Champions Campaign will come this fall after the athletic department's comprehensive needs assessment for all sports is complete. Wilcox will prioritize that needs list and the boosters will add those priorities to our Champions Campaign fundraising efforts."

A key component of the Champions Campaign's fundraising efforts will be the Champions Club premium seat section, as the project will require a capital gift to qualify for a seat purchase. Those gifts, as well as the revenue generated by the club seats themselves, will fund many of the improvements needed in other areas of the stadium and within football facilities.

"We're looking to build the Champions Club in the south end zone of Doak because there are natural synergies to be realized with the existing University Center Club amenities, the large rooftop decks, and massive spaces under those decks which lend themselves to a 30,000 square-foot air-conditioned club with views of the field and of campus," Kutz said. "Our architects plan to turn an undervalued piece of the stadium into beachfront property."

The two rooftop areas that flank the University Center Club, with temporary tents on game day, will be modified to have a permanent cabana roof with bathrooms, bars and televisions. An extension of that covered, outdoor deck would add more deck space and a dozen rows of wide, cushioned chair back seats with extra legroom, replacing what is currently the 300 section of the stadium. A second tier of club seats of similar size will replace the 200 section.

Club seat holders on both levels will have access to eight diverse indoor and outdoor experiences. In addition to outdoor club seats and the rooftop cabanas, they can enjoy gathering in the 30,000 square foot air-conditioned club on the fourth floor, which features a long glass wall with a view of the game, plus another 25,000 square feet of air-conditioned space on other floors.

"We've surveyed our Seminole Booster members, ticket holders and former ticket holders, asking them what improvements they'd like to see us make to Doak. Those are the guidelines they gave us and we passed on to the architects who drew the conceptual drawings," Kutz said. ''Our members want chair back seats with leg room, where they can be a part of crowd, hear the Warchant and see the pageantry of Osceola and Renegade but be able to escape from time to time to enjoy air conditioning, adult beverages, elevators and upgraded bathrooms. The architects returned a plan to us that incorporates all of those things plus movement between experiences without losing visual contact with the field."

Kutz envisions fans enjoying the club for more than just game days, seeing the possibility for them to enjoy the club area Friday-Sunday on game weekends.

"Champions Club seat holders can entertain guests on Friday for any number of events, perhaps a meet-and-greet happy hour with former players or a party with live entertainment," Kutz said. "Our club seat holders will also be able to entertain guests on Saturday before and/or after the game or for Sunday brunch. That’s a huge feature that’s unique in college athletics."

Granted, the improvements affect less than 10 percent of the seats in Doak Campbell Stadium, reducing capacity to about 80,000. But school and booster officials believe that the Champions Club, if successful, will become an important revenue driver to improve all the seats within the stadium.

While the seat on the couch is always a comfortable option, the improvements will make for a better game day experience; one that could make the trips to Tallahassee more worthwhile—and enjoyable—for years to come.

Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report, all quotes obtained first-hand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bob on Twitter

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The Opening 2014: One Player to Watch at Every Position

After a nationwide tour of Nike football camps, the grand finale is nearly here. A collection of America's elite high school football talents will assemble for "The Opening", an annual showcase that continues to gain prestige each summer.

The event takes place July 7-10 at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. A compelling slate of action includes intense linemen matchups, star-studded seven-on-seven drills and SPARQ testing competitions.

More than 150 of the country's most coveted college football prospects are expected to take part in this year's edition after receiving invitations at past camps. It's the culmination of years of work and presents an opportunity for each player to live up to his billing as one of the nation's best.

The 2014 roster features plenty of future college and NFL standouts, with many still deciding where they'll spend the next phase of their football careers. Based on the list of invitees, we highlight one player to watch at each position because of the skill set and intrigue he brings to the field.

Begin Slideshow

Michigan Football: Offensive Line Better Without Taylor Lewan?

Much of the blame for last season’s 7-6 record falls on the Michigan offensive line.

Injuries and poor performance caused nine players to be cycled through the five offensive line positions as Brady Hoke searched in vain for a combination to protect quarterback Devin Gardner and jump-start the the running attack.

Replacing star tackle Taylor Lewan, who was taken with the 11th pick in this years' NFL draft, might seem like an impossible task. But, in truth, Michigan might be better off without Lewan, whom despite having first-round NFL talent was a distraction both on and off the field.

