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32-Year-Old Active Navy SEAL Tom Hruby Trying to Make Northwestern Football Team

Tom Hruby is 32 years old, but that's not stopping him from trying to make the Northwestern football team. Along with a wife and three kids, he also happens to be an active Navy SEAL.

Last summer, Hruby was accepted to Northwestern at 31 years old after taking the SAT. He became a SEAL back in 2006, serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Hruby spoke to the Chicago Sun-Times about his time as a SEAL and about taking on the challenge of possibly making the Wildcats football team:

One day you’re blowing things up, the next day I’m fast-roping out of a helicopter, the next day I’m parachuting at 20,000 feet. It’s inherently dangerous. When you start, you’re like, ‘God, I could die any minute. Any one of these things today can kill me if I don’t do it right.’

I don’t feel like where I’m at today is some outstanding or amazing thing. It’s just more of a challenging route . . . the way I kind of think about finding and accepting and trying to take on these challenges that most people would probably say are impossible, one, or very unlikely or just plain dumb.

The 32-year-old will be trying to make the team as a defensive end while living in the dorms, visiting his family on the weekends and still working as a SEAL instructor.

[YouTube h/t For The Win]

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Michigan Football: What 4-Star RB Mike Weber's Commitment Means to Wolverines

Picture a pair of tree trunks attached to a steel core: That’s Mike Weber, who adds respectable speed and incredible strength to Michigan’s 2015 class.

The Detroit Cass Tech 4-star running back pledged to Wolverines coach Brady Hoke this past week, giving Michigan yet another high-mileage option for next fall and beyond. His commitment is important—that much is clear.

But how important?

It’s not like the Wolverines were dangerously short on help—they’ll have junior versions of De’Veon Smith and Derrick Green in 2015, not to mention Ty Isaac, who just transferred from USC, a school that courted Weber with a relentless hand.

However, the Technician isn’t just a running back; he symbolizes that Hoke’s influence remains heavy in the Great Lakes State.

 

Quick Hits

Rankings, per 247Sports: No. 115 overall, No. 14 RB, No. 2 overall in state.

Note: For local reaction to Weber’s commitment, be sure to listen to the latest episode of Sports in the Mitten, hosted by yours truly. Detroit Radio 1’s Lauren Beasley, who has close ties to the Cass Tech senior, spoke highly of Weber’s work ethic. And although he didn’t choose Michigan State, Weber most certainly caught the attention of Spartan Mag’s Paul Konyndyk.

Maize ‘n Brew put together a nice scouting report on Weber. The guys at the Wolverines blog practice a bit of cautious optimism, but they like what they see.

 

Ring in Weber

Weber is the type of guy that Hoke wants and needs. Success in the Big Ten comes on the ground, and Michigan’s ghastly attempts haven’t yielded a 1,000-yard rusher since 2011 (Fitzgerald Toussaint).

This season should spark the necessary change, and Weber will be a part of that. He may not be the type to lead the league in rushing and flood the record books, but he’s capable of giving his team at least 25 solid carries each game.

Again, he’s a workhorse back—a player who reminds me a bit of former Spartans star Javon Ringer (5'9", 202 lbs at MSU), whose philosophy of “see hole, hit hole, run through” worked wonders for a developing, back-to-the-basics approach in East Lansing.

Now, don’t get upset about the Michigan State comparison. It fits. Ringer carried the ball nearly 400 times as a senior, tearing away chunks of yards from the field each Saturday—and he did well against Michigan too. I’m imagining a similar performance from Weber but maybe scaled down since he’ll be sharing the workload with Smith, Green and Isaac.

However, he could end up as the go-to back as a junior and senior. That would be ideal, obviously, as experienced backs typically provide a little comfort for coaches, teammates and fans. Having a proven commodity certainly trumps waiting for underclassmen to shine.

Can you say "program back"? I mean, let's not jinx the guy, but Weber is hardly a throw-in player. He's been one of Hoke's highest priorities for more than a year. 

 

Punch the Clock

Back in June, at the Sound Mind Sound Body football camp in Detroit, Weber discussed his desire to compete for a starting position. He told me that he wasn’t afraid to go up against established players—his goal is to play and to play as soon as possible.

Sure, they all say that. But while standing face-to-face with what basically equates to an Abrams tank, I couldn’t help but feel that he was almost predicting, rather than wishing.

For that reason, I can’t see him not being on the field as a freshman. Star power? Probably not right then. But promises of things to come? Yeah, that’s a safe bet. He’s the right back for the “new” system being implemented by Doug Nussmeier.

Weber spoke highly of the new offensive coordinator, saying that he was looking forward to creating a strong bond with the former Alabama OC who’s working to awaken Michigan’s one-time feared running game.

