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All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/disturbing-video-shows-florida-state-quarterback-punching-woman-bar-deandre-johnson
Body:

De'Andre Johnson is already suspended from Florida State football, and this video is not going to help matters for the young quarterback.

 

Around the 2:00 Johnson can be seen in the surveillance footage punching a female student a month ago. Johnson is currently facing a misdemeanor battery charge because of the incident.

The victim suffered multiple injuries to her face, and was treated on the scene. Johnson turned himself in and was released on $500 bond. The quarterback did participate in spring practice with the team.

 

Florida State's program as a whole continues to be put under the microscrope because of incidents such as this.

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 6, 2015 - 16:41
All taxonomy terms: Golf, Overtime
Path: /overtime/fox-news-anchor-calls-rory-mcilroy-leprechaun
Body:

Early this morning news broke of Rory McIlroy rupturing and ankle ligament while playing soccer.

 

During a segment on Fox News, while going to a commercial break, there was mention of the injury and one of the anchors couldn't help but to voice her opinion. She called the young golfer a "leprechaun" and stated she couldn't stand him. A simple check to make sure the microphone is off would have helped. 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 6, 2015 - 16:28
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/alabama-players-didnt-respect-cardale-jones-ohio-state-sugar-bowl-kirby-smart
Body:

Never underestimate your opponent.

 

Alabama learned that the hard way. In an interview with Atlanta's 680 The Fan, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart admitted that some of his players told him they didn't respect Cardale Jones heading into the Sugar Bowl.

 

"Looking back, when we had exit interviews with our players where you look in hindsight, I asked every kid, Landon Collins, Nick Perry, Jarrick Williams, the really smart [players] on our team, 'Where did we go wrong? What did we do wrong?' All three of them said, 'We did not respect the quarterback.' Our job as coaches was to make them respect the quarterback."

 

Jones threw for 242 yards and one touchdown, and added a rushing touchdown. The Buckeyes went on to win 42-35 and sent a shock through some in the college football world. Smart continued on about his players' lack of respect for Jones.

 

"They heard from the media, they heard from ESPN, they heard from everybody that he was a third-string quarterback," Smart said. "How can a third-string quarterback beat Alabama? We didn't promote him enough, and they didn't value his talents enough. And he came in — we thought he was a really good passer — well, he ran the ball well, too."

 

Let this be a lesson to over-prepare for everyone, no matter what string they play or who they play behind. The Tide could've avoided plays like this one.

(Source: 680 The Fan)

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 6, 2015 - 13:23
Path: /college-football/ranking-toughest-games-notre-dames-college-football-schedule-2015
Body:

There was a lot of talk last season about how much conference titles mattered when it came to the College Football Playoff. The idea of an independent team being in the conversation didn't get a whole lot of attention, largely due to Notre Dame not being in the conversation down the stretch. That could very well change this season.

 

Related: Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2015 Preview and Prediction

 

From the looks of how things shook out in 2014, Notre Dame will need to finish its regular season unbeaten to claim a spot in the College Football Playoff. The degree of difficulty will vary dramatically from game to game — and not always based on the talent of the opponent. Timing and location are sure to play a part each week as well.

 

Here now are Notre Dame's 12 regular season games, ranked according to degree of difficulty from easiest to most difficult.

 

12. Sept. 26 vs. UMass

This would be a spot for a trap game, but the Minutemen are simply not talented enough to give the Irish much trouble, even if Brian Kelly's bunch was looking past them to the Clemson game.

 

 

11. Nov. 14 vs. Wake Forest

The toughest stretch of the schedule will be behind Notre Dame by this point. The Irish will know exactly where they stand. While Wake Forest cannot be completely overlooked, the Demon Deacons shouldn't be anything more than a speed bump along the way.

