Scott Frost was just promoted to one of the most glamorous positions in all of college football: offensive coordinator for the Oregon Ducks.
In case you've been stuck in an airplane circling Chicago, Frost takes over the OC position from Mark Helfrich, who was promoted to head coach to succeed Chip Kelly. If you're just learning this news, I'm sorry for the lack of spoiler alert.
To recap, Kelly, who is now the coach of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, took defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro with him. So, that means there will be three assistant coaches in new roles for Oregon in 2013.
Today, let's look at the Ducks' new offensive coordinator and his chances for success.
The recent coaching switcheroo has left the Oregon football program in a precarious position with less than two weeks until national signing day.
The Ducks have an impressive list of recruits, but with schools like Ohio State coming after the commits in the wake of Chip Kelly's departure, it's up to new coach Mark Helfrich to convince the current class to stay put.
There are a million reasons why Oregon is an attractive destination for talented football players. Many of the recruits have already visited, so they'll have heard the Ducks' pitch.
Nevertheless, Helfrich needs to reiterate many of the positives about Oregon football that caused the current recruits to commit in the first place. In some cases, presenting new information may also help seal the deal.
Here are five things that Helfrich must tell recruits in order to keep them committed.
Aaron Murray did not want to end his career in Athens wondering if he could have led the Bulldogs to a national title if he had stayed his senior season.
After missing the big game by five yards, Murray made the decision shortly after the Bulldogs' season ended to play his senior season and see if he can do something that hasn't been done in over 30 years.
But winning a title is not the only thing Murray can achieve in 2013. Based on the way he has played the last three seasons, Murray will be on the watch list for the Heisman Trophy.
In fact, not only will he be on the watch list, but he will also be making his way to New York for the trophy presentation in December, as he will be one of the finalists.
The 2012 Texas A&M Football team featured the top offensive line in the country. How the Aggies respond to the loss of two members of that line will define how successful their 2013 season is.
Luke Joeckel was the starting left tackle on the Aggies' offensive line in 2012, and he declared early for the NFL draft. Joeckel is expected to be one of the top five selections in the draft.
Patrick Lewis started on the offensive line all four years he was at A&M. He spent the last two seasons as the Aggies' center. He is projected to go anywhere from the fifth round of the draft to signing as an undrafted free agent.
The Aggies lost two very talented offensive linemen who were also leaders of the team. This would be a major blow to most programs, but the Ags have a lot of depth at the position and an offense that is versatile enough to cover up for weaknesses on the line.
Matthews' Return Solidifies Line
The prospects for the 2013 offensive line received a huge boost when Jake Matthews announced he was going to return to A&M for his senior season. Matthews was named All-SEC and All-American for his play at right tackle in 2012.
Jake Matthews to Return to Aggieland aggi.es/2ubXRE
— Texas A&M Football (@AggieFootball) January 10, 2013
Matthews will move over to left tackle to protect rising sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel's blind side. Most mock drafts had Matthews being selected in the first round along with Joeckel. By returning for his senior season and playing left tackle, Matthews will get the opportunity to improve his draft stock into a top-10 selection.
With the move of Matthews to left tackle, there will be a hole at right tackle. Cedric Ogbuehi should move over from right guard to right tackle. Ogbuehi is built like an NFL left tackle and will likely take over at left tackle in 2014 when Matthews moves on to the professional ranks.
Mike Matthews is Jake Matthews' younger brother and was the backup center in 2012. He will take over Lewis' starting spot in 2013. The younger Matthews got extensive experience in the Aggies' multiple blowout wins in 2012. He should be a solid center for A&M for the next three years.
Jarvis Harrison returns at left guard for in 2013. He got better as the season went along in 2012. Harrison should be expected to compete for All-SEC honors in 2013 as a junior.
The move of Ogbuehi to right tackle leaves a hole at right guard. Redshirt freshman guard Kimo Tipoti should compete with a slew of others for the starting spot at right guard.
Do not be surprised if incoming freshman offensive guard Joas Aguilar gets a serious look at that right guard spot. Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has shown that he will play true freshmen on the lines in the SEC.
At 6'5", 295 lbs, Aguilar has the size and strength to play in the trenches in the SEC in 2013. It will be a question of how far along his technique is and how well Tipoti plays during spring practice.
Versatile Offense Can Conceal Weaknesses
The 2013 offensive line should be very good and has a chance to be outstanding. If the line does struggle, the Aggies' offense is versatile enough where the coaches should be able to conceal those weaknesses.
