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Meet the Next Sean Taylor, Kam Chancellor Combo: 4-Star Safety Marvell Tell

2015 4-star safety Marvell Tell is one of the top overall prospects in his class. The 6'2", 175-pound prospect has phenomenal size and superb athleticism to go with it.

Bleacher Report caught up with Tell, who discussed his recruitment, what makes him such a good safety and what it would mean to receive an offer from Stanford.

Watch the video, and meet a future star at the next level.

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

Rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Big Ten's Biggest Trap Games to Watch for in 2014

It's a trap! 

Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, will be almost seven years to the day since Appalachian State stunned No. 5 Michigan in the Big House, 34-32. The Mountaineers will get another swipe at the Wolverines to open this season.

Though time has passed, and Michigan has new coaches and players, no one in Ann Arbor has forgotten that day. Expect Michigan to prepare as such. No matter the result, Michigan won't overlook Appalachian State this time. 

But what are some other Big Ten trap games in the making this year? With this season less than 100 days away, it's time to gaze into the crystal ball and predict which under-the-radar games could be problematic. 

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2016 4-Star TE Naseir Upshur: 'I Believe I Can Be the Best Tight End Ever'

2016 4-star tight end Naseir Upshur is an absolute playmaker. The 6'3", 231-pound athlete not only has phenomenal hands, but takes pride in his ferocious blocking.

Bleacher Report caught up with Upshur to discuss his recruitment, blocking ability and what his goals are for the future.

Watch the video and meet a future star at the TE position.

 

Highlights courtesy of xosdigital.com. Star rating courtesy of 247Sports.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Why Alabama's O.J. Howard Could Emerge as College Football's Top Tight End

In an offense that's loaded with talent at running back and wide receiver, Alabama's biggest weapon might be one that isn't playing one of those glamour positions.

Tight end O.J. Howard.

The rising sophomore for the Crimson Tide caught 14 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns last season, including a 52-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter against LSU last year.

That wasn't good enough to earn freshman All-SEC honors, as Arkansas freshman Hunter Henry (28 rec., 409 yds., four TDs) brought home those honors.

For Howard, though, the best is yet to come.

The 6'6", 237-pounder from Prattville, Alabama, has great hands, runs like a deer and presents matchup nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators who have to deal with weapons in the backfield and outside at receiver in Alabama's offense.

He and fellow sophomore running back Derrick Henry are being counted on to provide depth and versatility for new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's offense, and know that they need to be more consistent this year, according to B/R's Christopher Walsh.

“We always push each other, what we both need to work on to get better,” Howard said. “We both had our flashes, but this year we can become an all-around player at both our positions and be consistent with our play.”

He'll get his chance to shine this year.

New quarterback Jacob Coker is still very much a mystery, and a quarterback's best friend is a reliable safety valve. Howard can be that safety valve.

He's also playing in an offense for a coach who loves to use the tight end.

Xavier Grimble had 10 catches for 127 yards and a touchdown in Kiffin's five games as USC's head coach last season before Kiffin was let go after a loss to Arizona State. Over the last five years coaching in college, a tight end on Kiffin's team has finished among his team's top three receivers three times, and Fred Davis and Dominique Byrd each enjoyed solid careers as tight ends under Kiffin when he was an assistant at USC in the mid-2000s.

Texas Tech's Jace Amaro, North Carolina's Eric Ebron and Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins made appearances on the AP All-American team at tight end last year. Amaro topped 1,000 yards, and Ebron was on the cusp, but Seferian-Jenkins only had 36 catches for 450 yards and eight touchdowns.

All three of those players are gone, and Howard's ability to create mismatches and become a threat in the red zone make him a perfect candidate to fill their shoes.

Howard has to become more reliable in pass protection, according to head coach Nick Saban (via Walsh):

"I think he needs to continue to improve in some of those areas because he’s a great pass-receiver, but we continue to work with him and try to improve him as a blocker and get him to pay attention to detail and the importance of that part of the game as well," Saban said.

He'll join senior Brian Vogler as the two top tight end targets for the Crimson Tide, with Vogler more of a blocking threat and Howard's upside being as a receiver in the passing game. 