 

 

10. Nov. 21 vs. Boston College (at Fenway Park)

This game might have been a little higher in the rankings in previous years due to history alone. Weird things happen when these two teams meet up and don't forget the game is being played at Fenway Park. Unfortunately for Boston College, the Eagles just don't have to the horses to hang around in this one.

 

 

9. Nov. 7 at Pittsburgh

From a talent standpoint, the Panthers will be the inferior team. Do not, however, underestimate first-year coach Pat Narduzzi's ability to get his team up for the biggest game on its schedule in front of what should be a fairly packed house.

 

 

8. Sept. 12 at Virginia

The Irish will be coming off an emotional home opener against Texas and looking ahead to a gritty battle with Georgia Tech. Scott Stadium can get loud, and it'll never be louder than when the Irish come to town. Notre Dame will need to stay focused to avoid a hiccup in this one.

 

 

7. Oct. 10 vs. Navy

Another trap game scenario, this one takes place right between what will likely be Notre Dame's two toughest games of the season. Navy is never an easy team to prepare for, but scheduling doesn't do the Irish any extra favors in this case.

 

 

6. Nov. 28 at Stanford

There could be a lot riding on this game at this point. Notre Dame doesn't get a conference title game to put on a show for the Playoff committee, so style points could be almost as important as a win in this one. History tells us that there aren't many teams who earn style points in games at Stanford.

 

 

5. Oct. 31 at Temple

This will be far and away the biggest game on the schedule for Temple — a team many expect to be one of the better teams in the "Group of Five." This will be a "win by any means necessary" scenario for Notre Dame in a hostile environment on Halloween.

 

 

4. Sept. 5 vs. Texas

This one is going to draw a ton of eyes based on the names of the two programs alone. Nobody has any film to go off of in the first week, so nobody truly knows what to expect. Texas should be better than it was a season ago, and as always, the Longhorns will have athletes all over the field who can cause problems on both sides of the ball.

 

 

3. Sept. 19 vs. Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets return the core of an extremely talented team from a season ago. They run an offense that travels well and like Navy's own unique attack is difficult to prepare for.

 

 

2. Oct. 3 at Clemson

Forget the fact the Clemson is expected by many to seriously contend for the ACC crown, Death Valley is one of the most intimidating places to play. Add Notre Dame into the mix and the place is going to be a madhouse, as this one could have serious Playoff implications riding on it.

 

 

1. Oct. 17 vs. USC

USC could have one of the top two or three rosters in the nation from a talent standpoint. The Trojans will have the best quarterback Notre Dame will face all season in Cody Kessler. He'll have the Heisman in his sights, while Steve Sarkisian and the Men of Troy will have the Playoff in theirs. If the Irish are undefeated at this point and can pull off a win at home, the Notre Dame faithful might not want to make any New Year's Eve plans they can't back out of.

 

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Scott is the editor-in-chief of KnowItAllFootball.com, a Big Ten site for Big Ten fans. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

Teaser:
Ranking the Toughest Games on Notre Dame's Schedule in 2015
Post date: Monday, July 6, 2015 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: Golf, News
Path: /golf/rory-mcilroy-ruptures-ankle-ligament-playing-soccer
Body:

Injuries off the field are certainly common occurrences, although they can often be devastating. They can often come from surprising reasons. Top-ranked Irish golfer Rory McIlroy announced on Instagram that he ruptured a ligament in his ankle while playing soccer with some friends. The picture shows him with a large boot around his left leg and crutches for both arms.

 

With the British Open set to start on July 16, McIlroy still seems poised to make a run at it. He stated that he has already begun rehab and will be evaluating the injury each day. McIlroy won last year’s British Open and will look to defend his title if he is healthy enough to play. 

See Rory McIlroy's Instagram post below:
 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 6, 2015 - 12:28
All taxonomy terms: News, World Cup
Path: /world-cup/us-defeats-japan-womens-world-cup-title
Body:

The U.S. Women’s National Team gave a whole new meaning to Fourth of July Weekend. While the country celebrated its 239th year of independence on Saturday, many anxiously awaited Sunday’s matchup with Japan. Any anxiety a fan might have had surely disappeared immediately, as the U.S. netted four goals in the first 16 minutes.

