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Michigan Football: Sophomore RB Derrick Green Will Be No. 1 Option Next Season

Michigan sophomore running back Derrick Green is looking to step into a bigger role in his second season for the Wolverines. The 5'11", 227-pound athlete is a physical runner who was one of the top recruits coming out of high school.

Watch as Bleacher Report experts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee break down why Green will be the No. 1 option at running back next fall, as well as what numbers should be expected from Green and fellow sophomore RB De'Veon Smith next season.

Highlights courtesy of xosdigital.com

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Michigan Finally Seeing Big Picture with Night Game Scheduling Trend

For only the third time in its venerable history, Michigan Stadium will host a night game. When the Wolverines take on Penn State on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m., it will be the first Big Ten game to be played entirely under the lights at the Big House.

It's about time.

Night games are a fact of life now in college football, and there really isn't anything wrong with that. Saturday is the ideal night to stay up late anyway. You can sleep in the day of and after the game, still catch the late Sunday Mass or service and be awake enough for the first NFL kickoff at 1 p.m. This isn't like starting a World Series game at 8 p.m. on a school night.

As for Michigan and the Big Ten, it's a sign of the times.

Though its Big Ten title drought has now reached a decade, Michigan is still among the five most powerful brand names in college football. The Big House, with its 109,901 seats, is still the biggest stadium in the land. Having games played in primetime under the lights is an important part of staying competitive and relevant in the 21st century.

The SEC has made Saturday night games an attraction during the BCS era, with a few epic battles between LSU and Alabama coming immediately to mind. The Pac-12 has also used night games to get increased face-time, with a built-in time-zone advantage as those primetime games start at a not-so-late 5 p.m. kickoff time.

The Big Ten—particularly Michigan—has resisted playing at night until recent years, with tradition and weather the primary considerations. The Big House finally hosted its first night game in 2011, when Michigan rallied to a miraculous win over Notre Dame. The Wolverines repeated that feat last year with another electrifying win over the Irish.

The choice of Penn State as the foe for the 2014 night game is inspired. While the Nittany Lions are still on probation for the Jerry Sandusky transgressions, they're also one of the marquee names in college football. These teams, who have not met in Ann Arbor since 2009, are now division rivals in the realigned Big Ten.

Perhaps the most memorable Michigan-Penn State game ended under the lights, even though it didn't start at night. In 2005, Mario Manningham caught a Chad Henne TD pass on the game's final play as Michigan handed the Nittany Lions their only loss of the season, one that denied them a shot at the BCS championship.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke endorsed playing under the lights, according to a statement released by the school:

"The night game atmosphere created by our fans has been electric and we expect that same type of energy for our first-ever conference night game against Penn State. Our players really enjoy playing in primetime at Michigan Stadium."

The 2014 game will be televised on ESPN (or ESPN2) as part of a revamped primetime schedule for the network. The Wolverines have always been a Bristol favorite for Big Ten night games, though until the coming season they've always played on the road.

About the only thing to spoil the idea is a lack of moderation. As long as Michigan plays only sparingly at night and never past mid-October, the Big House under the lights will be a welcome new sight for college football.

Follow on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Nick Baumgardner of MLive: Devin Gardner Gives Wolverines 'Best Chance to Win'

Michigan's spring game is in the books, so let's take a look at some of the biggest storylines going into the fall. Neither Devin Gardner nor Shane Morris had stellar performances in the spring game. Which QB has what it takes to lead the Wolverines in 2014?

Early enrollee WR Freddy Canteen had a great game on Saturday, showing that he does have the skills to make an impact on offense. Will he emerge as one of Michigan's go-to playmakers in 2014?

Adam Lefkoe caught up with Nick Baumgardner from Mlive.com to break down Michigan's biggest storylines coming out of the spring game. 

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital

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If Dorial Green-Beckham Can't Play, Who Becomes Missouri's Go-To Player?

Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham just can't seem to stay out of trouble, and this time, his playing status is in doubt.

The 6'6", 225-pound rising junior for the Tigers was suspended indefinitely by the program for violation of team policies, according to a release sent via email by Missouri on Monday afternoon.

It's the third time in his career Green-Beckham has been in trouble publicly. He was arrested along with two other men earlier this year for possession of a controlled substance. That incident is still under investigation, according to Tod Palmer of the Kansas CityStar. He was arrested in 2012 for suspicion of possessing 35 grams or less of marijuana and pleaded the charge down to misdemeanor trespassing. 

