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Georgia Football: Breaking Down Where Todd Gurley Landed in the 2015 Big Boards

The 2014 NFL draft has come to an end, and the Georgia Bulldogs only had two players selected, which should come to nobody’s surprise. Quarterback Aaron Murray was taken in the fifth round by the Kansas City Chiefs, while tight end Arthur Lynch was chosen eight picks prior by the Miami Dolphins.

Next year should be a different story for the Bulldogs because there will be some talented players that will be draft eligible. But the leader of the pack has to be one of the best running backs in the country, Todd Gurley.

After battling an ankle injury, Gurley should be ready to have a big year and help lead the Bulldogs to a third SEC title game in four years. But even he doesn’t have a great year, many experts believe he’s the best running back prospect in next year’s draft class.

Walter Football is one of the more popular mock draft sites and they have Gurley being drafted 10th overall by the Miami Dolphins.  John Norris of Rotoworld also has Gurley being drafted by the Dolphins in the first round, but it will be 13th overall instead of 10th. Norris said that Gurley will be the first running back to be taken next year, and the running back class will be very deep.

@JoshNorris I cover Todd Gurley, he's a special back. He will be a top 10 pick, no doubt. Power/speed combo rare.

— Robbie Rosenhaus (@robbierosenhaus) May 11, 2014

So here’s why Todd Gurley is being considered as a first-round pick. Gurley has a true combination of speed and power. He’s not the fastest running back in college football, and he won’t be the fastest running back when he gets to the NFL, but he has enough speed to score from anywhere on the field.

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson told Chase Goodbread of NFL.com back in December that Gurley has all the tools to be a great back in the NFL. Johnson went on to say Gurley’s big, physical and can catch the ball out of the backfield.

But the NFL is changing when it comes to viewing running backs. In fact, the first running back that was taken in this year’s draft was Bishop Sankey in the second round.

But next year’s class should be deeper than it has in the last couple of years, and Gurley will be leading the way. If Gurley is taken in the first round, that means he will most likely be the featured back for the team and will have to carry the load for the next five to seven years.

That’s asking a lot for a modern-day pro running back, but Gurley should have no issues adjusting to that because despite the depth and the talent at the running back position in Athens, Gurley is still and will always be the No. 1 back.

And even if Gurley decides to stay for his senior season, he will probably be the No. 1 running back prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft. CBS Sports agrees with that sentiment as it has Gurley as the No. 1 running back prospect for the draft that’s two years away.

So make no mistake about it, Gurley will be drafted and will be drafted very high. The only question is, will he leave Athens after the 2014 season, or will he stay for one more year?

No matter what he does, he has a very good chance of wearing a yellow jacket in Canton, Ohio when his football career is all said and done.


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Most Underrated Recruiters in College Football Today

Today, head coaches such as Alabama's Nick Saban, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, Notre Dame's Brian Kelly and Ohio State's Urban Meyer are the best recruiters in college football. Penn State head coach James Franklin has even shown this spring he will be a dominant recruiter in Happy Valley.

While those coaches deserve the praise they constantly receive as recruiters, others have gotten overlooked. A coach in the ACC doesn't frequently sign elite prospects, but he is a tireless recruiter who gets solid football players to join his program.

A pair of Pac-12 coaches in the same state are underrated recruiters, plus the Big 12 has a coach or two on this list.


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Michigan Football: Who Is Replacing Every Ex-Wolverine Taken in 2014 NFL Draft?

Taylor Lewan was the first former Michigan player taken in the 2014 NFL Draft—no big surprise there. The former All-American Wolverines left tackle is 6’7” and 309 pounds of mean meant for Sunday consumption.

Needless to say, he’ll probably have a fine career with the Tennessee Titans, who used the No. 11 overall pick to snag one of the Maize and Blue’s greatest blind-siders.

There wasn’t really a question about Michael Schofield's draft ability—it was more of a question of when he'd be taken. A projected late-rounder, the 6’7,” 301-pound right tackle was expected to go in the fifth, sixth or possibly even seventh.

But he didn’t; he was selected in the third, No. 95 overall, by the Denver Broncos, who are looking to add depth and skill to their shifting offensive line.

Perhaps the “perfect” pick in regards to skill set and style, Jeremy Gallon was taken off the board in the seventh round by the New England Patriots, who are led by former Wolverines quarterback Tom Brady.