 

Forward Carli Lloyd scored a hat trick as the U.S. glided through the game with a 5-2 victory. The win gives the U.S. their third World Cup championship, avenging their heartbreaking loss to Japan in a penalty shoot-out in 2011. The team’s title allowed the country’s celebration of America to continue for another day.

Watch the highlights of the game below:

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 6, 2015 - 12:01
Path: /college-football/breakdown-arkansas-razorbacks-front-four-defense
Body:

The Arkansas offensive line should be one of the best in the nation with four starters returning but the defensive front four is more of an unknown at this point after the loss of a pair of All-SEC linemen and recent NFL Draft picks in end Trey Flowers and tackle Darius Philon.

 

Related: Ranking the SEC's Offensive Lines for 2015

 

The Hogs return two starters in the defensive trenches, end JaMichael Winston and tackle Taiwan Johnson.

 

Flowers, who was third on the team with 68 tackles and had a team-leading 15.5 tackles for a loss, was a fourth-round pick (101st overall) of the New England Patriots in May. Philon was seventh on the team in tackles with 46 and chipped in 11.5 tackles for a loss and was selected by the San Diego Chargers in the sixth round (192nd overall). Flowers also had a team-high 6.0 sacks while Philon was second with 4.5.

 

The production that Flowers and Philon contributed in sacks should be replaceable but their consistency of holding the line against the run and putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks is what will be missed most. Sophomore tackle Bijhon Jackson and junior Deatrich Wise are expected to fill in respectively for the two departed players.

 

Wise (6-2, 270) appears to have the physical presence to be an All-SEC performer. In 10 games played last year he had 13 tackles, 3.0 tackles for a loss, and 2.0 sacks. Expected to line up opposite of Wise is Winston. The junior appeared in all 13 games, recording 26 tackles, 2.0 tackles for a loss, but no sacks. This duo, with the help of junior college transfer Jeremiah Ledbetter and sophomore Tevin Beanum, must step up to help put pressure on opposing SEC quarterbacks to help a young but improving secondary on passing downs.

 

Jackson also got a lot of playing time as a true freshman but was still feeling his way around by and large. In 13 games he had nine tackles, 1.0 tackle for a loss, and did not record a sack. Behind Jackson and Johnson is senior tackle DeMarcus Hodge and freshman Armon Watts.

 

Hodge is a gap plug, coming in at 6-foot-1 and in the neighborhood of 340 pounds. A redshirt freshman, Watts (6-5, 295) has added significant weight to his frame after arriving on campus around 260 pounds. A year in the weight room has made a huge difference on paper, but only time will tell how that translates as a contributor on the two-deep.

 

Another defensive tackle everyone is waiting to see in action is incoming freshman Hjalte Froholdt. Froholdt was a 4-star recruit out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The Denmark native was listed last season at 6-foot-5, 290 pounds. Seeing him person during his senior season, he was a lean-athletic 290 pounds.

 

Before his senior season he reported a bench press max in the 325-pound range and a squat max at 575 pounds. Nearly a year later and after spending a summer in Fayetteville with strength coach Ben Herbert and this true freshman could contribute sooner rather than later for the Razorbacks. His last reported weight was up to a solid 311 pounds.

 

Ledbetter is another new Razorback that impressed during spring workouts. Listed at 6-foot-3, 271 pounds, he was dynamic as a pass-rushing option, earning  second-team NJCAA All-America honors at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. Recruiting services ranked Ledbetter as the No. 1 strong-side defensive end in the nation after posting 144 career tackles and 22.5 career sacks as a JUCO.

