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Miami Football: Offseason Recruiting Hot Streak Just What Al Golden Needs

Miami Hurricanes head coach Al Golden is facing an unsteady future in Coral Gables due to inconsistent play from his program, but things are running smoothly as ever when it comes to recruiting efforts.

After a Friday morning commitment from rising sophomore defensive back Jalen Patterson, per Ryan Bartow of 247Sports, the Hurricanes now hold top-three classes in national composite rankings for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 cycles. It's quite an accomplishment for a squad that finished 6-7 last season.

Golden has picked up 22 total pledges from prospects in those three classes since Miami suffered a loss to South Carolina in the Independence Bowl. That puts him in rare territory when it comes to recruiting effectiveness with present prospects and those still years away from their national signing day.

In fact, the small collection of coaches who can compare to his current success rate during this decade are all national champions—Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Jimbo Fisher and Les Miles.

Golden, in terms of on-field results, is an obvious outlier.

He enters his fifth season as the Hurricanes' leader with a 16-16 record against ACC opponents. His best season at Miami—a nine-win campaign in 2013—ended with a 27-point loss to Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

It hasn't been a fruitful chapter in the program's rich history, but things began to sputter long before Golden arrived from Temple and found himself shackled by scholarship sanctions and bowl bans.

Golden's predecessor, former Hurricanes linebacker Randy Shannon, averaged just seven victories per season at his alma mater. Before him, 2002 national champion Larry Coker failed to sustain lofty levels of success following a transition to the ACC.

It may seem hard to fathom, but Miami hasn't posted a double-digit win total since it departed the Big East in 2004. This drought follows a period when the program won at least 11 games for four straight seasons.

Golden could certainly be shuffled off campus like Shannon and Coker if the Hurricanes don't make significant strides this season. Sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya provides reason for immediate optimism, but Miami's recruiting success serves up long-term hope.

Hope is a strong sell at this point for Golden, who hasn't offered Miami's administration much proof it's found the next Jimmy Johnson.

He can showcase a 2016 recruiting class that rose to No. 1 overall in national rankings earlier this year and now sits third on that list. With 20 pledges, the Hurricanes have college football's biggest haul of high school juniors.

Headliners include impressive 4-star quarterback Jack Allison and a trio of Florida's premier wide receiver prospects (Sam BruceAhmmon Richards and Dionte Mullins). The group also features top in-state linebacker Shaquille Quarterman and 4-star defensive end Joseph Jackson.

It remains to be seen how balanced this class ends up in terms of quantity versus quality, as the majority of committed players currently command a composite rating of 2 or 3 stars. And Golden hasn't yet reached out of the Sunshine State for a single commitment in this recruiting cycle.

Regardless, any perception of a "hot streak" in recruiting is great news for Golden. It shifts the focus from a sub-.500 season and generates a perception that the program is on track to improve.

That outlook is further enhanced when you examine how Miami has fared with high school underclassmen. The Hurricanes hold 10 commitments from athletes finishing their freshman or sophomore year, and Golden managed to land some of the state's top sophomores in running back Robert Burns and linebacker Tyler Dunning this February.

Reigning national champion Ohio State is the only other FBS squad with six 2017 pledges. 

Miami tops everyone with four committed 2018 recruits following Patterson's declaration. The 5'10", 170-pound prospect already held multiple Power Five scholarship offers after one high school season.

"He's an unbelievable athlete," Stephen Field, his high school coach, told Bartow. "He can play all over the field. He's just a playmaker." 

That's an accurate description for many Hurricanes stars who helped turn the team into a national powerhouse during past decades. The next generation of playmakers could help move momentum forward at Miami and make Golden's shaky start fade into the rearview mirror.

But many are still a long recruiting journey away from formally signing with the program. And those who do will require time to develop.

Time seems to be against Golden these days, but hope may give him a few more pebbles in the hourglass.

 

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ole Miss Football: Running Game Still a Work-in-Progress

What if I told you that Ole Miss' biggest spring question was still a work-in-progress, and that head coach Hugh Freeze is happy with where the players battling for that position are but that there's still a long way to go?

You'd probably assume that the next sentence would have something to do with the three-way quarterback battle raging in Oxford that includes junior college transfer Chad Kelly and redshirt sophomores DeVante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan.

You'd be wrong.

The most important position battle in Oxford is the one to be the "thunder" to running back Jaylen Walton's "lightning" in the Rebel backfield.

The Rebels have finished 10th or worse in the SEC in yards per carry in each of Freeze's three seasons as head coach. They finished 11th last season with 4.25 yards per carry and 10th in yards per game at 155.46. Against Arkansas in late November, they netted just 63 rushing yards on 33 carries and gained just nine rushing yards on 37 carries against TCU in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. 

Eugene Brazley, Akeem Judd and Jordan Wilkins are all competing to earn bruiser carries for the 2015 Rebels. Of that trio, Wilkins—a 6'1", 209-pound sophomore who finished second on the team in rushing last year with just 361 yards and one touchdown—was the most impressive this spring.

