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USC Football 2015: Complete Preview of Trojans Offense and Defense

The USC Trojans finished off the 2014 season with a 9-4 record. Bleacher Report's College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Adam Kramer break down USC's biggest storylines on offense and defense heading into the 2015 season...

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Texas A&M Football 2015: Complete Preview of Aggies Offense and Defense

The Texas A&M Aggies finished the 2014 season with a 8-5 record. How will they fare in 2015?

Watch as Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee break down Texas A&M's biggest storylines on offense and defense heading into the 2015 season in the video above.

How well do you think Texas A&M will do this year? Watch the video and let us know!

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Ole Miss Football 2015: Complete Preview and Predictions for Rebels

The Ole Miss Rebels finished the 2014 season with a 9-4 record. How will they fare in 2015?

Watch as Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee break down Ole Miss' biggest storylines on offense and defense heading into the 2015 season in the video above.

How well do you think Ole Miss will do this year? Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tennessee Football 2015: Complete Preview of Volunteers Offense and Defense

The Vols finished off the 2014 season with a 7-6 record. Bleacher Report's college football analysts Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer break down Tennessee's biggest storylines on offense and defense heading into the 2015 season.

How well do you think the Vols will do this year? Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Arizona State Football 2015: Complete Preview and Predictions of Sun Devils

The Arizona State Sun Devils finished the 2014 season with a 10-3 record. How will the fare in 2015?

Watch as Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Adam Kramer break down Arizona State's biggest storylines on offense and defense heading into the 2015 season in the video above.

How well do you think the Sun Devils will do this year? Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Arizona State Football 2015: Complete Preview and Predictions of Sun Devils

The Arizona State Sun Devils finished the 2014 season with a 10-3 record. How will the fare in 2015? Watch as Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and ...

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Don't Expect a Resolution to the Georgia QB Battle Anytime Soon

One of the hottest quarterback battles in the SEC is taking place this August in the Classic City of Athens, Georgia, as junior Faton Bauta, sophomore Brice Ramsey and Virginia graduate transfer Greyson Lambert are squaring off for the top spot on the depth chart.

Don't expect a resolution anytime soon, because this quarterback battle could last a long time.

With a week in the books during spring practice, head coach Mark Richt isn't dropping any hints, and it appears, according to Seth Emerson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, that approach has trickled down to the players, including running back Keith Marshall.

Expect that to be the theme of fall camp for the Bulldogs, because this battle is going to last quite a while.

This has been an offseason of change for the Georgia offense, despite the relative stability of running back Nick Chubb and an offensive line that's one of the SEC's best. Gone is one of the best offensive coordinators in college football in Mike Bobo, gone are reliable wide receivers Chris Conley and Michael Bennett, gone is redshirt senior Hutson Mason—who, while inexperienced going into last year, was fully comfortable with the personnel and system.

On top of that, new coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has come in with an NFL-style install process that, while good for the players to prepare for the next level, still takes some getting used to.

"When he's teaching, he's rolling through. He's not taking five minutes to teach one play. It's like 10 seconds, and you better know it by tomorrow," wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell said following the spring game. "He's brought that in. Every time we install, it's quick. A 30-play install might take five minutes."

Considering where the quarterback battle stands right now, Schottenheiemer and Richt are best served to take their time.

Ramsey and Bauta went through spring, but Lambert just got to campus in late July after finishing up his degree in Charlottesville and has to play catchup early in fall camp. 

Shouldn't he deserve a fair shot at winning the job?

For that to happen, based on the new system and how it's being installed, a prolonged quarterback battle is necessary unless one of the contenders absolutely knocks the socks off of the staff over the next week or so.

Luckily for Georgia, the schedule sets up perfectly for the battle to linger into the season. 

The season opener vs. Louisiana-Monroe shouldn't be much of an issue and will give the staff a chance to judge whoever is still in the mix in a game setting. It's not so much the cupcake to open the season, though, that's important; it's Game No. 2 at Vanderbilt the following week.

It's not like Vandy is a tough place to play, but a road conference game is a fantastic place to separate the contender from the pretender prior to the Week 3 showdown with South Carolina. 

The scheme and the schedule are set up perfectly for this quarterback battle to shape up exactly like Alabama's did in 2011. Phillip Sims and AJ McCarron shared snaps in the opener vs. Kent State, and then McCarron took control on the road against a good Penn State team and never let it go.