Lewan returning to play his senior season was a welcome surprise for the Michigan coaching staff. He was projected as a first-round draft pick following his junior season, and many experts predicted that he would enter the 2013 NFL draft.

Instead, Lewan returned, announcing his decision to return shortly after Michigan’s 33-28 loss to South Carolina in the 2013 Outback Bowl.

But rumors soon began to circulate about Lewan’s involvement in an incident regarding a sexual harassment case against teammate Brendan Gibbons, as it was alleged that Lewan intimidated the female victim shortly after it occurred in 2009.

That is not exactly the  team leadership most teams would want from a team captain.

As the offensive line struggled, Lewan’s frustration also bubbled over during games, as he earned a reputation for bad penalties and cheap shots after the whistle. Hoke voiced his disappointment with Lewan for losing his composure during a 29-6 loss rival Michigan State: “It’s not what we want to portray or be, it’s not who we are.”

The off-field problems went from Internet rumors to the police blotter after Michigan fell 42-41 to Ohio State. Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press reported that Lewan is facing three assault charges after an altercation with opposing fans. Questions about the incident followed Lewan during bowl preparations and during his preparation for the NFL draft.

He was still drafted early in the first round in the 2014 NFL draft, so his problems during his senior season didn’t harm his draft stock.

Lewan acknowledged getting carried away during games to John Glennon of the Tenneesean, stating, “...there is definitely a line… and I think there were a couple of times that I absolutely overstepped it in my career at Michigan.”

But as Michigan prepares to rebuild its offensive line for next season, Lewan’s graduation may be a case of addition by subtraction.

His talent may be missed, but his bad penalties and off-field drama won’t be.

 

Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained firsthand.

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Inside a Top 10 College Football Team's Summer Conditioning Program

CLEMSON, S.C. – Every Friday morning this summer, Adam Humphries’ routine has been the same.

At 4:15 a.m., the Clemson senior wide receiver’s alarm clock jolts him out of bed, the wake-up call to begin his day.

In 75 minutes, the fourth of the week’s four morning workouts will begin. A two-hour mix of weights and running that features sprints up “Cemetery Hill”—an incline next to Memorial Stadium steep enough to make calves burn and hearts race just walking it at a normal pace, much less racing your teammates.

Motivation, Humphries admits, can be fleeting.

“Some mornings you wake up, roll over, and you want to hit the snooze button and chill,” he says.

Instead, Humphries heads to Clemson’s sparkling weight room located next to a tunnel just steps from Memorial Stadium’s turf, grabs a quick snack and goes to work alongside his teammates.

It is a scene that is being repeated across the nation, from Clemson to Corvallis, from Seattle to Tampa.

College football players across the country are pushing themselves beyond their limits to add extra speed and strength, all in the name of greater on-field success this fall.

Here at Clemson, they are, to borrow one of Dabo Swinney’s favorite phrases, “all in.”

The Tigers have won 10 games in each of the last three seasons—the program’s longest such stretch since 1987-90—and hope to build on 2013’s 11-2 mark that featured an Orange Bowl win over Ohio State and the Tigers’ second consecutive appearance in the Top 10 of the final Associated Press poll.

While the spotlight shines brightest in the fall, Clemson’s players are well aware that the sweat equity for that success is invested now and cashed in before the watchful gaze of 80,000-plus on crisp autumn Saturdays.

“When you hold up the Orange Bowl, when you hold up an ACC championship, we understand all the work we put in paid off,” said junior receiver Daniel Rodriguez. “It’s striving for the best we want. We want the best, the best is the standard, so we have to put it all in in the offseason.”

With Swinney and his staff of on-field assistants not allowed to have personal contact with players during the summer months, stewardship falls to veteran head strength and conditioning coach Joey Batson and his five-coach staff.

NCAA rules now permit Batson and his staff to communicate with the on-field assistants—something that was verboten as recently as last season. Rodriguez knows Batson is the summer’s sheriff.

“Coach Swinney makes sure we all know everyone on his staff is a representative of himself,” he said. “Coach Batson and all the strength and conditioning coaches, he’s hired individuals to make sure they report to him. It definitely goes up the chain of command.”

Batson calls summer training “the transformation phase.”

