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Arkansas Football: Razorbacks' New Year's Resolutions

A lot has happened in 2013. Some things were good and some were bad, but the end of each year marks the beginning of a new one. 

With the new year comes an opportunity for a fresh start, a time to make resolutions and set new goals. Resolutions can be for individuals, offices, classrooms, families and, in this case, the Arkansas Razorbacks.

The 2013 season was not very nice to the Hogs, but it's now in the past. With 2014 come hopes and dreams of turning around what was a very rocky debut for head coach Bret Bielema, to say the least.

The Razorbacks didn't win a conference game for the first time since joining the SEC in 1992 and endured their first nine-game losing streak in program history. But, as stated, 2014 is a whole new year, so there's no need to pout, moan or drown in self-sorrow.

Bielema has a lot of young talent to build on, and putting in the work in the offseason should make for a much better season in his second year. 

With that said, here are the Razorbacks' top-four New Year's resolutions that should make for a better ending.

For more information on the Arkansas Razorbacks football team, follow Bryan Heater on Twitter @BHeaterRivals.

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Ohio State Football: Noah Spence Not with Team, Dealing with 'Personal Issues'

The No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes have arrived in Florida ahead of their Orange Bowl matchup with No. 12 Clemson, but one of their top players hasn't made the trip.

According to Kyle Rowland of Eleven Warriors, Urban Meyer told reporters that defensive end Noah Spence is at home dealing with "personal issues."

“Noah didn’t fly down with us,” Meyer said, via Rowland's article. “He’s working through some personal issues at home. I hope [he will be here].”

With kickoff set for 8:30 p.m. ET on Friday, January 3, time is ticking on Spence's return, and he's certainly missing out on pivotal bowl practices.

If Spence doesn't rejoin the team, Ohio State will be losing one of its most disruptive defenders.

The sophomore standout from Harrisburg, Pa. had a fantastic season, recording 52 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and a team-high eight sacks, according to Ohio State's official website. Spence lines up as the Buckeyes' primary pass-rusher in a position the coaches dubbed the "Viper," and his speed off the edge is one of Ohio State's biggest advantages.

Replacing Spence won't be easy, but if the Buckeyes need to, they'll turn to another sophomore in Jamal Marcus.

Marcus is Spence's primary backup, and with Ohio State's heavy rotation along the defensive line, he received a good amount of playing this year. Marcus played in 12 games and registered 15 total tackles, including two sacks, according to the team's official website.

Facing Clemson's high-powered offense, Spence's potential absence would be a huge blow.

The Tigers, led by senior quarterback Tajh Boyd, boast one of the country's most explosive offenses. Clemson is No. 11 in total offense, averaging 502 yards, while ranking ninth with more than 40 points per game. Much of that damage is done through the air as the Tigers average 329 passing yards per outing.

Ohio State has given up big yards to opposing quarterbacks, ranking 103rd in the country after surrendering an average of 260 yards per game. The Buckeyes need dramatic defensive improvement to slow down the Tigers, and now the playing status of one of their key players is up in the air.

The Buckeyes, of course, are looking to bounce back from their first loss under Urban Meyer after falling to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game. 

If Spence can't make the trip, bouncing back will be much more difficult.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all stats via NCAA.com

David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. 
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oregon vs. Texas: Whose 2014 Recruiting Class Is Better Right Now?

In what will be the final game for a pair of admired coaches, Oregon and Texas will dual in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Monday.

Mack Brown will coach his last game for Texas, while this will also be the last ride for Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti. The Longhorns and Ducks did not have the seasons they both wanted, but they're each going to want to end this year with a victory.

What also makes this such an intriguing contest is that both programs are enjoying solid recruiting years. Which program should be the happiest with recruiting right now? 

 

Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports

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Notre Dame Football: 2013 Grades for Brian Kelly

Notre Dame's 2013 season is officially in the books, and the numerous performance reviews are arriving in droves.

For head coach Brian Kelly, any meeting with athletic director Jack Swarbrick regarding the Irish's 2013 season should be a pleasant one, as Kelly guided the program to what should be considered a successful campaign, despite a 9-4 record not living up to the fanbase's mountainous expectations.

While a slew of factors contributed to the Irish's underwhelming follow-up of their appearance in last season's BCS National Championship Game, providing a detailed performance review for Kelly will inject clarity in the postmortem of the 2013 season.

