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Eli Brown Commits to Kentucky: Wildcats Beat Ohio State, USC for 4-Star

Kentucky kept a prized prospect in his home state Monday when Eli Brown pledged to the Wildcats. He made things official with an announcement on Twitter:

The 4-star prospect from Bowling Green had several schools to choose from when it came down to a collegiate decision. Brown initially committed to Vanderbilt last June but backed off that pledge prior to the conclusion of his junior campaign.

He holds offers from Ohio State, USC, Ole Miss and Penn State, per Rivals.com.

Brown, a 6'2", 195-pound prospect, plays at Warren East High School. He starred throughout the 2013 season until a serious knee injury sidelined him in early November.

Brown is rehabbing his way back from a torn ACL, per WBKO News. He posted impressive statistics last fall despite missing the team's last few games.

He was second on the Raiders in rushing and receiving with 1,186 yards and 144 yards, respectively, and he led the team with 15 touchdowns on the ground, per MaxPreps. Brown also impressed on defense, tallying 50 tackles and two interceptions.

Kentucky picks up an in-state player it's targeted for quite some time. Head coach Mark Stoops and his staff hosted Brown on campus earlier this month, just a week after he spent time at Ole Miss.

Brown has been a frequent visitor in Lexington this year, including a February junior day event. While he offers options on both sides of the ball, it appears Brown is destined for a career on defense.

“All the offers I have got are at linebacker,” he told Larry Vaught of VaughtsViews.com in February. “They all like my versatility and love that I can play both sides of the ball. They do tell me how good I look on offense, but they all say I am great on defense."

Brown is rated No. 18 nationally among outside linebackers in 247Sports' composite rankings, which also lists him No. 2 overall in Kentucky.

Stoops has done an outstanding job of securing in-state commits. He signed the top two 2014 prospects in Kentucky, quarterback Drew Barker and defensive tackle Matt Elam, in February.

Both players had plenty of opportunities beyond state borders but stayed home to build with the Wildcats. Brown is the latest recruit to take the same approach.

Kentucky currently holds five commitments in its 2015 class. Brown is the first consensus 4-star prospect in the bunch, but Stoops remains in pursuit of several in-state standouts.

Damien Harris (Berea, Ky.) is the nation's No. 1 running back recruit and decommitted from Michigan during the winter. Linebacker Emmitt Smith, another Bowling Green product, may also enter the equation as a key target for the Wildcats.

Brown's commitment provides another strong signal that Kentucky is taking care of business on its home turf.

 

Recruit rankings via 247Sports unless otherwise noted. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Every College Football Conference's Top Heisman Contender for 2014

Did you know that the last seven Heisman winners came from just three conferences?  Two each hailed from the ACC and the Big 12 and three came from the SEC.

As for the remaining big leagues, the Big Ten hasn’t won since Ohio State’s Troy Smith in 2006, and the Pac-12’s last official win came two years before that in 2004, when USC’s Matt Leinart won.

The last winner from one of the five “other” conferences in the FBS was 24 years ago in 1990, when then-WAC team BYU sent Ty Detmer to the podium.

So, while Heisman winners honor their schools, they also boost the image of their conferences.  And some leagues have a more realistic shot of being bronzed than do others.

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Alabama Football: Derrick Henry Is Crimson Tide's Best Bet at Starting RB

While all eyes were on the Alabama quarterbacks during the spring game, another position battle was brewing that could have an even bigger impact on offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's offense.

Running back.

Junior T.J. Yeldon is fresh off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and is following the same script that he adhered to during his first two springs in Tuscaloosa. The 6'2", 218-pound native of Daphne, Ala., rushed 11 times for 95 yards and a touchdown, and added one reception for nine yards en route to his third straight Dixie Howell Award given to the MVP of Alabama's spring game, according to stats released by the university

In quotes released by Alabama, center Ryan Kelly said:

To have a guy like that who can miss defenders, obviously not every play is going to be perfect but with a guy like that back there running the ball some big plays can spring up. We just wish we could have done a little bit better blocking to make those big plays happen today.

But does his resume and perennially strong spring games guarantee him a starting spot this spring?

It shouldn't.