Expect a similar script for the 2015 Georgia Bulldogs.


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

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Penn State Football 2015: Complete Preview and Predictions for Nittany Lions

The Penn State Nittany Lions finished the 2014 season with a 7-6 record. But how will they fare in 2015?

Watch as Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer break down Penn State's biggest storylines on offense and defense heading into the 2015 season in the video above.

How well do you think Penn State will do this year? Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

South Carolina Football 2015: Complete Preview of Gamecocks Offense and Defense

South Carolina finished off the 2014 season with a 7-6 record. Bleacher Report's college football analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee break down South Carolina's biggest storylines on offense and defense heading into the 2015 season.

How well do you think the Gamecocks will do this year? Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

15 Non-Power 5 College Football Players You Need to Know for the 2015 Season

Did you know that since 2000, 12 of the 32 quarterbacks who started in the Super Bowl didn’t play for a Power Five team in college?

That’s 38 percent of the field.

It proves an important point: You don’t have to play for Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma or USC to be a good football player.

It also means that you don’t have to play for a big-time program to become one of the greatest football players of all time. Think of Brett Favre of Southern Miss, Jack Lambert of Kent State and Walter Payton of Jackson State.

The following 15 athletes all have the right stuff for a big 2015 season; a lucky few may even go on to be a part of football history.

This is what will be referred to as their “humble beginnings."

Begin Slideshow

Who Will Be College Football's Best Quarterback in 2015?

Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston headlined as the nation's top quarterbacks in 2014, but who will hold the crown in 2015? Bleacher Report's college football analysts Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer discuss who they think is the best QB in 2015.

Who do you think is the top quarterback in college football? Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Virginia Tech Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

Fall camp finally began last Friday for the Virginia Tech Hokies, and the countdown to the season opener against the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes is officially on.

The start of fall camp is intoxicating for fans across the country. Whether you're a fan of the Washington State Cougars, the Florida State Seminoles or Virginia Tech, everyone begins the season with a clean slate and big expectations.

On the first day of practice for the Hokies, they received a surprise in the presence of Michael Vick. Vick watched practice and spoke to the team about embracing the opportunities that are in front of it, per Brian Woodson of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph:

Just to embrace the opportunity they have in front of them, don’t take it lightly. I told them everything they wanted in their life is right there ahead of them, whether it is in the NFL or graduating and moving on to other things.

They have a great opportunity to do so many things with their lives. This is the platform, they deserve it, they worked hard to get here obviously. This entire program and school will give them everything they need and provide them with everything they need as long as they put in the hard work.

Vick expects to be back on campus for the showdown with the Buckeyes on Labor Day.

As far as the current Hokies go, it was a busy first few days of camp. With 16 starters returning, there aren't many starting positions up for grabs. The biggest battle in camp could be at "Rover," where three-year starter Kyshoen Jarrett is gone. Tech expected C.J. Reavis to be its starter at the position this year, but the school dismissed him in July after an unspecified violation of the university's rules.

Currently, junior Desmond Frye, senior Donovan Riley—a cornerback—and junior Der'Woun Greene are competing to win the starting job.


Brandon Facyson Is Back

Brandon Facyson and Kendall Fuller formed an outstanding freshman duo at cornerback two years ago. Both received All-ACC and Freshman All-American honors, combining for 11 interceptions.

However, Facyson suffered a leg injury that slowed him early last season and eventually forced him to miss the last nine games of the year. In December, Facyson broke his leg in practice and later received a medical hardship waiver.

For the first time in a while, Facyson is a full go in practice, and defensive coordinator Bud Foster has seen the Facyson of 2013, according to Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“I saw the Brandon Facyson I saw two years ago, playing with a lot of confidence,” Foster said. “He’s not even thinking about that leg. It’s good to see.”

It is good to see. The Hokies are tinkering with Chuck Clark—who replaced Facyson in the starting lineup last season—at free safety this fall and need Facyson at full strength across from Fuller.

Facyson believes breaking his leg in December was beneficial to a full recovery.

“It gave my leg the chance to heal correctly and a chance to be 100 percent at the end of the day,” Facyson said. “So I’m thankful for it. I just kind of went with it, rolled with the punches.”