 

The ringleader for the Hogs' defense is coordinator Robb Smith and defensive line coach Rory Segrest. The Arkansas front made a dramatic leap forward under Smith in his first season in Fayetteville, going from a team that allowed 178.4 rushing yards per game to 114.6. That translated to a jump in the national rankings from No. 78 to No. 12 in rushing defense, and from No. 11 all the way to No. 2 in the SEC.

 

What to watch for coming out of fall camp

 

Hodge was pushing Jackson for the starting nose tackle spot. If the battle continues up front that only means little distinction between the two when the other is getting an in-game breather.

 

Wise has had some knee troubles as well as some off-the-field complications. Tevin Beanum (6-4, 271) could be the recipient of a starting position and more playing time if Wise’s commitment to the game continues to waiver.

 

Key backups coming off injuries are Brandon Lewis (6-4, 273) and Mitchell Loewen (6-5, 276). Both had off-season surgeries but are expected to be fully healthy for fall camp. Their presence at end should push the starters harder and make the Razorbacks that much better.

 

Jake Hall, Karl Roesler and Daytrieon Dean, if he returns healthy from shoulder surgery, could see playing time early in the season to see how they may fit into the Hogs' rotation up front or if someone misses time due to injury. 

 

Prediction

 

Arkansas should be a deeper unit up front than it was last season. This unit still does not have that explosive playmaker Smith can count on game after game when it comes to recording that big sack or making the critical stop behind the line of scrimmage. However, the Razorbacks' defensive coordinator does have a lot of guys that could fit the bill, making this unit a fun one to watch due to a lot of promise but also a large unknown because it's still unproven and young as a whole. One thing helping the defensive front is an improving secondary that could help get coverage sacks in 2015.

 

— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @HogManinLA.

Teaser:
Breakdown of the 2015 Arkansas Razorbacks' Front Four on Defense
Post date: Monday, July 6, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/serena-defeats-older-sister-venus-wimbledon
Body:

There’s nothing like winning, and then there’s nothing like beating your older sister. Serena Williams, the WTA No. 1 player in the world, ousted No. 16 Venus Williams in straight sets (6-4, 6-3) at Wimbledon. The win by Serena moves her to 15-11 all time against Venus, who is a little more than a year older. The match seemed inevitable, as both tennis greats were high favorites in their previous three rounds of play.

 

Widely regarded as two of the greatest all time tennis stars, they have both ascended to fame against plenty of backlash. As dominant as they are in singles, when paired up for doubles, they are virtually unstoppable. However, they decided to withdraw from doubles in Wimbledon in order to focus on their singles. Serena will take on No. 23 Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals, where she expects to be the favorite again.  

See how Serena describes the win:
 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 6, 2015 - 11:42
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Pac-12, USC Trojans
Path: /college-football/usc-flips-former-ucla-wr-commitment-michael-pittman
Body:

This past October, Class of 2016 wide receiver Michael Pittman verbally committed to UCLA. By June 10 Pittman had decided to go a different direction. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound, highly regarded wide out decommitted from UCLA, naming USC and Oregon as his top two colleges.

 

On July 4 the Trojans' coaching staff got a little something more to cheer about when Pittman decided to stay in the Los Angeles area for college.

 

The Oaks Christian standout is a two-way star, lining up at wide receiver and safety flexing his 4.4 speed on both sides of the ball. This fall he also is expected to see time at linebacker to help slow opponents' running games.

 

During an interview with Pittman back in January, when asked if he was a hard or soft commitment to UCLA he responded saying, “Right now I am a soft verbal.”

 

During the same interview when asked which schools he may officially visit during his senior year he added, “I don’t know where I am going yet. I might use one on USC, one to UCLA, one maybe to Notre Dame – I’ll have to wait for all my final offers my senior year before I figure it all out.”

 

Pittman made the announcement during a family Fourth of July gathering becoming the third wide receiver commitment for USC in the 2016 recruiting class.

