The Alabama Crimson Tide is known for its suffocating defense, which usually sits atop the college football and Southeastern Conference ranks. And at the heart of Alabama's dominating defensive unit lies in the linebackers.
But which linebacker is the best on this talented defense?
The Crimson Tide has seen its fair share of stud 'backers since head coach Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, from Rolando McClain to Dont'a Hightower. But the linebacking corps for the 2013-14 season is deep and full of experienced players.
The group only lost one player to graduation in Nico Johnson, who was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. Highly-touted recruit Reuben Foster will also join the team in the fall to add even more size and speed to an already-menacing bunch.
Here we break down the top five Alabama linebackers for next season.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers’ 2014 recruiting class is off to a slow start. No surprise.
As ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg points out, the Big Red’s 2014 class currently falls well behind their primary Big Ten competition. Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Ohio State and Northwestern all have tallied at least six commits already. The Huskers, meanwhile, just signed their second.
And this is hardly unique for Nebraska. This marks the third consecutive year Bo Pelini’s staff has failed to secure more than four commits by this date.
Although this traditional slow start for the Huskers did not hurt them too much in the 2013 class, the growing trend that has high school (and sometimes grade school) students committing early will increasingly hurt Nebraska.
This is because early commitments restrict just what Nebraska relies upon in its recruiting: a deep knowledge of the offering school.
When players make commitments early in their high school career, they often do not have as much information on which to make their decisions. Recruits often base their decisions on location, what they already know about the program and family history.
While family history is obviously unalterable, the other preconceptions recruits have will do Nebraska no favors.
The Huskers rarely capture the spotlight like a USC, Miami, Ohio State, Michigan or really anybody in the SEC. And Lincoln, Neb. does not quite have the natural draw of southern California or Florida.
Add in the lack of many quality in-state prospects and the perfect storm arises against the Huskers in the recruiting race. And the only remedy is a long courtship, not the early commitment that is becoming more and more common.
Nebraska’s coaching staff needs time with its prospects. It needs to bring high schoolers to Lincoln, build relationships with them and let them feel the energy of Husker Nation on fall Saturdays.
Sure, the University of Nebraska has the facilities, the coaching staff and the monstrous stadium. But so does everyone else.
What brings players to Lincoln are the intangibles. It is Pelini’s coaching style, the emphasis on academic excellence and the instant celebrity status that players acquire even before arriving (Johnny Stanton).
But none of these more subtle yet equally valuable qualities of Nebraska’s football program will stand out to 16-year-old prospects from Cincinnati when Ohio State comes calling. Bo Pelini and his staff need time and, more specifically, official visits to win over recruits. And the increasing number of early commitments is only hurting their efforts.
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One of the biggest reasons Ohio State went undefeated in 2012 was because of its offense, which finished No. 1 in the Big Ten in scoring by averaging 37.2 ppg.
Not only did Braxton Miller have a lot to do with it, but he had some help around him to get the job done.
Nearly all of the Buckeyes' offensive skill players had their best seasons in 2012, and all but Jake Stoneburner and Zach Boren are back for 2013.
But which players mean the most on the Ohio State offense?
Here are the top five offensive weapons that the Buckeyes have. For the purposes of this list, only players who were on the roster last year are on this list which means incoming freshmen like Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson will not be on this list.
In 2012, Boise State entered the college football season with an uncertain rebuilt offense that struggled early. Strides were made, however, and even with the loss of a few starters, the Broncos are in great shape on offense as the 2013 season approaches.
This year's squad is loaded with talent, and that starts with a quarterback who has much more confidence and who finished last season strong. The 2013 campaign will also see the return of sophomore running back sensation Jay Ajayi.
Ajayi averaged 6.7 yards per carry in 2012 as D.J. Harper's backup and gave Boise fans something to cheer about and look forward to. But he won't be the only weapon the Broncos carry in their arsenal.
Let's look at 10 such weapons and see how they rank among a talent-heavy Boise State offense in 2013.
Football stars, such as Emmitt Smith, have shown that even though they play a manly sport like football doesn't mean that they can't dance.
After all, Smith did win at Dancing With the Stars back in 2006.
College football coaches certainly aren't the first people that you think about doing a tango or a waltz, but we might be surprised at what kind of moves these coaches can make.
