Posts by Dave Miller

Mid-Summer 2016-17 Bowl Projections

With the Fourth of July holiday in the rear view mirror, a fresh college football season is on the horizon.

By the end of the shortened work week, we will be just seven Fridays away from the Hawaii-Cal season opener, and we are approaching a mere eight Saturdays away from the

With the Fourth of July holiday in the rear view mirror, a fresh college football season is on the horizon.

By the end of the shortened work week, we will be just seven Fridays away from the Hawaii-Cal season opener, and we are approaching a mere eight Saturdays away from the first weekend action of the new season.

So how will the 2016-17 postseason take shape?

Here are my very early projections of where your favorite program could land. As always, these predictions are subject to change and will look different than my post-spring Top 25, which was more of a power rankings than anything else. In addition, there is always more studying to do, so I’m likely to re-slot some teams before the season begins as I become more familiar with 2016 depth charts, quirks in the schedules, etc.

The College Football Playoff

Semifinal—Dec. 31 Peach (Atlanta): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 TCU

Semifinal—Dec. 31 Fiesta (Glendale): No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Ohio State

Championship—Jan. 9 (Tampa): The winners of the two semifinals meet

The CFP Selection Committee New Year’s Six bowl games

Dec. 30 Orange (Miami): Clemson (ACC) vs. Notre Dame (Big Ten/SEC/Notre Dame)

Jan. 2 Rose (Pasadena): Michigan (Big Ten) vs. Stanford (Pac-12)

Jan. 2 Sugar (New Orleans): Oklahoma (Big 12) vs. LSU (SEC)

Jan. 2 Cotton (Arlington): Tennessee (At-Large) vs. Houston (At-Large)

The rest of the bowl slate

Dec. 17 Cure (Orlando): East Carolina (AAC) vs. Troy (Sun Belt)

Dec. 17 Las Vegas (Las Vegas): Boise State (MWC) vs. Utah (Pac-12)

Dec. 17 Camelia (Montgomery): NIU (MAC) vs. Appalachian State (Sun Belt)

Dec. 17 New Mexico (Albuquerque): Western Kentucky (C-USA) vs. New Mexico (MWC)

Dec. 17 New Orleans (New Orleans): Louisiana Tech (C-USA) vs. Georgia Southern (Sun Belt)

Dec. 19 Miami Beach (Miami): Memphis (AAC) vs. Central Michigan (MAC)

Dec. 20 Boca Raton (Boca Raton): Tulsa (AAC) vs. Marshall (C-USA)

Dec. 21 Poinsettia (San Diego): BYU (BYU) vs. Air Force (MWC)

Dec. 22 Potato (Boise): Ohio (MAC) vs. Colorado State (MWC)

Dec. 23 Bahamas (Nassau): UConn (AAC) vs. Toledo (MAC)

Dec. 23 Armed Forces (Fort Worth): Washington State* (Big 12) vs. Navy (Navy)

Dec. 23 GoDaddy (Mobile): Western Michigan (MAC) vs. Arkansas State (Sun Belt)

Dec. 24 Hawaii (Honolulu): FIU (C-USA) vs. Utah State (MWC)

Dec. 26 Quick Lane (Detroit): NC State (ACC) vs. Indiana (Big Ten)

Dec. 26 St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg): Georgia Tech (ACC) vs. Temple (AAC)

Dec. 26 Independence (Shreveport): Duke (ACC) vs. Mississippi State (SEC)

Dec. 27 Military (Annapolis): Syracuse (ACC) vs. Cincinnati (AAC)

Dec. 27 Holiday (San Diego): Michigan State (Big Ten) vs. Washington (Pac-12)

Dec. 27 Heart of Dallas (Dallas): Maryland (Big Ten) vs. Southern Miss (C-USA)

Dec. 27 Cactus (Tempe): Texas (Big 12) vs. Arizona (Pac-12)

Dec. 28 Texas (Houston): Baylor (Big 12) vs. Arkansas (SEC)

Dec. 28 Russell Athletic (Orlando): Miami, FL (ACC) vs. West Virginia (Big 12)

Dec. 28 Pinstripe (New York City): Pitt (ACC) vs. Northwestern (Big Ten)

Dec. 29 Birmingham (Birmingham): USF (AAC) vs. Missouri (SEC)

Dec. 29 Belk (Charlotte): North Carolina (ACC) vs. Auburn (SEC)

Dec. 29 Alamo (San Antonio): Oklahoma State (Big 12) vs. USC (Pac-12)

Dec. 30 Arizona (Tucson): San Diego State (MWC) vs. Georgia State (Sun Belt)

Dec. 30 Sun (El Paso): Virginia Tech (ACC) vs. Oregon (Pac-12)

Dec. 30 Liberty (Memphis): Texas Tech (Big 12) vs. South Carolina (SEC)

Dec. 30 Music City (Nashville): Penn State (ACC/Big Ten) vs. Texas A&M (SEC)

Dec. 31 TaxSlayer (Jacksonville): Louisville (ACC/Big Ten) vs. Georgia (SEC)

Dec. 31 Citrus (Orlando): Iowa (Big Ten/ACC) vs. Ole Miss (SEC)

Jan. 2 Outback (Tampa): Nebraska (Big Ten) vs. Florida (SEC)

TBD Foster Farms (Santa Clara): Wisconsin (Big Ten) vs. UCLA (Pac-12)

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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2016 Post-Spring Top 25

With the calendar flipping to May and spring practices completed for programs across the country, it's time to take a look at the National Football Post's post-spring Top 25.

1. Alabama: Nick Saban’s defending national champs aren’t going anywhere, as the reload continues in Tuscaloosa. Blake Barnett, Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell

With the calendar flipping to May and spring practices completed for programs across the country, it’s time to take a look at the National Football Post’s post-spring Top 25.

1. Alabama: Nick Saban’s defending national champs aren’t going anywhere, as the reload continues in Tuscaloosa. Blake Barnett, Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell and Jalen Hurts will try to win the starting job under center, but it may not matter who is the starter because the Tide are loaded on defense.

2. Florida State: The biggest question for the Seminoles is whether Deondre Francois or Malik Henry can beat out senior Sean Maguire for the starting quarterback gig. We know that Dalvin Cook will remain a beastly and productive running back after setting the single-season school record with 1,691 rushing yards, but the ‘Noles need to be able to make big plays through the air. The defense will feature new starters, but safety Derwin James leads a talented unit.

3. LSU: It was ridiculous that Les Miles had to deal with the “hot seat” drama late last season, but that’s the world of big-time college football that we live in these days. The Tigers certainly enter the new season with high expectations, as a boatload of veteran talent returns. Leonard Fournette recorded a school-record 1,953 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns last year, but can Brandon Harris or Purdue transfer Danny Etling provide a steady force under center? I’m convinced that Harris is poised for a strong ’16 campaign.

4. Tennessee: Is this the year for the Vols? Butch Jones led his team to six straight victories to close out last season, and most of the main pieces are back from that squad, including linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and cornerback Cameron Sutton on defense and quarterback Joshua Dobbs and running back Jalen Hurd on offense. The defense is deep and experienced, but can the offense be more explosive and pick up bigger chunks of yardage in bunches?

5. Baylor: Quarterbacks Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham return to an offense that should be stocked again with leading rusher Shock Linwood and a receiving corps that is still deep despite the losses of Corey Coleman and Jay Lee. The defense is undergoing a bit of a rebuild, but coordinator Phil Bennett’s unit should be steady enough to complement the explosive offense.

6. Clemson: The Tigers nearly captured the national title last season, and they’ll have a chance to win one this year behind stud quarterback Deshaun Watson, who could be the top overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. He’ll be surrounded by weapons such as running back Wayne Gallman and wide receiver Mike Williams, who was lost to a neck injury last season. We saw how good the Tigers were defensively last year despite losing a ton of talent to the NFL, but can that level of play be sustained after returning just four starters from the ’15 unit and losing cornerback Adrian Baker to a torn ACL in March? Three defensive backs left early for the draft, and pass rushers Kevin Dodd and Shaq Lawson also departed.

7. Michigan: Jim Harbaugh has put his stamp on the Wolverines faster than most had expected, so expectations are very high for the ’16 squad. Star defender Jabrill Peppers will be used as a hybrid linebacker by coordinator Don Brown, so his athleticism will be depended upon when facing teams with spread elements. Offensively, can former Houston signal-caller John O’Korn lead the unit as well as Jake Rudock did last season?

8. Notre Dame: Brian Kelly and his offensive staff must decide on a starting quarterback after junior Malik Zaire and sophomore DeShone Kizer both proved capable of carrying the load. Kizer was thrown into a difficult situation but managed to help the Irish to a 10-win season after Zaire was hurt early in the season at Virginia. The team certainly lost top-level talent in this past weekend’s NFL Draft, but the cupboard isn’t bare in South Bend.

9. Oklahoma: The Sooners made the College Football Playoff last season, but they didn’t have the Orange Bowl experience that many had expected. Baker Mayfield is back to run the offense, which should continue to be efficient under coordinator Lincoln Riley. Mayfield completed over 68 percent of his throws last season, while Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon combined to rush for over 2,500 yards. But can the defense replace the level of play that performers such as Zack Sanchez and Eric Striker provided? Tests against Houston and Ohio State will answer that question early in the season.

10. Stanford: The Cardinal reached their third Rose Bowl in four seasons in ’15, but longtime starting quarterback Kevin Hogan is gone. However, do-everything Christian McCaffrey, who notched 3,864 all-purpose yards last season, returns for another Heisman Trophy run. The question is whether Ryan Burns or Keller Chryst will be able to do enough through the air to complement McCaffrey’s game.

11. Ohio State: Urban Meyer seems to do his best work with young squads, and the ’16 version of the Buckeyes will indeed feature youth. The program lost 15 starters from last year’s one-loss team, but keep in mind the national championship team from two years ago was short on experience. It helps that this will be J.T. Barrett’s offense again.

12. Houston: Tom Herman put together a magical first season as a head coach, as the Cougars earned a berth to the Peach Bowl where they handled Florida State. Can Greg Ward Jr. (3,936 yards of total offense and 38 total touchdowns in ’15) and an opportunistic defense (35 takeaways last fall) actually compete for a College Football Playoff berth in ’16? The schedule may allow for it to happen, as UH opens against Oklahoma and hosts Louisville.

13. Georgia: Kirby Smart landed his dream job in Athens, and he inherits a team loaded with talent. When will true freshman quarterback Jacob Eason get his chance to run the offensive show? Greyson Lambert may get the call against North Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, but Eason will see the field very soon. Oh, and star running back Nick Chubb is expected to be at full strength after tearing knee ligaments last October.

14. Michigan State: The Spartans will be replacing Connor Cook at quarterback with either Tyler O’Connor or Damion Terry, and whoever wins the battle will be working behind a line that lost some key pieces. However, the backfield is deep, and the defense is filled with experience such as defensive end Malik McDowell, linebacker Riley Bullough and safety Demetrius Cox.

15. TCU: The Horned Frogs showed a lot of resiliency throughout last season, including in the team’s bowl game. Injuries decimated the squad, but Gary Patterson still notched 11 wins. Foster Sawyer and Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill are battling to replace prolific signal-caller Trevone Boykin, and a lot will be expected of the winner of that QB derby because the offense only returns three starters.

16. Ole Miss: The Rebels lost some top talent to the NFL, as head coach Hugh Freeze has to replace 12 starters from a team that helped the program to its first 10-win season in 13 years. Quarterback Chad Kelly is back after setting program records for total offense and total touchdowns, but he’ll need some help from the running back corps.

17. Louisville: Bobby Petrino brings back an electric quarterback and an experienced defense. There’s no question that Lamar Jackson needs to be more consistent and efficient through the air, as he completed just 54.7 percent of his passes and tossed eight interceptions last fall. However, the sophomore nearly ran for 1,000 yards and had 11 TDs on the ground. Can he consistently resemble the player we saw go off in the Music City Bowl? Former TCU linebacker Devonte Fields paces the defense and had 11 sacks and was a force against the run last fall.

18. Iowa: The Hawkeyes were a goal-line stand away from making the second College Football Playoff, but longtime head coach Kirk Ferentz was still able to lead the program to its first Rose Bowl in 25 years. Can the Hawkeyes prove that 2015 was not a fluke? They have a chance with quarterback C.J. Beathard, who proficiently led an offense that was more wide open in ’15.

19. USC: Clay Helton had the interim tag removed from his title, but can he navigate a tough schedule and the high-stakes pressure of being in the Los Angeles spotlight? The Trojans open up the season against defending national champion Alabama, and either junior Max Browne or redshirt freshman Sam Darnold will be under center. Offensive weapons abound, but can the defensive line hold up for an entire season?

20. Washington: The Huskies are a sleeping giant in the Pac-12 under Chris Petersen. The team closed ’15 strong, and the duo of quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin will pace the offense. How much time will junior cornerback Budda Baker see at wide receiver? The defense returns a lot of key players from a unit that led the Pac-12 in scoring defense and total defense.

21. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys bring back a lot of experience from a team that won 10 games in ’15, although the Pokes did drop their final three contests of the season. Better offensive line play is needed, as OSU ranked 113th in the FBS in rushing yards per game and allowed 32 sacks. Road trips to Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma loom.

22. Florida: Jim McElwain claimed an SEC East title in his first season in Gainesville, and he’ll need to find a quarterback if the Gators want to repeat and put up a better fight than they did in their showcase games to close the ’15 campaign. Luke Del Rio is the favorite to start at quarterback, and plenty of talent remains on defense.

23. Boise State: Bryan Harsin has taken over play-calling duties on offense after coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz left for NC State, while linebackers coach Andy Avalos was promoted to defensive coordinator to replace Marcel Yates, who left for Arizona. Quarterback Brett Rypien passed for 3,353 yards with 20 touchdowns as a freshman, while running back Jeremy McNichols grounded out 1,337 rushing yards and 20 scores.

24. North Carolina: The Tar Heels advanced to the ACC title game and gave Clemson fits before ultimately falling short. Still, Larry Fedora led the program to its first 11-win season since 1997. UNC made a dramatic improvement on defense last year, so a similar effort will be needed along with stability at quarterback with Mitch Trubisky, who is replacing the prolific Marquise Williams.

25. Miami (FL): New head coach Mark Richt inherits Brad Kaaya, who is one of the best quarterbacks in the country and has logged consecutive 3,000-yard passing seasons. We don’t know what the future holds for running back Mark Walton (DUI charge), who had a team-high nine touchdowns last season. But Joseph Yearby ran for 1,002 yards in 2015.

Under consideration:

Oregon
Wisconsin
UCLA
Arkansas
Washington State

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Michigan lands pledge from Heisman finalist’s brother

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff are not letting up on the recruiting trail.

Just under two weeks after the Wolverines put together a Top-5 recruiting class for the 2016 cycle, the program landed a commitment Monday night from blue-chip quarterback Dylan McCaffrey, who is the younger brother of

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff are not letting up on the recruiting trail.

Just under two weeks after the Wolverines put together a Top-5 recruiting class for the 2016 cycle, the program landed a commitment Monday night from blue-chip quarterback Dylan McCaffrey, who is the younger brother of Stanford’s Heisman Trophy finalist Christian McCaffrey.

The 6-5, 200-pound Class of 2017 Colorado product tossed 27 touchdowns against just four interceptions in 2015 while leading Valor Christian High School to the Colorado Class 5A football championship. He also ran for 592 yards and 13 more scores.

McCaffrey is considered the nation’s No. 2 pro-style quarterback in 2017, according to the 247Sports Composite.

Michigan brought in signal-caller Brandon Peters this past National Signing Day, so McCaffrey certainly is not shying away from future stout competition. The son of former Denver Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey becomes the fifth player in the Wolverines’ 2017 class, joining running back Kurt Taylor, tight end Carter Dunaway, offensive tackle Ja’Raymond Hall and cornerback Benjamin St-Juste.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Miami (FL) fires Golden

Miami (FL) fired head coach Al Golden following the program's biggest loss in its history.

Hurricanes athletic director Blake James made the announcement Sunday evening. Tight ends coach/run game coordinator Larry Scott will be the team's interim head coach.

"Coach Golden has led our program through some very difficult times and

Miami (FL) fired head coach Al Golden following the program’s biggest loss in its history.

Hurricanes athletic director Blake James made the announcement Sunday evening. Tight ends coach/run game coordinator Larry Scott will be the team’s interim head coach.

“Coach Golden has led our program through some very difficult times and he has done so with class, integrity and a true desire to see our students succeed on the field, in the classroom and in the community,” James said in a release. “However, we have a proud tradition of excellence at Miami, not just in football but in all sports, and we want to compete for ACC and national championships. I simply believe that now is the time to bring the Hurricane Family together and rally behind our young men.”

Golden, who never was able to defeat Florida State as Miami head coach, finished his ‘Canes career with a 32-25 mark (17-18 in the ACC) over four-plus seasons in Coral Gables. The final nail in the coffin was a 58-0 home loss Saturday to Clemson, which dropped the ‘Canes to 4-3 on the season.

“On behalf of my family I want to thank the University of Miami for a tremendous opportunity,” Golden said in a release. “I believe in what we are doing and how we are doing it and we have some outstanding young men in our football program. Though this moment is difficult, we wish the Canes the best of luck going forward.”

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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NFP Top 25

Let's take a look at the National Football Post's newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (8-0) [1]
2.
TCU (7-0) [2]
3. Michigan State (8-0) [3]
4. Baylor (7-0) [4]
5. LSU (7-0) [6]
6. Alabama (7-1) [7]
7. Clemson (7-0) [9]
8. Notre

Let’s take a look at the National Football Post’s newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (8-0) [1]
2. TCU (7-0) [2]
3. Michigan State (8-0) [3]

4. Baylor (7-0) [4]
5. LSU (7-0) [6]
6. Alabama (7-1) [7]
7. Clemson (7-0) [9]
8. Notre Dame (6-1) [10]
9. Stanford (6-1) [11]
10. Oklahoma (6-1) [12]
11. Iowa (7-0) [13]
12. Oklahoma State (7-0) [14]
13. Memphis (7-0) [15]
14. Florida State (6-1) [5]
15. Utah (6-1) [8]
16. Florida (6-1) [16]
17. Michigan (5-2) [17]
18. Temple (7-0) [18]
19. Toledo (7-0) [20]
20. Houston (7-0) [21]
21. Ole Miss (6-2) [22]
22. Duke (6-1) [23]
23. Mississippi State (6-2) [25]
24. UCLA (5-2) [NR]
25. Wisconsin (6-2) [NR]

The next five: Georgia (5-2), Pitt (6-1), BYU (6-2), Texas A&M (5-2) and Boise State (6-2).

