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5-Star Ben Davis Says Recruitment Is 'Wide-Open' After New Offers, FSU Visit

The Florida State Seminoles welcomed a collection of high-profile prospects to campus for spring game festivities on Saturday, April 11. The guest list featured three 5-star Alabama recruits, including linebacker Ben Davis.

The 6'4", 230-pound Gordo High School standout drove into town along with fellow 5-star defenders Marlon Davidson and Lyndell "Mack" Wilson, who played together last season at Carver High School.

It was the group's first journey to Tallahassee. By the time they hit the road to return home  Davis was already plotting his next visit.

"As soon as I got down to Tallahassee, I felt comfortable," he told Bleacher Report. "I loved every minute of it. I could really see myself playing down there. I'll probably go back to Florida State a few more times and work on establishing a better relationship with their coaches."

Davidson and Wilson each arrived on campus holding Seminoles offers. So did Davis, though he didn't realize it until Saturday.

Florida State defensive coordinator Charles Kelly cleared things up when the two met in person.

"Coach Kelly told me I already had an offer, but I didn't know before they said that during my visit," Davis explained. "I was happy to hear that, because I really do like Florida State. I can't wait to get back down there."

It's the latest in a series of scholarship offers that have shaken up his recruitment. David released a top-seven list in late February, identifying Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss and USC as favorites. 

Recent offers from Florida State, Notre Dame and Michigan have effectively altered his outlook.

"It's a whole new ballgame right now," Davis said. "I'm ready to consider everybody that's interested in me. That top-seven list was how I felt at that point, but with all the offers coming in, I'm wide-open."

Notre Dame extended a scholarship approximately a week after he unveiled that list. 

"I would put them right there in the mix," Davis said after receiving the Fighting Irish's offer. "Notre Dame is a great school."

He says the two sides have worked to build a rapport in recent weeks. The same can be said for his relationship with Michigan, which offered him in late March.

Though Davis has yet to personally speak with Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh, he's established consistent communication with assistant coach Tyrone Wheatley.

"With Coach Harbaugh coming from the NFL and putting his staff together, I know I would get great training and structure," Davis said. "Michigan has great tradition, and they're working to put together a really good class. I also heard they have the biggest stadium in the country, so I know it must be loud and crazy during games up there."

Florida State's strong first impression also piqued his interest. Despite Davis' lack of a set list of favorites, it's safe to say the Seminoles would be among the top pack at this point.

"Florida State is obviously one of the best programs in the county," he said. "They made it to the College Football Playoff last season, won the national title a couple years ago and had a Heisman Trophy winner. Talking with Coach Jimbo [Fisher] and the coaching staff, I really enjoyed the atmosphere."

Davis described his potential role within the star-studded Seminoles defensive attack, voicing enthusiasm about how he might fit in.

"I like the way they use their linebackers," he said. "The coaching staff told me I'd have a chance to play early at Florida State and do a few different things. I can see myself standing up inside and then being used on third down to rush the passer, which I really like to do. I'd be able to use my speed and quickness off the edge."

It will remain difficult for any program to knock Auburn and Alabama out of contention.

Davis' father, Wayne, is the Crimson Tide's all-time tackles leader. He will attend Alabama's spring game this weekend. 

"Coach Saban and Coach (Kirby) Smart see me as another Dont'a Hightower," he said. "I have a strong relationship with Alabama because of my dad and growing up pretty close to campus, but there's a long way to go in this process, and it's about finding where I feel most comfortable."

Meanwhile, Auburn appears to have quite an edge when it comes to coaching familiarity.

"Auburn is really recruiting me hard, especially with some of the new coaches on their staff," Davis said. "Coach [Will] Muschamp already recruited me before when he was at Florida and Coach [Lance] Thompson was recruiting me at Alabama last year. Now they're both at Auburn, so that's a pretty big deal."

Like Davis, Alabama 5-stars Wilson and Davidson have warranted heavy interest from the pair of in-state powerhouses. Now Florida State is suddenly in play for each standout.

"We all liked what we saw down at Florida State," Davis said. "I'm sure we're going to visit again pretty soon. They say this 2016 class could be one of the best Florida State has ever signed, so I'm really interested in that opportunity."

Could they become a 15-star "package deal" next signing day?

Davis doesn't rule out the possibility.