If Tech has a healthy Facyson across from Fuller in the season opener, it will allow Foster to get even more creative with his blitz packages than he did in last season's win over the Buckeyes.


Shai McKenzie Suspended for One Game

Virginia Tech has reinstated sophomore running back Shai McKenzie to the football program. However, he will miss Week 1 because of an off-field incident in the offseason, per Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com.

McKenzie's return will be a boost to the running game behind J.C. Coleman and Trey Edmunds.

McKenzie played in five games last fall before tearing his ACL and missing the remainder of the season. He was off to a strong start to his career as he ran for 106 yards on just nine carries in the season opener before rushing for a touchdown in the win over Ohio State. McKenzie finished his shortened freshman campaign with 269 rushing yards, three touchdowns and an average of just over five yards per carry.

Coleman may be entrenched as the starter, but McKenzie offers a different style than both Coleman and Edmunds. He's a patient runner with great vision.

McKenzie's return from ACL surgery is going well, and he should be ready for Week 2.


News, Notes and Attrition

Every fall, a player or two who were on the spring roster don't make it to Week 1 of the regular season. That's not just in Blacksburg; that's everywhere. Whether it's an issue over playing time, a transfer or an injury, players leave schools all the time.

Unfortunately for the Hokies, they lost Reavis in a situation that didn't pertain to football.

Another former top recruit, Holland Fisher, could also be done in Blacksburg. He hasn't been in practice yet, and his situation appears to be tenuous, at best, per Barber:

Former kicker Carson Wise is transferring, per the Roanoke Times. Wise wasn't going to beat out Joey Slye, so his departure makes sense.

Also on the roster front, Tech did get some good news with Dahman McKinnon's return to the program. The backup linebacker played in six games last fall before suffering a knee injury against Western Michigan. McKinnon briefly left the team in the spring but is back in the mix now.


Beamer Way

Longtime head coach Frank Beamer played for the Hokies and is entering his 29th season in charge of his alma mater. He put Virginia Tech on the national map and has kept it there with 22 consecutive bowl appearances.

Now the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors has rewarded Beamer and his wife Cheryl for their contributions to the school by renaming Spring Road—a road that runs by Lane Stadium—Beamer Way.

Vick thought it was an honor befitting his legendary former coach:

Beamer deserves it, he deserves everything that he has embodied up to this point. This program wouldn’t be where it is at without him so it feels good to be part of something that, I won’t say was built from ground up, but being around a guy who pretty much paved the way for a lot of people. 

Coach Beamer did that for me, he did that for a lot of my brothers that I played here with, and these guys that are set to make a mark in their careers as well.

Beamer is a beloved figure not only in the eyes of his former players but also in the Blacksburg community.

Athletic director Whit Babcock was effusive in his praise of Beamer, per the team's official website:

“Coach Beamer personifies our department’s core values of integrity, service, honor and excellence, and Hokies being ‘one team, strong together’. This is our way of saying thank you."

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State Football: Inside Braxton Miller's 1st Day as a Wide Receiver

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As he stood on the practice field outside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, it'd be hard to argue that Braxton Miller didn't look the part.

Preparing to participate in his first official practice as a wide receiver, Miller donned a new jersey —trading in his No. 5 for a No. 1—a visored helmet and perhaps most importantly, gloves.

At 6'2" and 215 pounds, the former Buckeyes quarterback stretched with his old position group before the start of Ohio State's first practice of preseason camp on Monday but soon found himself running routes once individual drills began.

And although Miller may have looked crisper than expected while doing so, it was clear that the two-time Big Ten MVP still has some adjusting to do when it comes to playing his new part.

"He looked like it was his first time playing receiver," quarterback Cardale Jones said of his former stablemate's wideout debut.

That's probably because it was.

Learning to do anything new is going to take some time, even for an athlete as supremely gifted as Miller. Still, the assumption by some seemed to be that his transition to wide receiver would be a seamless one, based primarily on a career that's seen Miller rush for 3,054 yards and 32 touchdowns in his three seasons as a quarterback.

But scoring on a QB counter or read-option play doesn't require the same skill set that turning a short pass into a long one does, as Miller found out on Monday.

Only the first four of the 25 periods that made up the Buckeyes' practice were open to the media on Monday, but Miller dropped multiple passes thrown his way while running undefended routes. 