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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NFP Top 25

Let's take a look at the National Football Post's newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (7-0) [1]
2.
TCU (7-0) [2]
3. Michigan State (7-0) [3]
4. Baylor (6-0) [4]
5.
Florida State (6-0) [5]
6. LSU (6-0) [6]
7. Alabama (6-1) [7]
8.

Let’s take a look at the National Football Post’s newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (7-0) [1]
2. TCU (7-0) [2]
3. Michigan State (7-0) [3]

4. Baylor (6-0) [4]
5. Florida State (6-0) [5]
6. LSU (6-0) [6]
7. Alabama (6-1) [7]
8. Utah (6-0) [8]
9. Clemson (6-0) [9]
10. Notre Dame (6-1) [12]
11. Stanford (5-1) [13]
12. Oklahoma (5-1) [15]
13. Iowa (7-0) [18]
14. Oklahoma State (6-0) [17]
15. Memphis (6-0) [21]
16. Florida (6-1) [11]
17. Michigan (5-2) [16]
18. Temple (6-0) [20]
19. Texas A&M (5-1) [10]
20. Toledo (6-0) [22]
21. Houston (6-0) [25]
22. Ole Miss (5-2) [14]
23. Duke (5-1) [24]
24. Cal (5-1) [NR]
25. Mississippi State (5-2) [NR]

The next five: Georgia (5-2), UCLA (4-2), BYU (5-2), Texas Tech (5-2) and Pitt (5-1).

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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South Carolina’s Spurrier to retire

Steve Spurrier is hanging up his visor.

The Head Ball Coach is walking away from South Carolina, according to a report from Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated. Co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Shawn Elliott is expected to be named interim head coach on Tuesday.

The 70-year-old Spurrier is in midst

Steve Spurrier is hanging up his visor.

The Head Ball Coach is walking away from South Carolina, according to a report from Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated. Co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Shawn Elliott is expected to be named interim head coach on Tuesday.

The 70-year-old Spurrier is in midst of his 11th season with the Gamecocks. After a brief stint in the NFL, Spurrier returned to college football and built South Carolina into an SEC contender, culminating in three straight 11-win seasons from 2011 to 2013. But the team won just seven games last season and sits at 2-4 this fall, with all four losses coming against SEC foes. Spurrier has never had a losing season as South Carolina’s leader, and the team was bowl-eligible in his first 10 seasons.

Spurrier won the 1996 national championship and six SEC titles at Florida, where he coached for 12 seasons. The former quarterback played his college football in Gainesville from 1963 to 1966 and won the Heisman Trophy for his play in his final season.

He began his coaching career with the Gators in 1978 as the quarterbacks coach and served in the same role at Georgia Tech the next year before becoming Duke’s offensive coordinator in 1980. After becoming the youngest coach in professional football when he took over the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits, he came back to Duke for his first head-coaching job in college football in 1987. He was named the ACC coach of the year twice while in Durham, and he left the school with a 20-13-1 mark. After a 122-27-1 record with the Gators, Spurrier resigned and took the head gig with the Washington Redskins.

Spurrier has a combined record of 228-89-2 at Duke, Florida and South Carolina. He is the Gamecocks’ all-time winningest coach with 86 victories.

It’s safe to say that college football won’t be the same without Spurrier.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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USC fires Sarkisian

USC has fired head coach Steve Sarkisian.

One day after placing him on an indefinite leave of absence, athletic director Pat Haden terminated the contract of the head coach effective immediately. Clay Helton will continue as the interim head coach.

The following is a statement from Haden:

"After careful consideration of

USC has fired head coach Steve Sarkisian.

One day after placing him on an indefinite leave of absence, athletic director Pat Haden terminated the contract of the head coach effective immediately. Clay Helton will continue as the interim head coach.

The following is a statement from Haden:

“After careful consideration of what is in the best interest of the university and our student-athletes, I have made the decision to terminate Steve Sarkisian, effective immediately.

“I want to thank Clay Helton for stepping into the interim head coach role, and I want to add how proud I am of our coaching staff and players and the way they are responding to this difficult situation.

“Through all of this we remain concerned for Steve and hope that it will give him the opportunity to focus on his personal well being.”

Sarkisian went 12-6 in less than two seasons as head coach. The Trojans went 9-4 last season and started 3-2 this year.

The question now is whether or not Haden will be around to pick the next permanent head man at ‘SC.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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NCAA suspends Florida’s Grier

Florida quarterback Will Grier has been suspended for the rest of the season for violating NCAA rules.

The Gator tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The positive test has an automatic suspension of one calendar year from the NCAA, which would mean he would not be eligible to return until Florida's seventh

Florida quarterback Will Grier has been suspended for the rest of the season for violating NCAA rules.

The Gator tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The positive test has an automatic suspension of one calendar year from the NCAA, which would mean he would not be eligible to return until Florida’s seventh game of the 2016 season. The test was the result of something the signal-caller took over the counter that he did not get approved by Florida trainers, according to Grier at Monday’s news conference. The school plans to appeal the suspension.

The Davidson, N.C., native has thrown for 1,204 yards and 10 touchdowns against just three interceptions this fall. Florida travels to LSU for a showdown of unbeatens on Saturday.

Grier became the first Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow in 2009 to pass for more than 200 yards in three consecutive games, and his completion percentage (65.8) ranks first in the SEC.

With Grier out, sophomore Treon Harris will likely start for head coach Jim McElwain’s team. He started the season opener before giving way to Grier, but he was also suspended earlier this season for an undisclosed violation of team rules. Harris has appeared in two games this season and thrown for 269 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Georgia’s Chubb out for the year

Georgia running back Nick Chubb was lost for the season when he suffered a significant injury to his left knee in Saturday's game against Tennessee, including damage to multiple ligaments and cartilage but not the ACL, the school announced Sunday.

Chubb remains hospitalized for observation and is expected to undergo surgery

Georgia running back Nick Chubb was lost for the season when he suffered a significant injury to his left knee in Saturday’s game against Tennessee, including damage to multiple ligaments and cartilage but not the ACL, the school announced Sunday.

Chubb remains hospitalized for observation and is expected to undergo surgery within the next two weeks. The Bulldogs said a full recovery is expected.

The star Bulldog was injured on the first play from scrimmage on Saturday, when he took a handoff to the left side of the field and landed awkwardly on his left leg as he was tackled out of bounds.

Chubb had rushed for at least 100 yards in a school-record 13 straight games. He ranks second in the SEC this season with 745 rushing yards and has seven rushing touchdowns. He also averages 8.2 yards per carry.

Sophomore Sony Michel replaced Chubb and recorded 145 yards on 22 carries. Keith Marshall also received touches, rushing five times for 24 yards.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Maryland dismisses Edsall

Maryland pulled the plug on the Randy Edsall era, as the Terrapins head coach was informed Sunday morning that he was being dismissed. A press conference with athletic director Kevin Anderson is expected to take place at 4 p.m. ET today.

Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who previously had a rough stint

Maryland pulled the plug on the Randy Edsall era, as the Terrapins head coach was informed Sunday morning that he was being dismissed. A press conference with athletic director Kevin Anderson is expected to take place at 4 p.m. ET today.

Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who previously had a rough stint at New Mexico as head coach, will be the interim head man in College Park. He went 2-26 with the Lobos.

The Terps sit at 2-4 following their 49-28 loss to Ohio State this weekend, and all four of their defeats have been by at least three touchdowns this fall. After the loss to the Buckeyes, Edsall left his press conference abruptly after he was being asked questions regarding his job status amid reports that he was about to get canned.

The 57-year-old Edsall led the Terps to bowl games in each of the past two seasons but was just 22-34 in College Park with the Terps. He is owed a $3.1 million buyout.

In addition, assistant head coach/outside linebackers coach Lyndon Johnson has been relieved of his coaching duties.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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NFP Top 25

Let's take a look at the National Football Post's newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (6-0) [1]
2. TCU (6-0) [2]
3. Michigan State (6-0) [3]

4. Baylor (5-0) [4]
5.
Florida State (5-0) [5]
6. LSU (5-0) [6]
7. Alabama (5-1) [8]
8.

Let’s take a look at the National Football Post’s newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (6-0) [1]
2. TCU (6-0) [2]
3. Michigan State (6-0) [3]

4. Baylor (5-0) [4]
5. Florida State (5-0) [5]
6. LSU (5-0) [6]
7. Alabama (5-1) [8]
8. Utah (5-0) [10]
9. Clemson (5-0) [9]
10. Texas A&M (5-0) [11]
11. Florida (6-0) [15]
12. Notre Dame (5-1) [13]
13. Stanford (4-1) [14]
14. Ole Miss (5-1) [17]
15. Oklahoma (4-1) [7]
16. Michigan (5-1) [23]
17. Oklahoma State (6-0) [19]
18. Iowa (6-0) [22]
19. UCLA (4-1) [20]
20. Temple (5-0) [24]
21. Memphis (5-0) [25]
22. Toledo (5-0) [NR]
23. Boise State (5-1) [NR]
24. Duke (5-1) [NR]
25. Houston (5-0) [NR]

The next five: Cal (5-1), Northwestern (5-1), BYU (4-2), Georgia (4-2) and Kansas State (3-2).

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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NFP Top 25

Five weeks of the 2015 college football season are in the books, and the first weekend of October was memorable for a plethora of reasons.

Let's take a look at the National Football Post's newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (5-0) [1]
2. TCU (5-0) [2]
3. Michigan State

Five weeks of the 2015 college football season are in the books, and the first weekend of October was memorable for a plethora of reasons.

Let’s take a look at the National Football Post’s newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (5-0) [1]
2. TCU (5-0) [2]
3. Michigan State (5-0) [3]

4. Baylor (4-0) [4]
5. Florida State (4-0) [8]
6. LSU (4-0) [9]
7. Oklahoma (4-0) [12]
8. Alabama (4-1) [11]
9. Clemson (4-0) [13]
10. Utah (4-0) [14]
11. Texas A&M (5-0) [15]
12. Northwestern (5-0) [16]
13. Notre Dame (4-1) [5]
14. Stanford (4-1) [17]
15. Florida (5-0) [23]
16. USC (3-1) [18]
17. Ole Miss (4-1) [6]

18. Georgia (4-1) [7]
19. Oklahoma State (5-0) [19]
20. UCLA (4-1) [10]
21. Cal (5-0) [21]
22. Iowa (5-0) [NR]
23. Michigan (4-1) [NR]
24. Temple (4-0) [24]
25. Memphis (5-0) [25]

The next five: Toledo (4-0), Boise State (4-1), Duke (4-1), Houston (4-0) and Navy (4-0).

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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NFP Top 25

Four weeks of the 2015 college football season are in the books, and plenty of unanswered questions remain as we head into the first weekend of October.

Let's take a look at the National Football Post's newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (4-0) [1]
2. TCU (4-0) [2]
3.

Four weeks of the 2015 college football season are in the books, and plenty of unanswered questions remain as we head into the first weekend of October.

Let’s take a look at the National Football Post’s newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (4-0) [1]
2. TCU (4-0) [2]
3. Michigan State (4-0) [3]

4. Baylor (3-0) [4]
5. Notre Dame (4-0) [5]
6. Ole Miss (4-0) [6]
7. Georgia (4-0) [7]
8. Florida State (3-0) [8]
9. LSU (3-0) [9]
10. UCLA (4-0) [10]
11. Alabama (3-1) [11]

12. Oklahoma (3-0) [12]
13. Clemson (3-0) [13]
14. Utah (4-0) [16]
15. Texas A&M (4-0) [15]
16. Northwestern (4-0) [17]

17. Stanford (3-1) [19]
18. USC (3-1) [21]
19. Oklahoma State (4-0) [NR]
20. Wisconsin (3-1) [23]
21. Cal (4-0) [NR]
22. Mississippi State (3-1) [NR]
23. Florida (4-0) [NR]
24. Temple (3-0) [25]
25. Memphis (4-0) [NR]

The next five: Toledo (3-0), Michigan (3-1), Boise State (3-1), West Virginia (3-0) and Miami, FL (3-0).

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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NFP Top 25

Three weeks of the 2015 college football season are in the books, and defending national champion Ohio State survived quite a scare in Columbus against perennial MAC power Northern Illinois on Saturday.

What about the other top teams across the country?

Let's take a look at the National Football Post's newest

Three weeks of the 2015 college football season are in the books, and defending national champion Ohio State survived quite a scare in Columbus against perennial MAC power Northern Illinois on Saturday.

What about the other top teams across the country?

Let’s take a look at the National Football Post’s newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (3-0)
2. TCU (3-0)
3. Michigan State (3-0)
4. Baylor (2-0)
5. Notre Dame (3-0)
6. Ole Miss (3-0)
7. Georgia (3-0)
8. Florida State (3-0)
9. LSU (2-0)
10. UCLA (3-0)
11. Alabama (2-1)
12. Oklahoma (3-0)
13. Clemson (3-0)
14. Oregon (2-1)
15. Texas A&M (3-0)
16. Utah (3-0)
17. Northwestern (3-0)
18. Arizona (3-0)
19. Stanford (2-1)
20. BYU (2-1)
21. USC (2-1)
22. Missouri (3-0)
23. Wisconsin (2-1)
24. Georgia Tech (2-1)
25. Temple (3-0)

The next five: Memphis (3-0), Oklahoma State (3-0), Florida (3-0), Toledo (2-0) and Cal (3-0).

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Notre Dame loses QB Zaire for the season

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly told the media after Saturday's thrilling 34-27 win over Virginia that quarterback Malik Zaire will miss the rest of the season with a fractured right ankle.

With the transfer of Everett Golson to Florida State, Zaire assumed the starting job that will now go to

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly told the media after Saturday’s thrilling 34-27 win over Virginia that quarterback Malik Zaire will miss the rest of the season with a fractured right ankle.

With the transfer of Everett Golson to Florida State, Zaire assumed the starting job that will now go to DeShone Kizer, who tossed the game-winning 39-yard touchdown to Will Fuller with 12 seconds left to beat the Cavaliers after Zaire was knocked out of the game in the third quarter. Fuller has 19 scoring grabs since the start of last season (15 games).

Before the injury, Zaire completed just 7 of 18 passes, but he had rushed for 87 yards on 10 carries. Meanwhile, Kizer finished 8-of-12 passing for 92 yards and a pair of scores.

The Fighting Irish return home to host Georgia Tech next week, and contests against Clemson and USC loom within the next five weeks. If the Irish can navigate their tough schedule and make a run at a spot in the College Football Playoff with a redshirt freshman signal-caller, it would be one heck of a coaching job by Kelly.

The good news for the Irish is that C.J. Prosise looked like a No. 1 running back again, which is huge for a team that has had its share of injuries at that position as well. Prosise gained 155 yards on 17 carries against the Hoos.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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After further review: Week 1

Week 1 of the 2015 college football season is now in the books, as Ohio State began defense of its national championship by avenging its lone loss last season against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg to close out the opening week on Monday night. While there wasn't too much drama over the

Week 1 of the 2015 college football season is now in the books, as Ohio State began defense of its national championship by avenging its lone loss last season against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg to close out the opening week on Monday night. While there wasn’t too much drama over the first few days of the new campaign, there were certainly a lot of notable performances in the season’s debut week.

The kickoff to the Jim Harbaugh era may have taken center stage last Thursday night, but plenty of other storylines played out across the country by the end of Monday evening. Here are my biggest takeways from the weekend’s action.

• The SEC West isn’t going away any time soon. Since the division went 2-5 in bowl games last season, we have heard proclamations that it was an overrated group of teams. Alabama was handled by Ohio State in the College Football Playoff semifinal, Ole Miss was mauled by TCU, Mississippi State was run over by Georgia Tech and Auburn lost to Wisconsin. To top things off, college football’s champion did not come from the SEC. But on Saturday, the SEC West made an emphatic statement, as Alabama topped Wisconsin, Auburn held on to beat Louisville and Texas A&M used a monstrous defensive effort to defeat Arizona State. The Crimson Tide returned to Jerry World, the site of last season’s loss to the Buckeyes, and made amends so to speak by featuring beastly running back Derrick Henry, who rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns. That was the ‘Bama that the nation has come to know under Nick Saban. Oh, and the great Wisconsin ground game was held in check, as the Badgers were held to a measly 39 rushing yards. Throw in a solid performance from quarterback Jake Coker, whose play (16-of-22 passing for 219 yards) relegated Cooper Bateman to mop-up duty, and ‘Bama fans should be enthused. For Gus Malzahn’s Tigers, we saw flashes of an improved defense under new coordinator Will Muschamp in a 31-24 win over Louisville in Atlanta. The Tigers put on a defensive clinic in the first half, as they forced two turnovers that led to scores and notched four sacks en route to holding Louisville scoreless in the first 30 minutes. One concern that we didn’t see coming was the struggles of new starting quarterback Jeremy Johnson, who tossed three interceptions in the victory. In his limited appearances last year, he certainly looked the part of a stud quarterback. But against the Cardinals, we saw him force throws and struggle with his decision-making. It was just one game, but perhaps Malzahn will strip down the playbook a bit. Meanwhile, we finally saw a standout defensive performance for a Kevin Sumlin-coached Aggies squad, as new defensive coordinator John Chavis oversaw a dominant performance in a win over Arizona State in Houston. A&M held the Sun Devils to 17 points, 233 total yards of offense and 3.5 yards per play, led by stud ends Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall (the pair combined for six sacks). The unit racked up nine sacks, forced five fumbles and allowed just 2.2 yards per carry — just a fantastic debut for the Chavis unit. The dilemma now for Sumlin is who to play under center. Kyle Allen was replaced by Kyler Murray, the true freshman who is not a polished passer but could make big plays with his legs. However, when Murray injured his hip, Allen returned to lead the Aggies to two touchdowns, including one to Christian Kirk (who scored on a 79-yard punt return and a 66-yard screen pass). He looked like a different player after the benching. And now that A&M took care of the Sun Devils, the schedule isn’t too overwhelming. Though it is an SEC slate, of course.