So, what coaches might we want to see on Dancing With the Stars? Read on.
When Boise State announced that it would be returning to the Mountain West Conference in December 2012, Bronco Nation collectively let out a huge sigh of relief.
The Big East, for more reasons than one, was not the right fit for the Blue and Orange.
For a short amount of time, it appeared as though the move to one of college football’s “Big Six” conferences would be a step up for the university. But it quickly became clear that such a move would not elevate Boise State’s status any more than staying in the Mountain West Conference would hinder it.
Based on the current state of the conference, which was renamed the American Athletic Conference on April 3, it is easy to say that Boise State dodged a bullet.
But why, exactly?
We’ll broadly investigate some of the main reasons that sentiment isn’t an understatement. Put simply, it comes down to money, the strength of both the Mountain West and Big East Conferences and the general direction that college football as a whole is headed.
New TV Deal Equals More Money
Regardless of what everyone in power would like fans to believe, college athletics is all about the green. And for Boise State, rejoining the Mountain West had a lot to do with the green as well.
One of the driving factors behind the university’s decision to rejoin the Mountain West at the end of 2012 was the fact that the conference promised Boise State home football games would be offered separately from the rest of the conference.
Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson doesn’t have to sugarcoat things to appease the rest of the league. Everyone knows that Boise State is the cash cow for the conference and that the nation is more interested in Boise State than any other team in the Mountain West.
The Big East probably knew this as well, but was unwilling to budge with regard to a separate TV deal for the Broncos.
Thanks to the deal reached with the Mountain West, at least three Boise State home football games must be broadcast nationally on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC for the next seven years.
As a result of those nationally televised games, the university will be raking in the dough. Boise State is set to make a $300,000 bonus for each game broadcast on one of those channels and will make $200,000 more if the game is played on Saturday.
It is difficult and frankly unfair to speculate on what the Big East was planning to offer the Broncos, but based on the decision the school made, one can assume that it was not as sweet a deal as the one they have now.
Money talks and the Broncos listened. No one can blame them for that.
The Balance Scale Favors the MWC
Here’s a blind taste test of conferences: One has Nevada, San Diego State and Air Force and will soon have San Jose State and Utah State. The other has Cincinnati, Connecticut and South Florida and will soon have East Carolina, Tulane, Tulsa and Navy.
Which one would you rather have your school a part of going forward for football?
A college football fan or someone keeping up with conference realignment has little trouble identifying these conferences as the Mountain West and newly named American Athletic Conference. But the point is still made.
The Mountain West Conference stacks up favorably against the competitor, even when you remove Boise State from the equation.
The benefit of this is twofold. Not only does the Mountain West seem like a more attractive summit for teams looking to join a potential superconference (especially to teams in the Western half of the United States), but it is also a more coveted product for TV networks.
While CBS Sports Network is still the primary network for the Mountain West, ESPN has also signed a lucrative deal with the conference that will highlight Boise State football.
The Big East recently agreed to a deal with ESPN as well, but at a major cost. The deal, which is worth $130 million over seven years, equals about what the conference would have made annually had it signed a deal with the network two years ago.
The deals made by the conferences are a sign of one league climbing the ladder while the other is falling steadily.
The Mountain West is gaining steam, while the American Athletic Conference had to reach out to Tulsa and East Carolina simply to survive.
All Conference Arguments Aside, It’s About the Nonconference Slate
Thanks to the new college football playoff format that will go into effect next season, what conference you are in may not have as much bearing on your chances of getting a shot at the national championship as it did under the current system in place.
Rather, a tough out-of-conference schedule could help propel you into the playoff discussion.
This is good news for Boise State, which has scheduled matchups with Florida State, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon State, Virginia and Washington in upcoming seasons.
Gone are the days when fans could lean on the argument that Boise State didn’t test itself out of conference.
What athletic directors are quickly learning about the new landscape of college football is that it will be essential to prove to the voters that your team is really a national title contender early in the year.
A loss won’t necessarily oust you from contention.
This, along with the fact that the American Athletic Conference will be relegated to the same status as the Mountain West Conference once the playoff format is instituted, makes Boise State’s decision to stick with the MWC a smart one.