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer admitted afterward that Miller seemed "unsure" at times as he lined up for plays at his new position.

"The whole thing is, get the plan and then execute the plan," Meyer said. "That involves your split, your release and that's what's different for Braxton. Before, it was quarterback and the comment he made to me, 'Quarterback you gotta worry about everyone's world. At receiver you gotta worry about your world.'

"I see him a little bit unsure, but you turn around and get the play, which we gotta fight through that quickly."

That's not to say the day was a bad one for Miller—perhaps just a necessary one.

When he did haul in passes, he managed to show off the joystick-like ability that made him one of college football's most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks before a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder suffered a year ago brought an end to his days as a signal-caller.

"Fast," Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett said when asked to describe Miller's performance on Monday. "When he’s out there making moves, he broke a couple people off today.”

But as Jones mentioned, Miller still needs to work on doing the things that will put him in that position at his new spot. After all, the Huber Heights, Ohio, native's ability to make people miss has never been in question.

"Of course he's going to show speed, of course he's going to show quickness and catch the ball, but there's more than that in playing receiver," Jones said. "Understanding the depth of routes, getting in and out of breaks, and things like that."

The latest Ohio State roster lists Miller as a "QB/H-back," but Meyer insists he's now a full-time wide receiver.

In order to truly learn the position, the Buckeyes' head coach believes his former star signal-caller will need to fully entrench himself in the process with just four weeks to go until Ohio State's season opener against Virginia Tech.

And with H-backs Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson as well as wide receiver Corey Smith suspended for the Buckeyes' battle with the Hokies, the reality is that Ohio State may need Miller to do more than just look the part sooner than originally thought.

Monday offered some hope that the talented ball-carrier will be able to do just that, but it also provided a reminder—for both Miller and fans alike—of how far he still has to go.

"That position, to play it right—not just to play it, but play it right—is like any other position," Meyer said. "In fact, it might be more complicated."

The three-time national champion head coach remains hopeful Miller will get the hang of it and meet his expectation of being an "impact player." But with fall camp officially underway, the clock is now ticking.


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

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Will the Oregon Ducks Wear These Glow-in-the-Dark Jerseys for the 2015 Season?

The Oregon Ducks might be lighting up the Pac-12 in a new, and literal, way.

The university's athletics account tweeted a preview of a poster featuring the silhouette of a player suited up in a glow-in-the-dark uniform Monday.

But could it be a tease for actual game-day uniforms?

One can only hope.

There hasn't been any official comment on the speculation—yet.

But it seems within reason, considering how fellow Nike school Ohio State announced on the same day it'd be offering these glow-in-the-dark kicks to Buckeyes fans:

[Oregon Ducks, Ohio State Buckeyes, h/t College Spun]

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Will the Oregon Ducks Wear These Glow-in-the-Dark Jerseys for the 2015 Season?

The Oregon Ducks might be lighting up the Pac-12 in a new, and literal, way. The university's athletics account tweeted a preview of a poster featuring the silhouette of a player suited up in a glow-in-the-dark uniform Monday...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Sam Bruce Sets Official Visits: Who Is Most Likely to Flip 4-Star Miami Commit?

Sam Bruce committed to Miami more than a year ago, but the 4-star wide receiver is keeping the door open for other college football programs to change his mind.

He shared intentions to utilize upcoming official visits at Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Ohio State this season during a conversation with Luke Stampini of 247Sports.

Bruce, a 5'8", 180-pound senior at Sunshine State powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas High School, is also set to return to Coral Gables for an official visit with the Hurricanes. He pledged to Miami last July, nearly two months shy of his junior season.

Rated fifth nationally among wide receivers in 2016 composite recruiting rankings, Bruce commanded national attention early in his high school career. His list of scholarship offers also includes Alabama, Clemson, Michigan and South Carolina.

He caught 65 passes during the past two campaigns, totaling 1,099 yards and 16 touchdowns. The nephew of former NFL star Isaac Bruce is one of the most scintillating offensive weapons in Florida.

We documented his dynamic skill set during Bleacher Report's CFB Recruiting 200 Series.

