Forgotten in the offense throughout much of his freshman season, Texas Longhorns' all-purpose tailback Daje Johnson is set to explode in 2013. All he needs is his touches.
Now that D.J. Monroe and Marquise Goodwin have graduated, Johnson stands alone as the team's fastest player as well as its top home run threat. This means that he is not only in line for a major increase in offensive touches, but that he is the top candidate to handle kickoff returns, an area where the 'Horns are desperate for some big plays.
Now that he is going to get the touches he deserves, Johnson is set for a career season in which he will establish himself as one the Big 12's most explosive players. Here's why.
Every year, we pay a ton of attention to the 5-star prospects, elite 4-star recruits and players that we feel are top-10 caliber recruits at their position. That's always going to be the case, because those prospects get a lot of hype and, therefore, they get a lot of coverage.
The drawback from that is that many other good football players get "slept on" and become "sleepers". They don't get the hype, coverage and attention that the elite recruits get, even though they deserve it.
In this 2013 recruiting class, there are a ton of sleepers and players at the bottom of the board who I feel will go on to have great careers.
For this read, I'm going to give you the top-10 sleepers to watch out for from this 2013 college football freshman class.
Continuing our look ahead to the 2013 season, it's time to rank the most powerful backfields and rushing attacks in the Big Ten for next year.
A good running game is typically required to grind through the tough conference season and come out with a chance at a title. Not surprisingly, four of the conference's teams (Nebraska, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Northwestern) ranked in the Top 20 nationally for rushing, and all four of these teams were near the top of the standings.
Also not surprisingly, each of those four teams will be competing for the top spot in 2013 as well. But there are also some up-and-comers trying to unseat these four in the conference standings and atop the rushing charts.
The following rankings have been based on the 2012 and career statistics of returning players, as reported by ESPN, with the addition of players injured last season and incoming recruits. Having multiple proven options is a valued asset considering that most teams experience some injuries at this position throughout a long season.
Let's take a look at the best backfields in Big Ten Country for 2013.
The Oklahoma State Cowboys weren't able to defend their Big 12 title in 2012, but 2013 is looking like the team's chance to reinsert itself back to the top of the conference.
Obviously, the Big 12 is a very deep conference that sent nine of its 10 teams to bowl games in 2012.
The Cowboys are going to have to overcome the tough teams of the conference, as well as some key offseason changes.
Oklahoma State may be without stud running back Joseph Randle and offensive coordinator Todd Monken. However, there are plenty of other factors that has them looking like possible front-runners next year.
The Senior Bowl is an excellent chance for college football's best to showcase their talents just three months before the upcoming NFL draft. No different from any other year, the 2013 Senior Bowl featured plenty of winners and losers.
While some players improved their draft stock, many saw the opposite occur. There is still plenty of opportunity in the coming months, particularly with the scouting combine, but the week of practice leading up to the Senior Bowl and the game itself are the first indicators.
The game was relatively close, but the South led from start to finish en route to a 21-16 victory.
Here are the winners and losers from the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Paul “Bear” Bryant looms as the Alabama football program’s biggest icon, but several players—before, during and after Bryant’s tenure—have gone on to achieve excellence during their stay at the Capstone.
From the era of the 1930s with Hall of Fame split end Don Hutson to Nick Saban’s present-day dynasty led by quarterback A.J. McCarron, Alabama supporters have witnessed the birth of several star-studded careers on the gridiron.
With so many players dominating at a school synonymous with excellence and winning, there are a number of gifted and charismatic athletes who would be left off no matter how long this list could possibly be.
So with that said, which players stood out the most in their time wearing Crimson and White?
Find out as I attempt to nail down the 30 most legendary players in Alabama football history.
The NCAA has made some changes to the rules of recruiting. Coaches can now pretty much contact a recruit more freely and more frequently. Coaches also now don't have any restraints on how to contact a recruit, so Facebook, calling, texting, Skyping, emailing, flying kites and just about everything else is pretty much fair game now.
Another interesting change in recruiting is that there is no longer any restraint on how many coaches can go off campus to recruit. So now, a head coach can unleash his whole staff to attack the trail and pound the pavement at once. You won't see head coaches out on the road often, if at all, but now they can deploy their whole staff of coaches to go lure talent to campus at the same time.
So which coaches stand to gain the most from these changes? Let's find out.
Few people saw Florida's immensely successful 2012 season coming.
This really should come as no surprise. The team was coming off a disastrous 7-6 season under first-year head coach Will Muschamp, and he would be forced to hand the offense over to a sophomore quarterback. There were many occasions where the offense had looked flat, and the defense had looked soft. The Gators were supposed to be better last season, but a BCS bowl seemed out of the question.
Of course, it's apparent that the Gator defense had other plans.
The end result was an 11-1 regular season and a Sugar Bowl appearance. It was made possible by a variety of factors, but none bigger than the team's highly talented defensive unit. This group shut down the likes of LSU, Texas A&M and South Carolina en route to becoming the fifth-best scoring defense in the nation.
Unfortunately for the Gators, many key defensive contributors are now gone. Matt Elam, Jon Bostic, Jelani Jenkins and Sharrif Floyd are just some of the names they will have to replace for next season.
However, help is on the way with the arrival of their latest recruiting class. Littered amongst the team's list of committed players are defensive prospects that have the potential to become stars. With so many others departing, the Gators will likely need to rely on this new talent crop next season.
Here are the five recruits that are most likely to make a significant impact during their first season as a Gator.
