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Ranking Every Power 5 Football Conference by 2015 Recruiting Classes

The Power Five football conferences rule college football. Comprised of the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12, each league features many of the nation's top programs.

Not only is it obvious on the field, but the five conferences also dominate the recruiting trail. Individual recruiting rankings naturally put the focus on specific programs, but it's time to look at the big picture and rank things from a conference perspective.

The SEC is recruiting at its usual clip, while the ACC isn't far behind. The Big Ten has an old power back on top, but the Big 12 is falling off.

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SEC Media Days Buzz: Carl Lawson, Not Nick Marshall, Is Biggest Story of Day 1

SEC Media Days has officially started in Hoover, Ala. The four-day long event for the conference marks the beginning of the end of the college football offseason.

Watch Bleacher Report's SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee break down the biggest stories coming out of Day 1, including a key injury for the Auburn Tigers.

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

 

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SEC Media Days 2014: Biggest Quotes and Reactions from Day 1

HOOVER, Alabama—Day 1 of SEC Media Days in the books, and the focal point was undoubtedly the defending SEC champion Auburn Tigers.

Most notably, the absence of star quarterback Nick Marshall.

The senior quarterback of the Tigers was cited for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana on Friday and was pulled from Auburn's Media Days lineup late Sunday night in favor of tight end C.J. Uzomah.

Florida highlighted the second session of the afternoon, with head coach Will Muschamp and the Gator contingent addressing a critical 2014 season that will make or break Muschamp's career in Gainesville.

What were some of the biggest quotes and storylines of Day 1? Our picks are in this slideshow.

 

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Kyle Allen vs. Kenny Hill: Who Should Be Texas A&M's Starting QB?

The Texas A&M Aggies have a very important offseason this year with the task of replacing star quarterback Johnny Manziel. The Aggies recently released their depth chart at SEC Media Days, which had Kenny Hill and incoming freshman Kyle Allen both in the mix for the starting position. Who do you think will be starting in 2014?

Watch Bleacher Report's SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee and TexAgs.com's senior writer Billy Liucci discuss the future for the Aggies at the QB position. 

 

Rankings from 247Sports' composite rankings.

Highlights courtesy of XOSDigital.

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Florida's Supreme Confidence at SEC Media Days Great Sign for 2014

It wasn’t Steve Spurrier-like, but the Florida Gators won the first round of SEC Media Days Monday afternoon. Coach Will Muschamp and his three players walked into Alabama with their chests poked out and showed no signs of last season lingering around.

It’s a new day for Florida.

Muschamp doesn’t want to hear about your hot-seat comments and is tired of being reminded about last year’s four victories. He plans on attacking the criticism the best way he knows how and just about the only positive way he can.

In Muschamp’s first season, the Gators finished 7-6, which included a stretch where they lost four straight games. People were questioning then if he was the right man for the job, but he silenced any concerns the following year with an 11-2 record and a trip to a BCS bowl game.

While 2013 may be the worst season young Florida fans have ever experienced, it will be a forgotten memory if another double-digit win total is posted.

Judging by what Muschamp said next, it isn’t far-fetched to think 10 or more wins is in the cards:  

There’s really no turning back after those comments, as folks who were watching are sure to have added a couple more wins to Florida’s projected win total. Muschamp was a bounce or two away from playing for a national championship a couple of seasons ago. If this is the most complete team he’s had in Gainesville, well, the possibilities are endless.

Muschamp is feeling a little bit like Superman, and your negative comments just bounce right off him: 

Other guys were also feeling a little big and bad when the questions were flying throughout the day:

However, the most shocking statement of the day may have come from cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. Quarterback Jeff Driskel's struggles have been well documented, but the star corner wasn’t holding his tongue for anybody and came to the defense of his offensive leader. Brace yourselves:

Driskel, your thoughts?

Because, you know, why not?

Most of the country is probably going to laugh at these comments. After all, Florida couldn’t move the ball the length of a dinner table on offense and lost to Georgia Southern among other teams. However, this is the type of stuff you want to hear if you’re a Florida fan.

Never mind sitting around and moping about what happened last season. It’s a new day, new season and the possibility for a complete turnaround.

Just ask Auburn, a team that won three games in 2012 and found itself just seconds away from winning the national championship the very next season. That doesn’t happen without believing in yourself first. Nothing great is accomplished by anybody without confidence.

Why not Florida?

The team took the step forward during media day.

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Auburn Football: What Carl Lawson's Injury Means for the Tigers' Defensive Ends

HOOVER, Ala. — Head coach Gus Malzahn confirmed some of Auburn fans' worst fears in his opening statement at SEC Media Days.

Sophomore defensive end Carl Lawson is not going to be available for the start of the 2014 season.

"He injured his knee the last week of spring practice," Malzahn said. "Carl is working extremely hard, and he's determined to come back towards the end of this year."