Howard has the physical ability to be the next big superstar tight end in college football, a host of weapons around him to occupy the attention of defenders and create mismatches and a coach in Kiffin who knows how to make those mismatches happen.

In an offense loaded with talent, Howard could emerge as not only one of its biggest weapons but one of the biggest weapons in all of college football.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report.


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

How Aaron Golub Overcame Legal Blindness to Reach His College Football Dream

The whole thing is one enormous inconvenience. Not the fact that Aaron Golub is completely blind in his right eye and deals with restricted vision in his left, but that he’s talking to an anxious college football writer between classes.

“Personally, if I’m being honest, I hate all this stuff,” Golub says with a hint of laugher and an even bigger hint of frustration. “I can’t stand the attention. I just like playing football.”

To us, it’s a story. In fact, to everyone beyond the person creating the story—the one rising well before the sun comes up to practice his craft—it’s worth celebrating. To Golub, a soon-to-be preferred walk-on at Tulane, this is simply the next step. It’s his calculated and thought-out approach to continue playing the sport he loves, and the entire thing has come together brilliantly.

Golub, a senior at Newton High School just outside Boston, was born legally blind. This hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of the premier long-snapper recruits in the nation: 247Sports rates Golub as the No. 12 long snapper nationally and the No. 19 player in all of Massachusetts.

In two years of long snapping at the high school level, Golub has had one bad snap, according to his coach. When asked if he can recall this lone mistake, Golub wasted little time pinpointing it.

“It went low,” Golub said, leaving it at that, knowing the one snap being referenced. I suppose if you’re being asked about your one bad snap over multiple years, not much more needs to be said.

This isn’t by accident. To be regarded this highly—with normal vision—you need natural gifts, an incredible amount of practice and some luck. With limited sight—an enormous currency in the sport—you need that and something more.

In the instance of Golub, that something is passion. There’s much more to it than that, of course, but it begins there.

“I love everything about it, just the whole game,” Golub said while speaking about football. “It’s fun to play, to watch and certainly to be a part of.”

Golub took up the sport in seventh grade, immersing himself despite some initial concerns about whether this was a good fit because of his blindness. After some discussion, his parents and coaches both supported his decision to play. It was during his sophomore year of high school, however, where everything changed. It was then he took up long snapping.

This wasn’t some mid-slumber epiphany. This was a realistic understanding of what it would take to play football a little longer.

“I knew that if I wanted to play in college, I wouldn’t be able to do what I was before,” Golub said on why he decided to take long snapping. “Not many people get the opportunity to continue playing the game.”

If you’ve never long snapped before, do yourself a favor and try it. Please hide all small animals, children and fragile objects before you do, though, because it will almost certainly not go well initially. Like trying to jump to the other roof in your first voyage into The Matrix, the movements and memory necessary to complete such actions don’t come easy.

It is football art—one often taken for granted. For one to get good at long snapping—not backyard, beer-in-the-other-hand good, but really good—it takes hundreds of hours and thousands of reps. It also doesn’t hurt to have a good coach help you get there.

That’s where Chris Rubio comes in, a long-snapping guru and instructor. Rubio, who has written about working with Golub at his blog, has watched the transformation occur and has been integral to his development.

“He was adamant about learning the process,” Rubio said on Golub. “He was in constant contact with me, asking what to do and how to fix this and that. It is absolutely amazing how far he has come.”

He learned. He succeeded. He failed. He tried again. He improved. Oh, did he improve. His first camp did not go particularly well, although his next one got better. And then, after more reps and coaching, the next camp got even better.

It’s gotten to the point now where few are better than Golub at his position, something that has quickly become abundantly clear for the man who helped him get that way.

“When he is on, he is very close with the great ones,” Rubio said on Golub. “He’s a true student of long snapping and an inspiration to all. Those with or without sight can learn from this young man.”

While Golub has worked tirelessly with Rubio—stretching all the way back to July of 2012—he’s also put in plenty of work on his own to get to this point. In fact, before Golub enjoys his first class of the day on a normal school day—about the time most high school seniors are still deep in REM sleep—he’s already hard at work.

Golub is typically long snapping in the school by 6 a.m. at the latest each morning. He’ll practice for at least an hour. Then it’s off to class. After school, he’ll head to the gym where he’ll get his lift in, looking to add to his 6'2", 195-pound frame.

