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College Football Coaches Who Could Easily Recruit for School's Basketball Team

Recruiting is all about presentation. You're selling impressionable, young athletes on an experience, convincing them the one you offer is better than what they can find anywhere else. The sport in question is only a small piece of the package and might as well not even be included in the pitch.

In that respect, great recruiters could probably convince prospects to come to their schools no matter what sport they played (or what sport the coach was from), right? That got us wondering which coaches from the college football ranks would be savvy enough to haul in top-tier talent for their men's basketball programs.

There are quite a few that could pull this off, but we've put together a list of football coaches who could be a level above the rest when it comes to selling their schools to basketball players just as well. Check out our picks, and give us your thoughts in the comments section.

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Big Ten Football Q&A: Who's the Best New Quarterback in the B1G?

Spring football is in full gear, an unprecedented pro day is getting set to begin, Jim Harbaugh is gaining allies in Florida and Illinois has a new head coach.

In other words, it's just another typical week in the Big Ten.

It also happens to be time for my weekly Big Ten Q&A, where you ask the questions, and I provide the answers. As always, you can send your Big Ten-related questions to me on Twitter @BenAxelrod each week for your chance to appear in the mailbag.

This week, we'll tackle the conference's new starting signal-callers, the Fighting Illini's new head coach, the Big Ten's most important position change and the wonderful world of professional wrestling.

Let's get started.

Quarterbacks in the Big Ten have always fascinated me, particularly as the league's offenses have evolved into more modern styles. Some programs have managed to keep up with the times, others have even taken it a step further and then there are still some head coaches who prefer to play it safe with a game manager.

This season, the makeup of the league's signal-callers will be even more interesting, as there won't be many new ones, but four of the five the QBs who will be starting for the first time will do so at prominent programs.

Presumed conference title contenders Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin will each be breaking in new starters this season, which will throw a twist into divisional races that will see Ohio State and Iowa each return their starting quarterbacks.

In terms of new starters, the player I find most intriguing is Wisconsin's Bart Houston, who completed 22 of his 33 pass attempts for 232 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions while subbing in for an injured Joel Stave during the Badgers' 24-13 win over Illinois last season. Houston was so impressive that calls came for him to be named Wisconsin's new starter midseason, but Stave ultimately resumed his role in the Badgers lineup.

After Houston, I'm intrigued by Michigan's John O'Korn, presuming he takes the spot in the Wolverines lineup that Jake Rudock vacated. Of the quarterback competitions in the Big Ten this offseason, Michigan State's is perhaps the most intriguing, with Tyler O'Connor, Damion Terry and Messiah deWeaver battling it out to replace Connor Cook.

And then there's Penn State, which finds itself without a blue-chip prospect ready to step in for Christian Hackenberg. It could, however, be argued that either Trace McSorley or Tommy Stevens may ultimately be a better fit in head coach James Franklin's system than Hackenberg was in the past two years.

So to answer your question, my ranking of new Big Ten starting quarterbacks looks like this:

  1. Bart Houston, Wisconsin
  2. John O'Korn, Michigan
  3. Michigan State's new starter
  4. Penn State's new starter
  5. Indiana's Zander Diamont

But it's the Nittany Lions I have the most concern about—for reasons that extend beyond the actual quarterbacks themselves.

When I first wrote about Illinois' stunning hiring of Lovie Smith earlier this week, I was convinced the former Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach would make the Fighting Illini instant contenders in the Big Ten West based on a surprising amount of talent—including star wideout Mike Dudek—returning in Champaign and Smith's pedigree.

But the more I think about Smith's hiring at Illinois, the more I view this as a move that could revolutionize Fighting Illini football for years to come.

I mean, think about it: This is an NFL-caliber head coach already putting together an NFL-caliber staff in what is inarguably the weaker of the Big Ten's two divisions. Who knows what will become of Iowa after quarterback C.J. Beathard and cornerback Desmond King graduate, and even at 10-3, Wisconsin was steady but unspectacular in its first year under head coach Paul Chryst.

I actually like what head coach Mike Riley's doing in Lincoln—at least from a recruiting standpoint—more than most, but even then, I have a hard time seeing Nebraska building a division dynasty. The reality is the Big Ten West is there for the taking, and all of sudden Illinois has arguably the coach with both the biggest name and the most credibility.

In more than a year of covering the Big Ten, I wrote about Illinois twice—both times relating to former Illini head coach Tim Beckman's unspectacular downfall in Champaign. In the past four days, I've now written about the Fighting Illini three times, which is indicative of the buzz Smith is already building at his new job.

I don't expect Illinois to win the division this year, but I wouldn't be shocked if it's in contention until the very end. Come 2017, however, I expect Lovie's presence to be in full effect with both his recruiting and his player development potentially paving the way to a new powerhouse in the Big Ten West.

Of all the things that have been said and written about Michigan's spring practice this year, Jabrill Peppers' move to linebacker has somehow flown under the radar.

When it comes to position switches in the Big Ten this season, you won't find a more important one than Peppers' move to the front seven—and not just because he's now played close to 10 positions in his college career. In new Wolverines defensive coordinator Don Brown's defense, there isn't a more important position than outside linebacker, as evidenced by the numbers his past outside linebackers have posted in stops at UConn and Boston College.

Don't believe me? Here are the numbers accumulated by the lead outside linebacker in Brown's defense in each of the past five seasons:

Like Peppers, Keyes and Milano were both converted safeties, but neither possessed the type of ability Michigan's 5-star jack-of-all-trades does. Primarily playing safety, the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year managed to post 45 tackles—5.5 of which came for a loss—in his debut campaign.

Under Brown and now at linebacker, those numbers will only amplify if the new Wolverines defensive coordinator's history with the position is any indication. Peppers has always had the talent, and now he might just be in the proper scheme to harness it and turn into one of the most dynamic defenders the Big Ten—and college football—has ever seen.

All right, Chris (who does great work at CoachingSearch.com and can be followed on Twitter @ChrisVannini), I'm going to give this a shot with a brief explanation of each.

 

Ohio State: Brock Lesnar

The Beast Incarnate. The Buckeyes have been on a roll under head coach Urban Meyer, just like Brock Lesnar's been since ending The Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania two years ago. Neither seems to be slowing down anytime soon.