"Wilkins is going to be a solid player for us," Freeze said in quotes released by Ole Miss. "He is a good pass protector and a hard runner. He can get the football out of the backfield. I think he sees that now is his time to start getting more reps and more opportunities to help this football team. He has been good this spring."

Only with the first team, though. 

Injuries decimated Ole Miss' offensive line this spring. Star tackle Laremy Tunsil broke his leg in the loss to TCU and missed all 15 practices. According to Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, starting guard Aaron Morris, center/tackle Robert Conyers, tackle Daronte Bouldin, tackle Davion Johnson, center Sean Rawlings and tackle Talbot Buys all missed practice time this spring as well.

On top of that, sophomore Christian Morris was just back off battling the injury bug, and Jeremy Liggins—the massive former tight end/Wildcat quarterback—was playing as an offensive lineman for the first time as a Rebel.

The injuries prevented Freeze from getting a good gauge on his running backs.

"It was a bit unfair not only for them, but for the quarterback who had that rotation of playing with the second and third units," Freeze said on Tuesday's coaches teleconference. "We got those kids better up front, but our defensive line is really talented and deep, so that makes it very difficult for us to evaluate how those guys did. When they drew the straws to go with the first guys, I saw good signs from all of them."

Judd is a 6'0", 222-pounder from Durham, North Carolina, who redshirted last year after moving over from Georgia Military College. At 5'9", 189 pounds, Brazley is more of the happy medium between a bruiser and an edge threat.

Freeze was impressed with the straight-line speed that Brazley showed this spring, and that could be a huge asset for the 2015 Rebels.

"We are excited about Eugene's progression," Freeze said. "[He] ran one of our fastest 40-yard dash times when we tested right before we broke for May."

The injury issues up front and inability of the staff to get a really good gauge on where they stand with the running back position could be a blessing in disguise, though. Those backup offensive linemen got plenty of work this spring with both the first and second teams, and that experience will be invaluable to them as backups once the starters get back to full strength.

That will help the running backs continue to develop during fall camp. In an ideal world for Freeze, it will also provide the balance that Ole Miss desperately needs to become a legitimate SEC West title contender.

 

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

One Week Away from Decision, Kenney Lyke Breaks Down Top Schools

Around this time next week, at about 2 p.m. CT, Palatine, Illinois, defensive back Kenney Lyke will announce his college plans. He also will give his parents one of the best belated birthday presents money can't buy.

On May 22, the Fremd High School 3-star prospect will verbally commit to one of four schools—either Notre Dame, Michigan State, Baylor or Oregon. He also will put a huge smile on the face of his mother and father, Latoya Williams and Kenneth Lyke, who will celebrate birthdays before the announcement.

Lyke's mother is celebrating her birthday today. His father will celebrate his birthday on Monday.

"I'm excited about [May 22]; I think they are, too," Lyke said.

"We're definitely very, very proud of him and all of his accolades," Williams said of her son, the No. 13 player from the state of Illinois and a top-40 safety nationally. "He has worked really hard to get to this point. To see that he was so talented to peak so many schools around the nation, it's amazing."

Lyke announced his top four on Tuesday and officially announced his decision day on Thursday via social media.

Lyke said the past couple of days have been exciting for him and his family, and he's using the next few days to not only weigh his options but reflect on the process. He said he has enjoyed his process, but he's ready for everything to slow down.

"I think it's been a pretty positive experience so far. It's always good to go out and meet other people and coaches on visits and see how the coaches come at you," he said. "It's always good to see where you fit in at a new place."

Lyke said he has "a pretty clear understanding of where I'd like to play college football." Of the three schools, Oregon has yet to offer. Lyke, however, put Oregon in his top four because of the strong relationship he's built with the staff. He believes an offer will come soon.

For the time being, Notre Dame and Michigan State appear to be the front-runners. Notre Dame has a slight proximity advantage, but both schools are less than a three-hour drive away from Palatine.

"Michigan State was the first [Power Five] school to recruit me and offer me," Lyke said. "Everybody in East Lansing are real cool. The recruits they have right now are doing a good job of recruiting prospects. Plus, the coaches keep it real. I like [recruiting coordinator] Coach [Brad] Salem and [head] Coach D [Mark Dantonio].

"With Notre Dame, when I took my first my visit there, I wasn't offered. I was a little discouraged, but they told me they'd offer down the line, and they kept their word. Coach [Brian] VanGorder is a good defensive coordinator to play underneath. They run a lot of NFL defenses and work a lot with the secondary."

Baylor is the wild card of the three schools that have offered. While it is far away from home, Baylor's coaching staff has won Lyke and his family over with its sincerity. Williams likes that it's a private school built on religious morals.

"I love the way [defensive coordinator] Coach [Phil] Bennett and [safeties] Coach [Cris] Dishman are coaching the defensive backs," Lyke said. "They run the same defense as I run in high school, so that'll be a plus going in knowing the defense. My defensive coordinator is really good friends with Coach Bennett, and I've had extensive conversations with both Coach Bennett and Coach Dishman."