If you’re not getting the benefit of a preferred conference, then what is the point of travelling halfway across the country every Saturday for conference matchups?
The sound of crickets chirping is almost unbearable.
The Mountain West is on equal ground with the new Big East/American Athletic Conference. If it wasn’t clear back in December, it’s obvious with the new playoff format explained.
More money, comparable competition and equal status. Throw in sensibility from a geographical standpoint, and you’ve got several solid reasons why Boise State made a smart decision by sticking with the Mountain West Conference.
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The Florida Gators' offense was, well, inconsistent in 2012.
Sure, Mike Gillislee became the first Gator to rush for 1,000 yards in nearly a decade. However, he was pretty much the only Gator that was effective with regularity.
Luckily, things are looking better for the upcoming season. Jeff Driskel is returning for his second season as the team's starting quarterback, and some of the country's most promising young freshmen will be looking to leave their mark on the scoreboards at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Here is an early look at who should be the Gators' top offensive threats during the 2013 season.
Clearly, something had to change.
Beamer appointed former Auburn and Temple offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler as the man to replace longtime OC Bryan Stinespring, and though he has his work cut out for him, Loeffler doesn't have to start anew at quarterback with Logan Thomas returning for his final season in Blacksburg.
Despite the widespread struggles of 2012, the Hokies do have talent on the offensive side of the ball. But is Loeffler and Thomas the right combination to make it work?
More importantly, will new offensive line coach Jeff Grimes lift his unit's play and make room for a talented group of running backs?
Here are the Hokies' top-five weapons on offense for the 2013 season.
Sure, Nebraska football fans love defense. But offense really does sell tickets. And particularly given Nebraska’s tilt towards offensive competence over the last few years (which is a polite way of saying that NU’s defense has been kind of terrible), NU is likely to win more shootouts than defensive slugfests next season.
So Nebraska’s offensive weapons look to be the primary tools in the arsenal as Bo Pelini prepares for the 2013 campaign. Let’s take a look at five of the best offensive weapons, in order of how important their contributions will be to Nebraska's success next year, Pelini will have at his disposal next year.
The South Carolina Gamecocks are loaded with talent on the offensive side of the ball for the 2013 college football season.
Despite losing Marcus Lattimore and Ace Sanders, the Gamecocks are recharged with returning players and young talents waiting to have an impact on the game.
South Carolina has a very balanced offense for 2013 that can both run and pass the ball with solid efficiency.
Many players can step up and become offensive weapons in a given moment, though this ranking looks toward the key factors of potential for a big season and consistency of play.
Here is a list of the five best offensive weapons for the Gamecocks in the fall.
Even though it’s been 16 long years since the Arizona State Sun Devils traveled west to represent the Pac-10 (now the Pac-12) in the Rose Bowl, don’t be surprised if they’re back in the “Granddaddy of them All” within the next five seasons.
Yes, the last time Arizona State captured a league crown and went to Pasadena on New Year’s Day was back in the magical season of 1996 when they went 11-0 under coach Bruce Snyder, only to fall 20-17 to Ohio State in the 1997 Rose Bowl.
The last time the Sun Devils won the Rose Bowl?
Well, that was a full decade earlier. The ’86 team, led by John Cooper (who ironically coached the Buckeye team in the ’97 Rose Bowl win over ASU), beat Michigan 22-15 in the 1987 classic to cap off a 10-1-1 campaign.
And though this trip down memory lane is no doubt intriguing, it also goes a long way in underlining how bold it is to say that Arizona State will be back in the Rose Bowl by 2017.
So, how will it happen? How will the Sun Devils capture a Pac-12 title in a college football world transformed from the days of 1987 and even from the 1996-97 season that predated the BCS era?
Well, it’s all going to start at the very beginning where all championships are formed, with recruiting.
To set the stage, did you know that each of the last six winners of the BCS title had senior classes that were originally recruited at No. 15 or better, and junior classes that were brought in at No. 20 or better?
Simply put, highly rated recruiting classes equal championships.
So how should Arizona State, which according to the Rivals.com team recruiting rankings hasn’t hauled in a class ranked better than No. 30 in the last five tries, amp up its recruiting efforts? It should think about getting it done closer to home.
Though when you think of states that consistently pump out top-rated football talent it’s more likely that Florida, Texas and California come to mind, don’t forget that Arizona offers up surprisingly fruitful recruiting ground.
