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Odds 4-Star DE Porter Gustin Ends Up at USC, Notre Dame, Ohio State or ASU

If you didn't know who Porter Gustin was before the U.S. Army All-American Game earlier this month, he made sure you won't forget him afterward.

Gustin returned an interception for a touchdown in the second quarter and also added a sack to help the West defeat the East 39-36 in San Antonio. The 4-star linebacker and the No. 2-ranked player in the state of Utah is extremely athletic and versatile enough—and fast enough—to play either outside linebacker or defensive end at the next level.

In short, Gustin was impressive. And as of Monday, he's still available.

A top-50 player in 247Sports' composite rankings, Gustin is preparing to finalize his college plans, and USC, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Arizona State all appear to be in the running. Most believe the 6'5", 245-pound defender will end up in California at USC, but the race may be a little closer than many expect.

Let's have some fun and make some odds on where Gustin commits.

 

Odds for playing at USC: 3-1

It's no secret that Gustin really likes USC. He's made unofficial visits in the spring, summer and fall. The Trojans hosted him the weekend of Jan. 16, and the comfort level was right where it's been in all of his other trips to California.

Gustin has had a great relationship with coach Steve Sarkisian, linebackers coach Peter Sirmon, defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and recruiting contact Marques Tuiasosopo. Additionally, Gustin's been able to make friendships with current players and meet several Trojan commits and targets.

Many feel it would be considered a major upset if the Trojans don't land Gustin on Feb. 4.

 

Odds for playing at Ohio State: 4-1

One of the best closers in the recruiting game is Urban Meyer. It only helps Meyer that his Buckeyes are fresh off winning the inaugural College Football Playoff Championship. Meyer gets Gustin's final official visit this weekend, so expect the Buckeyes to put an all-out blitz on Gustin.

While USC may be considered a front-runner, Ohio State is a legitimate contender. According to 247Sports' Bill Kurelic, Gustin is expected to be joined in Columbus with multiple family members. If it all pans out, look for Meyer to not only close the deal with Gustin but also with every family member in attendance. Meyer and his staff are very good at that.

 

Odds for playing at Arizona State: 7-1

Arizona State is be a spot Gustin can call home. He enjoyed his official visit over the weekend, and Arizona State is a Pac-12 program on the rise hoping to build on a 10-win season.

The Sun Devils allowed 28 points and 417 yards a game, so there is room for improvement. Fortunately for the Sun Devils, the linebackers as a unit were very young. Unfortunately for Gustin, this could mean a Battle Royal of sorts, competition-wise, for playing time. Arizona State's 2014 roster featured 22 linebackers. Twenty-one were juniors or younger.

Additionally, the Sun Devils have three linebackers committed in the 2015 class—and one already on campus (junior college 4-star Davon Durant).

 

Odds for playing at Notre Dame: 8-1

Gustin's first official visit to Notre Dame took place in September. That's the good news for Irish fans.

The bad news: Gustin's first official visit took place in September.

Four months after that visit, Gustin has had time to compare Notre Dame with Arizona State and USC. While he's a fan of the coaching staff and the tradition of the program, it will be tough—but not impossible—for the Irish to win Gustin over.

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Ranking the 10 Best Recruiting Classes of the Past Decade

College football teams are putting the final touches on their 2015 recruiting classes, hoping that, in four years, the group they put together will make the 2019 version of this list.

The 10 groups that follow are the best recruiting classes of the decade, dating back to 2005. This list only counted classes with completed four-year cycles—i.e., whose true seniors played have played their final games—so they were chosen only from a six-year stretch. The 2012, 2013 and 2014 classes are still writing the brunt of their legacies.

Narrowing down and ranking the list took several factors into account. First was how the team performed in the four years after signing day, even if a few players stayed longer or shorter. And next was the personal achievements of the individual players.

For personal achievements, where they were selected in the NFL draft was considered, since that is largely a product of college performance. How they have performed since arriving in the NFL was not considered, since that has little to do with college performance.

Sound off below, and let us know whom you think we missed.

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Jim Harbaugh Flips Texas QB Commit; Sets Sights on 4-Star Ohio State RB Commit

The Michigan Wolverines were able to flip Zach Gentry, a 4-star quarterback, per 247Sports composite rankings, helping a struggling 2015 recruiting class for head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Stephen Nelson sits down with Michigan beat writer Steve Lorenz, who gives us an updated look at Michigan's recruiting class. 