If Oregon offers between now and next Friday, credit secondary coach John Neal for keeping Lyke interested. Lyke has been paying attention to Oregon's defensive backs, and he likes what the coaching staff is doing to produce quality, Pac-12 athletes.

Lyke is being recruiting to all four schools as a safety, but he added that he may get opportunities to play on special teams and possibly kick returner. As a defensive back, Lyke had 81 tackles and two interceptions last season for Fremd.

Lyke said the "feeling of being at home" is the main factor in his decision. He also wants the chance to compete early. Williams said she's looking for a quality education for her son.

"At the end of the day, he can't go wrong with anywhere he chooses," Williams said. "We've been excited throughout the whole process. I think I was probably more stressed than he was, but I know that wherever he goes, he'll be at a great school. It'll make for a great belated birthday present."

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

4-Star DT Kendell Jones Jr. Opens Up on Top 5: 'I Want a Family Environment'

When Thursday came to a conclusion, Kendell Jones Jr. was able to describe it with one word.

"Relieving," he said.

For Jones (first name pronounced ken-DELL), it wasn't an average Thursday. The massive 4-star Killeen, Texas, prospect—all 6'4 ½" and 361 pounds of him—and the nation's No. 11 defensive tackle, per 247Sports' composite, went from being "committed" to being "uncommitted" to announcing a top five in a matter of roughly seven hours.

Late Thursday, Jones took to social media and said that he would take his talents to either the Big 12 or the SEC.

The Shoemaker High School star, nicknamed "The Hulk" because of his massive frame, saw Thursday take a weird turn of events when he saw reports that he committed to Alabama. His father, Kendell Jones Sr., went to social media following the report and quickly denied everything.

"I found out about [the commitment] on Twitter and then later on my phone," Jones Sr. said. "Then a few minutes later, my phone starting blowing up. I wanted to talk to him at school first. I didn't know what was going on. I didn't know if he told somebody something or what.

"It's funny how after something like this, people get your number who you've never talked to a day in your life. The popularity of it all is crazy. I mean, the Internet blew up. It's humbling and shocking, all glory to God."

Jones Jr. added: "I was like...'Oh, man. Who said this? Where did it come from?' I know it was blowing up at school, but I'm just glad we got it resolved."

The backlash from social media is warranted, as Jones is one of the most-wanted defensive linemen in the country. He showed insane power, deceptive elusiveness and agility at The Opening Dallas regional in March, walking away from the event not only with the defensive MVP award, but also an invitation to The Opening finals in July in Oregon.

Narrowing his top five from a reported list of 10, Jones said, was the toughest part. In the end, Alabama, Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M and LSU all had the same things in common.

"To me, it was all about who wanted me there the most," Jones said. "I wanted to know who wanted me no matter what. It wasn't really tough for me because I had my mom and my dad on my side."

A decision is scheduled to come next Friday, as May 22 is the date of Shoemaker's spring game. Originally, Jones Sr. said he wanted his son to make a choice in early 2016, but the family opted to a verbal commitment this month to help his son focus on academics and not have recruiting become a burden.

Jones Sr., however, did say that despite the upcoming commitment, he and his son will still take both unofficial and official visits. Jones is expected to balance trips with summer-school courses, as he's looking to get ahead in order to have a relaxing senior season.

While there is a top five, there's a chance for some other schools to still slide in and make a play for the defensive tackle.

"After summer school, I want him to still have a process," Jones said. "I want him to see Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Arkansas and some of the other schools we haven't been to yet."

Jones, who told Bleacher Report in March that he wanted to go to college to study psychology, said he has a solid relationship with the head coaches, defensive coordinators and defensive line coaches from all five schools. Comfort won't be a problem with wherever he plays.

For now, it's all about finding the best overall fit, and Jones said he will weigh all five of his options from now until May 22. The next seven days will be difficult, but he knows what he wants in a winning program.

"I'm looking for a team that will put God first in everything I do," he said. "I want a family environment, good academics and a place where I can learn a lot and have fun."

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

4-Star OLB Michael Divinity Tweets Top 15 Schools

Almost every team in the SEC and Big 12—and a few wild cards from other conferences—are in the hunt for 4-star outside linebacker Michael Divinity.

On Thursday night, the Marrero, Louisiana, native tweeted out his top-15 list, which includes 247Sports' Crystal Ball favorites LSU and Texas A&M, plus a few important hashtags and emojis.

Standing at 6'2" and 218 pounds and boasting a time of 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash, Divinity has good speed and athleticism for his position. If he continues to gain weight and strength, he could become the prototypical defender that all big-time programs covet.

Divinity is currently rated as the No. 53 overall player and the No. 6 outside linebacker in the class of 2016.

According to NOLA.com's Christopher Dabe, Divinity recorded 74 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, eight sacks, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries last season at John Ehret High School.

Divinity is cousins and teammates with 3-star linebacker De'jon Harris, and the two have discussed being a package deal for one lucky school. The two SEC West favorites for Divinity are in the mix, along with the No. 2 team on his unordered list from Thursday night.