To illustrate, the 247sports.com class of 2014 top 100 currently includes three products from Arizona, while the top 247 has nine guys from hailing from the Grand Canyon State.
While this may not seem overly impressive next to California’s 12 representatives in the top 100 and 24 in the top 247 or Texas’ 12 top 100 rated guys and 30 top 247 members, comparing these numbers straight-up isn’t necessarily an apples to apples affair.
Yes, the state of Florida has nine guys in the top 100 and 25 in the top 247. But with a total population of over 19 million, the Sunshine State has almost three times the population to draw talent from than Arizona.
Similarly, California’s population of just over 38 million (according to the latest U.S. Census figures) is nearly six times bigger than Arizona’s 6.5 million residents, while Texas’ 26 million figure is a healthy four times larger.
This means that, per capita, the state of Arizona is actually meeting or outperforming California, Florida and Texas’ top-tier recruit machines for the Class of 2014. In simpler terms, Arizona has 1.38 top 247 recruits per million residents, while California has .63, Florida has 1.32 and Texas has 1.15.
If schools like Arizona State can cash in on this under-the-radar hotbed of recruiting right in its own back yard then, yes, it can make some serious impact on its overall recruiting numbers.
This becomes all the more plausible when you throw in the fact that Arizona State only has to compete with one in-state FBS school (Arizona) for its homegrown recruits, while the battles in California and Florida are each made up of seven FBS schools, and the war in Texas for recruits is fought between a whopping 12 FBS programs.
Now that we’ve established both a demand for recruits and the local supply in the state of Arizona and the nearby pipeline of California, we’ll introduce perhaps the biggest reason why the Sun Devils may be Rose Bowl bound…the hire.
Yes, in case you hadn’t heard, Arizona State just recently lured former LSU Director of Player Personnel Sherman Morris to Tempe to become its Assistant Athletic Director for Recruiting.
Morris took over the Player Personnel role at LSU back in 2007, which was two seasons into the Les Miles era and just so happened to coincide with the Tigers' national championship campaign.
From a recruiting standpoint, the hiring was significant. After being a top-10 recruiter, LSU had slipped all the way down to a No. 22 ranking (per Rivals.com) in 2005, leading eventually to Morris’ acquisition in ’07.
Under Morris' guidance, LSU not only rocketed back up the recruiting ranking charts, it stayed at the top to the tune of five top-10 and two top-20 recruiting hauls during his seven classes in Baton Rouge.
This makes Sherman Morris’ arrival at Arizona State more than just “Page 2” of the “Other BCS team” section of the news.
This is a big deal which could have a huge impact not just in the world of the Pac-12, but nationally.
What’s intriguing, especially given Arizona State’s specific situation, is Morris’ approach to recruiting. His No. 1 priority is getting it done in-state first.
In an interview with DevilsDigest.com Morris was asked what he thought were some of Arizona State’s “selling points” and “underrated factors.”
You have a tremendous amount of quality athletes. If we can keep 85-90 percent of the student-athletes home we will be successful all the time. If you look at the institutions that have been successful, that’s what they do. If you look at Alabama, LSU, Texas when they were on top—they all keep their top athletes at home. That has to be our focus. We have to make them understand that you don’t have to leave and that everything you want is right here.
In the same interview, Morris specifically defines the success he is selling to the local guys, the homegrown recruits he wants to keep at Arizona State.
Most of the local student-athletes feel like they have to leave the state in order to accomplish their goals or to play ‘big time football.’…You don’t have to leave home to be successful. That’s the message we want to communicate. The things you want to accomplish are here, whether it’s a Rose Bowl championship or a national championship can be accomplished right here.
To capture the essence of Morris' approach to taking the plan from a regional affair to the further reaches of California and then nationally, listen to what he had to say in a recent interview with Bleacher Report's own Max Rausch.
For us to be successful at Arizona State we need to win here in the state of Arizona more than anything. Ultimately, history has taught us that ASU has won when we've been able to capture this state. We need the best players in the state of Arizona to play at ASU. Period. We need to be successful in the state of California. From there we have the opportunity to expand our area of recruiting.
