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Notre Dame Football: 4 Important Stats to Watch in 2014

We're roughly six weeks away from the start of Notre Dame football, when the Irish play host to Rice on Aug. 30 at Notre Dame Stadium.

In recent weeks, we've taken focused looks at recruiting, positional units, backups and more. We’ll take a step back today and think about the big picture. In what areas does Notre Dame need to improve and/or excel to succeed in 2014?

We’ll zero in on certain statistics that will likely be very revealing as to how successful the Irish will be in various facets of the game. Obviously, the most important stats in the end are points, wins and losses. We’ll probe a bit deeper here.

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Walter Camp Award Watch List 2014: Full List and Bleacher Report Favorites

The watch list for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, given annually to the top performer in college football, was released Friday afternoon.

"We are proud to continue the great work of Walter Camp and recognize the best college football players in the nation," said Walter Camp Football Foundation president James Monico, per the official release. "This watch list is a great start to what is shaping up to be another exciting year of college football."

The list consists of 50 players (33 offensive, 17 defensive), headlined by last year's winner, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. But this trophy, unlike some of the other major awards in college football (*cough* the Heisman), has been fairly accessible to other positions: Five of the last 12 winners did not play quarterback.

Winston will try to become the first back-to-back Walter Camp winner since Colt McCoy (Texas) in 2008-2009 and the second since Archie Griffin (Ohio State) in 1974-1975.

Here is his primary competition:

Of those 50 preseason candidates, here are five who stick out as favorites, along with some other names to keep an eye on.

 

QB Jameis Winston, Florida State

Obviously.

Winston led the nation in quarterback rating (by a substantial margin) last season and still hasn't lost a game as a starter. He was cited for stealing crab legs from a supermarket this offseason, which did not curry favor with the general public, but once the season starts and Winston gets back on the field he should (hopefully) be able to keep his head down and get back to doing what he does best: winning.

 

RB Todd Gurley, Georgia

Georgia has a first-time starter at quarterback and a defense that should be better against the run (its front seven is loaded) than the pass (its secondary is…not). Its best game plan will be running the ball, controlling the clock and making teams earn every inch—on both sides of the line.

Todd Gurley is the most gifted skill-position player in America, and if he stays healthy he is perfectly suited to take advantage of that system and post Walter Camp-type numbers.

 

QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Marcus Mariota was a Heisman candidate—if not the downright Heisman front-runner—at the halfway point of last season. But a blown-out knee hindered his production, and losses to Stanford and Arizona effectively ended his bid for the major awards.

He's back for his redshirt junior season, though, and a quarterback doesn't turn down the money from a likely first-round NFL draft pick unless he has some unfinished business. Winning the Walter Camp is part of that.

 

QB Braxton Miller, Ohio State

It feels weird to say this, but given how they ended last season, the Buckeyes might sneak up on some people. A big reason for that is the return of Braxton Miller, the two-time reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year who forewent the NFL draft to play his senior year in Columbus.

With Carlos Hyde gone, an even bigger offensive onus will fall on Miller's shoulders—something that seems absurd given his usage rate the past two seasons. If Ohio State makes the College Football Playoff, Miller will have a legitimate shot at this trophy.

 

RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

Wisconsin's normally run-heavy system might get even run-heavier this season. Questions under center and (especially) at receiver exist more than ever, but the offensive line should remain great, and Melvin Gordon is finally the No. 1 option.

If he keeps up his per-carry pace from 2013, Gordon would turn 250 carries into 1,950 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. There are sure to be some highlight-worthy plays in there as well. That would make for a compelling case.

 

Other Names to Watch: RB Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska), RB Mike Davis (South Carolina) WR Tyler Lockett (Kansas State), QB Nick Marshall (Auburn), QB Bryce Petty (Baylor)

 

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BleighDAT

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Should Ohio State Really Be the Big Ten Favorite over Michigan State?

It only took three hours for Urban Meyer and Ohio State to lose it all.

The No. 2-ranked Buckeyes were riding high entering the Big Ten title game last season—just a week separated from a thrilling 42-41 victory over archrival Michigan. It was the most recent triumph in a string of 24 consecutive victories, and Ohio State was one win away from booking a trip to Pasadena, Calif., for a shot at Florida State and a national title.