Mixing Weber into a steady three-back rotation should be quite easy for Nussmeier, who orchestrated a Tide offense that squeezed out 205 yards per game. That was only good for No. 25 overall, but compare that to what Team 134 did—just 125.7 per outing—and there is reason to be optimistic about what Weber can do in the future and what Nussmeier will get started this fall.

The bottom line is this: Some guys are good fits. Some are great.

And some are meant to be. Weber, Michigan and Nussmeier are an ideal match. 

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

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Clemson Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

Clemson began its fall camp this week, and there were many new developments with the football team. Some key freshmen have started to stand out, and other players have surprised the coaches as well.

 

Wide Open at Running Back

While it’s expected that D.J. Howard is the slight favorite at running back, because of his experience, this position is still wide open.

OrangeAndWhite.com revealed Dabo Swinney’s thoughts on the position earlier this week.

(Zac) Brooks has had a good camp, (Wayne) Gallman has shown improvement and D.J. Howard has been the leader of the group. And it is amazing to have a player as talented as C.J. Davidson who basically walked in off the streets two years ago. Kurt Fleming is a different type of runner who will have a role for us.

The starter for the Georgia game is still a mystery at this point, as all the backs have provided a solid competition.

 

Ammon Lakip’s Leg Strength

Replacing a kicker as efficient as Chandler Catanzaro doesn’t figure to be an easy task, but Lakip appears ready for the challenge.

As Roy Philpott of CUTigers.com notes, his kick earlier in the week could have been made from 65 yards out.

 

Work Hard, Play Hard

The biggest highlight of my week didn’t happen on the football field. One of the things trending around the Twitter world this week was Cole Stoudt’s mannequin prank, in which he was able to scare a few Tiger fans.

SportsCenter tweeted out the video for many to see this week.

 

Jordan Leggett is Developing as More Than a Receiver

Leggett realizes that he has to be a better blocker to see significant snaps this season. Per Brandon Rink of OrangeAndWhite.com, the coaches have a message for the tight end: “They said if I wanted to get on the field and be a more complete player and play 50 snaps a game – I had to be a route runner (and) a blocker," said Leggett.

With the recent injury to Stanton Seckinger, Leggett will have an opportunity to really show off in camp. Sam Cooper is the best blocking tight end on the team and will get significant playing time because of what he provides in the running game, but Leggett could be one of Stoudt’s main targets.

 

Carlos Being Carlos

Carlos Watkins missed a lot of time last season after being involved in a car accident, which ultimately led to a redshirt. Swinney has confidence that Watkins could be a difference-maker on this brutal defensive line, per ClemsonTigers.com.

“Carlos is back to being Carlos. He had a great camp last year and started against Georgia in the opener. He looks great. He is going to benefit by redshirting last season,” Swinney said.

He isn’t a guy who is going to play a huge role but can certainly provide even more depth on an already talented defensive front.

 

Progression of Freshmen

This freshman class has many Clemson fans excited, and rightfully so. Deshaun Watson, the headliner of the signing class, has not disappointed so far. Swinney said last week that Watson “is just a special young talent that just gets better every single day.”

A few other freshmen who have stood out this week are Adam Choice, Artavis Scott, Trevion Thompson and Mackensie Alexander, among others.

 

Looking Ahead

The first week of practice will conclude Saturday with a scrimmage, then its off to another week of getting prepared for the season. As the intensity of these practices rises, so should the pressure for guys to step up and win these position battles.

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Ranking the Top 5 Oregon Football Players of All Time

With Oregon football season approaching, Marcus Mariota could join a conversation that includes Joey Harrington and LaMichael James as one of the best Ducks ever...

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Ranking the Top 5 Oregon Football Players of All Time

With Oregon football season approaching, Marcus Mariota could join a conversation that includes Joey Harrington and LaMichael James as one of the best Ducks ever. 

The Oregon Ducks have recently become one of the most celebrated teams in college football. But according to Andrew Greif from The Oregonian, a major theme for the team from their 2014 media day on August 4 was that last year’s 11-2 record simply “isn't good enough.”

With an already impressive career at Oregon, potential success in the inaugural College Football Playoff could cement Mariota’s legend as one of the greatest to ever play for the Ducks.

Now (I've decided on your behalf) would be a good time to refresh on some of the other greats whom Mariota would be joining. For argument’s sake, I decided to limit my list to only the top five players—don’t worry, there will be a few honorable mentions as well—to wear an Oregon uniform. Active players like Mariota do not count. 

Some of the players, though, played for the Ducks before Nike had much to do with aforementioned uniforms. This is not just to avoid nearsightedness, but also to account for different eras, coaches and systems for the team. Just because someone played for the Ducks in 1978 when the team was 1-10 shouldn’t disqualify a phenomenal player from contention.