“This is where we really kick it in, renewal of mind and body, trying to transform yourself and becoming the best player you can be,” he said. “It’s part of the process with technique and fundamentals. You have to have discipline for the individual and the team and have accountability. You want guys that give great effort with fast tempo and good finishes. As a staff you have to demand that. The best players have to be the hardest workers and the leadership of the team.”

Following spring practice, Batson meets with offensive coordinator Chad Morris and defensive coordinator Brent Venables to get an idea of what they need from their players this fall.

Morris wants players who play fast, with explosiveness; Venables is looking for attitude, aggressiveness and short-area quickness.

Batson also sits down with Clemson’s seniors to get an idea of what they want out of the summer program, and then he crafts a schedule that mixes strength, speed, agility and conditioning.

Players have the option of working out at 7 a.m. or 2 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, although many pick the earlier workout.

Monday begins with a “dynamic warm-up” that features a lot of running and movement and moves into power and speed work, mixing bench-presses, max-effort exercises and upper-body work, followed by sprints up Cemetery Hill. All told, it is, like the rest of the week’s workouts, about two hours long.

Monday afternoon, players meet on their own for “skills and drills,” which is player-led and includes seven-on-seven work—a key component in building chemistry between quarterbacks and receivers.

Tuesdays are “squat days,” Batson says, and feature a lower-body emphasis while also working on the neck and rotation. Weight work is followed by a trip to Clemson’s indoor facility, where players go through cone drills, bag drills and line drills as well as mat drills designed to improve movement and agility, with players breaking up into position groups with individual strength coaches.

Wednesday’s only activity is a late-afternoon “skills and drills” session—much like Monday’s.

Thursday morning is a “power and speed day,” Batson says, with dead lifts, group presses, shoulder and upper body work. That’s followed by another trip to the indoor facility for more circuit work on agility and movement.

Friday, as mentioned, is a whole-team exercise, with the groups alternating between weight work and conditioning.

“Friday morning is easier than Monday,” Batson said. “It’s the last workout of the week, and even if they haven’t slept all night, an hour and 45 minutes and they’re done, they have all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday to themselves.”

Motivation, Rodriguez says, isn’t a huge issue overall.

“Once you get there, you wipe the morning sludge off you, you’re in there and when coach Batson blows that whistle, it’s a mental snap and you’re going,” he said. “I think what gets me going, day-in, day-out, being tired, waking up that early, it’s being with the guys, trying to establish a legacy and leaving a mark at Clemson.”

This summer, NCAA rules allowed teams to make summer conditioning mandatory as opposed to voluntary. But it was never really voluntary, anyway, if you wanted to make an impact in the fall.

Rodriguez spent five years in the Army before coming to Clemson, earning a Silver Star and Purple Heart for his service in Iraq and Afghanistan. He jokes that the workouts are “voluntold”—an Army phrase.

“You can’t take off a full summer semester, at the levels we compete and train at, and be on par when you come back. It’s not going to happen,” he said. “You might be in good shape, but you’re not going to be in the shape we need to be in or the guys we’re working against are in.”

College football has become a year-round grind. Players get about six weeks off per year between spring, summer and winter, and even then they’re working out (Rodriguez prefers biking, swimming and yoga in his off-time).

“It’s continuous year after year,” Humphries said. “It’s four years of your life where you’ve just got to make the most of it.”

That holds especially true for summer. In the sweat of the weight room and the blazing heat of seven-on-seven drills, players find out who they can trust and which guys are liabilities.

“This is really the time when your team is made,” Humphries said. “The summer is when players take over and put an emphasis on what the team will be. Coaches are a huge influence on the team, but championships come in the locker room.

“If players don’ t want it, you’re not going to win. You’re looking at who wants it the most, who you can rely on, who can show up at the right time. That’s why waking up at 4:30 is key, to see who’s committed, who’ll be there when you really need them.”

Equally important, Batson says, is teaching players how to take care of their bodies, giving them time for recovery and building up the durability and speed they’ll need this fall.

“We do a good job of trying to let them understand the importance of time off to repair and recover,” he said. “They have to understand that their body is their business. It’s no different than owning a franchise of Subway. Your body is your business, and you have to take care of business.”

Take care of business this summer, Clemson’s players figure, and they’ll be in position to take care of business this fall, too.