"We call ourselves 'The Trio'. Me, Mack and Marlon have really become close," he said. "They're my dudes. We do talk about going to the same college together sometimes, but all three of us are probably going to wait until signing day. I don't know where I'm going, and I don't think they know yet, either. We'll see what the future holds."

Now that Florida State is checked off his list of universities to visit, Davis has sights set on several schools moving forward.

Davis named Notre Dame, Michigan, LSU, USC and Ohio State as first-time destinations he'd like to explore before making a decision.

 

All quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Is 4-Star ATH Trevon Diggs a Lock to Alabama?

Following a visit to Alabama earlier this month, the Tide look to be in a good position with 4-star athlete Trevon Diggs.

According to Ryan Bartow of 247Sports, Diggs has named the Tide his leader.

“It’s just Bama,” Diggs told Bartow. “Everything about Bama grabs my attention. I love Bama a lot.”

With the positive vibes trending toward Tuscaloosa with Diggs, is the nation’s No. 5 athlete and No. 87 overall prospect in the 2016 class a lock to end up signing with the Tide?

Even with Nick Saban hot on the trail of Diggs, the word “lock” seldom applies to anyone in recruiting these days. It’s clear that Alabama made a strong impression on the Maryland standout, but there’s still a long ways to go in his recruitment.

Diggs, whose brother Stefon was a star receiver at Maryland from 2012-14, did note that he plans to decide after using his allotted five official visits in the fall.

That factor alone means that he will give other schools a chance to woo him in the manner the Tide were able to during his visit to the Capstone.

Schools such as Auburn—which he mentioned he plans to visit soon—Florida, Maryland and Penn State are programs that have been involved with Diggs in the early stages of his recruitment.

Another factor with Diggs could be the decision of good friend, fellow Maryland product and 4-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

A handful of programs are in the running for both of them, and Haskins—who also has the Tide as a contender for his services—even mentioned that he considers him and Diggs to be a package deal, per Bartow.

Still, at this stage of his recruitment, Alabama has positioned itself well to be in the thick of the race for Diggs until he makes a decision.

“I’d say looking at and being with all the players and seeing how they work and seeing all the coaches and stuff like that,” Diggs said to Bartow about what impressed him at Alabama. “Watching their game, their spring practice, it was fun watching and seeing how they compete against each other every play."

Diggs and Haskins represent the latest Maryland products to grab the attention of Saban, who has done well recruiting the Mid-Atlantic region recently.

In fact, Saban has landed elite prospects from Maryland, such as corner Cyrus Jones and offensive linemen Arie Kouandjio and Cyrus Kouandjio, since 2010.

As he did with those prospects, Saban and his staff will have to prepare to go the distance in recruiting Diggs in hopes of luring him to Tuscaloosa on signing day.

  

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Former 5-Stars Who Are Finally Ready to Break Out for USC in 2015

The USC Trojans have a roster chock-full of elite talent and littered with 3-, 4- and 5-star recruits. But a few 5-stars in particular are ready to break out in 2015.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer joins Stephen Nelson to discuss which former 5-stars are ready to emerge in Southern California.

What is USC's ceiling in 2015? Check out the video and let us know!  

tar rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Former 5-Stars Who Are Finally Ready to Break Out for USC in 2015

The USC Trojans have a roster chock-full of elite talent and littered with 3-, 4- and 5-star recruits. But a few 5-stars in particular are ready to break out in 2015...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Every Power 5 College Football Conference's Dark-Horse Player of Year for 2015

At this point in the offseason, early leaders for Heisman, playoff and conference player of the year considerations have pretty much been set in stone. 

But what about the players who are primed for breakout seasons that could affect all three of the aforementioned categories?

These are the dark-horse player of the year possibilities for each of the Power Five conferences.  

Other than the Big Ten, conferences typically select an offensive player of the year and a defensive player of the year. With that in mind, we're taking it a step further and projecting who we think will be the conference's sole dark-horse MVP, offense or defense. 

Selections are made based on players who started at least one game last season or saw significant playing time as a backup. 

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College Football Players Primed for Huge Bounce-Back Years in 2015

2015 is a new year, and for some college football players, that means a fresh start. Players are looking to bounce back from last season and make their mark on the CFB world this year.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Barrett Sallee and Michael Felder debate which player will have a bounce-back season in 2015.

Who will have the biggest bounce-back year in 2015? Check out the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Are Texas Longhorns Too Scared to Renew Rivalry, Play the Texas A&M Aggies?

Every offseason, the idea of the rivalry between Texas and Texas A&M pops up.

