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Georgia Football: Why the Bulldogs Will Win the SEC in 2015

The end of the college football season means fans will have to wait eight months before the new season kicks off. Fortunately, news for the upcoming season is always at their fingertips because various media outlets have already made their early predictions for the 2015 season.

Paul Myerberg of USA Today recently came out with his Top 25 for the upcoming season, and he has the Georgia Bulldogs at No. 14. But Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com has the Bulldogs ranked at No. 8, making them the highest-ranked SEC team in his poll.

The Bulldogs finished ninth in the AP poll, which is the first time they have finished in the Top 10 since 2012, when they finished No. 4. The following year, the Bulldogs struggled with injuries and barely finished in the Top 25.

2015 will be an interesting year for the Bulldogs because they will have 13 starters returning and will play a favorable schedule. And if the Bulldogs are able to stay healthy, they will be the odds-on favorite to win the SEC title.

Winning the SEC is not an easy task, as the Bulldogs have not won the title since 2005. But the team coming back this upcoming season could be the best team head coach Mark Richt has fielded in three years.

It all starts and ends with running back Nick Chubb, who took the college football world by storm with his ability to break tackles play after play. Chubb was second in the conference in rushing, and he was the starter for only half the season.

Georgia Bulldogs & NCAA Football Fans, can you say Nick Chubb for Heisman in 2015? This guy looks like a legitimate NFL RB & he's a Freshman

— ADJ Sports (@ADJSports) December 31, 2014

But Chubb is not the only one to watch on offense. His backup, Sony Michel, was able to be a key contributor when he was healthy. Michel has top-notch speed and has the ability to catch passes out of the backfield.

The offensive line was a big reason Chubb and Michel were able to run with success. They will miss David Andrews, but the line will return Greg Pyke, John Theus, Brandon Kublanow and Kolton Houston. The four returning starters made great strides in 2014, and they will have no issues meshing with the new starters.

But the one question on offense is quarterback. Brice Ramsey will likely be the new starter, and he was able to make some plays in the limited time he saw this season. But 2015 will be the first year Ramsey will have to face a full SEC schedule, which is not easy to get through.

The Bulldogs are hoping new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer can utilize his NFL experience to get Ramsey more prepared for what he will face in September.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was in the same boat last season as he tried to get the players up to speed in terms of what he wanted on defense. And while the defense had some growing pains in the early stages of the season, it finished with very solid numbers.

The Bulldogs ranked second in the conference in passing defense, fifth in scoring defense and sixth in total defense. The defense will miss Ray Drew, Mike Thornton, Ramik Wilson, Amarlo Herrera and Damian Swann, but Pruitt will have a talented group of players to work with, including Lorenzo Carter, Jordan Jenkins, Dominick Sanders, Quincy Mauger and Aaron Davis.

Pruitt’s defense is about creating turnovers, and the Bulldogs were able to do that in a big way with a plus-16 turnover margin, which ranked fourth in the country. There is no reason they can’t do the same thing in 2015, especially with the players coming back in the secondary.

As it was mentioned earlier, the Bulldogs have a favorable schedule, which was not the case the last couple of seasons. The Bulldogs have only four true road games, and two of those games take place in the first two months of the season. The Bulldogs do have to face Alabama on October 3, but the game will be played in Athens, and the Crimson Tide will be fielding nine new starters on offense.

The Bulldogs will always have the talent to win the SEC, and as long as Richt is under center, they will always be in the hunt to contend for the conference title. They just can’t have too many slip-ups like they did last season; they must remain focused.

The Bulldogs will have their share of struggles in 2015, but with a guy like Chubb running the football, guys like Jenkins and Carter rushing the quarterback and a guy like Ramsey leading the offense, 2015 could be the season the Bulldogs stand tall at the Georgia Dome in December.

 

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Ranking Which 1st-Year College Football Head Coaches Will Succeed Most in 2015

There's already been a slew of coaching changes around the college football ranks as we now gear up for the second season of the new College Football Playoff—who else can't wait? 

From Jim Harbaugh at Michigan to Mike Riley at Nebraska, there are seven new coaching regimes being implemented at Power Five schools and a total of 15 new head coaches already signed up across the FBS. 

But which new head coaches will have the most success in 2015? Let's find out.