“For me, when I come in, you have a bond with a guy, they’ve sweated as much as I have, worked out, woken up every Friday at 4:30 in the morning, through the summer, that means something,” Rodriguez said. “That makes you a closer group and you understand the reward at the end of it.”

 

*Unless otherwise noted, all quotes for this article were obtained directly by the author.

*Connect with Greg on Twitter @gc_wallace.

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USC Football: Nelson Agholor Will Be Focal Point of Trojans Offense in 2014

USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor had a solid season in 2013 with 918 yards and six receiving touchdowns. What people sometimes forget is that Agholor is an electric returner for the Trojans who scored two punt return TDs last season. 

What should we expect from Agholor this season? Now that the Trojans have an answer to the QB situation in Cody Kessler, can Agholor emerge as a superstar receiver in L.A.?

Check out Barrett Sallee and Michael Felder break down what to expect from Nelson Agholor in 2014. 

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

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USC Football: Nelson Agholor Will Be Focal Point of Trojans Offense in 2014

USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor had a solid season in 2013 with 918 yards and six receiving touchdowns. What people sometimes forget is that Agholor is an electric returner for the Trojans who scored two punt return TDs last season...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Which Elite CFB Programs Will Lose Out on Top-Tier QBs in 2015?

Blake Barnett recently decommitted from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and opened up his recruitment. Oregon might be his favorite right now, but this latest news set off a chain of events in quarterback recruiting in the 2015 class. 

Which team will lose out when the dust settles? Is Tennessee depending too much on landing No. 1 athlete Torrance Gibson? Can Notre Dame rebound and land a top-tier QB in the 2015 class?

Watch Barrett Sallee break down which top programs will lose out and miss on a top QB in the 2015 class. 

 

Highlights courtesy XOS Digital.

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Will Notre Dame Flip Top Commits After Losing Stud QB Blake Barnett?

Blake Barnett, a 2015 4-Star QB, has de-committed from Notre Dame and has reopened his recruitment. The 6'4", 195-pound athlete had been committed to the Irish since November of 2013.

Although losing out on Barnett was something no Notre Dame fan wanted to see, Bleacher Report is here to explain why the future is still bright in South Bend, IN.

Why shouldn't the Irish fear losing out on Barnett? Who could potentially replace him as their 2015 QB? Who might the coaching staff try and flip?

Watch the video and find out.

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital

Rankings courtesy of 247sports.com

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Why, and Where, Nebraska Football Should Set Up Recruiting Satellite Camps

When it comes to recruiting, many coaches will do whatever it takes, just shy of violating the NCAA rulebook, to get ahead. The Big Ten is no exception.

And Penn State's James Franklin is definitely pushing the limits. What exactly is he doing? Franklin and his staff are participating in a Georgia State football camp. As the York Dispatch reported, the SEC, of course, is not happy.

The NCAA prohibits coaches from hosting and running camps more than 50 miles from their own campuses. But there is a small loophole. As FoxSports.com points out, "What the NCAA does not prohibit, however, is coaches participating in camps more than 50 miles from their campuses. That would be against the rules only if a conference says it is, and the SEC is one conference that doesn't allow its coaches to do this."

So how does this affect Nebraska football? It doesn't, yet. But it could.

Head coach Bo Pelini should take note of Franklin's participation in satellite camps and find a way to get involved in camps of his own. After all, the NCAA isn't stopping him.

If Pelini and his staff were to participate in satellite camps, where should they go? Three strategically placed camps across the country could be the answer to future recruiting success.

 

Ohio

The 2014 class was the first since 2009 where the Huskers didn't take a recruit out of Ohio, per the Lincoln Journal Star. That didn't sit well with many fans. So maybe the solution is participating in a camp in the area.

If Nebraska were to participate in a camp in Ohio, it should be at Ohio University. The benefit of Ohio University is that head coach Frank Solich has ties to Nebraska. While his relationship with the Huskers hasn't always been perfect since his departure, time heals all wounds.

Pelini is typically focused in the south during recruiting, but there is talent in Ohio. Participation in a satellite camp in the area just might pick up a few extra solid recruits.

 

Texas

There were four recruits from the state of Texas in Nebraska's 2014 class. While the focus on the area has dwindled a bit since the Huskers departed the Big 12, there is still a good amount of emphasis on recruiting in the Lone Star State.

