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4-Star Dual-Threat QB Travis Waller High on Alabama, Waiting on Bigger Offers

The quarterback dominoes of the 2015 recruiting class continue to fall. The Oregon Ducks lost out on No. 1 dual-threat quarterback Kyler Murray so now they turn their eyes to 5-star dual-threat quarterback Travis Waller. The Anaheim, California native has been pursued by Alabama and Ohio State lately and should be announcing his commitment later this summer. 

What's the latest news with Waller's recruitment? Is he now Oregon's top quarterback target? Which dark horse Big Ten school is in the running?

Watch 247Sports' Ryan Bartow break down the latest in Travis Waller's recruitment. 

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital. All recruit rankings are from the 247Sports composite rankings.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

4 Reasons Why 5-Star WR Damarkus Lodge Will Sign with Texas A&M

The Texas A&M football coaches have the No. 5-ranked recruiting class in the nation committed and a lot of momentum on the recruiting trail right now. The Aggies will sign 5-star wide receiver recruit Damarkus Lodge in February to put an exclamation point on top of their excellent class.

Lodge is considered by many to be the top wide receiver prospect in the state of Texas. If the Aggies want to win conference and national titles, it starts by winning the big recruiting battles in their own state.

Lodge is an impact player who would see playing time from the time he steps foot on campus at any program in the country. He is one of the truly elite recruits in Texas in the 2015 class. 

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff will prevail in their pursuit of Lodge. They will sign him and continue to add to the stacked roster they are building in Aggieland.

This is a look at the reasons why Damarkus Lodge will sign with the Aggies.  

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Miami in Talks with Alabama and LSU About Future Nonconference Kickoff Games

The Miami Hurricanes former mantra—"any team, any place, any time"—might reportedly be put to the test in the next couple of years, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald is reporting that the school has had preliminary talks about scheduling a season-opening game against either Alabama or LSU.

"UM has been approached about opening the football season against Alabama in 2017 in Atlanta or LSU in 2018 in Arlington, Tx," Jackson wrote. "UM will consider playing in one but not both."

These talks appear to be in the infant stage of development, and a lot could change to throw Miami off Alabama and LSU's trail.

But the game would make sense, in theory, since all three teams have not been shy about scheduling blue-blood nonconference opponents.

Say what you will about the state of TCU and Virginia Tech in 2013—LSU and Alabama had to have thought that those games would be more competitive when they were scheduled. Same goes for the Tide's season-opening matchup against West Virginia in 2014.

And as for Miami, just take a look at some of the marquee programs they have scheduled for the next few seasons:

Scheduling Alabama in 2017 would bridge the current gap and ensure the Hurricanes have at least one power-conference opponent (or Notre Dame) scheduled in each of the next eight seasons.

Scheduling LSU in 2018, however, would be risky in addition to the previous agreement to play Rutgers that season. The Scarlet Knights are down right now, but they are a historically competitive program that should ostensibly benefit from their move to the Big Ten.

Still, this is Miami we are talking about—a program that does not, historically, like to back down from a challenge. 

Which leaves all of us, just like Bryan Fischer of NFL.com, hoping desperately to see one of these games happen:

Amen to that, brother.

 

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC Football Recruiting: Position-by-Position Preview for the Class of 2015

USC's 2015 recruiting cycle is off to a strong start. Head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff have eight verbal commitments at six different positions, including two 247Sports composite 5-star prospects. 

All told, the Trojans top 247Sports' Pac-12 rankings and check in at No. 13 nationally. 

The current corps of commits provides USC a strong foundation for national signing day 2015. 

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USC Football Recruiting: Position-by-Position Preview for the Class of 2015

USC's 2015 recruiting cycle is off to a strong start. Head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff have eight verbal commitments at six different positions, including two 247Sports composite 5-star prospects...

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SEC Releases Scheduled Coach Times for 2014 Football Media Days in July

Love it, hate it or be frightened by its ludicrous magnitude—it doesn't matter. SEC media days are approaching.

Scheduled to take place, as usual, at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama, the new four-day format of the event will run from July 14-17 and once again be our beacon that college football season is near—even if we're all just standing around in suits or in front of the TV watching sunburnt middle-aged men at a podium.

Those dates have been scheduled since the winter, but on Tuesday the SEC Digital Network released the itinerary for the spectacle, which includes the order and times of the featured speakers.

Here is a full look at the schedule (h/t Brandon Marcello of AL.com for the transcription):

 

MONDAY, JULY 14

Session I:  11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. (Auburn will begin rotation at 11:30 a.m.)

Commissioner Slive

Auburn - Gus Malzahn

Session II:  2:40 p.m. - 5:40 p.m. 

