Summertime is here and the preview magazines are starting to hit the newsstands. So the 2014 college football season is right around the corner.
With the new season coming, expectations will be high for every team in the FBS. And that is no different for the Georgia Bulldogs, who return a deep roster.
There will be some new faces like there are every year, and there are some key players who were on last year’s team who will be missed. But looking at each position, the Bulldogs could have the most talented roster in the SEC.
But is that good enough to win the SEC and have a chance to play in the College Football Playoff?
Here’s a position-by-position preview of the Bulldogs’ 2014 roster.
Oregon has a commitment from 4-star speedster Taj Griffin. From Georgia, Griffin is a dynamic offensive recruit who can do damage as a runner and receiver.
The 5'10", 175-pounder has terrific quickness to launch himself through alleys, plus he is lethal in space. The Ducks will use Griffin's pledge to attract more talented recruits to join their class, and several top-tier prospects are keeping close tabs on what's happening in Eugene.
A 5-star defensive end digs Oregon a ton, while a 4-star safety could spurn both of his local schools to become a Duck. Also, a quarterback could choose to join Griffin.
Michigan State was nothing short of impressive in 2013, blowing past the best the Big Ten could offer in route to an 8-0 conference record and a win over Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game—all by double-digit margins. Do the Spartans have another championship run in them, or will we see a changing of the guard in 2014?
Michigan State needs to reload its defense. Ohio State, unquestionably the second-best team in the Big Ten in 2013, has its own share of holes to fill. Both teams return impressive talent, but with conference realignment, both the Buckeyes and Spartans are now part of the new East Division.
What about the West and its soon-to-be divisional powerhouses? Can Nebraska shake off yet another four-loss season (its sixth straight)? Can Wisconsin reclaim its once dominant role?
We'll break down the five teams we think have the best shot at winning the Big Ten title in 2014, and we've broken them down into the top two teams in each division, plus a fifth "wild card" team.
Football is a crazy sport where anything can happen, but we're fairly confident these five teams have the best shot at making a run for the Big Ten title—and the likely College Football Playoff berth that could come with it.
The 2015 class has several prospects who are surrounded by a ton of hype. While many of them deserve it, the hype they've gained has taken the spotlight away from other recruits more than it should.
Looking down the board, several players deserve more hype and acclaim than they're currently receiving. A 4-star receiver should riot over not having an extra star, and a speedy running back deserves to be ranked much higher than where he is.
Also, a talented 4-star cornerback and a 3-star pass-rusher are better players than many people think.
Daron Payne‘s recruitment is the latest extension of the most heated rivalry in college football between Alabama and Auburn.
Both in-state powers are trying to lure the 5-star defensive tackle from Birmingham, and he’s gone on record stating that each program has a special pull for him.
“I grew up an Auburn fan, so I’ve been wanting to play for them all of my life.” Payne told Bryan Matthews of Auburn Undercover. “Then I got the Alabama offer, and then (it’s like) everybody wants to play for ‘Bama.”
Similar to the recruitments of Rashaan Evans and Reuben Foster, Payne’s recruitment will be a fight to the end between Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn.
What are some of the main reasons Tide fans have to be confident in landing Payne?
*Unless otherwise noted, all rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
Billy Gilley is apparently a huge Auburn Tigers football fan, so his family decided to do something pretty awesome for his groom's cake.
The family got a cake made of Jordan-Hare Stadium with the score tied at 28-28 against Alabama with one second remaining on the clock. The cake is an obvious reference to Auburn's famous play this past season, when Chris Davis returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a game-ending touchdown.
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The Texas A&M football team has a roster that is almost completely stocked full of SEC-level talent. There are still some depth issues at certain positions, but the Texas A&M football coaches have done a tremendous job of turning over the roster in the last three recruiting classes.
In order to be an elite program in the SEC, you need to be three-deep at every position. When the Aggies entered the SEC in 2012, they had good starters but suspect backups. In 2013, they lost a lot of those starters on defense and were forced to go with a youth movement that resulted in one of the worst defenses in the country.
The Aggies will benefit from suffering through those youthful mistakes in 2013, with a more experienced roster in 2014. The Aggies are not three-deep across the board yet, but they are making strides in that direction.
This is a position-by-position breakdown of the Aggies roster in 2014.
A new era is beginning in Alabama with Lane Kiffin now in charge of the Crimson Tide offense. The former USC and Tennessee head coach took over the role of offensive coordinator this offseason and has slowly integrated his system in Tuscaloosa.
Apparently much of that system will revolve around an immensely talented backfield. Kiffin spoke about how the process has gone thus far, via Mike Herndon of AL.com:
"As you guys know extremely well, I think the offense is led by the tailbacks," Kiffin said. "There probably aren't three more talented tailbacks in the NFL on a roster than we're fortunate to be able to work with at Alabama."
That trio includes T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake, along with a healthy dose of Derrick Henry. While Yeldon comes into the season as the bell cow for Kiffin's offense, the junior clearly won't be the only player fighting for snaps during the 2014 season.
But are the three better than the top-three backs of NFL teams? Ben Maller of Fox Sports Radio gives his thoughts on a former NFL team that Kiffin coached:
If all three backs are able to produce during the upcoming season with a good share of the touches, Kiffin might be able to see all three live up to his hype. After losing a two-time National Championship-winning quarterback in AJ McCarron to the NFL, leaning on such a talented trio might be the perfect fix for their loss behind center.
After a stable of backs like Eddie Lacy, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson have made their impact in the SEC, Yeldon and company might just make a dent of their own this season.
With the three-headed monster that Kiffin believes he has in Tuscaloosa, this might be yet another championship season for the Tide. But if his expectations for the three backs fall short—which we've seen happen multiple times to Kiffin—the 39-year-old coach might have his name on the hot seat early in his career.
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Though Steve Sarkisian has yet to coach a game for the Trojans, he has already made a significant impact on USC's recruiting fortunes.
Following up a fantastic finish to the 2014 recruiting class, Sark has already crafted what many think is a top 15 group of players, who have given the Trojans their verbal pledge for next year.
Now working with a full complement of scholarships after completing the NCAA imposed sanctions, the USC recruiting brain trust is not sitting on its laurels, though.
Indeed, the Trojans still have a bevy of high profile recruits on their radar and one of the most highly regarded of those players is the subject of this slideshow.
Iman Marshall is a big (6'1.5", 190 pounds) cornerback who is regarded as one of the finest prep players in the nation.
Rated a 5-star prospect by Scout.com, the Polytechnic High School (Long Beach, Calif.) product has everything and more one looks for in a lock down corner.
Marshall, whose nickname is "Biggie," is a priority for USC and though he is giving the Trojans a very long look, outwardly he remains mum on where he will wind up.
However, here are five reasons why Marshall will wind up in the Cardinal and Gold when all is said and done.
Or at least why he should.