After all, the state of Texas has produced 35 signees for Nebraska under Pelini, per the Lincoln Journal Star. That's not a bad number.

There's a definite need to stay relevant in Texas. If the Huskers did decide to participate in a satellite camp, getting involved with either TCU or SMU would be the best bet. Both are solid programs where the Huskers could get an invite to participate in a camp.

Plus, SMU is in Dallas and TCU is in Fort Worth. Both areas would provide major exposure for the Huskers.

 

Louisiana/Florida

It doesn't matter if Pelini and staff chose to set up shop in Louisiana or Florida. Either would be a great option with their southern location.

Florida and Louisiana both offer a lot for Pelini and his staff. They know this, after all. That's why the 2014 recruiting class boasted three recruits from each state.

Joining a camp in SEC territory would likely upset the major southern conference, just like Franklin's participation at Georgia State's camp in Atlanta on June 10. But that's honestly not of Pelini's concern. As long as the Big Ten allows participation in satellite camps, why not participate?

If in Louisiana, the Huskers could work with Louisiana-Lafayette. Pelini has ties to Louisiana, and it's been a state he solidly recruits. Working with the Ragin' Cajuns satellite camp would make the relationship in the area stronger.

As for Florida, the University of Central Florida would be a good option. It's centrally located and would allow plenty of recruits to join in.

 

Whether or not Pelini follows in Franklin's footsteps is ultimately up to the head coach. However, participating in satellite camps would not hurt. As the Huskers continue to build the program, a strong presence in key states would be a major benefit. Satellite camp participation would do nothing but help.

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Penn State Football: Don't Confuse Recruiting Hype with on-Field Expectations

Penn State has earned a lot of headlines this spring, largely due to James Franklin and his early recruiting success.

Unfortunately, it's going to be a while before that success impacts the product we see on Saturdays.

Franklin's recruiting prowess has turned Penn State into one of the hottest teams in the country and has fans excited about the future—both near and distant. Some of that excitement is unfounded.

When the NCAA levied stern sanctions on the program in 2012, most fans agreed that the scholarship restrictions would be the most hindering penalty.

At times in 2013, the Nittany Lions were forced to play with fewer than 60 scholarship athletes and those in and around the program expect 2014 to be the worst year in terms of depth.

With just one starting offensive lineman back from last year and the loss of the top two receivers, the offense has some real holes to fill. The defense lost DaQuan Jones and Glenn Carson from the middle of its front seven and still doesn't have a great answer at corner, opposite Jordan Lucas.

The problems start with the starters, but a couple of injuries could really put this team in a bind. Achieving the success of 2012 or even 2013 seems like it will be difficult for this year's Nittany Lions.

However, Athlon Sports has ranked Penn State No. 22 in its preseason rankings and CBS Sports thinks even more highly of the Nittany Lions, putting them at No. 21 on their Inside Sports program.

CBS analyst Brian Jones offered this as an explanation:

James Franklin is taking Happy Valley by storm. If you can win at Vanderbilt and take a team that’s a perennial doormat into a team you've got to contend with in the SEC, just think what he can do with the talent they’re going to have at Penn State. The recruiting is off the chains already. He’s got a quarterback in [Christian] Hackenberg. They’re going to be fine, and they’re going to be filthy good. Mark my words.

It's hard to argue with most of that. Penn State is indeed going to be fine. It has Hackenberg and recruiting is doing extremely well. Still, most of what Jones pointed out won't be much help in 2014.

Athlon Sports is a bit more realistic, pointing out some of the flaws and acknowledging the depth issues via a quote from Franklin: “I think we've got really good football players and great kids here. We just don’t have enough of them. That’s the reality.”

The thought process behind its ranking seems more based on the schedule than the actual team itself. It's not that it necessarily thinks the Nittany Lions will be the 22nd-best team in the country, but that they'll win a good portion of their games due to the weak teams they'll be facing.

Being optimistic is great, but 22 is way too high “@OnwardState: .@AthlonSports ranked PSU No. 22 in preseason poll. http://t.co/GeTjopLnmI

— Eric Sion (@ericbsion) June 4, 2014

While that logic triggers a debate of its own, it's important to remember that a team with losses to Ohio University and Indiana in the last two seasons will be changing systems on both sides of the ball. At this point a year ago, most fans had Penn State beating Minnesota and UCF.