His diminutive stature may scare off scouts who put major stock in measurables, but we challenge the doubters to watch this beast go to work. Bruce is a relentless competitor who plucks passes in traffic and manages to gain separation from defenders who typically hold a height advantage. He also excels at an often overlooked quality scouts should always keep a close eye on with receivers—a willingness to aggressively block defenders downfield.

Bruce is the Hurricanes' top-rated recruit in a 2016 class considered top 10 in national composite rankings. Miami remains the front-runner for now, but there is plenty of uncertainty surrounding the future of a program that finished 6-7 last season.

“I’m pretty locked into Miami," he told Stampini. "Just weighing my options."

The inclusion of Ohio State is intriguing, as the Buckeyes are an outlier on his itinerary. He expects to spend time at a trio of in-state schools this fall and Auburn isn't too far of a hike within the region.

Clearly, Columbus presents quite a change of scenery.

Head coach Urban Meyer maintains significant credibility in the Southeast after leading Florida to a pair of national championships. His 2016 and 2017 recruiting hauls already include four Sunshine State products, headlined by 5-star defensive end and St. Thomas Aquinas teammate Nick Bosa.

Bruce plans to attend the Buckeyes' Oct. 17 game against Penn State, per Stampini.

While the defending champs figure to play a prominent role during the remainder of this pursuit, it's Meyer's former squad that catches our attention most. 

The new Gators regime is rebuilding an offensive attack that routinely sputtered during recent seasons. Those efforts have already focused on St. Thomas Aquinas twice. 

Florida signed 4-star running back Jordan Scarlett last February after he flipped from Miami. St. Thomas Aquinas quarterback Jake Allen, a junior, committed to Florida last month after visiting Florida State, Stanford, Notre Dame and Michigan.

The prized passer instantly made his teammate a paramount priority and accompanied him to Gainesville in late July. He hopes high school classmates Bruce and 5-star 2017 receiver Trevon Grimes join him in a Gators uniform.

"Sam and 'Tre' are both my boys. I'm definitely going to talk to them about becoming Gators," Allen told Bleacher Report. "That's where I need to start getting guys, at my own school. They know I'll be honest with them about the process and they'll be honest with me. It would be huge to play with them both in college."

Florida is the most recent university to host Bruce and will welcome him to campus at least one more time before signing day. The date of his official visit with the Gators remains unknown.

“[Head coach Jim McElwain’s] message to me was he was hoping that when this thing is all said and done, I’ll be a Florida Gator," Bruce told Stampini. "It’s a lot of love coming from Florida."

That trend has been noted by national analysts, who've given the Gators a recent surge in his 247Sports Crystal Ball. The past five expert predictions project Bruce to sign with Florida.

The fact Bruce plans to take all five official visits proves he's open to exploring options beyond Miami. Recent developments indicate Florida is the team most likely to alter his allegiances.


Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.

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Ohio State Buckeyes Motivate Players with Michigan Blocking Sled

There is no better way for Urban Meyer and the Ohio State coaching staff to get their players to practice hard than to incorporate the Michigan Wolverines into drills.

Apparently, the OSU coaching staff agrees.

ESPN sent some college football analysts to Columbus on Monday. During the visit, ESPN discovered something fun at Ohio State's facilities.

A Michigan-themed blocking sled.

By the time Nov. 28 arrives, the Buckeyes are going to be eager to hit some real Wolverines players.

[College GameDay]

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Notre Dame Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Fifty minutes from Notre Dame Stadium, Touchdown Jesus and the golden dome, Notre Dame football began spring practice Friday at Culver Academies, with the beautiful lakefront beckoning in the distance and horses neighing beyond the practice fields.

The Irish have completed four days of practices in Culver, Indiana, and the squad is beginning to take shape for the fast-approaching 2015 season.

Let’s take stock of the Irish through the first few days.


Malik Zaire

Notre Dame’s ever-confident redshirt sophomore quarterback, Malik Zaire, stepped into the starring role when the Irish opened camp Friday morning. But while Zaire’s new, defined role is a hot topic for the Irish, Zaire and head coach Brian Kelly stayed even-keeled when discussing the signal-caller.

“He’s got real good management skills. He communicates effectively,” Kelly said after Friday’s opening practice. “You could see for a first day there’s not a lot of sloppiness from an offensive standpoint in terms of false starts and things of that nature. He’s got a good command, good presence. I think it’s probably what I thought it would be on the first day with him.”