Every offseason, the entire college football world gets excited about the thought of the two powers from the Lone Star State renewing their rivalry that's been dormant since 2011.

This time, it's the two head coaches doing the talking to ESPN.com's Chris Low.

"That game is so much a part of this state," Texas head coach Charlie Strong told Low. "Over 100 years, we've played that game. Why stop it now because we're in different conferences? At some point, when it's right for everybody with the different schedules, I would love to play Texas A&M again."

Fourth-year Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin echoed those sentiments.

"Now, moving into Year 4 and listening to our former students and our alumni base and knowing a lot of Texas alums, it's important that we play again," Sumlin said. "I think it will happen somewhere down the road."

Maybe strong should have a chat with his athletic director, Steve Patterson, who had this to say to Max Olson of ESPN.com a year ago: "There's a lot of great tradition with Texas A&M. At some point in time, does it make some business sense, some branding sense to play again? I don't know. It's not at the top of my list. I'm really more focused on how we grow the footprint of the department."

What exactly does that mean?

Texas has out-of-conference games scheduled with Notre Dame, USC, LSU, Ohio State, Michigan and other high-profile Power Five conference teams over the next 15 years. As Zach Barnett of FootballScoop.com notes, Texas is more concerned with playing high-profile teams outside the state:

That's a very dangerous, reckless and unnecessary plan for Texas—which is already a national brand to a point where its Longhorn Network and the financial landscape it created in the Big 12 was one of the primary driving forces of the conference realignment craze.

Texas has been a national brand for a long time, and that won't change. What has changed, though, is the status of Texas A&M.

The former "little brother" of the Longhorns has evolved into more of a cousin over the last four years. Thanks to the move to the SEC, the success of former quarterback and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and publicity the school has gained, Texas A&M has become the 13th-most valuable college program in the country in 2014, according to Forbes.com.

Not exactly the "small sliver of East Texas" that former Texas athletics director DeLoss Dodds predicted A&M would have when it moved to the SEC.

On top of that, Sumlin has been recruiting his tail off, notching top-16 classes in each of Sumlin's four seasons in College Station, including two classes that ranked in the top 10. Those classes are loaded with talented players from the Lone Star State, including stud defensive end Myles Garrett, wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones and legendary high school quarterback Kyler Murray.

For perspective, the Aggies average class rank in the three previous seasons prior to Sumlin's arrival was 26.3, according to 247Sports' team rankings.

The move to the SEC matters, and it's only going to matter more as high school and middle school kids relate the SEC—and its success sending people to the NFL—to Texas A&M.

Texas still thinks that it's too good for Texas A&M, but that's false. It needs Texas A&M.

Texas A&M is gaining traction both in the state and nationally, and one way to slow that down is to play it out on the field. Strong knows this, but the administration doesn't seem to want to buy in quite yet.

Is it arrogance? Probably not. It's more likely fear.

After all, if Texas were to get beaten consistently, that would only accelerate the evolution of Texas A&M football.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Messiah deWeaver Announces Top 5: Which School is Best Fit for Star QB?

Messiah deWeaver is taking a week off the suspense.

After originally setting a commitment date of April 29, the 3-star quarterback has decided to move up his announcement to April 22—which means fans have eight days (T-minus) to give their last-minute speeches on social media in an effort to sway him to attend their favorite school.

Per Mike Griffith of MLive.com, deWeaver has a top five of Michigan State, Mississippi State, Penn State, Kentucky and Louisville. The Dayton, Ohio, prospect, ranked No. 12 in the 247Sports' Composite among pro-style quarterbacks nationally, has Michigan State trending in his 247Sports Crystal Ball.

deWeaver is looking to end the process after once being committed to Michigan. He chose the Wolverines in June but reopened the process in January with the firing of Brady Hoke and the hiring of Jim Harbaugh.

Listed at 6'3", 202 pounds, deWeaver fits the mold of a Michigan State quarterback. The Spartans are looking for a game manager who can not only make the big pass, but also sell the run. Michigan State finished the 2014 season with 3,453 passing yards but also had 3,057 rushing yards, making it a true dual-headed monster in Big Ten play.

deWeaver is one of those players who can be a similar quarterback, game management-wise, as Connor Cook. Per the Greater Western Ohio Conference website, he led Trotwood-Madison High School to average 182.4 rushing yards and 121.9 passing yards per game, ultimately equating to nearly 38 points a contest.

deWeaver has a dozen offers, and all five of his favorites would be considered solid fits, but Michigan State would make sense in this case. The Spartans currently have only two commitments in their 2016 class, and they are in need of a quarterback to lead the class offensively. Additionally, he's made multiple trips to East Lansing, Michigan, since December, according to his 247Sports timeline.

deWeaver has built a relationship with recruiting coordinator/quarterbacks coach Brad Salem, as well as with head coach Mark Dantonio and assistant head coach Harlon Barnett.