Florida - Will Muschamp

Vanderbilt - Derek Mason

TUESDAY, JULY 15

Session I:  9 a.m. - Noon

South Carolina - Steve Spurrier

Miss. State - Dan Mullen

Session II:  1 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Texas A&M - Kevin Sumlin

Tennessee - Butch Jones

WEDNESDAY, JULY 16

Session I:  9 a.m. - Noon

Steve Shaw / Justin Connolly

Missouri - Gary Pinkel

Session II:  1 p.m. - 4 pm

LSU - Les Miles

Arkansas - Bret Bielema

THURSDAY, JULY 17

Session I:  9 am - Noon

Georgia - Mark Richt

Ole Miss - Hugh Freeze

Session II:  Noon - 3 p.m.

Alabama - Nick Saban

Kentucky - Mark Stoops

 

The only real development is the addition of the times. As Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee reminds us, the order of speakers—which is always of intrigue—was released before Tuesday's announcement:

Of the session-by-session pairings, nothing jumps off the page as particularly intriguing. Steve Spurrier will probably come up with some way to troll Mississippi State right before Dan Mullen—another former Florida coach—comes up to the podium.

But let's be honest: He would have found a way to do that to anybody. Mullen is just the unlucky sap who drew the short straw.

The other thing that sticks out is the distance between Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Those two, of course, were involved in a tacit war of words concerning the 10-second run-off rule Saban allegedly proposed to—and saw rejected by—the NCAA rules committee this offseason.

"For a rule to be changed, it has to be under the umbrella of health and safety," Malzahn told Bryan Matthews of Auburn Undercover. "And the fact that there’s absolutely zero evidence, documented evidence, that is hazardous on the pace of play, only opinions."

Malzahn will speak first and Saban will speak second-to-last among SEC head coaches, but that will not prevent player safety, how it relates to pace of play and the allegedly proposed rule from becoming the dominant storyline at media days. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Meet Nebraska's Next Stud CB, 4-Star ATH Avery Anderson

2015 4-Star athlete Avery Anderson has already pledged to play his college ball at Nebraska. The 6'0", 170-pounder will most likely play the cornerback position for the Huskers.

Bleacher Report caught up with Anderson, who discussed why Nebraska is the place for him, what schools have still been recruiting him and whom he looks up to at the NFL level.

Who is his favorite player? Who does he compare himself to?

Watch the video to find out.

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

Rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Widening Recruiting Gap as Massive 4-Star DT T.D. Moton Picks Tide

Nick Saban may have stared up at the likes of Texas A&M and Penn State in national recruiting rankings during early periods of the 2015 cycle, but his team is back in a familiar position at No. 1. Alabama continued to distance itself from the pack Monday when it landed a commitment from 4-star defensive tackle T.D. Moton.

The dominant Louisiana product shared his decision on Twitter:

The 6'2.5", 310-pound prospect pledged in person while spending time in Tuscaloosa for a camp. He is the 18th member of a 2015 Crimson Tide class that now features 13 composite 4-star recruits.

Moton didn't play a single snap of football in 2013, as he was forced to sit out his junior season due to transfer rules after arriving at Woodlawn High School (Shreveport, Louisiana). He emerged as a disruptive interior defender during his sophomore season, tallying 50 tackles with Calvary Baptist Academy, per MaxPreps.

He previously pledged to Mississippi State but backed off that verbal pact in January. Texas A&M and LSU were also in the mix during recent months before Alabama emerged as his favorite.

Moton moves extremely well at his size and appears capable of lining up at 5-technique in Saban's system. He may quickly draw comparisons to former Crimson Tide star Marcel Dareus, who currently plays for the Buffalo Bills.

Moton's commitment maintains mounting momentum at Alabama. He is the third 2015 addition in eight days, joining 3-star linebacker Keaton Anderson (Florence, Alabama) and 4-star tight end Hale Hentges (Jefferson City, Missouri).

The Crimson Tide are quickly running away with the 2015 recruiting title, which would be the program's fifth consecutive consensus No. 1 finish.

According to 247Sports' composite team rankings, the talent gap between Alabama and Clemson's class (rated No. 2 right now) is equal to the gap between Clemson and South Carolina (No. 8).

At this point, it seems things would really have to unravel for the Tide before signing day in order for another team to surge into the top spot. Considering Saban's track record, that scenario is unlikely.

Alabama has again assembled a well-rounded crop of talent, featuring 11 prospects who rank among the top six players at their respective positions in 247Sports' composite rankings. 

Recruiting success spreads far beyond the Tide's home turf.

Saban landed the top-rated recruits in New Jersey (cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick) and Washington D.C. (offensive lineman Richie Petitbon), the No. 2 recruit in Missouri (Hentges), No. 3 in Mississippi (linebacker Leo Lewis) and No. 5 in Louisiana (wide receiver Daylon Charlot).