 

Michigan: Roman Reigns

Love Jim Harbaugh or hate Jim Harbaugh, Michigan's new head coach draws a reaction, much like WWE's new force-fed golden child. But after spending the better part of the past year in the spotlight, it will be crucial for each to deliver in 2016.

 

Michigan State: Dean Ambrose

I love you #SpartyNation, but you guys can truly be The Lunatic Fringe sometimes. Still, neither Michigan State nor Dean Ambrose always receives the respect it deserves, as each has arguably been its respective league's top performer for the past three years.

 

Penn State: Randy Orton

Like Penn State, Randy Orton was a big deal five years ago and an even bigger deal a decade ago. But lately, each of their acts have gotten stale, as both are in need of some sort of reboot to maintain relevance.

 

Wisconsin: Bray Wyatt

A steady contender you can always add to the mix for a much-needed quality win. Do either Wisconsin or Bray Wyatt have what it takes to be the top dog? That's to be determined.

 

Iowa: The New Day

The success of both the Hawkeyes and New Day in 2015 left us wondering the same thing: Where did that come from, and can it be sustained? Bonus points on this one, because New Day member Big E (Ettore Ewen) was a defensive lineman at Iowa in the mid-2000s.

 

Nebraska: Big Show

Need to look strong? Defeating Nebraska or Big Show can still accomplish just that. But the unfortunate reality for both is that the win against either would have looked a lot stronger had it come in 1996.

 

Illinois: Ryback

When in need of freshening things up, a new head coach or a much-needed heel turn can do wonders. But despite both seeming to possess plenty of upside, it remains to be seen what Lovie will accomplish in Champaign and what The Big Guy will get done with his latest turn to the dark side.

 

Minnesota: Cesaro

We saw a spark from each back in 2014, signaling that both the Golden Gophers and The Swiss Superman had potential as consistent contenders. Coming off a coaching change in Minneapolis and an unfortunately timed shoulder injury for Cesaro, both, however, still have plenty to prove.

 

Northwestern: Kalisto

While Northwestern made an unexpected push for the Big Ten West title in 2015, Kalisto became the unlikely United States champion with his upset victory over Alberto Del Rio this past winter. And while both will always be fan favorites, neither has the upside of one day becoming a world champion.

 

Indiana: Tyler Breeze

Tyler Breeze's move set is fun, much like the Hoosiers offense under head coach Kevin Wilson. Neither, however, has led to many wins for either to this point.

 

Purdue: Zack Ryder

When Zack Ryder's in the ring on Monday Night Raw, it's a safe bet he's about to get beat. And when Purdue takes the field each Saturday—well, you get the picture.

 

Rutgers and Maryland: The Social Outcasts

Both the Scarlet Knights and Terrapins seem to be having fun with their new head coaches, much like Bo Dallas, Adam Rose, Heath Slater and Curtis Axel have been with their new gimmick. All, however, have limited upside—and I'm not sure they truly make sense in their respective leagues.

 

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

Trevor Darling, Jahair Jones Arrested: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

University of Miami offensive linemen Trevor Darling and Jahair Jones were arrested Wednesday night after allegedly impeding traffic and "resisting officer without violence."

Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald reported an arrest affidavit shows the men were arrested after ignoring multiple requests by two officers to leave a roadway in Miami Beach.  

The affidavit for Jones states the Hurricanes player acknowledged the police request but did not follow their orders: "The defendants were arrested and removed from the roadway. Once in custody, the defendant [Jones] acknowledged he was being asked to move, yet he refused to move after being asked several times."

The Miami Herald also noted a separate affidavit filed for Darling provided further information about the incident:

Darling's arrest affidavit said the sergeant give him "five lawful orders to remove himself from the middle of the roadway. The defendant was impeding traffic and was a safety hazard to himself and others…The defendant also refused to obey two lawful orders… The defendant was arrested without incident. Once in custody the defendant stated that he was in fact ordered by a law enforcement officer to remove himself from the roadway but continued not to follow orders."

Miami athletic director Blake James later issued a statement on the arrests, via Degnan:

"I am aware of the reported incident involving two student-athletes last night and we are still gathering information. I have very high expectations for all of our student-athletes, as I know Coach [Mark] Richt does for his team, and any misconduct will be addressed."

No other information about why Darling and Jones were in the roadway was included in the report.

Darling emerged as a key cog in the Canes offensive line over the past two years. He started all 13 games at the crucial left tackle spot last season for the nation's 29th-ranked passing offense. He could establish himself as a high-upside NFL prospect with a strong 2016 campaign.

Jones didn't play last season. The 6'4", 320-pound lineman opted to redshirt in order to retain an extra season of eligibility. He'll look to earn a spot along the line as a sophomore next fall. He was a 3-star JUCO transfer from ASA College early last year, per 247Sports.

It's unclear what type of punishment the Miami players could receive as a result of the incident.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Predicting the Achilles' Heel of Every Projected Top 25 Team for 2016

Heading into the 2016 offseason, each Top 25 college football team has a shortcoming on the roster that can be considered the program's Achilles' heel.

Losses are hard enough to bear. However, dropping games because of a known weakness or particular individual struggle that wasn't addressed or overcome is even more painful.

Perhaps the necessary adjustments are made or breakout players emerge to fill the gaps during spring practice or fall camp, but these problems are expected to linger into the regular season.

Bleacher Report's Ben Kercheval's "Super Early Top 25" was the ranking used to create the list.

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Why Jalen Ramsey Is Rare Defensive Back Worthy of Top-5 Pick in NFL Draft

Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey is one of the elite prospects in this year's draft class, appearing as high as No. 2 on some media draft boards. 

ESPN's Kevin Weildl, for example, recently stated that he views Ramsey and Ole Miss lineman Laremy Tunsil as the two premier prospects in the draft:

As the draft class is starting to take shape it's Ramsey and Tunsil, then everybody else. Good bit of a drop after those two IMO.

— Kevin Weidl (@KevinW_ESPN) March 2, 2016

The fact that Ramsey is so highly regarded isn't a shock. He had a stellar career at Florida State, and we've seen similar prospects, such as Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, earn elite grades and land in the top 10 in recent years.

But Ramsey has a realistic chance to accomplish something that hasn't been done in nearly two decades. 