Will the Wolverines have a Top 25 class by national signing day?

Watch the video, and let us know!

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Jeff Long Re-Elected as Chairman of College Football Playoff Committee

After the first inaugural College Football Playoff, selection committee chair Jeff Long has been re-elected to the position for the 2015 season.    

The College Football Playoff on Twitter posted the news and also a reaction from Bill Hancock, the executive director of the playoff:

Long certainly didn't have an easy job in 2014, heading a committee that had to make many difficult choices, including the decision to keep one-loss teams in Baylor and TCU out of the CFP. Of course, that decision was vindicated, as No. 4 Ohio State went on to win the national championship.

Still, Long's role was a difficult one and he generally handled it well, going on ESPN each week to explain the selection committee rankings. Not everyone was thrilled with his tenure, however, and the Dr. Saturday on Twitter raised one of the complaints:

Still, Long guided the committee well for the most part in the first season under the new format. He'll certainly face new challenges in the coming year, and there will likely be some tweaks to how the rankings information is released or even how often it is released. 

After surviving year one, Long should be up to the task.

 

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Should Florida State Worry That Deondre Francois Visited Florida?

One of the most intriguing parts of Florida State’s 2015 class is the trio of quarterbacks Jimbo Fisher has been able to land commitments from—with the headliner being 4-star Deondre Francois.

The biggest question surrounding recruitment was whether the ‘Noles would be able to keep Francois, 4-star athlete Kai Locksley—who committed to the ‘Noles for a chance to play quarterback—and 3-star passer De’Andre Johnson, who has already enrolled at FSU.

Francois raised some eyebrows when he took a visit to Florida over the weekend, just a week following his official to FSU. 

Is there cause for concern among Seminoles fans about Francois potentially flipping to the Gators? 

‘Noles fans don’t have to look too far back in history’s annals to find a similar scenario that didn’t end in their favor. 

Last year at this time, Fisher held a pledge from Treon Harris—who eventually flipped to the Gators on national signing day and subsequently was the starter for Florida when it traveled to Tallahassee to face the ‘Noles last November.

New Gators head coach Jim McElwain identified Francois early upon his arrival in Gainesville as a potential top quarterback target.

As Thomas Goldkamp of GatorBait notes, McElwain hasn’t been overly aggressive with his pitch to Francois—something that the 6’1”, 195-pounder said he appreciates.

“He's real cool,” Francois told Goldkamp last month. “I like his personality. He understands that I'm committed to Florida State, so he's not hassling me, telling me everything to make me decommit to Florida State. He's just letting me know because he knows my situation with two other quarterbacks committed with me, that he's just saying if I do decommit, I still have a spot at Florida.”

A quick glance at both schools’ depth charts suggests that Florida could also offer an easier path to playing time.

With the transfer of Jeff Driskel, the Gators—who have yet to secure a quarterback pledge in the 2015 cycle—will bring back only three scholarship signal-callers in Harris, junior Skyler Mornhinweg and redshirt freshman Will Grier. 

Meanwhile, in addition to the trio of quarterback commits in the 2015 cycle, Fisher has junior Sean Maguire, sophomore John Franklin III and redshirt freshman J.J. Cosentino battling for the right to succeed Jameis Winston.

However, that doesn’t mean Francois isn’t a priority recruit for Fisher. According to Chris Nee of Noles247, Fisher is using his in-home visit with Francois on Monday, just a day after his official visit to Florida wrapped up.

Additionally, Josh Newberg of Noles247 reports that Francois’ mother has already been in communication with the FSU staff and reassured it of her son’s intention to sign with the ‘Noles.

Of course, nothing is official until Francois signs his letter of intent. Furthermore, recruiting has never lacked for drama in the final moments before national signing day.

However, given his skill set, his fit in the offense and the fact that Fisher has an established track record with developing quarterbacks, FSU fans should feel good about their chances in retaining Francois.

 

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

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Alabama Football: NFL Draft Stock Report for Senior Bowl Participants

The first major hurdle of the NFL draft process is over for four now-former Alabama players.

Arie Kouandjio, Blake Sims, Austin Shepherd and Jalston Fowler all played in the Senior Bowl on Saturday, an event that has become more about the workouts and interviews with NFL teams leading up to it than the game itself.

