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College Football's Most Important Offers of the Week

Many schools around the country visit the state of Florida in hopes of finding talent to supplement their rosters with. 

One program that has frequented the Sunshine State with a decent amount of success is the USC Trojans.

Head coach Clay Helton and his staff are hoping to find more talent from Florida in the 2017 cycle.

Last week, the Trojans offered a pair of defensive standouts in 4-star linebacker VanDarius Cowan and 4-star safety Daniel Wright

Cowan, who is committed to Florida State, is the nation’s No. 5 outside linebacker and the No. 78 player overall in the 2017 class.

The 6’0”, 170-pound Wright—who holds more than 30 offers—rates as the country’s No. 8 safety and No. 102 player overall in the current cycle.

Last month at the Miami Opening Regional, Cowan spoke on the strength of his commitment to the Seminoles.

“I’m 80 percent committed. I just keep the other 20 percent open to other schools,” Cowan said.

Meanwhile, Wright has FSU among his group of early leaders, but he doesn’t plan on making a decision until after his senior season at the earliest.

If the Trojans can find a way to get either Sunshine State defender on campus, they could once again become a factor in the state of Florida in the 2017 cycle.

 

Georgia Offers Ohio DB

While it’s commonplace for Big Ten schools to recruit in the SEC’s backyard, it’s more of a rare occurrence for the reverse scenario to unfold.

Last week, SEC power Georgia looked to the state of Ohio to offer 4-star corner Amir Riep.

The 6’0”, 180-pounder—who rates as the nation’s No. 14 corner and the No. 131 player overall in 2017—from Colerain High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, has collected 40 offers.

The offer comes on the heels of Riep visiting Athens. If he schedules a return visit, the Bulldogs could become a major contender in the race for his services.

 

Clemson After New Jersey ATH

After its race to the national championship game, Clemson is building momentum nationally with top recruits in the 2017 class.

Last week, the Tigers hit the state of New Jersey to offer 3-star athlete Markquese Bell.

According to Cory Fravel of 247Sports, the Tigers offered Bell—who also landed an offer from fellow ACC program Pittsburgh last week—as a safety.

Bell has 16 offers to date, with Michigan—who hosted him on an unofficial visit last week—being one of the main contenders in his recruitment at this stage.

 

Penn State After Stud 2018 CB

The 2018 class is loaded with recruits who are the sons of former NFL players. One such talent is corner Houston Griffith—whose father Howard was a fullback who won a pair of Super Bowls during his stint with the Broncos.

The younger Griffith is a 6’0”, 180-pound corner who has landed offers from programs such as Michigan State, Notre Dame, Nebraska and Tennessee before his junior year.

Penn State is the latest powerhouse to jump in the mix for Griffith, who netted an offer from the Nittany Lions last week.

Given his size, athleticism and bloodlines, Griffith figures to become a national recruit sooner than later.

 

Best of the Rest

2017

 

2018

 

2019

 

2020

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Fans Need Patience Despite Hype Building Around Bo Scarbrough

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It was media day for the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Arizona and a radio show had asked University of Alabama defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand if he would participate in a live interview.

The players were all wearing their jerseys, but the person introducing him obviously never saw the name on his back. It led to an awkward moment when the first question was about the other guy who wore No. 9 for the Crimson Tide.

“Yeah, Bo Scarbrough, how does it feel to be behind Derrick Henry?” Hand said while telling the “crazy” story. Needless to say he was taken aback while the co-host quickly jumped in with, “Well, I don’t know about that, but he might be hitting Derrick Henry in practice. He’s one of the 14 guys on the D-line.”

Hand can joke about it now, but he still shakes his head at the memory. At least the radio personalities didn’t say he looks like a young Mike Tyson.

“Awww, man. C’mon. Don’t do me like that,” Hand said about the slight resemblance.

“I like to think I just look like Da’Shawn Hand.”

Players tying to make a name for themselves can be tough enough at Alabama, but some come in with an expectation level that borders on the ridiculous even though they can go unrecognized when walking down the street.

Crimson Tide fans in particular are guilty of the over-optimism regarding big-time prospects, especially at high-profile positions. For example, this time a year ago every Alabama beat reporter was asked nearly non-stop about new quarterback Blake Barnett like he should have been starting already.

This spring there have been comparable comments like, “Hey, I hear Jalen Hurts is pretty good,” but it hasn’t been as relentless.

They always seem to ignore the fact that every quarterback Nick Saban has brought in has redshirted his first year to give him a chance to develop, get accustomed to the college game (and lifestyle) and learn the offense.

AJ McCarron was nearly the exception to that when Greg McElroy suffered cracked ribs against Florida in the 2009 SEC championship game. Instead, he helped lead Alabama to back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012, and with the extra year nearly pulled off the three-peat.

For Hurts to play this season it would likely be because either 1) Alabama had numerous injuries at quarterback, 2) he beat out every else on the depth chart, and/or 3) the dual-threat player brings such a unique element to the offense that the coaches felt it’s worth giving up a year of eligibility to play him.

But Scarbrough falls into a different category when it comes to fan buzz: big playmakers who they can’t get enough of. We’re talking about Julio Jones- and Henry-kind of hype.

Even his own teammates have regularly drawn physical comparisons between Scarbrough and last year’s starting running back.