 

USC Trojans 2016 Commitment List

LB Daelin Hayes, 6-4, 250 lbs, Skyline HS, Ann Arbor, Michigan

LB Jordan Iosefa, 6-2, 216 lbs, St. Louis HS, Honolulu, Hawaii

LB Mique Juarez, 6-2, 222 lbs, North HS, Torrance, California

DE Liam Jimmons, 6-4, 240 lbs, Huntington Beach HS, Huntington Beach, California

DE Keanu Saleapaga, 6-5, 270 lbs, La Mirada HS, La Mirada, California

DT Keyshon Camp, 6-4, 275 lbs, Lake Gibson HS, Lakeland, Florida

OT Frank Martin, 6-5, 300 lbs, Mater Dei HS, Santa Ana, California

OT Nathan Smith, 6-7, 264 lbs, Murrieta Mesa HS, Murrieta, California

TE Cary Angeline, 6-7, 230 lbs, Dowingtown East HS, Exton, Pennsylvania

RB Melquise Stovall, 5-8, 180 lbs, Paraclete HS, Lancaster, California

QB Matt Fink, 6-3, 185 lbs, Glendora HS, Glendora, California

WR Josh Imatorbhebhe, 6-2, 205 lbs, North Gwinnett HS, Suwanee, Georgia

WR Velus Jones Jr., 5-11, 180 lbs, Saraland HS, Saraland, Alabama

WR Michael Pittman, 6-4, 205 lbs, Oaks Christian HS, Thousand Oaks, California

 

— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @HogManinLA.

Teaser:
USC Flips Former UCLA WR Commitment Michael Pittman
Post date: Monday, July 6, 2015 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR, News
Path: /nascar/fans-fly-confederate-flags-against-nascars-desire
Body:

As the track at Daytona attempted to back away from NASCAR’s links with the Confederate flag, plenty of fans still displayed it proudly. For many, there was no need to trade in this flag for the American flag, as they are proud of both and displayed the flags at the track. The call to hide the flag at race events seemed to create a need for these people to show their support of it as part of their respect, heritage, and freedom.

 

While NASCAR has called to remove this image from its sport, it also understands that it has traditionally been a sport more popular in the South. People have been flying the Confederate flag proudly for years, and they never had any intention of stopping. Now under the attack, they feel that its display is essential.

Take a look at some pictures of the Flag's presence over the weekend:
 

 

 

 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 6, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-25-position-groups-under-pressure-2015
Body:

The terms “on the hot seat” or “under pressure” usually apply to quarterbacks and head coaches. After all, there’s an enormous amount of pressure on quarterbacks and coaches for any college football team. And needless to say, it’s difficult to challenge for a conference championship or national title if the quarterback play is an issue all year or if the coaching staff’s status is uncertain after a slow start.

 

Despite most of the preseason focus on other positions, the battles in the trenches, at linebacker, cornerback or in the receiving corps are just as important to any team’s success in 2015.

 

Related: College Football 2015 All-America Team

 

With that in mind, let’s set aside the quarterbacks and head coaches for a moment and examine some of the other positions that must produce from Power 5 teams in 2015.

 

Groups Under Pressure by Conference:

ACCBig 12Big TenPac-12SEC

 

College Football's Top 25 Position Groups Under Pressure in 2015

 

Alabama Defensive Backs

The receiving corps also deserves a mention here, but Alabama’s defense has to do a better job against the pass if this team wants to win the national title in 2015. Two starters return in the secondary in senior Cyrus Jones and junior Eddie Jackson. However, there’s a glaring void at safety with Landon Collins off to the NFL. Replacing Collins is expected to be senior Geno Smith or sophomore Hootie Jones, while sophomore Tony Brown and redshirt freshman Marlon Humphrey need to step up in the battle to start opposite of Cyrus Jones at cornerback. True freshmen Kendall Sheffield or Minkah Fitzpatrick may also factor in the mix. After giving up 19 pass plays of 30 yards or more last year, the Crimson Tide need better play from this unit.