No defensive back has been selected higher than fifth overall since future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson in 1998. 

In fact, dating back to 1970, only six defensive backs have had that honor—five of which went on to be selected to at least one Pro Bowl. 

So what makes Ramsey worthy of such a high pick while playing a position that is typically passed over early in the draft? Let's take a look at a few factors that make this possible.

 

Money

Unfortunately, the first piece of this scenario isn't all that interesting, and it has nothing to do with Ramsey. 

Since the latest collective bargaining agreement set a rookie wage scale, the odds of a defensive back being selected inside the top five have skyrocketed. 

When Sam Bradford signed his rookie deal as the No. 1 pick in 2010, he was guaranteed $50 million and was set to earn over $10 million per year in the final years of the deal, according to Spotrac

That would be an absurd contract for even the best defensive backs in the league, let alone a rookie. As a result, cornerbacks and safeties simply weren't in consideration for these high picks. 

The rookie wage scale, however, puts all rookie contracts at a reasonable level, regardless of their position. 

For example, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Dante Fowler third overall in 2015 and signed him to a four-year deal worth just $23 million. Even in the final year of his contract, Fowler's cap hit will only reach $7.4 million—compare that to a peak of $17.6 million for Bradford. 

With this wage scale, NFL teams can now safely select prospects at any position and be guaranteed to pay them a reasonable salary for up to five years (all first-round contracts come with a fifth-year team option). 

 

Versatility 

Ramsey enters the NFL with a rare level of proven versatility, having played at an elite level in college at both safety and cornerback. 

On a basic level, this increases his odds of being a top pick because it opens up more opportunities. Any team with a hole at safety or cornerback can consider him an option. 

However, it also makes him a safer selection. 

Draft picks who flame out completely often do so because they have no fall-back option once they begin to struggle in their initial role. But players who can shift positions can often extend their careers. 

Take former Oakland Raiders offensive lineman Robert Gallery as an example. 

Gallery was a first-class bust as a left tackle and appeared to be on his way out of the league before even wrapping up his rookie deal in Oakland. 

However, the Raiders shifted Gallery inside to guard, where he established himself as a quality starter. 

Despite falling well short of expectations as the No. 2 overall selection in 2004, Gallery ended up starting over 100 games in his eight-year career. 

Obviously no one hopes or expects Ramsey's career follows the Gallery path, but the fact that he can play multiple positions dramatically increases the odds of him being a productive player in the league. 

 

Elite Athleticism

The money and versatility are two major factors in making Ramsey a potential top-five selection, but obviously his raw talent is what really sets him apart. 

Ramsey went to the NFL Scouting Combine needing to prove he had the athleticism to play cornerback, and he came away proving he was in an elite class as an athlete, more than capable of playing any position in the secondary. 

Among all cornerbacks who performed the 40-yard dash and the vertical leap at the combine since 2004, Ramsey is the only prospect in this year's class who ranks in the 80th percentile in both categories. 

It's a remarkable feat, most recently accomplished by Buffalo Bills cornerback Ronald Darby in 2015 and San Diego Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett in 2014—two cornerbacks who each ranked among Pro Football Focus' top-10 corners in 2015.  

Two traits stand out when watching Ramsey, specifically during his time as a cornerback. 

The most noticeable of these traits is his ability to get physical with receivers in press coverage. This is a skill that typically sets the elite cornerbacks apart from the rest of the pack in the NFL, and Ramsey has shown flashes of ability to dominate in this area. 

The other favorable trait Ramsey possesses is his start-and-stop ability. 

This skill often goes overlooked when evaluating a cornerback, but it directly correlates to their ability to stay with a receiver in coverage. Inevitably the cornerback will take false steps in coverage from time to time—it's a receiver's job to make sure that happens—but the corners with elite start-and-stop quickness are the ones who can overcome these minor missteps. 

When looking at Ramsey the athlete and factoring in his versatility and the low-risk contract given to high draft picks, it's hard to make an argument that he isn't worthy of a top five, or even a top-three selection. 

Each of the five teams sitting at the top of the draft has room for Ramsey in its secondary, so it's likely a question of where in the top five he lands, not if he'll land there. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Jim Harbaugh Proposes Judge Judy's Supreme Court Nomination to President Obama

Jim Harbaugh is an outspoken, no-nonsense man who values outspoken, no-nonsense people.

One of those people happens to be daytime television's Judge Judy. 

In fact, the Michigan Wolverines football head coach has such a great appreciation for the well-known magistrate, he's taken to Twitter to campaign for her Supreme Court candidacy.

But make no mistake: His support isn't a recent development. 

Not only has Harbaugh, along with his father, Jack, been a guest on her show, he expressed a similar sentiment about Judge Judy having a seat on the country's highest court to Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman almost a year go:

I love Judge Judy. We have some great Supreme Court members, tremendous Supreme Court currently that we have, but I’d love to see Judge Judy on the Supreme Court. I just love everything about her.

To be certain, Judge Judy has years of courtroom experience.

Whether President Barack Obama agrees that the kind of experience she has merits a nomination is an entirely different matter.

[Twitter, h/t College Spun]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Luke Del Rio Granted Extra Year of Eligibility by NCAA

In the midst of a spring full of quarterback uncertainty, the Florida Gators received some reassurance Wednesday. 

A day after news broke the Gators suspended Treon Harris, the NCAA awarded Luke Del Rio a waiver allowing him an additional year of eligibility, per Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports.

Del Rio will be a redshirt sophomore this season with three years of eligibility remaining, as opposed to a redshirt junior. A UF spokesperson said the waiver was actually granted last year, per Anthony Chiang of the Palm Beach Post, even though Del Rio sat out the 2015 season after transferring from Oregon State. 

The son of Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio was a walk-on at Alabama in 2013 under current Florida offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, who was in the same role for the Crimson Tide at the time. 

Luke Del Rio also has connections to Florida quality control coach John Garrett, as he was at Oregon State when Garrett was the Beavers offensive coordinator. 

So even though the quarterback has bounced across the country and back among three schools, he has more familiarity in Gainesville than one might think.

And given the suspension of incumbent starter Harris and the transfer of Will Grier, the job might be Del Rio’s for the taking. 