“There’s not really a difference,” said linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton, who practiced for two years against Henry. “They have the same body style.”

During his testing at the NFL combine, Henry measured 6’3” and 247 pounds, and still ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds.

Scarbrough is listed as being 6’2” and 240 pounds, although he came into the spring having lost 10 pounds because Alabama believes 230 to be his ideal playing weight.

“We give everybody a muscle mass, body fat, hydration, functional movement test,” Saban explained. “We try to work hard with [team nutritionist Amy Bragg] to come up with what’s the most efficient, effective weight for a guy. We see how this guy’s moving, how he’s running relative to how he used to run.

“Sometimes these guys keep lifting weights and they just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I think at certain positions, especially skill positions, that’s not always advantageous.”

It also signaled one important thing everyone needs to remember: Scarborough isn’t Henry and it’s unfair to expect him to be.

Maybe eventually he’ll post comparable or even better numbers, but for now here’s what Scarbrough’s done: Seven games, 18 attempts, 104 rushing yards (5.8 average per carry), and one touchdown. His longest carry was just 24 yards.

He’s still learning the offense, the blocking schemes, his teammates, the opposition and so forth. It took Henry two years to put all together to the point he could make his Heisman Trophy run, but if Alabama had to open the 2016 season tomorrow, Damien Harris would probably start at running back.

He was a consensus 5-star recruit as well in 2015, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, and has a little more experience at this level.

“I certainly see a more confident and knowledgeable guy in Damien this spring so far," Saban said.

Together the two could potentially form quite a combination this season, especially if Alabama’s offensive line takes a step forward as many believe could happen. But for now the key word is "potential" because no one knows things like how they’ll hold on to the ball on third-and-short and pick up blitzes until they do it.

Consequently, take last Saturday’s scrimmage when Scarbrough had a 95-yard touchdown and was credited with 132 yards on nine carries, as verification that he’s fully arrived.

Consider it an important first step in following his own path, albeit one of which few will want to get in the way.

“Man, he brings it, so you better bring it,” Hand said. “He’s a man.”

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Biggest College Football Stories You Likely Missed During March Madness

If March Madness has been completely consuming your sports brain over the last several weeks, we don't blame you. 

One of the most exciting NCAA men's basketball tournaments of all time ended Monday night with one of the greatest plays in championship game history for any sport—a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Villanova's Kris Jenkins to take home its first title since 1985. It was the perfect end to a tourney that included other last-second winners, crazy end-game sequences and more than a few Crying Jordans

But now that March Madness is in the books, it's time for many college sports fans to switch back to football.

From the time the NCAA tournament's first round tipped on March 17 until last night's grand finale, college football has been making some headlines of its own. They might not have gotten much attention nationally as brackets or Buddy Hield, but there wasn't a total shortage of news from the spring practice cycles.

In case you completely checked out on offseason college football news during the NCAA tournament, here's a refresher on the top stories from the past few weeks.

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B/R Recruiting Notebook: 5-Star OT to Narrow List, 4-Star ATH Lands 50th Offer

Last weekend was one of the biggest of the spring recruiting-wise, as several athletes announced their verbal commitments. Among those were 4-star quarterback Bailey Hockman to Florida State, 4-star wide receiver Taariq Johnson to Cal, 4-star running back O'Maury Samuels to Michigan and 4-star quarterback Tristan Gebbia to Nebraska.

Couple the commitments with a stop in Houston for The Opening and Elite 11, and recruiting news has been flowing the past few days. Here are some recruiting updates from the week:

 

5-star OT Davis set to narrow list

Washington fans have to be thrilled about where the program stands after 5-star offensive tackle Wyatt Davis made an unofficial visit last week. He gave the visit a very high mark as he prepares for the next step in his recruiting process.

"The process is going great," said Davis, the star lineman from California's St. John Bosco High School who is the nation's No. 24 overall player in the 2017 class. "I visited Washington, and these next weeks are going to be key. I will be making a top seven."

Washington is hoping to be one of the schools in Davis' top seven, but Davis has a handful of schools that he's high on. He's taken visits to USC and Alabama this year, and schools like Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Cal, Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Nebraska are ones to watch as he narrows his choices. Davis has 26 reported offers.

The common denominator with the 6'5", 310-pound lineman's top seven? He said it'll come down to the advantages he can get off the field.

"The education," said Davis, the nation's No. 7 offensive tackle who is looking to pursue a degree in broadcasting or communications.

 

4-star ATH Askew talks 50th offer, immediate future

When Tennessee offered McCalla, Alabama, 4-star athlete Malcolm Askew last Tuesday, it was more than just another offer for him.

Askew reported Tennessee as his 50th overall offer, and that offer meant he owned one from each school in the SEC. Consider it a small, personal goal of his.

"There are some who don't get one offer. I'm just blessed to have all of them," said Askew, whose first SEC offer was Georgia.

Of all his offers, Askew said an SEC school is currently in front. He said Auburn is his current leader, and he will be on campus Saturday for the A-Day Spring Game.

Askew—who at 5'11" and 183 pounds can play cornerback, safety and wide receiver—added that although Auburn's in front, several schools are still very much in the race, including Clemson, Ole Miss, Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, Michigan, Oregon, Cal and Miami. Tennessee offered Askew as a defensive back.