The Pats have had great success with undersized underdogs. And at 5’8” and 185 pounds, Gallon is a small target who can provide large, and familiar, rewards for The Hoodie and Tom Terrific.

A speedster with glue-trap hands, he’ll be difficult to replace as Team 135 moves toward fall.

So will Lewan and Schofield, who were also part of Team 134’s senior backbone in 2013.


Plug in for Lewan?

Left tackle is a big deal, especially in Ann Arbor. It takes a true football player—in every sense of the word—to handle the position for Brady Hoke, who’ll undoubtedly reference Lewan’s play for years to come.

And why not? Lewan set the current bar. Now it’s up to players such as Erik Magnuson, a 6'6," 295-pound sophomore, and Mason Cole, a 6'5," 284-pound frosh, to step in and give Lewan-esque protection to their quarterback and running back.

Magnuson is nursing a right shoulder injury and missed spring ball. Joey Burzynski, a senior, along with David Dawson, who redshirted in 2013, could be options too. For the entire roster, visit TheWolverine.com.

As of now, Michigan's O-line is questionable. The level of talent isn't, but the level of consistency, and lack of it, most certainly remains heavy in discussion. Hoke and Darrell Funk have recruited 4- and 5-star guys for three years. It's about time for one of them to take center stage (or left tackle) and produce. 

Note: The LT/RT candidates are essentially interchangeable at the moment. A clearer picture of who's going where will be apparent this summer. 


So Long, Schofield

Now with a year behind him, Logan Tuley-Tillman could be among favorites to win the right tackle spot. He’s a natural left tackle, but at 6’7” and 290 pounds, he’s too big to ignore.

Plus he was one of the best O-line recruits of 2013, so he has that working for him.

At 6'6" and 319 pounds, Ben Braden is another who's "too big to ignore." This guy doesn't miss many meals, and the Wolverines need a big-bodied people-mover in the trenches. Braden's of that caliber. In 2013, he got his feet wet while lugging reps in the middle of the line. 

He should benefit from that experience in 2014 and emerge as a true contender for Schofield's old job. 


Going to Miss Gallon

Excitement-wise, Gallon is almost irreplaceable. He wasn't Denard Robinson, but he gave Team 134 that special feeling of "what's going to happen next?" each time he touched the ball this past season.

With a record 369 yards against Indiana, the ex-slot man caught his way into the record books and into the hearts of fans. 

If there was ever a player who left it all on the field, it was Gallon, who wasn't supposed to get drafted, per CBS

Freddy Canteen, a 6'1," 170-pound frosh, seems like the logical successor; and after a dynamic spring game, he's earned that distinction. Freddy Footwork, as he'll soon be dubbed if he hasn't been already, arrived in Ann Arbor as a modestly rated 3-star recruit, per 247Sports.

It seems as if the scouts may have missed on that one. But that's OK. Michigan's coaching staff, particularly Hoke and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, probably doesn't mind having a "so-so" prospect.

Oh, those star rankings. What do they know anyway?! 

Canteen's the guy until someone beats him. And as of right now, there doesn't appear to be many ready for that challenge. However, once healthy, expect Drake Harris, a 6'4" 190-pound frosh, to make things interesting. 



Well, the headline says "drafted," but here's a quick mention of other former Wolverines who are getting pro looks. For more info, check out Josh Henschke's post on Maize 'n Brew, which tracks the UDFA crowd. 

Thomas Gordon (S): Signed contract with New York Giants

Jibreel Black (DL): Mini-camp invite, Pittsburgh Steelers, per the Detroit Free Press' Mark Snyder

Cam Gordon (LB): Unspecified invite, New England Patriots

Fitz Toussaint (RB): Tryout, Baltimore Ravens, per MLive.com's Nick Baumgardner (via Henschke)

Quinton Washington (DT): Tryout, Oakland Raiders

Willie Henry and Ondre Pipkins are in line to take over for Washington. Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith are ready to pick up Toussaint's role. Linebacker is deep for Michigan, so no real concern there. Black's departure impacts the D-line, but it doesn't cripple it. 


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

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Notre Dame Fan Shows off Custom Golden Dome Groomsman Cake

With wedding season now underway, brides and grooms are getting pretty creative with their cakes, and this is one of the more interesting ones.

