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The Commitment: 4-Star ATH Lamar Jackson Reveals School in 'Decision Nightmare'

Four-star athlete and physical phenom Lamar Jackson has finally decided where he'll play college football next year. Watch the star from Elk Grove, California, make his announcement in the video above.

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Kyle Porter to Texas: Longhorns Land 4-Star RB Prospect

Running back Kyle Porter is reportedly staying in Texas. The coveted recruit made the decision to join the Longhorns on Tuesday.

 

Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman passed along the news, citing a tweet from one of Porter's high school teammates. Mike Roach of Horn Sports also confirmed the commitment.

Texas head coach Charlie Strong provided his take:

Davis noted the impact of picking up Porter's commitment on the Longhorns' overall class:

Porter is a 4-star prospect who rates just inside the Top 275 in the 2016 class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. More importantly for Texas, he checks in as the No. 11 running back among the incoming group, and it managed to keep him in state.

The Katy, Texas, standout didn't spend much time focused on recruiting during his final season of high school football. That meant he had a lot to learn about the Longhorns during the final weeks before national signing day, as he explained to EJ Holland of 247Sports in January: "I don't have much time to make a decision, so I really want to see what Texas has to offer. I'm going to go in there with a lot of questions about the program, the system and everything. I just need to learn as much about it as possible."

Clearly, Texas impressed him enough during his visit to earn his commitment.

Porter is a dual-threat rusher, equally capable of running between the tackles or becoming a useful piece in the passing game. The transition for running backs typically goes smoother than most other positions, which means he could make a quick impact, as well.

There should be plenty of snaps available in the Longhorns backfield. The departure of senior Johnathan Gray opens the door for Porter to earn some playing time alongside the likes of D'Onta Foreman and Chris Warren III, if he can impress right out of the gate.

Even if he's forced to wait before seeing the field regularly, his long-term outlook is positive, and it's certainly a nice addition for Texas ahead of signing day Wednesday.

 

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2016 QB Recruits Most Likely to See Field as True Freshmen

Getting major minutes at quarterback as a true freshman is quite difficult, especially at the Power Five level.

For every Josh Rosen or Brett Rypien, dozens of highly regarded quarterback recruits spend their first years way down on the depth chart or with a redshirt.

But this talented 2016 quarterback class has a handful of signal-callers who could make an instant impact at their new school by either battling for the starting job immediately or nailing down a key role as a backup. Several are already on campus, preparing for spring practices and their first opportunities to climb the depth chart at the college level. 

Here are seven 2016 quarterbacks who are the most likely to see the field as true freshmen this fall. These incoming freshmen aren't No. 1 contenders for their respective starting jobs this far in advance—and some might still take redshirts—but they all appear to have the ability and opportunity to get some sort of early playing time.

Which 2016 true freshman quarterback do you think will have the most success in the upcoming season? Tell us in the comments below.

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Which New Head Coaches Face Most Pressure to Nail First Recruiting Classes?

The furious sprint that started in the month of January toward national signing day is almost over, and in just a short time thousands of players will be putting pen to paper for their college choices.

While every head coach wants to nail down a top-notch group out of the Class of 2016, those who are taking over new programs face a different kind of pressure. They don’t have the luxury of time to recruit their kind of players, and many also have to deal with the fact that they’re changing offensive or defensive systems.

For some, one great first signing class could lay the foundation for a successful tenure. For others, a bunch of misses as they scramble to cobble together a group of high school players could mean their tenure is over before it began.

Here are eight head coaches who face the most pressure to nail their first recruiting classes.

 

Kalani Sitake, BYU

Like many others on this list, Sitake is a first-time head coach who has had to make the transition from having a narrower focus when it comes to recruiting to seeing the whole picture.

It helps tremendously that he is coaching at a place he knows well as an alum and in an area where he spent nearly a decade as an assistant. Also, the Cougars do draw upon a narrower pool of recruits than other schools, which helps in some respects for Sitake but can also make it tough to nail down evaluations.

Then there’s the roster management that must occur by default each and every year, starting with this year’s crop of recruits. With various players coming and going from their two-year missions, it can sometimes be difficult to truly get a sense of how the roster will look until fall camp really gets underway.

Sometimes things work out (see Mangum, Tanner) but it’s another thing on Sitake’s plate that other head coaches don’t have to deal with as much. While Sitake does inherit a solid team coming off a good year, he’ll have to lock down a number of contributors with this recruiting class, because the 2016 schedule he faces is likely the toughest in the country (featuring six Power Five teams, plus Toledo, Boise State and Cincinnati).