Other thoughts

• While all of the attention centered on whether J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones would start at quarterback, it was former signal-caller Braxton Miller who stole the show in Ohio State’s 42-24 win over Virginia Tech on Monday night in Blacksburg. Miller displayed the explosiveness that college football fans came to expect while he was winning the Big Ten offensive player of the year award twice. The former star quarterback caught a 54-yard touchdown pass that gave the Buckeyes the lead again early in the third quarter, and he later added a 53-yard touchdown run that featured a video-game spin move. The Buckeyes began defense of their national title without suspended defensive end Joey Bosa and three receivers, and they pulled away from the Hokies despite looking sloppy at times. That’s a scary thought for each and every opposing defense on the OSU schedule.

• We are seeing young quarterbacks increasingly make big impacts across the college football landscape. The latest is UCLA true freshman signal-caller Josh Rosen, who did not play like an 18-year-old making his first college start in the Bruins’ 41-13 win over Virginia on Saturday. Rosen, who graduated early to compete in spring ball and ultimately won the starting job in August, completed 28 of 35 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He was sacked just once and spread the ball around beautifully. He is working behind a sound offensive line and has a lot of talented skill players at his disposal. There likely will be some ups and downs, but his poise is impressive. However, while UCLA fans are excited about Rosen, there should be concern about the defense after star tackle Eddie Vanderdoes went down with a torn ACL. The Vanderdoes-Kenny Clark pair inside gave the Bruins a stout DT combo. Throw in the indefinite suspension of cornerback Ishmael Adams, and that’s two star players missing from that unit.

• In his second career start, Notre Dame junior quarterback Malik Zaire threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns on 19-of-22 passing, as the Fighting Irish crushed Texas 38-3. The three points for the ‘Horns tied the team’s fewest in a season opener since 1950. Almost exactly one year ago, Texas lost to BYU 41-7. So the QB spot may be the least of the Longhorns’ concerns right now. Meanwhile, the Irish received terrible news when it was announced that running back Tarean Folston would be shelved for the season because of a torn ACL. Of course, backup Greg Bryant was ruled academically ineligible in August. So senior C.J. Prosise, who rushed 20 times for 98 yards, and true freshman Josh Adams, who had five rushes for 49 yards and two touchdowns, will be the top backs. But what once was a strength is now a major concern for ND because of that lack of RB depth.

• Jeff Driskel has found new life at Louisiana Tech. The graduate transfer from Florida completed 12 of 15 passes for 274 yards and four touchdowns (along with a rushing score) in the first half of a 62-15 win over Southern. Driskel, of course, had a tough time in the SEC spotlight with the Gators, so hopefully he’s able to enjoy a productive final season of college ball.

• Taysom Hill has once again been lost for the season, which means that he is unfortunately done at the collegiate level. BYU’s exciting win on a last-second Hail Mary over Nebraska came at a huge cost, as preseason Heisman Trophy contender Hill suffered a mild sprained ankle early in the game but was able to eventually return. However, in the fourth quarter, Hill slid short of the first-down marker on a third-and-long play, and he ultimately limped off the field and went to the locker room. After throwing for 268 yards, rushing for 72 more and accounting for three scores, he left the game with a Lisfranc foot fracture. Hill has been one of the more exciting players in recent BYU memory, and it’s a shame that college football fans were unable to see a healthy Hill throughout his career. Backup Tanner Mangum finished up the game and tossed the Hail Mary pass to Mitch Matthews that won the game for the Cougars. By the way, BYU’s win in Lincoln snapped Nebraska’s 29-game winning streak in season openers, which dated back to 1985. Florida now has the longest active streak in FBS at 25 games.

• In addition to Hill being out for the year, star Pitt running back James Conner will miss the season as well. He left Saturday’s 45-37 win over Youngstown State after tearing his MCL. He was the centerpiece of the Panthers’ offense last season, as he rushed nearly 300 times for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns.

• Penn State’s offensive line remains a disaster. After being battered and bruised throughout the 2014 campaign, quarterback Christian Hackenberg was sacked 10 more times — 10! — in a brutal 27-10 loss to Temple, which received three sacks from linebacker Tyler Matakevich. The last time the Nittany Lions lost to the Owls was in 1941, a stretch that covered 39 games.

• One of the more impressive starts to the season that went a bit under the radar came from West Virginia, which held last year’s No. 1 rushing offense scoreless. Sure, Georgia Southern was breaking in a new offensive line and was without quarterback Kevin Ellison (two-game suspension), but the Mountaineers’ 44-0 win came against an Eagles team that hung tight with N.C. State and Georgia Tech last year in its first season of FBS competition. WVU safety Karl Joseph led a strong secondary with three interceptions, and this is expected to be Dana Holgorsen’s strongest defensive unit yet in Morgantown as the ‘Neers brought back nine starters on that side of the ball.

• Vernon Adams made his Oregon debut on Saturday, completing 19 of 25 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns and rushing 14 times for 94 yards in a 61-42 win over his former team, Eastern Washington. But he had an injury scare after taking a cheap shot in the fourth quarter. He was given a concussion test in the locker room and said he would be ready for the showdown on Saturday at Michigan State.

• Syracuse received a brutal blow when quarterback Terrel Hunt was lost for the year after suffering a torn Achilles tendon Friday in a 47-0 win over Rhode Island. This is the second consecutive season ended by injury for the senior captain. Last year, Hunt started the first five games for the Orange before suffering a season-ending broken leg. True freshman Eric Dungey, who completed 10 of 17 passes for 114 yards and two scores in relief, is expected to get the start in the team’s ACC opener against Wake Forest. Meanwhile, Syracuse is expected to apply for a sixth year of eligibility for Hunt.

• The Everett Golson era in Tallahassee started out strong, as the former Notre Dame quarterback completed 19 of 25 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns in Florida State’s 59-16 win over Texas State. He should be in store for a big year as long as he protects the football, which was his No. 1 issue last year in South Bend.

• It’s great to see Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson healthy again. The quarterback, who missed last season due to injury, threw for 424 yards in a 59-30 loss to Tennessee, which had 399 rushing yards in the game. The Vols have to shore up that pass defense, though, as they prepare to face Oklahoma and new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley this week.

• William Likely is ridiculous. The Maryland cornerback had four total touchdowns (on two interceptions, one punt return and one kickoff return) last season, and he started off the 2015 season with a bang. In a 50-21 win over Richmond on Saturday, he returned eight punts for 233 yards, including a 67-yard score.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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The Opening 2015 preview

The Opening begins its weeklong event at Nike Headquarters on Sunday in Beaverton, OR.

One hundred sixty-six of the top high school football prospects across the nation (the standout 2016 recruits and select 2017 headliners) will gather for various activities, including combine testing, 7-on-7 work, individual drills, coaching and more at

The Opening begins its weeklong event at Nike Headquarters on Sunday in Beaverton, OR.

One hundred sixty-six of the top high school football prospects across the nation (the standout 2016 recruits and select 2017 headliners) will gather for various activities, including combine testing, 7-on-7 work, individual drills, coaching and more at the fifth edition of the nation’s top high school football event, which will take place from July 5-10.

Here are some of the things to keep an eye on throughout the week:

Elite 11

Over the past few months, some of the most coveted high school quarterbacks across the nation have competed for a chance to be one of the 18 prospects invited to the Elite 11 finals. The signal-callers will compete in arguably The Opening’s showcase competition this week to make the final Elite 11. The QBs will have to prove their mental and physical worth by learning a playbook, working hard in the classroom and competing in drills on the field. After individual drills, 7-on-7 play and much more, players will be selected for the final Elite 11 at the end of the week. This is a good chance for college football fans to get a glimpse at the prospective future star quarterbacks, including Malik Henry and Jacob Eason. While they aren’t in real game situations, these players will be competing against their peers, who are prospective college stars themselves. So consistency and poise will be crucial for these QBs.

7-on-7

The players invited to The Opening are placed on six teams before the event gets started. While this does not matter for drills such as one-on-ones and SPARQ testing, these teams will compete against each other starting July 9 for the 7-on-7 tournament. Each team has three quarterbacks, and we are guaranteed to see all three on each team play during the games on the first day. The names of the squads this year are Hypercool, Superbad, Mach Speed, Lunarbeast, Fly Rush and Alpha Pro. After pool play, as each team will play four games to determine seeding for the finals on the second day. Each winning team advances until a champ is determined.

The SPARQ National Championship

This showcases the event’s top athletes against each other in the 40-yard dash, vertical leap, shuttle run and a kneeling power ball toss. Each player’s scores are cumulated, and whoever finishes with the highest score is determined to be the champion. This was the event in which Texas A&M receiver Speedy Noil had his 45.3-inch vertical leap. Last year, running back Kirk Merritt (who signed with Oregon) posted a final score of 148.83 for the win.

Don’t overlook the linemen

While we always tend to set our sights on the skill-position players at these kinds of events, the offensive and defensive linemen will have a chance to shine a bit as well. The linemen will compete in a relay race and a tug of war, and we will also see the two sides throw on their shoulder pads and helmets and battle in one-on-one drills. The offensive linemen will be trying to prevent the opposing defensive linemen from reaching a dummy QB. Can the O-Line beat the D-Line in the tug of war after being defeated last year?

CLICK HERE for the official team rosters for The Opening Finals 2015

Notes:

— LSU will have seven commitments competing in this event, which is the most of any other program.

— An event like this offers another chance for commits to do a little pitching and recruiting of their own in an effort to sway other recruits to consider the schools they are respectively committed to attending.

— Four four-star players are expected to make their college decisions during the event. Cornerback Jared Mayden, safety C.J. Pollard and linebackers Camilo Eifler and LaMar Winston are all expected to pick a school.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Notre Dame lands elite Class of 2017 TE

Notre Dame has had a long list of notable tight ends leave South Bend and make it onto an NFL roster, and Brock Wright could follow when his time with the Fighting Irish is done.

Brian Kelly and his staff landed their second commitment for the 2017 recruiting class this weekend,

Notre Dame has had a long list of notable tight ends leave South Bend and make it onto an NFL roster, and Brock Wright could follow when his time with the Fighting Irish is done.

Brian Kelly and his staff landed their second commitment for the 2017 recruiting class this weekend, as the elite tight end gave a verbal pledge to the program.

The 6-5, 230-pounder from Cy-Fair High School (Cypress, TX) is arguably the best tight end in his class, and he had offers from major programs such as Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma and UCLA, among many others. Wright’s father played at Texas Tech, and the other major programs in the Lone Star State were after his commitment as well.

Wright is listed as a four-star prospect by Rivals.com, and he is considered the eighth-best player in the state of Texas by the 247 Composite.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Wright can get on the field in South Bend. Alize Jones will be a junior, Durham Smythe will be a redshirt senior, while Nic Weishar and Tyler Luatua will be true seniors when Wright arrives in 2017. So there will be quite the logjam at the position. But Wright possesses a rare size-speed combo for the position, and he has great hands and blocks very well.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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TCU lands top Class of 2017 dual-threat QB

Gary Patterson and his staff at TCU have already managed to put together one of their strongest classes ever for the 2016 recruiting class, and now the Horned Frogs have landed a pledge from one of the best quarterbacks in the 2017 cycle.

In-state product Shawn Robinson from John H. Guyer

Gary Patterson and his staff at TCU have already managed to put together one of their strongest classes ever for the 2016 recruiting class, and now the Horned Frogs have landed a pledge from one of the best quarterbacks in the 2017 cycle.

In-state product Shawn Robinson from John H. Guyer High School (Denton, TX) gave a commitment to Sonny Cumbie on Friday night. The Class of 2017 product is one of the most notable pledges in the school’s history.

The 6-2, 198-pound dual-threat signal-caller had offers from several major programs, including Alabama, USC and Oklahoma. While the recruiting game usually features a ton of twists and turns — even in the hours leading up to National Signing Day in some cases — the commitment of Robinson further underscores just how strong the TCU brand is becoming on the recruiting scene. It also hurts Texas, which was considered a strong contender for Robinson’s commitment. Of course, nothing will be set in stone until National Signing Day 2017.

Robinson, who grew up in Fort Worth and has shades of Trevone Boykin in his game, was named the Class 5-6A MVP as a sophomore after throwing for 2,800 yards and 33 touchdowns against just five interceptions. Rivals.com ranks him as a four-star prospect.

It will be interesting to see how the quarterback situation develops for TCU over the next few years, as the Frogs will welcome former Texas A&M signal-caller Kenny Hill this summer and already have Foster Sawyer and Grayson Muehlstein entering 2015 as redshirt freshmen. In addition, Brennan Wooten is scheduled to sign in 2016.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Michigan State hits hot recruiting stretch

Michigan State continued to stockpile talent for its 2016 recruiting class, picking up a commitment from defensive end Auston Robertson on Sunday.

Head coach Mark Dantonio and his staff were able to put together a strong weekend of collecting prospects, as the Spartans also received a pledge from fellow DE Josh

Michigan State continued to stockpile talent for its 2016 recruiting class, picking up a commitment from defensive end Auston Robertson on Sunday.

Head coach Mark Dantonio and his staff were able to put together a strong weekend of collecting prospects, as the Spartans also received a pledge from fellow DE Josh King on Friday. And MSU may not be done yet, as a few more pledges may come in over the next few days.

Illinois defensive lineman Naquan Jones will announce his decision on Monday, and he is down to Michigan State, Florida and South Carolina, while fellow Land of Lincoln defensive lineman Mike Panasiuk will also choose on Monday and is down to Sparty, Wisconsin and Penn State. Getting pledges from all four talented recruits in a stretch of days would be quite the coup for Dantonio and his staff.

Both the 6-4, 262-pound Robertson (Wayne High School in Fort Wayne, IN), and the 6-6, 233-pound King (Hinsdale South High School in Darien, IL) are considered two of the best players at their position in their respective states. And they are the Spartans’ highest-ranked commitments in the current cycle. Adding Jones and Panasiuk would put the program as one of the best in the country as we head into the summer months, and it could set the stage for Dantonio’s best recruiting class yet in East Lansing.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Alabama lands QB for its 2016 class

Alabama has found a quarterback for its 2016 recruiting class, as Jalen Hurts has given a verbal pledge to play for the Crimson Tide.

The Texas signal-caller made his announcement via Twitter while preparing to compete in the Elite 11 semifinals in Los Angeles this weekend.

Hurts, who attends Channelview High

Alabama has found a quarterback for its 2016 recruiting class, as Jalen Hurts has given a verbal pledge to play for the Crimson Tide.

The Texas signal-caller made his announcement via Twitter while preparing to compete in the Elite 11 semifinals in Los Angeles this weekend.

Hurts, who attends Channelview High School (Channelview, TX), chose the Tide over programs such as Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Mississippi State and West Virginia.

Rivals.com lists the 6-2, 208-pound dual-threat as a four-star prospect.

Hurts threw for 2,545 yards and 21 touchdowns as a junior, and he added 951 yards and 19 scores on the ground. With the addition of Hurts, it may mean that Georgia product Jawon Pass will now look elsewhere. Pass, who is another highly sought dual-threat quarterback, is supposed to announce his commitment on July 13. Many recruiting experts believe that Alabama and Auburn were the best-positioned to land Pass, but the Tide now has a commitment from Hurts, while Orlando product Woody Barrett recently pledged to Auburn.

The best dual-threat quarterbacks in the 2016 class have already committed, with Pass and Florida product Xavier Grimes being the exceptions. Of course, no pledge is binding until a player sends in his Letter of Intent next winter.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Virginia QB Lambert set to transfer

Greyson Lambert, who fell down the depth chart following spring football, has decided to transfer from Virginia.

The 2014 starting signal-caller for the Cavaliers tweeted on Saturday that he will transfer out of the program.

Lambert began his playing career in 2013 as a redshirt freshman when he appeared in seven

Greyson Lambert, who fell down the depth chart following spring football, has decided to transfer from Virginia.

The 2014 starting signal-caller for the Cavaliers tweeted on Saturday that he will transfer out of the program.

Lambert began his playing career in 2013 as a redshirt freshman when he appeared in seven games. He then beat out David Watford for the starting gig to begin 2014, and he started nine games before getting injured. He passed for 1,632 yards and had 10 touchdowns against 11 interceptions.

Cavaliers head coach Mike London placed Matt Johns atop the depth chart at quarterback after spring ball this offseason, noting that the competition “wasn’t close.” That likely was a deciding factor in Lambert choosing to leave the program.

Lambert becomes the second Virginia quarterback to leave the program in recent days. Redshirt freshman Corwin Cutler tweeted on Thursday that he was going to transfer. And Watford, who spent four seasons at Virginia, decided earlier in the offseason to transfer to Hampton, where he will play as a redshirt senior.

For the Hoos, it looks like sophomore Andrew Mackay will become the top backup to Johns now that Lambert is leaving. Meanwhile, Lambert is scheduled to graduate on June 23, so he will be eligible to play this fall with two years of eligibility remaining.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Maryland gets commitment from top Class of 2016 QB

Randy Edsall was able to land one of the best quarterbacks in the Class of 2016 on Friday, as Dwayne Haskins Jr. committed to play for Maryland.

The pledge of the Under Armour All-American pocket passer is huge not just because of the talent that he will bring to the roster,

Randy Edsall was able to land one of the best quarterbacks in the Class of 2016 on Friday, as Dwayne Haskins Jr. committed to play for Maryland.

The pledge of the Under Armour All-American pocket passer is huge not just because of the talent that he will bring to the roster, but he will most likely be the gem of the Terps’ 2016 haul as Edsall and his staff try to get the most talented players in their local recruiting area onto the Maryland campus.

The 6-3, 203-pound product from Bullis School (Potomac, MD) chose Maryland over Penn State, Rutgers and Virginia Tech, among other offers. Major programs such as Alabama, Florida and Notre Dame also offered. Haskins is the No. 4 pro-style quarterback and No. 68 player in the class of 2016, according to Rivals.com rankings.

The Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year threw 22 touchdowns against five interceptions and completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 1,936 yards this past season. He projects to be the type of signal-caller that could excel both as a passer and runner in a spread system or as a pure passer in a more pro-style scheme.

While current projected starter Caleb Rowe has two years of eligibility remaining, Haskins is gifted enough to compete for the starting job upon arrival on campus.

Haskins is the Terps’ eighth commitment in the 2016 class, which includes seven pledges from the state of Maryland. Four-star outside linebacker Keandre Jones from Our Lady of Good Counsel High had been the most noteworthy Terps pledge before the commitment of Haskins.