"Ultimately, I'm looking for a place just for me to come in and get playing time early and be a big factor," Askew said. "I don't really want to be the guy who redshirts. I want to go somewhere where I'm needed and not just wanted. I also want a great academic program that's set up for me to be successful, somewhere that will help me graduate in three years."

 

4-star OT Deculus announcing next month

May 20 will be a big day for Cypress, Texas, 4-star offensive tackle Austin Deculus, as he will end his recruiting process on the day of his team's spring game. Deculus will publicly announce his college plans to play at one of five schools—LSU, Alabama, Michigan, Georgia and Tennessee.

Here's the catch: That decision may have already been etched.

"I've pretty much made my decision," said Deculus, who has 30 reported offers from coast to coast.

"May 20 is my spring game. I think it's going to mean a lot to my teammates but more importantly to my family because my parents are going to be there."

Deculus' 247Sports Crystal Ball points heavily to him choosing LSU next month. Before The Opening, he spoke highly about the five finalists.

"They fit what I look for in an offense. It's smack-you-in-the-mouth football," he said. "I love aggression. I love run blocking. That's my thing. Pass blocking is good and necessary, but overall, run blocking is my favorite."

Deculus is the nation's No. 12 offensive tackle and the No. 62 overall player in the 2017 class.

 

Ohio State pledge has eyes on 5-star recruits

The minute La Grange, Texas, 4-star all-purpose back J.K. Dobbins committed to Ohio State on March 6, he had plans of being an early enrollee.

Before he heads to Columbus, Ohio, Dobbins said he's got some player recruiting to do. When asked about potential targets, Dobbins, the nation's No. 4 all-purpose back and No. 54 overall player in the 2017 class, said he's going all in on two 5-star athletes in particular.

"Marvin and Jeff. I want them at Ohio State," Dobbins said, referring to the Texas duo of defensive tackle Marvin Wilson and defensive back Jeffrey Okudah. "If we get those guys, we're going to win national championships. They are great players and great guys. They're not cocky or anything. They're just some cool dudes."

Ohio State currently has 13 commits in its 2017 class, including the 5-star duo of offensive tackle Josh Myers and cornerback Shaun Wade. Dobbins and 4-star running back commit Todd Sibley could emerge into a nice one-two punch in the backfield for the Buckeyes.

 

Words of wisdom from Ole Miss signee Anderson

About this time last year, Ole Miss signee Deontay Anderson was working on earning his second trip to The Opening finals. On Sunday, he was a spectator watching the next group of talented athletes compete for their opportunity to go to Beaverton, Oregon.

Anderson's work ethic was to be admired. The way he approached the recruiting process was something else that caught the attention of targets. Anderson made his decision on national signing day—in dramatic fashion, nonetheless—and refused to make any early commitment announcements.

He offered sound advice to the recruits at The Opening Houston. Anderson wants all recruits to remember that their national signing day is still roughly 10 months away.

"Be patient. A lot of things change," Anderson said. "One coach might be here now, and then he might be gone later. Players leave for the draft. There's a lot of things that go into it.

"Just take your time, and don't rush into it. It's one of the hardest but best decisions of your life. Make it count."

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SEC Football Q&A: Which Team Will Be the Biggest Overachiever in 2016?

The first big wave of SEC spring games come this weekend when Florida, Auburn, South Carolina and Texas A&M hold their glorified scrimmages.

With those games come pressure. That pressure can go a long way toward coaches determining which players will see the field this fall in the nation's most rigorous college football conference.

Will we get a glimpse of some potential overachievers this weekend? That question and more are in this week's edition of SEC Q&A.

 

I'm going to go with Ole Miss because the Rebels aren't going to be picked to be a top-tier program nationally after the losses of Robert Nkemdiche, Laremy Tunsil, Laquon Treadwell, Cody Core, Trae Elston, Mike Hilton, C.J. Johnson and other impact players from the 2015 team.

That's OK, though, because while several of those players were blue-chip recruits who helped set the tone for head coach Hugh Freeze's career in Oxford, he has been able to follow them up with several solid recruiting classes that are more complete than the top-heavy 2013 group.

Yes, there are issues to overcome, specifically along the offensive line where Freeze not only has to replace Tunsil, but also the rest of the unit that protects quarterback Chad Kelly. 

What do we know about Freeze, though? He has had plenty of practice dealing with roster holes—often on the fly—and figuring out how to make things work.

He lost Tunsil for seven games last season due to suspension, and he still found a way to top Alabama—which boasted the best front seven in college football—on the road at night in his absence. When linebacker Johnson was out, and fellow linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche struggled to stay on the field, DeMarquis Gates stepped up and finished with the team lead in tackles (76). 

Because of the roster attrition, Ole Miss isn't going to be picked in the preseason top five. ESPN's Joe Schad has them 11th, and Athlon Sports did as well; the Rebels seem to be buried by the Alabama and LSU hype in the SEC West.

If Freeze can find a way to split his two big September games (vs. Florida State in Orlando on Sept. 5 and vs. Alabama in Oxford on Sept. 17), then don't be surprised if his Rebels make a run to the College Football Playoff.

Of course, a win over the Crimson Tide is more imperative considering the weight the division matchup holds.