Imagine, for example, what Chip Kelly could have done with some of the stars from previous decades. Instead, my criteria looked for a variety of traits: intangibles and athleticism, stardom and success as well as swagger.

Most importantly, however, I hoped to find the players who had the greatest overall impact on the program. Beyond stats, I included the players who would be remembered at Oregon forever—both because of their performance and because of their lasting legacy.

Selections are based on play at Oregon, and not in the NFL. I did notice, however, that many of Oregon’s top performers did come in recent years. 

Note: This list is imperfect. No amount of research could give me the “correct” answer, because there is no such thing as the right answer. I have my biases, considering when I attended the UO.

If and when you do decide to comment, I’d love to hear what you think a more appropriate top five may have looked like.

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College Football QBs Who Could Shock World by Starting Week 1

The projected starting quarterback at the start of fall camp does not always win the job by the end of fall camp.

Last year, for example, Blake Bell was favored to win the starting job at Oklahoma after serving as the short-yardage quarterback behind Landry Jones in 2012 and 2011. But a redshirt freshman named Trevor Knight swept the coaches off their feet in August and took the first snap of the season against UL-Monroe.

This year, there are numerous candidates to pull off the same sort of upset as Knight did. If the season started today, they probably wouldn't hear their numbers called, but they have the talent and the opportunity to change that in the next three weeks.

Sometimes that is an indictment of the players projected ahead of them; other times it's an endorsement of the backup. In most cases, it's a varied combination of the two.

This list includes all of the above.

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Missouri's Evan Boehm Takes a Football to the Crotch

Most offensive lineman are accustomed to giving snaps, not taking them. Missouri junior Evan Boehm probably agrees with that sentiment.

During a Tigers practice, Boehm unsuspectingly takes a shot to the crotch after a teammate fires a football back to him.

This, in all likelihood, will be the last time the junior will be taking a snap.

Someone get this man some ice.

[Tyler Boehm, h/t College Spun]


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Florida Coach Will Muschamp Hand-Delivers Season Tickets to Lifelong Gator Fans

Peggy and Doug Zant recently got a surprise of a lifetime.

These lifelong Florida Gator fans were rewarded for their loyalty when head coach Will Muschamp hand-delivered their season tickets for the upcoming year.

Peggy's reaction to seeing the Florida coach is absolutely priceless.

Muschamp was then nice enough to hang out with the Zants in their living room to personally thank them for their dedication.

Classy move.

[Florida Gators. h/t Yahoo! Sports]

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Michigan Football and Adidas Unveil New TECHFIT Uniform

Michigan and Adidas unveiled the new “Go Blue” TECHFIT football uniform that the Wolverines will wear versus Penn State on October 11th.

What makes this uniform unique is that it will be the first head-to-toe blue look in school history.

More from the folks at Adidas:

The jersey and pants feature metallic blue, laser-cut stripes that shine under the lights while ultra-light, no-sew metallic numbers stretch with the jersey, and the compression base layer features the Michigan “M” on the bicep and "GO BLUE" across the chest.

[Adidas]

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Federal Judge Rules Against NCAA in O'Bannon Trial

College athletes earned a major victory in the courtroom when a federal judge decided the NCAA cannot prohibit payment to players.

Steve Berkowitz of USA Today provides the details:

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken, in a 99-page ruling in favor of a group of plaintiffs led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon, issued an injunction that will prevent the NCAA "from enforcing any rules or bylaws that would prohibit its member schools and conferences from offering their FBS football or Division I basketball recruits a limited share of the revenues generated from the use of their names, images, and likenesses in addition to a full grant-in-aid."

You can view the entire decision online, courtesy of USA Today. The plaintiff's case, led by Ed O'Bannon, argued that players should be paid when their likeness is used, whether that includes video games, jersey sales or other uses.

The NCAA released a statement after the decision:

“We disagree with the Court's decision that NCAA rules violate antitrust laws. We note that the Court's decision sets limits on compensation, but are reviewing the full decision and will provide further comment later. As evidenced by yesterday’s Board of Directors action, the NCAA is committed to fully supporting student-athletes.”

– NCAA Chief Legal Officer Donald Remy

CBS Sports' Jon Solomon quotes the judge on her ruling that says the NCAA is prohibited from "enforcing any rules to prevent its member schools and conferences from offering to deposit a limited share of licensing revenue in trust for their FBS football and Division I basketball recruits, payable when they leave school or their eligibility expires."

In this scenario, the players could receive payment after their time at school comes to an end, whether that is due to graduation or other reasons.