 

Offense: B

As has been discussed ad nauseam since former starting quarterback Everett Golson was expelled from the university in May, Kelly was essentially forced to scale back his playbook and alter the Irish's plan of attack with Tommy Rees at quarterback.

As Kelly would typically prefer, he wasn't able to run the zone read with Rees at the helm but was able to combat that impossibility by implementing elements of the pistol offense, as well as a no-back set on obvious passing downs.

However, Notre Dame's running game significantly regressed from its 2012 form, as the Irish finished the 2013 season ranked 80th nationally in rushing offense, averaging just 151.3 yards per game on the ground. To the average fan, Kelly would be the man to blame but not in this case.

Fair or unfair to state, opposing defenses stacked the line of scrimmage during appropriate down-and-distance situations, making it virtually impossible for the Irish to effectively run the football.

Despite that deficiency, Notre Dame averaged approximately two points per game more than it did last season. Given that impressive feat under the circumstances, Kelly deserves the "B" for the Irish's offensive performance in 2013.

What prevented Kelly from being bumped up a letter grade was his continued difficulty within the red zone. As has been a common theme during his tenure at Notre Dame, Kelly's offense continually sputtered inside the 20s. Simply put, a red-zone offense percentage of 78 won't get the job done.

 

Defense: C

The best defenses in any league play as a cohesive 11-man unit, with the loss of a single player not having drastically negative effects, but such was the case with the Irish's defense in 2013.

With former linebacker Manti Te'o beginning his professional career with the San Diego Chargers, the spine of the Irish defense withered.

Notre Dame ranked 69th nationally in rushing defense, yielding an average of 168 yards per game on the ground. Keep in mind that Notre Dame returned eight of its 11 starters from last season's dominant unit that carried the program to its first national title appearance in 24 seasons.

Even prior to nose guard Louis Nix's season-ending meniscus tear, his presence along with Stephon Tuitt, Sheldon Day, Jaylon Smith, Carlo Calabrese, Prince Shembo and Dan Fox simply couldn't build on what the unit accomplished a year ago.

Their collective regression combined with a wholly unsatisfactory 17 takeaways resulted in what should certainly be considered a porous defense.

 

Special Teams: D

A grade of "F" could be considered for the Irish's special teams performance during the 2013 season, but placekicker and punter Kyle Brindza brings the grade to "D."

Dating back to Kelly's initial season on the job, Notre Dame has shown time after time that special teams haven't been a priority. 2013 was an especially horrific season for the Irish's kick-coverage unit, as it finished in the cellar of the FBS, ranking 121st nationally (25.68 yards per kickoff return allowed).

Clearly, opposing offenses were allowed excellent field position on a consistent basis due to Notre Dame's failure to execute on that front.

Aside from kick coverage, Kelly and Co. continued to display a failure to piece together even a semblance of an effective punt-return unit. Despite senior receiver TJ Jones' decision to add punt returner to his list of duties, his team saw no tangible improvement, as the Irish averaged an abysmal 7.07 yards per punt return.

The lone bright spot for Notre Dame's special teams was Brindza, who converted 20 of 26 field-goal attempts while also adding on the responsibility of punting with former punter Ben Turk having graduated in May. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Miami Football: Hurricanes' Offseason Primer

The Miami Hurricanes enter the offseason following a 36-9 drubbing at the hands of Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Offensively, the 'Canes could not overcome a very talented defensive line, struggling to find open running lanes and failing to provide quarterback Stephen Morris time in the pocket. Without Duke Johnson and Herb Waters, Miami was simply not able to counteract the Cardinals' speed.

After a strong initial effort, the Hurricanes' defensive unit was overpowered by one-time Miami commitment and top NFL draft prospect Teddy Bridgewater. Seven scoring drives later, 'The U' had surrendered at least 483 yards for the sixth time in eight games and a season-worst 554 yards.

Clearly, the offseason will be a wild ride, considering 24 seniors graduate and coaching changes appear to be very likely.

 

Out With the Old

One season after losing just two senior starters—both of whom were drafted—the Hurricanes' lineup will undergo some major shakeup.

Quarterback Stephen Morris, wide receiver Allen Hurns and fullback Maurice Hagens have run out of eligibility, while the trio of Brandon Linder, Seantrel Henderson and Jared Wheeler will no longer be on the offensive line.