Sophomore Derrick Henry burst onto the scene in the Sugar Bowl, rushing eight times for 100 yards and adding a 61-yard touchdown catch in the 45-31 loss to the Sooners.

He carried that momentum all the way through spring, earning the praise of head coach Nick Saban according to Andrew Gribble of AL.com. However, he didn't exactly break out in the spring game, rushing eight times for 22 yards.

Despite that lackluster close to spring, Henry is still Alabama's best bet at running back in 2014.

Just like former stars Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy, Henry is more of a power back that thrives not only running north and south, but also behind an offensive line that gets downfield and punishes opposing front sevens.

WJOX 94.5 host Matt McClearin puts into perspective just how hard it is to bring Henry down.

Seems like Derrick Henry, guys just jump on him and hope someone else joins in and maybe they can bring him down.

— Matt McClearin (@McMatt945) April 19, 2014

Yeldon can lower his shoulder and be a bruiser too, but he's at his best using that quick burst behind a zone-blocking scheme. That led to some of the inconsistencies in the Alabama offensive line last year, including in the opener against Virginia Tech and the finale against Oklahoma. It's better suited in more of a power scheme, which is a perfect fit for Henry.

Will that relegate Yeldon to a back seat?

Of course not.

He'll still be a big part of the offense. In fact, this is not uncharted waters for Kiffin.

In 2005 when he was the offensive coordinator at USC, both Reggie Bush and LenDale White topped the 1,000-yard mark using vastly different running styles to do so. While Bush grabbed the headlines and won the Heisman with 1,740 yards and 16 touchdowns, White was the bread and butter of that offense, rushing for 1,302 yards and a team-high 24 touchdowns.

Henry shouldn't be "1B" in this offense though. He should be "1A."

Alabama is at its best when it establishes the line of scrimmage, forces the defense to creep up and then takes the top off of the defense with play action. That was how Alabama won championships in 2009, 2011 and 2012, two of which were with first-year starters at quarterback.

They'll break in another new starter in 2014 and would be wise to follow the same blueprint. In order to do that, Henry is the best bet at running back for the Crimson Tide.

 

* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All spring statistics are courtesy of the University of Alabama and all past college statistics are courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.

 


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

How Much Should NFL Teams Worry About James Hurst's Leg Injury, Fibula Fracture?

Last year, former University of North Carolina offensive lineman James Hurst suffered a leg injury during the Tar Heels' 39-17 victory over the University of Cincinnati in December's Belk Bowl. According to The News and Observer's Andrew Carter, doctors later diagnosed the left tackle with a non-displaced fibula fracture, bringing his record-breaking, 49-start career at UNC to a close.

Like any injured college star, media attention quickly shifted toward Hurst's draft prospects and NFL future.

Fortunately—relative to other types of football injuries, at least—a non-displaced fibula fracture is actually somewhat benign and usually carries an excellent prognosis. As such, in the end, it may only minimally affect Hurst's draft stock.

Let's take a closer look.

The fibula runs down the outside of the lower leg alongside the tibia—or shin bone. It connects the ankle to the very top of the tibia, supporting it and serving as an attachment point for ligaments and muscle tendons.

It does not come into close contact with the femur—or thigh bone. As a result, it does not bear much weight—that's the tibia's job.

Very broadly speaking, fibula fractures can come in one of two varieties: non-displaced and displaced.

In a non-displaced fracture, the bone breaks, but its overall alignment and anatomical position remain normal. The opposite is true for a displaced fracture.

For a better mental picture of a non-displaced injury, imagine bending and straightening a drinking straw. The straw now carries a crease—the "fracture," so to speak—but maintains the same overall shape.

Conversely, breaking a toothpick better represents a displaced injury. Not only does the break deform the toothpick, it does so permanently. Many types of displaced fractures in the body require surgical repair.

Luckily, non-displaced fibula fractures are often stable and thus do not require surgery. Rather, several weeks of immobilization and protection of the lower leg usually allow the body's repair cells to reconnect the break without issue.

Furthermore, downstream complications from a non-displaced fibula fracture are rare and while no two injuries are exactly alike, athletes frequently return to top form. For example, in 2013, running back Andre Brown posted 115 yards on 30 carries during his first game back from a preseason break.