So how did this quartet fare in the eyes of onlookers? Where does each player's draft stock stand at this point in the process?

Let’s take a look.

 

OL Arie Kouandjio: Stock up

Whether it’s his younger brother or a stud freshman, Kouandjio played his Alabama career largely in the shadow of some other shiny left tackle.

At the Senior Bowl, he was able to show what he could do by himself, and the reviews were overwhelmingly positive.

“I love the way he uses his length to extend and meet rushers to take on the block and dispose of them,” NFLDraftScout’s Dane Brugler told Marq Burnett of The Anniston Star. “He’s the type of guy that’s going to take your lunch money and not feel bad about it. He’s a mauler up front. I like the way he extends, but keeps his base square to deliver contact at all times. He just looks for someone to hit.”

The real test for Kouandjio will come off the field, where medical tests will show just where he stands after having knee surgery during the 2011 season. Those medical evaluations are what hurt his brother, Cyrus, who ultimately slipped to a second-round pick.

Arie, though, left the Senior Bowl on a positive note, impressing with his on-field work.

 

QB Blake Sims: Stock down

If you asked 50 different people who were at the Senior Bowl what they thought about Sims’ performance, you’d probably get 50 different responses.

Some were impressed with his competitiveness and escapability, while others saw very flawed mechanics. Generally, though, the reviews weren’t positive.

"I can't see where anyone would draft him as a quarterback,” NFL Network analyst Charles Davis said, per AL.com’s Tommy Hicks. “I don't know that he has a distinguishing trait that says move him to running back and we can get something out of him there.”

Sims completed just four of his 11 pass attempts for 50 yards. One of those incompletions was a deep shot to Sammie Coates, who couldn’t get both feet down in the end zone.

Sims’ technique left a lot to be desired, while his mobility was a positive.

To be fair to Sims, it’s difficult to develop timing and consistency with brand-new players that fast, so quarterbacks can struggle in Mobile. But Sims has a long way to go before a team takes a chance on him to be a starting NFL quarterback.

 

OL Austin Shepherd: No change

While Shepherd didn’t show off anything too crazy in terms of size or ability, there was one positive to take out of his Senior Bowl experience: versatility.

Along with right tackle, where he started for two years at Alabama, Shepherd got looks at both guard positions, where he may find a landing spot in the NFL.

“All of (the scouts) want to see versatility,” Shepherd said, per Burnett. “You bring more value to a team when you can play all five positions and not just, say right tackle. I have 27 games (of experience) at right tackle so I’m trying to put three practices and a game together at right guard and left guard.”

Brugler told Burnett that Shepherd (6'4", 324 lbs) is more suited to play guard in the NFL based on his physical build. His shorter arms (32.75") would be a detriment out at tackle.

“Not an explosive guy, but at the same time he gets the most out of his abilities and he leaves it all on the field,” Brugler said. “He’s a guy I didn’t expect much from, but he’s played well this week. He’ll get stamped with a draftable grade, but we’ll have to see how he works out at the combine to firm up where teams feel comfortable drafting him.”

Shepherd isn’t going to be a can’t-miss prospect at the next level. But a move to guard looks to be what’s best for his long-term prospects.

 

FB Jalston Fowler: Stock up

Alabama fans know what Fowler can do. They’ve seen him block, catch and carry the ball with success at Alabama. During the Senior Bowl, Fowler’s skills were exposed to the rest of the world.

He was technically listed as a running back but played fullback for much of the actual game. His do-it-all skill set was impressive to those in attendance.

Senior Bowl director Phil Savage thinks that versatility will translate to a high draft selection for a fullback.

"Jalston's a general manager's dream because he saves you a roster spot," Savage said, according to Aaron Suttles of TideSports.com. "I think he could go as high as the third round, I really do, which is a little bit unusual. Most of these top fullbacks go somewhere in that fourth-round neighborhood, but I think he's going to be that valuable.”

Fowler should be able to carve out a nice, long NFL career if he can do a lot of things really well for an NFL team.

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Despite Title Win, Ohio State Still Chasing Alabama for King of College Football

COLUMBUS, Ohio — For all of the talk of "The Chase" being over for Ohio State following its College Football Playoff National Championship victory, it's worth noting that Rome wasn't built in a day.

And neither was Alabama.