 

He takes a backseat to LSU's Leonard Fournette and Georgia's Nick Chubb for a couple of reasons. 

First, he hasn't proved that he's as much of a work horse as the other two stars. That's not a knock against Jalen Hurd. He's an awesome running back and certainly could be a work horse if needed. But the presence of mobile quarterback Joshua Dobbs over the last year-and-a-half and backfield mate Alvin Kamara took pressure off of him in 2015.

Nobody has taken pressure off of Fournette or Chubb.

Fournette gets no help from his quarterback, passing game, offensive philosophy or anybody else on the offense. Chubb came in for Todd Gurley in a pinch midway through the 2014 season, tallied 30 or more carries in three games and rushed for 1,547 yards in essentially a half-season as the starter.

Second, Tennessee has a reputation of building but not being there yet. No, LSU and Georgia haven't played in the SEC Championship Game either during the careers of their star running backs, but eyeballs have been on both programs from the start of each of the last two seasons.

Tennessee is the opposite. From a national perspective, it seems that fans and media take more of a "wait and see" approach for the Vols, which means Hurd has to earn his share of the spotlight more than Fournette and Chubb.

 

Without a doubt, it's Texas A&M.

Head coach Kevin Sumlin is loose, fun and has enough confidence to fill the Lone Star State. He even has the "Swag-copter" at his disposal to check in on prospects around the country.

Whether it was running back Ben Malena and the "cashing out" craze of 2012, the youthful exuberance former quarterback Johnny Manziel played the game with or the way Sumlin chest bumps his players after a touchdown or a big turnover on defense, the Aggies look like they're having more fun out there when things are going well—as is the case with their head coach.

When things don't go well, of course the enjoyment of football goes down the tubes. But the highs for the Aggies are high for the players and the coaches, and they don't shy away from showing it.

That's refreshing.

 

Top three might be a bit aggressive, considering Fournette and Chubb (as long as they are healthy) should be top-notch. Hurd is a monster, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has produced 13, 1,000-yard rushers in 10 seasons as a college head or assistant coach, and Alabama and Arkansas are running back factories.

That doesn't mean Mark Thompson, a 6'2", 242-pound junior college transfer from Dodge City (Kansas) Community College can't be a star.

He absolutely can.

With a stature like Derrick Henry, who is 6'3", 247 pounds, and speed of a track star, Thompson can be a big-time weapon in a Florida offense that needs a bruiser at running back to become the focal point of head coach Jim McElwain's pro-style offense.

Top three in the SEC shouldn't be Thompson's goal—a solid 25 carries per game and a 1,000-yard season should be. 

If he can do that, the Gators will have a good chance of repeating as SEC East champions.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of CFBStats.com, unless otherwise noted, and recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

5-Star JaCoby Stevens Goes in-Depth on Top 7, Timeline Moving Forward

One of the nation’s premier skill-position talents in the 2017 class has narrowed his list to seven lucky programs.

Late Sunday evening, 5-star athlete JaCoby Stevens dropped his list of finalists on his Twitter account. 

His list, in order, includes Georgia, LSU, Florida State, Florida, Tennessee, USC and Oklahoma.

He was once committed to the Tigers briefly before reopening his recruitment.

The Bulldogs are in the pole position for the nation’s top athlete and the No. 22 player overall in the 2017 class, but they will have to fend off a trio of fellow SEC titans and national powerhouses from the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12.

Stevens, who could play either safety or receiver in college, spoke with Bleacher Report recently and broke down his finalists and his recruitment.

Here are his thoughts on each program in his top seven.

 

Georgia: "I’m very high on Georgia just because I believe in [Head] Coach [Kirby] Smart’s vision and where he has Georgia going. I’m also really comfortable with my position coach in [defensive coordinator] Coach [Mel] Tucker dating back to when he was at Alabama. Those two being there and me being so comfortable with the head coach and the defensive coordinator, that’s two really big positives. Then, the school is just awesome."

LSU: "When I decommitted, I guess it put a bad taste in the mouth of LSU fans. But LSU is a great school with a lot of great things to offer. They have a great DB coach who has put multiple players in the league in Corey Raymond. They have a charismatic coach and a players' coach in Les Miles. The competition there is amazing, so that’s why I’m interested in them." 

Florida State: "I feel like how they use their players is something that attracts me to their program. Like [2016 NFL draft prospect] Jalen Ramsey, for example, he got to showcase his versatility in playing nickel, safety and corner in three years. Little things like that can help you be more valuable to your own team and to NFL teams down the road." 

Florida: "They do great with bigger safeties. Matt Elam was a thicker guy and they had Keanu Neal recently. I think Florida is just a great school. I like [Head] Coach [Jim] McElwain and where he is taking the program. They had a fast start last year and I think they are going to keep going up more."

Tennessee: "That’s the hometown school right there. They made a hire [at defensive coordinator] in Coach [Bob] Shoop recently that I really liked. Him being there, it makes me feel good because I really like Coach Shoop. I knew him since my eighth-grade year when he was at Vanderbilt. That’s a relationship that has been going on for a while and him being at UT is awesome." 

USC: "My guy Austin Thomas [former LSU director of player personnel], he was actually at LSU and he recruited me hard when I was initially committed there. Now he’s out there and he’s been on me since the first day he was at USC [now associate athletic director of personnel at USC]. Not only that, USC has a lot to offer with their program. The history and the connections you can build out there, it’s an amazing opportunity there." 