With Lawson expected to miss a considerable amount of time in 2014, the spotlight is now on the rest of Auburn's defensive linemen.

While the loss of Lawson will be a major early test for the defense, one of Auburn's veterans believes his team can handle it.

"[Lawson] is a great player," center Reese Dismukes said. "But there are other great players behind him. We're hoping he gets back as soon as he can."

One of the players who could see an immediate increase in playing time is fellow sophomore Elijah Daniel.

Auburn's heavy rotation along the defensive line last year benefited not only Lawson but another former 5-star end in Daniel. The Indianapolis native appeared in every game last season, and three of his nine tackles were for a loss.

With an entire offseason under his belt, Daniel should make more of an impression alongside his experienced teammates in Ellis Johnson's 4-2-5 defense.

"Defensively, we all focused on really just the techniques and fundamentals of our base defense to get more consistent," Malzahn said. "I really feel like we accomplished that."

Daniel and the rest of the Tigers will try to replace what defensive lineman Gabe Wright called Lawson's "freaky" athleticism as the former 5-star recruit rehabs from the injury and surgery.

"He's a phenom," Wright said. "He's definitely a guy who could be three and done."

Montravius Adams showed his versatility at several positions toward the end of Auburn's SEC championship season and the beginning of spring camp.

The spring's heavily hyped "Rhino package"—named after Wright, who goes by @NineORhino on Twitter—used Wright, Adams and several other Tigers defensive tackles at both defensive end positions.

Johnson and defensive line coach Rodney Garner originally installed the set to combat injuries to Auburn's defensive line in the spring and look ahead to some of the SEC West's top power-running offenses.

The rhinos may get more chances to run this season with the possibility of a long-term Lawson absence.

"That whole freshman class brought some talent and some things that I really haven't ever seen before," Wright said. "I like to think of myself as athletic, but [the sophomores] are guys who could play all four positions on the defensive line."

Becoming more athletic has been a personal goal for the defensive tackle, who said he cut his weight down to 284 pounds in the spring.

The slimmer Georgia native now has set his sights on becoming an all-around contributor instead of just a bruising defensive tackle in his final season on the Plains.

"I wanted Coach Garner to put me at end last year, but he said I wasn't mentally ready yet," Wright said. "I don't second-guess him, but I will be ready if I'm called upon this year. There's no doubt about that."

If Johnson and Garner want to go with another youth movement like they did with the trio of Lawson, Daniel and Adams last season, they have several options.

Auburn's trio of true freshman defensive ends—Justin Thornton, Andrew Williams and Raashed Kennion—are all 6'4" or taller, bringing the size and athleticism Auburn's coaching staff wants in an increasingly bigger defense.

While he has been impressed with the newcomers in workouts, Wright said he is especially excited about seeing his new teammates at fall camp.

"I just can't wait to get out there and do what we do—get after it," Wright said.

 

Justin Ferguson is Bleacher Report's lead Auburn writer. Follow him on Twitter @JFergusonAU. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports. All stats courtesy of CFBStats.com.

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Oklahoma, Michigan Announce Future Home-and-Home Football Series

A future home-and-home series between Oklahoma and Michigan, two of the six winningest programs in Football Bowl Subdivision college football history, was announced Monday afternoon.

The games will be played in 2025 and 2026, with Oklahoma hosting the former and Michigan hosting the latter.

"We remain committed to playing games that celebrate the history and excitement of college football," Oklahoma Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione told the school's official website.

"Oklahoma and Michigan represent two of the most iconic names in American sport and we look forward to a series that will be marked by mutual respect and admiration."

Castiglione isn't blustering about OU's commitment to playing exciting games. According to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, Michigan is only the latest in a string of difficult upcoming home-and-homes:

It's jarring to talk about a series so far in the future. Even with regard to nonconference series, which are famous for being planned far in advance, a game set 11 years in the future seems...um, extensive.

This explains the string of tweets that followed the announcement:

Still, thanks to the—regrettable—trend of neutral-site nonconference series, even something more than a decade away is worth looking forward to if it means iconic programs playing at iconic venues.

Chris Vannini of 247Sports.com was wise to point this out:

There's not much analysis one can do on the actual matchup.

Michigan and Oklahoma have maintained success over decades in the past, but for reasons that are hopefully obvious, there is no way to say how they'll look in 2025 and 2026.

There's no way to say how football will look in those years.

But even if it's far down the road and 11 years provides more than ample time for the game to be unscheduled, you have to respect the courage of Michigan and Oklahoma to agree to play a true road game against a team with the resources to stay competitive.

That type of spirit has become increasingly rare.

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Gus Malzahn and Players Dish on Craziest Moments After Iron Bowl Victory

The SEC Media Days have officially started in Hoover, Alabama. The Auburn Tigers have had a long offseason to reminisce on some insane moments from the 2014 season. Bleacher Report asked a few star players how crazy Auburn, Alabama, became after the team's historic Iron Bowl win. Do you think it was the craziest game of the 2013 season? 