Michigan State was just too strong. 

The Spartans limited a previously unstoppable Buckeye rushing attack and held Braxton Miller to just eight completions and 101 passing yards. Connor Cook torched Ohio State with 304 passing yards and three touchdowns, while Jeremy Langford kept the Buckeyes off balance with 128 rushing yards and another score.

The result? Michigan State came away with a 34-24 victory, the Big Ten Championship and the joy of dashing Ohio State's title run.

“It’s going to haunt all of us," Meyer said of the game, according to Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch. "I would imagine, for a little while.” 

"A little while" was an accurate prediction.  

Despite being outclassed by Mark Dantonio's underappreciated squad just seven months ago, various media outlets (and the good folks in Vegas) are pegging Ohio State as the favorite to win the Big Ten in 2014.

Is that fair? 

The Buckeyes do return the conference's two-time MVP in Miller, and as a senior in his third year orchestrating Meyer's offense, he's expected to fuel another potent Buckeye attack. He'll also have a better supporting cast at wide receiver as players such as Dontre Wilson and Michael Thomas look primed for breakout seasons.

Ohio State also boasts an incredible defensive line, which could produce three future first-round NFL draft picks. New co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash was brought in to trigger a defensive turnaround—a process that appeared on point during the Buckeyes' spring game.

There are plenty of reasons to be high on Ohio State, but there are also a number of legitimate concerns. 

Meyer must replace four senior starters along his offensive line—a unit that paved the way for the Buckeyes' fifth-ranked rushing offense. Carlos Hyde was the key cog in that attack, and he had a historic season even though he missed the first three games due to a suspension.

The Buckeyes also lost two of their best defenders in linebacker Ryan Shazier and cornerback Bradley Roby. Both were selected in the first round of the NFL draft, and both left holes that will be difficult to fill. 

Of course, Michigan State has its issues.

The Spartans will be without cornerback Darqueze Dennard and linebacker Max Bullough, two of the defenders most responsible for shutting Ohio State down in the Big Ten title game. The offensive line is a question mark as it returns just two starters. Bennie Fowler, who led the team in receiving yards and touchdowns, is gone as well.

At the peak of Jim Tressel's run at Ohio State, the Buckeyes routinely thrashed Michigan State. Dantonio has changed the culture in East Lansing, though, and the memories of John L. Smith fade with each dominant season he puts together.

The Spartans have averaged 10.5 wins since 2010. In 2013, they became the first team in Big Ten history to beat each of their league opponents by double digits. They've reloaded year in and year out—proving that they're here to stay.

The Big Ten's inclusion of Rutgers and Maryland forced the league to realign, and Ohio State and Michigan State have been slated in the East Division. That eliminated the possibility of a rematch in Indianapolis, but they'll go head to head in East Lansing on November 8.

That game will be played under the lights on national television. The Big Ten race will be rounding the corner for the home stretch.

Just don't be surprised if Michigan State is leading the pack.

 

Stats via NCAA.com.

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. 
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tennessee: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from SEC Media Days

The annual circus of quotes and craziness known as SEC media days is over, and it came and went without much earth-shattering news from the Tennessee Volunteers.

But that doesn't mean the appearance in Hoover, Alabama, for coach Butch Jones and three of his players—A.J. Johnson, Curt Maggitt and Mack Crowder—was devoid of newsworthy nuggets and sound bites.

It's likely going to be yet another rebuilding season for UT, but the message conveyed by the four Vols on hand in Hoover was one of guarded optimism.

Unlike recent years, the evidence that accompanies the hopeful words about the program's direction makes them stand out like Maggitt's orange-and-white-striped bow tie.

UT's upset victory over South Carolina in Jones' inaugural season, a top-10 recruiting class in the 247Sports Composite ranking and the continuity of holdover from an entire coaching staff are reasons to believe things are getting better on Rocky Top.

That was the prevailing feeling perpetuated by the orange contingent.

So, let's take a look at the most important topics discussed and what we can take away from UT's appearance at media days.