Playing in the Big Ten could be in deWeaver's immediate future, but he also could end up playing in the SEC. Kentucky is a legitimate contender in the recruiting race, as he's built relationships with quarterbacks coach Shannon Watson, head coach Mark Stoops, cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley and recruiting coordinator/tight ends coach Vince Marrow.

deWeaver has made multiple trips to Lexington, Kentucky, and the Wildcats were one of the first to offer him. To add, Kentucky has a proximity advantage over Michigan State. While East Lansing is roughly four hours away from Dayton, Lexington is right around two hours away from deWeaver's home.

Don't expect proximity to be a major X-factor for deWeaver. Look for intangibles like potential playing time, campus environment feel and comfort with the coaching staff and players to win the quarterback over.

One thing that may also be considered is deWeaver's relationship with one of the Michigan State basketball players. deWeaver moved from Trotwood-Madison and now attends Wayne High School, the same high school that Travis Trice Jr. attended. deWeaver and Trice's younger brother, D'Mitrik Price, is a senior two-sport athlete at Wayne, who not only played quarterback, but also could be as talented on the basketball court as his brother.

"He was on my AAU basketball team," deWeaver told Griffith regarding D'Mitrik Price. "I played [basketball] until eighth grade, and then I started to focus on football."

You can bet deWeaver's received nothing but good testimonials about Michigan State. On April 22, the world will find out if he's going to "Go Green" or choose a different avenue for his college plans.

 

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

The Dark-Horse Contender in Alabama's 2015 Quarterback Race

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — As Alabama’s spring practice enters its last week before the long offseason ahead, there hasn’t been too much focus on the quarterback race so far. Especially not as much as there was last year, when AJ McCarron left after a decorated career.

The Crimson Tide have had plenty of other problems to worry about, like the other eight starters they’ll be replacing on offense, the three arrests and two subsequent dismissals, or the two long-term knee injuries to key players.

But as the battle under center has largely played out in the shadows so far, a dark-horse contender for the job is very much emerging on the inside.

What looked like a race between Jake Coker and the field has seen a major push from an unsuspecting candidate: redshirt freshman David Cornwell.

Cornwell has been injured or on the bench for most of his short time in Tuscaloosa, but now healthy and with an opportunity to shine, Cornwell is impressing and has a very legitimate chance at the starting job in 2015.

“He has done probably as good a job as anybody this spring,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said Saturday after Alabama’s second spring scrimmage. “He’s very bright, has a great understanding of the offense, does a great job from a leadership standpoint of helping other players play better when he’s in there. And he has played smart for the most part all spring.”

That scrimmage, which was closed to all but a select few members of the public, was when Cornwell had his time to shine and showed what those inside the program think of his development.

During a warmup period seen by reporters prior to the scrimmage, Cornwell was taking snaps with the first-team offensive line. And that proved indicative of Cornwell’s standing at the scrimmage.

A source inside the scrimmage said that Cornwell took the first snaps at quarterback and was essentially a starter for one of the scrimmage teams. On an overall rough day for the quarterbacks, the source said, Cornwell continued to play meaningful snaps and made several nice throws.

In a photo of the scrimmage released by UA, Cornwell is seen working against first-team defensive lineman D.J. Pettway, who is being blocked by first-team tight end O.J. Howard:

“It was going to be interesting today to see, we put him in situations today where, even though he doesn’t have game experience, how he would handle those things, and in some cases he did a really good job,” Saban said afterwards. “A couple of other times I’m sure he’s going to learn from that experience and have a chance to do better. So we’re really encouraged by the progress he’s made all spring.”

That bump up in the rotation is a far cry from the seniority order we have seen so far. For the most part of the spring, quarterbacks worked from Coker down to early enrollee Blake Barnett in order of class standing.

Cornwell jumping Cooper Bateman and Alec Morris for the day shows at least some form of movement at this point in the quarterback competition and signals that he has a very real shot at winning the starting job.