On the other side, middle linebacker Jimmy Gaines and defensive end Shayon Green, the second- and third-leading tacklers, respectively, are the key losses. Curtis Porter, Justin Renfrow, Luther Robinson, David Gilbert, Tyrone Cornelius, A.J. Highsmith and Kacy Rodgers II each played significant time, so the 2014 defensive two-deep will have lots of new faces.

Additionally, junior linebacker Denzel Perryman will make his decision of whether or not to return to school, so the 'Canes could lose their top tackler as well.

Second-team All-America (USA Today) punter Pat O'Donnell averaged a school-record 47.1 yards per punt, so his contributions will be sorely missed. O'Donnell constantly flipped field position, blasting 12 punts of at least 55 yards, including a long of 71.

Casual fans may not be familiar with them, but long-snapper Sean McNally and short-snapper Paul Kelly will also leave, and the pair combined for just one truly bad snap this season.

Though the seniors were largely underwhelming at times, Miami still must replace such a large number, and that has not been easy to do in recent years

 

In With the New

Al Golden and his coaching staff addressed offensive skill positions on the recruiting trail very well.

Quarterback Brad Kaaya was locked up before he exploded onto the scene, and local stud running backs Joseph Yearby and Brandon Powell are making the short trip to The U. Braxton Berrios, Darrell Langham and Tyre Brady highlight a solid haul at the wide receiver spot.

Overall, it's not an eye-popping group, but each player fits specific needs for Miami.

On the line, however, it is a slightly different story.

A trio of four-star players, Kc McDermott, Trevor Darling and Reilly Gibbons, appear to be firm commitments to Golden. Add Nick Linder to the incoming unit, and the Hurricanes are replacing the departing seniors admirably.

Considering Miami is currently holding pledges from eight prospects, recruiting defensive linemen has been a priority.

What's more, three of the eight commits will arrive at Miami via the junior college ranks. Though recruiting JuCo players is not the preferred method, the 'Canes need immediate help on the D-line. Players like Michael Wyche and Calvin Heurtelou already have the size necessary to clog the interior.

At the high school level, Golden will attempt to keep Travonte Valentine from flipping to LSU while locking up local products Chad Thomas and Anthony Moten.

Behind the three linemen, linebacker Darrion Owens and safety Kiy Hester are the key recruits; plus, Juwon Young is a raw talent at linebacker. Mike Smith can be groomed to be used in the role Shayon Green and Al-Quadin Muhammad occupied this past season as an edge rusher who can drop into coverage.

As Hester recently tweeted, "the future is bright."

With that being said, it's time for the Hurricanes to actually reach the light, too.

 

Coaching Changes

Following the Russell Athletic Bowl, Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes Golden said he will "re-evaluate everything" about his staff this offseason.

Recently, many Miami fans have been calling for defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio's job. The Hurricanes were absolutely dreadful defensively for the past three seasons, but much of the difficulty is because of a barren cabinet left Golden by his predecessor.

Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post notes Miami has been unable to contain ranked teams over the past two years.

Should D'Onofrio return, he will be on the hottest of hot seats during 2014.

But, if Golden chooses to part ways with D'Onofrio—and that is a big if—expect a coordinator who knows everything about a 3-4 defense. The 'Canes have been making a steady transition to that scheme, but it probably will not take full effect until Golden possesses a roster entirely of his own recruits.

First-year offensive coordinator James Coley's inaugural season calling plays seemed to flatline after Miami beat Georgia Tech. Of course, missing Duke Johnson certainly limited his ability to open the playbook as 2013 progressed.

Coley's job is more than likely safe, but he definitely needs to improve next year.

It's probably not a popular opinion, but it may be time for offensive line coach Art Kehoe to be replaced. Kehoe has been a part of every national championship in Miami history, but the O-line folded against top competition this season.

Louisville (four), Virginia Tech (three) and Florida State (two) combined to drop Morris for nine of his 15 season sacks, and he completed just 44 of his 84 attempts (52.4 percent).

Yes, Morris was not stellar against the 'Canes' best competition anyway, but he often was hurried or knocked down, and that did not help at all.

There are no definite answers as to which coach will be replaced, but something is probably going to happen.

 

Extra Tidbits

Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel notes superstar running back Duke Johnson is likely to miss spring drills. The bright side, though, Duke's absence would give early-enrollees Yearby and Powell valuable reps during spring practice.

No, Duke missing any practice time is not a good thing, but there is a silver lining, no matter how small it may seem.