With the best quarterbacks in the 2016 class already committed to schools, some major programs in need of depth at the position will be hoping to either get a commitment from Georgia dual-threat Jawon Pass or hope that a QB decommits before National Signing Day.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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FSU trying to set three-year NFL Draft record for total picks

CHICAGO—Six players down, five (and possibly six) to go?

No school has had more players drafted in the first three rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft than Florida State, which saw Jameis Winston become the first Seminole ever to be taken with the No. 1 overall pick when Tampa Bay selected

CHICAGO—Six players down, five (and possibly six) to go?

No school has had more players drafted in the first three rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft than Florida State, which saw Jameis Winston become the first Seminole ever to be taken with the No. 1 overall pick when Tampa Bay selected the former Heisman Trophy winner.

Offensive lineman Cameron Erving (No. 19 overall, Cleveland), defensive end Mario Edwards (No. 35, Oakland), defensive tackle Eddie Goldman (No. 39, Chicago), cornerback Ronald Darby (No. 50, Buffalo) and cornerback P. J. Williams (No. 78, New Orleans) followed Winston, who helped make FSU the first school to produce three first-round quarterbacks in a five-year span (following the selections of Christian Ponder and EJ Manuel).

The ‘Noles are trying to set a new three-year NFL Draft record for total picks. Jimbo Fisher’s program will need to send five more players to NFL teams in the final four rounds to pass the mark of 28 drafted players previously set by Miami, FL (2002-2004) and USC (2008-2010). FSU would have 30 total picks over the last three years if all 12 of its prospects have their name called in this year’s draft.

Can the ‘Noles, which had 11 selections in the 2013 draft and seven more in 2014, set the record on the third and final day of the draft?

It’s pretty safe to assume that Rashad Greene, Tre’ Jackson, Nick O’Leary and Josue Matias will be selected at some point on the draft’s final day. But Karlos Williams and Bobby Hart also have a chance to help set the three-year mark.

Williams is a raw but intriguing running back because of his combination of size, speed and athleticism after making the switch from safety to running back a few seasons ago. Meanwhile, teams are always looking to build depth across the offensive line, and Hart projects to play guard in the NFL after playing tackle for the ‘Noles.

No matter what happens on the draft’s final day in Chicago, FSU has a deep and talented class that helped the program record 39 wins in 42 games over the last three years, including a national championship and three straight ACC crowns. Even falling short of the record would never be able to take those accomplishments away.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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5 surprises from the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft

CHICAGO—With the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft in the books, here are my five biggest surprises from opening night.

— I have maintained that Leonard Williams is the best overall player in this draft class regardless of position. He was a joy to watch at USC, and he wasn’t

CHICAGO—With the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft in the books, here are my five biggest surprises from opening night.

— I have maintained that Leonard Williams is the best overall player in this draft class regardless of position. He was a joy to watch at USC, and he wasn’t even fully healthy at times during his stint with the Trojans. I was surprised that the defensive lineman fell out of the Top 5, landing with the New York Jets at No. 6. I thought Washington would snag him at No. 5, but the Redskins took Iowa guard/tackle Brandon Scherff instead. New ‘Skins offensive line coach Bill Callahan came over from Dallas, which relied on a studly and remade O-Line last season on its march to the playoffs. So Scherff will fit in very well in D.C. I would imagine that fans of the Jets would have a hard time booing the Williams selection had this event been held once again in New York. The Jets now have a defensive line that boasts Williams, Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson.

— If Williams is my top overall player, Georgia’s Todd Gurley is my No. 2 in this class — although he has the obvious health concern. But there is no question that St. Louis is set to inherit a beastly running back in Gurley, who shocked a lot of observers by making his way into the Top 10 not only as a RB in a passing league but as a rehabbing RB. The Rams did not go the O-Lineman route at No. 10 possibly because Scherff and Ereck Flowers were gone, so they could always go up front with their next pick. Gurley was the first running back chosen in the first round since 2012, and he should be a special player if healthy. Sure, there’s concern because of the knee injury. But if he comes back 100 percent, the Rams should have their feature back in time.

— We assumed that Randy Gregory was going to slip down the first-round draft board, but it is hard to believe that the Nebraska product was not a Day 1 selection. Sure, it has been a rough offseason for the outside linebacker since his failed drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine. But he was once considered the top pass rusher on the draft board and an almost sure first-round selection. We now have to wonder how far he will fall. Certainly, whichever team rolls the dice on Gregory will be getting a heck of a player if he keeps his nose clean off of the field.

— It’s almost impossible to predict any draft-day trades even when there’s so much supposed smoke around certain teams. There was not much wheeling and dealing on the draft’s first night, as Tennessee remained at No. 2 and selected Oregon quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, while Cleveland and New Orleans did not make a move despite having multiple first-round selections. San Diego did move up two spots to take prolific Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, though, while Denver moved up five slots to take Missouri pass-rush specialist Shane Ray. Will we see some early deals being completed Friday evening as teams have readjusted their draft boards? Expect several mini deals as the draft progresses as is the case every year.

— How did Washington lose six games last season? The Huskies had three defenders selected in the first round on Thursday night, with Carolina pulling off the biggest surprise by taking freak athlete Shaq Thompson at No. 25 overall. Thompson excelled both as a defender and as a running back during his time in Seattle, but he is still raw. However, his ceiling is sky-high, which likely helped get him into the first round. He was the third Huskies player to be picked in the first 32 selections along with D-Lineman Danny Shelton and cornerback Marcus Peters, whose stock was in question because of character concerns. Kansas City took Peters at No. 18, which was a surprise on its own. By the way, Oregon fans may be excited to know that graduate transfer quarterback Vernon Adams led an Eastern Washington team to 52 points against that Huskies squad last fall.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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College Football Playoff to continue weekly rankings

The College Football Playoff management committee, which consists of the 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conference commissioners as well as Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, approved the use of weekly rankings once again this upcoming season following a gathering in Irving, TX.

However, the committee did not come to a conclusion on how to

The College Football Playoff management committee, which consists of the 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conference commissioners as well as Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, approved the use of weekly rankings once again this upcoming season following a gathering in Irving, TX.

However, the committee did not come to a conclusion on how to handle Army and Navy, which play each other the Saturday after the final rankings are released. The committee essentially needs to come up with a plan if either Army or Navy is in the running for a slot in one of the New Year’s playoff bowls. The Midshipmen will no longer be independent as they move into the American Athletic Conference, so it could be problematic if Navy wins the conference title and is the highest-ranked Group of Five team entering a closing game against Army. The commissioners plan to meet again in June, so perhaps we will get some clarity then.

The CFP selection committee will release its first Top 25 of the 2015 season on November 3 following the ninth week of the season. The final rankings will be unveiled on December 6, which is the day after the regular season concludes outside of the Army-Navy tilt.

CFP executive director Bill Hancock said that commissioners of the FBS decided that it was in the best interest of the sport to not alter the system after a successful debut in 2014, which saw No. 4 seed Ohio State beat top seed Alabama and No. 2 Oregon en route to claiming the first-ever College Football Playoff national championship. The playoff set television ratings records last season, and bowl games paid more than a half-billion dollars to conferences and schools last season — the largest payout ever.

In its second year of existence, the semifinals of the CFP will be played in the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Eve. The winners of those two contests will play at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, on January 11 for the national title.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Sooners get pledge from top Class of 2016 QB

Class of 2016 quarterback Austin Kendall verbally committed on Tuesday to play for head coach Bob Stoops at Oklahoma.

Kendall is ranked as the No. 27 overall player in the Rivals.com rankings for the 2016 class.

The 6-2, 201-pounder from Cuthbertson High School (Waxhaw, N.C.) is a pocket passer who was

Class of 2016 quarterback Austin Kendall verbally committed on Tuesday to play for head coach Bob Stoops at Oklahoma.

Kendall is ranked as the No. 27 overall player in the Rivals.com rankings for the 2016 class.

The 6-2, 201-pounder from Cuthbertson High School (Waxhaw, N.C.) is a pocket passer who was previously committed to Tennessee before backing off his pledge in March. The Vols signed three quarterbacks in their 2015 class.

He then visited Kentucky and OU, and he was reportedly down to Auburn and the Sooners before finally deciding to head to Norman for his college career.

It will be interesting to see if Stoops and his staff get a few more top-tier prospects to pledge now that one of the better signal-callers in the 2016 class has committed to play for the program.

Kentucky went hard after Kendall, but the Wildcats fell short. His brother, Ryan, is a walk-on wide receiver for UK.

The Sooners brought in a new offensive coordinator this offseason in former East Carolina OC Lincoln Riley, who next year will inherit an intriguing prospect in Kendall, who threw for nearly 4,500 yards and 49 touchdowns in a pass-happy system last season.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Battle to replace Winston underway at Florida State

It's not easy to replace a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. Not even at Florida State, where head coach Jimbo Fisher has been able to re-stock the talent cupboard each February on National Signing Day.

Jameis Winston has a chance to be the top overall player selected in this spring's NFL Draft,

It’s not easy to replace a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. Not even at Florida State, where head coach Jimbo Fisher has been able to re-stock the talent cupboard each February on National Signing Day.

Jameis Winston has a chance to be the top overall player selected in this spring’s NFL Draft, leaving a gaping hole at the quarterback position for the Seminoles.

With spring practice less than a week old in Tallahassee, rising junior Sean Maguire (who was last year’s top backup) is considered the frontrunner to earn the starting job for the start of the 2015 season. Maguire, of course, was in the starting lineup for one game last season while Winston served a suspension. In that contest against Clemson, Maguire completed 21 of 39 passes for 304 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, a solid effort under tough circumstances. The highlight was his 74-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Greene that tied the game in the fourth quarter.

Maguire has seen action in a big-time game and knows the offensive system better than any other signal-caller on the roster. Still, the fourth-year quarterback has played only sparingly the last two seasons. However, with an inexperienced offensive line and younger playmakers needing to step up, Maguire’s leadership should be a valuable asset to the unit in 2015.

Behind Maguire is redshirt freshman J.J. Cosentino and redshirt sophomore John Franklin III. Cosentino has very good arm strength and ideal size, and I have heard more than one rave review about him coming out of ‘Noles country. Franklin, meanwhile, is very athletic, and FSU used him as the scout team quarterback in the past to serve as stand-ins for opponents like Nick Marshall and Marcus Mariota.

The coaching staff will try to determine this spring just how much pressure Cosentino and Franklin can apply to Maguire and whether they can put together strong enough efforts to make the depth chart very interesting in preseason camp.

Early enrollee true freshman De’Andre Johnson has not been overwhelmed by this competition either. While he wasn’t considered a real factor in the QB race entering spring, Johnson has shown off his talented skill set to the coaching staff this spring.

The 6-foot, 173-pounder from Jacksonville’s First Coast High School is a dual-threat that may not have ideal size or arm strength, but he is considered savvy with good mechanics for someone who is stepping onto a college campus early. Fisher’s pro-style offense is very complex, however, so it would be very surprising to see Johnson ultimately win the starting gig. The same goes for Deondre Francois, who will join the program this summer as yet another athletic talent at the position.

FSU, which is trying to win its fourth consecutive ACC title in 2015, will conclude spring drills when it holds its spring game on April 11.

While Maguire is the odds-on favorite to initially replace Winston, Fisher certainly has some intriguing options both this fall and over the next couple of seasons, especially considering that one of the nation’s best quarterbacks in the Class of 2016, Malik Henry, has already committed to the ‘Noles. It’s yet another case of the rich getting richer.

But before FSU arrives at future quarterback battles, the ‘Noles have to settle the one underway right now. And while there are several options for Fisher and his offensive staff, it’s tough to see someone other than Maguire leading the offense onto the field in the season opener.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Notre Dame spring preview

Notre Dame opens spring football on Wednesday, as Brian Kelly begins preparing for his sixth year as head coach in South Bend.

Fans of the Fighting Irish will almost certainly be focused on the quarterback position, as veteran Everett Golson looks to reclaim the starting gig after left-hander Malik Zaire replaced

Notre Dame opens spring football on Wednesday, as Brian Kelly begins preparing for his sixth year as head coach in South Bend.

Fans of the Fighting Irish will almost certainly be focused on the quarterback position, as veteran Everett Golson looks to reclaim the starting gig after left-hander Malik Zaire replaced him in the regular-season finale against USC and started the team’s 31-28 Music City Bowl win over LSU.

We saw both signal-callers play against the Tigers in the postseason, but are Kelly and the Irish willing to employ a two-quarterback system in 2015?

Let’s take a look at the most intriguing storylines that will at least begin to play out this spring before bleeding into the fall.

— The quarterback battle: Golson and Zaire will be at the forefront of spring and fall camp. Golson recorded 37 touchdowns but also 22 turnovers last year, while Zaire ‘wowed’ at times in Nashville against the Bayou Bengals. Kelly said on Tuesday that he is unsure of how long it will take to name a starter, but he noted that Golson has fully bought into competing for the starting gig after rumors surfaced that he would look to transfer and play elsewhere after graduating from ND in May. Kelly is looking for Golson to better protect the football, while he wants Zaire to sharpen his dedication and leadership skills in practices. Both will also be looking to improve their mechanics.

— New-look offense?: Kelly was not happy with the team’s production on offense last year, so Mike Sanford was brought in to be the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Sanford is considered one of the bright young minds in the college game, and he comes without having a previous link to Kelly, which was not the case when coaches such as Mike Denbrock, Matt LaFleur, Chuck Martin and Charley Molnar all landed jobs in South Bend. There is no doubt that the Irish offense needed a boost after a turnover-laden season in 2014. In his only year as OC at Boise State, Sanford directed the No. 9 scoring offense in the country, and it was a unit that was very balanced (the Broncos ranked 29th in rushing and 23rd in passing nationally). Sanford was also part of three Stanford teams that claimed BCS berths, so he comes with a winning pedigree. The only question is exactly how much control Sanford will possess once the new season begins. Kelly is expected to announce who will call the offensive plays sometime after spring practice ends.

— Bryant strives for consistency: Greg Bryant arrived in South Bend with great fanfare, and the Irish would love to have a clear-cut No. 1 back emerge. The former five-star recruit is behind Tarean Folston on the depth chart, but Bryant will certainly have a chance to take on a greater workload. He has shown glimpses of explosiveness, but he must improve in pass protection and become a more patient runner.

— Concerns at safety: Max Redfield and Elijah Shumate need to be much more consistent this fall if the Irish want to be a stout defense. Both possess very good physical traits, and the hope is that both of them think much less and rely much more on instincts in their second seasons under coordinator Brian VanGorder. Perhaps new position coach Todd Lyght will provide a spark as well. The duo showed flashes last year, but consistency is needed each and every Saturday.

Other notes:

— Kelly said cornerback KeiVarae Russell is progressing academically and hopes to be back in school in the summer, but he isn’t sure if defensive lineman Ishaq Williams will be back.

— The Irish have a great “problem” on their hands in the form of several starting-caliber linebackers. Joe Schmidt is returning from injury, and so is Jarrett Grace, who last played in October 2013. Jaylon Smith and Nyles Morgan are also back, as are versatile ‘backers James Onwualu and Greer Martini. Ben Councell, who had a year of eligibility left, decided not to return for another season.

— Kelly said he didn’t know why Matt Hegarty has chosen to leave South Bend and play elsewhere after he graduates in May. Kelly said he expected Hegarty, who started 11 games last season, to start at left guard. Expect redshirt freshman Quenton Nelson and Alex Bars to now compete for the left guard job.

— Cornerback Jalen Brown was not offered a fifth-year of eligibility.

— Fifth-year candidate Chase Hounshell has switched from the defensive line to tight end and now wears No. 18. Hounshell has battled injuries throughout his career.

— Slot receiver C.J. Prosise is getting a look at running back after showing well as a runner in 2014. Notre Dame has just two scholarship running backs on the spring roster.

— Kelly is excited about the team’s depth, so expect the Irish to go hard this spring throughout their 15 practices.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Burning questions for spring football

Spring football is slowly but surely starting to get underway at programs across the country, which means that we are just a little bit closer to the beginning of a new college football season.

Okay, so we are still 26 Saturdays away from the dawn of the 2015 campaign, but let's

Spring football is slowly but surely starting to get underway at programs across the country, which means that we are just a little bit closer to the beginning of a new college football season.

Okay, so we are still 26 Saturdays away from the dawn of the 2015 campaign, but let’s take a look at some of the key storylines that will start to play out this spring and carry over into fall camp.

Note: Teams get just 15 practices (only eight with contact) to iron things out before spring ball ends.

The Ohio State quarterback battle: Because of his spectacular play during the final three games of the Buckeyes’ national championship season, Cardale Jones is essentially the No. 1 on the quarterback depth chart. But, as of now, Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett are still in Columbus. However, neither Miller nor Barrett will be competing for the starting job when the team begins spring practice on March 10. Two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year Miller is still recovering from shoulder surgery, while Heisman Trophy-contending Barrett will be limited by an ankle injury. Head coach Urban Meyer has a great problem on his hands with three star signal-callers, but how will it play out before the new season kicks off? Jones will likely come out of spring as the starter, with Barrett being able to compete in an intense battle in fall camp. But will Miller remain? He doesn’t seem to have the brightest pro future at QB, so would he be open to changing positions? Or will he transfer and seek an immediate starting job? As a graduate transfer, he would be immediately eligible at any school. Oregon already found its replacement for Marcus Mariota in former Eastern Washington starting signal-caller Vernon Adams. But there are some other major programs remaining that would love to add a dynamic threat like Miller at QB. No matter who is at QB for the Buckeyes in the fall, Meyer’s bunch has a great chance to once again win the College Football Playoff. Just look at the schedule, and just remember the young talent being brought back.

Dry spell in Tuscaloosa: With Urban Meyer approaching (if he hasn’t already) Nick Saban territory as being the best head coach in the game, how will Alabama regroup after losing the Sugar Bowl to Ohio State? The Crimson Tide will be breaking in a new quarterback for the second consecutive season, and it will be interesting to see if Florida State transfer Jake Coker is ready to fulfill the high expectations that followed him to Tuscaloosa. Lane Kiffin enters his second year as offensive coordinator, but he’ll need a quarterback to emerge and a star wide receiver to step up and replace Amari Cooper. The biggest issue, however, remains the team’s secondary. ‘Bama will be favored to win the SEC West, but can Saban’s bunch be true College Football Playoff contenders?