In 2012 the Ags had one of the top offenses in the country averaging 558 yards per game. The Aggies averaged 316 yards passing and 242 yards rushing per game. If a team stacked the box to stop the run, the Ags could throw over the top.
If a defense dropped into a nickel or dime defense to stop the pass, then the Aggies rushed the ball with Ben Malena and Johnny Manziel. They could hurt defenses in multiple ways.
The beauty of Sumlin's spread offense is in the diversity. There is an answer in it for every question that a defense presents it with. The offense can feature five wide receivers on the field on one play, and three running backs in the backfield on the next.
If the offensive line struggles in pass protection, you can run one and three-step drops and pass the ball inside of three seconds. If the line is weak up the middle, you can run out of a double-wing formation or run some speed option.
The Ags will feature four running backs on the roster in 2013 who could start for most other teams in the nation. Brandon Williams, Trey Williams, Ben Malena and Tra Carson give the Aggies the deepest backfield in the nation this side of Tuscaloosa.
The Aggies will be able to pound most SEC defenses with Manziel and those running backs in the coming season. If Mike Matthews and the new right guard cannot get the job done, they can put two tight ends in the backfield and run wide with the double-win all day long.
If the interior offensive line is strong but Jake Matthews and Ogbuehi are struggling, then Manziel and his band of running backs can run zone-read all day long.
If the offensive line struggles in run blocking, then you spread the field out with four and five wide receiver sets and pass the ball the majority of the time.With receivers Mike Evans, Malcome Kennedy and Derel Walker returning, the Ags will be a tough task to cover by any secondary.
The Ags are bringing in JaQuay Williams, Kyrion Parker, Laquvionte Gonzalez, Ricky Seals-Jones, Jeremy Tabuyo and Sebastian Larue at receiver in the 2013 class. Edward Pope is a 6'4" receiver who redshirted during the 2012 season. No secondary in the country will be able to match up with the height of Evans, Williams, Pope, Parker and Seals-Jones.
The Ags should be able to find a nice rotation of seven receivers out of the returning players at the position and the incoming freshmen. Manziel has the elusiveness and the speed to buy time to get the ball to his receivers.
Malena and Trey Williams caught 30 passes combined in 2012. They will be a threat in the passing game out of the backfield.
The Clear Factor
Cameron Clear signed with A&M during the early signing period for junior college players, without much media attention. The tight end recruit from Arizona Western Community College is one of the lesser-known players in the Ags 2013 recruiting class.
He may end up being the most important. At 6'6" and 275 lbs, Clear is an imposing blocker who will give the Ags a dominating presence on the edge of the line.
If either Jake Matthews or Ogbuehi struggle at their respective positions, the coaches can line up Clear next to them to help out. He has the size and strength to project as a blocking tight end in the NFL. Clear will remind most Aggie fans or former A&M tight end and current New York Giant Martellus Bennett.
In 2012 when the Ags got into the red zone, they would often insert Joseph Cheek at left tackle and move Joeckel to right tackle and Jake Matthews to tight end on the right side to get better blocking on the edge. With Clear on the field, they can simply line him up at right tackle and have a viable receiving target from that position in the red zone.
Clear may end up being most valuable out of the double-wing formation. Most Aggie fans will remember this formation from the Louisiana Tech game where both the A&M and Tech offenses lined up in it against each other.
In 2012 the Ags used Michael Lamothe and Nehemiah Hicks as the wing backs in this formation. They lined the two tight ends up closer to the quarterback so long with the running back, it appeared that the Ags had a diamond formation in the backfield.
The point of the double-wing formation is to outnumber the defenders on the edge. With five offensive linemen and two wing backs they should be a minimum of seven blockers on every play. With a quarterback like Manziel carrying the ball, you could have eight blockers in the game.
Clear would offer the Ags a devastating blocker on the edge out of this formation. He would also give them the option of a 6'6" receiving target out of this formation. If the Ags put Carson in as the running back in this formation, they could have 275-lb Clear and 230-lb Carson on the edge blocking for Manziel.
Diversity Is The Key
Sumlin and the Aggie coaching staff have recruited enough skill talent to A&M in the past two years that their options on offense are unlimited. They can be equally effective running the ball or passing the ball.