Additionally, a quarterback battle is expected, with the leading candidates being senior Ryan Williams and redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen.

For an unknown reason at this time, Olsen was left at home during the bowl game. As of Dec. 29, Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald reports the university says no player has been dismissed from the team.

Olsen is pegged as the quarterback of the future, so that will be an important situation to follow—if it actually is one.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

VT vs. UCLA: Can Logan Thomas Save His NFL Draft Stock in Sun Bowl?

At 6'6" and 254 pounds, Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas looks like the ideal NFL QB. Thomas, who came to Blacksburg as a tight end, is extremely athletic for a man of his size and possesses one of the strongest arms in all of college football.

No doubt, Thomas should be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, right?

Not so fast.

After an outstanding sophomore season in 2011—his first year as a starter—Thomas has been one of the most inconsistent players in college football the past two years.

However, on Tuesday, Thomas and the Hokies will play No. 17 UCLA in the Sun Bowl. The Bruins, led by outside linebacker Anthony Barr, have an impressive defensive front, and a solid performance by Thomas against UCLA could revive his declining draft stock. 

In 2011, Thomas completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,013 yards and tossed 19 touchdowns to go along with 10 interceptions. He led the Hokies to an appearance in the ACC title game—something Hokies fans were accustomed to—and an overtime loss to Michigan in the Sugar Bowl.

The arrow was definitely pointing up for Thomas until a 2012 campaign that saw the Hokies have their worst season in 20 years. Thomas completed just 51 percent of his passes, and his interception total rose to 16. 

Many VT fans were optimistic that 2012 was an aberration and Thomas would rebound this season. It didn't happen. Much like last year, Thomas had some big moments where he showed tremendous potential, while there were other games—like Alabama and Duke—where he looked like he didn't belong on the field. 

And for the first time since the inception of the ACC Championship Game in 2005, the Hokies haven't won the Coastal Division once in a two-year period.

No, everything isn't Thomas' fault. The offensive line has been bad. The Hokies have been unable to replace David Wilson the past two years, and losing the top two receivers in school history, Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale, after 2011, hurt Thomas tremendously. 

Also, much more is asked of Thomas than most QBs. He led the team in rushing last season and was second on the team this year. 

But through it all, many draft observers have felt Thomas will go much higher than his on-field performance would dictate. In fact, there is a definite split in the scouting community on Thomas.

Legendary Dallas Cowboys personnel guru Gil Brandt, who now works for NFL.com, believes Thomas needs to change positions at the next level.

However, the folks at Optimum Scouting believe Thomas is more of a victim of the youth and lack of talent around him.

With his size, arm, athletic ability and experience, Thomas will find at least one NFL team, or perhaps more than one, that will take a chance on his vast physical talent. A team with a good, solid veteran QB can afford to put Thomas on the bench for a few years and allow him to develop.

A strong performance on New Year's Eve would go a long way in improving Thomas' stock. He is facing a stout defense in a game facing little opposition on other networks. Scouts from across the country will be watching this game intently.

If the Hokies are to have a chance at beating the Bruins, they need a strong performance by their senior signal-caller. 

With Trey Edmunds out for Tech, J.C. Coleman will get the bulk of the workload in the Hokies running game. Thomas will be heavily featured, too.

Thomas must get the ball out of his hands quickly, and when he gets chances to make a play downfield, he must connect. Remember, Thomas is set to play in the Senior Bowl next month, so a strong performance in his team's bowl game followed by a strong week in Mobile could do wonders for Thomas.

Remember how well it worked out for EJ Manuel last year?

Manuel was viewed as no more than a third-round pick after the 2012 season. Then he had a strong Orange Bowl performance followed by a good week of practice at the Senior Bowl in front of NFL coaches. Manuel went on to become the first QB selected in the 2013 NFL draft.

Thomas will not be the first QB taken in the 2014 draft. He could, however, get himself into the first-round discussion, and that will begin in earnest this Tuesday when the Hokies face UCLA in the Sun Bowl.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Under Armour All-America Game 2014: 10 Recruits with Best NFL Skill Sets

The 2014 Under Armour All-America Game takes place on Thursday, so get ready. Many of the country's best high school football players and future stars of college football will be on the field. Plus, a couple of major commitments will be made.

Speaking of future stars, several recruits have advanced skill sets and NFL potential. These standouts have some varying combination of size, speed, instincts, quickness and athleticism to play professionally.