Harris isn’t practicing this spring and is coming off a less than spectacular campaign, throwing for 1,676 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions with a 50.6 completion percentage in 10 starts. 

Purdue graduate transfer Austin Appleby and early enrollees Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask are among Del Rio's competition this spring. 

But it was Del Rio who took first-team reps at spring practice Wednesday, per Landon Watnick of Rivals.com.

Head coach Jim McElwain likes what he's seen thus far from the transfer product, per Graham Hall of the Gainesville Sun and Zach Abolverdi of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The Gators shocked the SEC by winning the Eastern division in their first year under McElwain and did so without a convincing quarterback. 

As the offensive-minded coach enters his second season with a full year under his belt and someone under center he’s showing confidence in, Del Rio is primed to make a great impression and seize the starting role heading into fall camp.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Pro Day 2016: Live Results for Derrick Henry, Reggie Ragland and More

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Jake Coker is hoping that his second major snub of the year works out as well the first.

That initial one, of course, was when the University of Alabama coaching staff decided not to start him against Ole Miss last season, which obviously worked out eventually as he came off the bench to secure the starting job before going on to win the Southeastern Conference and national championships.

Despite that, and finishing the 2015 season with the two best games of his career, Coker wasn’t among the 18 quarterbacks invited to last month’s NFL combine.

"Oh man, I don't wanna get started on that,” he said. “It's all good, man. It pissed me off, but hey, it didn’t change my work ethic or the way I’ve been working. It is what it is.”

On Wednesday, Coker finally got his chance to build on his Senior Bowl performance when he was one of 18 former Crimson Tide players that participated in Alabama’s annual pro day for NFL scouts and officials.

Among the most notable on hand were New England head coach Bill Belichick, Buffalo general manager Doug Whaley and both general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano from Indianapolis.

Even after splitting the contingency into two groups for some drills to try to speed things up, the workouts still took nearly four hours to complete. And that was with most of the players who attended the combine not participating in individual events, just position drills.

For example, running back Derrick Henry only did receiving drills in hopes of showing off that part his game. Like usual, he was impressive.

"Did I look bad?" he asked reporters after having just one drop on a red-zone attempt near the end of the lengthy workout.

"I'm good with running anything to catch the ball," Henry said. "Anything to make myself more versatile, more useful, I'm all for it."

While Henry was trying to prove he’s worthy of being a first-round selection, most of the other players are hoping to be drafted at all, or at least put themselves into strong position to land a training camp invitation as a free agent—like linebacker Dillon Lee.

“It’s hard to say someone has helped themselves out here, but I think, for instance, a kid like Lee, who didn’t get a combine invite, he comes out here and runs a 4.78,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “He’s a big, athletic kid. Special teams coaches are out here taking note of it. To me, those kinds of things are more important than whether Derrick Henry, you know, whatever he’s going to do.”

As for Coker, who does have the size and arm strength that NFL teams covet at the quarterback position, head coach Nick Saban had a theory for why he wasn’t invited to the combine.

“I think it’s because there were 97 juniors who came out [early],” Saban said. “I think that's an issue and a problem we need to address with the NFL because it's unfair to some of the seniors because all those guys get invited and some of them are not ranked as high as some of the seniors who they know more about."

Although Alabama didn’t release any results, here’s a quick look at how its former players fared during the school's pro day.

 

Jake Coker, Quarterback

Gil Brandt of NFL.com reported that Coker didn’t do any hard running because he’s having two screws in his foot removed next week, stemming from an injury he sustained last season.

Although Coker showed good arm strength and the ability to hit targets while on the move, he didn’t have many receivers to work with. Richard Mullaney was the only wide receiver, Michael Nysewander the lone tight end and other players had injury setbacks.

"Did some good things, did some bad things,” Coker said. “I know we were pretty clean on the intermediate routes and there were a few slip-ups on the deep balls that I wish I had back. But it was fun throwing to these guys, and I wish we could do it again."

Coker has been working with quarterbacks coach David Morris, and his former teammates said the change was noticeable with more zip on the ball and quicker, more precise passes.

"Jake has got a lot of upside," said Saban, adding, “I think he’s going to need to continue to develop. He’s got a great arm who can make all the throws. For his size he is very athletic, and I think a lot of people are going to like that.”

 

Derrick Henry, Running Back

Although Henry didn’t hit his target time in the 40 at the combine, where his official time was 4.54 seconds, he declined to run again and concentrated on the receiving drills.

Among the few knocks on Henry coming into pro day were critics claiming he can’t change direction well, he’s too much of a one-dimensional back and not the kind of player that’ll work well with certain blocking schemes.

Henry responded, "All I need is a line and I'm good."

“I think when you look at Derrick Henry you have to get past the style points and style issue,” Saban said. “He’s a unique guy with a unique style. He’s got great length, he’s got a great stiff arm, he’s really hard to tackle and he’s really, really fast. He can catch the ball. He’s a really good receiver. And he can block.

“So if you don’t have this sort of pigeon-hole perception of what a running back needs to be, and you can get past all that and just look at the production, you’ll be wise in terms of how you look at Derrick Henry and what his performance will be for you down the road.”

 

Cyrus Jones, Cornerback

Jones said he’s had “great feedback” after his strong performance at the combine, so his strategy at pro day was to try to build on that momentum.

“I think I did well,” he said. “Showed my quickness, coming in and out of breaks, good fluidity in my hips. I think it was a good workout.”

The teams Jones met with on Tuesday included the Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns and Patriots. He also has a private workout with a team scheduled for next week.

“I’m hearing anything from second [round] to early third,” he said. “I’m not really worried about it. I’m looking forward to the process and letting the chips fall where they may.”

 

Ryan Kelly, Center

Like the other players who went to the combine, Kelly only did some position drills on pro day. He’s quietly being hailed as a solid, no-risk pick during the first two days of the draft.

“I think Ryan Kelly might be in the late first round as a center,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said during a teleconference with reporters on Tuesday. “Ryan Kelly’s not a name you’re hearing a lot about but he could be the next Nick Mangold, Alex Mack. At worst a second-round pick, and I think Ryan Kelly’s going to play a long time in the NFL and anchor an offensive line for a number of years.”

Incidentally, Mack reportedly signed a five-year deal with Atlanta on Wednesday, per ESPN.com.