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Whose Seat Is Hotter Entering 2014: Brady Hoke or Will Muschamp?

Will Muschamp didn’t hide from the questions. Quite the contrary.

Florida’s embattled head coach dove right in, before a reporter could even bring up the topic.

“There will be a lot of chatter about hot seat business,” Muschamp said in his opening remarks at this week’s SEC media days in Hoover, Ala. “That’s part of it. The way you combat that is having a winning football team and winning football games, which is what we're going to do.”

Muschamp knows his seat is plenty warm. After the way 2013 went, how can he avoid it?

The Gators suffered through an injury-riddled season and slipped from 11-2 in 2012 to 4-8, the program’s first losing record since 1979, capped by an embarrassing home loss to then-FCS team Georgia Southern.

It vaulted Muschamp onto one of the hottest seats in college football, although he said, “There was never any time in my mind that I didn’t think I would be retained,” according to an ASAP Sports transcript of his remarks.

There are some parallels between Muschamp and another fourth-year coach: Michigan’s Brady Hoke.

Both are entering their fourth season at football-hungry powerhouses. Both are entering it with a new offensive coordinator following an offseason move designed to kick a sputtering scheme into high gear.

Both own an 11-2 season with their respective programs, and both are facing pressure to win this fall.

However, it is difficult to imagine a scenario where Hoke’s seat could be considered hotter than Muschamp’s.

Muschamp might have this fall’s hottest seat in college football.

How does he change that?

Just win, baby.

“Control the controllable is always what I've said,” he said. “Control the things you can control. I haven't always practiced it, but try and just control the things I can control. That's coaching our football team, developing our football team.”

He hopes Kurt Roper’s offensive mind will help, too. Muschamp showed offensive coordinator Brent Pease the door following the 2013 season and replaced him with Roper, whose uptempo, spread-it-out system helped Duke to an ACC Coastal Division title and a Chick-fil-A Bowl berth. The Blue Devils averaged 426.1 yards per game (47th nationally) and 32.8 points per game (41st nationally).

Florida, meanwhile, struggled mightily after quarterback Jeff Driskel suffered a season-ending broken leg in the team's third game against Tennessee. The Gators lost 15 players to season-ending injuries, including Driskel and tailback Matt Jones. Florida finished No. 113 nationally in total offense (316.7 ypg), No. 112 nationally in scoring offense (18.8 ppg) and No. 107 in passing offense (170.9 ypg).

“We needed to make some changes on offense,” Muschamp said. “I felt like our kids had lost confidence in some things we were doing offensively.”

Using Roper’s shotgun-based system, he said, fits Driskel and an offense that includes talented receivers like Quinton Dunbar, Andre Debose (who missed last season with a torn ACL) and sophomores Chris Thompson and DeMarcus Robinson better than Pease’s system did.

“To utilize (Driskel’s) athleticism and space, some of the things he's able to do athletically is going to benefit him and us,” Muschamp said.

In Ann Arbor, Hoke hopes former Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier can inject life into the Wolverines’ offense.

Michigan had no offensive balance in a 7-6 season that finished on a 1-5 skid: Former offensive coordinator Al Borges’ system mustered only 125.2 yards of rushing offense per game, No. 102 nationally.

Nussmeier piloted a balanced offense at Alabama that averaged 454.1 yards of total offense per game (248.5 passing and 205.6 rushing).

He knows balance and positive plays will be keys at Michigan this fall for an offense expected to be piloted by senior quarterback Devin Gardner. The Wolverines return three starters from last fall’s leaky offensive line but lose tackle Taylor Lewan, an NFL first-round pick. He told MLive.com that negative plays can’t happen.

The first thing we have to do is we have to take care of the football, and the second thing, which was a major concern last season,  is that we've got to secure the line of scrimmage. We can't have loss yardage running plays, we can't have sacks.

Michigan is placed in the tougher of the Big Ten’s revamped division format, with Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State. Regardless, Muschamp’s seat appears to be hotter. Hoke has yet to have a losing season at the Wolverines’ helm, something that Muschamp can’t say.