 

Arizona State Wide Receivers

Jaelen Strong’s physical presence and big-play ability will be missed. To help alleviate the departure of Strong, along with Cameron Smith’s knee injury in the spring, the Sun Devils plan to shift D.J. Foster from running back to receiver on a full-time basis. Foster caught 62 passes in 2014 and should be the leading receiver for quarterback Mike Bercovici. Coordinator Mike Norvell is also counting on contributions from Gary Chambers, Eric Lauderdale and Ellis Jefferson. UCLA transfer Devin Lucien was a key pickup on the recruiting trail and should push for immediate playing time this fall.

 

Related: College Football's Top Transfers to Watch for 2015

 

Auburn Defensive Backs

With Will Muschamp calling the defensive signals, and end Carl Lawson back from injury, Auburn should show improvement after giving up 26.7 points per game in 2014. Getting Lawson and the performance of the defensive line on track is a key priority for Muschamp, but the secondary also needs attention after giving up 22 passing scores last year. Senior corner Jonathan Jones and junior safety Johnathan Ford are candidates for All-SEC honors, while additional help is expected to come in the form of transfers Tray Matthews (Georgia) and Blake Countess (Michigan). Depth is a concern here.

 

Related: Ranking All 128 College Football Coaches for 2015

 

Baylor Defensive Backs

The Bears return four starters from a secondary ranked 70th nationally in pass efficiency defense. Junior corner Xavien Howard and safety Orion Stewart are the group’s headliners and should perform at an All-Big 12 level in 2015. But coordinator Phil Bennett needs better overall play from this unit, with Howard and Stewart elevating their performance even higher. The Bears allowed 17 passing plays of 40 yards or more last season and 24 scores through the air. Those numbers have to decrease if Baylor is to earn a spot in the four-team playoff.

 

Related: Big 12 2015 Predictions

 

Clemson Offensive Line

Protecting quarterback Deshaun Watson is priority No. 1 for coach Dabo Swinney in 2015. The line was the biggest issue following spring practice, and the concerns about this unit only increased after Isaiah Battle left for the NFL supplemental draft. The Tigers allowed 27 sacks in 13 games last year and return only one starter (center Ryan Norton). The projected starting five have just 29 career starts, and true freshman Mitch Hyatt is expected to start at left tackle.

 

Related: ACC Predictions for 2015

 

Florida Offensive Line

While the uncertainty at quarterback is a concern for Jim McElwain, the offensive line is probably the group keeping the first-year coach up at night. The Gators return only one starter (Trip Thurman), and depth is a major issue. This unit showed improvement under the direction of Mike Summers last season, and the veteran coach was retained by McElwain. Summers does have talent to build around, including sophomore David Sharpe at left tackle and five-star recruit Martez Ivey. Fordham graduate transfer Mason Halter is also expected to factor in the mix.

 

Related: College Football's All-Freshman Team for 2015

 

Florida State Linebackers

The offensive and defensive lines are also worth mentioning here, but the linebacker position has been depleted by departures and injuries. Senior Terrance Smith was injured off and on in 2014 and finished the year with 87 stops and two interceptions. He should be an all-conference performer (if healthy) in 2015. After Smith is where the questions begin for coordinator Charles Kelly. Senior Reggie Northrup is recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the Rose Bowl, and sophomore Matthew Thomas is questionable to start the opener after offseason shoulder surgery. If Thomas and Northrup aren’t ready by September, the pressure builds on junior college recruit Lorenzo Phillips, sophomore Ro’Derrick Hoskins and redshirt freshman Delvin Purifoy.