"We talked about Oregon, LSU and Texas A&M," Harris told the Oregonian's Andrew Nemec. "Those are the three we talked about."

A move to Oregon would have Divinity following in the footsteps of 2014 athlete Kirk Merritt, the 2014 SPARQ champion from Louisiana who joins the Ducks this season.

Still, LSU remains a commanding favorite for Divinity on 247Sports' Crystal Ball, with 13 of the site's 14 predictions in favor of the Bayou Bengals.

Only time will tell if Oregon, Texas A&M or even one of the 12 other schools on Divinity's list can overtake LSU's reported lead for this prized Louisiana talent.

One thing is for sure—this looks like a recruiting saga to watch this year.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia Football: Brian Schottenheimer Creating an NFL Atmosphere

It was only a matter of time before Georgia head coach Mark Richt was forced to replace former offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.

The Bulldogs had finished no worse than fifth in the SEC in yards per play in every season since 2010, and they led the conference in the category twice (2014 and 2012). When Bobo got the head coaching job at Colorado State, Richt looked to the NFL ranks to find the next leader of his offense.

He found Brian Schottenheimer, who spent the last three seasons in the same role with the St. Louis Rams, and the six prior to that with the New York Jets.

It should come as no surprise that Schottenheimer is bringing an NFL mentality to the Bulldogs offense since making the jump to Athens.

"Coach Bobo had been a college coach for so long, and coach 'Schotty' is just getting back into that flow," wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell said after Georgia's spring game. "When he's teaching, he's rolling through. He's not taking five minutes to teach one play. It's like 10 seconds, and you better know it by tomorrow.

"He's brought that in. Every time we install, it's quick. A 30-play install might take five minutes."

For a team that is replacing its top two wide receivers, has a three-headed quarterback battle on its hand (and possibly a fourth if Everett Golson joins the Bulldogs) and is installing a new scheme, that may seem like it's "too much, too soon."

It isn't for Mitchell, because he knows what it could lead to down the road.

"We love it," he said. "Everybody in the room wants to go to the NFL, and that's where he came from. If he's doing that, he's showing us how to prepare at the next level."

After 15 practices, the transition from Bobo to Schottenheimer has gone as smoothly as anticipated.

"I was in almost every offensive planning meeting and most every quarterback meeting throughout the spring, and I can assure you that coach Schottenheimer is a great teacher," Richt said on Wednesday's teleconference. "He knows what he's doing and has a great process of going about his business, and [I'm] really comfortable with what he's bringing to the table."

The quarterback battle is the most notable issue Schottenheimer has to resolve during his first season in Athens.

Junior Faton Bauta, sophomore Brice Ramsey and freshman Jacob Park are all vying for the top spot on the depth chart in 2015. Not only do they have the pressure of a position battle to deal with, but they have to adjust to the faster pace in which Schottenheimer operates his practices.

Mitchell admitted following the spring game that the offense isn't where it needs to be, but that's more due to the instability created by three quarterbacks rotating with the first team rather than the transition from Bobo to Schottenheimer.

"We need a lot more chemistry," he said. "That's not bashing the chemistry we have now because we do have flow and you saw a little bit of that [in the spring game]. But we have a long way to go and everybody needs to be on the same page. That will be straightened out when we get that quarterback position solidified."

The absence of flow in the spring could pay off for the Georgia Bulldogs in the fall and each player once they exhaust their eligibility or decide to move on to the next level.

Georgia had two players—running back Todd Gurley and wide receiver Chris Conley—drafted in the first three rounds of the 2015 NFL draft. Quarterback Aaron Murray and tight end Arthur Lynch drafted in the fifth round a year ago.

If all goes according to plan, there will be more Bulldogs offensive players going to the next level in the draft in the near future. When they do, they'll be better-prepared to handle the fast-paced nature of NFL coaching thanks to Schottenheiemer.

"[The transition] has gone very well," Mitchell said. "His coaching style is different, but they're different people, though."

 

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

Ohio State Football: Predicting the Buckeyes' 2015 Win-Loss Record

After winning the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship, Urban Meyer has Ohio State primed to enter 2015 as the nation's top-ranked team.

The Buckeyes return a load of talent, highlighted by superstar juniors Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott, in addition to a trio of championship-caliber quarterbacks.

But is Ohio State strong enough to navigate its schedule unscathed and post the second undefeated regular season under Meyer?

That will be a stiff challenge, because achieving perfection is very hard. Just ask Alabama—the closest thing to a dynasty in recent years—which has only finished unbeaten one time since Nick Saban took over in 2007.

The Buckeyes will have to work through a tough slate this fall, which is backloaded with three significant road blocks in November. 

Here's an early week-by-week forecast for Ohio State's 2015 season.

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College Football Summer Enrollees We're Excited to See Most in 2015

In recent years, the college football recruiting cycle has sped up considerably. Recruits are committing to programs earlier. They’re also enrolling earlier in the hopes of acclimating to their colleges of choice earlier through spring practice—and earning early playing time, of course.

