Coach Urban Meyer has not taken his foot off the pedal in search for a quarterback for the 2014 draft class. Today, though, some news was released that should make Buckeye Nation hopeful. One of the most underrated prospects of the class, quarterback Brandon Harris, has announced that he will visit Ohio State on May 30.
Brandon Harris is one of the fastest rising QB prospects in the country - and he'll be in Columbus next week. bit.ly/10jVuOk
— Jeremy Birmingham (@Birm) May 22, 2013
The Buckeyes extended an offer to the Louisiana native earlier this month, and if this visit does in fact happen, it’ll be huge for Urban Meyer and his staff.
Harris currently holds offers from Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn and many more. With Harris being from Louisiana, there’s no doubt that some of the southern schools could have the upper hand for one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, or at least that’s the way it has sounded recently. On Tuesday evening, Harris seemed to hush the talk of southern schools being at the top of his list: “Don't believe all the stuff you read. It's not true at all. I'm wide open,” he told Eleven Warriors.
At 6’2" 193 pounds, Harris has the size and the arm to be successful in any system he runs at the next level. However, his mobility makes him a perfect candidate to run the spread offense, most notably, Urban Meyer’s spread offense.
As a junior in 2012, Brandon Harris threw for over 2,500 yards and 26 touchdowns while also adding 667 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. His completion percentage only hovered around 50 percent though, and that’s probably why offensive coordinator Tom Herman made the effort to go see him throw at his high school.
Harris is planning to announce his choice sometime over summer, but we all know when it comes to high school kids, the official date could change anytime. This means Urban Meyer has two months to sway this kid to be a Buckeye. No one in the country closes in on a recruit like Meyer, and Harris’ visit on May 30 is just the start. Meyer and the Ohio State coaching staff will lay out the red carpet for Harris when he arrives on campus and we’ll see if that’s enough to make him a Buckeye.
Watch Harris' highlights here.
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Looking ahead to next year's NFL draft, the Kansas State Wildcats have some quality prospects worth mentioning on this year's squad.
Head coach Bill Snyder produced three draft picks last April with linebacker Arthur Brown, wide receiver Chris Harper and fullback Braden Wilson.
With the departure of some key players, including the draft picks plus undrafted Collin Klein, these NFL prospects for the Wildcats could play pivotal roles as the Wildcats look to repeat as Big 12 champions in 2013.
Ohio State shouldn't have many problems being perfect at home. It's the road trips that will show how good this team really is next season.
The Buckeyes only leave Ohio five times, but face tough challenges in nearly all of those games.
OSU plays this season at Cal, Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois and Michigan. The Illini should pose little threat after going winless in the Big Ten a year ago, but the other four road games may be very tough.
Cal gave OSU a tough test in the Horseshoe a year ago and should pose another threat in Berkeley with first-year coach Sonny Dykes running the show. The Golden Bears offense should be more explosive, especially if youngsters RB Brendan Bigelow and WR Chris Harper build off solid seasons.
Northwestern finally had a big breakthrough in 2012, winning 10 games as well as winning a bowl game for the first time since 1949.
The news gets worse for the rest of the Big Ten because most of the Wildcats' big guns, namely RB Venric Mark and QB Kain Colter, are back. Northwestern is already a tough team to stop, but now, they're an even tougher team with experience and a boatload of confidence.
The Buckeyes haven't lost to Northwestern since 2004, but this year's team may be the best Northwestern has been in a long time.
Purdue should be an interesting challenge as well because of how much trouble the Boilermakers have caused the Buckeyes in recent years. Were it not for an incredible comeback by Kenny Guiton at QB, the Buckeyes would have lost to Purdue for the third time in four years last season.
New coach Darrell Hazell may bring a different mindset offensively than Danny Hope, but Purdue has enough talent to make OSU sweat again if the Boilermakers play the way they have in recent years.
As for Michigan, the difficulty is obvious with the rivalry factor. The Wolverines defense should be at its best since the Lloyd Carr era ended, and RB Fitzgerald Toussaint should be healthy after missing last year's showdown in Columbus.
OSU fell to the Wolverines in Ann Arbor two years ago, in the last game before Urban Meyer signed on as head coach. Michigan could be the biggest obstacle standing between the Buckeyes and the national championship shot they have coveted for years.
These four games in particular are all winnable without question, but they're certainly going to be battles.
If the Buckeyes run the table once again this year, with the road slate in front of them, it will mean a lot more.
Follow me on Twitter @bielik_tim for the latest college football news and updates.
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College football players have many options for a bright future. Playing in the NFL, pursuing a career in the field of their chosen degree or coaching. Coaching is almost always an option, unless they spend more than a decade outside the realm of football.
What does it take to be an excellent coach? You have to be able to win national championships, raise up players with incredible integrity and moral character or both. No coach is going to be retained if he can't find success either on or off the field.
It takes intelligence, specific knowledge of football and the ability to lead in order to be an excellent coach.
Here are 10 players on 2013 rosters who will someday make great coaches.
The buzz began with one image, a scene so unfathomable it had to be photoshopped.
But it wasn’t.