The team remains in pursuit of a quarterback prospect and could address the position by reaching out to California. Anaheim standout Travis Waller, a 4-star talent, has seen his recruitment intensify in recent weeks, with Alabama rising to the forefront:

There remains room for growth in Saban's latest star-studded haul, which should serve as a scary thought for opponents. Alabama is firmly in the mix for 5-star difference-makers like defensive end CeCe Jefferson (Glen Saint Mary, Florida), linebacker Malik Jefferson (Mesquite, Texas), defensive tackle Daron Payne (Birmingham, Alabama) and athlete Terry Godwin (Hogansville, Georgia).

The latest flurry of commitments gives Alabama eight pledges since its spring game on April 19. Not bad for a squad that finished last season on its first losing streak in five years.

Alabama was unseated as national champion five months ago, but the program continues to back up its claim as undisputed recruiting king.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Why Success Might Not Be Guaranteed for the SEC Network

The SEC had another banner season at the bank, as the conference announced (h/t Kami Mattioli of Sporting News) its members reeled in around $21 million per school during the fiscal year of 2013.

That puts the SEC well ahead of everybody else and just behind the king of cash, the Big Ten, which distributed $23-$26 million per school in the same fiscal year. And the SEC has reasons to be bullish on the future, as its own SEC Network is scheduled to launch Aug. 14.

But any prediction that the conference will outpace the Big Ten in earnings with the SEC Network would be premature. There are still a number of issues involving the nascent network, not the least of which is that it has yet to reach agreements with some of the nation's biggest TV carriers.

With an asking price of $1.30 per subscriber within the conference's 11-state footprint, the SEC Network is demanding significantly more than either the Big Ten ($1) or the Pac-12 ($.80) for their networks. As a point of comparison, the NBC Sports Network, which carries the Stanley Cup playoffs and the English Premier League, costs merely 31 cents per subscriber.

So far, DirecTV (20 million subscribers) and Comcast (22 million) have not caved to the SEC's demands. DirecTV in fact has not carried the Pac-12 Network since its inception two years ago, and the impasse is expected to continue into a third season this fall.

Even with the SEC fans threatening to make a switch, these providers might not budge so easily, as the sports television landscape has changed dramatically over the past five years. The proliferation of regional sports networks and their exorbitant fees have forced the providers to reevaluate their business models.

In Houston, the Comcast regional sports network that carries the Astros and Rockets recently filed for bankruptcy after it was unable to get on any carriers other than its parent Comcast. In L.A., the popular Dodgers—even with the legendary Vin Scully in the booth in perhaps his final season—have been blacked out this season on virtually every carrier other than Time Warner, which owns the new sports network that broadcasts the team's games.

The SEC Network, of course, has one advantage over the others, as it's partly owned by ESPN, which is the most expensive and perhaps the most indispensable cable network. ESPN has already made sure that the SEC Network will not be stuck only with third-tier football games involving FCS schools. South Carolina-Texas A&M has been chosen to debut the network's lineup in the 2014 season.

But even with ESPN's clout, there is no guarantee that these carriers, facing considerable consumer backlash over rising cable bills, will play ball. For as popular as sports are in general—and, in particular, in the South—there is still a considerable number of people who don't care and don't want to pay for something they won't watch.

"A lot of the households would assign a very low value to an SEC regional sports network," Andrew Zimbalist, a noted sports economist recently told USA Today. "There is a real structural question of how important it is for a cable distributor to carry this, particularly in light of the fact the bottom income earners have had their wages stagnate over the last decade and cable bills keep going up and up and up.

"I think we've been in a bubble and there has been a lot of over-bidding, and these little fracases we're seeing are harbingers of sustained battles that will be happening."

SEC has quite a bit of brand power and fan loyalty. But given the current business climate, the success of the SEC Network is hardly a certainty. 

Follow on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

New Florida Offense Perfect Fit for Jeff Driskel and the Chip on His Shoulder

The 2013 season didn't exactly go according to plan for Florida.

Coming off an 11-2 campaign and a berth in the Sugar Bowl, the Gators were expected to contend for the SEC East title and stay relevant on the national scene.

Things went south in a hurry. 

A Week 2 loss to Miami followed by a season-ending leg injury to starting quarterback Jeff Driskel suffered in the third game of the season vs. Tennessee sent the Florida program sputtering to a 4-8 season, which included a home loss to then-FCS Georgia Southern.

The Gators are angry.

"I think the whole team has a chip on their shoulder," Driskel said. "Our record doesn't show the kind of talent we have on our team, and I think we came back and attacked spring with the mentality that 'this is it.' We don't have years to waste, and nobody's going to feel sorry for us."

Head coach Will Muschamp certainly won't.