 

Dillon Lee, Linebacker

Lee appeared to be one of the big winners on Wednesday.

“It was a really big day,” he said. “I didn’t go to the combine, so it’s kind of all-in on this one day. So I was kind of nervous. But once I did my vert, my broad and my bench back-to-back real quick it was just kind of another day after that.”

Lee said his measurements were 6’3”, 240 pounds. He did 20 reps in the bench, 31 inches in the vertical jump and 113 inches in the broad jump. NFL.com reported his other scores as 4.83 and 4.77 seconds in the 40, 4.34 seconds in the 20-yard short shuttle and a three-cone time of 7.11 seconds.

 

D.J. Pettway, Defensive Lineman

The one player who wanted to improve on his combine numbers was Pettway, who most project to be a linebacker at the next level.

“I jumped another inch on my vert, I jumped 9’2” in my broad and I jumped 9’0” at the combine,” he said. “I ran I think a 4.82 40 and I ran a 4.99 at the combine. I did 18 on bench and I did 17 at the combine.”

NFL.com reported his 40 time at 4.89 seconds. Pettway weighed in at 271 pounds.

 

Reggie Ragland, Linebacker

After dropping his weight down to 247 pounds for the combine, Ragland showed that he could keep it off by tipping the scale at 248 on Wednesday.

“I'm just really trying to keep a great diet,” he said. “I cook most of my food. I bake most of my food. A lot of asparagus and broccoli and carrots and that type of stuff. I can't be frying it; it'll kill me.”

He got up just 13 reps in the bench press, and a scout asked him to run the three-cone drill after skipping it at the combine, finishing in 7.5 seconds. 

Ragland told reporters that he was meeting with the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings, but it was impossible not notice that Belichick conducted the linebacker position drills Wednesday.

 

Jarran Reed and A’Shawn Robinson, Defensive Linemen

Their positional drills along with Darren Lake and Pettway drew the most attention, and their hand strikes, which help indicate a player’s power, could be easily heard across the building.

“I love them,” Mayock said. “They’re both in my top five (for their position group). It’s the best interior line class I’ve ever seen, and both of those kids are going to play early and often and play for 10 years.”

Both potential first-round selections have been working with veteran line coach Pete Jenkins in Baton Rouge, trying to improve their pass-rushing skills in particular.

“It's nothing competitive,” Robinson said. “It's about pushing each other and getting each other better. It doesn't matter who goes first. We want the best for each other.”

 

Other Players

• Of the eight players who ran the 40 inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility, free safety Geno Matias-Smith appeared to have the fastest time in the 4.4-second range. “Geno’s been my roommate since my freshman year and we’re close,” Jones said. “It was good to see him come out here and showcase what he has to offer. Hopefully he’ll get a shot.”

• Hamstrings were a bit of an issue, with running back Kenyan Drake declining to run and linebacker Denzel Devall only running the 40 once. Tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith grimaced after his second attempt.

AL.com reported that reserve cornerback Bradley Sylve suffered a torn Achilles tendon on Tuesday.

NFL.com reported that tackle Dominick Jackson ran the 40 in 5.4 seconds and had a good positional workout.

• The only event reporters could hear the results called out for was the broad jump, led by Lee’s 9’5”, two inches better than Mullaney and cornerback Jabriel Washington.

• Among the former players who attended were Josh Chapman, Marcell Dareus and T.J Yeldon.

 

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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Damani Staley Picks South Carolina, Follows Footsteps of NFL Father Duce Staley

Roughly 20 years ago, South Carolina had a Staley whose primary objective was to score touchdowns. The Gamecocks are now preparing for a Staley who's all about preventing them.

South Carolina landed its first defensive pledge of the 2017 class Wednesday morning in Damani Staley, a 3-star outside linebacker from Ridge View High School. Staley is the son of former NFL running back Duce Staley, who played his final two years of college ball for the Gamecocks before going on to play 10 years in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The younger Staley, listed on his Hudl bio at 6'2" and 215 pounds, is the fourth member of South Carolina's 2017 class. He chose South Carolina over offers from Georgia Tech and East Carolina.

And according to a local interview, the decision wasn't a difficult one, particularly after picking up the offer from the Gamecocks—his very first—on Jan. 22.

"They have been my No. 1 choice ever since they first offered me," Staley told Lou Bezjak of The State. "I always dreamed of going there since I was little."

Gamecocks fans are excited to have a legacy, as Duce Staley was impressive during his stint in a South Carolina uniform. After earning junior college All-American honors during a two-year stint at Itawamba Community College in Fulton, Mississippi, he went on to rush for 1,582 yards in two seasons at South Carolina, including 1,116 yards his senior year.

Look for the younger Staley to force the exact opposite when he's on the field.

As an outside linebacker with a defensive end's mentality, Staley used his quickness and tenacity to frustrate offensive linemen and earn multiple sacks as a junior. He finished last season at Ridge View with 88 tackles and 21 sacks, according to MaxPreps.com. Add the sacks he had as a sophomore, and he has 27 entering his senior season.

Despite being only 215 pounds, Staley is quite comfortable putting his hands in the dirt and playing as a pass-rushing end. Look for him to be a reliable outside linebacker, however, in Will Muschamp's defense when he arrives on campus. Staley's pass-rushing ability and explosiveness off the line makes him a versatile option in a defensive scheme.

"I'm excited for [Staley]. He is definitely a leader and excited to see him develop," Ridge View coach Parry Parks told The State. "He has all the tools, the frame, motor and skill set. He can be special."

Staley joins a South Carolina class that includes fellow in-state prospect and 3-star tight end Will Register and junior college wide receiver Stephen Guidry, who should stretch the field at 6'4" and 190 pounds. Staley also will be reunited with a former Ridge View player in offensive tackle Dennis Daley, who currently is at Georgia Military College.

If he has the drive his father had, Staley could be one of those athletes who many will forget was a 3-star athlete out of high school. In addition to the 88 tackles and 21 sacks as a junior, Staley—who told The State that he was never pushed into playing for his father's alma mater—recorded 22 tackles for loss and had at least two sacks in a game six times.

Of his 88 tackles, 57 were unassisted. That says a lot about his tackling ability and his overall skill set.

Don't be surprised if South Carolina fans of old are one day speaking just as highly of Damani Staley as they did when Duce Staley was in uniform.