His status in the quarterback race is surprising.

There was little buzz around the former 4-star from Norman, Oklahoma, coming into the offseason.

He came in as one of the crown jewels of Alabama’s 2014 class. At the time, Cornwell was the highest-rated quarterback Saban had ever signed. He was a pro-style quarterback and seemed to fit the mold of McCarron—a so-called “game manager” that could make plays when needed and play an overall smart game.

Then a couple of things happened.

Lane Kiffin came in, opened up the offense and Blake Sims led a record-setting offense using his legs to run a dynamic system. Alabama signed 5-star and mobile prospect Blake Barnett and, as so frequently happens in the short-attention-span recruiting cycle, Cornwell became an afterthought.

He’s also battled several injuries that, up until now, have hindered his development and limited what he could show off in practice.

In high school, Cornwell tore an ACL that cut his senior season short. He spent much of last year’s spring practice limited after enrolling in January.

To compound matters, he suffered an ankle injury during that spring that required surgery after A-Day, according to Marq Burnett of the Ledger-Enquirer.

During the fall, he was relegated to scout-team duties, simulating passing downs while Bateman handled the dual-threat role, per Burnett.

Now fully healthy, though, Cornwell is showing off the skills that made him such a highly rated prospect out of high school.

He told Burnett after the Sugar Bowl:

I'm there to compete everyday with all the quarterbacks. But getting better each day is my priority, not worrying about the spot, the No. 2 spot, No. 3 or anything. I'm just here to get better as a quarterback because even if you get the job here, you're going to have to beat someone out in the (NFL) draft or even in life. I'm just keeping my head down, working to be the best quarterback I can be and seeing where it takes me.

Right now, it’s taking him into the front lines of Alabama’s quarterback competition, where he has emerged as a very real threat to win the starting job.

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes and reporting were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Power Ranking Top 10 Most Talented States in 2016 Recruiting Cycle

High-profile football talent can be found from coast to coast, from California to New York and beyond. And between and around those boundaries, there's pride within the states. Tons of pride.

Each year, when it comes to where the future college football players reside, a handful of states are viewed as the usual suspects. But each year, a few sleeper states include a list of big-time players to watch as the football world prepares for the annual marathon that is recruiting.

In the 2016 class, states like Alabama, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Arizona feature some of the best players in the country. However, 10 other states are loaded with talented prospects from top to bottom this year.

Here are the 10 most talented states in the 2016 recruiting cycle. The states were chosen using the quality and quantity of each state's talent base, with the assistance of 247Sports' composite ratings.

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Georgia Spring Buzz: 3-Headed QB Battle Rages On, Defense Looks Dominant

The Georgia Bulldogs competed in their spring game over the weekend and some storylines emerged from the big game. The quarterback battle is heating up with three viable candidates competing for the job. The running back position seems to be loaded, while the Bulldogs defense will once again be dominant.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee broke down the game with Stephen Nelson, touching on these developments and previewing what Bulldog fans can expect next season in Athens.

Who will win the QB battle? Check out the video and let us know!


QB stats obtained firsthand by Barrett Sallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Don't Be Surprised If a True Freshman Is South Carolina's 2015 QB

South Carolina wrapped up its spring practice session Saturday with the annual Garnet & Black Game at Williams-Brice Stadium, and all eyes were on quarterbacks Connor Mitch, Perry Orth and Michael Scarnecchia.

Mitch, a redshirt sophomore, was the most impressive of the bunch. The 6'3", 220-pound Raleigh, North Carolina, native competed 10 of 16 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown—a 22-yard strike to country music star Darius Rucker in what was the one special play head coach Steve Spurrier runs during each spring game.

Orth was efficient but made a couple of big mistakes. The former walk-on from Ponte Vedra, Florida, completed 11 of 19 passes for 137 yards but was picked off twice. Scarnecchia finished 12-of-19 for 191 yards and a touchdown but took two sacks.

"Connor Mitch is doing fine, and all three of them are," Spurrier said in quotes released by South Carolina. "Statistically, they're pretty similar. Michael Scarnechia, we need to get the ball out of his hands. Sometimes, he won't throw it if he doesn't think it has a chance and so forth. They all do some good things."

Who has the lead? Mitch probably does, at least for now, based on his experience in the system and his familiarity with the personnel.

Will that last, though?