 

Related: ACC Predictions for 2015

 

Georgia Wide Receivers

As we mentioned above, there’s no doubt quarterback play is the No. 1 concern on any roster. Georgia enters fall camp with uncertainty under center, as Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta are locked into a tight battle for the top spot. But regardless of which player starts, the Bulldogs will be looking for improved play at receiver. Chris Conley and Michael Bennett expired their eligibility, leaving tight end Jeb Blazevich and receiver Malcolm Mitchell as the top targets. Will Mitchell stay healthy? And who steps up outside of Mitchell this year? Those are two key questions to watch in Athens.

 

Related: SEC Football 2015 Predictions

 

LSU Defensive Ends

Make no mistake: Talent is not an issue for LSU in the trenches. The Tigers are anchored on the interior by junior Christian LaCouture and rising star in sophomore Davon Godchaux. But the pass rush is a concern for new coordinator Kevin Steele. Since LSU led the SEC with 38 sacks in 2011, the Tigers have watched their sack total decline for three consecutive seasons. Last year, LSU managed only 19 sacks in 13 games, with Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter (combined for 5.5 sacks) off to the NFL. Steele plans on incorporating more 3-4 looks, which adds to the uncertainty of the end/linebacker position. Juniors Tashawn Bower and Lewis Neal and sophomore Deondre Clark are three names to watch off the edge, along with true freshman Arden Key.

 

Related: SEC Football 2015 All-Conference Team

 

Michigan Offensive Line

In addition to quarterback play, this unit is the biggest concern for new coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines have struggled to get steady play from this group over the last two years and allowed 17 sacks in Big Ten play last season. Not only are tweaks and improvements coming to the offense under Harbaugh, the offensive line also has a new coach in Tim Drevno. With four starters back, Harbaugh and Drevno should be able to squeeze some improvement out of this group. Left tackle Mason Cole is a name to watch in 2015.

 

Related: College Football's Top Transfers for 2015

 

Michigan State Defensive Backs

Michigan State’s “No Fly Zone” is looking a little vulnerable headed into fall camp. The Spartans lost safety Kurtis Drummond and cornerback Trae Waynes from a unit that allowed only six passing scores in Big Ten play in 2014. Junior Darian Hicks is a returning starter in the secondary, but both cornerback spots are up for grabs. Senior Arjen Colquhoun and freshman Vayante Copeland will compete with Hicks, one starting job at safety is in good hands with senior RJ Williamson, while sophomore Montae Nicholson is a breakout candidate in the secondary. The Spartans have one of the best defensive fronts in college football. Will the secondary quickly reload under new co-defensive coordinators Harlon Barnett and Mike Tressel?

 

Missouri Wide Receivers

Defensive end also deserves a mention in this space after Missouri loses Shane Ray and Markus Golden, but the Tigers have reloaded there in recent years without much trouble. The same could be said for Missouri’s recent history at receiver, and there is talent to work with for quarterback Maty Mauk. However, the Tigers must replace their top four leading receivers from last season, with Nate Brown (five) and Wesley Leftwich (three) returning as the top options on the outside. 

 

Notre Dame Defensive Line

Scoring points won’t be a problem for the Fighting Irish, but the defense has to improve for Notre Dame to push for a playoff spot. In Brian VanGorder’s first season as the coordinator, the defense allowed 29.2 points per game and struggled to stop the run (171.2 yards allowed per game). Improving the defense starts up front, and four starters are back for VanGorder, including standout senior Sheldon Day. The depth and talent for this unit has improved in recent years. Will Notre Dame take a step forward on the defensive stat sheet in 2015?

 

Related: College Football's Top Cornerback Tandems for 2015

 

Ohio State Defensive Line

As the defending national champs, combined with 14 returning starters, there’s very little in the way of personnel concerns that should concern coach Urban Meyer. Considering the overall depth and roster talent, it seems odd to even list a position here. However, the Buckeyes lost a couple of key contributors up front, including standout tackle Michael Bennett. While Joey Bosa (DE) and Adolphus Washington (DT) are All-Americans, who will step up at the other spots and develop as key contributors for depth?