All the work has come full circle in interest from schools across the country. While Golub spoke with plenty of different coaches, Illinois and Tulane offered him a spot on the team as a preferred walk-on. In the end, he picked Tulane.

“It’s just a good fit for me,” Golub said on Tulane. “The whole atmosphere and the school; it’s something that I want to be a part of. Academically, it’s also a great fit for me.”

This, too, is part of the plan. Although Golub has learned an entirely different position in less than two years in order to keep his football career in motion, he has also kept his priorities in order along the way.

“I’m going to school to be a student, not to be an athlete,” Golub said. “I wanted to find a school that I’d be happy with regardless of what happens with football.”

He has found that at Tulane, and with it he has found the answer to everything he has searched for and worked for.

All Golub wants to do is go to school, get an education and play football. Now, regardless of whether he starts right away or ever sees the field at all, he’ll be able to do that a little longer. That’s more than just about any high school football player can say—even those working with two perfect eyes.

I went into this conversation thinking it would be all about a young man with limited vision defying all odds, somehow playing a sport that is built around seeing what’s behind or in front of you.

It is a great story—one that is fascinating for those of us who can only imagine what life would be like—but it’s not a story he’s anxious to tell, and that part is especially telling. The interviews, the coverage, the tape recorders are all simply getting in the way.

The reality of the situation is that Golub’s blindness in one eye and near blindness in the other is only a small portion of his remarkable journey, one that is still unfolding.

 

Adam Kramer is the College Football National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC Football: Analyzing Trojans' Top 5 2015 Recruiting Targets

USC's first full recruiting class since the NCAA levied severe sanctions against the Trojans is coming together quite nicely.

The Trojans have verbal commitments from eight prospects, including two 5-star and three 4-star recruits, per 247Sports' composite rankings. 

But head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff are on the trail for more highly touted prep prospects to bring into the USC fold. The Trojans are in play for several top-tier players who have yet to give commitments to any program. 

By landing a few more of this crop, USC can truly make a splash in its full-strength return to the national recruiting scene. 

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USC Football: Analyzing Trojans' Top 5 2015 Recruiting Targets

USC's first full recruiting class since the NCAA levied severe sanctions against the Trojans is coming together quite nicely...

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UConn to Host Women's Football Clinic in June

The Huskies appear to be taking pages from the Rob Gronkowski playbook. 

The UConn football program recently announced its plans to host a football clinic for women this June, featuring on-field drills and cocktails.

Nick Schwartz of For The Win spotted details of the one-day event, which will run attendees $40 for an evening of football fundamentals taught by members of the Huskies staff at the team’s training facility in Storrs. Participants must be 21 years or older, a rule made necessary by the "social hour" segment of the clinic where participants can hang out by a cash bar. 

The team is making it clear that this event isn’t meant to imply women lack a knowledge of the sport. Huskies spokesman Mike Enright told The Associated Press the event is something fans of all levels of knowledge can learn from. He said:

It’s just meant to be a fun-filled thing. We understand that many of these women may know more about the game than a lot of men. This is something that fans from those with virtually no knowledge of the game to a very intricate knowledge of the game can get something from.

If this event sounds familiar, it’s probably because UConn’s clinic mirrors one that was put on by Rob Gronkowski in 2013. 

The New England tight end hosted around 120 women for unlimited drinks and a football-tinged seminar in November in what appeared to be a ridiculously good time for all involved. 

The bar is set high, UConn. Huskies head coach Bob Diaco will have to break out some slam dancing if he hopes to put on a better event.

After all, it’s not football without martinis and break dancing. That’s first-day stuff. 

 

On the Twitters.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

What to Watch For at SEC Spring Meetings

Memorial Day weekend may be the unofficial start to summer, but it also serves as a reminder that football is around the corner.

SEC coaches, officials and administrators will head to Destin, Florida, this week, as the conference will hold its annual spring meeting session at the Sandestin Hilton. 

Unlike years past when scheduling and realignment were hot-button topics, this year's event will take a different turn and new storylines will undoubtedly be pushed to the forefront.

What should you expect from the SEC spring meetings this week?