Picking winners in June makes for a sucker bet.

It's possible that players will step up at all the right positions and the team will have a healthy season. A favorable schedule could lend itself to another season above .500.

To call this Penn State team a Top 25 team is to say that it is better than the 2012 and 2013 teams. The only thing better about this team right now is what's going on off the field.

Franklin did have success at a perennial doormat and should get things going in the right direction at Penn State. His recruiting efforts will make an impact in the long run and the team may certainly be "filthy good" when those kids are wearing blue and white.

In 2014, success can be measured by progress.

There will be players forced into early action in 2014, but they'll create the core of this team going forward. Their maturation will go a long way in Penn State's long-term success—maybe at the expense of short-term success.

It's certainly understandable for fans to be pumped about the job Franklin and his staff have done on the recruiting trail. It's dangerous, though, to mix up recruiting rankings and preseason rankings.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State Needs 5-Stars Justin Hilliard and Jashon Cornell to Boost 2015 Class

Despite being one of the nation's top programs with one of the best recruiters in college football at the helm, Ohio State's 2015 recruiting class is off to a slow start.

The Buckeyes' three-member class, which boasts a pair of 4-star cornerbacks and a 4-star quarterback, currently ranks No. 57, behind programs such as Texas-San Antonio, Florida Atlantic and Tulane.

Commitments from 5-star prospects Justin Hilliard and Jashon Cornell, however, would change that very quickly.

That possibility was raised when Cornell, a 6'4", 260-pound defensive end out of Saint Paul, Minnesota, sent this tweet out while on a visit to Ohio State this past weekend:

Cornell was in town for the Nike Camp and had a great time visiting with the Buckeyes and two of his "favorite coaches" in Meyer and defensive line coach Larry Johnson.

"I have a very good connection with both of them," Cornell said, according to Jordan Wagner of Eleven Warriors. "When I was here, it felt like family. It was love here. I like the facilities here and the academics are a high point."

The visit had Cornell dreaming of playing with Ohio's top high school recruit.

Hilliard is also very high on Ohio State. The 6'2", 230-pound outside linebacker recently named a top five of Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa, Notre Dame and Alabama. He was also in Columbus for the Nike Camp and had the opportunity to visit with the staff and take in the facilities at Ohio State.

The Cincinnati product is very familiar with the Buckeyes. Speaking with Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.comHilliard said that he has befriended players on the Ohio State roster and even knows some of the university professors. 

In what looks like good news for Buckeyes fans, Hilliard is nearing his decision.

"When I make a decision I want it to be 100 percent, because I don't want to decommit," Hilliard said, according to Lesmerises. "I want it to be my decision, hopefully in late June to early July."

The recruiting experts affiliated with 247 Sports' Crystal Ball feature have Ohio State as sizable favorites over Michigan and Iowa.

Landing both Hilliard and Cornell would give Ohio State two elite defensive prospects, but the Buckeyes wouldn't need to wait very long for them to make an impact.

According to Lesmerises' feature, Hilliard wants to make his decision early so he has time to recruit other players to the school of his choice. 

Cornell is already warm to the idea of joining forces with Hilliard. If Ohio State can get them in the fold, Meyer's slow recruiting start will fade very quickly.

 

All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia Football: Jeremy Pruitt's 5 Toughest Challenges in 2014

One has to wonder what Jeremy Pruitt expected when he was hired by Georgia. Surely, it wasn't this much drama in his first offseason.

After he was hired in January, a slew of assistant coaches departed, and he led a search for their replacements. He then rallied the troops for an impressive recruiting closeout on national signing day. He's seen players from his defense placed under arrest, dismissed from the team and transfer to other schools of their own volition. He's brought an offensive playmaker (J.J. Green) to his side of the ball and lost a former starter (Brendan Langley) to the offense.  

He's done all of this while trying to rebuild a defense that was severely disappointing in 2013. And yet, his real tests have not yet begun.

Here are five opposing offenses (in order of scheduling) that will present Pruitt with his toughest challenges in 2014.

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Building the Ideal College Football Quarterback for 2014

Science has prevailed. A company—which has chosen to remain nameless—has discovered a way to genetically engineer the perfect quarterback. 