Yahoo! Sports columnist Pat Forde wrote that anything less than an SEC East title could call Muschamp’s job into question. That won’t be easy. The Gators face Alabama and LSU from the SEC West, although they do host LSU, South Carolina and Missouri while traveling to Tennessee and playing Georgia in the teams’ annual neutral-site showdown.

“I got a lot of confidence in this team and staff,” Muschamp said. “This is probably the most complete team we've had since I've been at the University of Florida in all three phases.”

He better be right, or Florida could be looking for a new coach come early December.

Connect with Greg on Twitter @gc_wallace

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Predicting ACC Football's 2014 All-Conference Team

With kickoff just over a month away, there are plenty of breakout players and historic seasons ahead in the fall.  With a Heisman winner returning and a few breakout performers who had last season cut short by injury, don't be surprised if those familiar faces shine again this year.  

Here's a look at who the top performers in the ACC could be come January when the next national champion is crowned.

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Texas Football: 6 Longhorns Recruiting Targets Who Would Start as Freshmen

It's well-known that The Opening has come and gone without a single Texas commit in attendance, and it's obvious that Texas A&M is dominating the in-state recruiting.

The real problem, though, is that the Longhorns are going to need some freshmen to start in 2015, and they lack commits to fill several expected vacancies.

Just based on graduation, the 'Horns will lose at least five defenders and four offensive players after this coming season. The defensive backfield will need the most help after losing three starters, while the offense will be facing an identity crisis without bruising ball-carriers Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron.

As soon as Texas adds players like Kendall Sheffield and Chris Warren to fill these voids, you can write them into the starting lineup. The same can be said about the tight end position if the Longhorns ever land a reliable one.

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Georgia Football: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from SEC Media Days

Despite all of the hype, it's easy to gloss over the actual substance at SEC media days.  This time of year it seems every player is in really great shape, everyone is doing what they need to do to prepare and every team is just ready to play football—at least that's what the coaches are saying. 

The Georgia Bulldogs' appearance in Hoover, Alabama, was no exception to this tradition.  Fortunately both head coach Mark Richt and the Dawgs in attendance (wide receiver Chris Conley, linebacker Ramik Wilson and running back Todd Gurley) managed to throw in a respectable balance of entertainment and insight along the way.

Here are a few of the best quotes and key takeaways from Georgia's media day.

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Florida: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from SEC Media Days

SEC media days were a lot more interesting for the Florida Gators than I thought they would be. I believed it was going to be much of the same stuff we’ve heard about for the last several months. Things like the quarterback play needs to improve, the Gators have to perform better and the coaching staff has to do whatever it can to avoid losing their jobs.

Instead, it was quite eventful, and one could argue that the Gators stole the show during Day 1 of the event. There was a little boasting going on, players and coaches had a little cockiness to their tone and we received a few updates on some key players’ status for the upcoming season.

Here are the biggest takeaways from Florida’s media day.

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Florida State Football: Issues We Would Love Fisher to Address at ACC Media Days

Most coaches would like to have Jimbo Fisher's concerns going into the 2014 season.

The Florida State football team is coming off a national championship, has a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in Jameis Winston, a playmaking receiver in Rashad Greene, a senior-laden offensive line and a defense that's loaded with talent.

Even after losing 10 starters (five on each side of the ball), it's tough to find a glaring weakness. Let's instead consider it a potential flaw.

So let's take a look at five points that we would like Fisher to address when the ACC Football Kickoff begins Sunday in Greensboro, North Carolina. 

 

Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report, all quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bob on Twitter. All stats from Seminoles.com. All recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

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Miami Football: 3 Backups Critical to the Hurricanes' Success in 2014

Three backups are critical to the Miami Hurricanes' success in 2014, and they are expected to produce in various ways.

While much of the focus has highlighted offensive efficiency, the defense is where the 'Canes must make the greatest strides for the quickly approaching campaign.

Recently, Miami has shown weaknesses at every level, but the backups are another year older and another year wiser—or at least they should be.

Each of the following players is entering his second season with the program, and the Hurricanes will rely on the young reserves every week.