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports notes there will likely be appeals to counter the decision by Wilken:

However, Randy Getlin of Yahoo Sports agrees that this is an important moment that will alter college athletics:

This decision comes just one day after the NCAA announced it would give more power to its five richest conferences. According to The Associated Press, the NCAA Board of Directors voted 16-2 to give the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC the ability to write some of their own rules.

As ESPN's Jeff Goodman points out, this will cause the NCAA to lose even more power going forward:

If this ruling stands, it becomes the first step toward paying college athletes. This has long been a point of contention regarding the NCAA, with some players even attempting to form unions

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Wisconsin Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

As the calendar flips to August, it's finally time for football season—almost.  Through the first four days of fall camp, the Wisconsin football team is progressing a bit ahead of schedule in some spots and lagging far behind in others.  

Turning over their entire front seven and replacing two of the best in school history (Jared Abbrederis and Chris Borland) will lead to some inevitable growing pains.  Let's go through the biggest observations from the first week of fall camp.

 

There's still very much a quarterback competition

In an effort to have everyone see as many reps as possible, head coach Gary Andersen ran the team as a split squad, with half the guys going in the morning sessions and the other half practicing in the afternoons.  In the morning sessions, the starters typically practiced while the afternoons saw more of the backups and freshmen.

Joel Stave played with the ones on Monday and Wednesday, with Tanner McEvoy getting the majority of the reps with the ones on Tuesday and Thursday.  Through the first four days of practice, it looks like Stave has taken the driver's seat in the quarterback competition though it's still very early in the process.

Tuesday's practice was closed to the media, so McEvoy could have shined, but no one was there to see it other than the coaching staff.  With that in mind, some of these numbers may be a bit skewed.

On Wednesday, the first day with shoulder pads, McEvoy and Bart Houston, likely the third- or fourth-string quarterback, took all of the live reps.  According to Rexford Sheild of Bucky's 5th Quarter, McEvoy unofficially went 7-of-14 with two interceptions while Houston went 5-of-8.

On Thursday, according to Benjamin Worgull of Badger Nation, it was Stave and Houston who took the live reps.  Stave went 5-of-10 in the seven-on-seven portion of practice with two touchdowns while Houston went 1-of-4.  In 11-on-11, Stave went 4-of-8 while Houston went 0-of-2.

So what can we gleam from these numbers?  Not a lot. 

Houston is two heads and shoulders below Stave and McEvoy, but we all knew that going into fall camp anyway.  Furthermore, Houston isn't planning on transferring, per Jesse Temple of Fox Sports Wisconsin, despite seeing his window of opportunity to see meaningful snaps rapidly shrink.

Per Worgull, "Andersen admitted that it was tough to gauge the play of both Stave and junior Tanner McEvoy since he believed it was easier to have success during the morning practices with the veteran offensive line and skill position players."

 

There is still very much a kicking competition

Three men entered, three remain.  After Monday's practice, it looked like true freshman Rafael Gaglianone should be the one to beat, going 5-of-5 on his attempts, including makes from 39, 44 and 49 yards.

But incumbent starter Jack Russell's first day was nothing to bark at, either.  Russell went 3-of-3 on the first day, hitting from 21, 39 and 49 yards.  Throwing more confusion into the mix was that last year's kickoff specialist Andrew Endicott also hit all three of his field-goal attempts from the same distances as Russell.

During Wednesday's practice, according to Sheild, it was Endicott who hit all three of his attempts from 28, 45 and 59 yards away while Gaglianone hit two of three, with his attempt from the 41-yard line coming up short and going left.

It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out, as Gaglianone appears to be the long-term answer for the team with a powerful leg and consistency that Russell has yet to show.  Gaglianone also appears to have the edge over Endicott, who seems like the third horse in this race, albeit one that has certainly shown why he is still in the running.

 

Who will be the backup nose guard?

If you thought Warren Herring was important on this year's defense because he is one of a small number of guys with any experience, you would be correct.  But somehow, he may be even more important now than he was at this point last week.

After the departure of backup nose guard Bryce Gilbert, everyone knew that someone would need to step up in his stead.  Finding that replacement has been like pulling teeth for the coaching staff, as no one seems to be ready to play real minutes at this point.

Andersen said, per Worgull:

We've talked about Warren playing a lot of snaps. Right now Warren would have to play every snap, which is a concern. Who is going to come in at the nose guard spot?

We have a ways to go and that worried me ... When I say physically not ready, I would say with the technique (we're) not ready (and) definitely an issue.

Behind Herring is sophomore Arthur Goldberg and true freshmen Jeremy Patterson and Conor Sheehy, none of whom have looked the part of a FBS nose guard.