Watch Gus Malzahn and a few big-time Tigers discuss the craziest things they witnessed after the Iron Bowl.

 

Highlights courtesy of XOSDigital

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Lift for Life Event Shows Florida State Football's Family Atmosphere

Ethan and Trey Fisher are fixtures at Florida State football games and practices. When the Seminoles go out to the practice field each afternoon in the fall, they will see the Fisher boys, talk to them and often throw the football around.

In many ways, Ethan and Trey are little brothers to the FSU football players. 

Some veterans have been around the program long enough to remember Ethan when he was first diagnosed with Fanconi anemia, a rare and serious blood disease, in 2011. Other players are new to the FSU family. Either way, they see the Fisher boys constantly. And there's a desire to help both their coach and his sons in any way they can.

"Ethan is always around," sophomore safety Jalen Ramsey said. "We love Ethan. And of course we'll do anything for Coach Fisher. He puts his all into us, so why not give back to him?"

And that's what FSU's players are doing. Kevin Haplea did not play last year after the tight end suffered a season-ending knee injury in June 2013. While rehabilitating, Haplea turned his time and energy toward starting a chapter of Uplifting Athletes in Tallahassee. The group's aim is to have college football players raise awareness and funds for rare diseases. Haplea was familiar with Uplifting Athletes at his previous school, Penn State, where he attended from 2010-11.

Haplea's plan was to have FSU's Uplifting Athletes chapter hold a fundraiser for Kidz 1st Fund, the organization formed by Jimbo and Candi Fisher to fight Fanconi anemia.

About 60 FSU football players competed in a variety of drills on Friday in the Lift for Life event inside the team's indoor practice facility before fans who had donated $10 for adults and $5 for kids as admission. The event raised $2,780 at the door, and fans also contributed $14,725 to the event at upliftingathletes.org.

Players pushed sleds, flipped oversized tires and pushed two large vans as offensive players competed in timed events against the defensive players. The competition was spirited, and the players clearly had fun. Defensive back P.J. Williams said he thought the offense won, but in the end, the result didn't matter, as the Seminoles raised money to help Kidz 1st Fund.

For Haplea, it was the culmination of a nearly year-long effort.

"I think everything happens for a reason," said Haplea, who will be a senior in 2014. "I definitely wouldn't have been able to start this up if I didn't have all that extra time on my hands. It's definitely a proud moment. I know we had a good crowd today and raised a lot of money for a great cause."

The Kidz 1st Fund has donated approximately $2 million toward Fanconi anemia research in three years. Ethan Fisher is now nine years old and is healthy and active. But nearly every person with Fanconi anemia will have a decline in blood counts over time, leading to bone marrow failure and the need for a bone marrow transplant. The Fishers' oldest son, Trey, was tested in 2011 but was not a match as a bone marrow donor for Ethan.

The Fisher family has dedicated its time to fundraising and has donated money from the Kidz 1st Fund to the Fanconi Anemia Comprehensive Care Clinic at the University of Minnesota.

And now, the time and energy of FSU's players has contributed to the Fisher family's effort. Jimbo Fisher said he and his wife, Candi, are appreciative of Haplea for organizing the event and the players' enthusiasm and support.

"Kevin has done an unbelievable job of getting this off the ground," Fisher said. "He's a class act. ... It speaks volume about the character of our players. For them to come out and help our family like this and the other children, words don't explain it. It's just an unbelievable appreciation we have and respect we have for our players."

Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bob on Twitter.

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5 Issues We Would Love Nebraska's Bo Pelini to Address at Big Ten Media Days

There will be plenty of topics for Bo Pelini to cover at Big Ten media days, which begin on July 28. However, there will be a few topics that fans would really love for the head coach to address.

After a wild 2013 season both on and off the field, Pelini will have a lot to talk about. He shouldn't shy away from any of it, either.

For the most part, a majority of fans have moved past the drama that surfaced in 2013. There are still some fans that haven't, though. That's why he shouldn't avoid any topics. As far as fans are concerned, nothing will be off limits when the coach steps up to address the media in Chicago.

Let's take a look at the five issues we would love Pelini to address at Big Ten media days.

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Oklahoma State Confirms Football Program Is Under Investigation by NCAA

The Sports Illustrated story that was supposed to shake Oklahoma State's football program to the core is finally getting closer to having a ripple effect. A university spokesperson confirmed to ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy on Monday that the school is still undergoing a formal NCAA investigation.  

"The inquiry continues and it is hoped that it will conclude within the next few months," the spokesperson said. "The university anticipates releasing a report after the NCAA concludes its process. Since it is an ongoing inquiry conducted in cooperation with the NCAA, the university is unable to comment further at this time."