Is his suspension related to the most recent arrest? He is the subject of an ongoing investigation according to Palmer, but the specifics of that investigation are not known.

Pinkel commented on the suspension in the release.

It’s been disappointing to have this, and other issues which have taken place lately. It’s frustrating, because we work very hard to instill responsibility and discipline in our young men so that our program represents Mizzou the right way. These actions aren’t representative of those expectations, and we are addressing these issues head on.

Whatever the reason, or reasons, for his suspension, it's clear that Missouri and head coach Gary Pinkel felt that the time is right to distance themselves from the star receiver.

Green-Beckham caught 59 passes for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns last season during Missouri's magical run to the SEC East title. In the SEC Championship Game versus Auburn, he caught six passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns and was arguably the best player in the building—a building that included former Auburn running back Tre Mason, who rushed for about five miles (OK, 304 yards and four touchdowns).

So who will step up for the Tigers?

L'Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas exhausted their eligibility last season, so if Green-Beckham's issues keep him out of a game or games this season, a lot of pressure will fall on 6'2", 210-pound senior Bud Sasser. Sasser caught 26 passes for 361 yards and a touchdown last season and was listed as the starting "Y" receiver on Missouri's pre-spring depth chart.

While Sasser has the experience and likely would take on more of a leadership role, finding a replacement at Green-Beckham's "X" spot is more important. Junior Wesley Leftwich, 6'1", 200 pounds, was listed as his backup before the spring, and Darius White, J'Mon Moore and Jake Brents—all of whom are 6'3"—are candidates to slide over to that spot.

That trio of tall receivers could be the cure to the Green-Beckham conundrum. White had 65 yards and a touchdown in Missouri's first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday, while Brents had three catches for 39 yards and Moore caught four for 31 yards, according to stats released by Mizzou

There are options for Pinkel if Green-Beckham's suspension lingers, and having a crowded group of tall receivers at the "Z" spot makes it easier for him to plug the holes if he loses his star for a prolonged period of time.

The good news for Missouri is that there are options. Russell Hansbrough, Marcus Murphy and Morgan Steward are all talented running backs. If Green-Beckham's issues keep him from playing, the Tigers could become more of a ground-and-pound team—as was the case in 2011 when they finished ninth in the nation in rushing (243.46 YPG). Toss in the dual-threat capabilities of quarterback Maty Mauk, and there's a recipe for success on the ground in Columbia.

Make no mistake though, Green-Beckham is the most talented wide receiver in the SEC. If he can't get his head screwed on straight, he could be what prevents the Tigers from repeating as division champs in the wide-open SEC East.

 

* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes and suspension information were obtained firsthand via release from the University of Missouri, and all statistics are courtesy of CFBStats.com.

 


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Medical, NFL Draft Prognoses for Brandon Thomas Following His Torn ACL

Devastating news made its way through the NFL draft community on Monday when ESPN's Adam Caplan reported former Clemson University guard Brandon Thomas suffered a torn ACL last week.

The injury comes as quite a shock, as many experts projected Thomas to be a potential early-round talent in the 2014 draft.

While there is not yet reason to panic—athletes routinely recover from ACL reconstruction surgery without complications—Thomas will almost certainly miss most or all of the 2014 NFL season. Additionally, the unfortunate timing of his injury—just over one month prior to the draft—casts doubt over his competitiveness in this year's field due to his presumed absence next year.

After all, despite the relative frequency of ACL injuries in football, the recovery time remains long. Most of the time, an athlete will need well over six months of rehabilitation—and sometimes over a year.

Furthermore, not all ACL injuries heal without issue. For instance, if an ACL tear comes with other ligament or cartilage damage, rehab becomes much more complicated.

Luckily, at this point, no news of additional injuries exists, so it seems safe to assume Thomas suffered a non-contact ACL injury—though precise medical details are still scarce.

Often, non-contact ACL tears occur when an athlete jumps and lands awkwardly on one leg or sharply plants his or her foot in an attempt to make a cut. If the knee twists inward too far—the exact type of motion the ACL tries to prevent—the ligament can tear.

On the other hand, contact ACL tears frequently involve a hit to the outside of the knee that forces it to bend inward. The MCL or meniscus—or both—also suffers damage in a large portion of contact injuries.