An old-school Michigan regime: Jim Harbaugh is eventually going to make Michigan a national contender once again. But it is going to take time implementing his philosophy and system, as this is a very young Wolverines squad that’s littered with underclassmen. It starts with spring practice, which is akin to childbirth, according to the former Stanford and San Francisco 49ers boss. The Big Ten can always use more star power, and the East division just became a lot more interesting with Harbaugh trying to revive Michigan while Ohio State continues to soar under Meyer. The new staff will make sure the quarterback position and offensive line eventually get straightened out, and new playmakers must emerge at receiver. But fans in Ann Arbor have to be giddy about the prospects of this program moving forward because Harbaugh has won at every one of his stops. Attendance at the Big House should be high for the team’s spring game on April 4.

New faces of the Big 12: That TCU-Baylor debate may carry over into the new season. Perhaps no other team outside of defending champ Ohio State will garner as many first-place votes in preseason polls as Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs. The squad fielded a prolific and new-look offense to go along with a stout defense in 2014, and many of the key personnel from that team are back. Star quarterback Trevone Boykin could be a Heisman Trophy finalist, and the defense should at least be as good as in 2014. Meanwhile, Art Briles should have another strong Baylor team on his hands this year despite losing Bryce Petty because 18 starters will return. Seth Russell is the likely starter, and we have seen him succeed when he had to step in for Petty. Intriguing true freshman Jarrett Stidham could push Russell, but either way offense will never be an issue in Waco. But Briles didn’t do himself any favors when complaining about the results of last year’s final College Football Playoff rankings. Still, Oklahoma and Texas have work to do if they want to reclaim Big 12 supremacy.

Auburn lowers the Boom: Will Muschamp is back on The Plains, and that’s a bad thing for opposing SEC offenses. The former Florida head coach is the Tigers’ new defensive coordinator, and his recruiting prowess already helped Gus Malzahn and the rest of the staff reel in a strong crop of talent this past National Signing Day. Auburn was a complete disaster defensively last year, and the team recorded a disappointing eight wins. Muschamp inherits eight returning starters on defense as well as end Byron Cowart, who was the top-rated player in the 2015 class. Fellow end Carl Lawson has also been medically cleared, which is huge for a team that had just 21 sacks in 2014. This spring, Muschamp will be installing the 3-4, so the 15 team practices will be very important.

Notre Dame’s offensive mystery: Brian Kelly brought in a new personality to add to the offensive mix, as Mike Sanford left Boise State to be the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Fighting Irish. Sanford is considered one of the bright young minds in the college game, and he helped lead the Broncos to the No. 9 scoring offense (39.7 points per game) and a Fiesta Bowl victory over Arizona last season. The Irish return 18 of 22 starters overall from last season, including eight on offense. Kelly has not yet announced who will call the offensive plays, but adding Sanford is a clear sign that he wants to maximize the potential of an offense that was turnover-prone last fall. Of course, Everett Golson (37 total touchdowns and 22 turnovers last year) and lefty Malik Zaire, who started the bowl game against LSU, will be at the forefront of spring drills because both can start for nearly every major program in America. With more diversity and balance, the offense should be improved and increase the program’s chances of being national contenders once again. But the defense also must improve after battling attrition last season.

Balance needed in College Station: Texas A&M’s defense has been dreadful, but head coach Kevin Sumlin was able to pluck longtime LSU coordinator John Chavis out of Baton Rouge and get him to move within the SEC West to College Station. The Aggies have been working on improving their talent level and depth on that side of the ball, but there remains work to be done. Just how much of an impact can Chavis have in his first year? The Aggies ranked No. 111 nationally in run defense last season, allowing over five yards per carry. A&M’s win totals have decreased each year under Sumlin, although no one should be panicking in the Lone Star State. However, Chavis must make the defense at least average if the Aggies want to be serious SEC West contenders in 2015. Inheriting sophomore end Myles Garrett is a start.

That ‘other’ Texas team: I kid, I kid. But A&M, TCU and Baylor have certainly stolen some major thunder from the Longhorns over the last few seasons. How will the team in Austin fare in Charlie Strong’s second season? The former Louisville head coach wants his ‘Horns to evolved into more of a spread team, and he took notes from North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora earlier in the offseason. Wanting to go up-tempo is one thing, but can either Tyrone Swoopes or Jerrod Heard be consistent enough at the quarterback position?

USC is a chic CFP pick: The Trojans have a lot of talent returning, but they have lost star standouts as well. Steve Sarkisian and his staff must replace running back Buck Allen and wide receiver Nelson Agholor on offense, while defensive lineman Leonard Williams should be the top defender taken in this spring’s NFL Draft. Quarterback Cody Kessler returns after having one of the most productive yet nationally underappreciated seasons in recent memory, while running back Justin Davis and receivers Darreus Rogers and Steven Mitchell will need to help fill voids on offense. If the Trojans are going to be true playoff contenders, overall team depth — especially on defense — is the primary concern.

Florida getting offensive: The Gators are going to eventually be productive on offense. New head coach Jim McElwain has forgotten more about offense than many around the game will ever know. The question is just how quickly the offensive personnel can acclimate themselves to the system. Open competition is great for this unit, especially because the program is desperate for consistent playmakers outside of Demarcus Robinson to emerge. Treon Harris and Will Grier will battle for the quarterback job, while four new starters need to emerge across the offensive line. This will be an even younger team when the incoming freshmen arrive, but the veterans need to take to McElwain’s teachings right away.

Other issues to monitor:

— Once again, Oklahoma underachieved throughout a season in which many expected the Sooners to at least compete for the Big 12 title. The Sooners suffered five defeats and were blown out by Clemson in their bowl game. Head coach Bob Stoops is overseeing a lot of new faces on the staff. How does OU bounce back? Trevor Knight will get seriously pushed for the quarterback job by Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield and Cody Thomas.

— At UCLA, Josh Rosen is the future at quarterback. He was arguably the best signal-caller in the 2015 class and enrolled in Westwood in January. He will battle last year’s backup Jerry Neuheisel, Asianatii Woulard and Mike Faraul for the starting gig.

— There is serious buzz for Arkansas and Tennessee. Bret Bielema and Butch Jones are doing wonderful things with their respective programs. But there are no days off in the SEC. Can these teams seriously challenge for division titles in 2015?

— Florida State could have 11 players from last year’s team drafted into the NFL this spring, including former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, who lost just one game in his two seasons of play. There will be competition for Winston’s starting job, with 2014 backup Sean Maguire being the lone signal-caller on the roster with any experience. But redshirt freshman JJ Cosentino is from a high school program that has produced Hall of Famer Dan Marino and two-time Pro Bowler Marc Bulger, among others, and the staff is high on him. Offensive line could be an issue for the ‘Noles in the fall.

— Can Penn State head coach James Franklin field a cohesive offensive line to protect quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who is immensely talented but was battered throughout last season? Keep in mind that veteran offensive tackle Donovan Smith will be playing on Sundays in the fall.

— Don’t look now, but there is emerging head-coaching star power in the American Athletic Conference, specifically in the West division. Former offensive coordinators Chad Morris (SMU), Tom Herman (Houston) and Philip Montgomery (Tulsa) are all entering their first seasons as FBS head coaches, and fan bases for those programs are expecting fireworks immediately.

— The other new head coaches: Gary Andersen is now the head boss at Oregon State, which saw longtime program-builder Mike Riley head to Nebraska. Fellow Big Ten squad Michigan State lost stud defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi to Pitt, which is an intriguing ACC team because Paul Chryst did not leave the cupboard bare. Meanwhile, Chryst returns to Madison where he takes over the Wisconsin program.

— The other new coordinators: With John Chavis in College Station, Kevin Steele is the new DC in Baton Rouge. He is joined by new Tigers defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, who will help make the Tigers’ recruiting efforts even better. NFL assistants Brian Schottenheimer and Jim Leavitt are back in the college game, as Schottenheimer replaces Mike Bobo and will run the Georgia offense, while Leavitt takes over the defense at Colorado after being on Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers staff. Gene Chizik is also back on the sideline, as he has resurfaced at North Carolina, which desperately needs help on that side of the ball from a guy who has always known good ‘D.’ Finally, UCLA’s Jim L. Mora was able to woo longtime East Coaster Tom Bradley out West to run the Bruins’ defensive unit.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Intrigue surrounds the Notre Dame offense

Brian Kelly isn't afraid to shake things up when he isn't happy with the product he is fielding.

The Notre Dame head coach officially named 32-year-old Mike Sanford to be the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and it's a big import for the Fighting Irish staff.

Sanford is considered one

Brian Kelly isn’t afraid to shake things up when he isn’t happy with the product he is fielding.

The Notre Dame head coach officially named 32-year-old Mike Sanford to be the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and it’s a big import for the Fighting Irish staff.

Sanford is considered one of the bright young minds in the college game, a future head coach sooner rather than later. But when news first circulated of the impending hire, it came as a bit of a surprise because previous offensive hires by Kelly were usually names linked to the head coach’s past. Mike Denbrock, Matt LaFleur, Chuck Martin and Charley Molnar all landed jobs in South Bend because they had previous coaching experience with Kelly. Sometimes the hires worked, and sometimes they didn’t.

One thing, though, is certain: the Irish offense needed a boost after a turnover-laden season in 2014.

And Sanford, whose father was once Notre Dame’s quarterbacks coach (1997-98), could be just the right tonic to help stabilize an offense that returns a lot of intriguing pieces in the fall.

In his only year as OC at Boise State under Broncos first-year head coach Bryan Harsin, Sanford directed the No. 9 scoring offense (39.7 points per game) and helped guide the team to a Fiesta Bowl victory over Arizona. It was a unit that was very balanced, as the Broncos ranked 29th in rushing and 23rd in passing nationally. Sanford landed the gig after coaching the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers in three seasons at Stanford, as he was part of three Cardinal teams that claimed BCS berths.

Kelly, quite simply, found himself a winner in Sanford. A coach that reportedly was in the mix for the OC opening at Ohio State that went to Tim Beck. Of course, Kelly recently lost assistant Tony Alford to Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes, yet another assistant that left South Bend for Columbus.

With Sanford in the mix, a lot is expected of an ND offense that will return nine starters (the Irish return 19 of 22 starters overall from last season). Expect running the football to be a priority. And, of course, putting the skill players in the best position to make as many explosive plays down the field as possible.

The only question is exactly how much control Sanford will possess once the new season kicks off. When Kelly met with the then-Boise State OC, he was simply seeking a new QBs coach because Matt LaFleur left for a job with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. But Kelly was so impressed by his chat with Sanford that he thought it would be a good idea to expand his role beyond a position coach because the two shared similar offensive philosophies.

Kelly has not yet announced who will call the offensive plays, so he could essentially have those duties as he has had in four of his five seasons at ND. A decision is expected to come after spring practice ends on April 18. However, adding Sanford is a clear sign that Kelly wants to maximize the potential of an offense that returns all five offensive linemen that started the Music City Bowl win over LSU, a pair of running backs with extensive playing time, a very deep receiving corps and two quarterbacks capable of starting at most every program across the country.

Of course, those signal-callers will be at the forefront of spring and fall camp. Everett Golson recorded 37 touchdowns but also 22 turnovers last year, while lefty Malik Zaire ‘wowed’ at times in Nashville against the Bayou Bengals. Is a two-quarterback system workable if the Irish go that route?

Kelly and the Irish have had back-to-back disappointing seasons since their surprise run to the BCS national title game against Alabama. With Sanford bringing diversity, intrigue and balance to the mix, the offense should at least be improved, increasing the program’s chances of being national contenders once again.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Texas lands pledge from son of former major leaguer

Texas landed a high-profile quarterback for its Class of 2016, as Shane Buechele pledged to the Longhorns on Monday night.

The 6-2, 185-pound dual-threat from Lamar High School (Arlington, TX) is the son of former Major League Baseball player Steve Buechele, who is now the bench coach of the Texas Rangers

Texas landed a high-profile quarterback for its Class of 2016, as Shane Buechele pledged to the Longhorns on Monday night.

The 6-2, 185-pound dual-threat from Lamar High School (Arlington, TX) is the son of former Major League Baseball player Steve Buechele, who is now the bench coach of the Texas Rangers and was a former roommate of John Elway at Stanford.

Charlie Strong and his staff were going after a number of signal-callers in the 2016 class, but Buechele ultimately felt comfortable committing to the in-state ‘Horns. It is a nice “get” for the program, especially since Buechele’s older siblings either attend or attended Oklahoma. But his several visits to the Austin campus obviously paid off.

Buechele is a consensus four-star prospect who is considered one of the better dual-threats in the country. He held offers from programs such as California, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and TCU. He threw for 2,504 yards and 30 touchdowns against just six interceptions while rushing for 609 yards and seven more scores during his junior year. He completed over 68 percent of his passes and is known for his good decision-making.

This past recruiting cycle, Texas brought in Kai Locksley, who is more of a developmental passer. So it was essential that the ‘Horns find a more polished passer for the 2016 class.

Of course, the Longhorns have not been able to find consistency at the position since Colt McCoy graduated in 2010. David Ash suffered a career-ending injury last year, leading to Tyrone Swoopes taking over. Jerrod Heard redshirted last year and will compete with Swoopes this spring.

Texas now has four pledges in the 2016 class.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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LSU lands top Florida prospect in the Class of 2016

LSU is increasingly becoming DBU.

The Tigers landed a pledge from another top defensive back on Tuesday, as Saivion Smith announced that he planned to head to Baton Rouge to further his football career. The Class of 2016 product committed to the Bayou Bengals over offers from major powers such as

LSU is increasingly becoming DBU.

The Tigers landed a pledge from another top defensive back on Tuesday, as Saivion Smith announced that he planned to head to Baton Rouge to further his football career. The Class of 2016 product committed to the Bayou Bengals over offers from major powers such as Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Florida.

According to the 247Sports Composite ratings, Smith is the No. 1 cornerback in the entire country and the top player in Florida. He had 10 non-offensive touchdowns during his junior season, so his playmaking ability is undeniable.

The 6-1, 185-pounder from IMG Academy (St. Petersburg, FL) is the seventh commitment for the Tigers’ 2016 class. Many recruiting analysts believed that Florida State would be the landing spot for Smith, but he was obviously impressed by his first unofficial visit to LSU’s campus a few days ago.

LSU is also on the trail for other top defensive backs in this class such as in-state cornerback products Kristian Fulton and Andraez Williams, so the rich may keep getting richer.

And with Smith’s pledge, Corey Raymond is showing once again that he is one of the best recruiters in the country.

Now the question remains whether LSU can keep the commitment of the Florida prospect until next year’s National Signing Day.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Instant-impact JUCO transfers for 2015

After taking a look last week at the incoming true freshmen that could make an instant impact with their new teams, let's take a look at some junior-college transfers that can pay immediate dividends for their new schools during the 2015 college football season.

Louisville DE Devonte Fields: The native

After taking a look last week at the incoming true freshmen that could make an instant impact with their new teams, let’s take a look at some junior-college transfers that can pay immediate dividends for their new schools during the 2015 college football season.

Louisville DE Devonte Fields: The native Texan is back in the FBS after his stint at Trinity Valley Community College. The former TCU standout was the Big 12 defensive player of the year after a freshman campaign that included 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for a loss. But an off-the-field incident before the 2014 season led to his dismissal, which led him to Trinity Valley. He recorded 6.5 sacks in 12 games last season and largely underwhelmed on a smaller stage. But if he has a newfound focus and remains trouble-free off the field, there is a chance for Fields to make an immediate impact for the Cardinals with Lorenzo Mauldin and B.J. Dubose gone. Don’t be surprised if he shows all-league form in 2015.

Ole Miss CB Tony Bridges: The Rebels had a tenacious defense last season, and the secondary was outstanding. But cornerback Senquez Golson and safety Cody Prewitt are gone, and Golson recorded 10 interceptions and eight pass breakups last year. It appeared that Bridges was headed to Auburn, but the NJCAA first-team All-American decided to head to Oxford instead. He has a good frame and would immediately help offset the loss of Golson if he can translate his talents over to the SEC.

Auburn RB Jovon Robinson: Gus Malzahn’s offense will enter the 2015 season without quarterback Nick Marshall and running backs Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant. The coaching staff is very high on signal-caller Jeremy Johnson, but Roc Thomas (214 yards) and Peyton Barber (54) are the top returning running backs. So the compact Robinson, who originally committed to Auburn out of high school but was ruled ineligible, has a strong chance to win the starting job and be a key cog in Malzahn’s offense in the fall after being the NJCAA player of the year in 2013.

USC WR De’Quan Hampton: The Trojans have become a chic pre-preseason pick to make the College Football Playoff in 2015, as quarterback Cody Kessler is back following an impressive 2014. Steve Sarkisian’s offense loses Nelson Agholor’s 104 catches from 2014, but JuJu Smith should build off of his standout freshman season. The major question for ‘SC, though, is who else will emerge as options for Kessler? Hampton has very good size at 6-4, and he’ll have a chance along with Darreus Rogers to keep the Trojans’ offense prolific in the Pac-12.

Oklahoma State RB Chris Carson: The Cowboys were able to snag the Georgia native after it appeared that he was going to play for Mark Richt and the home-state Bulldogs. Instead, Carson is headed to Stillwater and has a chance to see immediate playing time for the Pokes. Oklahoma State’s offense was a mess in 2014, and questions abound heading into the new year with Desmond Roland and Tyreek Hill gone. Rennie Childs is the team’s top returner at running back, but Carson has good size and should see early carries as long as he adjusts to life in the Big 12.

Texas A&M S Justin Evans: The Aggies are desperate to upgrade their talent level and depth on the defensive side of the ball to help out new coordinator John Chavis, who arrived in College Station after a long stint with SEC West rival LSU. Head coach Kevin Sumlin has addressed the team’s defensive issues on the recruiting trail, and Evans has a chance to contribute right away. The native Mississippian recorded six interceptions the last two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He has good instincts and ball skills, and major programs such as Alabama, Auburn and Texas were interested in bringing him in.

Penn State OT Paris Palmer: The Nittany Lions struggled to protect quarterback Christian Hackenberg throughout the 2014 season, so improving the offensive line has to be priority No. 1 for James Franklin as he enters his second season as head coach. Penn State allowed 44 sacks last season, and the Nittany Lions enter the new campaign without left tackle Donovan Smith, who is off to the next level. Palmer is expected to step in right away and help man one of the tackle spots after spending two years at Lackawanna College.