While the loss of Beau Allen was big—as the Badgers didn't really have anyone who could fill the massive shoes of Allen, who clocks in at 333 pounds while Herring only weighs 294—they didn't realize such a massive burden would be placed on Herring's shoulders.

Between now and the opening kickoff of their game against LSU, someone between Goldberg, Patterson and Sheehy is going to have to step up, or someone between defensive ends Konrad Zagzebski and Jake Keefer may need to slide over to the nose to give Herring a play or two off.

 

Seven or more true freshmen could play this season

While nose guard may be a problem spot for the Badgers, they have seen some good production out of numerous true freshmen.  In fact, Andersen said that seven true freshmen could see the field this season, according to Worgull.

Going through the freshmen, the first is Michael Deiter.  Deiter, who enrolled early, was one of the standouts in the spring and has looked good throughout the fall.  With likely starting center Dan Voltz sitting out the spring to recover from an injury, Deiter took the first-team snaps as the center and looked the part while doing it.  He will be in line for snaps along the crowded, experienced and talented line.

The next true freshman who should see snaps is Taiwan Deal.  Deal is looking to lock up that coveted third running back spot, which has been a springboard for underclassmen running backs over the past few seasons.

Everyone from Montee Ball to Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement have held that spot in the past few seasons.  Gordon compiled 621 yards on 62 carries as the third running back, and Clement picked up 547 yards on 67 carries in that spot.

Deal is a sturdy 6'0", 216 pounds and runs downhill the way Ball did.  While he could probably stand to bulk up a bit, his physicality certainly makes him a prime candidate to see 50 or so carries this season and step into a larger role as his collegiate career progresses.

Of the receivers, George Rushing, Natrell Jamerson and Krenwick Sanders have each had strong moments throughout the course of the first week of practice.

It was Rushing who made the best impression on Day 1.

On Wednesday, it was Sanders who made the best impression.  Sanders looks to be the most talented of the bunch coming in and definitely has a chance to make a big impact on the program, starting with this season.

For Jamerson, while he may be behind as a receiver, his speed may make him an asset early in his career on special teams.  On Thursday, according to Shield, he was fielding punts from freshman punter P.J. Rosowski.  

While Kenzel Doe's name is written in Sharpie on the depth chart as the lead punt returner, Jamerson could help alleviate some of Doe's return duties to focus on being a starting wide receiver.  With that being said, Abbrederis was able to balance both throughout his career, so Jamerson may not take over until next season.

"Two of the three [true freshmen receivers] need to get on the airplane and fly to the LSU game for us," Andersen said, via The Detroit News, at Big Ten media days prior to the start of fall practice.  "So we'll see how all that boils down."

I would expect Rushing and Sanders to make the trip down unless Jamerson stands out on special teams.  Eventually, I think Jamerson will travel with the team, but it will be interesting to see if he makes the cut by the end of August.

On the defensive side of the ball, one name that has stood out throughout the first week of practice has been D'Cota Dixon.  Dixon will be used as an inside linebacker in some sub packages, according to both starting linebacker Derek Landisch and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda.

Furthermore, Dixon picked off Houston during Thursday's practice, a play that caused more than a few heads to turn.

Two more players in the secondary, Austin Hudson and Lubern Figaro, are both in line to see snaps, with Hudson, an early enrollee, fighting for the second starting spot alongside Michael Caputo.

Outside of those eight, Gaglianone has to be in the mix for playing time, and at least one of the two freshmen in the mix for the backup nose guard spot will probably see snaps this season, making 10 or more true freshmen in line for meaningful snaps this season.

 

Other thoughts

Junior college transfer Serge Trezy's status is very much still up in the air.  He has not yet made it to campus, and with every passing day and practice that he misses, it looks like he will likely redshirt and join the team in January.

Last, but not least, the Badgers have a scrimmage set for Sunday, August 10 at 11 a.m. CT.  According to Bucky's 5th Quarter, the scrimmage will run until 12:45 p.m. and is open to the public.  According to Worgull, they will run about 100 plays, and it will be live, with everyone getting hit except running backs Gordon and Clement.

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Texas Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

Fall camp is under way for the Texas Longhorns, and while it has not been a great first week, first-year head coach Charlie Strong is not panicking.

"I just like the way we're working. There's still some work to be done," Strong said. "The first week it's still all new to them, and they want to push, push, push. Next week will be the real test. You go into how much drive and passion do they really have and can they go out there each and every day and go back to work."

The Longhorns have many areas that need to be addressed before the season starts. There is a new coaching staff, a new scheme and a lot of youth on the roster. But one of the most pressing concerns is at wide receiver.

 

Shipley Injures Hamstring

Senior wide receiver Jaxon Shipley hurt his hamstring in the first day of practice, and there is no timetable for his return. This is nothing new for Shipley. He hurt his hamstring in fall camp last year, but he was ready by the time the season started.