Now you’ve got the recruiting demand, the supply and the mechanism (with Sherman Morris on board) to get it done. So what’s next for Arizona State in terms of the blueprint for the Rose Bowl by 2017?
Well, what you’ve got to like for the Sun Devils is their placement in the new Pac-12 South, a division that in its very young life has refused to establish a clear leader.
As long as Lane Kiffin is the guy at USC, there will be question marks in Troy and an opening for everyone else. Even if he leaves, there will be some sort of timetable to righting the ship.
Though things look promising at both UCLA and Arizona, it’s hard to believe that either of those programs will become the type of powerhouse that will dominate all other challengers on a consistent basis.
That leaves Colorado and Utah, who could slip through and make a run, but realistically this is a longer shot than saying, “Arizona State in the Rose Bowl by 2017.”
At the end of the day, competing in the Pac-12 South instead of the North makes the Sun Devils' chances at a Rose Bowl berth all the more realistic.
The last component of the puzzle is perhaps the most difficult to gauge: the Todd Graham factor.
Yes, Arizona State could recruit the lights out under the very able guidance of Sherman Morris, and its placement in the Pac-12 could prove fortuitous indeed. But without the most effective leaders on the sidelines leading the way, all could be for naught.
And for anyone who doesn’t buy this, I ask you to refer to Texas’ current situation with Mack Brown.
Take a look at a program which hasn’t hauled in a recruiting class that ranked lower than No. 10 since 2008 (other than No. 23 rated debacle in 2013) and explain how in the world it's managed a 22-16 record since 2010.
Think about it this way. The Longhorns have more talent, at least on paper, than 96 percent of the FBS field, but the best finish they’ve managed in three tries is a tie for a third-place finish in the Big 12 conference race.
Sadly, you could make a similar argument for USC and Lane Kiffin.
So again, without the right coaching staff, it doesn’t really matter how much talent you have stockpiled in your well-appointed locker room.
Is Todd Graham—the guy who went 7-6 at Rice in 2006, 36-17 at Tulsa from 2007 through 2010 and 6-6 at Pitt in 2011—the coach that can lead Arizona State to the Rose Bowl by 2017?
To answer this, we’ll refer back to Sherman Morris’ interview in the DevilsDigest.com piece.
So it starts with Graham360. We have to make sure that more than anything we have to effectively communicate who Coach Graham is. I’ve been around Coach Miles who is a phenomenal coach, I’ve competed against Coach Saban and had the opportunity to meet some really great coaches around the country. But the reality is that Coach Graham doesn’t take a back seat to any of those guys. He has passion, he has desire, and he has commitment. He wants to build a championship winning program here. He wants to make sure that student-athletes are having an experience unlike any in America…
So that is how Graham360 came about. We call it ‘National Championship Lifestyle.’ That has been our approach.
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There's a running back for the Auburn Tigers who rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2012 that is flying under the national radar this preseason.
Running back Tre Mason eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark last fall on his very last carry of the season in the Iron Bowl against Alabama. It was the only thing Auburn fans had to cheer about that day. To be exact, he finished the year with 1,002 yards. While doing that, Mason proved a lot of people wrong about his ability to have success as an every-down running back in the SEC.
In 2013, look for Mason to back up his impressive sophomore campaign with a breakout season in his junior year in an offense that is geared toward his strengths.
Tre Mason was one of very few bright spots during Auburn's 3-9 2012 campaign. He was thrust into more playing time than expected before the season even got started last fall when freshman RB Jovon Robinson was deemed academically ineligible a few days into fall camp. Robinson's departure left the Tigers without a big body in the backfield to run the ball up the middle.
Standing 5'10" and weighing in at 196 pounds, Mason didn't seem to be the ideal candidate.
No one gave that memo to Mason. In the season opener against Clemson, he ran for 107 yards on 14 carries. Mason's speed, vision and cutting ability makes up for what he lacks in size.
While rushing for 1,000 yards is very impressive, what may be more impressive is that Mason accomplished the feat in an offense that was one of the worst offenses in the country. According to statistical warehouse cfbstats.com, Auburn ranked No. 118 out of 124 in total offense. Mason is the only rusher to rush for over 1,000 yards in the bottom 14 teams.