A running back is the total package at his position, while several defensive backs already look like NFL prospects. Also, an offensive lineman and defensive tackle are on this list.

 

Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports

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Texas Football: 5 Best Moments of 2013

The Texas Longhorns' 2013 season will come to an end on Monday in the Alamo Bowl. No matter how it ends against Oregon, there were plenty of moments where Texas looked like the program we thought it would be.

While losses to Oklahoma State and Baylor will define this year's 'Horns, they do not lessen the excitement that came with steamrolling Oklahoma and Texas Tech. 

There was Jackson Jeffcoat's transcendent senior year, and Johnathan Gray's pre-injury breakout. Even fullback Alex de la Torre gave this team a jolt this season

Here is the best of Texas' 2013 campaign.

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Texas Football: 5 Best Moments of 2013

The Texas Longhorns' 2013 season will come to an end on Monday in the Alamo Bowl. No matter how it ends against Oregon, there were plenty of moments where Texas looked like the program we thought it would be.

While losses to Oklahoma State and Baylor will define this year's 'Horns, they do not lessen the excitement that came with steamrolling Oklahoma and Texas Tech. 

There was Jackson Jeffcoat's transcendent senior year, and Johnathan Gray's pre-injury breakout. Even fullback Alex de la Torre gave this team a jolt this season

Here is the best of Texas' 2013 campaign.

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Baylor Head Coach Art Briles Discusses Texas Football Coaching Rumors

After current Baylor coach Art Briles was linked to the Texas football head coaching job, per Kirk Bohls and Brian Davis of The Austin American-Statesman (subscription required), the Bears coach discussed the Horns job while in Arizona preparing for the 2014 Tostito's Fiesta Bowl.

On Dec. 29, Craig Smoak of ESPN Central Texas asked Briles about The Statesman's report that he would take Texas job if offered. Smoak reported his findings on Twitter, which can be found via Storify.

Anybody can say anything, you know. I learned a long time ago, I think it was believe none of what you hear and half of what you read. And I know that our total focus is on beating UCF and that's the way it's going to be. I mean if I did anything that was not on that would be detrimental to our football team and our university and I'm never going to do that. I'm privileged and honored to be the head coach at Baylor University, I can promise you that.

Davis addressed the Briles quote via Twitter.

Certainly, Briles is focused on the upcoming matchup with Central Florida, but he did not deny any interest or want in the Texas job. A definitive statement would have been nice for the sanity of both the Baylor and the Texas faithful.

Briles has taken Baylor from the bottom of the Big 12 to the top with a 2013 conference championship and the school's first-ever BCS berth. He's gotten many top recruits, including Heisman winner Robert Griffin III and Rivals.com 5-star recruit Lache Seastrunk, to come to Waco. What kind of damage could he do in Austin if he took over Mack Brown's former job?

The Longhorns take on the Oregon Ducks in the 2013 Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30. The Bears play their bowl game on Jan. 1, 2014. Possibly, rumors will be flying over the next weeks, but a decision on the Texas job should be made soon.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Baylor Head Coach Art Briles Discusses Texas Football Coaching Rumors

After current Baylor coach Art Briles was linked to the Texas football head coaching job, per Kirk Bohls and Brian Davis of The Austin American-Statesman (subscription required), the Bears coach discussed the Horns job while in Arizona preparing for the 2014 Tostito's Fiesta Bowl.

On Dec. 29, Craig Smoak of ESPN Central Texas asked Briles about The Statesman's report that he would take Texas job if offered. Smoak reported his findings on Twitter, which can be found via Storify.

Anybody can say anything, you know. I learned a long time ago, I think it was believe none of what you hear and half of what you read. And I know that our total focus is on beating UCF and that's the way it's going to be. I mean if I did anything that was not on that would be detrimental to our football team and our university and I'm never going to do that. I'm privileged and honored to be the head coach at Baylor University, I can promise you that.

Davis addressed the Briles quote via Twitter.

Certainly, Briles is focused on the upcoming matchup with Central Florida, but he did not deny any interest or want in the Texas job. A definitive statement would have been nice for the sanity of both the Baylor and the Texas faithful.

Briles has taken Baylor from the bottom of the Big 12 to the top with a 2013 conference championship and the school's first-ever BCS berth. He's gotten many top recruits, including Heisman winner Robert Griffin III and Rivals.com 5-star recruit Lache Seastrunk, to come to Waco. What kind of damage could he do in Austin if he took over Mack Brown's former job?