Oklahoma: "I put them on my list because of their history and tradition they have there. Also, Oklahoma is a school that will allow me to play both sides of the ball. I’ve spoken with the receivers coach, the DBs coach and [Head] Coach [Bob] Stoops frequently, and they have been recruiting me hard."

 

He’s recently taken visits to Georgia and LSU, and he admits the only trip that is possible in the near future is a return to Athens for the Bulldogs spring game.

“I’m not sure yet, but I think I may go to G-Day,” Stevens said. “That’s it for right now, but in the summer, I know I will take a lot of visits. The other schools on my list, those are the programs I want to go see in the summer.”

Of his finalists, Stevens also notes that commits from a pair of his finalists are already pressing him to join their respective clubs.

“Right now, I’d say the Georgia commits are coming at me from all over the place. [2017 4-star safety] Richard LeCounte and [2018 offensive lineman] Max Wray, they are in my ear 24/7,” Stevens said. “UT, I have a lot of their guys and my friends telling me to stay at home and make Tennessee great. I think Georgia and UT are where the players are recruiting me the hardest right now.”

Stevens, who has plans on majoring in sports marketing in college, has another important decision to make regarding his future.

He is contemplating skipping his final semester of high school to potentially get a jump-start on his college career. 

“That’s something I have to discuss with my parents, but I am on track to graduate early,” Stevens said.

That decision will ultimately have an impact on when he makes a final decision in his recruitment.

“If I don’t graduate early, I think I will do a national signing day commitment,” Stevens said. “If I do graduate early, I may just do it at one of the all-star games or just a big commitment at my school after the football season.”

With his finalists already identified, Stevens detailed a few things he’s looking for that will be critical in helping him find the school that fits him the best. 

“How I feel towards the program, not just athletically, but academically,” Stevens said. “How the school is socially also, because every school has something great to offer. Every school on my list has great facilities. At the end of the day, I have to a lot of soul-searching and just dissect and find little things that separates that one school I will pick in the end.”

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tristan Gebbia to Nebraska: Cornhuskers Land 4-Star QB Prospect

The Nebraska Cornhuskers landed a huge addition to their 2017 recruiting class with the addition of 4-star pro-style quarterback Tristan Gebbia from Calabasas, California.

Gebbia made his decision official Monday on Twitter:   

Listed as the No. 8 pro-style quarterback in the nation and the 159th-best prospect, Gebbia is the 18th-best prospect in the class of 2017 and is the top quarterback in the state of California.

 

Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings unless noted otherwise.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Former Kansas Football Player Brandon Bourbon Reported Missing

Former Kansas Jayhawks football player Brandon Bourbon was reported missing Monday by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Fox4KC.com reported the news, indicating Bourbon was last seen Saturday. A post by Facebook user Devin Hampton provided specifics about Bourbon's last known whereabouts:

The 24-year-old running back transferred from Kansas to Washburn in 2014. In addition to receiving first-team All-Big 12 academic honors in 2013, Bourbon appeared in 12 games and started six that season.

Bourbon hails from Potosi, Missouri. Another Facebook user, Turner Baty, implored anyone in the Kansas City, Missouri, area to "keep an eye out" and help in the search.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Best Fits for Top 2017 Uncommitted Defensive End Recruits

The majority of marquee 2017 defensive end recruits remain undecided about collegiate plans 10 months shy of national signing day. Only five of the top 20 players at this position in 247Sports' composite rankings have announced a commitment, headlined by 5-star Iowa pledge A.J. Epenesa.

Fellow 5-star recruits Joshua Kaindoh and Jarez Parks lead a loaded group of undecided athletes who could provide immediate pressure along a defensive front during the 2017 college football season. Here's a peek at several premier defensive ends still searching for their university and which programs could provide a potential landing spot.

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12 Most Intimidating College Football Players Today

College football is an intimidating game played by intimidating athletes.

To make it this far as a football player, many of the stars of fall Saturdays need to have the size, strength and athleticism that blow the average Joe out of the water. They also need the type of attitude that can deflect any fear on the field toward their opponents.

But there are those who can intimidate the intimidators—the playmakers who stand out as the most fearsome. From immense size to a reputation for hitting the hardest, these are the players who are the most intimidating in the entire FBS landscape.

Here are a dozen of the most intimidating players in college football, based on size, strength and physicality for their given positions. Even after the departure of players such as Baylor's Shawn Oakman, Ole Miss' Robert Nkemdiche and Alabama's Derrick Henry, college football still has plenty of bruising behemoths and hard hitters to go around.

Of course, this is not a catch-all list of intimidating players in the game of college football. If you have your own suggestions for the top intimidators on the gridiron, shout them out in the comments below.

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FSU's Jimbo Fisher Unharmed in Car Crash Before Seminoles Scrimmage

Florida State Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher was involved in a two-car accident Saturday ahead of FSU's intrasquad scrimmage, per Jared Shanker of ESPN.com

Fisher didn't suffer any injuries as a result of the crash, though the driver of the other car and one of the passengers were taken to a hospital.