Lorenzo Nunez—a dual-threat, 4-star Class of 2015 prospect—signed on the dotted line with Spurrier and the Gamecocks in February and could earn playing time in the offense as a true freshman.

"Lorenzo Nunez was here watching the scrimmage," Spurrier said. "He'll be ready to step into the competition as soon as he gets on campus in the summer. We're still trying to see if one guy is better than the rest."

Nunez is more of a dual-threat quarterback than any of the other QBs currently on South Carolina's campus. The 6'2 ½" 190-pounder from Harrison High School in Kennesaw, Georgia, has good top-end speed, is incredibly dangerous in space and keeps his eyes downfield when buying time behind the line of scrimmage.

"Nunez is an intriguing player," said Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Sanjay Kirpalani. "He's got a good arm, and he's clearly a guy who can make things happen when he escapes the pocket."

He can clearly bring the element of surprise to the Gamecock running game and add a different dimension alongside running backs Brandon Wilds and David Williams and do-everything receiver Pharoh Cooper—who's going to play some role on the ground again in 2015.

While Nunez brings the dynamism on the ground, he still has work to do through the air.

"He completed less than 50 percent of his passes as a senior, so I wonder about his fit in Spurrier's offense," Kirpalani said. "He's a guy who needs time to develop as a passer."

Nunez needs some work through the air, but South Carolina has a really good offensive staff led by Spurrier and quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus. Can they get him prepared enough as a passer during the month of August? That's a tall order, but Nunez's ability to create on the ground makes him as close to a Connor Shaw clone as any quarterback on South Carolina's roster.

Isn't that what South Carolina needs?

Shaw was the catalyst to the golden age of South Carolina football. He took over for Stephen Garcia midway through the 2011 season and was a big reason the Gamecocks won 11 games for three straight seasons from 2011-2013. 

Spurrier's offense evolved into a force different than his "Fun 'n' Gun" days at Florida with Shaw at the helm. Seemingly constant shots deep were replaced with a multidimensional ground game featuring Shaw and a tailback (first Marcus Lattimore and then Mike Davis) and a wildly efficient passing game founded in keeping the chains moving and taking the top off the defense when safeties began to creep up.

Nunez can follow that same blueprint if he can grasp some basic passing concepts early in fall camp.

It's a lot to ask for Nunez to win the job out of fall camp, especially with a tough out-of-conference matchup with North Carolina on the docket to open the season. But a ton of questions surround the South Carolina quarterback position exiting spring practice, and Nunez has the wheels to at least be part of the game plan as a situational quarterback from Day 1.

Once he gets his feet wet, he could slide into the starting role by midseason if no true leader emerges before then.

After all, it's Spurrier, and he has been known to play musical quarterbacks at times during his head coaching career.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

10 Sleeper Heisman Trophy Candidates in 2015

What are the chances that the next Heisman Trophy winner hasn’t even been named a starter for 2015?

That’s precisely what happened just two winners ago, in 2012, when Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel didn’t get the nod until August 6, just weeks before the season opener.

Though this year’s early Heisman odds are stacked with running backs, eight of the last 10 winners were quarterbacks. It means the long shots with the most realistic chance of hitting the big board will play under center.

The common thread shared by the last five Heisman winners, all quarterbacks, is that they accounted for 60-plus percent of their team’s total offensive output. And this wasn’t just any ordinary attack—each ranked in the Top 20 nationally in yards and each won 10-plus games.

Take a look at the following names—some of which you’re already well acquainted with, while others haven’t even earned a starting role. All share a place of the Heisman radar, at least for now.

 

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Texas Football: 5 Reasons to Be Optimistic About the Longhorns' Spring Game

No matter the difference Texas head coach Charlie Strong has made on this Longhorn team since his arrival, it's tough to be optimistic about the team's outlook this season.

The Longhorns have lost 10 starters from a 6-7 team, lost even more experience to injuries this spring and, you know, still have no idea who their quarterback will be.

However, none of that should keep Longhorn fans from being excited to watch this team take the field in Saturday's spring game. Strong still has this group working hard to get back to the upper echelon of college football, drawing healthy competition from every position in the process.

Yes, that includes the troublesome quarterback position.

The fire Strong pulls from his guys alone will make this an entertaining scrimmage. Even if this team proves far from a polished product, at least everyone gets that long-awaited look at Malik Jefferson.

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Virginia Tech Football: Week 3 Spring Practice Stock Report

Could Virginia Tech's offense carry the team this fall? If Saturday's scrimmage meant anything, the Hokies could be a dangerous offense this fall.