Arizona State LB Davon Durant: The Sun Devils do not lose any starting linebackers from their surprising defense last season, but expect Durant to force himself at least into the rotation, as he was ranked the best outside linebacker coming from the JUCO level. The Butler CC product had offers from big programs such as Oregon and Ole Miss, as he is athletic and a good tackler. His skills should translate very well to the Pac-12.

Tennessee RB Alvin Kamara: The former Alabama all-purpose back landed in Knoxville, and he has a chance to pair up with Jalen Hurd and form a lethal backfield for the Vols. Kamara comes from Hutchinson Community College, where he rushed for 1,211 yards and 18 scores in his lone season. He has very good quickness and should finally be able to show off his SEC skill set.

Other names to remember

Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly: The nephew of Buffalo Bills great Jim Kelly has a chance to be the heir apparent to Bo Wallace, but the former Clemson signal-caller absolutely must stay out of trouble off the field or else 2014’s top JUCO passer will never get the chance to show the college football world his skill set. He threw for 3,906 yards and 47 touchdowns last season.

Oklahoma OT Jamal Danley: The East Mississippi CC offensive tackle may have a chance to win a starting job because both tackle positions are open for the Sooners.

Minnesota S Charlie Rogers: The Iowa Western CC product has a chance to step into a starting role with all four spots in the Gophers’ secondary open, and he already has FBS experience from his time at Iowa State.

Arkansas DT Jeremiah Ledbetter: Bret Bielema is building a dangerous program in the tough SEC, but coordinator Robb Smith loses end Trey Flowers and tackle Darius Philon up front. Enter Ledbetter, who recorded 22.5 career sacks over the last two seasons at Hutchinson Community College.

South Carolina DE Marquavius Lewis: The Gamecocks’ defense was woeful in 2014, so head coach Steve Spurrier brought in Jon Hoke to help coordinator Lorenzo Ward. The Head Ball Coach is also hoping help has come from the JUCO ranks, particularly in the form of Lewis. The team’s pass rush was nonexistent in 2014, but Lewis recorded 18.5 sacks in two seasons at Hutchinson Community College.

Florida State LB Lorenzo Phillips: The Seminoles experienced a lot of injuries within their linebacker unit last year, so it never hurts to add another defensive playmaker. Phillips recorded 14 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss at East Mississippi CC in 2014.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Ole Miss gets a pledge from its highest-rated QB since Manning

Ole Miss landed a pledge from its highest-rated quarterback prospect since Eli Manning, as Shea Patterson committed to the Rebels over LSU and USC on Tuesday.

The Rivals.com five-star Class of 2016 signal-caller is regarded by the recruiting site as the top quarterback in the country and the No. 3 player

Ole Miss landed a pledge from its highest-rated quarterback prospect since Eli Manning, as Shea Patterson committed to the Rebels over LSU and USC on Tuesday.

The Rivals.com five-star Class of 2016 signal-caller is regarded by the recruiting site as the top quarterback in the country and the No. 3 player regardless of position.

Patterson, who’s a 6-2, 183-pound athletic passer from Calvary Baptist Academy (Shreveport, LA), is originally from Texas but moved to the Bayou State prior to his sophomore year of high school. In his two seasons at Calvary Baptist, Patterson has thrown for 5,083 yards and 72 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. He has rushed for an additional 375 yards and six scores. He is known as a savvy player with good accuracy, and he has helped lead his team to back-to-back state titles.

The former Arizona commit also held offers from major programs such as Auburn, Clemson, Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas and Texas A&M.

Ole Miss also has a commitment in this class from DeKaylin Metcalf, who is one of the nation’s better wide receivers, according to Rivals. That has to make Rebel fans excited about future offenses under Hugh Freeze and his staff.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Instant-impact true freshmen for 2015

With National Signing Day in the rearview mirror, let's take a look at the incoming true freshmen that have the best chance to make an instant impact on their respective new teams during the 2015 college football season.

UCLA QB Josh Rosen: The pro-style signal-caller has a real shot at

With National Signing Day in the rearview mirror, let’s take a look at the incoming true freshmen that have the best chance to make an instant impact on their respective new teams during the 2015 college football season.

UCLA QB Josh Rosen: The pro-style signal-caller has a real shot at cracking the starting lineup by the end of 2015 because Brett Hundley is gone, and last year’s backup Jerry Neuheisel doesn’t have quite the same skill set. However, Neuheisel is the team’s most-experienced option at the position, so it would not be surprising if he started the year as the No. 1 QB. Asiantti Woulard will also be in the mix during spring ball, but Rosen will be enrolled for reps this spring and is arguably the best pro-style QB in this class. The only question is how quickly he adjusts to the next level.

USC CB Iman Marshall: One year after Steve Sarkisian and his staff closed strong on National Signing Day, the Trojans did it again and ended up with one of the best classes in the entire country. There is a ton of talent in this haul, but the gem may be Marshall, who has safety-type size with prototypical cornerback skills. He’s physically mature enough to step in and play right away, and this is a secondary that needs help. Pairing Marshall with safety Su’a Cravens should allow that unit to take a step forward in the fall.

Texas LB Malik Jefferson: The best outside linebacker in this class is the gem of the Longhorns’ haul for Charlie Strong, who is one of the best defensive coaches in the college game. While Texas had a very fine defensive unit in 2014, it should be even stronger in Strong’s second season. Jefferson will step in right away with the ‘Horns losing Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond from the linebacking corps.

Tennessee DT Kahlil McKenzie: Butch Jones and his staff continue to grind away on the recruiting trail, bringing in a second consecutive outstanding class. This year’s haul is led by McKenzie, who will step into a defensive line that needs to mature fast if the Vols want to take a step up in class in the SEC East. Tennessee ranked No. 9 in the SEC versus the run, and McKenzie has the talent and the body to step in and help out right away. He missed his senior year of high school but had 12 sacks and 74 tackles as a junior.

Michigan State RB L.J. Scott: The Spartans have to replace Jeremy Langford, who may have been the most underappreciated productive back in the country the last two seasons. Scott has the talent to step in and produce right away, but the Spartans do return Delton Williams, Gerald Holmes and Madre London, so there are options for Mark Dantonio and his staff. However, Scott is a physical back who should at least see situational carries, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he eventually moves up to being the No. 1 back in East Lansing by the end of the year.

Auburn DE Byron Cowart: The most-coveted player in the 2015 class followed Will Muschamp to The Plains, and the Tigers defense desperately needs all the help it can get after fielding a porous unit in 2014. Cowart will be a key cog for a unit that needs a stronger pass rush if the Tigers want to once again be major SEC and national contenders. Auburn only had 21 sacks last year, but the addition of Cowart as well as the return of Carl Lawson should allow for a stronger overall defensive unit.

Washington QB Jake Browning: Huskies head coach Chris Petersen lost quarterback Troy Williams to a transfer, but the highly rated Browning has a chance to win the starting job after enrolling early and being able to compete in spring football. The California native had scholarship offers from Alabama and Michigan, among many others, and will compete with Cyler Miles and Jeff Lindquist for the starting job. Browning set national high school records in 2014 for both single-season (91) and career touchdowns (229).

Michigan WR Brian Cole: New Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh will be looking for playmakers on his first team in Ann Arbor, and there’s a big hole at the receiver position. Enter Cole, who has good athleticism and enrolled in January, allowing him to adjust to college life and help speed up his development. Michigan will have an old-school offense, but big plays will be needed in the passing game as well. Cole should help the cause.

USC LB Osa Masina: The Salt Lake City native can play both outside or inside, as he brings pass-rushing skill off the edge and the ability to stop the run in the middle. The Trojans enjoyed their first full recruiting class in four years, and Masina is one of several top-notch players brought in to improve depth. He also should see early playing time like Iman Marshall.

Other names to remember

Texas Tech DT Breiden Fehoko: The Red Raiders fielded an atrocious defense last year, but the addition of new coordinator David Gibbs as well as Fehoko will help. The Hawaii native recorded 16 sacks and six forced fumbles during his senior year.

Florida OL Martez Ivey: The Gators return just one starter on the offensive line (guard Trip Thurman), so there is available playing time for Ivey, who has the athleticism and talent but just needs to get stronger to be a top tackle.

Oregon DL Canton Kaumatale: With the Ducks losing Arik Armstead, another impact performer is needed on that line. The Hawaiian defensive end has good athleticism to at least be a situational defender.

Georgia DT Trent Thompson: Bulldogs defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt loses nose tackle Mike Thornton and defensive ends Ray Drew and Toby Johnson, so Thompson is expected to adapt to the college game quickly and help out the defensive unit in Athens.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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The most interesting players to watch at the NFL Combine

All eyes will be on the NFL Scouting Combine when the showcase event takes over Indianapolis from February 17-23.

Some of the best talent that will be available for the 2015 NFL Draft will be in attendance at Lucas Oil Stadium. While there are a

All eyes will be on the NFL Scouting Combine when the showcase event takes over Indianapolis from February 17-23.

Some of the best talent that will be available for the 2015 NFL Draft will be in attendance at Lucas Oil Stadium. While there are a plethora of intriguing storylines that are sure to play out in Indy, let’s take a look at the players I am most interested in seeing as they try to impress league scouts, general managers, coaches and executives in interviews as well as in drills such as the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill and the bench press.

Here are five players in particular that I will have my eyes on:

Missouri WR Dorial Green-Beckham: One observer who has witnessed Green-Beckham work out in the past month told me that the big wide receiver looks “phenomenal,” but he will be scrutinized in every interview with NFL personnel because of his multiple off-the-field violations that led to his transfer from Missouri to Oklahoma, where he did not play a single down after being forced to sit out a year (he was suspended twice and arrested twice for marijuana-related incidents at Missouri before being kicked off the team after allegedly being involved in a burglary). Many recruiting analysts, college football observers and draft experts over the last few years have said that he is the closest thing to Randy Moss and Calvin Johnson that the NFL will see, citing his 6-6, 225-pound frame as well as his speed and good hands. He has the build to be a potential game-changer at the next level if he stays out of trouble, and he certainly must be anxious to show off his talent in Indy. Can he be a first-round selection after not seeing game action since December 7, 2013?

Washington CB Marcus Peters: The talented defensive back was suspended for one game this past season by Huskies head coach Chris Petersen for a sideline tantrum after a personal foul penalty before ultimately being dismissed from the program after repeated run-ins with the coaching staff. Hence, the interview process in Indy will be huge for Peters. He has good size (6-0, 198) and ball skills, but will he take to coaching at the next level? That is a huge concern right now. He’s a confident kid that seems to lack maturity. He’ll need to answer a lot of questions leading up to the draft.

Brett HundleyUS PRESSWIREWill Brett Hundley be the third QB selected this spring?

UCLA QB Brett Hundley: If Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Florida State’s Jameis Winston skip working out at the Combine, there is no doubt that Hundley will be the most visible signal-caller competing in drills as he looks to impress NFL personnel and gain a little momentum heading into his pro day. We have seen Hundley display a strong arm and good athleticism throughout his collegiate career, and we know that he has a nice frame at 6-3 and 226 pounds. But can he be a consistent, accurate passer at the next level? And can he improve his pocket presence? He can’t really answer those questions in Indy, but looking the part and being solid in drills will at least keep him on track to be the third signal-caller selected.

Central Michigan WR Titus Davis: When you think of Chippewa receivers, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown probably comes to mind. But Davis is no slouch, as he is CMU’s career leader in receiving yards at 3,705 and has a school-record 37 touchdown receptions. The 6-2, 190-pounder had at least eight scoring receptions in each of his four seasons at CMU, and he has a chance to impress the league if he can do well in drills, particularly with a good time in the 40.

Florida DT Leon Orr: There is no doubting the talent possessed by the former Gator. He has very good athleticism for his size but never became a dominant, consistent performer in Gainesville. The 6-5, 302-pounder’s playing time fell off his senior year, so he quit the program. That is a huge red flag for NFL types. Can he have a strong physical portion of the Combine followed by good interviews?

Others to watch:

— Alabama RB T.J. Yeldon has a chance to make some money if he can log a nice 40 time. He has very good size for the position and has good quickness, but he is not a blazer. There are a lot of good backs in this draft class, but the former Crimson Tide runner has a chance to move up the board with a nice showing in Indy.

— USC WR Nelson Agholor may only develop into a slot option, but he can be an immediate factor on special teams in the return game. Don’t dismiss him because of a lack of blazing speed. He can be a dangerous punt returner for a team.

— Miami (FL) WR Phillip Dorsett may blow teams away with his 40 time and build off of his strong showing in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. He’ll provide instant value in the return game like Agholor.

— Washington OLB Hau’oli Kikaha will need to show league personnel that his history of knee problems should not be a concern. He is a strong pass rusher, but some scouts still question his athleticism.

— Miami (FL) ILB Denzel Perryman was always so fun to watch throughout his college career, but he checked in at just over 5-10 at the Senior Bowl. He needs to be in great shape in Indy so he can test well and improve his stock.

Note: Find below the on-field workout schedule

Feb. 20: Specialists, offensive linemen and tight ends
Feb. 21: Quarterbacks, running backs and receivers
Feb. 22: Defensive linemen and linebackers
Feb. 23: Defensive backs

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Oregon lands replacement for Mariota

Eight days after returning from an official visit to Oregon, Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. is ready to make the move from the Big Sky to the Pac-12.

The star FCS signal-caller announced via social media on Monday that he is headed to Eugene to

Eight days after returning from an official visit to Oregon, Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. is ready to make the move from the Big Sky to the Pac-12.

The star FCS signal-caller announced via social media on Monday that he is headed to Eugene to play a final season of college football with the Ducks as a fifth-year graduate transfer.

Adams is making the rare jump up from FCS to FBS for a final season of play, and he just may be the Ducks’ starting quarterback when they open the 2015 season against EWU, Adams’ former school. Mark Helfrich and his offensive staff must replace NFL-bound and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota as the starter.

While his scholarship offer two weeks ago did not guarantee a starting spot, the California native has a good arm, elusiveness and is one of the nation’s most exciting players. He will be competing with Jeff Lockie, who was this year’s backup, Georgia Tech transfer Ty Griffin, redshirt freshman Morgan Mahalak, Taylor Alie and Class of 2015 dual-threat Travis Waller, a U.S. Army All-American who has been given high praise by a wide range of recruiting analysts not just for his running ability but for his accurate passing as well.

Adams won’t be able to officially join the Oregon program until the summer when he has graduated from EWU with a degree in recreation management, so he will be behind the other signal-callers that will be around for spring practice reps. But his talent is intriguing to say the least.

With the Eagles, the 6-foot, 200-pounder completed nearly 65 percent of his passes for 10,438 yards and 110 touchdowns against 31 interceptions. He also rushed for 1,232 yards. Adams was named the runner-up for the Walter Payton Award, which is the FCS equivalent to the Heisman Trophy, in 2013. He finished second again last season despite missing time with a broken foot.

Adams is no stranger to Pac-12 competition, either. In 2013, he passed for 411 yards and four touchdowns and ran for the game-winning score to lead EWU to a three-point upset of then-No. 25 Oregon State on the road. This past fall, Adams torched the Washington secondary for 475 yards and a school single-game record seven touchdowns in a near-upset on the road. In those two games against Pac-12 squads, he went a combined 54-of-76 passing for 886 yards with 11 touchdowns and zero picks (plus two rushing scores). Quite simply, he is a big-time talent.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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2015 National Signing Day notebook

Before we take a breather and get ready for spring football, let's take a look back at the best of National Signing Day.

The drama from Cowart: Fax machines take centerstage once per year in the college football world, and it's always on the first Wednesday

Before we take a breather and get ready for spring football, let’s take a look back at the best of National Signing Day.

The drama from Cowart: Fax machines take centerstage once per year in the college football world, and it’s always on the first Wednesday of February when high school seniors send in their Letters of Intent. The nation’s top-ranked player, Byron Cowart, announced early Wednesday that he intended to head to Auburn. It started what turned out to be a big day for the Tigers, as defensive back Carlton Davis (a recent Ohio State decommit), wide receiver Ryan Davis and linebacker Jeffery Holland all decided to head to The Plains. However, Cowart’s Letter of Intent never made it to Auburn. We always knew that Cowart had Florida as one of his finalists, and it’s likely he would have chosen UF had Will Muschamp still been head coach. Instead, Muschamp is now the Tigers’ defensive coordinator, and that previous relationship was the likely tipping point. But UF was close. So close, in fact, that there was a delay in Cowart’s letter getting to The Plains. Did it have something to do with Cowart’s high school coach, Sean Callahan, having a son who is the defensive backs coach at Florida? No matter the reason, Cowart’s letter eventually arrived on The Plains, and Auburn was able to officially land the nation’s best player. Well worth the drama, right?

Did USC put together a stronger class than Alabama?: This is the Trojans’ first full recruiting class in four years, and they took full advantage of the opportunity. Steve Sarkisian and his staff were able to land three five-star commitments on National Signing Day: cornerback Iman Marshall, linebacker John Houston, Jr. and defensive lineman Rasheem Green. These three join linebacker Porter Gustin, defensive tackle Noah Jefferson and a plethora of other top players in the 2015 class. This was a great year for California talent (perhaps better than the usual crop), and ‘SC made its mark now that the NCAA sanctions are no longer. I still give a slight edge to Alabama in terms of overall class, but there’s no doubt that ‘SC is a clear-cut No. 2. And some recruiting analysts believe it is worthy of being in the top spot, which the Trojans last had in 2010.

Those Bruins though: UCLA had a solid class heading into Signing Day. It’s just that the haul was comprised of a lot of players in the trenches, so Jim L. Mora and his staff were going a bit under the radar. Still, there was room to make a splash. And splash the Bruins did, as they landed former Michigan four-star tight end commit Chris Clark to give highly rated quarterback Josh Rosen a nice safety net. Five-star athlete Soso Jamabo came next, as he decided to head to Westwood and not Austin. Jamabo can play a little running back and receiver, and he can step in and be an offensive threat immediately. Things kept on clicking for the Bruins, as huge offensive lineman Josh Wariboko spurned Oklahoma for the West Coast school. The son of Snoop Dogg, Cordell Broadus, decided to forge his own path and choose the Bruins over USC, and he could give UCLA a nice red-zone option and a nice weapon against press coverage. But perhaps the biggest shocker of them all was the commitment of Georgia four-star linebacker Roquan Smith, although the program still needs to get Smith to sign his Letter of Intent. Even if the Bruins lose Smith, though, they had a fantastic signing day.