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Isaiah Holland Suspended: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

The University of Colorado football team has indefinitely suspended freshman Isaiah Holland, who faces four felony charges after being arrested in October on allegations of sexual assault.

Alex Burness of the Daily Camera reported the news, noting that Holland is no longer enrolled at the school.

"We hold our student athletes to very high standards, and they know that when those are not met, there will be consequences," said athletic director Rick George, via Burness.

Holland was arrested early the morning of October 24. According to the campus police report, he allegedly entered a woman's dorm room uninvited and touched her without consent. He's charged with "sexual assault of an at-risk victim, sexual contact with an at-risk victim and two counts of second-degree burglary."

He has a preliminary hearing on Thursday, Jan. 22.

Holland, a 3-star offensive guard recruit from Littleton, Colorado, redshirted in his first season with the team. According to the school's athletics website, he is the son of Darius Holland, who enjoyed a successful career at Colorado and eventually won a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers.

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Revenge of the SEC: College Football's Dominant Conference Won't Be Down Long

ATLANTA — I checked with my sources. The SEC is not surrendering to Urban Meyer.     

Y'all think the Mississippis and the Tide and the Dawgs and the Tigers, both of them, look like potted plants right about now, but their answer to the Urbanator is coming the next three weeks.

SEC coaches are going to roll up the long driveway at Buford High School in Buford, Georgia, and confirm commitments of some of that school's nine Division I prospects. SEC coaches are going to roll a few miles down the road to Grayson, where there are five seniors with D-I ability. They are going to swing around I-285 to Stephenson High in Stone Mountain, which has eight players with D-I offers.

Cedar Grove, also in DeKalb County, has Division I players. So does Archer in Gwinnett. Mays in Atlanta has five seniors committed to Division I schools.

These are schools within 25-32 miles of each other. We're not talking about the talent in the rest of the state, or the rest of the South. We're talking the same neighborhood.

Tom Lemming, a national recruiting analyst, said Gwinnett County, Georgia, in the Atlanta area, is the second-best county in the country for D-I talent, behind Broward in South Florida. Lemming had a seminar for Gwinnett rising seniors last fall, and 30 Division I prospects walked through the door.

Of the 75 players on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's thoroughly researched Super 75 for the state of Georgia, more than half are heading to SEC schools. That's one state.

On ESPN's Top 300, 56 of the top 80 prospects were in the SEC footprint. I stopped counting after 80 because, well, you get the point.

Meanwhile, NFL teams will sign more players from the SEC than those conferences in the Midwest, East, West and Southwest. Per NFL.com's Mike Huguenin, the SEC has had the most players drafted for eight straight years, which proves the conference hauls in talent and develops it.

That casket being lowered into the ground, the one supposed to be full of an SEC corpse, is empty.

There is no question Meyer is back as the best coach in college football, but he's won just a single title at Ohio State. Alabama had three in four years. The SEC just finished a run in which it was in eight straight title games with four different teams. Georgia was on the doorstep in 2012.

Alabama is still the NFL's 33rd franchise, not Ohio State.

This bunk about the SEC shriveling up started in New Orleans. I had a reporter from a national outlet tell me Mike Bobo left Georgia to become head coach at Colorado State because UGA would not take care of its assistant coaches with raises. Two days later, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt got a new deal for $1.3 million.

Let's stay there for a moment, on the subject of money. John Chavis, the veteran defensive coordinator, was snatched away from LSU by Texas A&M for $1.7 million. Will Muschamp, the new DC at Auburn, the old coach at Florida, was just lured in by $1.6 million a year.

Does that look like a white flag fluttering in the breeze? No, it looks like a lot of cash fluttering in the breeze.

The Big Ten just won its first national title since Ohio State beat Miami in 2002, with the help of a late, late flag that is still fluttering in the air. And the Buckeyes are supposed to be all things 'Bama?

Meyer is a terrific coach. I get it. The idea he ran from Nick Saban with some made-up ailments in 2010 is a crock.

I watched from the sidelines in New Orleans as Meyer used motion and formations to get Alabama unbalanced and then ran around the end. It was great scheming, helped by the fact that on Ezekiel Elliott's 85-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, All-American safety Landon Collins and 'Bama's best linebacker, Reggie Ragland, were not on the field because of injuries.