The offensive line is key to the success of any offense. However, the fact that Sumlin keeps such an open mind about his offense and is not afraid to experiment with new formations means that they scheme around any offensive weakness.
Sumlin has recruited the personnel and already employed the schemes and plays needed to overcome any weakness on the offensive line.
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The Penn State Nittany Lions will have several holes to fill in 2013 on both sides of the ball—most notably, replacing quarterback Matt McGloin, who led the Nittany Lions last season and made them the No. 2 passing offense in the Big Ten.
There will no doubt be an adjustment period on offense, that means that the defense, especially early on, is going to have to step up and lead in 2013.
Though there will be several starters returning on offense, one has to think that the team could struggle early on with an inexperienced signal-caller. This year's team will take the field with a new leader at quarterback. Top recruit Christian Hackenberg, junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson and 2012 backup Steven Bench will all be vying to be named the starter.
Whoever gets the job, there are sure to be growing pains as the offense evolves throughout the season. Bench is the only one with Division I experience, though he threw just eight passes in 2012. It takes time to learn the speed of the college game, develop a relationship with the receivers and to gain a knack for reading defenses.
The production that Penn State can expect from the quarterback position in 2013 is unknown and hard to predict. The Nittany Lions will likely rely heavily on the running game in order to take pressure off the passing attack.
The running game struggled in 2012, meaning that the play of McGloin was even more important to the success of the team. Even with the emergence of running back Zack Zwinak last season, the Nittany Lions ranked ninth in the Big Ten, averaging just 144.3 rushing yards per game.
Defenses will key on the backs, making the Nittany Lions beat them through the air.
While it may take a few games for the offense to gel in 2013, the defense is going to have to take a lead role. A solid defensive performance can keep any team in a game, regardless of any offensive struggles.
Although the unit will have to make up for the losses of Jordan Hill, Sean Stanley, Stephon Morris, Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges, it will still be solid. Despite the key losses, Penn State still returns seven guys who started last year, including Big Ten Freshman of the Year, defensive end Deion Barnes.
The secondary, which will return three regular starters, should be the strongest piece of the defense. Adrian Amos, Malcolm Willis and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong all bring valuable experience that will be relied on heavily in 2013.
Barnes and Da'Quan Jones, who both started last year, will anchor the defensive line. Starting middle linebacker Glenn Carson and the talented Mike Hull will be the core of the linebackers.
Fans should not expect to see the same Penn State offense as last season right away. Yes, a lot of the faces will be the same, but it's going to take time for the new quarterback to get everything clicking.
While the offense will be in a learning mode, the defense will be the backbone of the 2013 Penn State Nittany Lions.
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After a few days to let the recruiting dust settle and amidst much speculation, the final destination for Trinity High School (Lousiville, KY) defensive end Jason Hatcher remains as murky as ever.
Hatcher, who decommitted from USC last week, was set to visit Florida and hometown Louisville as he attempted to ascertain where he would spend his college career.
However, those plans changed for Hatcher after Ethan Moore of Louisville Sports Live Radio reported that Hatcher's mother said that he wouldn't be taking anymore visits.
Except that might not be the whole story.
According to Nick Coffey, who writes for "The Cardinal Connect," Hatcher's mother told Steve Jones of the Courier-Journal that a Louisville visit might still be in the cards for Hatcher but not this weekend.
Confused yet? Wait, it gets better.
On January 24, Gerard Martinez of USCFootball.com tweeted that, "A source close to four-star defensive end Jason Hatcher says he has re-committed to #USC. Other sources say it will be a NSD decision."
Well, that clears that up doesn't it?
While the recruiting status of Hatcher remains unclear, one thing that has cleared up is USC's desire to hold on to the big defensive end.
Initially, after Hatcher's decommittment from the Trojans, speculation centered on USC possibly having rescinded its scholarship offer for whatever reason.
We now know that isn't the case.
Upon learning of the decommitment, USC sent recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron—who would also be his position coach—to have a sit down at Hatcher's home.
This visit preceded the cancelled visits to Louisville and Florida by Hatcher and likely motivated the speculation that Hatcher had once again pledged to the Trojans.
So while young Jason's commitment remains unsettled, what is clear is that USC still wants him, which makes sense.
Beyond his ability, there is a possibility that when all is said and done, he could be the only defensive end in this class for the Trojans.
Former Trojan pledge Kylie Fitts has re-opened his recruitment after USC rescinded its offer to have Fitts enroll early and instead asked him to wait until fall.