But the reason Shipley's injury is more significant this year is a lack of depth. 

Without Shipley, Texas is left with two receivers with game experience in Marcus Johnson and John Harris. Johnson caught 22 passes for 350 yards and two touchdowns last season. Harris has just 23 receptions for 190 yards and three touchdowns in three years.

Compare those numbers to Shipley's 159 career catches for 1,933 yards and 10 touchdowns, and there is a lot of ground that needs to be covered.

The Longhorns lost two other receivers when Strong dismissed Montrel Meander and Kendall Sanders from the team earlier this month.

Sanders started seven games in 2013 and had 37 receptions for 361 yards and a touchdown. He was expected to be a key player for the Longhorns this season.

The Longhorns signed five wide receivers in the 2014 class, and those freshmen are going to be needed, especially if Shipley's injury cuts his playing time.

 

Offensive Line Coming Along

One of the major position concerns for Texas heading into the 2014 season is the lack of experience from the offensive line. The Longhorns entered 2013 with one of the most veteran lines in college football, but 2014 is a different situation.

Aside from senior center Dominic Espinosa, the offensive line has just 10 starts among 11 scholarship athletes. 

But Strong appears to be pleased with the growth he has seen from sophomore Kent Perkins.

"Our whole offensive line is doing a really good job," Strong said. "Perkins is so strong; I think in the weight room, he's the strongest person we have. He's such a big body inside, and he can engulf you. If a guy tries to run inside, he can latch on. If he ever latches on, the defensive linemen don't have a chance."

There is still work that needs to be done from the offensive line, but Strong's comments are the most positive ones he has made about the group since taking the job at Texas.

 

Staff Experiencing the Dorm Life

Strong understands the value of team chemistry on and off of the field, which is why he wants the team to live together in the dorms during fall camp.

"The reason why we stay in the dorms is now we have the whole team around," Strong said.

"It's about teamwork and working together and just getting guys where they can find out who one another really is, because we don't really get that opportunity. A lot of older guys don't get a chance to know who the freshmen are, and now the freshmen can feel comfortable where they can walk into an upperclassman's room and feel good about it."

But it doesn't just end with the student-athletes.

Strong is also requiring his staff to live in the same dorms.

"What? Y'all don't think I stay in the dorms?" Strong said. "There's no suites over there. Our rooms are just the same as the player's rooms. There are two beds, and the bathroom is down the hall. It's good; we need that."

Strong and his staff are using this time to build relationships with the players. 

With only three weeks to go, Strong and the Longhorns still have plenty of work to do before what will certainly be a heavily scrutinized season-opener. 

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow her on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.

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Maryland Football 2014: Complete Preview and Predictions

Randy Edsall's Terrapins underwhelmed last season as they finished with an overall record of 7-6 and a 3-5 record in the ACC. There will certainly be an adjustment period for the program after leaving the ACC for the Big Ten.

What should fans expect from Maryland in 2014? Watch as B/R's experts examine the team's upcoming season.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas Football 2014: Schedule Breakdown and Predictions

Fans of the Texas Longhorns will see new faces in high-profile positions this season. 

It is doubtful that anybody within the program will command the spotlight more than Charlie Strong in his first year as head coach. Will Strong enjoy a successful season at Texas, or will the Longhorns struggle in 2014? 

Watch as B/R's experts preview the Longhorns ahead of the season.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Mississippi State Football 2014: Complete Preview and Predictions

Mississippi State encountered an inconsistent season in 2013 but managed to end on a positive note as Dan Mullen's Bulldogs defeated Rice in the Liberty Bowl. The Bulldogs finished the campaign with a 3-5 record within the SEC.

This year, fans will look for Mullen's squad to be more competitive within the conference. Watch as B/R's experts analyze Mississippi State before the 2014 season begins.

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Florida State Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

Even in the hottest months of the year, in the "downtime" between the end of spring football and the start of preseason practice, Florida State football players hit the field for intense 7-on-7 practices.

"There were some bloodlettings," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "There is a tremendous competition level around here. Sometimes I had to say, 'Whoa.'"

That's one example of the determination of FSU's players to improve and build on what was accomplished with a national title in 2013. There's no resting-on-their-championship-resume approach. Players simply won't allow themselves to do so.

And that approach has carried over to the first week of preseason practice. FSU returned to the practice field on Monday, and Fisher is pleased with the level of play and intensity.

"The practices are very, very competitive," Fisher said.

Let's take a look at developments from the first four days of practice as we analyze developments with the Seminoles.