Following a tear, an athlete may still be able to move forward in a straight line, but when he or she attempts to cut or change directions, the knee may buckle inward—not a good recipe for a budding offensive lineman in the NFL.

ACL tears almost always require reconstructive knee surgery. During the operation, an orthopedic surgeon will actually replace the torn ligament with a piece of the athlete's own hamstring tendon. The tendon then serves as the new ACL and, over the weeks and months that follow, the body cements it into place within the knee.

Thomas will almost certainly undergo surgery soon—if he has not already. By the time the draft rolls around, he will then likely be working through the initial stages of rehab—such as quadriceps strengthening and range-of-motion exercises—but not yet weight-bearing or agility drills.

In other words, NFL teams will be able to gauge his very early progress prior to the draft, but his ultimate outcome will remain a mystery for at least a few more months—as opposed to ACL tears from several months ago during the prior college football season, for instance.

That degree of unknown may make teams shy away from calling him to the podium early on draft weekend.

What's more, if a team originally ranked Thomas highly because he could address an immediate need on the offensive line, this injury might cause his stock to fall significantly with that particular squad.

That said, if Thomas' injury is, indeed, a run-of-the-mill non-contact ACL tear—and if his recovery proceeds uneventfully—his prognosis is still likely excellent in the long run. With that in mind, a team with a goal of addressing long-term needs on the offensive line may still draft him in the middle rounds.

In the end, his draft stock depends—as always—on a combination of medical and football risk-versus-reward analyses by each of the 32 NFL teams, and every team and medical staff might value him differently. Some may downgrade him a round or so, and others may take him off the board entirely.

Fortunately for Thomas, however, it only takes one.

 

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

Bleacher Report's Top 25 College Football Tailgating Schools for 2014

College football is about so much more than just the game.

While  football is the main reason why upwards of 100,000 people (sometimes more) congregate on Saturdays between late August and early December each year, the game serves as only one piece of the puzzle.

If college football games were part of a meal, it would be the main course. But it's the courses that lead up to the entree—and the accompanying beverage pairings—that often separate one dining/game-day experience from another.

Yes, we're talking about tailgating—the age-old practice of setting up temporary camp near a football stadium and usually spending more hours in that festive party atmosphere than at the game that drew us there.

Every school has its tailgating traditions, practices and approaches, but some stand out from the pack. Here's our completely unscientific ranking of the top 25 college football tailgating schools for the 2014 season.

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Miami Football: What Ryan Williams Injury Means for 2014 Season

The Miami Hurricanes received unfortunate news this week when it was made known senior quarterback Ryan Williams suffered a major injury.

During the second scrimmage of the spring session, Williams tore his ACL while rolling out, quite possibly leaving in the past his dream of starting for the team he loved growing up.

The devastating setback, however, means the Hurricanes will not just start a new quarterback, it will likely be a redshirt freshman.

Plus, Miami will need a few returning starters to improve their respective performances to aid their young gunslinger's progression.

 

Kevin Olsen Must Step Up

Per Susan Miller Degnan of The Miami Herald, Williams was the clear-cut starter prior to his injury.

But now, Bleacher Report's Ben Kercheval says the senior's injury opens the door for Olsen to take his job, and he's certainly correct. According to the depth chart for the spring game, Olsen is officially the first-stringer.

For now, Gray Crow will serve as his backup, and the sophomore may even hold off Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier during the fall because of his familiarity with the playbook.

While speaking on 560 WQAM's Hurricane Hotline, via Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Golden said, "[Olsen's] got a good cast around him. He's got to trust the cast and not try to do too much and he needs to prepare, as does Gray."

Fortunately for Olsen, he isn't surrounded by second-tier offensive players.

 

Paging Duke Johnson, Joseph Yearby and Stacy Coley

Still working through his recovery period, junior running back Duke Johnson will be carrying an even heavier load next season. However, he's ready for it.

According to Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post, "Golden said those who haven’t seen Johnson lately 'are going to be blown away by him—205, 206 pounds. He has really turned a negative into a positive, changed his body. He has an edge about him, can't wait to come back.'"

Porter also notes Duke and Joseph Yearby will "take snaps in controlled settings and could be running full speed by next month."

Though Yearby is an unproven commodity, his highlight film from his time at Miami Central High School is rather impressive.

The Hurricanes are expecting the one-cut back's best skill to translate at the collegiate level, giving "The U" a pair of outstanding finesse backs alongside the powerful Gus Edwards. But as the matchup with Virginia Tech in 2013 showed—28 yards on 24 carries—Miami needs its best running back to carry the team.

