Before today's current crop of college football stars hit campus, the interwebs were buzzing about them, filled with high school highlights, projections and scouting reports.
Now, these guys are the top 25 players that will hit a college football field this fall.
Before they get to the field, let's take a look at what each player has done in college and check out what scouts were saying before these guys made their commitments to a college football program.
Youth will be served in 2013 for the LSU Tigers.
After losing eight defensive players to the 2013 NFL draft, the Tigers are plugging positions with true freshmen, talented ones at that.
But that's not the only obstacle standing in the way of the Tigers' fourth national championship. No sir, the Tigers must overcome offseason injuries, valuable losses in personnel and a daunting schedule to win the crystal ball.
Will the talented youngsters bring LSU good fortune in 2013? Here is a full preview of LSU's upcoming season.
On August 31, Gainesville will once again be enamored with the sights and sounds of Gator football. Following a breakthrough 2012 season, Gator Nation has reason to be optimistic that head coach Will Muschamp can lead Florida back into the national title conversation.
Led by junior quarterback Jeff Driskel and do-it-all cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida hopes to raise the crystal football for the fourth time in program history.
But with plenty of storylines, big plays and rivalry games in store, the Gators will deliver plenty of excitement, no matter the outcome.
With the 2013 season less than two weeks away, one of the season’s dominant themes will surround Alabama’s quest to three-peat.
Alabama returns 13 starters off last season’s squad, with several All-American candidates on both sides of the ball.
On offense, quarterback AJ McCarron, running back T.J. Yeldon, receiver Amari Cooper and left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio rate among the best in the nation at their respective positions.
Linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix lead the way for a defense with seven starters back from a unit that led the nation in total defense last season.
What can Tide fans look forward to from the 2013 edition of the Crimson Tide?
Arkansas fans are ready and willing to put a disappointing 2012 behind them as the 2013 season is just weeks away. They can't wait to pile into Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium and watch their Razorbacks take on Louisiana-Lafayette on Aug. 31.
There's a new coach in town named Bret Bielema, and there's hope for better days ahead. That's what the Arkansas programs will emphasize at the stadium.
But what if you could pick up a program early? What might it say about about new quarterback Brandon Allen or defensive ends Chris Smith and Trey Flowers?
Well, here's an advance copy of what such a program might say.
Newly-minted Texas offensive coordinator Major Applewhite has a unique issue in the form of three starting-caliber running backs. For his up-tempo offense to bringing 10-win success back to Austin, he needs to figure out how to formulate a rotation that keeps each back involved.
Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron are three talented runners with three different styles. Gray is the smallest of the bunch, with the quickest feet and best vision on the team. Bergeron is a textbook short-yardage back, and Brown a pleasant medium between the two.
While different, the three also have a lot in common. Each has multiple 100-yard games under their belt, has significant starting experience and is capable of ripping off big gains. Most importantly, all three can finish a drive as well as they can start it.
This is why it is so important Applewhite gives each the ball frequently in his offense. While each runner attacks the defense in different ways, there is no need to substitute any of them multiple times in a drive—which is valuable when you are trying to operate at a break-neck pace.
But a rotation needs to be defined, both to keep them healthy and to take advantage of their talent to the fullest extent. Herein lies the problem, as there are only a certain number of carries to go around with specialists like Daje Johnson certain to cut into the final figure.
Unfortunately, the 'Horns have not had a great track record with divvying up the load. The Texas game plan always seemed to leave one out of the equation in 2012, playing seven games where at least one got five carries or less.
Health and Bryan Harsin's offense both played a part in this issue for much of the season, but Applewhite did display the same unsettling proclivity. Brown and Bergeron combined for nine carries in their new coordinator's Alamo Bowl debut, even though the game was practically played in the Brown's home town.
There is simply no reason or excuse to waste talent like this. Running an offense similar to Applewhite's, the 2005 Longhorns were able to give three running backs—Jamaal Charles, Ramonce Taylor and Henry Melton—75 carries or more on the year. And that was with Vince Young rushing it 155 times, a figure David Ash will not even come close to in 2013.
That same level of equitable sharing is easily doable. Texas ran the ball about 56 percent of the time in 2012, so if the offense maintains that ratio while running the stated goal of 80 plays per game, then there will be just over 45 carries per game to be divided out.
Gray will get the largest share of the pie because of how well he fits the scheme and his overall talent. He should expect 15 carries per game, with Brown and Bergeron combining for another 15-20 between them. That provides each back just under 100 carries on the year and leaves another 10-15 rushes per night for David Ash and the specialists.
While that figure is purely speculative and ignores the potential for injury, it proves the three-back time share is both doable and reasonable. It also takes full advantage of the players at Applewhite's disposal, essential for a program that has taken heat for its inability to maximize talent.
The point is that when all three are healthy and ready to go, they need to be on the field. Especially with an inexperienced receiving corps and a quarterback prone to some inconsistency.
If Applewhite can do that in an effective manner, these backs have the talent to combine for one of the most lethal rushing attacks in the country.
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Every team needs a strong recruiting class, as stocking talent on an annual basis is a major component for success in college football. However, depending on the situation, several programs may face more pressure than others in a given recruiting cycle.