Make no mistake about it, the Buckeyes' eighth national championship in program history has certainly been worth the celebration it's received in Columbus and all over the state of Ohio in the past two weeks. More importantly, it announced the indisputable arrival of a program that Urban Meyer has spent the past three seasons building into a national title contender.

“The chase is complete,” Meyer proclaimed following Ohio State's title-clinching win over Oregon on Jan. 12. “It’s done. It’s over."

But with all due respect to the three-time national champion head coach, "The Chase" is really just getting started. And if recruiting rankings are any indication—as they typically are—the Crimson Tide aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

With national signing day nearly a week away, Nick Saban's program is poised to sign an astonishing fifth straight No. 1-ranked recruiting class. Alabama currently has 26 prospects prepared to sign next Wednesday, including six 5-star and 16 4-star recruits.

The Buckeyes, meanwhile, currently lay claim to the country's seventh-ranked class. That would be Meyer's lowest-ranked haul since arriving in Columbus in 2012, having signed the nation's No. 3, No. 2 and No. 5 classes in each of the past three offseasons.

"Recruiting's pretty much done," Meyer said of his 2015 class on Saturday. "We're already into the next year."

Ohio State, of course, has already proven to have closed the talent gap on the Crimson Tide, with a 42-35 win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. But if the origin of Meyer's motivating mantra is to be believed, the Buckeyes are still yet to have truly caught the Crimson Tide.

It was two years ago that Meyer developed the idea of "The Chase," standing on the sideline of the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. It was there that Meyer watched Alabama beat Notre Dame by a score of 42-14, causing him to realize that despite finishing 2012 with a 12-0 record, his program still had work to do.

"I sat and watched it, and every one of these players and every support staff, everybody on the coaching staff, everybody associated with our program. I called our strength coach, I said, 'I'm going to send you a text right now and I want [it] in their heads immediately,'" Meyer recalled. "I saw a team [Alabama] that I thought—obviously, it was just dominant in the national championship game, and they looked better than we did, so somehow we had to get to that level. And that was 'The Chase.'"

In his pursuit of a national title, Meyer made no bones about setting his sights on Alabama, which captured its third in four years with its throttling of the Fighting Irish two years ago. Meyer and the Buckeyes went head-to-head with Alabama on the recruiting trail several times in the past two years, winning their fair share of battles, but only this past January were they able to truly measure themselves against the Crimson Tide.

Given the final score—and truth be told, the Buckeyes were more impressive than the final margin indicated—Ohio State is certainly on par with Alabama from a talent standpoint. Meyer didn't downplay what it meant for his team to topple the Crimson Tide after two years of chasing them.

"I've used Alabama," Meyer said of his motivational tactics. "Any time [we talk about] the top of the mountain, I've used them."

But it's going to take more than one season—or one game, for that matter—for the Buckeyes to complete that chase.

Meyer could have used Florida State—the most recent reigning national champion—as motivation, or a program like Oregon, which had compiled three consecutive top-four finishes heading into the 2013 season. But he chose to target the Crimson Tide, due not only to their success, but their ability to sustain it.

If that's still the goal, then the Buckeyes aren't quite there—at least not yet. And Alabama isn't going anywhere anytime soon, despite Ohio State's Sugar Bowl victory.

Aside from its annual influx of 5-star talent, the Crimson Tide will enjoy some much-needed continuity next season in the form of returning offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Alabama will be replacing 12 starters in 2015—including stars Amari Cooper, T.J. Yeldon, Blake Sims and Landon Collins—but inserting new talent has never been an issue for Saban in what's been a seven-year run of national relevance.

Unless they meet up again in the playoffs—which is very possible—the Buckeyes aren't chasing the current Crimson Tide so much as they are their past accomplishments. And Ohio State has plenty on its side when it comes to a potential run at a repeat, including 14 returning starters in a Big Ten conference it still possesses a significant edge in.

"I've got a bunch of really good players. I love our coaching staff," Meyer said the day following the national title game. "The word 'repeat,' we'll have that conversation—certainly not today. It's about enjoying it."

That's because having enjoyed this type of success before during his time at Florida, Meyer is well aware just how difficult it is to sustain. The Gators seemed poised to capture their third national title in four years in 2009, before Saban and Alabama prematurely ended Meyer's dynasty to start their own.

Given the makeup of their roster, the Buckeyes are as well positioned as anybody to create college football's next great run. But until they eclipse Alabama's recent accomplishments, the chase will continue.