The price of said quarterback is $100 million, although they’re currently offering QBs for the reasonable price of $95 million thanks to the “We’re Open For Business” sale. (Also, the list of boosters already on the waiting list is alarming; please call a friend with wealth ASAP if interested.)

While the process to build such a domination machine is far too valuable to reveal, think of it in terms you understand, like constructing your dream margarita: It’s not just the tequila. It’s also the lime, the Cointreau and, of course, the salt that can join together and create supreme liquid superiority. 

That’s what we’ve set out to do. Only, our ingredients are physical attributes and abilities from some of the elite college football quarterbacks in the country. The nameless company has decided not to include NFL quarterbacks for one very appropriate reason: The main scientist is a huge Alabama fan. 

With an elite group of players to choose from, tough decisions were made en route to building our dream QB. Here is our creation.

 

The Arm Strength of Penn State Quarterback Christian Hackenberg

He isn’t the complete package yet—he will be, likely sooner than later—although his development doesn’t impact this exercise one iota. We’re taking Christian Hackenberg’s arm strength in the name of science, even after seeing it for only one season.

Penn State’s star commitment started every game in 2013 as a freshman, and he would have been Uncle Rico’s favorite player out of the gate. Even the simplest out pattern has a special feel to it coming out of his hand, the kind of pace that simply cannot be taught.

I could talk endlessly about how far he could heave a Nerf Vortex, or why he was tabbed the arm strength component over players such as Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota—both of which would serve as fine selections in this department—but let’s allow Hackenberg’s arm to do the convincing.

Behold a meaningless spring practice completion. Even though it is absent from all box scores, it still should be hung on your living room wall, right next to that photo from your wedding.

There’s really not much else to add after that throw; he’s our guy.

 

The Strength (and Size) of Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston

It is difficult to tackle a human tank. I don’t know this firsthand, but this all became far too obvious while watching a slew of ACC defenders attempt to bring down Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston with an arm tackle.

Do not do this. It will not end well.

It’s for that reason we’re taking the size and strength—doubling up, if you will—of the Heisman winner for our little genetic experiment. Winston is listed at 6’4" and 235 pounds on his official Seminoles bio, although he plays even bigger than that.

When things break down, you need a quarterback capable of pushing off a hopeful tackler. Few dismiss large individuals with the casual bravado of Winston, something he showcased often in 2013. While there is a deep catalog to sort through to showcase this trait, no moment highlights what he is capable of more than the final play of the first half against Boston College in 2013.

The arm strength isn’t too shabby, either. Neither is the full package.

 

The Legs of Oregon Quarterback Marcus Mariota

In the open field, he is a gazelle with a turbo engine and a full tank of nitrous strapped to his back. No player in the country looks more dangerous when healthy in space, although Oregon would be content with Marcus Mariota sliding as frequently as possible moving forward.

This is, without question, the most loaded category to pick from: Ohio State’s Braxton Miller and Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall would also serve as wonderful selections for our non-FDA approved genetic creation. 

But with Mariota, his enormous Colin Kaepernick-esque gait is simply too tantalizing to leave out. A bum knee impacted this beauty a season ago, although don’t let that fool you. When all systems are a go, Mariota has the ability to outrun every mortal chasing after him.

His 57-yard touchdown scamper against Washington last season is one of many plays in his still-blossoming collegiate career in which he got to the second level and made the rest look far too easy.

Take your pick in this category. I’ll take Mariota (and maybe some of those masterful throwing genes will sneak in, too).

 

The Accuracy of Baylor Quarterback Bryce Petty

He plays in an offense and for a head coach that could propel you (yes, you) to a 250-yard performance against Kansas. But don’t let that simplify Bryce Petty’s football-throwing excellence. He’s a marksman back there.

The No. 2-rated passer in the country last season also averaged more than 10 yards per attempt, one of only three quarterbacks in the country to hit such threshold.

It’s the little things with Petty: the screen passes at the numbers, the slants that catch a wideout in stride and the intermediate tosses that often go unnoticed. It’s why Baylor can operate the way it does, scoring 35 points in halves without breaking a sweat.

While you might be able to throw for 250 yards against Kansas, chances are you wouldn’t throw for 430 like Petty did in 2013. There’s an even bigger chance you wouldn’t deliver such output on only 20 completions.