Mason's rushing yards accounted for just over 27 percent of Auburn's entire offensive output (3,660 yards). Mason did the best he could to carry an offense that was inept.
Help is on the way for Mr. Mason and that—along with a return to head coach Gus Malzahn's offense—will lead to Mason's breakout of national proportions in 2013.
Junior college transfer Cameron Artis-Payne had a strong spring while Mason nursed a nagging ankle injury. He will likely eat into Mason's carries a little in 2013, but that is not a bad thing. Mason will stay fresh when there is a full stable of healthy RBs. Corey Grant, Jonathan Ford and Peyton Barber will also compete for carries. Mason has big goals for the group of RBs.
"I love seeing them do their thing and ball out," Mason said of his cohorts after Auburn's A-Day game. "We want to do this thing together, and we’re looking to do something, have three 1,000-yard backs" (via Joel Erickson, al.com)
That is a lofty goal, but Malzahn uses multiple RBs in his offense as good as, if not better than, any other offensive mind in the country. His offensive system has produced nine 1,000-yard rushers in seven seasons at the collegiate level.
Malzahn's offense will put Mason into situations where he can shine. Mason will be used more on the outside this fall, likely in the same fashion that Malzahn used to use former Auburn RB Onterio McCalebb—that is, on speed sweeps and catching the ball out of the backfield. This way, Mason can use his game-breaking (and squirrel-catching) speed in open space.
Mason's only extensive game action in Malzahn's offense came in the Chick-Fil-A bowl in 2011, where he rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown. That was Malzahn's last game as Auburn's offensive coordinator.
Mason has lived most of his life in the shadow of his dad Vincent Mason, who was a member of the late'80s/early-'90s hip-hop group De La Soul.
When Mason backs up his 2012 performance with an even better showing in 2013, that will no longer be an issue.
Don't bet against him.
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After a surprising lull on the recruiting front, Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes finally made some noise Sunday night.
It had been over a month since Kyle Berger, a 4-star linebacker out of Cleveland, committed to the Buckeyes to become the seventh member of Ohio State's 2014 recruiting class.
Im happy to say that I will be committing to THE OHIO STATE University I would like to thank all my family and friends and my coaches I love— Lonnie Johnson 11 (@lonniejohnson20) May 12, 2013
Johnson is listed as a safety, receiver and athlete by varying recruiting services, but the rangy prospect will line up as an outside receiver in Ohio State's offense.
At least, that's what the Buckeyes' coaching staff is planning.
"They told me that I was needed in the Ohio State offense to go out, win games, and win the national championship," Johnson told LandGrantHolyLand.com. "I'll probably play an outside receiver position because of my height."
Johnson's height is what makes him such a dangerous receiver. During his junior season, 13 of Jonhson's 31 receptions went for a touchdown. Not only is he a great option in the red zone, but the Gary, Ind. prospect is also a legitimate deep threat. The 4-star prospect averaged over 25 yards per reception in 2012.
Johnson chose the Buckeyes over offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and many others.
The Buckeyes have already secured a commitment from 4-star wide receiver/running back Parris Campbell, but Meyer is always looking for more game-breaking athletes. Johnson and Campbell could be joined by a couple more receivers when Ohio State's 2014 recruiting class is set in stone.
Johnson is excited to be a Buckeye, and according to LandGrantHolyLand.com, he plans on helping Ohio State by recruiting other prospects. Johnson specifically mentioned that Ohio State's first commit, Marcelys Jones, recruited him a lot, and he intends to turn his attention toward 4-star cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
That's good news for Ohio State. Johnson officially ended the quiet period Meyer and the Buckeyes were going through Sunday night, and if things go his way, he can help Ohio State make a lot more noise before national signing day.
Watch highlights from Johnson's junior season here:
All recruit rankings per 247sports.com.
David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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As the summer months approach, teams across the country will be aiming to reinforce the foundation constructed this spring.
The Texas Longhorns installed a spread offense that could see them take off for a potential Big 12 title run, but several pieces will have to fall into place.
With an offensive arsenal very capable of loading up points, as seen during the 2012 season, the Longhorns return a vast majority of those weapons.
Running backs Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron return as one of the most talented backfields in the country. The production has yet to meet those standards.
Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley are the undisputed Nos. 1 and 2 at receiver and bring a great deal of experience and production, numbers that could increase with the offensive switch.