As expected, Auburn finished strong: The Tigers actually started their soar up the recruiting rankings on Tuesday when they received a commitment from defensive end Prince Tega Wanogho Jr. and flipped wide receiver Darius Slayton from Georgia. Gus Malzahn and Co. received another flip early Wednesday when offensive lineman Michael Horton decided not to go to Florida. Then, of course, the Tigers landed the biggest fish of the day with the addition of the nation’s top-ranked player, Byron Cowart, as well as the other players mentioned above in the first item, including Carlton Davis, Ryan Davis and Jeffery Holland. The Tigers have a star-studded staff of recruiters, so the future is bright for the SEC West program.

The champs are here: Ohio State came into signing day with a nice class already, but Urban Meyer and his staff closed strong. The Buckeyes were able to get defensive back Damon Arnette to flip from South Carolina after the decommitment of Carlton Davis, and more future firepower was added to the offense in the form of wide receiver K.J. Hill, who was considering Arkansas and Alabama. The Buckeyes retained quarterback Torrance Gibson and running back Mike Weber, with Gibson thought to be leaning toward heading to Auburn instead. And Meyer plucked offensive tackle Isaiah Prince when many thought he would be heading to Maryland after it looked like Alabama would get him. The national champions were young and talented at most every position during their title run in 2014, so the future looks even brighter now.

Florida stopped the bleeding: Assuming defensive end CeCe Jefferson makes good on his announcement and sends in his signed Letter of Intent, the Gators were able to pull in him and fellow five-star Martez Ivey, an athletic offensive tackle. That is a really good start to the Jim McElwain regime, because the Gators are going to be able to bring in a stronger class next year when the new staff has a full cycle and after McElwain shows that he can put together a competent and productive offense. UF’s class was a disaster when McElwain arrived, as it was ranked behind UCF and USF. But with the two five-stars in the end as well as the additions of four-star running backs Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite, four-star wide receiver Antonio Callaway, four-star athlete D’Anfernee McGriff and four-star cornerback Chris Williamson, the Gators salvaged this class despite not being able to land quarterbacks Lamar Jackson (Louisville) or Deondre Francois (Florida State).

My final Top 10 recruiting classes: Alabama, USC, Florida State, Tennessee, Ohio State, LSU, Clemson, UCLA, Auburn and Georgia. I have Texas and Notre Dame just on the outside looking in.

Other notes:

— Ole Miss fans certainly had to be disappointed that in-state linebacker Leo Lewis went to Mississippi State and offensive lineman Drew Richmond flipped to Tennessee, but the Rebels were able to land four-star wide receivers DaMarkus Lodge and Van Jefferson. It’s a good class, but not what Rebel fans had in mind.

— Assuming there are no staff defections in the next year, keep an eye on LSU. The trio of Frank Wilson, Ed Orgeron and Kevin Steele as strong recruiters will collectively help the Tigers reel in a strong 2016 class with a full cycle of work.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Top Class of 2015 uncommitted prospects

As we get closer to National Signing Day, which is becoming one of the more anticipated days on the college football calendar, there are still several top high school seniors that have not yet chosen a school to attend in the fall.

Let's take a look

As we get closer to National Signing Day, which is becoming one of the more anticipated days on the college football calendar, there are still several top high school seniors that have not yet chosen a school to attend in the fall.

Let’s take a look at the best prospects in the Class of 2015 that have yet to make a decision.

DE Byron Cowart: Armwood High School; Seffner, FL
The 6-4, 258-pounder recently eliminated Florida State and is now down to Auburn and Florida. The Under Armour All-America Game MVP has an ideal blend of size, quickness and speed. The Gators were considered the favorite when they still employed Will Muschamp, but the former UF head coach is now the new Auburn defensive coordinator. The Tigers may have the edge.

Iman MarshallWill Iman Marshall be part of a stellar 2015 class for USC?

CB Iman Marshall: Long Beach Poly High School; Long Beach, CA
The 6-1, 195-pounder has kept his options open. He is the top corner in the country, boasting a unique physical style of play. He has safety-type size with cornerback-type athleticism, reminiscent of former Alabama star Dee Milliner, and he can also make plays on special teams and offense. USC has been considered a favorite, but Jim Harbaugh and his staff are working hard at getting him to commit to Michigan. Other finalists include UCLA, LSU, Florida State and Notre Dame.

DE CeCe Jefferson: Baker County High School; Glen Saint Mary, FL
The 6-3, 248-pounder possesses very good pass-rushing and coverage skills. Auburn, Florida and Ole Miss are considered the leaders for his services. There has also been chatter about himself, Cowart and uncommitted linebacker Jeffery Holland going to the same school, which would be the coup of all coups. Keep an eye on Auburn, which is also going after Terry Godwin (Georgia pledge) and Torrance Gibson (Ohio State pledge). And don’t discount Alabama in the Jefferson sweepstakes either.

DT Terry Beckner Jr.: East St. Louis High School; East Saint Louis, IL
The future of the 6-4, 298-pounder is truly unknown. Many recruiting analysts believe that Missouri and Florida State are both close to landing his services. The very athletic defender recently visited Auburn, though, so keep an eye on the Tigers as well as Ohio State. My guess is that he lands with “DLINE-ZOU,” as he has visited there a lot, has a teammate heading there and can be the next great pass rusher in Columbia.

DT Daylon Mack: Gladewater High School; Gladewater, TX
The 6-1, 330-pounder may be leaning toward Texas, which could be huge for the Longhorns after being disappointed by the news that star dual-threat quarterback Kyler Murray remains committed to Texas A&M. However, the Aggies and TCU remain squarely in the mix. The Under Armour All-American is light on his feet and has good agility. A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin would love to add him to the mix, as the Aggies need to continue to upgrade their defense.

LB Porter Gustin: Salem Hills High School; Salem, UT
The 6-4, 238-pound athlete may be leaning toward USC, but do not dismiss Ohio State or UCLA. And Utah remains a darkhorse. Gustin actually played quarterback as well as defense, so his athleticism is his best asset. He returned an interception for a touchdown and had a sack in this year’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

LB John Houston Jr.: Junipero Serra High School; Gardena, CA
The 6-3, 207-pounder is likely headed to USC along with high school teammate Rasheem Green (see below). Do not dismiss Oregon, but the Trojans will likely land him. Houston is a tackling machine that plays well in pass coverage, too.

DE/DT Rasheem Green: Junipero Serra High School; Gardena, CA
As mentioned above, the 6-5, 290-pounder is likely a package deal with Houston. USC is the most likely landing spot, but don’t dismiss Arizona State for Green, who can play end or tackle.

OT Martez Ivey: Apopka High School; Apopka, FL
The 6-6, 271-pounder, who has good athleticism but will need to add muscle to his frame, is down to Auburn and Florida. Can the addition of Muschamp be the tipping point for Auburn, or will Ivey stay in-state?

RB Soso Jamabo: Plano West High School; Plano, TX
The 6-2, 206-pound athlete, who is a patient runner, may be down to Texas and UCLA. The Longhorns were once considered a lock, though he still may end up with them because his last visit was to Austin. But Baylor and Notre Dame could be wild cards.

WR DaMarkus Lodge: Cedar Hill High School; Cedar Hill, TX
The 6-2, 185-pounder, who has an MVP award in a state title game under his belt, is likely headed to Texas A&M now that QB Murray is no longer wavering. But Texas and Ole Miss could still get good news here.

OLB Roquan Smith: Macon County High School; Montezuma, GA
The 6-2, 204-pounder is thought by many to be staying in-state and heading to Athens. He is a hard hitter with speed, which is why programs such as Michigan, UCLA and Texas A&M are trying to get him to leave the Peach Tree State.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Alabama heading toward another No. 1 class

Alabama is poised to win another offseason national championship in college football.

With National Signing Day less than a week away, Nick Saban and his coaching staff have once again put together a star-studded class of high school seniors, making it very likely that the school

Alabama is poised to win another offseason national championship in college football.

With National Signing Day less than a week away, Nick Saban and his coaching staff have once again put together a star-studded class of high school seniors, making it very likely that the school will bring in its fifth straight No. 1 class when all of the major recruiting sites put out their Top 25 rankings at the end of signing day.

Nick SabanICONNick Saban and his staff are bringing in a load of new talent to Tuscaloosa.

The Crimson Tide arguably wrapped up the No. 1 spot months ago. That’s just how great things have been on the recruiting trail for Saban and his staff in recent years, as the team is able to get verbal pledges from more blue-chip recruits more often and earlier than any other program.

‘Bama currently occupies the top spot nationally in the 247Sports Composite team rankings for 2015, and that’s even after the program lost three pledges from its incoming class on Thursday: offensive lineman Isaiah Prince as well as cornerbacks Rico McGraw and Montrell Custis. Three decommitments in a single day would usually send shockwaves through a program’s fanbase. But it’s different in Tuscaloosa.

Despite losing pledges to the aforementioned high school seniors, Saban and Co. have 23 commitments and what is still considered an elite haul even if the group doesn’t add another one or two top-tier talents by next Wednesday. Among the 23 commitments, six are five-star and 13 are four-star players based on the 247Sports Composite rating scale. That’s, quite simply, incredible.

Even though Prince decommitted, the team still has five O-Line pledges, including Richie Petitbon. And though the team needs to improve its secondary play and depth, the losses of McGraw and Custis are negated a bit by the fact that Kendall Sheffield and Minkah Fitzpatrick are two of the better corners in the nation. The Tide will also bring back Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey at corner from last year’s class.

And do not be shocked at all if Saban and his staff get a signing day commitment as big as last year, when linebacker Rashaan Evans chose the Crimson Tide over Auburn. Keep in mind that stud defensive end CeCe Jefferson remains in the mix as next Wednesday approaches. The staff is also trying to get Ole Miss commit Drew Richmond to flip. As one of the better offensive tackles in the country, the Memphis native would make up for the loss of Prince and make the rich even richer.

Overall, this is a very balanced class, with high-star players at several key positions. The Tide snagged a quarterback from California in Blake Barnett, went to Texas to get Sheffield, added a few running backs and have plenty of beef across both the offensive and defensive lines.

Just another year at the office for Saban and his staff, and just another offseason title for the Tide.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Texas looks to close strong

If Texas plans on returning to the top of the Big 12 mountain and once again become a major player on the national stage, head coach Charlie Strong understands that his program must at least share headlines once again on National Signing Day.

It is a

If Texas plans on returning to the top of the Big 12 mountain and once again become a major player on the national stage, head coach Charlie Strong understands that his program must at least share headlines once again on National Signing Day.

It is a foregone conclusion that Alabama will bring in the nation’s top class once again when signing day arrives in less than a week. Meanwhile, Steve Sarkisian has USC poised to land a Top 5 class, and Jimbo Fisher continues to bring in elite talent to Florida State. Butch Jones is connecting with high school recruits across the country as he improves Tennessee, while programs such as Auburn, Georgia and Clemson will all be in the Top 10 mix next week.

But what about the Longhorns?

Strong and his staff are in a different position than the previous regime, as Mack Brown usually had many of his commitments locked up well in advance of signing day. A lot of the time, future ‘Horn players committed to the school before their senior seasons. So the program didn’t have to go the extra mile down the stretch. Perhaps a sense of complacency set in on the recruiting trail, which may have permeated throughout the program.

But as the ‘Horns look to put the finishing touches on their first full recruiting cycle under Strong, there is a lot of intrigue surrounding the program. And that drama starts with one player in particular.

If you have yet to hear the name Kyler Murray, that will surely change. Arguably the nation’s top dual-threat quarterback, the Allen, TX, product has been committed to Texas A&M, where his father played quarterback, since last spring. But the Class of 2015 star actually had an unofficial visit last week in Austin, and some recruiting analysts believe that the ‘Horns have a legit chance to land Murray, who would be battling the emerging Kyle Allen at QB if he decided to head to College Station.

But we all know about the struggles the ‘Horns have dealt with at the QB position in recent years.

Making it even more imperative that Texas lands a talented signal-caller by next Wednesday is the fact that new Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was able to sway then-Texas pledge Zach Gentry last week. The New Mexico signal-caller had been committed to Texas since last May. It seems absurd that a program with such history as Texas would have so many problems under center, but that has been the case in the latter years of the Brown era and the start of the Strong regime.

Tyrone SwoopesTyrone Swoopes is the latest QB to have an up-and-down career in Austin.

Texas has not been able to stabilize the quarterback position since Colt McCoy was in Austin, which is incredible considering the quality of arms coming out of the Lone Star State each year. But, as is often discussed by Texas fans as well as the media, the previous staff missed on a lot of quarterbacks that went elsewhere, including standouts such as Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel. And while he was viewed as a possible answer at the position when he arrived in Austin, Tyrone Swoopes has a lot of work to do if he is to be a capable steady QB in 2015. The major issue for Texas is that he and redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard are the only scholarship QBs that will be available in the fall, making getting a standout in this class imperative.

Perhaps Murray ultimately stays with A&M. While that would be a tough pill to swallow, Texas is also after Florida State commit Kai Locksley, who went on an official visit to Austin last weekend. The Baltimore native is one of the better signal-callers in the country even though he likely wouldn’t be ready to step into the fold and start immediately as Murray could probably do. Perhaps, if all else fails, the ‘Horns could look at a stop-gap measure such as bringing in a graduate transfer this offseason to fill the quarterback void. However, that’s a discussion for another day.

As much as the position is scrutinized, quarterback isn’t the only area of focus for Strong and his staff heading into next week.

Texas currently sits at No. 12 nationally in the 247Sports Composite team rankings for 2015, which is solid. But at Texas, it isn’t good enough. Nor should it be.

Strong’s rep as a great recruiter will be put to the test a little bit in the next six days, but there is a chance that the ‘Horns can go out with a bang. They remain in the mix for a few high-star prospects, and adding one or two to current pledge Malik Jefferson, the nation’s top linebacker who is already enrolled, would be huge. In-state players such as receiver DaMarkus Lodge, defensive tackle Daylon Mack and running back Soso Jamabo could pledge to Austin and give Strong a much-needed class filled with star power. And it would potentially set the stage for the 2016 haul as well.

Texas went 6-7 in Strong’s first campaign, which certainly didn’t sit well with anybody associated with the program. Next week could be a huge first step, though, in erasing those painful memories and setting the stage for brighter days ahead.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Star FCS QB could replace Mariota at Oregon

Shortly after the College Football Playoff national championship game, I argued that Braxton Miller should take a long, hard look at moving onto Oregon as a graduate transfer. Of course, the Ohio State quarterback will be locked in a three-way battle at the position this

Shortly after the College Football Playoff national championship game, I argued that Braxton Miller should take a long, hard look at moving onto Oregon as a graduate transfer. Of course, the Ohio State quarterback will be locked in a three-way battle at the position this offseason if he returns to Columbus.

Now, it appears that another intriguing candidate has emerged for the Ducks as a possible replacement for Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

Vernon Adams Jr.Could Vernon Adams Jr. be on his way to Eugene?

Eastern Washington’s Vernon Adams Jr., who is slated to graduate in June, told The Spokesman-Review in Spokane that he has a scholarship offer from Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich and plans on visiting Eugene this weekend. Adams would be eligible to play for the Ducks in 2015.

Adams is no stranger to Pac-12 competition. In 2013, he passed for 411 yards and four touchdowns and ran for the game-winning touchdown to lead EWU to a three-point upset of then-No. 25 Oregon State on the road. This past fall, Adams torched the Washington secondary for 475 yards and a school single-game record seven touchdowns in a near-upset on the road. In those two games against Pac-12 squads, he went a combined 54-of-76 passing for 886 yards with 11 touchdowns and zero picks (plus two rushing scores). Quite simply, he is a big-time talent.

The California native has a good arm, elusiveness and is one of the nation’s most exciting players. If he was to land in Eugene, he would compete with Jeff Lockie, who was this year’s backup, Georgia Tech transfer Ty Griffin, redshirt freshman Morgan Mahalak and Class of 2015 California dual-threat Travis Waller, a U.S. Army All-American Bowl participant who has been given high praise by a wide range of recruiting analysts not just for his running ability but for his accurate passing as well. If Adams was to head to Eugene and compete, he would be vying to start the season opener against none other than Eastern Washington.

With the Eagles, the 6-foot, 200-pounder has completed nearly 65 percent of his passes for 10,438 yards and 110 touchdowns against 31 interceptions. He has also rushed for 1,232 yards. He was named the runner-up for the Walter Payton Award, which is the FCS equivalent to the Heisman Trophy, in 2013 and finished second again last season despite missing time with a broken foot.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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USC is primed for a special Class of 2015

USC is set to bring in one of its most talented recruiting classes in years.

As National Signing Day approaches next Wednesday, the Trojans' Class of 2015 consists of 15 verbal pledges for 19 scholarships that are available in this cycle.

USC is set to bring in one of its most talented recruiting classes in years.

As National Signing Day approaches next Wednesday, the Trojans’ Class of 2015 consists of 15 verbal pledges for 19 scholarships that are available in this cycle.

Steve SarkisianSteve Sarkisian is putting together a very strong Class of 2015.

Steve Sarkisian and his staff already have the following players enrolled for the spring semester: quarterback Ricky Town, receiver Isaac Whitney, offensive linemen Roy Hemsley and Chuma Edoga and linebacker Cameron Smith. Class of 2015 products currently pledged to USC are: quarterback Sam Darnold, running backs Aca’Cedric Ware, Dominic Davis and Ronald Jones, receiver De’Quan Hampton, tight end Tyler Petite, offensive linemen Clayton Johnston and Cole Smith, defensive backs Isaiah Langley, Ykili Ross and Marvell Tell, linebacker Osa Masina and defensive linemen Jacob Daniel, Noah Jefferson and Christian Rector. Masina was just added before last weekend, and the Salt Lake City product is considered one of the best linebacker prospects in the entire nation.

‘SC can sign 19 players next Wednesday because five of the recruits mentioned above have already enrolled, while kicker Matt Boermeester was on the team this past year and counts against the 2015 total as a blueshirt recruit. A blueshirt is considered a non-recruited player (someone who did not make an official visit or host an in-home visit) who can be awarded a scholarship that counts toward the next year’s class. Meanwhile, a greyshirt is a player who does not enroll until the second semester of the year.