The Longhorns take on the Oregon Ducks in the 2013 Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30. The Bears play their bowl game on Jan. 1, 2014. Possibly, rumors will be flying over the next weeks, but a decision on the Texas job should be made soon.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Nebraska Football: 5 Best Moments of 2013

Nebraska football fans saw a lot in 2013, some good and some bad. And while the bad things (the Deadspin audio, 12 turnovers in three games, losing to Minnesota and Iowa) certainly stand out, there were a lot of shining moments for the Scarlet and Cream this year.

So as we prepare to bid 2013 farewell, let’s take a look back at the Cornhuskers’ year and pick the five best moments for Nebraska fans. Champagne and silly hats are required for this slideshow...go ahead, I’ll wait.

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Nebraska Football: 5 Best Moments of 2013

Nebraska football fans saw a lot in 2013, some good and some bad. And while the bad things (the Deadspin audio, 12 turnovers in three games, losing to Minnesota and Iowa) certainly stand out, there were a lot of shining moments for the Scarlet and Cream this year.

So as we prepare to bid 2013 farewell, let’s take a look back at the Cornhuskers’ year and pick the five best moments for Nebraska fans. Champagne and silly hats are required for this slideshow...go ahead, I’ll wait.

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Wisconsin Badgers, Minus 1 Bears Fan, Celebrate Packers' Last-Minute Victory

When Aaron Rodgers hit Randall Cobb for a 48-yard touchdown in the final minute of Sunday's game at Soldier Field, Packers nation exploded.

The Wisconsin Badgers football team, which watched the game at the team's hotel in Orlando, Fla., went crazy when Green Bay took a 33-28 lead. Well, the entire team except the one Chicago Bears fan in the middle of the group.

The last-minute touchdown gave the Packers the victory, and it wrapped up the NFC North as well.

Thanks to the Wisconsin Badgers for the video, and hat tip to Samer Kalaf of Deadspin for the find.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Army All-American Bowl 2014: 10 Recruits with Best NFL Skill Sets

The 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl will take place at Noon CT in Texas this Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The East and West both have rosters packed full of talent, so this will be fun to watch.

Many current NFL players played in this game as high school seniors, so history leads one to believe several future professional football stars will be playing in the 2014 edition. Reaching the NFL is the goal for every recruit in the country, but not many make it.

However, a couple players who will be showcasing their talent this weekend appear to have the skill set and potential to become a pro. Keep an eye on the following recruits.

Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

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Georgia Football: 5 Best Moments of 2013

With the New Year around the corner as well as the Bulldogs' final game of the season, it’s safe to say the 2013 season was a roller coaster for the players, coaches and fans.

There were some great wins, and there were a few bad losses. There were more injuries than a coach would want, and there was a player who cemented his name as one of the best in Georgia history.

The 2013 season did not turn out the way the program wanted, but there were some great moments to take away, which made the year very interesting.

Here are the five best moments from 2013.

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Georgia Football: 5 Best Moments of 2013

With the New Year around the corner as well as the Bulldogs' final game of the season, it’s safe to say the 2013 season was a roller coaster for the players, coaches and fans.

There were some great wins, and there were a few bad losses. There were more injuries than a coach would want, and there was a player who cemented his name as one of the best in Georgia history.

The 2013 season did not turn out the way the program wanted, but there were some great moments to take away, which made the year very interesting.

Here are the five best moments from 2013.

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Michigan Football: Super Early Preview of the 2014 QB Battle

Saturday didn’t mark the arrival of Super Shane.

No, it was simply the debut of a true freshman who was thrown into the fire, expected to give Michigan some sort of shot at winning the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in the absence of starter Devin Gardner.

Really, the Wolverines’ 31-14 loss to Kansas State marked the beginning of the Serviceable Shane Morris era—at least it should have. The former 247Sports 4-star pro-styler showed “something,” despite the pathetic effort put forth by the rest of his teammates.

Moving forward with Morris, along with Wilton Speight, in 2014 seems likely.

Completing 24-of-38 passes for 196 yards isn’t a trophy-worthy accomplishment, but considering the circumstances, Morris certainly deserves credit for doing that “something” while others did nothing.

Having to string together a little magic while the No. 1 watches, crutch-bound, from the sidelines isn’t an easy job—even against a 7-5 Wildcats team that opened 2013 with a loss to FCS North Dakota State.