In September, Sports Illustrated published a five-part series detailing rampant malfeasance of Oklahoma State's football program. The series alleged school officials, coaches and boosters knowingly broke NCAA rules when it came to recruiting student-athletes and retaining their eligibility. The violations included monetary payment, fudging of player grades and even the use of sex with Orange Pride girls.

The series made national headlines but has come under some scrutiny.

Multiple people involved, including former head coach Les Miles, have denied the allegations. McMurphy's report also cites numerous inaccuracies, including the graduation status of some athletes. Players who were even quoted in the story came out in its immediate aftermath to deny they took illicit benefits—or even spoke with Sports Illustrated at all.

Dom Cosentino at Deadspin also claimed SI was irresponsible when reporting the story, including Sports Illustrated's unwillingness to allow the school to address claims made before publishing:

The magazine also declined to give OSU the opportunity to address specific claims or corroborate basic information about players, coaches, tutors, and professors. Partly, this was a tactical decision by journalists not wishing to leave footprints all over Stillwater while reporting a sensitive story, but it would backfire when it turned out that a key source's claims could have been refuted with a simple phone call.

Sports Illustrated was recently named in a lawsuit filed by Oklahoma Fellowship of Christian Athletes representative John Talley, per Randy Ellis of The OklahomanTalley claims the magazine knowingly printed false information about his relationships with athletes.

The controversy surrounding the story helps explain why it has taken so long to come to a conclusion. Oklahoma State hired Charles E. Smrt to investigate the situation, and he has spent almost nine months doing so. The spokesperson told McMurphy their internal investigation is almost over.

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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Re-Evaluating Notre Dame's Recruiting Class After the 2014 Opening

Notre Dame was well-represented at The Opening, with the Irish's four current commitments all having a very successful week at Nike headquarters.

C.J. Sanders' electric speed was on display. Cornerback Shaun Crawford wasn't too far behind him. Tristen Hoge made a case to be the top center in the country. And Jerry Tillery showed the athleticism that saw him finish as the No. 2-rated offensive lineman in the SPARQ competition. 

But if the week in Oregon showed anything, it's that even though Brian Kelly's recruiting class has swelled to 17 commitments in mid-July, the Irish are nowhere near finished. For a class that many expected to stay below 20, the Irish coaching staff is still actively chasing some of the nation's top talents. 

Let's take a fresh look at the Notre Dame recruiting class with The Opening in the rearview mirror. 

 

Top Targets

As we recapped late last week, Notre Dame is after some very big fish. And with the Irish's current recruiting efforts currently ranked No. 8 in the country by 247Sports, the addition of any of these blue-chippers is likely going to give Notre Dame a huge bump.  

Iman Marshall ranks as one of the nation's top 10 players, and his performance at The Opening solidified that. It also solidified his legitimate interest in Notre Dame. The 6'2", 195-pounder has size and a physicality to his game that football coaches at all levels covet, making it very good news that Marshall guaranteed Notre Dame a visit.

Marshall caught up with Rivals.com's Adam Gorney (subscription required) to discuss Notre Dame, who are among his favorites with Florida State and local powers USC and UCLA:

For official visits I'm going to take one to Notre Dame, I know that for a fact, and most likely I'll take one to Florida State, too. Unofficially, my dad and I still need to talk about some of the visits I'm going to take.

Notre Dame's program speaks for itself. The tradition like Long Beach Poly, I'm coming from a school with a rich tradition. At Notre Dame they have that, too. The connections and networks you get from Notre Dame are across the world and that's really important to me. 

The Irish went down to the wire with another Long Beach Poly product in last year's recruiting cycle, losing John "JuJu" Smith to USC in the end. But all you can ask for is sincere interest, and chasing a cornerback like Marshall, even with Nick Coleman, Crawford and Ashton White committed, is worth the effort. 

While the secondary is well-stocked in the 2015 class for Notre Dame, the Irish are still looking for a defensive end to get after the passer. And with early playing time available and a sales pitch pretty obvious after collecting mostly 3-4 defensive ends the past four years, The Opening gave Irish fans a great look at multiple targets who are all planning to take a closer look at Notre Dame. 

Five-star pass rushers Byron Cowart and Keisean Lucier-South are two of the top 20 prospects in the country, and both told Blue & Gold Illustrated's Tom Loy that they planned on using an official visit at Notre Dame. 

Cowart is as close to a ready-made prospect as you'll find. At 6'3.5" and 258 pounds, Cowart passes the eyeball test and brings a combination of speed and power that could play immediately, with Ishaq Williams in his final season for the Irish.

Cowart confirmed the news that he'll be back on campus after taking an unofficial visit that impressed him, watching the Irish play Stanford in the first week in October. He also talked about the sales pitch Tony Alford is giving him, and his receptiveness to the message should be music to Irish fans' ears. 

"When you think about committing somewhere, I'm not thinking about football," Cowart told Loy. "Football will take care of itself, when it's time to practice and strap up, it's going to take care of itself. It's about academics. What can Notre Dame do for me from an academic standpoint? And they can do a lot for me." 