Fisher's vehicle sustained "disabling front end damage" and was towed away from the scene. The ESPN.com report didn't make note of the vehicle Fisher was driving, though, last month, Shanker shared a photo of a truck the coach had driven to Doak Campbell Stadium at the time:

The police report cited wet road conditions as one of the factors leading to the crash. A little over an inch of rain fell in Tallahassee, Florida, on April 2, per Weather Underground.

Despite the accident, Fisher managed to attend the scrimmage, which served as a tune-up for Florida State's spring game this Saturday in Orlando, Florida.

The Seminoles will begin their regular season on Sept. 5 against the Ole Miss Rebels as they look to dethrone the Clemson Tigers as ACC champions.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bold Projections for College Football's Final Four for 2016-17 Season

It's not called the Final Four, but college football's recent move to a playoff system has created a similar end-of-year dynamic to what college basketball is finishing up. While it doesn't start with 68 teams in a single-elimination tournament, college football's establishment of the final four is still a lengthy process that in some cases goes back to the start of the season.

The teams who will qualify for this year's playoffs must be strong throughout the year, though the earlier they lose the less it might affect their chances of earning a bid. Two of the three one-loss playoff teams from the 2015-16 season suffered their defeat in October or earlier, while Michigan State made up for its early-November loss by knocking off a pair of unbeaten teams en route to the Big Ten title.

That prevented Ohio State from defending its national title, something very few people could have envisioned at this point last year. Anyone who did was making a bold projection.

But that's what the offseason is for, isn't it?

We've put together some bold projections for this season's “final four,” and while it probably won't happen it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility. Follow along as we set the table for what would be a wild college football playoff this winter.

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Speedy Noil Arrested: Latest Details, Comments on Texas A&M WR

Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Speedy Noil was arrested Friday for driving without a license, per College Football Talk's John Taylor, citing arrest records in Brazos County, Texas.

Noil caught 21 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns with the Aggies in 2015.

Colin Deaver of KAGS TV reported Noil was released on $600 bond.

Much was expected of the talented wideout when he arrived in College Station as the top wide receiver and eighth-best player in the 2014 recruiting class, per 247Sports' composite ranking. He had a strong freshman season, catching 46 passes for 583 yards and five touchdowns, but took a step backward as a sophomore.

Head coach Kevin Sumlin suspended Noil for A&M's game against Western Carolina on Nov. 14 for an unspecified violation of team rules. Noil also missed the Aggies' Music City Bowl clash with Louisville. Brian Perroni of 247Sports' GigEm247 reported the suspension will carry over to the team's first game of 2016 against UCLA on Sept. 3.

Sumlin isn't hurting for options in the passing game, especially after Christian Kirk finished his freshman season with 1,009 yards receiving. In addition to Kirk, Texas A&M has juniors Ricky Seals-Jones and Damion Ratley and senior Josh Reynolds all returning for next year.

Noil's recent arrest, coupled with his troubles last year, won't help him carve out a meaningful role in the Aggies offense in 2016.

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Notre Dame Football Week 3 Spring Practice Report

The third week of Notre Dame's spring practice was reasonably uneventful, which is typically a good thing for fans to hear.

Although a potential starter underwent surgery, he should return well before a possible No. 1 role would be in jeopardy. Avoiding season-ending issues is always comforting, especially after the Irish battled through a year filled with them.

Notre Dame has holes to fill on offense and defensive questions to answer, but early returns suggest legitimate progress on both sides of the ball.

And right now, that's the most important development.

 

First-Team Offense Sighting

Only five months remain before the starting offense is finalized; surely, lineups in April mean absolutely everything and are unalterable, right?

Sarcasm aside, Evan Sharpley of 247Sports shared how the depth chart is currently organized. The headline, of course, is that Malik Zaire ran the first-team offense, while DeShone Kizer commanded the No. 2 group.

Tarean Folston and Josh Adams split time as the lead running back, flanked by Corey Holmes, Torii Hunter Jr. and Equanimeous St. Brown at receiver. Offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock reiterated that St. Brown will be a major contributor, according to CSN Chicago's JJ Stankevitz.

A portion of the offensive line is technically an exception to the opening statement, since Mike McGlinchey, Quenton Nelson and Sam Mustipher are locked in. However, Hunter Bivin and Alex Bars ran with the first-teamers last week.

Starting spots may change at some positions, but none of those moves are surprising now or would be shocking to see in September.

 

Defending the Defense, Continuing the Hype

Notre Dame boasted NFL-caliber talent and other solid college defenders last season, but the unit didn't match the expectations most expected from a group with that collective skill.

Consequently, Brian VanGorder has taken plenty of criticism. Mike Vorel of the South Bend Tribune noted the defensive coordinator's response to a question asking the origin of the idea that his scheme is too complicated.

"I don't know. I have no idea," VanGorder said. "It's because we have a large inventory, I guess. And we didn't play really good defense, right? So if you have a large inventory and you don't play really good defense, then that's the assumption."

Reactions to that statement will differ, but there's no denying that the hype surrounding Nyles Morgan makes him a key player for the 2016 defense.

"Nyles has done a really good job communicating and leading the defense," head coach Brian Kelly said, per Chris Goff of the Journal-Gazette.

Morgan's performance as the middle linebacker will provide useful insight into whether or not a first-year starter can handle VanGorder's potentially complicated scheme.