 

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

 

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Cordell Broadus, Snoop Dogg's Son, Reportedly to Return to UCLA Football Program

Cordell Broadus reportedly is returning to the UCLA football team this spring after leaving the program in August 2015, according to Tracy Pierson of Scout.com.

Broadus, the son of rapper and entertainer Snoop Dogg, will reportedly be returning for UCLA's spring practice on March 29, though he'll now be a walk-on rather than returning on a scholarship. Broadus had remained at UCLA as a student.

He quit football to pursue a filmmaking degree, per Pierson, and posted the following on Instagram on his father's birthday on October 20:   

But Broadus appeared to hint on March 3 in no uncertain terms that he would be returning to the football team:

He also posted an image to Instagram on Wednesday of a workout on a football field:

Broadus was a 4-star recruit and the 26th-ranked wide receiver in the 2015 class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings, so his return to UCLA is potentially a major plus for the program. At 6'2" and 200 pounds, he has both good size and speed at the position and the ability to elevate above defenders to high-point the ball.

If Broadus is indeed committed once again to playing football, he should compete for playing time in 2016 and bolster the Bruins' receiving corps.

 

You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.

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Cordell Broadus, Snoop Dogg's Son, Reportedly to Return to UCLA Football Program

Cordell Broadus reportedly is returning to the UCLA football team this spring after leaving the program in August 2015, according to Tracy Pierson of Scout.com...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

4-Star Daniel Wright Talks Favorites, Visit Plans and Timeline in Recruitment

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — With more than 30 offers to his credit heading into the spring, 4-star safety Daniel Wright has his share of options to choose from as far as taking visits in the coming months.

However, the main players in his recruitment are starting to take shape.

The nation’s No. 8-ranked safety and the No. 99-ranked player overall hopes to get to a handful of schools soon. “I’m going to FSU, LSU, Clemson, Auburn and Oklahoma,” Wright told Bleacher Report.

Wright, who is the younger brother of Bucs safety and former Florida Gators star Major Wright, admits that one school is standing out to him at the moment.

“I’d say FSU is really going after me,” Wright said. “[Florida State is] a top-notch program. They are showing me what I should do if I come there and what it takes to be successful up there. I have [linebackers coach] Bill Miller, [defensive graduate assistant] Jeremiah Wilson and [head] coach Jimbo Fisher has been talking to me a lot.”

Additionally, Wright has been studying one former Seminoles star defensive back closely in the offseason.

“Jalen Ramsey is one of the top defensive backs I’ve been studying. He reminds me of myself since he did both track and football. It’s nice to be able to relate to him,” Wright said.

While the ‘Noles are in the driver's seat, Wright isn’t in any hurry to make a decision.

He plans to take his official visits and then decide either at the Under Armour All-America Game or wait until national signing day.

Aside from Florida State, Clemson and Notre Dame are two programs he feels will net official visits from him in the fall. 

Regardless of when he decides and where he lands, Wright noted that his brother equipped him with the proper knowledge necessary to handle a process that can get crazy at times.

“He just told me how fast-paced it can be, so I have to slow it down and take my time with it. It’s about managing your time and doing the right thing. I just want to build on the advice he gave me,” Wright said.

When it comes to making a decision, there’s one key factor he will be looking for in the program he eventually lands with.

“In a winning program, you need a family and chemistry,” Wright explained. “You have to have that bond on and off the field to build a championship team. That’s what it takes and that’s what I’m looking for.”

 

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

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College Football's Top 25 QBs Entering 2016 Spring Practice

Quarterback play remains the single most important aspect of any offense in college football. Without an effective passer, it's hard to succeed in today's era of uptempo attacks and prolific scoring.

Thankfully, the game is as loaded as ever with great quarterbacks, even after a good number of the best from the 2015 season have moved on.

We've ranked the 25 best quarterbacks in college football as spring practice gets underway across the country. These players are ranked based on their past performance and expected impact this fall when the games begin. Think we've got it wrong or missed someone? Let us know in the comments section.

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College Football Coaches with Most Job Security

Job security is not what it used to be in today's world of college football, where falling just short of expectations or one bad season can lead to a quick firing.

After a season in which Georgia dismissed Mark Richt after averaging nearly 10 wins per year, the sense of job security is changing across the country. 

Auburn's Gus Malzahn and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin find themselves on the hot seat just a couple of years removed from huge seasons. LSU's Les Miles was almost on his way out late last year. Penn State's James Franklin and Texas' Charlie Strong both face a crucial 2016 for their futures.

But on the other side, a handful of college football's best coaches can enjoy a strong sense of security heading into the 2016 season. Thanks to consistent success and long contract extensions, there are those who won't have to sweat that much even if their teams dip in quality this fall.

Here are the college football head coaches who have the most job security right now—a "Secure 16." These selections were based on longevity, records and contract lengths with their current schools. Some, such as the ones in the above photograph, are all too obvious, while others are underrated for what they've built at their respective programs.

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Michigan Football: Ranking the Hardest Games of the 2016 Schedule

An early look at Michigan football's 2016 schedule bodes well for the Wolverines' hopes of competing for a national title.

Overall, Jim Harbaugh's team has a manageable slate that begins against a trio of favorable nonconference opponents in Hawaii, UCF and Colorado.

The competition level steadily rises as the year progresses, however. As of now, Michigan's three toughest games come after a bye week on Oct. 15 and are each on the road.

If the Wolverines ultimately reach the College Football Playoff, they'll certainly have earned it following the difficult final five outings of the regular season.

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Why Lovie Smith Will Be the Big Ten West's Jim Harbaugh

Despite all of the excitement in Champaign that accompanied his hiring, it didn't take long for the elephant in the room to make an appearance during Lovie Smith's introductory press conference as Illinois' new head coach on Monday.

Smith wasn't on Twitter—at least not yet.

And in the college football world in 2016, that's a problem for the Fighting Illini head coach, who now must use publicity—and not his team owner's checkbook—as his primary recruiting tool.

"It's a misnomer that I'm some old guy that doesn't know what's going on," Smith asserted.

While it didn't take long for the 57-year-old to send his first tweet, it wasn't hard to figure out what his message will be.