Zaire, for his part, turned most questions about his individual performance and goals into team-wide answers.

“I think in parts we had a lot of good flow and we saw the potential of the team today,” Zaire said Friday.

“We know our expectations heading into the season,” he added. “The expectations we give ourselves is more important than the expectations that are given through outside sources.”

“Being a Notre Dame quarterback, there’s never a clear-cut anything,” said Zaire, when asked about his newfound position as the stated starter. “Coach Kelly does a great job of keeping it competitive and keeping us on our toes, knowing that anything can change at any moment.”

Company lines from an exuberant personality.

While it’s tough to glean much substance, physically, from a pad-less first practice, Zaire’s leadership ability is coming into focus. On Thursday, Kelly praised Zaire’s “natural innate ability” to step in front of a group and lead, adding the first-year starter needs clarity in his messages.

“I wake up with a lot of energy. I just love being out here,” Zaire said. “I love being at practice. I love being around these guys and doing the things necessary. Coach Kelly will tell me if I’m doing a little too much energy and I need to calm it down a little bit. … If I keep my intensity level up, I think we’re going to have better practices day in and day out.”


KeiVarae Russell

Nearly one year after his 2014 season spiraled away before it began, Irish cornerback KeiVarae Russell donned the Notre Dame uniform once again.

In Russell, Notre Dame returns a starting cornerback, one with the potential to quickly ascend to the nation’s best.

“He’s obviously a talented player,” Kelly said after Friday’s practice. “You could see that one-on-one. His transition in and out of the transition, you could see why he’s one of the better players at his position in the country.”

Russell, who’s actually three pounds lighter than he was last season, said he’s now stronger and faster, jumps higher and boasts less body fat, fully aware and fully confident in his offseason work.

“Go to IG—Instagram,” the loquacious Russell quipped. “Y’all see what my trainer had me doing. It was second to none. I had some great trainers back home. I was really focused. Everything we did, every single day, was just attention to detail.”

The two-year starter admitted he hesitated at times during Friday’s practice.

“I don’t like saying it’s rust,” Russell said. “It’s more about trust with my abilities. … I gotta get to that point where I just go play fast.”


Joe Schmidt

Toward the beginning of Friday’s practice, after the Irish completed their scheduled calisthenics, Notre Dame lined up on one half of the practice field and prepared for push ups and jumping jacks. Center Zack Martin and linebacker Joe Schmidt led the rest of the team.

For Schmidt, Notre Dame’s defensive leader in 2014 as the middle linebacker and the entire team’s MVP, the role seems natural. Of course, Schmidt is completing his return, too, from a November ankle injury that wiped away the end of his breakout season.

Now Schmidt is back, and Notre Dame claims a loaded linebacking corps. But the fifth-year senior stands out.

“He’s our best leader,” Kelly said. “His recall, I’ve never seen anybody that has the immediate recall that he has for what we do. He’s extremely important.”

Schmidt lined up at middle linebacker between juniors Jaylon Smith and James Onwualu during Friday’s drills, all of which were open to the media.



In addition to Russell and Schmidt, Kelly has lauded a deep stable of capable leaders in the early days of camp.

“I love the emergence of the leadership on this team,” Kelly said simply on the eve of camp.

He’s also praised fifth-year defensive back Matthias Farley, senior defensive lineman Sheldon Day, fifth-year linebacker Jarrett Grace and junior safety Max Redfield as strong forces on the defensive side of the ball.

“Now you’ve got something totally different than what we had last year,” Kelly said, referring to the depleted defense headlined by underclassmen down the stretch in 2014.

Such leadership could be vital to Notre Dame in 2015, as the Irish try to wrap all their talented pieces into a playoff contender.

“We think we’ve got the parts,” Kelly said. “But the parts have to be running together. So the emphasis is really about, we know we’ve got the individuals. It’s about coming together. And emphasizing that has really been the focal point since January workouts. This is just an extension of that.”


Quick Hits

In Friday’s practice, redshirt freshman Quenton Nelson took the vast bulk of the snaps as the first-team left guard, while fellow redshirt freshman Alex Bars worked with the second unit.