At 6'4" and 211 pounds, Lucier-South will need to grow into his body, but he's the type of speed rusher off the edge the Irish don't have on the roster. He confirmed to Loy that he'll be at Notre Dame for the Stanford game as well, a weekend that's shaping up to be a big one both on and off the field. 

It's hardly 5-star-or-bust for the Irish at defensive end, and Austin Bryant or Porter Gustin are far from consolation prizes. Both were very impressive in Oregon and are making plans for visits to officially see South Bend. 

Notre Dame is still sitting pretty with Tevon Coney, with the Florida prospect seemingly down to the Irish and Florida. While Notre Dame missed out on 5-star linebacker Justin Hilliard, the Cincinnati native raised a few eyebrows when he only checked in at 6'0 and 225 pounds (and ran just a 4.72 40-yard dash), shorter than Coney, who stood 6'1" and weighed 222 pounds. 

On the offensive side of the ball, the Irish are still in the mix for Soso Jamabo, an elite running back who played up to that reputation at The Opening. But they've also continued kicking the tires on LSU commitment Nick Brossette, who sounded very open to Alford's pitch for early playing time. Notre Dame is hoping to add another back alongside Josh Adams, and either would be a huge pickup. 

 

Notre Dame's Commits

When you have prospects who are committed to your favorite team, you really just hope for two things: that nobody gets hurt and nobody looks overmatched. 

For the Irish, things went perfectly. Nobody got hurt. And nobody seemed close to overmatched, with all four commits acquitting themselves more than well. 

While class rankings—especially in mid-July—are pretty meaningless, you've got to expect a minor bump for the prospects' performances in Oregon, most notably those of C.J. Sanders. Elevating Sanders to a top-100-250 prospect puts the receivers group in a different light, especially paired with Miles Boykin and Jalen Guyton

Entering his fifth season at Notre Dame, Brian Kelly has shown more than a little courage in his convictions, recruiting players regardless of their star rating. So while it likely doesn't matter to him how a recruiting analyst views his current class, it does matter to the other recruits who are considering Notre Dame. 

That's good news right now. Because with 17 commits and some big names circling, The Opening gave us a look at a recruiting class that might be much better than most expected. 

 

Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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Why It Was a No-Brainer for Auburn to Leave Nick Marshall Out of SEC Media Days

HOOVER, Ala. — I was wrong.

When news broke that Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall had been cited in Reynolds, Georgia, for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and illegal windows tinting, my first reaction was that he should absolutely still attend SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama, during Auburn's session Monday afternoon.

He should own it. Be a leader. Stand up in front of the assembled masses at the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel and say, "I messed up."

After sitting out Media Days and, as a result, becoming the biggest storyline of the event, it's clear that this punishment was enough.

It hurt.

"It's a privilege and a reward to come to this event and represent Auburn University," head coach Gus Malzahn said. "Last Friday, he lost that privilege."

Brandon Marcello of AL.com wrote over the weekend about what drives Marshall and, in particular, his motivation to be successful in his football career to help his family.

Marshall wrote this text message to his mother Shalena Cliett, according to Marcello:

I go hard for one reason. I go hard because my mama doesn't want to work no more. I just want to say I love you more than you think I do mom. I have got older and see things different than what I used to. I appreciate everything you have done for me up until this point. You're my role model and Lord willing this season goes how it should, I'm ready to pay you back in return. Owe you every penny. Love, Pie Face.

Auburn making a spectacle of the incident at the highest-profile event of the summer and leaving Marshall at home hurts his reputation—something quarterbacks need to have intact when they leave college and embark on a professional career.

"He's going to have some consequences to pay," Malzahn said. "I haven't decided on what they are. Up to this point, he's been a model student, model teammate and a model citizen. But there's going to be a price to pay, and he's going to do that."

He's going to have to answer those questions now at the next level. While that may not seem severe in the world of college football, it's very important to players—particularly to quarterbacks, who are supposed to be leaders of the team.

What happens if Marshall does miss some time during the season?

Malzahn and several of the Auburn players were complimentary of backup Jeremy Johnson in nearly every stop along the Media Days circuit.

"Jeremy Johnson is a guy who could start for the majority of teams in college football," Malzahn said. "He can really throw it."

Center Reese Dismukes echoed those sentiments in the main ballroom, according to Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com.

Make no mistake—Marshall will be punished.

He already has been.

By pulling him at the last minute in favor of tight end C.J. Uzomah, Auburn sent the message to Marshall that even though he's been a model citizen, he's expected to be better, act better and carry himself as a leader.

Last Friday in Reynolds, Georgia, he forgot that. By missing SEC Media Days, he will be reminded of his poor judgment for the next several months.

That's punishment even if he doesn't miss any games.