Now is the time to turn away, Jayhawk fans.

Not simply a run-after-the-catch coordinator, Petty also has a lovely assortment of deep balls in his arsenal. He’s not quite on the Chris Leak-spiral level, although his ball placement is exactly what our quarterback needs.

 

The Mind (and Mentality) of Utah State Quarterback Chuckie Keeton

We have our car. Now we just need the engine.

While his game may not be celebrated as much as some of the other outstanding players included in our makeup, there’s something spectacular about the way Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton operates.

Like when he's able to make something out of nothing and pick up first downs with only one shoe.

He has the “it” factor we’d love to add to our genetic creation. It’s more than that, though. Keeton isn’t the game’s best improve artist; he’s a giant operating in a 200-pound body.

As much as his electricity is discussed, he simply is not given enough credit as a passer. In 777 career throws, Keeton has been intercepted only 13 total times. And over his first three seasons—the latest being cut in half because of a knee injury—Keeton has found the end zone 70 times.

He is intelligent and just reckless enough—and this is what we want within reason—to give our elite athlete a mind-set that he can score on every play. Given the physical tools that this mentality will be paired with, perhaps that’s not as crazy as it seems.  

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Florida Football Recruiting: Position-by-Position Preview for the Class of 2015

The Florida Gators 2015 recruiting class is just getting underway, with eight current commitments on the board. Only a couple of those eight recruits are rated above the 3-star level, making this an unusually slow start for Florida.

With that being said, there are still several months between now and national signing day, and there are countless big names still considering bringing their talents to Gainesville.

It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

With a lot of work to be done to make this year’s class successful, let’s take a look at each position and see how things may pan out for the Gators. 

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Notre Dame Football: Insider's Preview of the 2014 Freshman Class

Recruiting is in full swing for the class of 2015 for Notre Dame and football programs around the country. But before we completely zero in on that next cycle of prospects, the summer months afford us the opportunity to check in on the incoming freshmen set to enroll at school in the coming weeks.

The Irish hauled in 23 commitments in their class of 2014, which ranked 10th in the nation. 

Today we’ll break down each of the soon-to-be freshmen. We’ll recall Irish head coach Brian Kelly’s laudatory thoughts on each player from national signing day and consider what may lie ahead for each signee in 2014.

Let’s get to it.

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Texas Football: Position-by-Position Preview of the Longhorns' 2015 Class

The time between the arrival of the 2014 class and fall workouts gives Charlie Strong and his staff a chance to familiarize themselves with next year's group. It's also a great time to get up to speed at some positions of need.

Strong's first full class has 10 commits, and each provides solid upside and a good fit for what he wants to build on the 40 Acres. Overall, he's done well with eight months left until signing day.

But between now and then, the coach has some serious needs to fill. He has yet to reel in a commit at receiver, tight end, defensive tackle, linebacker or cornerback, all of which will lose major contributors after the season.

Adding some top targets to those spots and hanging onto the current commits at the others will be the goals leading up to the fall.

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Biggest Things College Football Fans Need to Pay Attention to This Summer

Is college football season here yet?

Any fan of the college game has wondered this at least once, if not 27 times, since Florida State's thrilling last-second touchdown to beat Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game. After a season as great as the 2013 campaign, why wouldn't we want the next one to get here as soon as possible?

Alas, the long national nightmare that is the offseason must exist, though several mile marker-like events have helped bridge the gap to this point. We have had coaching changes, players declare for the NFL draft or transfer and there has also been national signing day and spring practice.

What's left? Well, besides a lot of heat and even more waiting, there still are a handful of college football-related things that warrant our attention between now and the start of training camp in late July and early August. Check out our list of the noteworthy happenings, both actual and potential, to pay attention to this summer.

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BYU Football Recruiting: 4 Reasons Why Osa Masina Should Sign with Cougars

Osa Masina is considered Utah's top 2015 prep prospect and is one of the nation's elite linebackers. The Brighton standout is a 4-star outside linebacker and has received offers from SEC, Pac-12, Big 12 and Big 10 programs.

Masina announced his top eight schools in late April, but BYU didn't make the cut. A lot can change in the eight months between now and national signing day, and his opinion of the Cougars will hopefully change also.

Here are four reasons why Masina should choose to become a Cougar.

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