A Notre Dame Fighting Irish fan decided to have his groom's cake in the shape of a golden football helmet to show off his college football allegiance.

[Twitter, h/t College Spun]

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Alabama Football: Who Is Replacing Every Former Tider Taken in 2014 NFL Draft?

With eight former Alabama stars finding new homes in the NFL over the weekend, the 2014 NFL draft once again served as a showcase for Nick Saban’s program and its ability to develop talent.

Its become an annual challenge for Saban and his staff to reload the roster quickly in an effort to replace NFL-bound stars every season.

On offense, replacing star quarterback AJ McCarron and left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio take precedent. On the other side of the ball, sizable voids to fill include those left by linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Which players will be stepping into the positions vacated by former Tide stars taken in the draft?

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Texas A&M Football: Who Is Replacing Every Aggie Taken in 2014 NFL Draft

The 2014 NFL Draft is complete and three members of the Texas A&M football team heard their name called. With three Aggies drafted in the first round there are going to be significant holes to fill on the 2014 team. 

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff have recruited well since arriving in Aggieland in 2012. The have brought in consecutive classes ranked in the top 10 in the nation by 247sports.com. 

In 2014 Aggie fans will start to see some of the fruit of that labor as the team will be as deep as any time in recent memory. The talent, especially on the defensive line, will be as good as any Aggie team in 20 years. 

The Aggies will need to replace the three players who left in the draft, but Sumlin has been accounting for those losses in his recruiting. The Aggies have the talent on campus to step in for the departed players without missing a beat on the field. 

Johnny Manziel was a special player and you cannot replace what he brought with just one person. For this reason there will be more than one player who will be used to replace Manziel's production on the field. 

This is a look at the players who will replace Manziel, Mike Evans and Jake Matthews. 

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Texas Football Hitting Rock Bottom with No Longhorns Chosen in 2014 NFL Draft?

Texas hasn't been a championship-caliber program for the last four years, but at least NFL talent has come through Austin. 

Not in 2014. 

As tweeted by Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and noted by other media outlets, zero Texas players were taken in this past weekend's NFL draft. The last time that happened? 1937.

That 76-year streak was the draft's longest, according to Chuck Carlton of The Dallas Morning News

Meanwhile, Baylor, which won its first Big 12 championship in football this past season, led the conference with five players drafted. (Granted, all players were drafted in the final day, but were drafted nonetheless.) 

Does first-year Texas head coach Charlie Strong have a lot of work ahead? Of course. He basically said as much when he told fans last month that there would be no championship for the Longhorns in 2014-15. 

Even at a place like Texas, rebounds don't always happen overnight. Couple that with other schools undoubtedly using Texas' draft "absence" against it in recruiting, and Strong's job of elevating the program back to an elite level just got a bit harder.

Put simply, the Longhorns don't have a lot of momentum at the moment. 

Strong can get it back, of course. He had three Louisville players—safety Calvin Pryor, defensive end Marcus Smith and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater—taken in the first round of the draft. That's something Strong can point to. 

However, there's a distinct difference between getting recruited in college and getting drafted in the NFL. In college, the recruiting "star system" may be an inexact science, but there's some correlation between it and fielding a championship-caliber team. The same can't be said for the NFL.

Pro organizations want guys who grade out the highest. Period. What recruiting ranking, statistics or accolades a player had in college hardly matters. 

Former Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack was drafted fifth overall on Thursday by the Oakland Raiders (and probably could have gone higher). Mack was a 2-star recruit out of high school with no major offers. He wore No. 46 in college because it reflected his rating on EA Sports' NCAA Football video game franchise. 

Former Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, another player generally overlooked by bigger programs, was taken two spots ahead of Mack by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Bortles probably has the most work to do of any of the big-name quarterbacks who were drafted. But, because he's 6'5" and 230 pounds with a great skill set, he was the first quarterback off the board. 

Also consider SMU and former Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who was selected in the sixth round of the draft by the St. Louis Rams. Gilbert, who threw waves of interceptions with the Longhorns and was literally booed out of Austin, turned things around with the Mustangs. 

Yes, Gilbert was a former 5-star recruit, but how many fans would say Gilbert played like a 5-star recruit for most of his college career? He was drafted late because of his potential. 