 

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

 


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Construction Worker Trolls Texas A&M by Hanging Alabama Flag at Kyle Field

Football season is fast approaching, and that means college football fans are gearing up as well. With Kyle Field, home of the Texas A&M Aggies, undergoing renovations, a construction worker seized the opportunity to troll the Texas A&M fanbase.

Someone on the Kyle Field job site wants to get fired. pic.twitter.com/zbjGnR884r

— Doug Keegan (@doug_keegan) July 14, 2014

It's no secret that there is some bad blood between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Aggies. In 2012 the Aggies handed the Tide their one and only loss of the season, a 29-24 final in Tuscaloosa that knocked them out of the No. 1 spot in the AP and BCS rankings.

The next year, Johnny Manziel did all he could, but ultimately the Tide got their revenge, beating A&M 49-42 in College Station.

According to Outkick the Coverage, the construction worker that hung the flag was fired shortly after. He is also not an Alabama alum. 

[Twitter, h/t CBS Sports]

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UCLA Football: Re-Evaluating Bruins' Recruiting Class After 2014 Opening

The Opening proved to be very good for Jim Mora and the future of the UCLA football program.

The committed prospects participating in the event—in addition to the vast number of interested prospects at the camp—truly does illustrate UCLA's newfound prominence on the national landscape of college football.

UCLA picked up three commitments during the camp. In addition, two previously committed prospects—Alize Jones and Josh Rosen—were also present. 

There is considerable buzz surrounding the program at this time. A good chunk of the talent in attendance do have legitimate interest in Mora's squad. These prospects will be detailed below. 

 

Top Targets

Of the prospects on the West Coast, the list starts and begins with elite outside linebacker/defensive end Keisean Lucier-South

The Scout.com 5-star product has been compared constantly to former UCLA Bruin defender Anthony Barr. A very active Twitter user, Lucier-South constantly talks about UCLA. I'd think the Bruins will be in it until the very end for the Orange Lutheran High School product. 

Other local prospects included offensive lineman Dru Samia, defensive backs Dechaun Holiday, Marvell Tell and Iman Marshall and defensive end Rasheem Green.

Per Greg Biggins of Scout.com (subscription required), UCLA is recruiting Samia extremely hard. The talented offensive tackle from Danville, California, is very impressed with the UCLA coaching staff—particularly offensive line coach Adrian Klemm. It wouldn't be a surprise to see an eventual commitment to the Bruins in the future. 

Also according to Biggins (subscription required), UCLA is doing well with Holiday. As is the case with Tell, it could ultimately become a UCLA-USC battle for the duo. The Bruins and Trojans will likely also battle over Green and Marshall. I'd expect both schools to be on their respective short lists up until the signing period in February. 

Multiple out-of-state prospects also like the Bruins considerably. 

Outside linebacker Osa Masina out of Utah currently has UCLA in his top five. Ultra-talented running back Soso Jamabo out of Plano, Texas, also has the Bruins on his short list

Other prospects at the event with sincere interest in the Bruins include receivers Cordell Broadus and Ryan Newsome, defensive end Austin Bryant, linebackers Porter Gustin and Roquan Smith and athlete Ray-Ray McCloud. 

Ironically, former Oregon State receiver and first-round NFL draft pick Brandin Cooks has been recruiting Newsome to UCLA. Cooks was committed to the Bruins under former head coach Rick Neuheisel, before switching over to the Beavers and Mike Riley. Rosen was also in the ear of the Texas receiver throughout the week. 

 

Commitments at the Event

Rosen and Jones entered as the two preexisting commitments at the camp. 

Jones didn't participate much in the seven-on-seven portion due to a concussion. However, he did test exceptionally well. At 6'5", 220 pounds, he's a nightmare matchup for any defensive back. His 4.67 time in the 40 was above-average, and his 4.03 shuttle time is outstanding. 

There's no question the Bishop Gorman High School product is one of the most impressive looking athletes on the West Coast. 

Per Bleacher Report analyst Michael Felder and 247Sports analyst Ryan Bartow, Rosen "wowed" at the camp with his physical tools. Tyler Donohue also had Rosen listed as the top quarterback at The Opening.

UCLA is getting a star at the position. Aside from his impressive physical tools, Rosen is an extremely intelligent individual. He's attempting to graduate early in order to enroll in January. 

With Brett Hundley likely leaving after this season, there's no reason to think Rosen can't compete for—and potentially win—the starting gig as a true freshman. 

He's that talented. 

Athlete Stephen Johnson out of San Leandro, California, was the first of the three UCLA commitments at The Opening.

The 247Sports 3-star chose the Bruins over offers from Oregon, Cal and Arizona State, among others. Johnson flashed immense explosiveness at the combine, running a 4.37 in the 40 and also registering a 34'5" vertical leap. 

Johnson performed as both a corner and a receiver. His competitiveness makes him a valuable prospect, as does his ability to return kicks and punts. At this point, Johnson told 247Sports analyst Justin Hopkins he's "done and committed. I'm 100-percent Bruin."