Some coaches are pushing for an early signing period which would lock prospects into their programs before early February and give coaches an opportunity to focus on late-deciding recruits. However, Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes that there are mixed feelings about an early period. 

This season, a number of high-profile recruits enrolled early, but a healthy portion of 247Sports’ Top 250 recruits signed on the traditional national signing day on the first Wednesday in February. They didn’t go through spring practice but will still have a chance to acclimate, enrolling in summer classes and going through informal workouts with their new teammates.

Here’s a look at the 2015 summer enrollees we’re most looking forward to seeing.

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The Loophole That Will Allow Jim Harbaugh to Revolutionize Recruiting

According to NCAA bylaw 13.1.2.1, only "authorized athletics department staff members" are allowed to recruit on a school's behalf.

So while Jim Harbaugh may have a direct line to some of the the NFL's top talent, the new Michigan coach couldn't just let his former Pro Bowl players directly aid the Wolverines' recruiting efforts–not unless they officially join his staff.  

But bylaw 13.1.2.1 won't stop Harbaugh from putting his sizable Rolodex of professional contacts to use. And the loophole he's found might just revolutionize the recruiting world.

While college coaches may not be allowed to have their former players make recruiting calls on their behalf—as Urban Meyer learned when Ohio State self-reported a secondary violation stemming from an eight-second conversation between Tim Tebow and a prospect in 2013—there's nothing that prevents ex-players from serving as instructors at a school's summer camp. In fact, there are very few restrictions placed on who is allowed to work a camp; the NCAA doesn't even mention former players in its bylaws concerning camps.

Harbaugh, apparently, has taken notice.

Even though players are not allowed to actively recruit for him, the former San Francisco 49ers head coach appears to have sent out an open invitation to the expansive network he and Wolverines quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch have built to help work a camp in Ann Arbor this summer. The result is a camp unlike anything ever seen in college football, with Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler, Denard Robinson and Jameis Winston all advertised to be in attendance for the "Ann Arbor Aerial Assault Elite Quarterback Training School."

Never has a camp been as star-studded from an instruction standpoint as Michigan's will be, with three Pro Bowl signal-callers in Kaepernick, Cutler and Elvis Grbac serving as instructors. 2015 No. 1-overall pick Winston, Kyle Boller, Blaine Gabbert and noted quarterback guru George Whitfield will also help out at the June 20 camp in Ann Arbor. 

While this star-studded group is unprecedented, it's all legal under NCAA rules.

"With camps, it's totally different," a Michigan spokesperson explained to Bleacher Report. "They're not doing recruiting at the camps."

That might be true, based on the NCAA's definition of "recruiting." But it's hard to see Harbaugh's "A4" camp as recruiting-neutral. 

Because where else but Michigan are quarterback prospects going to be able to obtain instruction from multiple Pro Bowl players and some of the country's top position coaches? And once these players make their way to Ann Arbor—and make no mistake, they will—they'll be treated to what will ultimately amount to an infomercial for the Wolverines program in the form of their own Elite 11-style quarterback camp.

The big event is just the latest aggressive recruiting move from Harbaugh after he toured the country on a nine-stop, seven-state tour of satellite camps. No doubt, Harbaugh is shaking up the status quo of college football recruiting. What will be interesting now is to see if other schools follow his lead.

In the instance of satellite camps, the answer was yes, with Meyer opting to hold one on Florida Atlantic's campus in Boca Raton this June, despite publicly denouncing the practice of hosting such camps. Meyer may not be allowed to have Tebow make calls on his behalf, but will he check to see if the new Philadelphia Eagle would be open to serving as an instructor in Columbus this summer?

Will Nick Saban look to his long list of NFL alums in hopes of holding his own camp filled with Pro Bowl players as well? Elite NFL players have always been allowed to work college camps; it just hasn't been until Harbaugh that they have been so aggressively leveraged. 

Don't think that prospects and rival coaches alike haven't taken notice as Harbaugh continues to change the landscape of college recruiting.

And it's all legal.

 

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com. Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Nebraska Football: Predicting the Cornhuskers' 2015 Win-Loss Record

When Nebraska hired Mike Riley as its new head football coach, some were perplexed. How could Nebraska fire Bo Pelini after another nine-win season, something he had achieved in each of his seven years in charge?

While the reasons for Pelini’s dismissal were legion (and discussed by a smart and particularly handsome analyst), the fact remains the bar has been set high for Riley in year one. Win fewer than nine games—heck, maybe win fewer than 10 games—and some fans will be baying at the moon about how Nebraska was better off under Pelini.

Will that happen? Of course, it’s far too early to be making definitive projections about a college football season still months away. But there’s still plenty we do know to make at least some educated guesses about how 2015 will unfold for Nebraska.

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College Football's 25 All-Time Best Rivalry Games

There are somethings in this world that just need to happen. Jim and Pam needed to get together on The Office; The Joker needed Batman. 

Alabama needs Auburn, and vice versa. 