So far, it seems Hurst's fracture is following suit.

Though specific medical details are not available, news of the former Tar Heel undergoing surgery did not surface following his injury. Furthermore, NFL.com's Gil Brandt noted that he worked out in late March at UNC's pro day, just three months removed from his injury:

Hurst took the bull by the horns and worked out. He did the 40 in 5.54 and 5.60 seconds. He did the short shuttle in 4.57 seconds, had a 22-inch vertical jump and did 23 strength lifts.

Brandt also wrote that Hurst's leg wasn't "100 percent healthy" at the time.

Presumably, doctors cleared him for full-speed workouts prior to the pro day, as non-displaced fractures usually complete the lion's share of the healing process before the three-month mark. However, his rehab may have been ongoing at the time—and might still be.

In other words, he can only go up.

Assuming no additional injuries, rehab setbacks or surgical procedures took place unbeknownst to the media, the end result of Hurst's fracture may be a slight dip in his draft stock simply due to the timing of the injury.

After all, the fracture does not constitute a medical "red flag" by any means.

In fact, unlike a blown-out knee or a history of concussions, a team that sees NFL potential in Hurst may even decide to look right past it.

 

Dr. Dave Siebert is a resident physician at the University of Washington who plans to pursue fellowship training in Primary Care (non-operative) Sports Medicine.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA Football: 6 Players to Watch in Bruins' Spring Game

The UCLA football team will be showcasing its talents for the fans on Apr. 26 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. This game offers some of the younger players a chance to perform well in front of the coaching staff. 

There are six members on the team in particular with something to gain from the contest. Three of the six aforementioned players are freshmen.

A fourth is ready to take on a bigger role from a season ago. The last two players are returning from various injuries. Both are primed for productive years. 

Here's a look at six players to watch for in the Bruins spring game. 

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UCLA Football: 6 Players to Watch in Bruins' Spring Game

The UCLA football team will be showcasing its talents for the fans on Apr. 26 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. This game offers some of the younger players a chance to perform well in front of the coaching staff...

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Power Ranking Every Pac-12 College Football Stadium

Because it's the offseason, we're going to rank every Pac-12 team by their respective home stadiums.

When it's all said and done, I'm confident we can all agree 100 percent on the accuracy and fairness of the list, even fans whose teams play in a stadium that is ranked low in our rankings. Ha! In all seriousness, there's no way to make everyone happy here.

The criteria we're looking for are capacity, attendance, history, noise and, well, overall reputation. Where a stadium sits in relation to its natural surroundings is also important (oh hey, Colorado). Some stadiums that used to be scary for opposing teams have been quiet in recent years due to mediocre play, while others are just starting to reach their potential for providing a true home-field advantage.

In any case, we'll do our best in applying both rhyme and reason to this purely subjective list. However, you may feel free to disagree, although I can't imagine that will happen, right?

Click forward to check out an updated version of the Pac-12 stadium power rankings.

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Power Ranking Every Pac-12 College Football Stadium

Because it's the offseason, we're going to rank every Pac-12 team by their respective home stadiums. When it's all said and done, I'm confident we can all agree 100 percent on the ...

Begin Slideshow

Arkansas Razorbacks Show off New Logo and Football Uniforms

The Arkansas Razorbacks will have a new look when they take the field in 2014.

Many college football teams have tried to stand out in recent seasons with bold uniforms. Arkansas' new jerseys are noticeably different, but Nike kept the design simple:

Here's a better look at the jerseys:

Although the uniforms featured modest changes, the school's new secondary logo is drastically different from the primary logo:

The new logo led to an awesome comparison:

How do the new uniforms and logo grade out?

[The Arkansas Logo, NikeArkansas RazorbacksTwitter]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

10 College Football Teams Who Must Get Better at in-State Recruiting

The first rule of thumb in recruiting for a program is to lock down its state. Its coaching staff must establish a fence around the borders of its state to let recruits know they're not getting out and to let other programs know they're not getting in.

Some schools have coaching staffs who understand this, while some schools have coaching staffs who simply do not. A pair of Pac-12 schools in the same state have the same problem, while a school in Virginia routinely lets too much elite talent get away.