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Every Pac-12 Team's Strongest, Weakest Position Groups Heading into 2014 Season

The Pac-12 conference may be stronger as a whole than it's been in years thanks in large part to a variety of impressive quarterbacks, sturdy defensive lines and a host of other deep position groups.

But no team is without weakness or at least a few question marks entering the 2014 season. Some have more than others, sure, but every fan can name at least one position group that they're most nervous about for next season.

Flip the coin over, however, and there's a growing excitement over certain position groups that could be among the very best in the nation.

We're taking a look at both the strongest and weakest units of every Pac-12 team.

 

All stats via cfbstats.com. Remember, this is a snapshot of where things stand entering the season, not a prediction for the 2014 campaign as a whole. Naturally, some groups will exceed expectations, some will falter and some will become much stronger simply because of an increase in game experience.

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Every Pac-12 Team's Strongest, Weakest Position Groups Heading into 2014 Season

The Pac -12 conference may be stronger as a whole than it's been in years thanks in large part to a variety of impressive quarterbacks, sturdy defensive lines and a host of other deep position groups...

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Duke Football: Previewing the Offense for 2014

When David Cutcliffe arrived at Duke in 2008, he was already hailed as an offensive guru. In six years with the Blue Devils, Cutcliffe has cemented his reputation as an excellent offensive coach and more. Duke’s offense is efficient, creative and balanced. If the success of 2013 is to be repeated, the Blue Devils offense will need to continue to earn Cutcliffe high praise.

There’s a good case for lofty goals going into the 2014 season. To begin with, Duke returns eight starters on offense. That includes quarterback Anthony Boone, running back Josh Snead and wide receiver Jamison Crowder.

All three of those skill-position players are seniors. Boone had an excellent year despite missing time due to injury. Snead and Duke’s running game steadily improved throughout the year. Then, of course, there is Crowder, who is one of the best receivers in the country.

The Blue Devils also bring back three starters on the offensive line. Senior Laken Tomlinson proved to be one of the best guards in the ACC. Fellow senior Takoby Cofield will also be back at tackle, and junior center Matt Skura will ensure that there’s continuity in the center-to-quarterback exchange.

The big questions for Duke going into 2014 surround finding a receiving target other than Crowder and maintaining a reliable running attack that keeps the offense balanced.

When it comes to receiving options, obviously Crowder is the best of the bunch. The standout receiver had 1,360 yards through the air last season with eight touchdowns. Crowder also added one rushing touchdown and scored twice on punt returns.

Fortunately for Duke, Crowder has several cohorts at his position who boast tons of potential. He is also supported in the receiving game by the most underrated tight end in the ACC.

Tight end Braxton Deaver is a senior who will add some girth to the offensive line and some firepower to the receiving corps. As a starter last year, Deaver was second on the team in receptions behind only Crowder.

Deaver was much more than just a safety valve for quarterback Anthony Boone. He amassed 600 yards receiving and averaged 13 yards per catch. Deaver also proved himself to be valuable in the red zone, totaling four touchdowns in 2013.

The graduation of wide receiver Brandon Braxton means that one of last season’s less utilized receivers will need to step up. It’s imperative that Duke finds receivers who merit defensive attention and stretch the secondary sideline to sideline. That will keep opponents from keying solely on Crowder.

Max McCaffrey, Johnell Barnes and Issac Blakeney will fight for the starting spots alongside Crowder. McCafferey had more catches and more yardage than the other two and will likely serve as more of a possession receiver. Barnes didn’t play much as a freshman but has great potential. By the end of the season, he may emerge as the team’s second-best receiver.

Blakeney, meanwhile, was one of the Duke players who spent the offseason on the track team. That experience should increase his already-impressive speed and, with his 6’6” height, he could be a menacing threat on deep routes.

Fellow receivers Anthony Nash and Ryan Smith were also on the track team. Though they only had five catches and 72 yards between them, both Nash and Smith should be improved players. If not redshirted, Trevon Lee could be an additional asset who would increase depth at wide receiver. The freshman from Florida was ranked the 33rd-best receiver in his class by ESPN.

Unfortunately, the running game doesn’t boast the same kind of depth as the receiving corps.

Jela Duncan led the Blue Devils in rushing attempts last season, but he’s earned a year-long suspension. Luckily, Josh Snead is a worthy replacement. The senior had 89 more rushing yards than Duncan despite getting six fewer carries. Snead’s 6.1 yards per carry is indicative of his explosiveness. That quality might even improve given that he was also one of the football players who went over to the track team.