 

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Ohio State Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com, and recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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2015 Recruits That Are Set to Wreck College Football with Monster Hits

The 2015 recruiting class is full of hard hitters willing to put their bodies on the line to get the job done. But out of all these big-name recruits, some hit harder than the others. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee reveal who they think is the hardest hitter in the class. 

Who do you think is the hardest hitter? Check out the video and let us know! 

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Penn State Coach James Franklin Reprimands Player Who Says He Didn't Study

There's nothing wrong with getting a "B" on an exam, but if you didn't work hard for it, Penn State head coach James Franklin isn't going to be satisfied.

Nittany Lions sophomore defensive back Bryant Harper took to Twitter on Monday to let everyone know that he did well on an anatomy exam. The only problem with the tweet is that he revealed he didn't put in much time with the books to get that grade.

Franklin saw that tweet and let Harper know he expects his players to give 100 percent in the classroom.

Here is Harper's defense.

It does appear as though Harper learned from the situation.

Maybe next time he will have a good grasp of the schedule and be able to pull out an "A" with a little bit of studying.

This isn't the first time Franklin has used Twitter to keep tabs on his players' academics. Back in September, Franklin tweeted at one of his players telling him that he needed to be on time for class.

Fans may love seeing coaches on social media, but after witnessing how Franklin uses it, Nittany Lions players may not be as thrilled.

[Twitter, h/t College Football Talk]

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Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Finding a Safety Still Key to 2015 Class

When fax machines begin to hum Feb. 4, Notre Dame will celebrate an excellent recruiting class that is among the best in the country.

But the Irish still need one final piece of the puzzle: safety.

When long-time commit Prentice McKinney flipped to North Carolina, it left the Irish with just Nicco Fertitta and Mykelti Williams at the position. With fifth-year safety Eilar Hardy transferring and Nicky Baratti's career in question after another serious shoulder injury, the depth chart could desperately use one more safety to complete the class.

Notre Dame coaches remain on the hunt, looking at recruits old and new as the final days of the 2015 recruiting cycle come to a close.

Let's take a look at the best bets to end up Irish with signing day just around the corner.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand. All recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Al Golden Proves His Best Ability Is Recruiting, Lands 4 Prospects in One Day

It seems like ages since Miami sat atop the college football mountaintop, but Hurricanes head coach Al Golden continues to assemble a solid foundation of young talent that should further fuel expectations of a return climb.

The program pulled in four 2016 commitments Sunday, per the Miami Herald, sending a strong message that a lack of recent on-field success hasn't entirely sullied its luster.

Miami secured pledges from safety Cedrick Wright, defensive end Joseph Jackson, defensive tackle Keyshon Camp and running Amir Rasul within hours of one another.

Each prospect is a Sunshine State product and gives the Hurricanes plenty to build upon with more than a year remaining in the 2016 recruiting cycle.

Jackson, an explosive 6'4", 229-pound edge-rusher from Gulliver Prep, is the latest of seven 4-star 2016 recruits to commit to the Hurricanes. The haul now includes 11 players, each of whom has garnered scholarship offers from programs that have enjoyed more success than the Hurricanes in recent years. 

Quarterback Jack Allison, rated seventh nationally among pro-style quarterbacks, elected to join Miami's class last summer, spurning offers from an array of schools that included Alabama, Missouri and Tennessee.

"It was a perfect fit," he told John Lembo of the Bradenton Herald.

Allison was quickly joined in the collection of future Hurricanes by heralded wide receivers Dionte Mullins and Sam Bruce. Both pass-catchers are listed among the top 12 prospects at their position in 247Sports' composite rankings.

Other pivotal 2016 pickups along the way include 4-star linebackers Zach McCloud and Shaquille Quarterman, who tallied 311 tackles through his first three high school seasons.

Golden has drawn ire from many Miami fans for his inability to return the program to national prominence. He is just 28-22 through four seasons since arriving from Temple, sputtering at 16-16 against ACC opponents.

Still, mediocrity hasn't translated into recruiting.

Since Golden's arrival, the Hurricanes have locked up three top-15 classes on national signing day. Miami currently holds the top-rated recruiting class in 247Sports' composite rankings for 2016.

The program is finally emerging from a multitude of off-field issues and scholarship sanctions that cost roster development dearly.