Tree-trunk legs with a waistline that would be chest-high for most. An upper body that made the No. 96 look remarkably out of scale. Just mass, endless mass, and a low-cut jersey that could serve as a gown for us mere mortals.
The legend of Tennessee defensive tackle Daniel McCullers and his incredible physical presence has grown since this image (on the right) surfaced. Others photos have followed, each just as hard to comprehend. With a season in the SEC under his massive belt, however, the potential of college football’s biggest being remains a mystery.
On his official Tennessee bio, McCullers is listed at 6’8” and 360 pounds. This is actually down from his playing weight last year—around 380 pounds—but much heavier than his current senior offseason trim.
“Man Mountain,” “Mount McCullers,” “Big Dan” and “Ton DMC” (clearly the winner of the bunch) are just a handful of the nicknames that McCullers has acquired since arriving in Knoxville. And while they still apply, McCullers is below the 350-pound mark for the first time since his freshman year.
More specifically, for the first time since his freshman year of high school, McCullers is down below 350 pounds. Calling him “big” just doesn't seem appropriate. He requires something more.
“I’ve covered the SEC for all but two or three years since 2000 and he tops them all,” said Wes Rucker, senior writer at GoVols247 who still marvels at each Tennessee practice. “He makes 6-4, 300-pound linemen look like linebackers. It’s amazing.”
If the name Daniel McCullers is new to you, you’re likely not alone. After spending his freshman and sophomore seasons at Georgia Military College, he transferred to Tennessee before his junior season.
While his size has been well known, the rest is not. Scouts and coaches have had a difficult time evaluating McCullers because his dimensions have yet to pan out to consistent dominance along the defensive front.
247Sports had him rated as the No. 41 JUCO player and the No. 6 defensive tackle. He recorded 37 tackles, nine for loss, and two sacks in his final season at Georgia Military Academy while being recruited by former Tennessee coach Derek Dooley.
Playing under Dooley, his numbers were comparable against much-improved competition. In 12 games for Tennessee, McCullers recorded 39 tackles (including eight against Georgia), five-and-a-half for loss and one sack.
On one play in particular in the game against Georgia, his unbelievable potential was on full display. Although Aaron Murray completed the pass for a substantial gain, McCullers bulldozed Georgia's 300-pound center, moving him like a shopping cart with a bad wheel.
Oh, this is beautiful football poetry that requires multiple viewings.
His 2012 season was a solid foundation considering the significant upgrade in talent. Still, his ceiling is still out of sight. His play (and effort) still isn’t always where it needs to be.
New Tennessee head coach Butch Jones is hoping this talent comes into focus. McCullers is keeping his weight down in an effort to improve his conditioning, and expectations are beginning to build.
Butch Jones on Dan McCullers: "I think we've probably pushed him the hardest, because we need him to be a dominating defensive tackle."— Volquest Staff (@Volquest_Rivals) April 20, 2013
As both Butch Jones and defensive line coach Steve Stripling push him, hoping that he realizes this potential, McCullers has done what he has always done: quietly go about his business.
While he’s impossible to miss on the field, vocally he’s quite the opposite.
“He’s a really good kid, but he’s incredibly soft-spoken and hates drawing attention to himself off the field,” Rucker added. “You have to strain to hear him. I never imagined such a big guy would have such a quiet voice.”
Tennessee isn’t worried about his demeanor. Instead it's counting on McCullers to help stop the run, something that was problematic a season ago. The Vols ranked 87th against the run in 2012, allowing 4.75 yards per carry and giving up 25 touchdowns on the ground.
The defense is undergoing yet another overhaul, switching to a more traditional 4-3 front versus the 3-4 run under former defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri. For McCullers, this will means opportunities to be more than just a space-eater. He’ll have chances to disrupt, and a sudden influx of batted balls wouldn’t be a surprise, either.
As he readies for his senior season, the inevitable talk about his NFL future has started to surface.
ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has McCullers ranked as the No. 4 defensive tackle in the country and No. 43 overall on his yearly big board. Other scouts and draft analysts will undoubtedly be fascinated with this unique prospect simply because of his size. If he can back it up with improved play, the buzz could be enormous.
“Some people think he’s a first-rounder. I think that remains to be seen, but he’s really a much better athlete than most people probably imagine,” Rucker noted on his draft potential. “When he wants to go fast, he’s not slow. NFL teams will see that. Many already have seen it.”
Just how much McCullers improves during his senior year will be telling. His improvement could mean a fast start for a program that would love to add wins and early success to some recent recruiting momentum. It could also mean an added checking account boost for McCullers come next spring’s NFL draft.
Whether or not a slimmed-down McCullers finally reaches his potential this fall remains to be seen, although he’s one to keep an eye on in the SEC.
After all, he’ll be hard to miss.
*Adam Kramer is the Lead Football Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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To become one of the most prominent football programs in the country, you have to make the impossible a reality with great plays. The Texas Longhorns have had those in droves, courtesy of some of the greatest players and coaches to ever take part in college football.
As far as athletic feats, great plays occur on what has become a weekly basis. But the greatest ones are those that are made when the pressure is making your ears pop.