For years, Tech fans have gotten accustomed to defensive coordinator Bud Foster and his ferocious defense leading the Hokies to numerous conference championships and 22 straight bowl appearances. While Foster's defense could once again be dominant in 2015, the offense ruled the day in VT's second spring scrimmage.

Senior quarterback Michael Brewer returned after missing some practice due to back spasms and looked like a completely different quarterback from the one who struggled at times in 2014.

Unofficially, Brewer completed 10 of 15 passes for 256 yards and five touchdowns. Now, keep in mind that it was a scrimmage and offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler was sure to keep things in perspective, per Andy Bitter of The Roanoke Times:

There were some touchdowns today that we had that there’s particular looks that Bud [Foster] gave us to look on. So they’re skewed. They’re completely skewed. This is a scrimmage. I just don’t think it’s fair on either side of it. It’s just not right. Because we’re trying to get things done and accomplish things as coaches, and everything is skewed and things are looked at positive or negative. It’s just, that’s why.

Loeffler's right: Scrimmages are generally controlled. The offensive coaches will ask the defense to give them a certain look and vice versa. However, when has a Virginia Tech offense been this productive in a scrimmage over the last several years?

Longtime head coach Frank Beamer was impressed by the number of big plays in the scrimmage, per Tech's official site:

That was probably the most long plays I’ve seen in a scrimmage. And that’s both good and bad. We’ve had a long of young guys making the long plays, and you have to give credit to your offensive line when things are happening good. Defensively, you miss a tackle in the secondary and all of a sudden, it turns into a long play. We’ll get those things corrected, but you feel good when you feel like you’ve got a threat and most of the guys doing it are young guys. I like where we are as a football team.

 

Brewer's Return

Tech has some bodies at the quarterback position in 2015. Brewer and Brenden Motley both return, while redshirt freshmen Andrew Ford and Chris Durkin now have a year of experience under their belts.

Highly regarded freshman Dwayne Lawson also arrives on campus this summer.

But let's get back to Brewer. The senior, who missed a good portion of spring practice recovering from back spasms, is being counted upon in 2015 to help take Tech's offense to another level. A full offseason in the program should help Brewer.

In his first season with VT in 2014, Brewer completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,692 yards, 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Turnovers plagued Brewer early last season, but he had only four interceptions in Tech's final seven games of the season after throwing 11 picks in his first six games.

Brewer is at his best when he's taking chances and pushing the ball down the field. The Hokies certainly have the weapons to get the ball down the field in 2015.

The biggest question surrounding Brewer right now is his health. Are the back spasms related to the back surgery he had over two years ago while he was at Texas Tech?

Tech athletic trainer Mike Goforth doesn't think so, according to Bitter.

“We’re just taking all the precautions that we can,” Goforth said. “It’s not like it’s a setback at this point.”

Brewer, meanwhile, was upbeat about his performance after the scrimmage but feels it's mainly because he's more comfortable with his surroundings and his teammates than he was when he entered the program last year, per Bitter.

"I would say just more of a comfortable atmosphere for me,” Brewer said. “ I’ve been able to kind of build a little more camaraderie, some timing."

If Brewer finishes the spring on a strong note, he will likely head into fall practice alone atop Tech's depth chart at quarterback.

 

Defensive End Depth a Concern

The Hokies will return the most productive pair of defensive ends in college football in 2015. Ken Ekanem and Dadi Nicolas both return, but it's Tech's lack of depth behind them that is concerning.

Ekanem was unable to participate in spring practice after offseason shoulder surgery, opening the door for sophomore Seth Dooley and a host of others to take advantage of an opportunity.

According to defensive line coach Charley Wiles, only Dooley has seized his chance, per BeamerBall.com.

"And I tell you, Seth Dooley is coming along. I like it when a plan comes together. Seth is more physical, he understands what he’s doing and that’s good to see because he’s been a bit of a project," Wiles said.

That's good news for Dooley and the Hokies, but what happens this fall if Ekanem or Nicolas goes down for significant period of time?

Tech has already moved talented freshman Yosuah Nijman from defensive end to offensive tackle. Nijman, who was described as a "physical phenomenon" by strength and conditioning coach Mike Gentry, per Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, was struggling as Foster suggested his "mind was tying up his feet."