David Ash has flashed the ability to extend plays with his athleticism, but can he bring something special to the new offense?
Who else makes the cut for the top five offensive weapons?
With his sterling reputation as a head coach capable of developing explosive, high-octane offenses, current Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has been incredibly efficient in luring elite offensive talent to campus.
And with the finalizing of his fourth full recruiting class at Notre Dame, Kelly has stockpiled a bevy of offensive weapons to power his up-tempo spread offense.
The most lethal of those weapons will headline the 2013 edition of the Irish offense, one that is tasked with continuing a glowing program tradition.
Troy Niklas, TE
Throughout the 2000s, Notre Dame has earned the label of "Tight End U," producing four NFL tight ends—Anthony Fasano, John Carlson, Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Eifert.
Eifert is the most recent of the quartet to have entered the professional ranks, leaving his job and the duty to perpetuate the success of the position to Troy Niklas.
Originally recruited to Notre Dame as a linebacker, Niklas was approached about a move to tight end in January 2012, and he hasn't looked back since.
At 6'7" and 250 pounds, the Servite, Calif., native is a matchup nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators. Used primarily as a blocking tight end in two-tight end sets a season ago—the Irish's main receiving threat—Niklas didn't compile any eye-popping statistics, finishing the season with just five receptions for 75 and one touchdown.
But as the Irish's No. 1 tight end entering the 2013 season, expect Niklas to compete for the team lead in receptions and receiving yards as Eifert did a season ago.
Everett Golson, QB
Serving a redshirt year during the 2011 season, Irish fans were forced to patiently—or impatiently—wait for Golson's opportunity to usurp Tommy Rees, who had become rather unfavorable in the eyes of the fanbase.
Fast forward to 2012, and Golson not only won the starting job, but led Notre Dame to its first appearance in college football's championship game in 24 years.
While struggling with inconsistent play early in the season—he was benched in the second quarter of a 13-6 victory against Michigan in Week 4—Golson displayed an improved grasp of the offense on a weekly basis.
From a statistical standpoint, Golson was far from impressive, though.
The Myrtle Beach, S.C., native amassed 2,405 passing yards while completing just 58.8 percent of his passes. Golson also finished the 2012 season ranked 74th nationally in passing efficiency, meaning the 6'0", 185-pound quarterback requires vast improvement in his decision-making.
Concisely, making smart throws on a consistent basis is an area of Golson's play to keep an eye on.
George Atkinson, RB
Used primarily as a change-of-pace back during his first two seasons on campus, Atkinson's opportunity to step into the lead role has finally emerged.
Former backs Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick have taken their talents to the NFL, leaving Atkinson as the most experienced back on the depth chart. As the third option in the rotation last season, Atkinson accumulated 361 yards on 51 carries, good for an average of 7.1 yards per rush.
Atkinson's blazing speed goes without question—he recently left his post as a sprinter with Notre Dame's track and field squad to focus solely on football—but his effectiveness as an every-down back has come into question.
The 6'1", 217-pound Atkinson is a stiff runner who hasn't proven the ability to run between the tackles.
Because he lacks the elusiveness and fluidity of a true feature back, expect Kelly and offensive coordinator to employ a committee approach at running back in 2013.
DaVaris Daniels, WR
After redshirting as a freshman in 2011, Daniels was on the verge of a breakout before a shoulder injury suffered put a halt on his rapid ascension.
Despite the injury—Daniels was ruled out for the final two games of the 2012 regular season—the 6'2", 190-pound Vernon Hills, Ill., product proved his worth against Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game.
Against a stingy Crimson Tide defense, Daniels racked up six receptions for 115 yards, allowing him to finish the season ranked third on the team in receiving yards with 490 on 31 receptions, which was good for an average of 15.8 yards per catch.
Barring injury or any other unforeseen occurrence, Daniels will be a starting receiver for the Irish in 2013, along with the fifth member of this list.
TJ Jones, WR
The only four-year starter of the Kelly regime at Notre Dame, Jones returns for his senior season after having tied for the team lead in receptions with Eifert in 2012.
Jones and Eifert each recorded 50 receptions, with Jones falling 36 receiving yards short of the team lead: 649 to go along with four touchdowns. Yet as a fourth-year starter, Jones will be the Irish's No. 1 receiving threat.