Those are the moments when the following great plays took place in the storied past of the Texas Longhorns. Some occurred in massive rivalry games, others in bowl games. But all had major implications on that team's season and cemented its place in the program's history.
Though you get one guess as to which one comes in at the top, please enjoy and share your thoughts on the snubs.
If you were wondering whether we've reached the dog days of the offseason yet, the slow-trickling release of the national watch lists for college football's major awards should give you your answer.
We're exactly 100 days away from the first 2013 matchup, and with excitement growing for the coming season, so too comes the excitement for the individual players on our favorite teams.
On that note, Ohio State has announced that three Buckeyes have already been named to a pair of national watch lists.
Last week, cornerback Bradley Roby and linebacker Ryan Shazier, both juniors, were named to the Lott Impact Trophy watch list. On Tuesday morning, senior center Corey Linsley made the initial Rimington Trophy watch list.
Ohio State spokesperson Jerry Emig announced the news via Twitter:
Two watch lists revealed and already three Buckeyes being watched: Corey Linsley (Rimington) and Bradley Roby & Ryan Shazier (Lott IMPACT).— Jerry Emig (@BuckeyeNotes) May 21, 2013
The Lott Impact Trophy is awarded annually to the defensive player who best exemplifies integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity throughout the season. Both Roby and Shazier made the initial watch lists after outstanding sophomore campaigns.
Roby became the best player in a very talented and experienced secondary in 2012. The lockdown corner led the nation in passes defended per game (1.73) and ranked third on the team with 63 total tackles (41 solo).
And while John Simon was the "heart and soul" of the Buckeyes' defense, Shazier was the most productive member of the unit. The third-year linebacker had an incredible season, piling up a team-high 115 tackles and 17 tackles for loss (which led the Big Ten). Shazier also registered five sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
The Rimington Trophy is an award given to the nation's top center, and with Linsley joining three other returning starters up front for the Buckeyes, Ohio State's offensive line should shine in 2013.
Linsley, who transitioned from the guard position to center when Urban Meyer was hired by Ohio State, earned a starting spot in a unit that turned into a surprising strength for the Buckeyes in 2012. Linsley helped turn what was an anemic offense in 2011 into a unit that led the Big Ten in scoring (37.2 points per game) in 2012.
LeCharles Bentley was the last Ohio State player to win the Rimington Trophy (2001), and James Laurinaitis last won the Lott Impact Trophy in 2008.
There will certainly be more Buckeyes added to various watch lists as we move through the summer. Guys like Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, Devin Smith, Corey Brown, Jack Mewhort, Christian Bryant and CJ Barnett are all top players at their positions and should earn some preseason attention.
David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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We are now well into the Nebraska Football All-Time Husker Greats Fantasy Draft, and here’s how the two teams stack up so far.
QB: Frazier, Tommie (1)
QB: Gill, Turner (2)
IB: Rozier, Mike (4)
OG: Brown, Bob (9)
OG: Shields, Will (8)
C: Rimington, Dave (5)
WR: Rodgers, Johnny (3)
WR: Fryar, Irving (10)
DE: Wistrom, Grant (7)
DT: Glover, Rich (11)
DT: Suh, Ndamukong (6)
OLB: Thomas, Broderick (12)
Both teams still have quite a few holes to fill, and there is a great deal of quality left on the board. So let’s see who gets picked next.
The BCS has been in place for the past 15 years, and in that time, Oregon Duck fans have had the pleasure of seeing some spectacular football.
There have been wildly entertaining games, gutty individual efforts and moments that simply cause you to smile and shake your head.
Here we're taking a look at the top 10 highlights of the BCS era, and when you pause to consider what kind of accomplishments the Ducks have had on offense, well, let's just say narrowing down the list to just a handful was quite a process.
Of course, that's not to slight the defense, which has come up huge time and time again. You can count on that side of the ball making an appearance or two as well.
Part of the criteria involved taking a look at when the play occurred—was it a pivotal moment in the game or a play that defined the season? But an equal if not slightly larger part of consideration went toward the play itself—how incredible was it regardless of the circumstances surrounding it?
Using that particular framework, let's take a look at the top 10 Oregon football highlights from the BCS era. And yes, there will be video.
Honorable Mention: I could probably list 20 different plays here, but among those that failed to make the cut despite being highlights that everyone remembers: Joey Harrington's 80-yard pass to Samie Parker in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl, Cliff Harris' punt return at Cal, Ed Dickson game-tying TD catch at Arizona, DAT's punt return vs Colorado and many, many others.
Heading into the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns were on top of the world.
Texas was coming off of a perfect 13-0 season, a season in which they scored 34 or more points in 11 games and won the Big 12 conference.
Nine plays into the game, the Longhorns' fortunes took a turn for the worse.
Quarterback Colt McCoy was tackled by Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus on a designed quarterback run play, which resulted in a pinched nerve in his throwing shoulder and left him ineffective for the rest of the game.
Alabama went on to win, 37-21, as Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert struggled, throwing four interceptions and making pivotal mistakes in a game that was close until the fourth quarter.