The transfer of Jacoby Brissett means the Florida Gators will be without a safety net at quarterback in 2013. That makes this the most important offseason of Jeff Driskel's young career.
For a first-year starter, 2012 wasn't a bad season for Driskel, but there is a lot of room for improvement in his game.
While Driskel showed flashes of the quarterback he can become against Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida State, there were two games (Georgia, Louisville) where he and the offense were exposed.
Driskel will be a junior next season and in his second year of Brent Pease's playbook, so the excuses that he is still young and learning the offense are no longer valid. It's time for Driskel to realize his potential and take the next step in his development.
With the backup quarterback job still up in the air, let's look at the top five areas Driskel needs to work on in the offseason to become the leader the Gators offense will need in 2013.
If his debut with the Michigan Wolverines is anything like his press conference, then Derrick Green should hit the field in style for coach Brady Hoke.
Green, the nation's No. 1-ranked running back of the 2013 class, committed Saturday to Michigan during a presser at Hermitage High (Va.), the school he helped achieve a 10-1 record in 2012 by averaging close to 13 yards per tote.
Sitting behind a table on stage, Green had Michigan, Auburn and Tennessee hats—to represent his final three choices—placed in front of him. As the presser continued, Green stood up, then grabbed a Michigan hat placed to his right, put it back down on the table, and then reached for a Tennessee hat that was to his left.
The suspense. The drama.
But that was just the beginning.
Green then made his way to the back corner of the room, hitting a switch that activated a drop cloth that revealed where he would play college football. As the cloth lifted, a blue jersey appeared.
That jersey was a Michigan jersey, complete with No. 27 and the name "Green" across the back shoulders.
Now that he's officially a "Michigan Man," the time to predict his contributions to the program starts now. Granted, those speculations were made prior to his commitment, but he's one step closer to being signed, sealed and delivered (it'll be set in stone on national signing day, Feb. 6).
Let the mayhem ensue.
Green's entry to Michigan begs one question to be answered: Do the Wolverines now possess the Big Ten's top backfield?
Take a moment to mull over the list of departing stars like Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell, Wisconsin's Montee Ball and Nebraska's Rex Burkhead, a trio of the league's standouts that are bound for the next phase of their careers.
Now, give this a thought: Michigan could have a foursome unlike any other in the Big Ten, starting with a healthy Fitz Toussaint, a former 1,000-yard rusher in 2011; will-be junior Thomas Rawls, an incredibly talented downhill runner and third-down specialist; and Justice Hayes, a player that can juke his way out of a phone booth.
Add in will-be freshman Deveon Smith, perhaps an underrated 3-star recruit, and Michigan's stable of running backs looks all the more threatening.
Don't forget about that Green kid, either. He's important.
Comparing Big Ten's Best Backfields to Michigan's (Basically OSU vs. UM)
Ohio State has quarterback Braxton Miller, a will-be junior with a set of wheels that complement his respectable arm. Miller rushed for 1,271 yards in 2012 and gives the Buckeyes the same type of threat that Denard Robinson (1,266 yards) gave the Wolverines.
Both led their teams in rushing this past season, too.
But let's subtract Miller and Robinson from the equation; they're not running backs, and Robinson is finished at Michigan.
As of now, Ohio State will have Carlos Hyde's services this fall. He rushed for 917 yards in 2012, good for the Big Ten's sixth-best average of 97 per game. The will-be senior is one of the league's elite, and he'll get more help once 4-star prospect Ezekiel Elliott joins the Buckeyes.
At 6'0" and 198 pounds, Elliott certainly has the build to be a solid ball-carrier in the physical Big Ten. According to Rivals.com, he's the country's 12th-best tailback of the 2013 class.
And he runs a 4.42-second 40-yard dash. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Rod Smith, a former 4-star rated recruit, is a bruising 6'3", 230-pound soon-to-be junior. He outweighs Derrick Green by 10 pounds and is three inches taller. That being said, it's quite obvious that the Wolverines aren't the only kids on the block with a tank-like force capable of moving the sticks.
Smith averaged 6.7 yards per touch in 2012, a clip that highlighted his grand total of 215 on 32 carries.
Now let's shift to Michigan.
The Wolverines benefited by having Thomas Rawls in the mix this past fall. He averaged 8.9 yards per carry on third down, a measurement skewed by a 63-yard touchdown. However, that doesn't diminish his value when push comes to shove. At 5'10" and approximately 215 pounds, Rawls provides size and durability.
He was once thought to be Michigan's best option for the No. 1 job.
Now that Green is on his way to Ann Arbor, Rawls could be the second or third option, depending on the progress of will-be junior Justice Hayes and true freshman Deveon Smith.
Fitz Toussaint's status for the 2013 season isn't 100 percent certain. The horrific leg injury suffered against Iowa could keep him shelved until 2014. If consistent, he'd give Michigan a big-play threat. But for now, let's keep him on the back burner; it's uncertain if he'll return fully healthy this fall.
One 5-star recruit doesn't automatically give Michigan an advantage over Ohio State, nor does it guarantee ground supremacy in the Big Ten. However, landing Green definitely affords some type of upper hand for offensive coordinator Al Borges, who will no longer have to rely on a sprite quarterback to advance the ground game.
That's a leg up over Ohio State, which will likely have Miller take on the majority of rushing duties in 2013.
So much talent, so much to debate. Leave a comment explaining why you feel Michigan does or doesn't have the best backfield in the Big Ten.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.
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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.