Shaquille Powell similarly showcased his ability to break big plays. The junior will need to be a good secondary punch to keep Duke’s running game churning and keep opposing defenses off balance.

While Duke has speed in abundance, the Blue Devils lack a power runner. Duncan played that role last season, but since he’s unavailable for 2014, Duke will need to find an alternative. Quarterback Brandon Connette was invaluable in short-yardage situations, but he has transferred to Fresno State.

Either Duke must find a third running back to do the dirty work between the tackles or use a backup quarterback, such as Thomas Sirk, to fill that void. Otherwise, it may be Anthony Boone risking injury by taking the ball up the middle in short-yardage or goal-line situations.

Ultimately, even without Kurt Roper, Duke’s offense should be extremely good. New offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery has plenty of weapons at his disposal.

Boone is a reliable quarterback who can run when pressured. Crowder is a top talent who makes big and crucial plays that tip games in favor of the Blue Devils. Duke also has plenty of potential breakout players at wide receiver to take advantage of the space Crowder opens up. Snead and Powell, meanwhile, will offer a one-two punch of speed running.

If Duke can fill the two vacancies on the offensive line and round out the running game with a power option, the Blue Devils should be able to score on just about anyone. Offensive potency will be critical to Duke’s success. All the pieces on that side of the ball are in place for the Blue Devils to make another run at the ACC Championship.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Football: Early Game-by-Game Predictions for the 2014 Season

When it comes to predicting out a season beforehand, never mind in May, there are two very important considerations regarding the University of Alabama football team under Nick Saban:

  1. Even though he’s won four national championships, Saban has only had one team finish with a perfect record (2009).
  2. Despite that, Alabama has been favored in 54 consecutive games.

The last time Alabama was considered an underdog was the 2009 SEC Championship, when it faced Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow at Florida. That was three titles ago, never mind being part of a different decade.

Overall, Alabama’s record since 2008 is 72-9.

Nevertheless, the Crimson Tide lost their last two games of the 2013-14 season: at rival Auburn and then against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, where they committed four turnovers that resulted in 28 points for the Sooners, who pulled out the 45-31 victory.

“We created a lot of the adversity that we faced ourselves in some of the things that we did and didn’t do,” Nick Saban said after the game.

“We didn’t play very well on defense in the first half. We didn’t play very well on third down. We didn’t get off the field in 3rd-and-long three or four times in the game, which were critical factors in the game,” he continued.

Anyone want to bet against Saban now? Alabama is already considered a huge favorite for the season opener against West Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta on Aug. 30.

Perhaps the better question is which game is Alabama most likely to lose in 2014-15?

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Miami Football: Early Game-by-Game Predictions for the 2014 Season

The offseason is a cold, dark, football-less place, but the countdown until the Miami Hurricanes' 2014 season-opener has finally dropped into double-digit days.

Fourth-year coach Al Golden and the 'Canes play an eight-game conference schedule along with four nonconference tilts, including one against a historic rival.

Sure, the season is a few months away, but it's still fun to take some shots at way-too-early game-by-game predictions.

These guesses are sure to stay exactly how they are written well in advance, and disagreeing opinions are fully welcomed in the comments section.

Note: TV listings courtesy of fbschedules.com. Stats courtesy of Sports-Reference and NCAA.com.

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Pac-12 Football: Ranking the Top 25 Players Heading into 2014

The college football season is less than 100 days away, and that means the long wait for our favorite sport is nearing its end. With spring football fully in the rearview mirror, it also means we have a clearer picture of players and teams. 

With the knowledge gained this spring, there are a group of players who could have a large say in how the Pac-12 title race plays out. Those 25 players, regardless of position, have proved through their talent and production that they belong on this list.

So, let's take a look at the 25 best players the Pac-12 has to offer heading in to the 2014 season. 

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Pac-12 Football: Ranking the Top 25 Players Heading into 2014

The college football season is less than 100 days away, and that means the long wait for our favorite sport is nearing its end. With spring football fully in the rearview mirror, it also means we have a clearer picture of players and teams...

Begin Slideshow

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