It was the first time that Texas lost a game to Alabama, as they fell to a record of 7-1-1 in nine attempts against the Tide.
That was also McCoy's final game, and since the loss, the Longhorns have not been back to a BCS game, after playing in four in their previous five seasons.
The next season was a disaster, as the Longhorns struggled to 5-7 and missed a bowl game for the first time since Mack Brown's arrival 12 years before.
2011 and 2012 were better, as the Longhorns improved to 8-5 and 9-4 respectively, and won both bowl games in which they appeared.
Still, a combined 22-16 record over three seasons is unheard of at Texas over the first decade of this century, and Brown has never had a worse stretch since he arrived in Austin.
While the Longhorns seem primed for another double-digit win season in 2013 with the right breaks, it feels like an eternity since the team has even come close to sniffing a BCS game, after being a staple of the BCS for four out of five seasons.
So what went wrong?
Rather than try and pin the problems on one specific issue, there is a list that has to be taken into consideration, including the myth of the Will Muschamp effect, failure to develop talent, no star quarterback and a lack of flexibility.
Mack Brown and his staff have done an excellent job recruiting, bringing in a top five class from 2009-2012.
While that kind of recruiting success has translated to championships and undefeated seasons in places like Ohio State, Alabama and LSU, the 'Horns have been squandering that talent away.
College football, in spite of what some would argue, has much to do with the level of talent on the field, but truly elite coaching staffs take that talent, polish it, shape it and mold it into a team that produces.
Teams like Oregon, Alabama, Notre Dame and LSU are pulling in excellent recruiting classes, some better than the Longhorns, but the thing that sets them apart is the player development.
The second piece to this fall from grace is a lack of flexibility, especially when implementing a system on offense.
When Ricky Williams was punishing defenders, Brown and his staff relied heavily on a power run game. When Vince Young was dominating Rose Bowls, the offense relied heavily on zone read. Under Colt McCoy's leadership, the spread option led to tremendous success.
In recent seasons, lacking the quarterback to lead a specific offense, the Longhorns have struggled, which brings us to our next issue—Mack Brown's need to have excellent quarterback play to succeed.
While Vince Young was under center for Mack Brown's offense as the sole starter in 2004 and 2005, the Longhorns were an incredible 24-1. Young's ability to run the offense was incredible, and run it he did. He led a revamped Texas offense incredibly well en route to consecutive BCS game victories.
Upon Young's departure, Colt McCoy took the reins of the offense, and tied a then freshman record 29 touchdown passes thrown in his first season.
Three years and 45 wins later, McCoy was an icon of Texas football, a gunslinger who ran and threw the ball better than any college quarterback in the nation, and whose very name seemed to fit like a glove for a Texas quarterback.
Since McCoy's departure, a combination of Case McCoy, David Ash and Garrett Gilbert has not been the answer. It remains to be seen whether Ash can reverse that trend in 2013.
And then there is the curious case of defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.
Muschamp was anointed Coach Brown's successor in November of 2008, with the university making an announcement that he would take over the program upon Brown's departure.
That was shortlived, as Muschamp bolted for Florida following the Longhorns' disastrous 5-7 season.
But please don't look at Muschamp's departure as a major cause for the Longhorns' disastrous free-fall in 2010 and the ensuing mediocre seasons.
Even during the 2010 season, Muschamp's defense was ranked sixth in the nation in total defense, so it's impossible to lay the blame there.
However, in 2011, while Muschamp was in his first season at Florida, the defense finished 11th in the nation in total defense.
Then for some inexplicable reason beyond poor tackling and technique, the Longhorns, with seven starters returning to the defense, found a way to plummet to 68th in the same category last season.
The defense was atrocious last season, but let's not pretend that the loss of Muschamp was responsible for the sudden decline in production and execution.
Even one of these several issues could cause severe problems for an elite program, and four years ago, Texas was that. All of them together have been near crippling.
But the future is bright. Brown and his staff again return loads of talent, the Big 12 is as wide open as it has ever been and the Longhorns are changing up the offense to suit the talent.
In just a few months, we will see if Mack Brown and his staff are still in hot water, or if the new found flexibility coupled with emphasis on the fundamentals can help return the Longhorns to a BCS game for one final rodeo.
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Going into the 2012 college football season, Dana Holgorsen and the West Virginia football team thought they were up to the challenge of moving from the Big East to the Big 12 Conference.
It looked like the Mountaineers were going to be a major player in the conference title race early on, but their young, undersized defense eventually collapsed and they fizzled out over the brunt of the in-conference slate.
Now in 2013, Holgorsen and his squad will face a whole new set of challenges.
This time around they'll be without three of the best players in school history, as Tavon Austin, Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey each departed for the NFL. As a result, this year's squad will have to depend on improvement on the other side of the ball.
Today we'll take a look at those two tall tasks and what else WVU will have to overcome this season.
Challenges are rated on how difficult the task is and how much impact the outcome will have on the team's success in 2013.
When Aaron Murray finishes his career in Athens, he will go down as one of the most prolific quarterbacks in SEC history.