Veteran recruiting analyst Tom Lemming believes the university would be foolish to move in a different direction now that the burden has been lifted.

“As soon as this clears up, the recruiting should be great,” Lemming told Michael Casagrande of the Sun Sentinel. “Miami will be back to being a powerhouse, I think. Golden is a younger version of Nick Saban and Urban Meyer and he’s recruited very, very well considering this is swirling around.”

The clock might be ticking as Golden's seat grows warmer in Coral Gables, but expect him to keep things moving forward on the recruiting trail. If his new crop of talent creates more of an impact on the scoreboard, rumblings about job security should begin to quell.

Sunday's quartet of commitments provide further evidence Miami remains a destination university, no matter how long it's been since the squad hoisted a championship trophy.

It also provides hope that perhaps another title celebration may not be as far off as most believe.

 

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Predicting the SEC's Top 7 Breakout WRs in 2015

Wide receiver is one of those positions where younger players can come in and make an impact, and players who have been waiting for their chance can step in and become stars in a hurry.

In 2014, players like South Carolina's Pharoh Cooper, Auburn's D'haquille "Duke" Williams, Texas A&M's Josh Reynolds and others stepped up to become bona fide superstars in the SEC.

For the second straight year, quarterback play in the SEC is looking like it might be struggling in the quarterback department, which means many more wide receivers could break out.

Who are the top seven breakout wide receiver candidates in the SEC? Our picks based on talent, system and opportunity are in this slideshow.

 

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Power Ranking College Football's 6 Best Returning Running Backs for 2015

What's that? The value of running backs is being diminished? There are quite a few backs in college football right now who'd like a word or two about that.

2014 was the year of the running back in college football. Melvin Gordon, Ameer Abdullah, Tevin Coleman, David Cobb and Ezekiel Elliott all had banner seasons—and that was just in the Big Ten. 

There was also a wealth of young running backs, like Nick Chubb from Georgia and Samaje Perine from Oklahoma, making names for themselves. Which backs will join them among the best in college football in 2015? The answers are in the following slides. 

Unless hampered by injuries, all running backs on this list must have at least led their team in rushing.

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UCLA Football's 2015 National Signing Day Wish List

Following a 31-10 loss to Stanford to end the regular season on Nov. 28, UCLA head coach Jim Mora made it clear that the Bruins' road to a Pac-12 championship will be paved on the recruiting trail. 

"We've got to continue to do what we're doing," Mora said. "We've got to continue to work at getting the types of players and coaching them the way they're supposed to be coached [to close] the gap [with the top of the conference."  

Mora and his staff are putting together an impressive 2015 signing class, one that currently includes the nation's No. 1-ranked quarterback, Josh Rosen

Getting hyped on what this can do - 5-Star QB Josh Rosen (UCLA Commit) - 2014 Highlights http://t.co/2LPjByMFh7

— Derrick Klunchoo (@d_klunchoo) January 18, 2015

But UCLA's work is far from over. The Bruins hit the final week before national signing day with a few more positions and players to cross off their wish list in pursuit of a strong finish to the 2015 recruiting season.  

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UCLA Football's 2015 National Signing Day Wish List

Following a 31-10 loss to Stanford to end the regular season on Nov. 28, UCLA head coach Jim Mora made it clear that the Bruins' road to a Pac -12 championship will be paved on the recruiting trail...

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4-Star John Burt Recommits to Texas, Gives Longhorns Better Depth at WR

That sigh of relief you may have heard probably came from Austin, Texas.

John Burt is a Longhorn commit again.

Burt, the 4-star wide receiver who decommitted from Texas earlier this month, announced via social media that he has recommitted to the program. The Tallahassee, Florida, talent is commitment No. 24 for the Longhorns, and he's the second receiver pledge of the class, joining fellow Floridian Gilbert Johnson.

Losing Burt on Jan. 6 was a big blow for the Longhorns, but Monday proved to be major news for head coach Charlie Strong, primary recruiting contact Chris Vaughn and the rest of the Texas coaching staff. Burt's recommitment gives Texas a big target at the position, someone who could be called upon as both a vertical threat and a red-zone threat.

Burt originally committed to Texas in July but opened his recruiting process this month to explore other options, primarily Auburn. After re-examining his process, Burt decided again to wear burnt orange in the fall.