 

Kirby Smart, Georgia

Like Sitake, Smart returns to his alma mater as a first-time head coach. The biggest difference between them, however, might be the simple fact that expectations are sky high in Athens.

After all, Mark Richt was shown the door after going 9-3 last season and despite signing a pair of top-eight classes in the 247Sports Team Rankings the past two years. In short, the bar is very, very high for Georgia, which puts a lot of pressure on Smart.

The good news is that the biggest pieces of the 2016 class are already on campus: 5-star QB Jacob Eason and 5-star TE Isaac Nauta. Landing those two were big signs that Smart and his staff could hold their own despite some serious challengers.

The Bulldogs will be considered one of the favorites to win the SEC East again in 2016 and a top-notch first effort from Smart on the recruiting trail and strong finish on Wednesday could help make a division title a reality.

 

Mike Norvell, Memphis

Norvell is a sharp young coach who faces a big challenge in his first head coaching job on two fronts.

First off, the fact that the Tigers have won 19 games the past two seasons after being one of the worst FBS programs in the country results in a very high bar for the team’s new head coach. The Tigers don’t just have to maintain a high level of play in the transition from Justin Fuente to Norvell but also have to do so in one of the most competitive conferences in the country in the AAC.

Add in the fact that several key pieces from Memphis’ recent run will be lost to graduation or the NFL (especially QB Paxton Lynch), and the pressure will be on to bring in a class that is both deep and filled with some early contributors.

Norvell has already brought in several JUCO recruits to help fill the gaps, including landing former Tennessee quarterback Riley Ferguson.

 

Barry Odom, Missouri

Odom has landed his dream job, but things haven’t exactly been smooth sailing in Columbia since he took over.

The recent Maty Mauk incident drew plenty of negative headlines, and the school is still dealing with the issues caused by the recent protests (in which the football team had a prominent role). Having to recruit in that kind of climate is difficult for any head coach, much less a first-time one in the extremely tough SEC.

The other big thing that puts pressure on Odom is the fact that he’s a defensive-minded coach who needs to fix the Tigers offense…badly.

Only six of the team’s commitments are on that side of the ball as of Feb. 2, which that might cause Odom to make a false start before his career gets going if he can’t close on a high note with some offensive reinforcements.

 

Dino Babers, Syracuse

Babers was hired to bring Baylor’s prolific style of offense to the Carrier Dome, which means finding players who will fit in perfectly with what he wants to do on that side of the ball.

Upstate New York isn’t exactly fertile recruiting ground for athletes who make plays in space, but Babers has done a good job expanding the recruiting base to key areas around the country. The ACC is a big step up from the MAC when it comes to recruiting, but it seems as though the Orange staff has come in with a good plan and have followed through on it.

It might take a season or two for the fast-paced offense to really take hold at Syracuse, but if it does, finding some big-time playmakers in the 2016 class will be a big reason why.

 

Scott Frost, UCF

Like Babers, Frost was brought in to juice an offense that seemed to go sideways more often last season than it went forward.

He’ll have a big advantage of not being able to go far to find fast athletes and will be able to sell the fact that he will run the Oregon version of the spread in a state full of college teams running more pro-style offenses.

Still, it’s undeniable that Frost is going to have to dig the Knights out of a big hole, given how bad they were last season and how competitive their conference is. That means finding players who can play right away as freshmen.

 

Clay Helton, USC

The past five recruiting class ranks for USC are, according to 247Sports composite team rankings: No. 2, No. 10, No. 13, No. 9, No. 3. That's despite turmoil at the head coaching spot and some brutal NCAA sanctions.

In short, few schools recruit as well as the Trojans do, and the result is a very, very high level that Helton must reach with his first recruiting class.

What is strange about USC this season is that there is such little buzz about the team heading into Wednesday’s festivities. It figures to be a smaller class than most, but it’s a bit abnormal to see the class sitting third in the Pac-12 and not in on as many 5-stars as past years.

The head coach at USC always has plenty of pressure put on him, and that is the case on signing day as much as it is on the first day of the season.

 

Bronco Mendenhall, Virginia

Mendenhall was one of the most left-field hires of the offseason, which puts a little pressure on him to land a quality class as he attempts to remake the Cavaliers.