Murray has a shot at finishing first in the SEC in all-time pass completions, touchdowns and yards. The most interesting thing about this is if he does become the all-time SEC passing leader in yards (which is likely going to happen because he only about 600 yards shy of the record), he will surpass another UGA great, David Greene.
Both Murray and Greene had great careers at UGA and fans will always be grateful for what they did on the field.
But if Murray does finally win an SEC title and give the Bulldogs a shot at the national championship, is he better than Greene?
Let’s take a look at how Murray is similar and different to the current SEC all-time passing leader.
With all the talk, hype and hoopla surrounding the Michigan Wolverines’ 2014 class and 2015 efforts, it’s important not to let the 2013 class be shoved aside.
It’s easy to let Hoke’s second group of recruits get filed away and reopened for discussion come late summer and fall. But don’t forget that it was ranked No. 5 nationally and No. 2 in the Big Ten by 247Sports.com.
When analyzing what went wrong with Michigan in 2012, a simple look at the 2013 class and its potential early stars could answer a few questions pertaining to how issues will be corrected this fall.
Lacking in the Running Game
Fitz Toussaint just wasn’t it for the Wolverines in 2012. Forget about his 1,000-yard sophomore season, because the will-be senior certainly has something to prove this year. Toussaint was in the midst of what probably would have been his best game of the season before he suffered a gruesome ACL injury Nov. 17 against Iowa.
Thirty-one yards on three carries—and then it was all over. He averaged 5.6 yards per tote in 2011, but struggled to string together 4-yard-a-carry efforts during his junior year.
Thomas Rawls and Justice Hayes were adequate relievers in a sense, but Michigan’s running game never reached an apex—and Toussaint was supposed to get the Wolverines there.
Enter Derrick Green, a unanimously tabbed top-caliber running back of the 2013 class. At one time, he was ranked as high as the No. 1 running back, but 247Sports.com has him as the No. 4 guy at this point. Rivals.com has him as the “leader and best” among tailbacks entering college this fall.
A true Michigan-type, Green is 6’1” and 220 pounds of ouch for linebackers to handle. Rawls was often lauded for his hardnosed approach to smothering would-be tacklers, but Green has similar tank-like instincts too.
Green brings an SEC-feel to Ann Arbor—a big, fast and powerful bulldozing prospect, maybe something like former Auburn star Ronnie Brown. Capable of putting a Band-Aid on the 2012 running game blemishes, Green could immediately impact and rejuvenate Michigan’s ground attack within just a few weeks.
DeVeon Smith, a 4-star prepster, is another Rawls-like back. At 6’1” and 210 pounds, Smith could add a hint of Borges’ backfield at Auburn: Brown and Cadillac Williams. Put Rawls in that group, too.
Michigan stands to have an elite backfield in 2013.
Backup QB Still a Question
When and if Denard Robinson went down in 2012, the Wolverines had a game plan for the No. 2 starter role: Devin Gardner, a quarterback who dabbled at wide receiver prior to Robinson’s injury ulnar-nerve injury versus Nebraska.
Gardner didn’t fumble his chance when given the reins of the offense. Russell Bellomy, did, however.
Robinson is gone, and Gardner is the standalone first option under center for offensive coordinator Al Borges’ set.
Shane Morris, a 2013 recruit who once had a 5-star billing, can’t be redshirted, although Michigan would probably love to do so. The former Warren De La Salle High top gun has to get meaningful reps in the event that Gardner is placed on the sideline by the injury bug.
Brian Cleary, a redshirt sophomore-to-be, emerged as the No. 2 starter behind Gardner during spring scrimmages. Had Bellomy not suffered an ACL injury in spring, he’d be the guy—and Michigan would still have an issue.
Morris may not be the cure-all, but he’s certainly a viable option for second-fiddle status. The backup quarterback position is one that can be filled via 2013 recruiting, thus making it important not to look too far ahead at 2014 and 2015 just yet.
Some may choose to wait until Wilton Speight’s arrival to worry about this, though.
Secondary is Primary
Under Rich Rodriguez, Michigan had a comically tragic set of defensive backs working the depths of the field. Not to say that they weren’t talented, but the way Michigan was torched through the air for three years made it incredibly difficult to see any of the athlete’s upsides.
That being said, there was almost immediate turnaround under defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who took a lowly unit and made it one of the Big Ten’s best; the Wolverines were No. 2 in the league in total defense (320 yards) and pass defense (169.5) in 2012.
With 4-star safety Dymonte Thomas headed to Ann Arbor, the Wolverines have a bonafide, 6’1”, 190-pound bruiser in center field. Receivers may want to think twice about going deep and down the middle with Thomas on call.
Ross Douglas, Jourdan Lewis and Delano Hill are each 4-star rated recruits and signify a changing of the guard in Michigan’s secondary. Add in Channing Stribling, and the Wolverines have yet another option to give Courtney Avery, Blake Countess and Jarrod Wilson a little help if needed.
The 2013 defensive backs, like they’re supposed to do, provide a few extra names on the depth chart—and that’s never a bad thing for a coach.
Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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One of the great sidebars in sports is nicknames, and when you start talking college football and monikers, something magical is bound to happen.