Now entering his fourth year, Muschamp enters the 2014 season coaching for his job. He made a philosophical change by bringing in former Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper to run his hurry-up offense in place of former pro-style coordinator Brent Pease.

The change suits Florida athletes well, especially Driskel, a former 5-star prospect and the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the country in the class of 2011, according to 247Sports.com.

"When Driskel came out of high school, the only real concern that we had was that he wasn't terribly productive and his team didn't win very many games," said JC Shurburtt, national recruiting director for 247Sports.com. "That's somewhat important for a quarterback, but the arm, arm strength, athleticism, size—all of that was still enough to make him the top quarterback prospect in the country."

Finally, he's in the perfect offense to fit his skills.

Roper's new scheme will put more emphasis on getting athletes out in space, which includes Driskel in the running game.

"In the new offense, we really want to create space and that's going to be the best thing for our guys," Driskel said. "We have a lot of guys who can make plays in space, but when you don't have that space, it's kind of difficult. Spreading it out and getting more one-on-one matchups for our playmakers is going to be great for us."

As is the case around the country, tempo is a buzz word for the Gators this spring. They finished first in the SEC in time of possession in each of the past two seasons, but those offenses finished last and 12th in the SEC in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

If the 2014 Gators lead the conference in that statistic, something has gone terribly wrong. Pushing tempo is a big part of Roper's scheme, and Driskel is pumped.

"I really do like the tempo," Driskel said. "When you get in a tempo and don't huddle, you can really get into a groove as a quarterback. There were times in spring where I felt really comfortable and everything went smooth."

He was more of a caretaker in his one and only full season as the starting quarterback, passing for 1,646 yards, 12 touchdowns and five picks in 2012, leading the Gators to the Sugar Bowl against Louisville. But that was more a product of the system than Driskel.

The 6'4", 237-pounder from Oviedo, Florida, is as much of a threat with his legs as he is with his arms, and he finally has the scheme that fits his skills.

"I remember a pass he threw in the Under Armour game where he rolled out and slung it," Shurburtt said. "It was dropped, but it looked like something Brett Favre would do. My former colleague Gerry Hamilton and I were extremely impressed. I still believe he's got the tools to be a first-round draft pick, physically."

The offense, which will primarily be run out of the shotgun, will allow Driskel to use his legs more than he has in the past. The zone read was a part of Pease's scheme but will be a focal point with Roper.

That's great news for Driskel, who not only has experience running it, but has speed to burn.

"I think teams know that I'm fast," Driskel said. "I've put on film that I can run by DBs, and that's talked about during the week when defenses are getting ready for us. It's just something else that the defense has to account for, and is kind of where the game is moving. That's not just us. That's everywhere."

Driskel has weapons around him.

Demarcus Robinson has the ability to become a deep threat, Quinton Dunbar is a veteran who is a reliable target and 6'0", 190-pound slot receiver Andre Debose should be back this summer after tearing his ACL last August. 

Two of Roper's receivers who broke the 900-yard mark at Duke—Jamison Crowder and Donovan Varner—are similar to Debose. When he's 100 percent, Debose's versatility will be a tremendous asset for Driskel and the Gators.

"I don't think there's too many offenses that wouldn't want someone with his kind of speed," Driskel said. "Anytime you can get one-on-one matchups, it's tough to cover a guy like that throughout an entire game."

Muschamp's philosophical change, the tempo in the offense and the chip on Florida's shoulder has Driskel and this team motivated.

"Potential doesn't mean anything," Driskel said. "You have to show it on Saturdays, and we know that. There's a real sense of urgency on this team."

 

*Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand and all stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com.

 


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Auburn in Position to Steal 5-Stars Terry Godwin, Trent Thompson from Georgia

With football nearing on The Plains, Auburn has no expectations less than reaching the national championship game again. The Tigers landed fullback Chandler Cox this weekend and brought in four 5-star recruits to visit for Big Cat Weekend. 

One of those 5-star athletes is No. 1 ATH Torrence Gibson. Will the Tigers land Gibson and the other three 5-star athletes? 

Watch B/R's College Football analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee as they break down the other top recruits who made the visit to Auburn this weekend. 

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital. All recruit rankings from 247 Sports Composite.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Updated Torrance Gibson Odds: Where Will 5-Star Stud Land?

5-star athlete Torrance Gibson recently released his list of his top seven schools in order, so we updated our odds board for where he will play his college ball. The Tennessee Volunteers and the Auburn Tigers are tied for first on Gibson's list, but which is the actual favorite to land the stud dual-threat QB?

Check out Adam Kramer update the odds on where Torrance Gibson will land. 

 

Highlights courtesy XOS Digital. All recruit rankings from 247 Sports' composite rankings.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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