Recruiting—at least in an official capacity—hasn't been one of Smith's responsibilities since 1995, but his two-decade absence from the college ranks could ultimately work to his advantage. Pitching his career in the NFL, where he spent 11 seasons as a head coach, Smith will attempt to sell his pro football experience as a means to preparing prospects for professional football.

"Lovie is going to be a great recruiter," Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman said, referencing Smith's NFL experience. "There’s not a living room in America that’s not going to open up their doors to Lovie Smith and his coaching staff."

It's not a new strategy, and it's one that's already worked well for the likes of Nick Saban, Pete Carroll and Jim Mora. Most recently, Jim Harbaugh has capitalized on his four seasons on the sideline of the San Francisco 49ers by signing the nation's fifth-ranked recruiting class at Michigan.

And while the Illinois program doesn't possess the same pedigree from which Alabama, USC, UCLA or the Wolverines benefit, Smith's success and tenure at the professional level supersedes that of his pro-to-college predecessors. The former Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach's .506 winning percentage was better than both Saban's, Carroll's and Mora's before their returns to the college ranks, and his 11 seasons as a head coach in the NFL nearly tripled Harbaugh's tenure in San Francisco.

Only seven coaches in history have served as the head coach in a Super Bowl before making the move to the college sidelines. Along with Harbaugh, Smith now becomes the second one still active as a head coach to do so.

That's not to say that Smith will win national championships in Champaign as Saban's done at Alabama and Carroll did at USC, or even that he'll put the Fighting Illini on the same trajectory both Michigan and UCLA appear to be on under the direction of their pro-caliber head coaches. But their success in selling NFL experience bodes well for Smith, who claims he won't have to knock off much rust on the recruiting trail.

"I’ve been recruiting and selling every year I’ve been a football coach, selling the way we’re going to win football games, asking free agents to come on board. And recruiting is just that," said Smith. "You go into homes, and people will trust you or they won’t, try to get them to buy into what you believe. And I feel like I can do that."

Smith doesn't have much of an official recruiting track record to fall back on, although in his last season coaching in college, he helped lure star defensive back Gary Berry to Ohio State in what many considered at the time to be the nation's top class. In the NFL, however, Smith did prove to be quite the "recruiter," consistently signing top-level free agents including Julius Peppers, Tim Jennings and Robert Garza during his nine seasons with the Bears and Josh McCown and Michael Johnson in his two-year stint with the Bucs.

In particular, Smith's tenure in Chicago should help bolster his recruiting efforts, as he spent nearly a decade in the spotlight of the city he plans on making Illinois' top recruiting region.

"When you’re in the state, you follow your professional football team in the state," Smith said of his time with the Bears. "I think most of them know who I am, and I think they will feel pretty good about [us] once we get our program in place and what it’ll look like."

Like Harbaugh, Smith should also benefit from a diverse set of potential recruiting pipelines that not only includes the Midwest but his home state of Texas and also Florida, thanks to his two years in Tampa Bay. Even for recruits too young to remember Smith's Super Bowl trip at the end of the 2006 season, his role in the development of first-overall pick Jameis Winston will be just another weapon in what's beginning to look like a war chest of recruiting assets.

With a boost in salary that will pay his assistants the third-highest salary pool in the Big Ten behind Michigan and Ohio State, Smith already appears to be eyeing an NFL-caliber staff, just as Harbaugh did when he arrived in Ann Arbor 14 months ago.

According to The Champaign Room, the new Fighting Illini coach has targeted several NFL assistants for his staff, including former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Sherman, 49ers assistant Hardy Nickerson and Jacksonville Jaguars assistant Luke Butkus.

As for Twitter, Smith's crossed that off his list off as well, creating an account, following prospects and sending his fist tweet.

He may not display the same personality Harbaugh does in 140 characters or fewer, but the core of their approaches will very much be the same as each tries to sell an NFL background that sets them apart from the rest of the Big Ten.

With that will likely come rumors of Smith one day making a return back to the pros with each annual NFL coaching carousel. Smith, however, has already asserted that this is the start of the "third quarter" in his coaching career, as he attempts to become the Big Ten West's—and perhaps eventually, college football's—premier pros-to-prep head coach.

"I signed a six-year contract," Smith said. "I’m not going anywhere."

 

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.

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5-Star Tedarrell Slaton Breaks Down Recruitment, Talks Bond with Jim Harbaugh

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — It’s no secret that Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has made the talent-rich state of Florida a top priority in the Wolverines’ recruiting efforts.

One player he has targeted in the 2017 cycle is 5-star offensive lineman Tedarrell Slaton from American Heritage High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The 6’4 ½”, 338-pounder, who rates as the nation’s No. 6 offensive tackle and the No. 22 player overall in the 2017 class, admits that the Wolverines are the school coming after him the hardest.

“I want to say Michigan,” Slaton told Bleacher Report. “I talked to Coach Harbaugh last night on Twitter. It was good. We talked about me getting back up there to get the full experience.”

Slaton said there’s something about Harbaugh and his approach that makes him feel very comfortable with the direction the Wolverines program is headed.

“[Harbaugh is] a nice dude. I like him. His demeanor sets him apart with a lot of things. He says a lot with his body language. He’s just a fun guy to talk to,” Slaton said.

With the spring and summer months usually earmarked as times to take visits, Slaton and his teammates at American Heritage figure to have a busy schedule.

First up will be a bus tour Slaton and his teammates take to a number of different schools—although when and where they visit is still to be determined.

“We have this big college tour coming up where our offensive coordinator [at AHHS] takes most of our OL and some of our skill players and we drive and visit different colleges,” Slaton explained. I have no idea [which schools we are visiting yet].”

However, there are a handful of schools he hopes to get to before his senior season begins with the Patriots.

“I want to visit Alabama and Ole Miss. I want to go back to Michigan so that I can get the full tour compared to what I had last time. I want to go see Virginia Tech,” he said.

In-state powers Florida, Florida State and Miami also figure to be in the mix with Slaton in the coming months.

While he doesn’t have a timeline in mind for making a decision, Slaton has one clear thing he’s looking for in a program he eventually commits to. 

“I want to see how the coaching staff brings me in. I just want to see the way they process things and handle certain situations,” Slaton said. "Here, my coaches [at American Heritage], they handle things a different way. They handle each kid differently. They never do the same thing with different kids. When its game time, they stay calm. They know how to approach things in a way that relates to the entire team.