Yes, while it’s one thing to give tennis players or golfers the perfect nickname, it’s another thing entirely to rename a guy who lines up as a menacing defensive end, elusive receiver or fearless quarterback.
And with inspiration from the college game’s rich history which includes such gems as RGIII, the Tyler Rose, Honey Badger, the Kansas Comet, the Grey Ghost, the Boz, Rocket, the Comet, the Elmira Express, Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside and Prime Time, it’s difficult to not want to give it a whirl.
The following slideshow does just that and assigns new nicknames for eight of college football’s top stars coming into 2013.
Even though these bold attempts to label this season’s stars might seem to fall short on the surface, who knows, maybe fate will intervene and declare that one of these humble tags is the stuff that legends is made of.
And, then again, maybe not so much.
Throughout the history of the Auburn football program, there have been many classic games that helped shape the rich and proud tradition of the Auburn Tigers.
At least once a year, there is a game that becomes one of those instant classics. You know the ones, the types of games that are hard to ever forget. The 1993 and 1994 Florida games and the 2004 Georgia game are some of the great Auburn classic games.
Some classics are so good that they become ingrained into the Auburn history books.
There's "17-16," "Bo Over The Top," "The Barn Burner" and of course, "28-27." Even in the horrible 2012 campaign there was a classic game that Auburn fans will remember. Auburn nearly upset LSU, who was ranked No. 2 in the country at the time.
What does 2013 have in store for Auburn fans? Approximately 100 days away from the start of the college football season, one game that is primed to be an instant classic for Auburn fans in 2013 is the matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs in "The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry." The Bulldogs travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium for the second consecutive year on November 16.
These classic games involving Auburn usually have a few of the same ingredients—they occur against one of Auburn's natural rivals, it's a game where the Tigers are an underdog and there is usually a lot at stake.
The Georgia game in 2013 has all of those ingredients and then some.
The Bulldogs have dominated the rivalry since 2006. Auburn's only win since that season came in 2010. Georgia has pulled even in the record books over the last few years and the overall series record is 54-54-8.
The rivalry between Georgia and Auburn is one of the best in college football. Except for three years that saw World War I and World War II interrupt the series, the Bulldogs and Tigers have clashed on an annual basis since 1892.
It's a rivalry where many fans of the two institutions work closely among each other daily. Auburn's campus is only 28 miles from the Georgia state line.
The pain of losing to the other team is almost greater than the joy of winning. It's a true rivalry.
Auburn will definitely be a heavy underdog in November.
The 2012 SEC championship game was a game that saw time run out on Georgia's bid to upset Alabama and make an appearance in the national championship game. The Bulldogs return a lot of talent from the 2012 team on the offensive side of the ball, including QB Aaron Murray—who has torched the Tigers in his time wearing the red and black of Georgia.
ESPN's Mark Schlabach has the Bulldogs ranked No. 7 in his very early 2013 preseason poll.
Given that the annual meeting between the Bulldogs and Tigers is always played in November, there is also always a lot at stake.
In 2010, Auburn clinched a spot in the SEC championship game when it defeated Georgia. The Bulldogs did the same when it defeated Auburn last fall inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. There is a good chance Georgia could be trying to do the same thing in November when it returns to Jordan-Hare Stadium.
So, the ingredients for a classic game or even a classic upset are there for the Tigers. Why Georgia?
A few things stand out here to make me think this game will be closer than it should be and give Auburn a chance to make this game one of the best in recent memory.
As much talent as Georgia has on its roster, the defense took a big hit to graduation and the NFL draft. According to Dave Miller of The National Football Post, 12 players that started two or more games on defense for Georgia have departed.
Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee liked what he saw from the revamped defense of the 'Dawgs in their spring game. Still, for a defense that was ranked No. 77 in rushing defense in 2012 along with losing a lot of veteran starters, that is a stock that needs to be held and not bought quite yet.
That young defense will have all the game experience under their belt by the time the Auburn game rolls around in November. However, other than the matchup against Clemson in Week 1, the Bulldogs do not see an offense that is paced and run-oriented quite like Auburn will run in 2013.
Speaking of Auburn's offense, when Malzahn's offense was unbridled in 2009 and 2010, it had plenty of success against Georgia's defense (to be fair, Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham was not the defensive coordinator in 2009). In 2010, Auburn treated Grantham's defense like it did every other defense in the league. It racked up 49 points and 484 yards (336 rushing, 148 passing).
In 2011, Georgia dominated Auburn from start to finish, although it should be noted that the tempo aspect of Auburn's offense had been long gone at that point.
If the improved Auburn defense can get a few stops, chances are that Auburn's offense will likely be able to keep up with Georgia.
Lastly, this rivalry has been known to turn out instant classics and its share of upsets. Georgia fans remember the 2006 game fondly. Auburn was ranked No. 5 in the country and a young QB named Matthew Stafford led the Bulldogs to a 37-15 upset.
Who can forget the SEC's first overtime game in 1996 between these two teams? Or in 2005 when Auburn's John Vaughn kicked the game-winning field goal against No. 9 Georgia in Athens?