Some programs have coaches who are coaching and recruiting for their jobs in 2013. Others are coming off solid seasons and need to strike while the iron is hot. And there are always programs who need a strong class because their previous one was, well, weak.
A pair of programs who are moving to new conferences must continue adding good talent to be well prepared for their transitions. It is time for another program that changed conferences last year to begin to consistently land higher-quality talent. Also, another program saw its rival have a breakthrough class in 2013, so it must respond strongly in 2014.
One of the most unique aspects of Notre Dame's historic tradition is playing one of the nation's most challenging schedules, and the Irish's 2013 slate has only reinforced that notion.
Per college football expert and ESPN Insider Phil Steele, Notre Dame ranks 13th nationally in preseason strength of schedule.
Factoring into that ranking are the four preseason AP Top 25 teams among the Irish's 12 regular-season opponents—No. 24 USC, No. 17 Michigan, No. 16 Oklahoma and No. 4 Stanford.
How Notre Dame fares against that quartet of ranked foes will be a telling factor in the team's postseason fate, which, also per Steele, is a return trip to the BCS.
For a forecast of those four matchups, as well as the other eight contests, follow along.
In the midst of significant change, Michigan’s offensive line has the potential to be a valuable strength or glaring vulnerability this season.
Touting one of the finest left tackles in the game, the offensive front boasts All-American Taylor Lewan, a senior who will be an early first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Lewan has a rare level of talent and gives the Wolverines an incredibly strong left side.
The right side, though, is a concern. But it could also be reliable, primarily because of senior right tackle Michael Schofield, who along with Lewan, serves as an elder statesmen for a line welcoming Kyle Kalis, Ben Braden and Jack Miller to the fold.
According to Scout.com, Kalis, a 6’5”, 297-pound redshirt freshman, is behind Joey Burzynski, a junior, in the race for the No. 1 right guard position. However, multiple reports and sources have suggested Kalis should start in light of Patrick Omameh’s graduation. It’s likely he will.
Miller, a sophomore, is slated to take the starting job at center. Graham Glasgow, a sophomore walk-on, is listed at No. 2. The clock is ticking; a decision is on its way.
At 6’6” and 314 pounds, Braden, a redshirt freshman, stands to take the left guard position vacated by Ricky Barnum, who started there 13 times in 2012. However, a true frosh, Logan Tuley-Tillman, could challenge for starting reps as well.
Not completely settled at the moment, the line appears to be a puzzle with interchangeable parts, not necessarily components that fit in one spot.
Analyzing Depth at Tackle
First and foremost, the potential of injury to Lewan has to be addressed. He was banged up in 2012, but his play didn’t indicate there was much of a problem. Holding his own in an elite one-on-one battle, Lewan handled defensive end Jadeveon Clowney during Michigan’s 33-28 Outback Bowl loss to South Carolina.
A candidate for several major postseason awards, Lewan’s importance can’t be stressed enough. So what happens if he falls?
Schofield, who has played on the left side of the line, would be an adequate replacement. In 23 career starts, he’s played left guard 10 times. He’s experienced enough to handle the move.
Lewan’s taken care of, but what about Schofield? Who’d get bumped to right tackle in his absence?
Erik Gunderson, a 6’8”, 312-pound senior, will likely be Schofield’s reliever. In 2012, he appeared in five games as a reserve lineman. In 2011, he debuted at right tackle.
Just like riding a bike, right?
Analyzing Depth at Guard and Center
Reserve action. That’s all Miller has on his resume. However, each of his 12 appearances have come at center. That has to be reassuring for head coach Brady Hoke, who has plenty of young but relatively inexperienced talent on his roster.
Right guard lacks experience. That’s all there is to say about that. Kalis, a former 4-star recruit per 247Sports, was one of the gems of Hoke’s 2012 class. He redshirted a year ago. No in-game snaps for him.
In 2011, Burzynski got his feet wet at left guard. He’s taken the field 12 times for Michigan as a reserve.
With Braden, a redshirt freshman, at left guard, the two positions straddling the center are the biggest areas of concern. A year ago, Tuley-Tillman, the apparent No. 2, played high school football.
That leaves Mateus, a three-time substitute at left tackle and Lewan’s backup, to fill in where needed. Since he’s a left-sider, it’s possible he could slide over to guard if the situation was presented.
Luckily for Michigan, there are two leaders willing to help make the several other underclassmen the best.
Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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As the countdown to the 2013 season opener winds down, the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide are gearing up to make a run at their third consecutive BCS National Championship.
Nick Saban’s club returns a number of stars off the squad that pummeled previously unbeaten Notre Dame 42-14 in the BCS title game. Although the Tide lost nine players who were selected in April’s NFL draft, there’s more than enough young talent ready to take over in critical spots this fall.
The Tide’s schedule, while appearing lighter than the slates in previous years, still has its share of challenges.
The season opener against ACC power Virginia Tech kicks things off on Aug. 31 in the Georgia Dome.
Showdowns with SEC West powers Texas A&M (Sept. 14) and LSU (Nov. 9) will be tough, but the Tide have the luxury of a bye week preceding each of those contests.
How does the rest of the schedule play out, and can the Tide run the table and produce their second unblemished season under Saban?