Plus, another program allows its top in-state targets to often walk off the island.

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South Carolina Football: 5 Things Standing in the Way of an SEC Championship

Each of the last three seasons, South Carolina has finished 11-2, including 6-2 in the SEC, but it hasn't been quite enough to get the Gamecocks into the conference championship game.

South Carolina should be well positioned once again to challenge for an SEC East title and a shot at the championship.

The talent is more or less in place for another big year, there are questions surrounding the other teams in the SEC East and the schedule sets up favorably.

If the Gamecocks can overcome the following five obstacles, the school's first SEC Championship is there for the taking.

 

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Michigan Football Recruiting: Breaking Down the Top 2015 Targets

The winged helmet does the recruiting; Michigan waits for players to sign. 

Well, that's how it used to be. Today, it's a little different. It's not always a slam dunk. However, despite recent struggles in Ann Arbor, athletes from each corner of the country still want to suit up for the "leaders and the best." 

That bodes well for Wolverines coach Brady Hoke, who is known for his ways on the recruiting trail. The first two classes didn't disappoint. His 2014 grab, highlighted by the one and only Jabrill Peppers, doesn't rank as highly as past classes, but it's solid from tire to tire as well. 

With that being said, it's time to shift focus to the next group. This slideshow will highlight the top-rated and most interested targets of 2015, per 247Sports. Committed players won't be included. 

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Breaking Down Each 2015 5-Star Linebacker

The 2015 recruiting class features several 5-star linebackers, via the 247Sports composite rankings. Each 5-star 'backer brings a well-rounded skill set to the table.

However, they're not all identical prospects. A linebacker in Los Angeles doesn't weigh a lot, but he dominates with speed. Texas is home to a linebacker who has amazing athleticism and agility, while a linebacker in Ohio can do an array of things.

Each 5-star linebacker warrants a closer look.

All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports. Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

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Chuma Edoga to USC: Trojans Land 5-Star OT Prospect

Chuma Edoga gave USC one of its top commitments of the 2015 class when the coveted 5-star offensive tackle announced his decision to join the Trojans Monday evening.

Edoga broke the news via his Twitter account:

The 6'4", 276-pound prospect is rated as the No. 4 offensive tackle and No. 27 overall player in this year's class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. It's apparent that Edoga, the No. 4-rated player out of the recruiting-rich state of Georgia and a five-star prospect, will make a big impact.

The McEachern High School (Powder Springs, Ga.) standout has been on the radars of the nation's most prominent schools for a long time, and it's not hard to see why. 

With a 4.86 40-yard-dash time, he's impressively quick for a lineman and has time to bulk up to around 300 pounds in the coming years. But with his strength and burst off the snap, he might not even have to get to that weight. 

Georgia, Tennessee and USC all stood out as front-runners for Edoga throughout his process, and he was initially favored to go to the Vols on the 247Sports Crystal Ball, per Kevin Ryan. But the Bulldogs and Trojans made late runs in the process, according to Ryan. 

Edoga narrowed down his final five to USC, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Stanford, per Ryan. 

He initially generated hype for his Monday announcement with the following tweet on Saturday:

Now that he's seemingly settled in with his college choice, Edoga now needs to focus on continuing to develop so that he's ready to make a quick impact for the Trojans. 

His athleticism and agility stand out as his top-rated skill areas. He also grades out as an excellent pass-blocker with room to improve as a run-blocker in time.

USC fans will no doubt be eager to see him play right away, and he might be able to fulfill those wishes considering his raw talent. But Edoga is still a work in progress and needs to make sure he continues putting in the hours to develop into an elite college football player. 

 

All recruiting information courtesy 247Sports unless otherwise stated.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Chuma Edoga to USC: Trojans Land 5-Star OT Prospect

Chuma Edoga gave USC one of its top commitments of the 2015 class when the coveted 5-star offensive tackle announced his decision to join the Trojans Monday evening...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

5-Star OT Chuma Edoga Commits to USC: Meet the Next Jake Matthews

The number four offensive tackle of the 2015 class, Chuma Edoga, has committed to the USC Trojans. This is a huge get for Steve Sarkisian, who continues to show his recruiting expertise by landing this top Georgia native.  