It's way too early to say that Auburn will pull off a big upset against Georgia in November. However, with the game nearly five months away, it's easy to say this game more than any other on the schedule is one that you won't want to miss.
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It's time for Les Miles to earn that $3.75 million annual salary, not that he hasn't already.
In order for the Tigers to win an SEC Championship and win another national championship in 2013, Miles must produce one of his greatest coaching jobs to date.
His job begins internally. Here again, aren't we Tigers fans? Oh the headaches these players induce with their troublemaking.
Before we get into all that, first things first—fill the gaps. This is what Miles is best at.
Miles can recruit with the best of them, and because of this, he has plenty of talented players to choose from. So when Tigers fans worry about filling the gaps on the defensive side of the ball, I simply say, rest easy—The Mad Hatter has plenty of tools in his toolbox.
Will they be as effective as M&M (Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo) and Bennie Logan? Eh, that's not likely, but they'll be talented nonetheless.
As for the linebacker position, this is where LSU's fantastic 2012 recruiting class comes in handy. You know, the one LSU fans moaned about. The Tigers recruited three linebackers in the ESPN 150 that year.
That's all good news...Are you ready for the bad news? The Tigers may have to play this season without Jeremy Hill at running back. "Big deal, this happens every year. Somebody new will step up," a Tigers fan will usually say.
Normally that's the case, but this year is different. The Tigers no longer have Spencer Ware and Michael Ford, and who knows if Alfred Blue will return to form after injuring his knee last season? That puts a heavy load on Kenny Hilliard. Meanwhile, Terrence Magee will have to step up and be a regular contributor.
Behind a strong offensive line, Blue, Hilliard and Magee can carry the load for the Tigers, but that means they must all remain healthy. Here's to hoping Hill's legal troubles don't sideline him too long. To go along with that, here's to hoping LSU players stay out of the bars this offseason.
Overcoming a daunting schedule
SEC scheduling rant commence. Just who is booking these SEC schedules nowadays?
Is it a coincidence that Texas A&M and Alabama have the easiest schedules in the conference? There's no sense in sugarcoating it. This is the toughest schedule LSU has inherited in the past decade, and meanwhile, the Aggies and Crimson Tide benefit from much easier schedules.
Via ESPN Video, Miles has already set the pace for this schedule with his comments about it a few weeks ago: "We like to think there's only one school in the country that can go through it."
Taking it one game at a time will be a must for the Tigers. Besides UAB, Kent State and Furman, LSU will face two of the top three teams from the SEC East, SEC West and TCU.
To quote, via the Sporting News, the always quotable Les Miles, "Strap it up," boys.
Putting the offense in the hands of Cam Cameron
Change can be good.
Miles has to realize this after the Tigers had a meltdown in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl against Clemson. It's time to hand the offense over to somebody who knows what he's doing.
Cam Cameron is that man.
Cameron has done nothing but impress since he's accepted the offensive coordinator position. Sure, the Tigers have yet to play their first game, but hurrying up the offense, utilizing more spread formations and giving Zach Mettenberger more options (spreading running backs wide) in the spring are a great start.
It might be somewhat delusional to expect Cameron to come in and contribute greatly in his first year, but then again, isn't that what LSU is all about? Just like Miles successfully inserts freshmen into the offense and defense, Cameron will impressively fine-tune the offense, 2007 Gary Crowton style (when his play-calling was innovative).
Yes, the deck is stacked heavily against the Tigers this year, but we've seen crazier things happen with Miles serving as the Tigers head coach. Missouri and West Virginia getting upset to allow a two-loss LSU team to advance to the national championship game in 2007 ring any bells?
Stay optimistic, Tigers fans.
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Even though the start of the college football season is still over three months away, it is never too early to project the records in 2013 for the BCS teams.
While the usual suspects and powerhouse programs are certain to have excellent seasons once again, what teams are set to surprise some folks in 2013. Also, what teams might be disappointments and not live up to expectations.
Here is a final record projection of all the BCS schools for the 2013 college football season.
*Notre Dame and BYU are included with the BCS schools
*Final records are regular season only and not indicative of conference championships or bowl games
From the great to the not-so-good, the history of the Miami Hurricanes football program has had many memorable plays.
Between Florida State's missed field goals, fantastic plays by the 'Canes and blown calls by the referees, being a Miami fan has certainly been a wild ride.
Not everything must be a great memory, so feel free to cry along at times during a recap of 15 of the most memorable plays in Miami football history.
A key catalyst of the current renaissance period Notre Dame undeniably finds itself in has been the development of a nationally renowned defensive line, though that attribute may receive a damaging body blow in the coming days.
The outlook of the situation is grim if you're a Notre Dame supporter, as neither the university nor the Vanderdoes family have given any official statements to either confirm or deny the rumors.
However, Sacramento Bee reporter Joe Davidson—the closest source to the Vanderdoes family—provided some meaningful insight on Monday evening.