 

Injury Updates

The school announced that cornerback Nick Watkins underwent successful surgery on a fractured left humerus. He'll be sidelined for the remainder of spring practice but is expected to return for summer workouts.

Watkins still could earn a No. 1 role. According to Jordan Wells of Rivals, Watkins said he'd consider it a failure to not start the season opener against Texas.

Notre Dame must rebuild its defensive line, and early enrollee Daelin Hayes might be a notable piece. He's working back from a shoulder injury and participating, but contact is limited.

"We're going to pick our spots with him," Kelly said, per Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune. "We're going to put him in a position where we can see some things from him, but I don't think we're going to overdo anything."

Corey Robinson spent the week on a stationary bike, sitting out because of a concussion. Nick Ironside of 247Sports noted that Kelly said the Irish are being cautious since the receiver has a history of concussions.

 

All recruiting information via 247Sports. Stats from CFBStats.com or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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Chad Kelly Injury: Updates on Ole Miss QB's Recovery from Hernia Surgery

Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly underwent surgery last week to repair a sports hernia, according to Daniel Paulling of the Jackson Clarion Ledger.  

While Kelly will miss the remainder of spring practices, the injury isn't expected to sideline him for an extended duration or affect his availability for the team's opening game against Florida State on Sept. 5, according to Paulling.

 

You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.

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Alabama Football: Week 2 Spring Practice Report

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama football team’s two significant position experiments this spring are looking more and more like they might become permanent moves.

Coaches are trying Ross Pierschbacher, who started last season at left guard, at center, and Rashaan Evans has switched from outside linebacker to interior linebacker.

“[I] really like Ross at center,” head coach Nick Saban said after last Saturday’s scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium. “I think he’s done a nice job and made that transition fairly well.”

Meanwhile, Evans tied for the team lead with eight tackles and one sack, although it wasn’t clear if he was primarily facing the first- or second-team offense.

“Rashaan is doing really good, actually,” linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton said last week. “Coming from outside to inside, he’s a guy with a high motor. When he sees the ball, he definitely going to hit you real good. He’s always flying around, a great practice player.”

Evans played in 14 games last season, primarily on special teams and as a pass-rusher. He racked up 10 tackles, four sacks and three quarterback hurries.

Should Pierschbacher stay at center, he’ll replace three-year starter and Rimington Trophy winner Ryan Kelly. He started 15 games in 2015 and made Sporting News' All-Freshman team.

“I talked to Coach Saban with our individual player meeting at the end of the season, and he asked what I thought about it,” Pierschbacher said. “I said I was open to whatever helped the team out. That was that.”

 

Secondary concerns 

Defensive back Tony Brown’s status appears to be in doubt, as Aaron Suttles of the Tuscaloosa News reported on Sunday that he’s facing an indefinite suspension from the NCAA, and the school is awaiting word on its appeal.

Saban had previously acknowledged that Brown, who was sent home from the Cotton Bowl for violating team rules, was “facing suspensions.” He won’t meet with reporters again until Wednesday.

Brown has been practicing with the Crimson Tide at both cornerback and star, the fifth defensive back position when an extra defensive back is used in the nickel package.

Minkah Fitzpatrick’s been working in the same roles and is hoping to land the starting cornerback job in tandem with Marlon Humphrey. One of the players Saban said has shown improvement is Anthony Averett.

With Eddie Jackson (shoulder) out this spring, Maurice Smith has been working at safety.

“I don’t feel like we have enough depth,” Saban said. “I like the attitude that the players have. I like the work ethic.”

 

Offensive linemen making strides

Alabama’s offensive line is looking like it could be a real strength—and not just with the eventual starters.

One player who has already turned heads is early enrollee Jonah Williams, who played with the first team at left tackle during the scrimmage.

“He’s stood out a lot,” Hamilton said. “He’s doing great, adjusting to everything. I know he came and practiced with us a little before the national championship game. So you can tell it’s definitely paying off for him.”

Meanwhile, Lester Cotton, who redshirted last season, is also off to a good start and has been taking reps at left tackle, right tackle and guard.

“His knowledge of his game has grown a lot,” Pierschbacher said. “Just playing the offensive line at a collegiate level; it’s a big step, and it takes some guys longer than others. A guy like Lester has all the talent in the world, and he’s going to have a very bright future here.”

Saban has also had good things to say about Cotton along with reserve guards Dallas Warmack and Brandon Kennedy.

“I feel better about the number of guys that we have to coach and develop on the offensive line,” Saban said. “We need to see what we need to do to get the best five guys out there.”

 

Quarterback competition

One thing that Alabama coaches won’t be doing this spring is attempting to change Blake Barnett’s throwing motion. The redshirt freshman has a sidearm release that’s somewhat unconventional.

Saban compared it to the way Bernie Kosar threw a football.

"The best thing we can do is go like this and just watch where the ball goes,” Saban said while shielding his eyes. “If it's accurate and it's on time and he's got enough arm strength, then you kind of don't worry too much about it. If the mechanics of how he throws the ball affects those things, then I think you need to worry about it.

“He doesn't really wind up; he just takes the ball back, but he is accurate. He does have adequate arm strength.”

More important for the 2016 season appears to be developing the confidence and timing of all three quarterbacks who are hoping to replace Jake Coker.