 

Ufomba Kamalu, Defensive End

Following one season adapting to the speed of the FBS level, Ufomba Kamalu is primed for a breakout year. In March, Kamalu told Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald that he gained 10 pounds this offseason, bringing his 6'6" frame up to 285 pounds.

"I feel like when I got here last year, I was a little bit behind because I wasn't able to start camp with the guys," Kamalu said, per David Lake of 247Sports (subscription required). "I felt like I had to play catch-up to everything here when I first arrived, which can be tough. During the bowl practices, I got more confidence and started to play faster."

Lurking behind longtime starter Anthony Chickillo, the JUCO transfer will remain above highly touted freshman Chad Thomas for the foreseeable future. Al-Quadin Muhammad and Tyriq McCord were listed as co-starters on the post-spring depth chart, but the latter has basically exclusively been a speed-rusher.

In simpler terms, Kamalu will be a significant part of the rotation. Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio should also look to utilize him as an inside rusher on third down, sending Kamalu out alongside Chickillo and two edge-rushers.

The defensive line was forgettable last season, but Kamalu could help form a respectable unit in the trenches.

 

Jermaine Grace, Outside Linebacker

A highly recruited yet undersized linebacker, Jermaine Grace tallied eight total tackles in 11 appearances as a freshman. However, his upcoming responsibilities will be magnified intensely and will be subject to much scrutiny.

Now a borderline starter, Grace has been forced into a duty for which he was already battling following the dismissal of Alex Figueroa. Grace, Raphael Kirby and Thurston Armbrister are the top three outside linebackers, and the trio will rarely leave the field.

Unless Darrion Owens explodes onto the scene during fall camp, any one of the three is now the first replacement, at worst. Currently, the sophomore is the odd man out of a starting position, and he is an essential cog in the Hurricanes' defensive machine, which must be upgraded.

"[Grace] is a guy that will be hard to not want on the field on first and second down because of his instincts and playmaking ability," D'Onofrio said, per Lake (subscription required). "He has a knack for finding the football. He is a good blitzer, he is good in pass coverage and he has good instincts against the run."

Miami needs Grace to use those skills each outing, as the 'Canes are in even more trouble without him.

 

Artie Burns, Cornerback

Cornerback is one of the most difficult positions for a young collegian to dominate in his first season, let alone earn a notable spot. But as a sophomore, speedster Artie Burns will move into a larger role.

Though Miami returns both starters in Tracy Howard and Ladarius Gunter, Burns made an impression early this year. After earning a black jersey for practice, the sophomore snagged an interception during the spring game.

Antonio Crawford will likely be the nickelback, leaving Burns in the rotation on the outside in preparation for when he becomes a full-time starter in 2015.

Additionally, he is a leading candidate for kick return duties, especially if Duke Johnson and Stacy Coley are not back deep. Last year, Burns averaged 26.1 yards over 10 returns, including a 43-yarder against Virginia Tech.

Yes, he fumbled at the end of that kick, but Burns showed his value with the football. Paired with record-breaking speed, he's certainly worthy of the position—one that has the potential to make Burns a game-changer for the 'Canes.

 

Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Questions We'd Love to Ask Every Coach at Big 12 Media Days

Summer workouts are drawing to an end, and we're a little more than a month from the start of the season. So you know what that means. 

Media days are upon us. 

It's the time of year where the media gets to bombard coaches and players with any and every question under the sun, from how they expect the season to go to what their favorite breakfast foods are. 

If fans wish they could do one thing, it would be to ask questions to their favorite coach. So let's check out the top question fans want to ask each Big 12 coach. 

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Michigan Football: Is Devin Funchess a Legitimate Biletnikoff Award Contender?

The Devin Funchess hype train has made a stop at Biletnikoffville, home of the perceived-best receivers in all of college football. 

Of course, the Michigan junior is among many others—probably too many—on the watch list that pays homage to stars such as Stanford's Ty Montgomery and Louisville's DeVante Parker, a pair of more-than-worthy candidates for the esteemed roll call. 

But is Funchess deserving of such high regard? The Wolverines' tight-end-turned-wideout is in the beginning phases of establishing himself in the Big Ten—that's the first step.