With Johnson's strong showing, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him eventually bumped up to a 4-star rating. 

The second of UCLA's commits came in the form of talented offensive tackle Andre James from Herriman, Utah. 

UCLA beat out Southern Cal, Ohio State, Oregon and Oklahoma for his services. It was definitely a massive coup for the coaching staff. 

At 6'4.5", 278 pounds, James still has room for physical growth. He'll need to gain both weight and strength in order to play on the next level. Regardless, he's blessed with ideal quickness and agility. His feet will enable him to potentially protect the quarterback's blind side. 

Paul Myerberg of USA Today spoke very highly of James' performance in Oregon, and specifically mentioned his potential upside. With a strong senior season, the Scout.com 4-star could be propelled to a 5-star status. 

The last of UCLA's three commitments was offensive lineman Fred Ulu-Perry out of Honolulu, Hawaii. 

Ulu-Perry elected the Bruins over offers from many West Coast programs. At 6'2.5", 295 pounds, his future primarily will reside in the interior of the line—ideally at center. 

Ulu-Perry impressed considerably at the event. Biggins reported "it'd be tough to imagine a better center prospect anywhere in the country."

Scott Schrader of 247Sports also had glowing praise for the Hawaiian. Schrader mentioned Ulu-Perry showed "tremendous feet, strong hands, good hand placement, toughness and resiliency."

As a result of Ulu-Perry's performance, 247Sports recognized the talented lineman as a member of the "Dream Team" for offensive and defensive linemen in attendance. 

There's no doubt this was a massive addition for UCLA. With the commitments from Ulu-Perry, James and Scout.com 4-star guard Tevita Halalilo, it has the makings of a very good offensive line class. 

If one goes by the Scout.com composite ranking system, UCLA has commitments from the top center on the West Coast (Ulu-Perry), the second-best guard out West (Halalilo) and the second-best tackle (James) on the entire West Coast. 

This also doesn't include the top quarterback nationally (Rosen) and the No.2 tight end prospect (Jones) in the country. 

It's safe to say UCLA is recruiting at an elite level for '15. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA Football: Re-Evaluating Bruins' Recruiting Class After 2014 Opening

The Opening proved to be very good for Jim Mora and the future of the UCLA football program. The committed prospects participating in the event—in addition to the vast number ...

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Re-Evaluating USC's Recruiting Class After the 2014 Opening

USC football has long made its bones on the recruiting trail, and the Class of 2015 is no exception. Head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff already have an impressive group committed, evidenced by the performance of some of the pledged prospects last week at The Opening.

More primary targets for the Trojans in 2015 also shined at the event in Beaverton, Oregon. Expect USC to continue to make a splash in its first recruiting cycle since NCAA sanctions were lifted, particularly among prospects who commanded the spotlight at The Opening.  

 

USC's Top Targets

USC featured some great defenses during the program's run of seven straight conference championships in the 2000s. The 2015 recruiting class could very well bring the Trojans their next great defense, if some of the top prospects from The Opening commit to Sarkisian. 

Rasheem Green showed off his 5-star credentials in defensive line workouts last Thursday. The prospect from Southern California prep powerhouse Junipero Serra wowed those in attendance when playing to his full potential.   

Serra has been a top recruiting pipeline for USC in recent years, and the Trojans could again strike it big there in 2015. Green's not the only 5-star recruit from Serra on USC's radar. 

Linebacker John Houston did not participate at The Opening due to a back injury. He made the trip, however, and detailed his plans to Greg Biggins of Scout.com

The schools I know will make the cut are Florida, Florida State, Oregon, Notre Dame, USC and UCLA. I plan to take all five of my official visits and I don't plan on making my choice until Signing Day. A lot can change over the season so I want to take as much time as I can and make sure I'm doing the right thing.

While that's a while to wait, Justin Hopkins of 247Sports tweeted one tidbit from Houston's appearance at The Opening that should excited Trojans fans: 

USC is also in the mix for another Southern California-based 5-star defensive standout, Orange Lutheran product Keisean Lucier-South.  

Lucier-South suffered an injury in the final days of The Opening but garnered praise before that. Bleacher Report's Michael Felder touted Lucier-South—currently projected at defensive end—as an outside linebacker:

USC is also targeting prospects in the secondary who made their presences felt at The Opening. DeChaun Holiday, a 4-star prospect from Mission Hills High School in San Marcos, California, told Scout.com's Greg Biggins of his interest in USC. 

Holiday said the Trojans are looking at him as either a cornerback or safety. That flexibility could play a role in the talented defensive back's decision. 

 

USC's Top Commits 

USC scored a high-profile commitment at The Opening, when 4-star defensive back Isaiah Langley pledged to the Trojans.

Langley posed for the below photo alongside fellow 2015 Trojans commits and Opening participants Cameron Smith and Ricky Town:

With Langley en tow, USC now checks in at No. 9 on B/R college football recruiting writer Tyler Donohue's top 25.  