The 6'4" 276lb beast has the potential to be an instant impact for the offense when he arrives on campus in 2015. Check out Barrett Sallee break down what Chuma Edoga means to the USC Trojans. 

 

Highlights courtesy XOS Digital

All rankings from 247 Sports Composite

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

5-Star OT Chuma Edoga Commits to USC: Meet the Next Jake Matthews

The number four offensive tackle of the 2015 class, Chuma Edoga , has committed to the USC Trojans. This is a huge get for Steve Sarkisian, who continues to show his recruiting expertise by landing this top Georgia native...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

10 Recruits Who Could Join 5-Star DE Shameik Blackshear at South Carolina

Shameik Blackshear is a 5-star defensive end who committed to South Carolina before his junior season. At 6'5" and 240 pounds, Blackshear is a dynamic speed-rusher off the edge who chases quarterbacks with quickness and athleticism.

Blackshear is definitely the type of player a recruiting class can be built around, which is what South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier should do with his 2015 haul.

Several other top-tier talents remain high on South Carolina's board, and Spurrier's recruiting pitch will surely include the chance to play with Blackshear. A talented pair of defensive tackles could join the 5-star defensive end, while a familiar face could also get a second chance.

All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports. Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

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Penn State Recruiting: Breaking Down the Top 2015 Target at Each Position

Penn State football coach James Franklin and his staff are off to a terrific start, as far as the 2015 recruiting class is concerned.

According to 247Sports, the Nittany Lions have a top five class, and they've sat at the top of the list for a brief period this spring. 

Of the 12 recruits currently committed to Penn State, nine are rated as 4-star prospects, according to the 247Sports Composite ratings. 

That being said, it's April and none of the players currently committed can sign their letters of intent until next February. For anyone who has followed recruiting closely in the past, those nine months can be an eternity.

Here's a look at the top players from each position that Penn State is targeting, whether they're currently committed or not.

 

All star ratings reference the 247Sports Composite ratings.

 

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Alabama Football: What QB Blake Sims Must Do to Improve

The Alabama Crimson Tide are still without a starting quarterback, waiting on Jacob Coker to enroll this summer before kicking off the final round of competition entering fall camp. For Blake Sims, one of the three players with a realistic shot at the job, the summer has to be about slowing the game down and using every opportunity to show how his unique skills should put him over the top.

In the spring game, which saw Sims go 13-for-30 with two interceptions, the Tide put the governor on the quarterback's ability to create space and opportunity. As T.J. Yeldon noted after the game, the Tide utilized only 10 percent of the offense during the game. That meant no designed runs, not many run-pass options and very few sprint outs that would allow the 6'0" senior to show off his skills.

For Sims, who was ahead of redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman for most of spring, summer will be about getting better at some of the traditional elements of the quarterback job. Most notably, slowing the game down so that he can make the right decisions. The skills are there for the senior, however, his indecision led to mistakes and as the quarterback of the machine in Tuscaloosa, mistakes get people sent to the bench.

That means summer has to be spent growing his confidence and turning the in-play thought process into instincts. Pre-snap reads and post-snap assessments have to led to definitive decisions for Sims. No double-clutching. No eyeballing receivers to wait for them to come open.

And, of course, no holding the ball waiting to create a coverage sack.

The last element will be changed as Sims gets closer to game action. His ability to move, both in and out of the pocket, are an asset hidden from view during the limited spring game. As Alabama pushes through summer and into fall, Sims' unique skills have to show head coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin that the senior is the best option.

Beating out Jacob Coker is not going to be easy for Sims. As he showed in the spring game, when the bullets were almost live he balked in the spotlight. To stay in the running and push for the job he has to slow down the game and trust the decisions that he makes after the snap. That means throwing before his receivers come open. 

It isn't an easy skill to master and Saturday's spring game showed Sims has a long way to go. However, the door for the Alabama quarterback job is still wide open and Sims has time to prove he belongs under center. If he can improve his decision-making and show that his athleticism is an asset, he has a shot to win that job.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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