Morris didn’t wow the masses. He showed mobility with a 40-yard run in the fourth quarter, and he probably should have connected on at least three more passes—drops by receivers were to blame for falling short of 28-for-38 for 250 yards and a touchdown.

He looked calm. He only threw one interception, and that was in the third to Dante Barnett. Michigan was already well behind.

Dare it be said that he played a helluva game for a first-time starter?

Indeed.

And that’s why a no-holds barred race for No. 1 in 2014 should be anticipated.

 

Morris Makes Most of Opportunity

If you were in the “expect the world from Shane” camp, you were disappointed Saturday night. If you were in the “show me something” camp, you were likely delighted.

Morris went 3-for-5 (44 yards) during his first drive, including 13- and 24-yard completions which were heavily aided by the YAC. But he was OK. He didn’t get mauled, and considering Gardner’s past—he was sacked 34 times, third-most in the FBS—seeing an upright Morris was enough to satisfy.

So the Wolverines lost. They were severely underprepared. According to Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com, Michigan defensive end Frank Clark said the following about the lack of continuity as his team was suffocated by K-State:

I think a lot of guys lost the will to play as a family. That's one thing you can't do in football. In football, you've got to stick in there and stay together as a family.

That's something we've got to work on in the offseason.

A 63 percent completion rate and clean uniform shouldn’t have been results of a “family” implosion. Morris’ effort was one of few honest and true goes (Clark included). 

According to Baumgardner, James Ross said the defense wasn't "totally into it." That makes sense. The Wildcats went aerial in the first and never looked back. How was Morris supposed to spark a rally when his defense kept giving away points? 

Look, there is no clear star on the roster. For those who whiffed on Gardner, don't feel ashamed. Some guys simply don't live up to perceived potential. Morris has the characteristics, at the very least, of a traditional, true-blue pocket passer. 

If Michigan can't do it with him, the only other in-house option is Speight.

In an effort to make things clear, Michigan should reclassify Gardner as a wideout. Far from a potential in-the-shadows Heisman dark horse and possible Big Ten MVP, Gardner played like a quarterback who had just five starts and benefited from a tide of good fortunes late in 2012.

 

Speight's Arrival

He's another Under Armour All-American, just like his predecessor. 

But, at 6'6" and 220 pounds, he's slightly bigger than Morris. There will be compromise in this equation. Morris, arguably, has the better arm. But Speight's ball developed during his senior year at Richmond Collegiate (Va.). 

Speight is supposed to enroll early, so the spring game could be quite interesting. Russell Bellomy should be back to full health, so that makes four in the mix if Gardner's included. At the very least, three pocket passers should compete for the top job (if the roster stays as-is). 

Don't let the 3-star ranking fool you. Speight was recruited by Alabama and Auburn, two schools which have flourished with similar passers. His spiral isn't as tight as Morris, and his velocity isn't up there yet—but he's accurate, patient and very, very tall. 

Vision shouldn't be an issue, nor should his intentions. During an interview with Tim Sullivan of TheWolverine.com (subscription required to view), Speight said he's prepared to enter Ann Arbor and was quite comfortable during visits.

Michigan doesn't [host] do it as much with flash as some of the other schools, but they make it meaningful and make sure we enjoy ourselves. I think - I've known this since the day I committed, and a lot of the guys have - it basically solidified all the thoughts that we definitely made the right choice in committing to Michigan. It's a very special place and we were reminded of that this weekend

 

Possible 2014 QB Crop

Assuming everyone stays put, the following table illustrates Michigan's ball throwers. With the exception of Bellomy, the pool of contestants for starter shouldn't include a guy with an asterisk by his name. 

 Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Michigan Football: Super Early Preview of the 2014 QB Battle

Saturday didn’t mark the arrival of Super Shane.

No, it was simply the debut of a true freshman who was thrown into the fire, expected to give Michigan some sort of shot at winning the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in the absence of starter Devin Gardner.

Really, the Wolverines’ 31-14 loss to Kansas State marked the beginning of the Serviceable Shane Morris era—at least it should have. The former 247Sports 4-star pro-styler showed “something,” despite the pathetic effort put forth by the rest of his teammates.

Moving forward with Morris, along with Wilton Speight, in 2014 seems likely.