USC's other defensive end pledge, Torrodney Prevot—a very quick but undersized player who will likely need a redshirt to gain weight—is listed as a "soft commit," and continues to take visits to other programs including one to Texas A&M last weekend.
No wonder Orgeron made the cross-country flight to Kentucky.
So where does this odd story wind up?
For USC's beleaguered coaching staff, which has received far more bad news than good of late, it hopes there is only one destination.
Back to USC, right where it began.
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With just over a week to go until national signing day, college football fans across the country are impatiently waiting to find out whether or not their favorite programs will secure one of the remaining high-end recruits.
Though the majority of the top-ranked available recruits (via 247 Sports) are defensive players, for teams on the market for offensive game-breakers, there are still a handful of offensive studs that remain unsigned.
As we close in on decision day, here's a look at the best offensive prospects that are still up for grabs.
Alex Collins—South Plantation, Florida
At No. 17 on 247 Sports' big board, Alex Collins is a versatile option in the backfield. He is being hotly pursued by a number of storied programs, such as Florida, Florida State, Wisconsin, Miami and Arkansas, but hasn't given a clear indication with regards to where he's headed in the fall.
After rushing for more than 3,200 yards in the last two seasons, the 4-star recruit will be a difference-maker immediately at the college level, so he won't be looking to head to a team that features a logjam at running back.
As such, it's no surprise that Collins is reportedly leaning slightly towards Miami and Arkansas, as Arkansas is losing its top back in Dennis Johnson, while Miami will be without one of its two leading rushers from 2012.
With Collins' explosiveness and size, there's no reason to believe that he won't make an impact if given an opportunity to do so as a freshman.
Stacy Coley—Northeast, Florida
Virtually all of the top wide receivers are off the market, so for teams still searching for elite talent to bolster their receiving corps, Stacy Coley is the best remaining option.
Ranked No. 4 among all receivers, Coley has largely been considering schools strictly from his home state of Florida (via 247 Sports).
At this stage, after having made recent visits to both South Florida, Miami and Florida State, Coley's search would appear to narrowed down to three, but of the three, Florida State would appear to offer a level of stability that the other two programs don't.
Coley isn't quite a sure bet to put up big numbers at the next level, but only because, at 175 lbs, he may not be physically ready to be a threat offensively just yet.
Durham Smythe—Belton, Texas
At 6'5", 233 lbs, Durham Smythe has the frame and raw athleticism to be an effective tight end at the college level. But in order to do so, he'll need to put on some muscle between now and this fall.
Smythe, who had previously committed to Texas before reneging on his decision in December, has an impressive collection of schools in the running to land him. And, according to 247 Sports, he's made official visits this month to Michigan, Stanford and Notre Dame.
He might be more of a project than an immediate difference-maker, but he's been productive at Belton, and he has all the tools to make his mark wherever he goes next.
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The 2013 Senior Bowl has come and gone, but a number of prospects have drastically shaken up their draft stock in the process.
While no player truly dominated in the Mobile, Ala. All-Star event, there were certainly some youngsters that boosted themselves up in the eyes of fans, scouts, coaches and GMs.
Let’s take a look at these players that stepped up and created a buzz in the latest Senior Bowl.
E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
In the short time Manuel was in the game, he certainly made an impact.
The Seminoles star completed 7-of-10 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown, although he did throw a pick. Manuel also showed off a glimpse of his running ability, carrying four times for 10 yards and a score.
Considering most of the other quarterbacks in the game didn’t live up to expectations, Manuel’s outing was relatively impressive. It shows the young man is a quick learner and able to adapt to new situations and offenses on the fly.
Don’t think that teams will forget that come late April.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Ansah led the South in tackles (7 total, 3.5 for a loss) and sacks (1.5), while also forcing a fumble and breaking up a pass.
That’s an extremely productive performance considering his limited snaps, and you can be positive that scouts took notice.
Prior to the Senior Bowl, this young man was widely considered a project going into the draft. Now he looks to have a real shot to go in the top half of the first round.
Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
No other player on the North was able to rack up yards on the ground like the UCLA standout.
Franklin finished with 41 yards and a touchdown on five carries, including a 20-yard gain that proved this LA native isn’t someone to be ignored on the big boards.
It wasn’t easy to find space against the South standout defenders, but Franklin managed to carve up the D and improve his draft stock in the process.
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