It was interesting to see Ohio State's players up close when the Buckeyes were down 21-6 to Alabama. No panic. That's coaching and leadership. I thought all along that the loss to Virginia Tech, which was tied around the neck of the Buckeyes for two months, was overblown. Tech was riddled with injuries and was not the same team at the end of the season that beat Ohio State at the beginning of the season.

Ohio State has most of its offensive line back, as well as its defensive line and Elliott. That is so Alabama-like. The Buckeyes, I've heard, also have a few quarterbacks to choose from.

An esteemed colleague, Matt Hayes of Sporting News, wrote that Meyer is the new king of college football because he is ruthless and relentless.

You want ruthless desire to win? How about Saban? Last week he welcomed a 340-pound early enrollee, defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor, who was kicked out of Georgia after allegedly committing theft and choking a woman. This is after another defensive end, D.J. Pettway, was brought back to 'Bama even after he allegedly had a role in an on-campus robbery.

Nobody is going to out-ruthless the SEC.

Relentless? Alabama had a ferocious defensive line, and it will welcome into the 2015 rotation the best defensive line prospect from 2014, Da'Shawn Hand. He will team with A'Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen and Pettway to give Alabama a defensive line better than Ohio State's. LSU just hired a superb defensive line coach, Ed Orgeron, who also happens to be a terrific recruiter. Ask around.

How is this for relentless? Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and LSU are relentless for stockpiling talent. They will do it again on national signing day in a few weeks. Eight of the top 20 schools on the Rivals board are SEC schools. Recruiting analysts get their information from college assistant coaches. These rankings are not bunk.

There are some things I detest about the SEC. The number of junior-college players. The number of juniors who leave school too early because they are going nowhere academically, and they want the money for their families.

The fraudulent courses these football players take are abominable. The made-up degrees are insulting. The 40-hour work weeks for football players to help a coach keep his multimillion-dollar job are distasteful. The SEC Network making us pay for things we used to get free every Saturday afternoon aggravates me, too. All that should be troubling to the fan of SEC football.

What should not be troubling is the future. Signing day will affirm the SEC's superiority in college football. Ohio State is still in Ohio. The best football players are still in the South.

 

Ray Glier covers college football for Bleacher Report.

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Clemson Football: Tigers' Top Remaining Recruiting Targets

We’re less than a month away from national signing day, but there isn’t a ton of excitement for the Clemson Tigers on the recruiting trail at this point. The Tigers’ class is almost full, and with the exception of a few names, the 2015 cycle is complete.

Clemson owns the nation’s No. 13 recruiting class, according to Scout.com, and a lot of that can be attributed to success in Georgia and Florida. The Tigers hold a verbal commitment from 5-star offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt as well as 4-star Sunshine State wide receivers Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud.

There are plenty of other 4-star-caliber players in this class, and the Tigers have worked to fill the needs of the team moving forward. The offensive and defensive lines were the priority, and the Tigers have done a solid job of meeting those needs.

Hyatt is the prized recruit, but some may be overlooking how important the addition of Jake Fruhmorgen is. The 4-star offensive tackle from Tampa, Florida, ranks No. 15 at his position, and he was sought after by many top-notch programs around the country.

The most recent commitment for Clemson was 4-star defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. Wilkins, the No. 7 overall defensive tackle on Scout.com, has the kind of size (6'4", 290 lbs) to come in and make an impact early in his career. Other defensive line prospects currently committed to Clemson include Albert Huggins, Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell, LaSamuel Davis, Sterling Johnson and Gage Cervenka.

With that being said, there isn’t much more room in this class for prospects. Here are a few of the remaining targets left for Clemson in the 2015 class.

 

Mark Fields, CB

Fields decommited from South Carolina on December 16, and from that point on Clemson has emerged as the perceived favorite to land him. He is a 4-star prospect, and with the loss of Garry Peters, signing a cornerback is important to this class.

Juwuan Briscoe, a 3-star from Waldorf, Maryland, decommited from the Tigers in November, so the slot is open to sign another guy. The Tigers already have a lockdown cornerback in Mackensie Alexander, so signing another quality defensive back could mean big things for the Tigers secondary down the road.

Fields will be in Clemson this weekend, with his official visit date listed as January 16 on 247Sports. He will then visit Texas on January 23 and LSU on January 30. The Gamecocks, the team he was committed to before, also still remain as a potential school for him to sign with.