Sophomore Melvin Keihn would be next in line for the Hokies, but he hasn't exactly stood out this spring. At 6'1", 211 pounds, he is undersized and relies only on his speed to rush the passer. That will work against some teams, but not against better offensive tackles.

Keihn has the chance to be a special player for the Hokies, but he could be better suited for linebacker moving forward.

The Hokies have some talent coming in this summer. However, it's tough to project how ready the newcomers will be as true freshmen without a year in the school's weight program.

 

Bucky Hodges at Wide Receiver

Tight end Bucky Hodges is the new prototype at tight end. Hodges stands 6'6", weighs 249 pounds and runs like a wide receiver. According to Bitter, he ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash in last year's winter workouts.

NFL scouts will likely drool over the third-year sophomore as soon as this fall, and his performance this spring should definitely have Hokie fans excited.

Loeffler has moved Hodges around more, lining him up as a wide receiver rather than having him play the traditional tight end role. That allows Hodges to get on the field with fellow sophomores Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips in three-receiver sets and helps get fellow tight end Ryan Malleck on the field, too.

"We’re putting him all over the place,” Loeffler said, per Norm Wood of the Daily Press. “There were some things that we looked at (in Saturday’s scrimmage) that he needed to improve immensely on the perimeter, so (we're putting) him a lot on the perimeter right now."

Loeffler is testing Hodges this spring. He wants to see how much he can throw at Hodges and determine what he can retain.

The Hokies will be much more dangerous on offense with Hodges lining up all over the line of scrimmage.

Hodges is an extreme mismatch for defensive backs and linebackers. His presence will consistently allow Ford and/or Phillips to see single coverage, something Ford proved he could beat last fall.

The Hokies take to the field again this Saturday for the final open scrimmage before the the annual spring game on April 25. Admission to Lane Stadium is free, with practice beginning around 10:45 a.m. ET. The scrimmage will begin shortly thereafter.

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Nebraska Football: Mike Riley's Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice

New head coach Mike Riley presided over his first spring game at Nebraska on Saturday. The score (Red 24, White 15) didn't mean much, but there were a number of lessons to be drawn from the teams' performances.

The most important thing to remember about the spring game, though, is that it is really just a glorified practice—one of fifteen in the spring, with another entire camp coming this fall. The results and performances of the spring game should be viewed through that lens and weighted accordingly.

Having said that, there are two glaring areas of concern for Riley after seeing how his team performed under the lights and in front of the crowd. It might only be two areas, but it's fair to say that they're big ones.

 

Throwing the Ball

Here are the stat lines for Nebraska's quarterbacks at the Spring Game:

PlayerCompAttYdsComp %TDINT Tommy Armstrong Jr. 6 12 77 .500 1 0 AJ Bush 12 22 124 .545 0 2 Zack Darlington 7 11 70 .636 1 0 Ryker Fyfe 2 6 57 .333 1 0 Tyson Broekemeier 4 6 65 .667 1 0 Johnny Stanton III 3 11 19 .273 0 1 TOTAL3468412.50043

That's just not good enough. Yes, some of the incompletions were dropped balls (more on that in a bit). But at least on the evidence of one practice (in front of 76,000 people), the only quarterback in whom you could put any faith to accurately deliver the ball was redshirt freshman Zack Darlington.

Again, remember the caveat about this being just one practice. But Armstrong's completion percentage was about what it has been so far in his career, making fair the question as to whether that number can reasonably be expected to markedly improve.

 

Catching the Ball

Nebraska's woes with the forward pass on Saturday weren't limited to the quarterbacks. Time after time, when passes were delivered on target, receivers were unable to make the catch. Wide receivers, running backs and tight ends were all guilty of drops in situations where a catch should have been made.

Of course, the two concerns run together. Nebraska's run game looked effective, with jet-sweep action (and play fakes off it) putting stress on the defense horizontally and providing an opportunity to get playmakers like De'Mornay Pierson-El the ball in space.

But if Nebraska's passing game is as anemic as it appeared on Saturday, it won't take long for opposing defenses to scheme for the run and dare Nebraska's quarterbacks to win with their arms. On the evidence of Saturday's performance (which, again, is limited evidence), it's hard to have too much faith in the team's ability to do so.

In other words, Riley and company still have a lot of work to do before Nebraska tees it up against BYU on September 5.

 

For a different look at Nebraska football, check out The Double Extra Point.

Or you can use the Twitter machine to follow @DblExtraPoint.

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