 

Freshmen Impressing Early

Fisher said on Monday afternoon that all 28 members of the 2014 signing class have been cleared academically. And Fisher said he's been pleased with the willingness to learn and early performances of the true freshmen.

"I see a lot of these young guys learning," Fisher said. "All of those kids are doing a really nice job. We're throwing a lot at them early."

Dalvin Cook has quickly worked his way into the tailback rotation, writes 247Sports (subscription required). The offensive and defensive linemen have stood out to Fisher, writes Warchant.com's Powell Latimer and Ben Jones (subscription required).

 

Consistency at Receiver

Now in his fifth season as FSU's head coach, Fisher has frequently used the word "consistency," in regards to what he wants to see from a wide receiver.

With FSU needing to find pass-catchers to complement receiver Rashad Greene and tight end Nick O'Leary, Fisher knows what he is looking for from a large group of receivers who are vying for playing time following the graduation of Kenny Shaw and the early departure of first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin.

"Consistency," Fisher said. "Guys knowing what to do, where to be and making plays. I've been very pleased with the younger and the older receivers. Not just those young guys—those older guys are doing a real nice job. I want the best players and the most consistent players."

Seniors Scooter Haggins and Christian Green would seem to have an advantage when it comes to consistency—they've been with the program for five years and know the playbook inside and out. 

"With the depth we have, we know somebody is going to play and some may not," Haggins said. "That's what really keeps us hungry."

FSU's heralded receiving class of 5-star Travis Rudolph, 5-star Ermon Lane and 4-star Ja'Vonn Harrison have left an impression on the veterans.

"It's going to come for them because they're talented," Green said. "All of them have great talent. ... It's about learning. You have to be consistent throughout the whole camp and the season. There's going to be ups and downs. You're going to have to be mentally tough enough to handle the ups and downs."

 

Jameis Winston's Improved Mechanics

It may be tough for Jameis Winston to improve—statistically speaking—on his 2013 Heisman Trophy season. Winston threw for 4,057 yards, tossed a school-record 40 touchdown passes and completed 66.9 percent of his passes.

But Fisher said Winston has shown a desire to improve his mechanics, something that could improve his accuracy. 

"He was very anxious to get better fundamentally," Fisher said. "That was what encouraged me. Did a lot of film study, his footwork, his releases. I was very pleased."

FSU's opponents won't be quite as pleased.

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

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Texas Tech Football 2014: Complete Preview and Predictions

In his first season as Texas Tech's head coach, Kliff Kingsbury guided the Red Raiders to an 8-5 overall team record in 2013 but a 4-5 record within the Big 12 Conference.

Texas Tech is now expected to show improvement in Kingsbury's second year at the helm. Will Texas Tech progress or regress this season?

Watch as B/R's experts analyze the Red Raiders before the season begins.

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No. 1 QB of 2016 Malik Henry Announces His Top 4: Where Would He Fit Best?

Malik Henry, the nation’s top quarterback prospect in the 2016 class, trimmed his list of suitors to four finalists, via his Twitter account on Friday. 

Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State and UCLA will battle it out for the right to land the 5-star passer from Thousand Oaks, California.

One wildcard in his recruitment could be the fact that he’s a two-sport star who doubles as a standout pitcher at Westlake High School. 

As Bud Elliott of Tomahawk Nation detailed recently, Henry said that while the quality of the baseball program of his eventual choice doesn’t matter, it is critical that the school gives its blessing for him to play both sports at the next level.

With that fact in mind, Jimbo Fisher’s track record with supporting dual-sport athletes may present the best situation for Henry to thrive on the gridiron and on the diamond in college.

The 6’3”, 180-pounder, who camped at Florida State last month, has taken notice of the success current Seminoles star quarterback Jameis Winston has had in Tallahassee in both sports.

"I just had my meeting with Coach Fisher and he told me that he loves two-sport athletes,” Henry mentioned to Elliott. “And he explained how he and [Mike Martin Jr.] are best friends. He has no problem with me playing baseball as long as I establish my position on the football team."

While the dual-sport athlete connection is a feather in the cap for Fisher, another element that could tip the scales in favor of FSU is the fact its offense is the most pro-friendly of Henry's final suitors.

“With Florida State, they probably have the most pro-style offensive approach of all his finalists,” said Yogi Roth—who worked out Henry at the Santa Monica Nike Football Training Camp in January. “I could see him playing there as well. They like playing from the shotgun and using three-wide receiver sets while still being able to run the ball.”

Roth, who also doubles as an analyst for Pac-12 Network, came away impressed with Henry’s potential as one of the nation’s most gifted passers in the 2016 class:

In the few times I’ve been around him, he’s always struck me as a guy who has had that laser-like focus. What coaches are looking for now at the college level is a kid who has the capability to do that. He clearly does. Then you look at his attributes and he’s off the charts with those. He can make every throw. He’s a dynamic athlete. He’s a high-level competitor. I think he’s a guy that loves to compete, and he loves to do whatever it takes to get better.