College football has undergone several changes over the past few years, and one of the tragic consequences is that conference realignment has killed off some of the sport's best rivalry games. There may not be much history or pageantry left—at least not in the same way it used to be—but some of these teams should still play each other.

(Looking at you, Texas and Texas A&M.)

In honor of that game, plus many more, here are the 25 best rivalry games in college football—active, defunct or otherwise—with consideration given to history and specific moments and/or games.

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Power Ranking Top 25 College Football 2016 Recruiting Classes

We are nearly nine months shy of national signing day, but the 2016 recruiting cycle is already taking shape. Several college squads surged this spring with key commitments that add to impressive collections of talent, while others are still waiting for momentum.

While things remain largely unsettled in the national landscape, we assessed the developments that have defined this cycle so far while analyzing America's top 25 classes. Our order is based on the overall quality of a class in its entirety rather than sheer volume or a limited number of headliners.

Here's a look at how we view college football's premier recruiting classes as summer approaches.

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Diondre Overton Balancing Life, College Choices as a 2-Sport Star Athlete

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It only takes a couple of minutes to watch Diondre Overton and know he's got Division I talent. At last weekend's The Opening Charlotte regional, he not only looked the part physically but also impressed those in attendance during drills.

At 6'5" and 194 pounds, Overton is the big, tall receiver that many football programs desire. He also happens to be the versatile slasher and defender that many basketball programs look for.

Overton is one of the few athletes nationwide who has a legitimate chance of being a two-sport college standout in football and basketball. He had focused his attention solely on basketball prior to this past year—he starred as a wide receiver in the fall and then a combo guard in the winter for Walter Hines Page Senior High School in Greensboro, North Carolina.

"Football was my first love when I was little, but then I kind of gave it up and started playing basketball," Overton said. "I hadn't played football until this past year. It was my first year coming back since fifth grade."

Overton said an injury early in his football days made him give basketball a strong look—and the decision didn't turn out to be a bad one. According to MaxPreps.com, he averaged 14.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game as a junior.

Overton has emerged into an athlete who can play the point guard and shooting guard spots as well as the small forward position. Additionally, he can defend the power forward spot if necessary.

He has looks from several hoops programs, including Clemson, North Carolina, Duke, Boston College, Virginia Tech, South Carolina and Tennessee. During the AAU spring and summer basketball seasons, Overton plays for the Karolina Diamonds (along with arguably the nation's best high school dunker, 2016's Kwe Parker), and he added that he would run with Team Felton Basketball during Memorial Day weekend.

Although he found a home on the basketball court, playing varsity football always was on Overton's to-do list, and he didn't disappoint his junior year. He caught 62 passes for 1,187 yards and 11 touchdowns, according to his Rivals.com page.

Overton even managed to use some of his basketball skills to his advantage on the football field.

"In playing basketball, a lot transfers over to football, especially with boxing out," he said. "If you're boxing out on a curl [route] or something like that, you can seal your man and then be able to secure the ball."

Overton has parlayed his playmaking ability and physical nature on the football field into an offer list that is 17 schools strong. Among the schools that have made offers are Clemson, Tennessee, Boston College, Michigan and in-state schools Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State.

"The recruiting process is going great," Overton said. "I'm getting new offers almost every week. What I expect in a winning program is a great coaching staff and great facility for educational program. I think the wide receiver coach plays a key role in it. He's who I'll be with every day to help get me to my full potential."

Clemson and Tennessee are believed to be the two schools in the best spot to land Overton. He has good relationships with head coach Dabo Swinney, receivers coach Jeff Scott and offensive lineman coach Robbie Caldwell at Clemson, as well as head coach Butch Jones, receivers coach Zach Azzanni and tight ends coach Mark Elder from Tennessee.

The best part: Overton said both schools are interested in him playing football and basketball—even though being a two-sport athlete is not an X-factor in his overall decision.

"I don't know if I'm completely focused on the basketball part, but I have brought it up, and a couple of schools have said I can do both," Overton said. "I may try it my freshman year, and we'll see how it goes from there."

Overton said he isn't in any rush to make a decision on where he's going to go to school. He likes the fact that he's receiving new interest almost daily; in fact, Alabama and Nebraska are two schools that have inquired about him, and he said he also would like to get more information on Michigan.

A decision, he said, could come before the start of the 2015 football season, but there's no guarantee with that. All he wants is to effectively weigh his options and make the right decision when he feels it's the most opportune time.

"It's a one-time thing, and you have to evaluate as many schools as possible and just enjoy it all," he said. "[Playing both sports] is something I think about, but I think my future may be in football."

For now, he's going to take everything in stride—particularly when he has two sports to enjoy the rest of the spring and the summer.

 

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

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Auburn Legacy Commit Stephen Davis Jr. Exactly What Muschamp Needs at Auburn

Stephen Davis, a 3-star athlete, per 247Sports, will be playing his college ball for the Auburn Tigers next season. The talented athlete will bring his size and speed to Gus Malzahn and his staff.