Meanwhile, highly touted 5-star quarterback commit Town overcame a slow start in Elite 11 competition to wow Trent Dilfer. The former Fresno State and NFL star told Paul Myerberg and Daniel Uthman of USA Today that Town turned a corner during The Opening:

It popped this morning. It was like the weight of the world was taken off his shoulders. He had so much confidence, his personality started coming out; he had some sauce to him. One play and it was like, 'This is mine. Bye, Coach Dilfer, you can go away. Everybody else can leave, I got this.' That's the first time I've seen it in him. If I see that in the 7-on-7 games, you're going to get a special kid.

Town did indeed exhibit that same fire in 7-on-7 play. Pac-12 Networks analyst Yogi Roth told Justin Hopkins of 247Sports that he saw Town make strides as the quarterback played with less pressure: 

If you look at him the last couple of months, he wasn't having a lot of fun. And now over the last 5 days, he told me yesterday he's never had more fun playing the game. He's smiling, and as he's smiling, he's completing passes, he's not attaching himself to outcomes.

Fellow 5-star prospect Chuma Edoga impressed throughout the week. The most highly rated commit in the Trojans' 2015 class demonstrated quickness and power at the line.  

All told, The Opening suggests a return to prominence in the Pac-12 may not be far for the Trojans. 

 

Recruiting rankings and information culled from 247Sports.com composite scores unless otherwise noted. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Re-Evaluating USC's Recruiting Class After the 2014 Opening

USC football has long made its bones on the recruiting trail, and the Class of 2015 is no exception. Head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff already have an impressive group committed, ...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Carl Lawson Injury: Updates on Auburn Star's Recovery from Knee Surgery

Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson underwent knee surgery in May in hopes of being back in time for the 2014 regular season. While his progress is impressive, Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn is beginning to start the process of mitigating expectations.    

"That's yet to be determined but he is an unbelievable worker," Malzahn told Brandon Marcello of AL.com when asked if Lawsom will be back this coming season. "He's a physical specimen put together extremely well, so he's very determined and so we'll kinda see where that goes."

Lawson, a rising sophomore, underwent surgery on his left knee on May 1. The full extent of Lawson's diagnosis had not been made public, and Marcello initially reported last month that it was not an ACL tear. However, Malzahn changed course on Monday by indicating the surgery was indeed to repair his ACL.

One of the nation's highest-touted defensive end recruits in 2013, Lawson made 20 tackles (7.5 for a loss) and four sacks as a freshman. He was expected to be the Tigers' primary pass-rushing option after the departure of Dee Ford to the NFL. Coupled with fellow 2013 recruit Montravius Adams and seniors Gabe Wright and LaDarius Lewis, Auburn was expected to be among the nation's best defensive lines.

Losing Lawson casts a little shadow of doubt into a unit that Malzahn needs to be a strength. The Tigers boasted an explosive, run-oriented offense last season but saw their defense nearly collapse their season on multiple occasions. Their national championship game loss to Florida State saw the Seminoles come back from a 21-3 deficit to score a 34-31 win. 

"Carl's a young man that, he's going to work his tail off to get back as quick as he can," defensive line coach Rodney Garner told reporters last month. "It's an opportunity for somebody else to step up."

While Malzahn and Garner have kept a cautious stance, those close to Lawson insist he'll play when healthy. Carl Lawson Sr. told Marcello that missing the entire 2014 season is not even a consideration for the family at this point. 

"He definitely wants to play this year and everybody wants to get a chance to right the wrong from that 13 seconds (against Florida State in the BCS National Championship), so I think the thing is he wants to be out there contributing and trying to help Auburn win a national title," Lawson Sr. said.

Having goals and accomplishing them are two different things when it comes to knee injuries. It's best not only for Auburn but also Lawson himself to make sure he's 100 percent healthy when he returns. If that means missing the entire 2014 campaign, Malzahn can throw a medical redshirt on him and retain his last three years of eligibility.

With more than a month still remaining before Auburn kicks off its season Aug. 30, it's safe to say we'll get a better idea of Lawson's status in the coming weeks.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

5 Issues We Would Love Michigan's Brady Hoke to Address at Big Ten Media Days

The Big Ten begins gearing up for the season with its annual event for media and fans in Chicago. Big Ten Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon will be held July 28-29 and feature 42 players and coaches from the conference schools.

Brady Hoke enters this season with his honeymoon in Ann Arbor definitely over after a late-season slide that knocked his team out of Big Ten title contention and included disappointing losses to both Michigan State and Ohio State.

Hoke will be joined in Chicago by a trio of seniors—defensive end Frank Clark, quarterback Devin Gardner and linebacker Jake Ryan.

Here is a wish list of issues fans would love to hear Brady Hoke address as his team prepares for a season that could make or break his tenure at Michigan.

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