The fact of the matter is that he seems like such a fish out of water after spending so much time at BYU. Sure, the Cougars recruited nationally under Mendenhall, but things are a bit different when you need to focus more regionally at Virginia.

Further complicating things is that most of the BYU staff went east with its head coach, so there might not be a ton of strong local ties present for this first recruiting class.

Given how competitive the ACC has become on the recruiting trail, Mendenhall has his work cut out for him trying to make a dent in such a short time period with his first class.

 

Bryan Fischer is a national college football writer for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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Do Top 10 Recruiting Classes Really Equal Championships?

Whether you want to admit it or not, recruiting at an elite level is critical in competing for and winning a national championship. Yes, coaching matters, too. So does player development. We can be nuanced and honest enough to understand there's not one factor that overrides all else when it comes to putting together a championship-caliber team. If you want to head down that road, lucky breaks play a role, too. 

However, combining individual factors like those can't lead to blanket statements like "recruiting stars don't matter." Of course they do. The star system is an inexact science, but it matters all the same. 

Just look at the string of recent national champions. Every single one recruited annually at a high level. Alabama, in fact, has taken its dynasty and made it twofold. There's the dynasty on the field and the dynasty on the recruiting trail. 

"Nobody has had a recruiting dynasty like this in college football," Mike Farrell, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals, told Bleacher Report's Lars Anderson last year. 

In the table below are the last 10 national title winners and their previous four recruiting classes dating from four years before (Year -4) to the year immediately preceding (Year -1).

With the exception of Auburn in 2010, every single championship winner averaged a top-10 class in the four years leading up to their big win.

However, the Tigers had a once-in-a-lifetime player in quarterback Cam Newton—who, by the way, is likely going to be this year's NFL MVP, is playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday and who is, according to B/R's Mike Freeman, "the most dangerous quarterback weapon we've ever seen." Still, Auburn averaged a top-15 class for this exercise. 

There are variances, of course. First of all, not all recruiting services rank players and classes the same. Where 247Sports and Rivals rank the same class could vary. Secondly, as Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports rightly explained, "whether your favorite school finishes fourth or seventh is a largely arbitrary distinction. ... ultimately those are both really good classes." 

The distinction, as Mandel goes on to write, is "between fifth and 35th." 

Additionally, claiming that recruiting matters doesn't instantly mean a program is going to win a national championship. LSU, Texas and USC are recent examples of underachieving programs in the star-system era. Conversely, one could look at programs like Baylor, Michigan State and Stanford as overachievers. 

These are outliers, though. And, for the record, the aforementioned overachievers have a whopping zero national championships in the star-system era among them.

The point is if a program routinely recruits at a top-10 level, it puts itself in a better position to win a national title. This is what Josh McCuistion of SoonerScoop.com firmly believes:  

Based on the above chart, McCuistion isn't wrong. Paul Myerberg of USA Today, on the other hand, puts that magic number at 15: 

There's a large degree of truth in both statements. Auburn has already been discussed, but there's another example that somewhat supports Myerberg's assertion: Clemson, which was No. 1 in the eyes of the College Football Playoff selection committee last season.

Over the last four recruiting cycles, the Tigers averaged a recruiting rank of 14th, which puts them just inside the cutoff point. Clemson, of course, came oh so close to winning it all. 

In short, top-10 classes are as close as you're going to get to a sure thing when it comes to translating raw talent to national championships. Top-15 classes are probably the limit. 

With that in mind, who fits the mold for 2016-17?

A quick glance across this year's 247Sports recruiting rankings shows a lot of the usual suspects: LSU, Ohio State, Florida State, Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, etc.

Historically speaking, those are the types of programs capable of putting together top-10 to top-15 classes. In other words, don't be surprised if one of those teams hoists the playoff trophy next January. 

As Gerry Hamilton of ESPN.com notes, national title-winning teams have a history of recruiting extremely well in the year leading right up to the championship: 

So the next time you hear someone say national signing day is overrated or that stars don't matter, tell them to look at the numbers, because they say something different entirely.

Is recruiting a perfect formula? Absolutely not. Nothing in sports is predicted with 100 percent accuracy. 

But the correlation is there. That's what matters.  

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports

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No. 1 2016 QB Takes On Future Michigan QB in Obstacle Course Through B/R Office

Recently, 2016 stud quarterback recruits Brandon Peters (Michigan) and Shea Patterson (Ole Miss) stopped by the Bleacher Report office to duke it out in the grandaddy of them all: the office obstacle course.