Bleacher Report college football analyst Michael Felder breaks down Davis' game as well as where he will fit into the game plan at Auburn. 

How much of an impact will Davis make for the Tigers? Check out the video, and let us know!

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Ranking Greatest SEC Football Games of All Time

The SEC's power and parity over the years has generated some of the most memorable college football games in the sport's history.

From the Iron Bowl to the Egg Bowl to the games in November between non-traditional rivals that carry enormous national weight, the SEC is loaded with classic games that have defined the sport and helped carry it to new heights.

Which games were the best? Our picks based on national importance, SEC championship implications and nature of the game are in this slideshow.

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Predicting 1st Loss for Every Projected 2015 Top 25 College Football Team

Over the past 10 college football seasons, only nine FBS schools have posted a perfect record. A handful of other schools were unbeaten heading into their bowl game or the playoffs during that span, only to drop their first game.

Perfection is the goal for many but the outcome for few. It's inevitable that a loss will come at some point, no matter how good a team is, so it's best to be prepared for that outcome ahead of time. We're taking this concept one step further, by predicting the initial loss for every projected Associated Press preseason Top 25 team.

The new playoff system (and accompanying access bowl lineup) makes it unlikely for there to be no more than two unbeaten teams in 2015-16, but we're going on the assumption that just one team will survive the year unscathed. In the case of teams that make it through their scheduled games without a setback and thus would lose in the postseason, our predictions are based on Bleacher Report's post-spring bowl projections.

Check out where we think every projected Top 25 team will fall and then give us your thoughts in the comments section.

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Updated Odds on Where 4-Star QB Dwayne Haskins Will Play College Football

Dwayne Haskins, a 4-star pro-style QB, per 247Sports, will be making his commitment in the very near future. With several offers on the table from all the major programs, Haskins will have a tough decision to make. 

Bleacher Report's Stephen Nelson was joined by College Football Recruiting Analyst Adam Kramer to go over the odds on where Haskins may decide to play. 

Where will Haskins continue his career? Check out the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Josh Imatorbhebhe Tweets Top 7: Each Team's Best Sales Pitch to Land 4-Star WR

Georgia wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe is down to seven collegiate options as he approaches a highly anticipated announcement. 

The 4-star prospect tweeted a top-seven list in alphabetical order Wednesday evening, noting a decision is set for "sometime next week":

Imatorbhebhe, a junior at North Gwinnett High School, is rated 33rd nationally among 2016 receivers in 247Sports' composite rankings. He caught 59 passes for 1,072 yards and 15 touchdowns last fall, per MaxPreps.

His seven finalists put a nationwide focus on the upcoming commitment. The collection of programs ranges from Florida to Northern California and features members of three different conferences.

“My mom and I were talking about priorities for finding the right college program," Imatorbhebhe told Bleacher Report in March. "First is academics, second is a need—not just a want—at my position and third is quarterback.”

With the clock ticking toward this key pledge in the 2016 recruiting cycle, let's take a look at what each of Imatorbhebhe's top options bring to the table for a final sales pitch.

 

Alabama: Lane Kiffin spreads the wealth

The Crimson Tide offensive coordinator could elect to explore a third FBS head coaching opportunity after this season, but receivers can expect plenty of targets in Tuscaloosa as long as he's dialing up the plays.

Dating back to his days as passing game coordinator at USC—when the Trojans became the first NCAA team to feature a 3,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard rushers and a 1,000-yard receiver—Kiffin has largely validated his reputation as a bright offensive mind.

During his past five full seasons on a college sideline—at Tennessee, USC and Alabama—Kiffin's offensive attacks produced 10 500-yard receivers. Among that group, seven players caught at least 60 passes, and five were selected in the NFL draft (three among the 50 picks).

Although many positions at Alabama are log-jammed with elite talent, especially in the trenches, there's actually room for Imatorbhebhe to make an early impact at receiver.

 

Auburn: The SEC's most dynamic offense with a need for receivers

Head coach Gus Malzahn has orchestrated the most consistently explosive attack in a conference known for fearsome defense. Serving as an offensive coordinator first and eventually returning to campus as a head coach, Malzahn's offenses have rated among the SEC's top three in terms of points four times. 

Programs like Georgia, Alabama and Texas A&M have taken turns leading the SEC in points during certain seasons, but none have been as reliable in that department. Auburn averaged at least 33 points per game in four of Malzahn's first five seasons on campus.

Perhaps most importantly for Imatorbhebhe, the program will presumably enter the 2016 season without its four leading receivers from last fall. Sammie Coates and Quan Bray are now on NFL rosters, while D'haquille Williams and Ricardo Lewis are entering their final college campaigns.

That leaves several key spots up for grabs when Imatorbhebhe would enter the equation. He expressed gratefulness for the attention Auburn has shown throughout this process.

“I’m not going to a school where I don’t feel wanted, so it’s important for me to hear from the coaches on a regular basis," Imatorbhebhe told Bleacher Report this spring. "Gus Malzahn called my coaches earlier today to talk to me and we spoke for 15 minutes, so that sends a message right there."