That's a tall order for a player who has managed to fly under the radar for the majority of his career behind former receiver Michael Floyd and Eifert.
How Jones molds into the lead role at receiver will be a determining factor in the successes of the Irish passing game.
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The words "underrated" and "overlooked" are used often in conversation about the Oregon defense. That's not the case with the Ducks' high-flying offense, which grabs the headlines each week and is feared throughout college football.
Every year some will ponder whether the Ducks can continue to move the ball so effectively, and with the team transitioning to a new head coach in Mark Helfrich, those questions will become even more common as the 2013 season approaches.
But to answer that question, all you really need to do is look at the talent Oregon returns for next season, which includes a variety of all-conference players and NFL-caliber talent.
But which guys are the ones causing defensive coordinators to put the extra hours in? Which ones are highlighted in every single meeting opposing defenses have leading up to the game?
We're taking a look now at the top five offensive weapons for the Ducks, and yes, these guys better start working on those touchdown dances.
Tim Tebow or Cam Newton? Archie Manning or Joe Namath?
These are the some of the most remarkable quarterbacks in SEC history, but which quarterback is the greatest? And hey, where does the new guy, Johnny Manziel, fall in this debate?
In devising a historical list of the most stellar quarterbacks this conference has ever seen, the qualifications to be judged by are wins, championships, athletic ability, records and capability to lead his team on the field.
These are the best quarterbacks to ever do that in the SEC.
The wide receiver position has become more important in today's game, as teams are utilizing more three and four and sometimes even five receiver sets. So college coaches are looking harder for more difference-makers at the WR position, which is why the top 10 uncommitted prospects at this spot are so coveted.
This list includes perimeter players who can stretch the field with their speed, dangerous players who do their best damage after the catch and also several guys who can work in the slot. This isn't just a list about who the top 10 uncommitted recruits are, but rather where they fit best.
There will be some surprising fits on this list, as some of these receivers fit better at schools who may not be major suitors for them right now.
Throughout the Alabama football program’s illustrious history, the team’s identity has always been rooted in having a strong defense and a powerful running game.
Those two elements should still be strong for the 2013 version of Nick Saban’s squad. However, they also boast a collection of talented receivers and a fifth-year gunslinger at quarterback who could fill the air with more passes this fall.
Senior quarterback A.J. McCarron returns along with the team’s top five wideouts from 2012, plus rising sophomore running back T.J. Yeldon is ready to bust loose in the feature back role that ushered Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy into stardom.
Sophomore wideout Amari Cooper is the Tide’s best pass-catcher since Julio Jones, and he has plenty of help flanking him.
The combination of rising young talent (receiver Chris Black and tight end O.J. Howard), experienced playmakers (receivers Kevin Norwood, Kenny Bell and Christion Jones) and some talented incoming freshman skill players (running back Derrick Henry and receiver Raheem Falkins) gives offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier a plethora of options from his playbook.
Still, some variables could shake up which players take on bigger roles this fall. Injuries to players like Norwood and Henry, plus newly mended receivers Bell and DeAndrew White may shake up the rotations a bit.
Talented newcomers such as Black and Howard—plus a trio of incoming running backs—are ready to fight for a spot in the rotation.
But Yeldon and Cooper figure to be the team’s top two skill players in crunch time.
With so many talented options to choose from, which players will step up to emerge as McCarron’s top weapons in the offense this season?
Here are Alabama’s six best offensive weapons entering the 2013 season.
The 2014 recruiting class is beginning to take shape and many prospects are starting give a better idea of who the major players are in their recruitment. With that comes many recruiting fans making their own predictions on where certain uncommitted recruits will land.
Making predictions is fine and dandy, but keep in mind that we are only in May and have all the way until next February to go. These are teenagers who can change their mind several times about their favorite TV show, let alone where they want to attend college.
So there will be some surprises and this list features several uncommitted recruits who will surprise with their final decisions.
From a WR in Texas whose recruitment has gotten off to a mysterious start, a Golden State prospect with offers from several prominent Pac-12 programs who has two friends headed to the Heartland, to an OT prospect who holds national offers but may choose to stay home in the end, surprises loom large for this 2014 class.