I did get this from Vanderdoes family: grades, eligibility or conduct/character "is not and has never been an issue."— Joe Davidson (@SacBee_JoeD) May 21, 2013
If indeed those areas of concern are not hangups in Vanderdoes' ability to enroll at Notre Dame, then the writing is on the wall: Vanderdoes has likely experienced a change of heart surrounding his collegiate destination.
Should that be the case, "surprise" shouldn't be a term that comes to mind.
On the morning of national signing day, Vanderdoes' parents informed Notre Dame of their son's decision but instructed officials to keep quiet on the matter, as to allow Vanderdoes the opportunity to enjoy his signing ceremony, which transpired in the evening hours.
Unfortunately, Notre Dame officials botched that request, as Vanderdoes was listed on the commitment list that afternoon during a media session on campus.
While that snafu surely was received unfavorably in the Vanderdoes household, it's unlikely that it was the singular reason for Vanderdoes' apparent change of heart. Yet it appears as if the rocky start to Vanderdoes' official relationship with Notre Dame may have been simply the beginning of what appears to be a rather complex situation.
Because the 6'2", 310-pound defensive lineman signed a letter of intent, he would need to be granted a release by Notre Dame to enroll at another school of his choice, and that's where the situation becomes murky.
There's no telling what decision the university would make in that regard, though if it were to deny Vanderdoes a release, Notre Dame would be viewed in a negative light in recruiting circles. And if that's the case, the Irish's recruiting abilities would likely suffer as a consequence.
The consequences wouldn't be limited to just recruiting, though.
On the field, the Irish would be significantly undermanned along the defensive line in 2014 without Vanderdoes.
It is widely expected that both nose guard Louis Nix and defensive end Stephon Tuitt will enter the 2014 NFL draft despite each having one more season of eligibility remaining following the 2013 season.
In fact, the guys over at WalterFootball.com have Tuitt (10th overall) and Nix (22nd overall) pegged as first-round selections.
That would leave the Irish with defensive ends Sheldon Day, Tony Springmann, Jarron Jones, Isaac Rochell and Jacob Matuska as the only available defensive linemen currently on the roster. Thus, the Irish coaching staff would be hard at work to add pieces along the defensive line in the 2014 class, which already includes end Andrew Trumbetti and tackle Jay Hayes.
What's even more alarming is the nose guard position.
Reserves Kona Schwenke and Tyler Stockton will each see their eligibility clocks expire after the 2013 season, leaving the cupboard bare assuming Nix enters the NFL draft. Because Vanderdoes was widely expected to assume the vacancy left behind by Nix, questions abound as to who will fill that role.
Clearly, the Vanderdoes situation has initiated a tidal wave of concerns to which answers are simply far and few between.
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Alabama football produces top NFL draft picks year in and year out—some of which go on to have stellar careers at the next level.
Three members of last year's national championship team were selected in Round 1 of this past draft—Dee Milliner, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker. They went No. 9, No. 10 and No. 11, respectively, and all three will be asked to play big roles for their new teams as rookies.
This year's team features a handful players who certainly have first-round talent. Here are the players from the 2013 Alabama football program who have the best chance to be selected in Round 1 of the 2014 NFL draft.
Cyrus Kouandjio, Offensive Tackle
I know what you're all thinking.
Alabama producing first-round offensive linemen? Surely you jest!
In all seriousness, however, Kouandjio may end up becoming a better professional offensive lineman than Fluker and Warmack.
Blessed with prototypical size, the 6'6", 311-pound Kouandjio was phenomenal as a sophomore last season as Alabama's starting left tackle. He allowed only 3.5 sacks in 2012 (h/t rolltide.com) and is still developing his technique.
NFL Network's Albert Breer listed him as one of his top players to watch this upcoming season:
It'll be interesting to see if Kouandjio ends up becoming the first offensive tackle to be taken off the board in 2014. He'll likely be contending with Jake Matthews out of Texas A&M and Taylor Lewan out of Michigan.
C.J. Mosley, Outside Linebacker
Mosley will be a highly coveted linebacker heading into the 2014 NFL draft.
His ability to play in any scheme makes him extremely valuable, as more and more NFL teams have been moving to what they call "multiple" schemes on the defensive side of the ball.
A strong pass-rusher off the edge, Mosley is already a skilled 3-4 outside linebacker adept at dropping back into coverage—a rarity for prospects heading into the NFL.
Bleacher Report NFL draft Featured Columnist Wes Stueve was impressed when he took a closer look at Mosley's tape recently:
All his natural talent combined with the intelligence Stueve mentioned will surely earn him a first-round selection in the 2014 NFL draft.
Adrian Hubbard, Outside Linebacker
Hubbard has shown flashes of brilliance in his first two seasons at Alabama, and he'll really have a chance to shine this year as a featured player for Nick Saban's defense.
At 6'6" and 248 pounds, Hubbard possesses more of a prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker frame than Mosley.
He showed the speed and power last year to get to the quarterback, registering seven sacks, 11 tackles for loss, four quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles.
NFL teams will fall in love with Hubbard's strength at the point of attack. He's not just a flashy edge-rusher who will run himself out of plays upfield. Instead, given proper coaching, Hubbard has the ability to turn into an elite pass-rusher in the NFL.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
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