 

Florida: A chance to team up with his big brother

Gators freshman tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe was the first prospect to commit to a new Florida regime led by head coach Jim McElwain. Now his little brother is considering following in those footsteps.

Josh and Daniel share a strong bond and could reunite in Gainesville. Josh told Bleacher Report in April:

The reason why I feel I'm mature in this recruiting process is because Daniel has been there to provide an example. Daniel told me it's important to go to a place where someone doesn't have to convince you to go. Go somewhere you innately want to go. If you don't need to force yourself to be happy at a school, everything else—like football—will work itself out.

The Gators offense sputtered in past seasons, so there is certainly room for playmakers as McElwain aims to revitalize the attack. Imatorbhebhe attended the team's spring game and felt plenty of love from Florida.

"Coach Mac and his assistants came up to me before the game and made me feel at home," he told Bleacher Report. "They really went out of their way to establish communication and make me feel as comfortable as possible.

 

Georgia: Join forces with top-ranked quarterback Jacob Eason

The new Bulldogs offensive staff, led by longtime NFL coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, has shown more love to Imatorbhebhe than the past group. Despite his status as an in-state standout, 20 teams extended him an offer before Georgia joined the pursuit in late March.

“The coaches could tell how I felt and basically said, 'Look, please don’t hold it against us. We have a new offensive staff and we’re really high on you,'" Imatorbhebhe told Bleacher Reoort. "They were really apologetic about that and tried to make me understand that I’ve become a priority now.”

Georgia is building quite an offensive haul in the 2016 cycle, highlighted by the state's top two offensive linemen and a 4-star wide receiver. Quarterback Jacob Eason is the headliner. 

The Washington product grades out among the top quarterbacks we've scouted this decade. Eason, a prized 6'5", 205-pound passer, is the kind of playmaker who commands interest from other recruits.

“Just to see his accuracy, stature and strong arm makes him somebody I’d really love to play with," Imatorbhebhe said. "He looks like a good quarterback, but also a good leader. If the chips fall that way and I end up at Georgia, I’ll definitely be happy that he’s the guy throwing me the football.”

 

Ohio State: The reigning champs are pretty stacked at quarterback

Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer, fresh off his third national championship victory, can flaunt his history of producing immensely successful college quarterbacks. His past proteges include first-round NFL draft selections Tim Tebow and Alex Smith.

The current Ohio State roster features three quarterbacks—Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones—capable of embarking on a Heisman Trophy crusade. At least two of these three are likely to depart before Imatorbhebhe arrives on campus, but there could be as many as four scholarship quarterbacks ready to step up and compete.

Sophomore Stephen Collier and incoming freshmen Torrance Gibson and Joe Burrow each bring a special skill set to the field. Ohio State also recently secured a commitment from 4-star 2016 Texas quarterback Tristen Wallace, who may be the most impressive athletic specimen at the position.

The Buckeyes are off to a fast start in the 2017 cycle, claiming a commitment from 4-star passer Danny Clark. Imatorbhebhe is on record about how important quality quarterback play is for his decision, and few teams can challenge Ohio State in that regard, presently or in years to come.

 

Stanford: An opportunity to enjoy the "best of both worlds"

Imatorbhebhe spent time in Palo Alto during spring break and gained a deeper understanding of the academic/athletic balance many find so alluring about the university.

"Everything they do at Stanford is top-notch," he said. "That visit showed me you can get the best of both worlds in athletics and academics there. They want to create well-rounded people, not just athletes. A 'Stanford Man' is diligent, works hard in the classroom and has balanced attributes."

Throughout his recruiting process, Imatorbhebhe has made education a focal point. He's an A-student in high school who received honors for achievements far beyond the football field.

Still, there's a lot to like about the outlook of a Cardinal program averaging 11 wins per season since 2010.

The team picked up a pledge from top-ranked California quarterback KJ Costello this spring. He and Imatorbhebhe developed a rapport years earlier while attending a camp together at USC. 

 

USC: Head "home" and learn from Tee Martin

Imatorbhebhe spent the early stages of his childhood living in Orange County, California, just a short drive away from Los Angeles. He grew up rooting for the Trojans and never quite shook off that affinity despite a move to the East Coast.

"Southern California will always have a special place in my heart after growing up there," Imatorbhebhe said. "USC was actually the first college campus I visited, so that's always stuck with me during my recruitment."

His latest trip to the school took place in April and resulted in a scholarship offer. Despite being a bit late to the party, USC still managed to surge into Imatorbhebhe's group of finalists.

He told Bleacher Report that USC wide receivers coach Tee Martin made a strong impression on him during the visit. The former Tennessee quarterback could help give the Trojans an edge.

"He broke everything down in detail for me, from what they do in practice to how things happen in games and where I would fit in," Imatorbhebhe said. "Coach Martin trained Sammy Watkins and Calvin Johnson when they were preparing for the NFL combine, so obviously that's pretty big time."

 

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

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports. 

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