 

Denzel Johnson, WR/DB

The 3-star from A. C. Flora High School in Columbia, South Carolina, will also be in Clemson this weekend for a visit. Johnson averaged 19.7 yards per catch this season, and per Brandon Rink of orangeandwhite.com, former Clemson receiver Airese Currie was his position coach at A.C. Flora.

N.C. State is also in the picture for Johnson, and he has a visit set there for January 30. With a young group at wide receiver, signing Johnson isn’t a priority, but he could also play defensive back for the Tigers.

 

Kareem Orr, DB

The 3-star from Chattanooga, Tennessee, has been in contact with Clemson as of late, so he could also be a prospect to keep an eye on. If the Tigers receive a verbal commitment from Fields, they may be unlikely to also sign Orr, but he is a good option to have if Fields decides to go elsewhere.

Per Phil Kornblut for orangeandwhite.com, Orr said he “might visit there,” referring to Clemson. Kornblut also states that Orr expects an Ohio State offer soon, and that was one of his favorite schools growing up.

 

Recruiting information courtesy of Scout.com and 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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Nebraska Football: Huskers DC Mark Banker Has Right Idea for Blackshirts

When Mark Banker became Nebraska's defensive coordinator, he also become the man in charge of the Blackshirts. It's not a task he plans to take lightly, either.

Part of that is getting the tradition back on track.

He said he's heard from former players who want the tradition to return to what it once was, via the Omaha World-Herald's Lee Barfknecht and Rich Kaipust. Banker would like the same.

“I was like, ‘Well, OK, so exactly how was it? What happened to it?’ ” he said.

The history of the Blackshirts dates back to the 1964 season when Bob Devaney was head coach. Hail Varsity's Mike Babcock compiled all of the information known on the tradition for Huskers.com in 2009.

Essentially, the jerseys were an "accident of availability." Intended to distinguish between offense and defense, the black jerseys were purchased at a bargain because they typically didn't sell well.

As one might say, the rest is history.

When Tom Osborne took over, the jerseys were handed out to the top defensive players at the end of preseason practice. That was a departure from what Devaney did, which was to hand out the jerseys before and after each practice.

Osborne's tradition lasted until 2008. That's when Bo Pelini was hired.

"That’s not part of our philosophy," Pelini said, per Huskers.com.

Instead, Pelini felt his team needed to earn the right to wear the black jerseys. This left fans and the media wondering when, and sometimes if, the jerseys would be distributed.

As Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star wrote in 2012, "He makes it clear he wants competition both in preseason camp and during the season."

And for the seven years Pelini was in charge, that's how it was. Banker is ready for that to change.

"If you’re going to carry on a tradition, let’s carry on the tradition and do it the right way, and don’t make a mockery of it," he said, per the Omaha World-Herald.

Is that the right approach? It absolutely is. 

Linebackers coach Trent Bray believes so, too.

"We're going to do all our research to make sure we do it right, because I know that's been an issue around here," Bray said, per Michael Bruntz of Huskers Illustrated. "Alumni have reached out to us and want it done right, so we're going do our research and make sure that when it's done, it's done right."

Bray was clear he didn't want to be disrespectful to any previous staff, but it's obvious what Pelini was doing will not be how Mike Riley's staff does things.

The defensive coaches want to return to the true Blackshirt tradition.

Fans should be excited. Players should be, too.

Earning a black jersey prior to the season establishes a player as a leader. It puts each person wearing one in a position to step up and be a role model.

Plus, it makes the Blackshirt tradition relevant again. Under Pelini, the Omaha World-Herald's Tom Shatel asked a simple question: "Has the Blackshirt tradition ever been less relevant?"

Requiring the players to work for a black jersey might have made it more meaningful, as Shatel pointed out, but it strayed from the tradition.

That's ultimately what it all comes down to: What is the tradition truly worth?

For Riley and his staff, it's worth enough to get back to it.

That's why athletic director Shawn Eichorst hired Riley. His attitude is a nod to the past Nebraska loves. That's why it makes sense his staff wants the tradition to return to what it once was.

In a time of change, this shift toward something familiar is exactly what Nebraska needs. The Blackshirts will still need to be earned—they'll just be hanging in the lockers at the end of preseason practices.

And that's how it should be.

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