One potential deterrent for FSU is the fact that they have three commitments from top-rated quarterbacks in its 2015 class—with two of those coming from a pair of 4-star passers last week. However, Roth cautioned that each school’s depth chart shouldn’t factor in heavily to Henry’s choice.

“Every one of those places, he’s going to have an Elite 11 or an All-American quarterback in front of him,” Roth said. “All of those places are good at developing quarterbacks. He’s going to have to compete regardless of where he goes, and I don’t think that will be a problem for him.”

While each school has elements that are appealing to Henry, the Seminoles appear to present the strongest case in helping him thrive as a two-sport athlete in college.

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oregon Ducks Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

Oregon opened 2014 fall camp this week with plenty of outside expectations. 

The same week the Ducks hit the field in preparation for the coming campaign, AthlonSports.com published assessments of each Pac-12 team as told anonymously by the conference's coaches. Reviews of Oregon were glowing. 

"Unstoppable," "best team in the league" and "most explosive" were some of the evaluations offered. But according to head coach Mark Helfrich, all praise lavished on the Ducks now is meaningless until proven on the field. 

That's just one of the storylines setting the stage for Oregon's first week of practice—part of which Helfrich was mic'd up for as part of Pac-12 Networks' tour around fall camps. 

Development of the Ducks wide receiving corps is another subplot of particular interest in the coming weeks. Gone is 2013 leader Josh Huff, and the loss of Bralon Addison to a knee injury in April compounded Oregon's need for new contributors to step up. 

Dwayne Stanford looks ready to make the leap—literally. GoDucks.com editor Rob Moseley tweeted the below image, captured by Eric Evans, of Stanford making an incredible, jumping reception. 

Stanford impressed offensive coordinator Scott Frost, who talked about the redshirt sophomore's potential with Matt Prehm of 247Sports

It'd be hard to come up with a comparison right away, but Dwayne has elite hands. I mean, he's got big...hands and catches everything. It was a shame to see him go down [to injury in 2013], but he's coming back and he's definitely in the mix.

So who else is in mix at wide receiver? According to quarterback Marcus Mariota, Addison could be in the rotation much earlier than expected.

Mariota told Sports Illustrated that Addison's "goal is Michigan State." 

That seems ambitious given Addison suffered his knee injury in mid-April. However, the Ducks quarterback said Addison "looks good." 

"I’m excited. Hopefully he gets ready for that second game," Mariota said. 

With or without Addison, the Ducks passing game should see considerable improvement in the performance of its tight ends. Position coach Tom Osborne offered lofty praise of the group Thursday, per 247Sports

I think we've got four guys that are pretty good. Media guys always forget Koa Ka'ai. Koa Ka'ai really, really improved in the spring. He made great strides in the spring. I think we have four guys that can play for us.

Osborne's assessment is in line with Mariota's from Pac-12 media days. There, the quarterback called Ka'ai "a leader of the tight end position." 

Along with Evan Baylis, Pharaoh Brown and Johnny Mundt—all of whom saw meaningful action in 2013—Ka'ai gives Oregon an intriguing new dimension to the already potent offense.  

Another new dimension to Oregon's offensive arsenal is the addition of freshman running back Royce Freeman. The big power back is a fit for a new attitude the Ducks are embracing, and his playmaking ability is immediately turning heads. 

Thomas Tyner capped spring with an impressive scrimmage, and Freeman is generating buzz in preseason camp. But Byron Marshall, Oregon's top returning rusher, continues to grind out of the spotlight. 

Marshall told Gary Horowitz of the Statesman Journal that he is motivated coming off his 1,038-yard, 14-touchdown campaign. 

"It's not my job to really care what other people say, [but] it does make me work that much harder," he said. 

Oregon's defensive line prepares for 2014 with some similar motivation. The Ducks replaced 2013 starters Taylor Hart and Wade Keliikipi. Alex Balducci joins Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner on the revamped defensive line.

Balducci talked with CSNNW.com's Aaron Fentress about the unit's focus for the coming season, saying it "lacked attention to detail" a season ago. 

Stopping the run is among those crucial plot points for Oregon heading into the new campaign. Perhaps the defense can take inspiration from the lyrics of new honorary Duck Tom Petty's 1989 hit, "I Won't Back Down." 

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited. Statistics compiled via CFBstats.com

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Oregon Ducks Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

Oregon opened 2014 fall camp this week with plenty of outside expectations. The same week the Ducks hit the field in preparation for the coming campaign, AthlonSports...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

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