Kelly said Friday he was impressed with his wide receivers, mentioning true freshmen Miles Boykin, C.J. Sanders and Jalen Guyton. Third-year wideout Torii Hunter Jr. provided the top highlight on the first day of camp, soaring over Redfield for a graceful grab.

Kelly said it’s difficult to gauge Justin Brent’s early work at running back without pads and tackling. The second-year player is auditioning after spending his rookie campaign at wide receiver.

True freshman quarterback Brandon Wimbush logged reps behind Zaire and redshirt freshman DeShone Kizer.

“He’s got a strong arm,” Kelly said of the highly-touted Wimbush. “He tries to overpower a lot of the stuff. I think some of the things that jump out. He’s using some footwork that doesn’t sync up to some of the things that we’re doing. So we’ll work on some of those things. But he’s so bright, wide eyed, extremely coachable. And that’s the great thing about it.”

Senior defensive tackle Jarron Jones (coming back from a foot injury) looked good and moved well, per Kelly, during Friday’s practice.


All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Mike Monaco is the lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco_ on Twitter.

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Rashard Lawrence Tweets Top 5: Odds on Where the 5-Star DT Commits

Is the battle for Monroe, Louisiana, 5-star defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence as cut-and-dry as some may assume?

That was one of the questions that arose on Saturday evening when Lawrence, the nation's No. 15 overall player and No. 5 defensive tackle, tweeted his top five schools to the masses. LSU, a school many consider a heavy lean, made the cut.

All 24 of the predictions for Lawrence's 247Sports Crystal Ball point to LSU, but Lawrence tweeted that Ohio State, Alabama, Washington and UCLA also made his top five. Look for these other four programs to make a legitimate run for Louisiana's top-ranked player.

Here are some early odds for Lawrence's top five.


LSU (2-1)

The Tigers make it a priority to keep all of the top Louisiana prospects in state. Lawrence is a high priority for coach Les Miles and his staff.

LSU has five defensive linemen committed in the 2016 class, but only two—5-star Edwin Alexander and 4-star Glen Logan—are expected to play tackle. The idea of Lawrence teaming up with Alexander and Logan in the trenches is a scary combination with outstanding potential.

At 6'3" and 305 pounds, Lawrence is being recruited to LSU by defensive line coach Ed Orgeron and linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto. It's no secret that Lawrence is a big fan of the home-state program, one that has a good reputation of producing defensive talent.


Alabama (3-1)

If LSU doesn't sign Lawrence, look for Alabama to be a leader in the race. Lawrence has said on several occasions that Alabama is a place where he can see himself playing.

Lawrence teaming with 4-star defensive tackles Kendell Jones Jr. and Raekwon Davis would give the Crimson Tide a menacing front line. Defensive line coach Bo Davis and wide receivers coach Billy Napier are hoping to score the coveted Neville High School prospect.

Alabama started slow out of the gates with its 2016 recruiting class. If they can get Lawrence, look for the Crimson Tide to compete for the top spot in the team rankings.


Ohio State (4-1)

Championships garner attention, so it wouldn't be a surprise if the Buckeyes ultimately landed Lawrence. Ohio State is fresh off a national title, and recruiting for the 2016 class is going very well for Urban Meyer and his staff.

Ohio State hopes to beef up the class' interior line, as it only has 4-star defensive tackle Malik Barrow currently committed. Lawrence would be a great complement to 5-star defensive end Nick Bosa and 4-star end Jonathan Cooper.

You can bet that Lawrence will keep a close eye on Ohio State and what the team does this season. Defensive line coach Larry Johnson is his recruiting contact.


UCLA (5-1)

UCLA's class is shaping up well. Four of the Bruins' 15 commitments will play on the defensive line, and three of those four are defensive ends—which means plenty of opportunity for playing time early at the tackle position.

Lawrence is considered one of the best defensive players with a mean streak. Having him partner with no-nonsense, 5-star defensive end Oluwole Betiku could mean scary times for Pac-12 opponents.

Lawrence would also be a nice complement to 3-star tackle Osa Odighizuwa.

Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, defensive line coach Angus McClure and offensive line coach Adrian Klemm are working hard to get Lawrence to call UCLA home. It would be considered a big upset for the Bruins, but it is possible.