Burt is 6'3" and 180 pounds, and as the nation's 14th-ranked receiver per 247Sports, he is a reliable option and someone who could immediately fill in the voids that seniors John Harris and Jaxon Shipley are leaving. Harris and Shipley provided more than half (127) of the Longhorns' 243 receptions in 2014. Harris additionally scored seven of Texas' 14 receiving touchdowns.

Early playing time will be a challenge but is possible for Burt at one of Texas' outside receiver positions. The Longhorns are expected to return Daje Johnson, Armanti Foreman, Jacorey Warrick, Lorenzo Joe and Dorian Leonard from last season, and only Foreman and Warrick finished the year with double-digit receptions.

Warrick, however, can be used as an inside receiver. Johnson, another who could play inside or outside, may be the most talented of the group, but off-the-field issues kept him out for most of the season.

Because of Burt's size, speed and overall upside (think of how Harris exploded in 2014), he could be a pleasant surprise for a Longhorns unit looking for someone to fill the role of go-to target in 2015. Coaches truly feel the sky's the limit for Burt's potential.

Burt's commitment gives Texas five Florida pledges and reminds all that Strong makes the state a priority in recruiting wherever he is. The Longhorns are hoping to add to its receiver depth before Feb. 4's signing day with 4-star DaMarkus Lodge and junior college talent Dominique Reed.

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All star ratings come from 247Sports' ratings system. Follow Damon on Twitter: @DamonSayles.

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UCF Knights to Build 10,000-Square-Foot Beach Club at Football Stadium

Starting next season, UCF's Bright House Networks Stadium will feature something most college football stadiums around the country don't have:

A beach club.

The Knights will be adding the "East Side Club" to their football stadium for the upcoming season. Of course, this type of thing isn't uncommon in Florida. The Jacksonville Jaguars added poolside cabanas to their stadium this past season.

The ESC, as the school is calling it, will include an open-air sun deck as well as a covered-lounge area.

Football games in Florida seem to be quite the experience.

According to the Knights' website, the East Side Club will include refreshments, sideline chairback seats, more than 15 televisions and enhanced Wi-Fi connection.

Fans will be able to check out the ESC at UCF's home opener on Sept. 5.

[UCF Knights, Twitter]

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Notre Dame Football's 2015 National Signing Day Wish List

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame football has already inked 22 players in its class of 2015, but the Irish are still looking to fill three more spots heading toward next week’s national signing day.

Last week we outlined the names to watch in Notre Dame recruiting down the stretch. We’ll slightly narrow our focus here and consider the top players the Irish would reasonably love to land.

 

Dexter Williams

Running back Dexter Williams is slotted 11th in the country at his position, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings, and the 4-star back is the No. 94 overall player.

Notre Dame has searched far and wide for a second running back in its class of 2015. The Irish went after Soso Jamabo, Jacques Patrick, Ronald Jones II and Nick Brossette, to name a few of the 26 running backs offered by Notre Dame, per 247Sports. Now, though, it finally looks like Irish head coach Brian Kelly and recruiting coordinator and running backs coach Tony Alford will land that second back.

Irish247’s Tom Loy is “confident [Williams] will commit and sign with Notre Dame on signing day.” Williams recently took his official visit to Notre Dame and will be choosing from the Irish, Miami and Louisville, per Loy.

 

Equanimeous St. Brown

Like Williams, all signs point toward Notre Dame for 4-star wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown. The No. 160 overall player in the nation, St. Brown is scheduled to announce his decision on national signing day.

247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong said Monday that his confidence is still “extremely high” that St. Brown ends up in South Bend.

If the Irish do add Williams and St. Brown on signing day, the offense will be well stocked across the board. With quarterback Brandon Wimbush, tight end Aliz’e Jones, running back Josh Adams and three other high-caliber wide receivers in Miles Boykin, C.J. Sanders and Jalen Guyton, Notre Dame could boast a strong collection of skill-position players.

 

A Safety

Notre Dame is grinding toward the finish line hoping to add a safety to round out its recruiting class. The Irish added just one safety—Drue Tranquill—in their class of 2014, and Nicco Fertitta is the only current safety pledge in the class of 2015.

Justin Reid, a 3-star safety from Louisiana, took an official visit to Notre Dame this weekend and told Loy the trip “was way better than I expected.” Per Loy, Stanford was the leader for the services of the 6’0”, 193-pounder entering the weekend. Wiltfong said Monday that “confidence is low” regarding Notre Dame’s chances with Reid, as the Cardinal and LSU are looming threats.