Watch the two future stars face off in the video above.

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Jacob Park to Iowa State: Latest Comments and Reaction

After coming out on the losing end of a quarterback battle at the University of Georgia and subsequently leaving the school, Jacob Park "plans to sign" with Iowa State.  

According to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports, the soon-to-be sophomore is looking for a new lease on life in the Big 12.

"I feel blessed to have another opportunity," Park said on Tuesday. "I know a lot of people don't get one shot at it. I'm getting two. I'm going to make the best of it."

Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register believes landing Park could turn out to be a major coup for the Cyclones:

After current Georgia starting signal-caller Greyson Lambert transferred from Virginia to Georgia last summer, Park decided to leave Athens, per Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I just want to say thank (you) dawg nation and everyone else who made my stay in Athens special," Park said on social media. "Never will forget the people and friends. Time to move on and turn the page to the next chapter. Go Dawgs."

According to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, Park attended Trident Technical College this past season rather than playing football at a junior college.

The former South Carolina Mr. Football honoree was a redshirt freshman in 2014 during his only season with the Bulldogs.

Per Wiltfong, Park was rated as the No. 5 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2014, and he is excited about the opportunity to play for the Cyclones:

Coach (Matt) Campbell, he's the most down to earth coach I've ever met. Coach (Alex) Golesh is like talking to my big brother. (Passing game coordinator) Coach (Jim) Hofher is like the best teacher. I spent 45 minutes in the room for him for two days and learned more in those 45-minute sessions than I did in my whole time at Georgia.

When I showed up on campus they treated me like family and I felt like I was at home. They have a good situation to me at quarterback walking in the door, all signs are pointing that this is has to be the right decision.

With Sam B. Richardson no longer in the picture and Joel Lanning failing to establish himself as the definitive starter as a sophomore, Park has a golden opportunity to step in and start right away for Iowa State.

Park has his work cut out for him since the Cyclones haven't won more than three games since 2012 and haven't had a winning record since 2009, but he should receive the playing time he covets.

It clearly wasn't going to happen for him at Georgia, but Park now has a chance to show the Bulldogs why he deserved a longer look under center.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Where Do Auburn, Alabama Turn After No. 1 Recruit Rashan Gary Trims List?

The race to land 5-star defensive tackle and No. 1 overall recruit Rashan Gary is down to two final suitors in Clemson and Michigan, according to Scout’s Brian Dohn.

With the news that they are no longer in the running for the nation’s premier defensive tackle prospect, SEC powers Alabama and Auburn—who were in Gary’s previous group of contenders—have to look elsewhere for help along the defensive line.

Both the Crimson Tide and the Tigers are recruiting other stud recruits at that position, but where will each program turn after missing out on Gary?

As if the two fierce rivals need anything else to battle over, it’s likely that the No. 1 focus for both Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn is 5-star defensive tackle Derrick Brown.

Keith Niebuhr of AuburnUndercover reported that a source close to Brown indicated the Peach State’s top overall prospect has a top three that includes Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee.

Of that group, the Tigers seem to have the most buzz with Brown—as evidenced by the heavy movement toward Malzahn’s program on Brown’s Crystal Ball page.

After his official visit to Auburn the weekend of Jan. 15, Brown told Niebuhr that his comfort level on the Plains is part of what appeals to him with the Tigers.

"Coming out here, you always get the family atmosphere," Brown told Niebuhr. "Some people say that but you can't really tell that. But definitely coming here you get that feel." 

The Tigers would love to pair Brown with fellow Georgia native and 4-star defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson—who is already on campus as an early enrollee.

Another defensive tackle prospect from the Peach State who has both the Tide and the Tigers among his final group is 4-star Michail Carter.

While it would be tough to pull the 6’4”, 302-pounder away from the Bulldogs, it appears as if Alabama is in the best shape to challenge Georgia.

As noted by BamaOnline, Carter visited Tuscaloosa during the week before making his way to Georgia, and he’s been on the Tide’s campus on numerous occasions throughout his recruitment.

Even if the Tide can’t pull Carter on signing day, Saban and his staff have the luxury of already having three 4-star defensive tackles pledged in Raekwon Davis, Kendell Jones and Quinnen Williams.

While losing out on Gary is a blow, both the Tide and the Tigers appear to be in a good position to meet their needs at the defensive tackle spot when the dust settles on national signing day.