Athletically and physically, he stands out from the crowd; and he's well on his way to being a special player. However, he must first dominate his own yard before being considered among the best on the block.  

In order to get to the bottom of the issue, this slideshow will compare Funchess to others on the Biletnikoff list, all the while rifling through pertinent statistics, trends and other things worth mentioning. A definitive verdict will be presented at show's end.

Devin Funchess named to Biletnikoff Award watch list for nation's top receiver http://t.co/L4Nlp0aqhc

— MLive Sports (@MLiveSports) July 15, 2014

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Nebraska Football: Five Reasons Cornhuskers Will Flop in 2014

Nebraska football fans are eternal optimists, looking forward to the 2014 season with excitement and hope for future glories. But, in every season, there is always the risk of things going south. Nebraska fans need only to remember 2007 to see how quickly the air can escape from the metaphorical balloon.

Certainly, that’s not what Nebraska fans want to see. But the danger is out there. Here are five sharks in the water that could devour the 2014 season.

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Georgia Football: What Bulldogs Fans Need to Know About Dominick Sanders

The 2014 recruiting class for Georgia is currently on campus working out with veteran members of the team so they can be prepared for preseason practice, which will start at the beginning of August.

And with the veterans working with the rookies, there’s going to be that one player that stands out above the rest. Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph got a chance to speak to Todd Gurley and Ramik Wilson, and they both agreed that Dominick Sanders is the player that fans need to keep their eye on during the season.

Freshman safety Dominick Sanders' name mentioned by players here. "He's going to push for somebody's spot," Ramik Wilson said.

— Marc Weiszer (@marcweiszer) July 17, 2014

But who is Sanders? Where did he come from and why is he making an impact already?

Sanders was not really on the Bulldogs radar at the start of the recruiting season last year. In fact, Sanders committed to UCF in mid-January and did not have UGA anywhere on his final list of schools. But when Sanders de-committed from UCF, the Bulldogs, along with Auburn and Missouri, made a last-minute offer. And, at the end of the day, Sanders decided to play in his home state.

247 Sports has Sanders listed as a three-star prospect from Tucker, Georgia. He has good ball skills and pretty good speed. But what makes him stand out, and the reason he’s getting praise from his Bulldog teammates, is that he has the ability to make plays.

Sanders will play the safety position in Athens, but, when he was at Tucker High School, he played running back, quarterback, receiver, kick return and cornerback to go along with safety. As a running back, Sanders rushed for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns. As a receiver, he led the team with 273 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw for 126 yards and three touchdowns, but defense was his strong point, as he led the team and DeKalb County with eight interceptions.

This isn’t the first time a Sanders has impressed the UGA masses. Dominick is the younger brother of Chris Sanders, who drew similar praise as a freshman three years ago. The elder Sanders got hampered by injuries his freshman year and was dismissed from the team the following February for a theft incident that involved Sanford Seay and current Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall.

But if Dominick Sanders is able to stay healthy and keep his nose clean, he will have a great chance to see some playing time this season. The only two safeties on the roster that have significant experience are Corey Moore and Quincy Mauger. And new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has made it clear that true and redshirt freshmen will be thrown into the fire if they do well in practice.

The question is will Sanders push for a starting spot? Odds are that he will not be part of the starting lineup when the Bulldogs take the field against Clemson. But, if he keeps working, learning and growing, there is no reason he won’t be part of the safety rotation, and that will lead to a chance for him to be a starter in 2015.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas A&M Football Recruiting: 10 Best Aggie Recruits from BCS Era

The BCS era started in 1999, and Texas A&M has signed its fair share of top recruits. The Aggies haven't always been the dominant recruiting power they are now, but they've done well for themselves in the past.

College Station and Kyle Field are great places to be, which is part of the reason why Texas A&M signed a great dual-threat quarterback in 2002. A pair of franchise offensive tackles came in 2010, while a running back in the 1999 class was a good one coming out of high school.

Also, keep in mind this list focuses on recruiting. That means studs like quarterback Johnny Manziel and defensive end Von Miller were left off due to not being top-rated recruits in high school.