Sophomore Stacy Coley is the most explosive wide receiver, evidenced by his 10 total touchdowns scored in four different ways. Flanked by Rashawn Scott, Phillip Dorsett and Malcolm Lewis, Coley will have plenty of opportunities to show off his elite skill as a playmaker.

Olsen simply needs to distribute the ball to his best weapons and ignore any desires to take over a game because a handful of players are better suited to do just that.

 

Temper Your Expectations, Be Patient

Miami was in no danger of surprising the nation and embarking on a 12- or 13-win campaign with Williams at the helm, but the 'Canes are still expected to have a decent season.

Key word there, my friends: decent.

Olsen is mere months removed from being suspended for the Russell Athletic Bowl and Golden questioning his focus. Per Chirinos, Olsen has turned the corner during the offseason and become "process-oriented" on the practice field.

But the Wayne Hills, N.J., product has not taken a single in-game snap at the collegiate level. Olsen has plenty of potential, but he must be given time to develop, too. The maturation of a college quarterback is not an overnight operation.

Looking at the 2014 schedule, Miami travels to Louisville, Nebraska and Virginia Tech and hosts Florida State and North Carolina. Frankly, two wins would be sufficient while three or four would be an outstanding accomplishment.

As much as every fan of the Hurricanes wants the upcoming campaign to mark the first 10-win season in 11 years, demanding it from a redshirt freshman will result in avoidable disappointment.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Dorial Green-Beckham Involved in Alleged Assault of Woman

Dorial Green-Beckham's career at Mizzou is in jeopardy as reports are coming out that implicate him at the center of a criminal assault investigation.

Columbia Police Sergeant Joe Bernhard confirmed that Green-Beckham the subject of an investigation, but has not been arrested.

In new details coming from The Maneater, Green-Beckham was witnessed by five to 10 people outside of his apartment building assaulting "a girl." Green-Beckham's sophomore roommates Mike Henke and Chris Connor were in their Brookside Apartments townhouse when at about 2 a.m. they heard yelling coming from outside.

After making their way down to the street, they encountered a neighbor who was frantic for them to call 911.

"He said some guy was hitting a girl," Connor recalled of the neighbor. That neighbor was then heard telling others that Green-Beckham was the assailant.

Talking of the suspension, head coach Gary Pinkel said in a press release, per the Columbia Missourian, "It's unfortunate, but it's the right thing to do for our football program, for the athletic department, and also for Dorial."

As Green-Beckham was leaving the incident in a white Dodge Charger, a woman beat on the side of the vehicle he was riding in. Other unidentified Mizzou teammates told the crowd of witnesses not to call police, according to Connor.

The crowd disobeyed and Columbia police arrived 15 minutes later.

Green-Beckham is a former No. 1 overall recruit out of high school and would be the top wide receiver in the emerging SEC offense at Mizzou. Regardless of whether or not he is found guilty in a criminal proceeding, Green-Beckham's days at Mizzou may be numbered as Pinkel's language may already be an indication that the University is ready to cut ties with the troubled star.

Per Tod Palmer of The Kansas City Star, Sgt. Bernhard said that the results of the criminal investigation would be made available later this week, but made no specifications beyond that.

Follow Dan Irwin on Twitter@danirwinsports or on Faceboook.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pac-12 Football: 5 Players Who Must Step Up as Leaders in 2014

Talent can only take you so far in a power conference like the Pac-12; the rest, ultimately, falls on the leadership of veterans like Oregon's Marcus Mariota or UCLA's Brett Hundley, both of whom will need to be vocal both on and off the field in order to take their respective teams to the top.

But the aforementioned players are obvious candidates to be leaders of their squads. They're talented, experienced and looked up to by younger players, especially during the tough times.

What we're looking at here are players who you might not necessarily identify as leaders, but who must nonetheless step their game up in that department in 2014. To be clear, this isn't a knock on the following five guys, but rather a call to action due to a key offseason graduation or presumed expanded role on the field.

All five players have proven skills and played integral parts in their team's successes in 2013. Now, they must learn to become leaders as well.

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Pac-12 Football: 5 Players Who Must Step Up as Leaders in 2014

Talent can only take you so far in a power conference like the Pac -12; the rest, ultimately, falls on the leadership of veterans like Oregon's Marcus Mariota or UCLA's Brett Hundley ...

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