Atlanta native and 4-star safety Arrington Farrar has logged official visits to Wisconsin and North Carolina each of the last two weekends. Per Wiltfong, “the Irish are trying to secure an official visit for this weekend with Farrar.” The 6’2”, 195-pounder checks in as the No. 283 overall player and No. 15 safety in his class.

As we detailed last week, other names worth watching in the secondary include Frank Buncom IV, Nathan Meadors and Chris Williamson.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting stats and information courtesy of 247Sports.com and all quotes obtained firsthand. Star ratings reflect 247Sports composite rankings.

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

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Is Georgia's 2015 Recruiting Class in Danger of Collapsing?

With less than two weeks remaining until national signing day, Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs sit in a strong position with 26 commitments and the No. 6 class in the country.

However, the biggest chore for Richt and his staff down the stretch may be keeping the prospects they currently have in the fold.

As Michael Carvell of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes, six of the Bulldogs' pledges took visits to other schools over the weekend.

Is the Bulldogs' 2015 class in danger of collapsing? 

That depends on a couple of factors.

How many of their committed prospects are seriously considering heading elsewhere, and can the Dawgs add a few other top targets of their own?

A pair of 3-star prospects, JUCO running back Chris Carson and corner Deandre Baker, took visits to Big 12 schools over the weekend.

Carson visited Oklahoma State, and he told Carvell the trip gave him something to think about before he makes a final decision.

“I’d probably say I’m like 70-percent with UGA,” Carson said. “Maybe 80 percent. I’ve got to think about the playing time I’m going to get at Georgia. I know they have plenty of depth at running back.”

Baker took a trip to Texas, and he admits that the visit made a strong impression on him, according to Ryan Bartow of 247Sports.

"I liked it a lot," Baker told Bartow. "It's pretty close between Texas and Georgia. I'm still a Georgia commit."

Additionally, the Dawgs may have to sweat out the pledges of 4-star receiver Darius Slayton and 5-star athlete Terry Godwin until the very end—with Auburn potentially being the biggest threat with both. 

Slayton visited the Plains last weekend, while Godwin took a trip to Alabama.

According to Rusty Mansell of Dawgs247, Slayton was accompanied by his mom and his sister on his Auburn trip, which could indicate that the 6’1”, 182-pounder is serious in his interest level in the Tigers. Meanwhile, Mansell also reports that the Tigers are making a strong push to flip Godwin.

Godwin told Shane Youngblood of BamaOnline that he has cancelled his fifth official visit to Texas A&M scheduled for this weekend, and that he may take a trip to Athens if he decides to go anywhere at all.

“I will have a final announcement at school on signing day,” Godwin said. “I am going to sit down this week and discuss everything with my family."

Of that group, keeping Slayton and Godwin—who projects as a receiver at UGA—is paramount due to the Dawgs' need at the receiver position.

Even though Richt and his staff will have their eyes on keeping their commits solid, the Bulldogs still have a handful of top prospects they are hoping to add to the class.

The secondary is a primary focus for defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, with 3-star athlete Chris Williamson—who could play safety or corner—and 4-star corner and current Alabama pledge Rico McGraw as options that Georgia is heavily pursuing.

Finally, 4-star outside linebacker Roquan Smith has been another player that has been atop the wish list of Richt and his staff throughout the process.

Even though the potential exists for Georgia's class to take some hits, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which a class including standouts such as 5-star defensive tackle Trent Thompson, 4-star defensive ends Jonathan Ledbetter and Natrez Patrick is considered a disaster. 

If the Dawgs can mitigate the potential losses while closing on prospects like McGraw, Smith and Williamson, their class will remain one of the nation’s premier groups in the 2015 cycle.

 

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

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Versatile 5-Star Canton Kaumatule Brings Monster Physicality to Oregon Defense

Canton Kaumatule is a 5-star strong-side defensive end, per the 247Sports composite rankings, and an early enrollee at Oregon. The 6'7", 290-pound specimen is the perfect fit for a defense looking to get more physical. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down Kaumatule's game and where he fits in the Ducks defense. 

Can Kaumatule come in and make an immediate impact for the Ducks? Check out the video and let us know!

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