 

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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Last-Minute Predictions for Top Uncommitted 2016 Recruits

We're getting down to the final moments before Wednesday's national signing day, and we're predicting where the top uncommitted recruits will land.

Which programs will Mecole Hardman Jr., Ben Davis and Rashan Gary sign with?

Watch Stephen Nelson and Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue break it down in the video above.

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The Toughest Part of NSD for Recruits: Understanding It's a Business

From the end of April through early December, TaDarryl Marshall was a proud Tennessee commit for a little more than seven months.

On Dec. 6, he and Tennessee officially parted ways. On Monday night, the Leeds, Alabama, 3-star athlete committed to Samford.

Marshall is excited about his college future, but outsiders looking in immediately ask the same question: How does someone once committed to play in the SEC—someone with 26 reported offers—prepare to play FCS football?

These are the questions of recruiting that come right around the closing hours before national signing day. And with three words, Marshall seemed to answer every question that comes up regarding the random—and oftentimes unfair—activities that happen before signing day.

"It's a business," Marshall said, "and every athlete should learn how to sell themselves in order to land the offer to the school they want."

The harsh reality of recruiting is that in some cases, commitments don't stick. And by that, we're not talking about athletes decommitting from a program.

In Marshall's case, Tennessee reportedly chose to part ways with him. He said in a tweet that the Volunteers revoked his offer, which forced him to look at different avenues within his recruiting process.

"Once I committed to Tennessee, some of those offers I had went away. Schools were looking at other people," Marshall said. "So after I decommitted, it was so late in the game, and spots were already taken. Kentucky and Arizona ended up pulling their offers the same day.

"I mean, I understand it, but it can be a lot better—especially with the communication part of it. I think it's better to just tell a recruit early rather than when they're looking for something last-minute. If Tennessee told me three months ago, I wouldn't have been in this situation."

Sadly, these things happen in recruiting.

Scholarships are given, and then they can either be downgraded to grayshirt opportunities or, worse, pulled altogether. It's not an illegal process. Some may consider it immoral, but it's not illegal.

When it happens, it puts an athlete in an awkward situation—particularly the athlete who is blindsided by a program's plan or the athlete who spent months helping a program recruit other players. Perhaps even more disturbingly, these situations occasionally happen extremely close to national signing day, which leaves some athletes in desperate situations.

Riley Cole now finds himself in that situation. After committing to Alabama in June, the 3-star linebacker tweeted on Sunday that he has reopened his process after Alabama downgraded his offer to a grayshirt—when an athlete doesn't enroll in class until the second term of his freshman year.

The NCAA allows college athletes five years to complete four years of eligibility.

Athletes grayshirt all the time. It's the timing of the situation that makes Cole's process tough for some to process.

Alas, recruiting is a business. And it isn't always fun.

Last month, 4-star offensive tackle Erik Swenson decommitted from Michigan after reportedly having his offer rescinded. The decommitment happened on Jan. 20, but he found a home at Oklahoma 10 days later and is planning to sign with the Sooners on Wednesday.

Patrice Virgil knows about these horror stories all too well.

Her son is Fresno State quarterback Chason Virgil, a member of the 2015 recruiting class and currently a sophomore-to-be who once thought his future would be at Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs, however, pulled Virgil's scholarship and offered him a grayshirt. The timing sent his family into a frenzy, as Mississippi State pulled the offer 16 days before he graduated early from West Mesquite High School in Mesquite, Texas.

"It was devastating for us because of the fact that we've always taught Chason when you decide where you want to go, there won't any changing of the mind," Patrice Virgil said. "We didn't want to go into thinking it could be Mississippi State today and another school the next.

"Knowing they waited all that time and never said anything until he had 16 days left before he graduated, that hurt."

Additionally, Virgil had to put his college future to the side momentarily in November 2014. He and his family received the news two days before he had to lead his team in a playoff game.

"When they lost, it took him a long time to leave the field," Patrice Virgil said. "It hit him. He didn't have anywhere to go. He said, 'Mama, where am I going to go?' That broke my heart."

The good news for Virgil is that he ended up with an FBS scholarship, as did Swenson. Marshall, who said many of his scholarship offers were no longer available because of lack of space in the class, is currently the top-ranked player in Samford's class.

As for Cole, there's still time for him to land somewhere. Remember, national signing day is only the first day of the actual signing period. Cole will have until April 1 to sign a national letter of intent.

It won't be with the school he originally committed to, but that's the business side of recruiting that no one likes discussing.

 

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

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