Washington (5-1)

There's something about the Pac-12 that Lawrence likes, as two of the five schools in his top five are in the conference. Washington may be the dark horse of Lawrence's recruiting, but that doesn't mean the Huskies aren't a legitimate contender.

Washington has 11 commitments, and it is still looking for its first defensive tackle pledge for the 2016 class. If he were to commit, Lawrence would be the first 5-star pledge for the Huskies in more than a decade.

Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski, defensive line coach Jeff Choate and recruiting coordinator Keith Bhonapha are looking to make history with the 5-star talent.


Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings and information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted. Follow Damon via Twitter @DamonSayles.

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3 Schools to Watch After Shyheim Carter Decommitted from Alabama

Alabama’s 2016 recruiting class suffered a major blow when 4-star corner Shyheim Carter announced his decommitment from the Tide, according to Hank South of BamaOnline

The 6’0”, 190-pound Louisiana native had been committed to Nick Saban and his staff for nearly 13 months.

The nation’s No. 5 corner is sure to have plenty of suitors coming after him now that he’s back on the open market.

However, it appears that a few of the Tide’s SEC rivals are trending with one of the Pelican State’s top skill players.

Which schools are ones to watch in Carter’s recruitment moving forward?

Let’s take a look at some of his primary suitors.



Carter was one of several high-profile recruits on hand for Georgia’s ‘Dawg Night’ camp last month. 

The visit left an impression on the nation’s No. 51 overall prospect in the 2016 class, as noted by Kipp Adams of Dawgs247.

"I plan on being an early enrollee, so I will make my decision really soon," Carter told Adams. "Sooner than what people think. Georgia has a high chance to get me."

Additionally, as noted by Demetric Warren of Varsity Preps, the Bulldogs added a recent pledge from 2017 4-star athlete Devonta Smith—who is good friends with Carter and hails from nearby Amite, Louisiana.

Smith told Adams that the presence of Georgia Director of Player Personnel Sam Petitto—who spent time as a prep coach in Carter’s hometown of Kentwood before leaving for Athens—is something that helps the Bulldogs’ chances with Carter.

"With Petitto being at Georgia, that brings Shyheim Carter and I closer knowing he is there," Smith told Adams. "I am pretty sure that has us both seriously considering Georgia."

Now that Carter has decommitted, the Bulldogs are among the handful of schools that have to be considered a legitimate landing spot for him.



Before Carter originally pledged to Alabama, in-state power LSU was a school that figured to make a strong push to keep one of its top homegrown products from escaping the state’s borders. 

Add in the fact that LSU has a lengthy history of producing elite corners, and it makes sense for Carter to consider staying close to home to play his college football.

LSU already has an outstanding class of defensive backs committed—with 5-star corner Saivion Smith and 4-star corner Andraez Williams leading the way.

In addition to Carter, the Tigers are also heavily involved with a pair of 4-star standout corners in Kristian Fulton and Trayvon Mullen.

Despite his early verbal to the Tide, the Tigers never stopped recruiting Carter. In fact, as Sonny Shipp of Geaux247 notes, Les Miles and his staff turned up the heat in their pursuit of Carter.

“They were really just telling me that LSU was the place for me and I didn’t need to go out-of-state,” Carter told Shipp. “It’s something they have been stressing since they started recruiting me harder than what they were." 

With the Tigers running out of room in their 2016 class, the picture at corner could become a matter of first come, first serve with respect to Carter, Fulton and Mullen.


Ole Miss

The most recent school to get Carter in for a visit is Ole Miss—who hosted him this weekend for a multi-day visit.

Carter also made his way to Oxford in June for a Rebels summer-camp session and back in April for the club’s spring game.

He was accompanied on that visit by current Rebels 5-star quarterback pledge Shea Patterson, who hinted at Carter’s pledge being on shaky ground, according to David Johnson of Rebels247.

“Shyheim’s committed to Alabama right now, but I think that’s going to change soon,” Patterson told Johnson following that trip.

The Rebels would love to replenish their corner unit, especially considering that four of the team’s top five corners will be juniors this fall, as noted by Ourlads.

Hugh Freeze would love to pair Carter with current 4-star corner pledge Jaylon Jones.

While new schools may try to enter the picture, considering that the trio of schools listed above were the only schools other than Alabama to host him on campus in recent months, Carter figures to land on the campus of one these SEC powers in the end.


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

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