Or, consider former Texas wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, whose whole college career could be summarized with the phrase "We’ve got to get the ball in his hands more." But Goodwin has world-class speed and was drafted in the third round of the 2013 draft by the Buffalo Bills. 

The examples could go on and on. In theory, Texas could recruit entire classes of 4- and 5-star players and compete for championships—and none could get drafted. That's quite unlikely to happen, of course, but recruiting and drafting are viewed through two different lenses.

Longhorns defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, an All-American and Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year, was a force for the Horns in 2013. He went to the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent. Jeffcoat was a 5-star member of the 2010 class, which was second nationally. 

This may feel like rock bottom for Texas fans. And, yes, it's not a flattering look. However, the number of players drafted during any given year doesn't dictate, by itself, how successful a program is. 


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports

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Jameis Winston's Scouting Report and Outlook for 2015 NFL Draft

This year's NFL draft is finally history. After all the mock drafts and media frenzy, the picks are finally locked into place. For teams that didn't find their preferred quarterback in 2014, they may have to look no further than 12 months down the road when Florida State's Jameis Winston is likely to take his chances at professional stardom.

Winston led the NCAA in passing yards per attempt (10.6) and passing efficiency rating (184.8) in 2013, according to Sports-reference.com. He went undefeated in his first year as a starter, won the BCS National Championship, the Heisman trophy, and he has even found time to play baseball for Florida State now that the season is over. He's also highly regarded for his leadership skills and intangibles, as this video demonstrates.

Despite his weekly heroics, Winston may not even be the top quarterback in the 2015 NFL draft. That honor could belong to Oregon's Marcus Mariota. According to Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated, one NFL scout would have taken Mariota over Johnny Manziel had he entered this year's draft. Via Thamel:

"I'd take him over [Johnny] Manziel. He's more accurate. He's bigger and I think he's faster, not as elusive, but more durable. A lot of upside there," said the NFL scout.

Mariota has an extra year of starting experience under his belt and his numbers are impressive, but they still fell short of Winston's in 2013.

One area where Mariota does outpace Winston is running the football. Mariota racked up 775 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013. Winston managed just 215 yards and four touchdowns on a 2.5 yards per carry average. Mariota may be a more effective runner, but Winston still has the mobility to move around in the pocket and buy time for his throws.

Unlike Mariota, Winston benefits from running a hybrid offense that contains elements of both spread and traditional offensive systems. Mariota will have to convince scouts that his numbers aren't the result of the unique, high-octane spread offense he runs at Oregon.

Winston's numbers aren't purely the result of a high volume passing attack that leaves quarterbacks ill-prepared for NFL schemes. In this way, Winston is unlikely to suffer the same fate as prolific college passers who played in gimmick offenses like Colt Brennan or Vince Young.

In fact, EJ Manuel, Winston's predecessor at Florida State, once stated the Buffalo Bills' offense is less complex than Florida State's. From a May 2013 interview with Sirius XM Radio, via ESPN.com's news services:

"I've done great. The learning curve for me is a lot shorter simply because of what I had at Florida State. [The Seminoles' offense is] more complex and a little bit harder to catch on and learn. This offense is very simple. I've done a great job with it."

This bodes well for Winston, who is working in a similar system under head coach Jimbo Fisher. In fact, Manuel did much more running than Winston in spread-option packages, which means Winston has likely spent more time working on pass plays that translate better to the NFL.

Of course, Winston may not even enter the 2015 NFL draft, according to Coach Fisher. Via Tim Linafelt of FloridaState.247sports.com:

“Everybody says he’s going to stay one year and leave,” Fisher said. “Which I don’t think that’s true. I think it will be two." 

It would be interesting to see how Winston might justify coming back for a junior season barring an injury that keeps him sidelined for an extended period of time as a sophomore.

Winston is a likely top-10 draft pick should he continue his dominating performances and enter the draft after his sophomore season. He has the size, skills and intangibles to compete at a high-level in the NFL. His 2014 season should give him ample opportunity to prove to NFL scouts that he is capable of performing in a traditional NFL offense.

Another quarterback Winston may have to outperform ahead of the 2015 NFL draft is UCLA's Brett Hundley. The Bruins' signal-caller has performed well in Westwood and will have three years of starting experience under his belt should he declare for 2015 as well.

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