Completing 24-of-38 passes for 196 yards isn’t a trophy-worthy accomplishment, but considering the circumstances, Morris certainly deserves credit for doing that “something” while others did nothing.

Having to string together a little magic while the No. 1 watches, crutch-bound, from the sidelines isn’t an easy job—even against a 7-5 Wildcats team that opened 2013 with a loss to FCS North Dakota State.

Morris didn’t wow the masses. He showed mobility with a 40-yard run in the fourth quarter, and he probably should have connected on at least three more passes—drops by receivers were to blame for falling short of 28-for-38 for 250 yards and a touchdown.

He looked calm. He only threw one interception, and that was in the third to Dante Barnett. Michigan was already well behind.

Dare it be said that he played a helluva game for a first-time starter?

Indeed.

And that’s why a no-holds barred race for No. 1 in 2014 should be anticipated.

 

Morris Makes Most of Opportunity

If you were in the “expect the world from Shane” camp, you were disappointed Saturday night. If you were in the “show me something” camp, you were likely delighted.

Morris went 3-for-5 (44 yards) during his first drive, including 13- and 24-yard completions which were heavily aided by the YAC. But he was OK. He didn’t get mauled, and considering Gardner’s past—he was sacked 34 times, third-most in the FBS—seeing an upright Morris was enough to satisfy.

So the Wolverines lost. They were severely underprepared. According to Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com, Michigan defensive end Frank Clark said the following about the lack of continuity as his team was suffocated by K-State:

I think a lot of guys lost the will to play as a family. That's one thing you can't do in football. In football, you've got to stick in there and stay together as a family.

That's something we've got to work on in the offseason.

A 63 percent completion rate and clean uniform shouldn’t have been results of a “family” implosion. Morris’ effort was one of few honest and true goes (Clark included). 

According to Baumgardner, James Ross said the defense wasn't "totally into it." That makes sense. The Wildcats went aerial in the first and never looked back. How was Morris supposed to spark a rally when his defense kept giving away points? 

Look, there is no clear star on the roster. For those who whiffed on Gardner, don't feel ashamed. Some guys simply don't live up to perceived potential. Morris has the characteristics, at the very least, of a traditional, true-blue pocket passer. 

If Michigan can't do it with him, the only other in-house option is Speight.

In an effort to make things clear, Michigan should reclassify Gardner as a wideout. Far from a potential in-the-shadows Heisman dark horse and possible Big Ten MVP, Gardner played like a quarterback who had just five starts and benefited from a tide of good fortunes late in 2012.

 

Speight's Arrival

He's another Under Armour All-American, just like his predecessor. 

But, at 6'6" and 220 pounds, he's slightly bigger than Morris. There will be compromise in this equation. Morris, arguably, has the better arm. But Speight's ball developed during his senior year at Richmond Collegiate (Va.). 

Speight is supposed to enroll early, so the spring game could be quite interesting. Russell Bellomy should be back to full health, so that makes four in the mix if Gardner's included. At the very least, three pocket passers should compete for the top job (if the roster stays as-is). 

Don't let the 3-star ranking fool you. Speight was recruited by Alabama and Auburn, two schools which have flourished with similar passers. His spiral isn't as tight as Morris, and his velocity isn't up there yet—but he's accurate, patient and very, very tall. 

Vision shouldn't be an issue, nor should his intentions. During an interview with Tim Sullivan of TheWolverine.com (subscription required to view), Speight said he's prepared to enter Ann Arbor and was quite comfortable during visits.

Michigan doesn't [host] do it as much with flash as some of the other schools, but they make it meaningful and make sure we enjoy ourselves. I think - I've known this since the day I committed, and a lot of the guys have - it basically solidified all the thoughts that we definitely made the right choice in committing to Michigan. It's a very special place and we were reminded of that this weekend

 

Possible 2014 QB Crop

Assuming everyone stays put, the following table illustrates Michigan's ball throwers. With the exception of Bellomy, the pool of contestants for starter shouldn't include a guy with an asterisk by his name. 

 Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Football: 5 Best Moments of 2013

Similar to the majority of Nick Saban’s tenure at Alabama, 2013 was a year in which the Crimson Tide dominated the college football landscape.

The year began with Alabama’s 42-14 dismantling of Notre Dame in the BCS title game. It ended with the team falling just short of having an opportunity to play for its second consecutive SEC title and a chance at a third straight crystal football.

Still, there were plenty of moments that gave Tide fans reason to celebrate in 2013.

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