All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Rankings.Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.All stats are from Sports-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted. 

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10 Craziest College Football Recruiting Rules

Recruiting is a crazy experience, and college coaches have to abide by a lot of different rules.

There are various restrictions regarding dead periods, quiet periods, evaluation periods, visits, contacts, calls, emails, camps and many other different things that involve college football recruiting.

While many rules in place make sense, several of them can make you scratch your head. It's time to look at some odd recruiting rules that either don't make much sense or are outdated. 

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Alabama Insider Buzz: Ignore Saban, One Bama QB Looks Poised to Lead in 2014

Alabama finally got their chance to take the podium on Day 4 of SEC Media Days. Head coach Nick Saban and his players discussed a variety of topics for the media, including the new look at quarterback for the Crimson Tide this upcoming season.

How does Saban think the QB situation will pan out in 2014? What do the Alabama players think of FSU transfer QB Jacob Coker?

Watch the video to find out.

Highlights courtesy of XOSDigital

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SEC Media Days Buzz: Biggest Stories of Day 4

The final day of 2014 SEC media days is in the books. Georgia, Alabama, Ole Miss and Kentucky took center stage on Thursday, as players and coaches fielded questions from the media.

Watch Bleacher Report SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee break down the biggest stories coming out of Day 4 from Hoover, Alabama, including the two-quarterback situation at Alabama and the maturation of Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell.

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

What You Need to Know About Florida State's New 2017 WR Commit D.J. Matthews

Florida State has frequently recruited athletes after strong freshman seasons during recent years. Jacksonville wide receiver D.J. Matthews is the latest youngster to determine he wants to be a Seminole down the road.

Though the rising sophomore can't formally sign with Florida State until February 2017, he gave his verbal commitment to head coach Jimbo Fisher during a campus visit Thursday. Matthews shared the decision on Twitter:

His recruitment became a nationwide pursuit this spring. Despite a rapidly expanding collection of scholarship offers, Florida State rose to the forefront after offering in early May.

"I committed because I love FSU and how [wide receivers] coach [Lawrence] Dawsey and Jimbo Fisher showed me love," Matthews told Josh Newberg of 247Sports.

The 6'0", 160-pound prospect emerged as a top target at First Coast High School last fall during a journey to the Class 8A state quarterfinals. He finished third on the team with 47 receptions for 624 yards and seven touchdowns, per MaxPreps.

First Coast quarterback De'Andre Johnson committed to Florida State at a similar point in his career. The 2015 prospect pledged to the Seminoles in July 2012, prior to his sophomore season.

"I actually told De'Andre Johnson first," Matthews told 247Sports. "He was happy and said he was proud of me."

Johnson is one of two players in the team's 2015 recruiting class who committed after just one high school campaign. Top-ranked safety Dewin James joined the class in February 2012.

"It was definitely a crazy feeling to commit so early," James told Bleacher Report earlier this month. "Then you see everyone else start to get in the class later. It made me want to recruit other players and make it better."

Matthews is undoubtedly the catalyst of a 2017 class that isn't likely to reach double-digit commitments for perhaps another two years. It's an excellent start for Florida State, which also holds one commitment in its 2016 class (4-star defensive tackle Cedric Wood).

The pass-catcher displayed sensational ball skills as a freshman. Despite a slender frame, Matthews managed to come down with difficult catches in traffic and showed he isn't afraid to fully extend for the football.

He already high-points passes, providing a strong indication that his approach is incredibly advanced for a young receiver. Matthews impressed with smooth route running as a freshman, gaining separation off the line thanks to quality footwork and fluid hips.

His consistency in 2013 was rather staggering for a newcomer on a title-contending team. He caught at least four passes in eight contests, including three straight in the playoffs.

Matthews finished his first postseason with 18 receptions for 217 yards and two touchdowns. That's an outstanding output for a player who still has significant physical maturation ahead of him.

Florida State beat out several early contenders for his commitment, including LSU, Clemson, South Carolina, Tennessee and Miami. Despite his decision, expect teams to keep coming after Matthews with a long stretch separating the talented receiver from signing with the Seminoles.

 

Recruit information and ratings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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