Cooper Bateman is the only one with any playing experience, while Saban praised David Cornwell’s performance during the first spring scrimmage.

“We’re trying to give everybody a chance right now,” Saban said. “ We’ll evaluate how they did on film and divvy up the reps for next week.”

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

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Top 5 Performing Quarterback Recruits from 2016 Houston Elite 11 Regional

HOUSTON — Everyone at the latest stop on the Elite 11 regional tour saw what happens when perseverance and persistence accompany hard work.

Oklahoma quarterback commit Chris Robison competed at the Elite 11 Dallas regional three weeks ago and captured MVP honors at the camp. However, an invitation to the Elite 11 finals in June in Los Angeles was not extended at that time.

Fast-forward to Sunday at Houston's Delmar-Tusa Athletic Complex. Robison not only made sure his efforts at the Houston regional matched his previous showing in Dallas, but he also made sure he left the facility with that coveted invitation to the finals this summer.

In fact, before the event started, Robison gave a simple prediction.

"It's mine," he said. "I'm going to get it."

Mission accomplished. The 4-star quarterback from Mesquite, Texas, became the latest addition to the group that will compete for a spot in the Elite 11 and an invitation to The Opening finals from July 5-10 at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.

Roughly 60 quarterbacks from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kansas, Arkansas and Tennessee competed on Sunday. Five of the quarterbacks advanced to the half-skelly showdown, the final event that helped determine a camp MVP.

Here is a look at those five quarterbacks. Brian Stumpf, president of sports at Student Sports, provided analysis on each finalist.

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Cesar Ruiz Tweets Top 12: Which Teams Have Best Shot to Land No. 1 OC?

Offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz has attracted attention from college coaching staffs across America, claiming 30 scholarship offers well in advance of his senior high school season.

The 6'3", 315-pound prospect, rated No. 1 overall among centers in 247Sports' composite rankings, provided an update on his whirlwind recruitment Sunday evening. Ruiz, who attends IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, released a list of 12 favorites on Twitter:

A list this large doesn't always necessarily offer much insight into a recruit's mindset, but this announcement is an exception since Ruiz ranked programs in order of preference. Michigan tops his pecking order at this point, followed by Alabama, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, LSU, Clemson, Florida, Auburn, Temple, Miami and Rutgers. 

It's a group of contenders that features three of the four qualifiers for 2016 College Football Playoff action, along with representatives from five different conferences. The SEC is represented at the highest volume, with five universities in the mix.

Ruiz, considered a top-200 prospect nationally in composite rankings, dropped the list shortly after a visit to Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was on campus Friday, April 1, for the Wolverines' second spring game under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

It's important to note that while Ruiz currently battles in the trenches for IMG Academy, he landed on the national recruiting radar in New Jersey. Prior to a summer 2015 transfer, he competed at Camden High School, located across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.

This provides further context for his sustained interest in nearby Rutgers and Temple, as each identified him as a priority target early in the process. However, it's also another reason why Ruiz's rapport with the Wolverines is so strong. 

Led by assistant coach Chris Partridge, who previously led New Jersey powerhouse Paramus Catholic High School, Michigan claimed six commitments from the state in the 2016 recruiting cycle. This haul included a pair of Ruiz's former Camden teammates in defensive end Ron Johnson and Brad Hawkins.

Ruiz can be seen here, far right in an IMG sweatshirt, following Partridge on campus Friday:

Michigan also made headlines earlier this spring by holding a portion of spring practice at IMG Academy. While contact between current IMG student-athletes and the Wolverines was limited, that exposure may have also helped Harbaugh's squad climb atop this list of collegiate options.

Alabama, currently No. 2 on Ruiz's list, and Auburn, sitting at No. 9, will reportedly have an opportunity to further build their stock with the coveted offensive lineman. Both programs will welcome him to campus this week, according to Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports.

The Crimson Tide have stockpiled elite recruits across the offensive line with greater efficiency than any team in America this decade—a trend that contributes mightily to a six-year streak of No. 1 overall recruiting classes. Ryan Kelly, a multi-year starter and Rimington Trophy winner at center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, will be in the NFL next season, giving former 4-star prospects such as J.C. Hassenauer and Ross Pierschbacher an opportunity to fill the role. 

Along with Kelly, Alabama produced a Rimington Trophy winner in 2012 (Barrett Jones). The award honors college football's top center, and Alabama's track record here has to be appealing for a talent like Ruiz. 

North Carolina remains an intriguing option at No. 3, though we get the sense there could be a significant gap separating Michigan and Alabama from the rest of this pack. Ruiz previously mentioned the Tar Heels as a team "sticking out" early last season, according to Corey Bender of Scout.com, so the staff has clearly sustained a favorable impression.

Ruiz will compete against one of America's most impressive defensive front-seven units on a daily basis during practices at IMG. The group includes a pair of 5-star recruits in defensive end Joshua Kaindoh and linebacker Dylan Moses, and a challenging national schedule will thrust him further into the spotlight as he lines up across from several lauded defensive linemen this fall.

Expectations are immense for Ruiz as he approaches his senior year following an invitation to The Opening finals, an elite prospect showcase held in July at Nike's world headquarters. Without a public commitment timeline in place, expect speculation to swirl around the standout throughout the summer and into next season.

 

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

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