"That’s what I’m looking for at the next level.”

 

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

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Tennessee Football: Injured Vols Who Will Be Missed the Most This Spring

This is an important spring for the Tennessee Volunteers, as a lot of hype surrounds the football program entering the 2016 season.

That's why it's vital that the Vols stay healthy.

Well, the good news is they're not quite as banged up as they were last spring, but they aren't exactly healthy, either. Coach Butch Jones noted at his introductory spring press conference that 11 Vols won't be available throughout March and April drills.

Some of those players, such as junior All-SEC defensive end Derek Barnett and junior star guard Jashon Robertson, aren't such big deals. UT knows what it has with those guys, and they will be written in ink into the starting lineup once they're healthy.

Neither is expected to miss any time once fall drills start.

But because of injuries along the offensive front, for instance, the Vols will try some different looks and position shuffling this spring. 

"Starting today, we'll start that process of evaluating all positions and rotating people at all positions," offensive coordinator Mike DeBord said, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel's Dustin Dopirak. "We've always said we're going to play the five best guys. There might be somebody on the right side that goes over and gets reps at the left side, etc."

Backups getting extended looks could wind up being a positive depth-wise in the long run in the event of injuries. For instance, as many injuries as UT faced last year, players such as Shy Tuttle and Dylan Wiesman got long looks last spring and benefited from them.

For other players who are hurt, however, there's no benefit at all. Some Vols are at crucial stages of their development. Others were going to be relied upon, and their absence will hurt the team considerably.

Tennessee needs them all to come back healthy and ready to contribute to a season that could be special. Jones noted that he believes everybody will be ready to go for the fall, so that's good news. But how much will the absences hurt UT this spring?

Let's take a look at the injuries that the Vols will feel the most.

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10 Events to Get College Football Fans Through the Offseason

College football is a wonderful sport. It’s full of incredible rivalries, talented players, passionate fans and picturesque, stunning autumn scenes that inspire flowery prose and keep fans coming back year after year, generation after generation.

Trouble is, there’s a lot more of the year without college football games than there is with college football games. The season stretches from early September to early January thanks to the College Football Playoff, but it’s still shorter than either college basketball or college baseball. That means college football fans have a lot of time to fill in the cold, dark offseason and think about their teams and the season ahead.

How do fans fill the time? It’s not easy, but we have some suggestions. Here are 10 events that can help get fans through the college football offseason.

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Ohio State Football: Evaluating the Buckeyes' Most Important Position Battles

Ohio State officially kicked off its spring practice on Tuesday, and Urban Meyer set out on the enormous task of replacing the 16 starters he lost from last year's team.

The Buckeyes, fresh off a 12-1 2015 campaign that actually fell short of their enormous expectations, will look completely different this fall without superstars Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa and Darron Lee suiting up for the Scarlet and Gray.

With so many holes to fill before kicking off the 2016 season against Bowling Green this September, Meyer is anticipating more competition than he's seen during his 15-year head coaching career.

"This is uncharted waters for me," Meyer said, according to Eric Seger of Eleven Warriors.

While the depth chart won't be finalized until fall camp, here are the most important position battles that will take place in spring practice.

 

Running Back

Ezekiel Elliott was the driving force during Ohio State's historic run through the 2014 postseason, and he was the only consistent presence in an offense that failed to establish an identity in 2015. 

With Elliott's departure to the NFL, the Buckeyes need to figure out what to do in a backfield that's fortunate enough to return J.T. Barrett at quarterback.

Over the last four seasons, the Buckeyes have identified lead backs and leaned on them heavily. From 2012-13, that role was filled by Carlos Hyde, who rumbled his way to 2,689 total yards and 35 touchdowns. Over the last two years, Elliott amassed 4,125 yards and 41 touchdowns.

But Meyer hinted on Tuesday that it could be a running-back-by-committee approach this fall.

“As I see it right now, you’ve got four guys carrying the ball for us in the fall,” Meyer said, via Tim Shoemaker of Eleven Warriors. “The two running backs and then Dontre and Curtis.”

The two running backs he referenced—Mike Weber and Bri'onte Dunn—will get long looks this spring. Both are in the bruising, bulldozing mold of Hyde, and they'll bring the physical edge back to Ohio State's running game.

Dontre Wilson and Curtis Samuel, who will rotate in from the H-back spot, will provide the change of pace from the perimeter. 

Weber, who surged in fall camp last year before a knee injury derailed his progress, has a great opportunity to continue the legacy left by Hyde and Elliott.

 

Wide Receiver

The wide receiver unit is undergoing a complete overhaul after starters Michael Thomas and Jalin Marshall defected to the NFL early and Braxton Miller graduated.

That mass exodus has left the Buckeyes completely void of experience on the perimeter, as Samuel, Corey Smith and Noah Brown are all set to return in 2016. Those three will all be held out or limited in spring practice, though, as they're rehabbing from various injuries, per Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com.

Those injuries will open up huge opportunities for some of the younger guys in the unit. Redshirt freshman Torrance Gibson and true freshman Austin Mack, who graduated high school early to participate in spring drills, will be in the mix to fill Thomas' vacated spot.

But without three key contributors, Ohio State won't be able to solidify its perimeter attack until the fall.

"Guys we're really counting on that can't go because of injury, we have a lot of work to do," Meyer said on Tuesday, via Lesmerises. "That's the thing that kicks you in the teeth."

 

Safety

The safety position is facing the same obstacle as wide receiver after juniors Tyvis Powell and Vonn Bell burned their final year of eligibility to make an early jump to the NFL.

The pair served as anchors in Ohio State's pass defense over the last two years. After the secondary bottomed out in 2013, Powell and Bell took over and fueled a turnaround in 2014. Last season, they were the last line of defense in a pass defense that ranked 16th nationally.

Erick Smith and Cam Burrows should factor into the mix this fall, but both were limited to open spring practice, per Lesmerises.

That opened the door for a pair of underclassmen who looked good on the first day of camp, according to Scout.com's James Grega Jr.:

With Ohio State needing to find another corner to start opposite Gareon Conley this fall, the defense really needs a solid pair of safeties to tighten up the secondary.

 

All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.

David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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