Of course, ‘SC is finally back to its full allotment of scholarships after enduring NCAA sanctions. It is the program’s first full recruiting class in four years, and the Trojans have been very active this cycle.

While the current crop of pledges form a strong group, more top talent could be on the way.

There are at least four high-quality in-state targets planning on announcing their intentions on signing day: Long Beach Poly cornerback Iman Marshall, Los Angeles Salesian defensive lineman Kevin Scott as well as Gardena Serra defenders John Houston (linebacker) and Rasheem Green (defensive tackle). Sarkisian and his staff are also still in on Utah linebacker Porter Gustin, who may wait until signing day to announce a decision as well. Gustin returned an interception for a touchdown and had a sack in the U.S. Army All-American Game earlier this month. He can play either outside linebacker or defensive end at the next level. Even if the program misses out on Gustin, landing the California star players would be huge. This is considered a very strong year for California high school seniors, and that’s saying something considering how much top talent the state typically produces each cycle.

Alabama will have the top-rated class in the land when all is said and done next Wednesday. But the race for the No. 2 spot nationally is intriguing. Florida State, Tennessee and possibly Auburn have a chance to be right behind the Crimson Tide, but the Trojans may be best-positioned. Edoga and Town are the gems of the class, but top targets such as Marshall, who is considered the nation’s best corner, as well as Houston, Green and Gustin are all considered favorites to land in L.A.

Sark and his staff have a chance to close very strong, which is very bad news for the rest of the Pac-12. Remember when the Trojans landed versatile athlete Adoree’ Jackson, receiver JuJu Smith and offensive lineman Damien Mama on signing day last year?

NCAA sanctions capped USC’s roster at 75 scholarship players (10 fewer than what’s allowed) for the last few seasons. Add in injuries and player departures, and there were fewer than 60 available scholarship players for the team at times in 2014. While it will likely take a few full classes to get ‘SC back to consistently pursuing national championships, this recruiting cycle is a huge step in the right direction.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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2015 Senior Bowl notebook

The 2015 Senior Bowl took place this past Saturday in Mobile, AL, as the North squad beat the South team 34-13.

College football fans were able to watch some of the top players in the nation one final time, while NFL personnel were able to further

The 2015 Senior Bowl took place this past Saturday in Mobile, AL, as the North squad beat the South team 34-13.

College football fans were able to watch some of the top players in the nation one final time, while NFL personnel were able to further scout prospects ahead of the NFL Draft.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from the showcase event.

— Minnesota running back David Cobb impressed NFL scouts with his strength and ability to run between the tackles, his quickness and agility to make sharp cuts, his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and provide good pass protection. Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah and Michigan State’s Jeremy Langford stood out as well, but Cobb has a chance to dart up draft boards because he has shown that he is very capable of being a three-down back at the next level. Can he actually be the first Big Ten rusher off the board? In the game itself, Cobb had 69 yards on 11 carries, including a four-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.

Phillip DorsettPhillip Dorsett may have been the most impressive receiver in Mobile.

— Miami (FL) WR Phillip Dorsett doesn’t have great size, but he displayed his explosiveness all week. He runs good routes, has very good speed and made some tough catches. He was the most outstanding receiver in Mobile, although Tyler Lockett of Kansas State, Justin Hardy of East Carolina and Duke’s Jamison Crowder had a solid week too. However, Stanford’s Ty Montgomery really struggled with drops during practices last week.

— Dorsett wasn’t the only impressive former Hurricane last week. Tight end Clive Walford, middle linebacker Denzel Perryman and cornerback Ladarius Gunter all had really strong showings in Mobile. With the talent that the ‘Canes had in 2014, how were they only able to win six games? It’s head-scratching, which just makes head coach Al Golden’s seat a bit warmer heading into next season.

— It is in former Auburn star Nick Marshall’s best interest to make the move from quarterback. He had an up-and-down week in Mobile at cornerback because he is playing a position now that he hasn’t played since when he was at Georgia. But he has an ideal frame for the cornerback position and seems willing to put the hard work in, so he has a chance to make a move up draft boards if he improves technically on a daily and weekly basis. Marshall had five tackles for the South team on Saturday, which tied for the game high.

— If there were concerns as to whether Utah’s Nate Orchard was just a pass-rusher, he showed that he is not a one-trick pony. He played well on Saturday standing up in the 3-4 scheme. He isn’t a big-bodied defender, but he moved well on passing plays and was solid against the run.

— Remember this name: Miami (OH) cornerback Quinten Rollins. The former point guard has just one year of college football experience with the Redhawks, but he had seven interceptions this past year and had a very strong week in Mobile, highlighted by a pick in the game on Saturday. He has very good athleticism and natural ball skills, so he will be highly targeted in this spring’s draft.

Quick thoughts:

— There’s buzz that Washington defender Shaq Thompson could ultimately end up at running back, a position he played and excelled at during his college career. The linebacker product has the size and athletic ability to play safety, but some teams are ‘wowed’ by his freakish athleticism, so running back is not out of the question.

— Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton shined all week, while Carl Davis (Iowa) and Owa Odighizuwa (UCLA) certainly improved their draft stock as top defensive linemen.

— He is small in stature, but TCU’s Kevin White has the skills to succeed at either cornerback or nickel back. He had a strong showing in Mobile, which was highlighted by an interception in Saturday’s game.

— This isn’t a strong senior quarterback class at all. The six signal-callers in town did not do much to impress scouts, but Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson is intriguing. The National Football Post’s own Greg Gabriel wrote up Grayson after seeing him in Mobile, and there’s a stronger belief now that Grayson can develop into a soild signal-caller if he can continue to fine-tune his mechanics. He has nice size, good arm strength, makes good decisions and has good athleticism. He really shined in his final college season as he mastered Jim McElwain’s offense. In the actual game on Saturday, Grayson completed 8 of 15 passes for 118 yards. Meanwhile, Baylor’s Bryce Petty lost out on an opportunity to show that he could adjust to a pro-style system and be the clear-cut No. 3 signal-caller in the draft. Accuracy remains an issue for the former Bear.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Consider Richt a bargain at Georgia

Georgia extended the contract of head coach Mark Richt on Wednesday, inking the former Florida State offensive coordinator to a deal that will keep him in Athens through the 2019 college football season.

The two-year extension also includes a raise, as Richt will now make $4

Georgia extended the contract of head coach Mark Richt on Wednesday, inking the former Florida State offensive coordinator to a deal that will keep him in Athens through the 2019 college football season.

The two-year extension also includes a raise, as Richt will now make $4 million per year, which is up from the $3.2 million per season mark under the old deal.

Mark RichtICONMark Richt has compiled a 136-48 overall mark since arriving in Athens.

“I appreciate the confidence that [athletic director] Greg McGarity has in the direction of our football program and how we represent the University of Georgia,” Richt said in a statement. “Our staff has an outstanding work ethic and we are committed to the development of our student-athletes on and off the field.”

While a certain segment of the Bulldogs’ fanbase would love to see the football program get new leadership, Richt is deserving of his new deal, which is a bargain when you look at the head-coaching salaries of some of his peers in the tough SEC.

A list of SEC coaching salaries that was published by Saturday Down South last December shows Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin making roughly $5 million per year, Hugh Freeze of Ole Miss making around $4 million as well as Butch Jones of Tennessee and Mark Stoops of Kentucky earning about $3.6 million per season. Given that he has compiled a 136-48 overall mark (78-34 in the SEC) since his 2001 debut campaign, Richt is deserving of the extension and pay bump.

The 54-year-old veteran has led the ‘Dawgs to five SEC East titles and almost knocked off Alabama in the league’s title game a few years ago, which would have propelled them into the BCS national championship game against Notre Dame.

While there’s often a “close but no cigar” feeling around the Georgia program as well as a bad loss or two that has prevented his tenure from being extraordinary, Richt has been able to at least keep Georgia in the national conversation on a consistent basis because of very good recruiting, especially in recent years.

Simply put, Richt brings stability. And he deserves more years and cash in his contract.

Just don’t expect the Kirby Smart rumors to go anywhere. Because they’re not.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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2015 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl notebook

The 2015 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl took place on Saturday in Carson, CA, as Mike Martz's National team beat Mike Holmgren's American squad 17-0.

College football fans were able to see some of the nation's under-the-radar prospects one last time, while NFL personnel were able to further

The 2015 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl took place on Saturday in Carson, CA, as Mike Martz’s National team beat Mike Holmgren’s American squad 17-0.

College football fans were able to see some of the nation’s under-the-radar prospects one last time, while NFL personnel were able to further scout prospects ahead of the league’s annual draft.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from the showcase event at the StubHub Center.

Terrell WatsonTerrell Watson was named the MVP of this year’s NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

— It’s easy to make the comparison to Christian Okoye because of the Azusa Pacific connection (and the fact that he broke a lot of Okoye’s records), but Terrell Watson may have a legitimate shot to stick in the NFL. The Cougars running back had a two-yard touchdown run for the National team, as the Division II star finished with nine carries for a game-high 55 yards en route to being named the game MVP. It was a good time to showcase his talents, as the competition Watson faced on a weekly basis was not too strong. Count Martz as someone who believes Watson could play at the next level after seeing him in workouts throughout the week. The converted defensive end is a big back that is raw but hungry to improve. This past season, the 6-2, 240-pounder rushed for 2,153 yards and scored 29 touchdowns.

— Brandon Bridge of South Alabama is an intriguing prospect as well. He completed 3 of 5 passes for 51 yards in limited action, but he has some good tools. The former Alcorn State signal-caller from Canada has very good size, a strong arm and nice mobility. He just happens to be very raw and must continue to work hard and push to improve his football IQ.

— Chris Conley of Georgia had a very nice day at receiver, leading the National team with 45 yards on two catches. He has a very good work ethic and is a solid route runner that has some big-play ability. He may end up as more of a possession receiver at the next level, but he may surprise because he has a good feel for the position.

— Michigan State product Marcus Rush will never win a contest dealing with football measureables, and that’s okay. Because all the defensive end does is be productive, which he was on Saturday. The former Spartan played well for the National squad just as he did in the Cotton Bowl and almost every time he played in East Lansing. He notched just one tackle and a half-sack on Saturday, but he was strong off the edge and showed off his quickness and tenacity. You will never question his effort, and you can never discount a player who just comes off as relentless. He doesn’t pass the eyeball test, but he has a chance to stick as a 3-4 outside linebacker if he can excel on special teams.

Other notes:

— Southern Illinois product Malcolm Agnew had eight carries for 53 yards, while Marcus Murphy of Missouri ran for 47 yards on three carries to lead the American team.

— Team American quarterback Cole Stoudt of Clemson completed 7 of 8 passes for 48 yards, while Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato had 31 passing yards and 15 rushing yards.

— In last year’s NFL Draft, 14 players that competed in this game were selected. Sixty-three more players that competed were not drafted but signed contracts with NFL squads.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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2015 East-West Shrine Game notebook

The 2015 East-West Shrine Game took place on Saturday in St. Petersburg, FL, as Mike Singletary's East team defeated Jim Zorn's West squad 19-3.

College football fans were able to see some of the top players in the country one last time, while NFL personnel were

The 2015 East-West Shrine Game took place on Saturday in St. Petersburg, FL, as Mike Singletary’s East team defeated Jim Zorn’s West squad 19-3.

College football fans were able to see some of the top players in the country one last time, while NFL personnel were able to further scout prospects ahead of the NFL Draft.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from the showcase event at Tropicana Field.

— It was a good day to watch pass rushers show off their skill sets, which makes sense because the 2015 NFL Draft will feature a deep class of edge pass rushers, both 4-3 defensive ends and 3-4 outside linebackers. Miami (FL) product Anthony Chickillo looked very good throughout the contest, as he displayed a quick first step and looked comfortable playing as a 4-3 end. Keep in mind that the Hurricanes used a lot of 3-4 this past season. The 6-4, 275-pounder had a strong week in St. Pete, which should help his NFL Draft stock after notching just three sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss in 2014 … LSU’s Jermauria Rasco had a nice game for the East team. He likely will end up as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, but the 6-3, 252-pounder looked comfortable at end as a speed rusher … Kentucky’s Za’Darius Smith had a very good game, particularly in the first half. The 6-5, 265-pounder has good power and looked strong playing on the right side, although he may wind up at left end at the next level. Smith had seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks this past season, and his play on Saturday likely helped his stock despite questions about being a bit undersized.

Josh ShawJosh Shaw had an interception and played well on special teams.

— USC cornerback Josh Shaw needed a strong game and lead-up to the draft after missing most of this past season. He showed off his press ability, which is a strength of his game. The 6-1, 200-pound physical corner had an interception in the end zone and also showed off his ability on special teams, which is always a plus for a future NFL rookie. The former Trojan, who began his career at Florida, played safety with the Gators but played corner with the Trojans and should be a solid press corner at the next level.

— Kansas linebacker Ben Heeney is an underrated NFL prospect. He won’t get drafted in the early rounds, but the team that chooses him later in the draft will get a middle linebacker that can step onto a field and contribute right away because he won’t get in trouble in coverage with his good quickness. And he knows how to get to the ball-carrier. He just needs to get a little stronger. But he is sound in space, and he showed that throughout his career playing against a lot of prolific passing attacks in the Big 12.

— Defensive tackle Derrick Lott made a nice impression in the game. The 6-4, 298-pound Chattanooga product, who began his career at Georgia, has good strength and nice quickness. He had a nice tackle for loss and was sound on special teams.

— This draft does not have many standout senior quarterbacks. The six signal-callers that played (Duke’s Anthony Boone, Old Dominion’s Taylor Heinicke, Georgia’s Hutson Mason, Nevada’s Cody Fajardo,
Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly and South Carolina’s Dylan Thompson) combined to complete just 23-of-50 passes for 209 yards and three interceptions. Speaking of quarterbacks, former Michigan signal-caller Devin Gardner is trying to transition to wide receiver. Can he be an asset on special teams until he is ready for extended play at receiver?

Quick thoughts:

— There’s a lot of buzz about Blake Bell being able to successfully evolve into a solid tight end in time. Keep in mind that the former Oklahoma quarterback’s father and uncle played tight end in the league. He is working hard to improve as a blocker, and he should be able to add weight to his 6-6, 260-pound frame. Speaking of tight ends, South Alabama’s Wes Saxton is essentially a wide receiver playing the position and could be a nice downfield threat at the next level.

— Deon Long was a bit overshadowed in his college career by teammate Stefon Diggs, but the Maryland receiver is a good route runner and is able to make tough catches. He didn’t get a lot of chances to show off his talent in the actual game, but he reportedly shined during the practices leading up to the contest.

— The guard class in this draft is not very deep, so Louisville’s John Miller may have made some additional money with his play on Saturday. He is a very good run blocker who was a four-year starter. Could he make his way into the third round, where five guards were picked in last year’s draft?

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Adding Miller would be a real coup for Oregon

It would be one of the most prevalent discussions in the world of college football this offseason.

How does Ohio State handle Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett entering preseason camp on the roster with all three capable of leading a march toward a second

It would be one of the most prevalent discussions in the world of college football this offseason.

How does Ohio State handle Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett entering preseason camp on the roster with all three capable of leading a march toward a second consecutive College Football Playoff national championship?

Don’t bet on all three signal-callers being in Columbus next season.

If Jones decides to bypass this spring’s NFL Draft after just three career starts, expect a two-person battle between him and Barrett. Simply put, it would be stunning if Miller wasn’t elsewhere.

Let’s assume that Marcus Mariota has played his last down for Oregon. While he didn’t say that he was officially going to make himself eligible for this spring’s draft, it would be a massive upset if Mariota decided to come back to Eugene and risk an injury when he has a good shot at being the top overall pick or at least a Top 5 selection.

So Mark Helfrich, Scott Frost and Co. will need to identify a new starting quarterback in all likelihood.

Backup quarterback Jeff Lockie saw action late in the title game loss to Ohio State, as he entered the contest after Buckeyes defensive end Joey Bosa fell down hard on Mariota. But we haven’t been able to see what Lockie can do on a consistent basis, as he had just 28 passing attempts in 2014. He will be the odds-on favorite to take over starting duties, though, heading into his redshirt junior season given the state of the Oregon quarterback depth chart.

The Ducks will also take a look at Georgia Tech transfer Ty Griffin, redshirt freshman Morgan Mahalak and Class of 2015 California dual-threat Travis Waller, a U.S. Army All-American Bowl participant who has been given high praise by a wide range of recruiting analysts not just for his running ability but for his accurate passing as well.

But not many quarterbacks in the nation are as talented and tested as Miller.

Braxton MillerUS PRESSWIREWill Braxton Miller play football outside of Columbus in 2015?

The Buckeye could come in and be a very suitable replacement for Mariota — and that’s not taking anything away from the veteran’s Heisman Trophy season. Miller doesn’t have to match Mariota’s numbers; he just has to effectively run the offense and be the big-play threat that has has proven to be throughout his career. Lockie just doesn’t possess the same big-play ability.

In his Buckeyes career, Miller has recorded 8,346 total yards and 84 total touchdowns in three seasons. He was, at times, a one-man show. Pair him up with players such as running backs Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner as well as receiving threats Byron Marshall, Bralon Addison, Darren Carrington, Devon Allen and Dwayne Stanford, and you’re talking about a loaded offensive attack in Eugene next fall.

While no one offense is the same as the other, Miller is already familiar with spread tendencies and zone-read concepts. Even though the Ducks do have to re-assemble their offensive line for 2015, Miller’s the type of athlete whose escapability would be very beneficial if the O-Line needs time to gel.

The one concern, however, is making sure Miller’s shoulder is 100 percent healthy not just upon arrival but for an entire season. There’s always risk in this sport, of course, but Miller may not be ready for spring practice. That isn’t necessarily a huge deal, but getting him acclimated with the offense as soon as possible would be ideal. He would, of course, be able to at least familiarize himself with the playbook because he can transfer immediately and be eligible to play since he did already graduate from OSU.

While there are always questions when dealing with a transfer situation, bringing Miller aboard is a risk the Ducks should absolutely take if there’s interest from the Buckeye. There’s enough supporting talent to be Pac-12 champions once again.

And, perhaps, get another shot at that elusive national title.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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