 

Related: 2015 All-America Team

 

Oklahoma Defensive Backs

A couple of position groups could be listed here for Oklahoma, including the offensive or defensive lines or the receiving corps. But the secondary deserves a mention in this space, as the Sooners fell from 29th nationally in pass efficiency defense (2013) to 55th last year. Oklahoma also allowed 24 passing plays of 30 yards or more (tied for sixth in the conference). Junior Zack Sanchez should be a candidate for All-America honors, but who will step up around him? Sophomores Jordan Thomas (CB) and Steven Parker (S) are two names to watch.

 

Related: Ranking the Big 12's Coaches for 2015

 

Ole Miss Offensive Line

There are few areas of concern for coach Hugh Freeze in 2015. However, the two biggest problem spots – quarterback and offensive line – are enough to prevent this team from winning the SEC West. In 13 games last season, the Rebels allowed 31 sacks and generated just 3.9 yards per carry in conference play. With all five starters back in the trenches, Freeze should expect better play up front. The anchor is junior Laremy Tunsil, but he is recovering from a leg injury suffered in the Peach Bowl loss against TCU. Depth and overall talent in this group has improved. Will the performance and improvement show on the field this year?

 

Related: Ranking All 128 College Football Coaches for 2015

 

Oregon Defensive Line

There’s no question quarterback play will be under the microscope with Marcus Mariota off to the NFL. But the Ducks are loaded with skill talent and may not drop too much in terms of offensive production with Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams under center. The defense is a bigger concern for coach Mark Helfrich. Oregon allowed 21 rushing plays of 20 yards or more, which tied for 10th among Pac-12 defenses. DeForest Buckner opted to return to Eugene for his senior year, but Arik Armstead left for the NFL and Sam Kamp retired at the end of 2014. Buckner and fellow seniors Alex Balducci and Tui Talia is a good core to build around. Sophomore Henry Mondeaux is another name to watch at defensive end. And it certainly doesn’t hurt the coaching staff reeled in top recruit Canton Kaumatule in the offseason.

 

Related: Pac-12 Predictions for 2015

 

Penn State Offensive Line

Much has been made of the performance of Penn State’s offensive line last year. The Nittany Lions couldn’t generate much of a push in the rushing attack and allowed 44 sacks. And headed into the 2015 season, this unit is still the team’s biggest question mark. Line coach Herb Hand is one of the best in the nation, and there’s reason to believe improvement will be noticeable with four starters back. Junior college recruit Paris Palmer could be a huge addition on the left side of the line, as this group has to do a better job of giving quarterback Christian Hackenberg time to throw.

 

Stanford Defensive Line

Even though the Cardinal loses a handful of key contributors from last year’s defense, coordinator Lance Anderson could keep this unit among the best in the Pac-12. Reaching that level will require a quick rebuild up front. All three starters from a productive 2014 group are gone and depth is an issue. Senior Aziz Shittu and sophomore Harrison Phillips will be counted on for major contributions, while Cal transfer Brennan Scarlett is likely to push for a starting job at end. Redshirt freshman Solomon Thomas is also a name to remember.

 

Related: Quarterback Kevin Hogan Rides Momentum into Senior Year

 

TCU Linebackers

There are few areas of concern for coach Gary Patterson. The Horned Frogs finished 2014 at 12-1 overall, and Patterson’s team is in good shape to push for a playoff bid once again. Although defense is usually a strength for TCU, this unit does have a few critical areas of concern. The secondary loses three All-Big 12 performers, and the linebacking corps must replace standouts Marcus Mallet and first-team All-Big 12 selection in Pawl Dawson. Proven experience is thin here, and true freshman Mike Freeze and junior Sammy Douglas finished spring as the favorites to start.

 

Related: Big 12 2015 All-Conference Team

 

Tennessee Offensive Line

The Volunteers had to replace all five starters from its 2013 unit last season. And it was no surprise this group had its share of struggles, allowing 43 sacks in 13 games and generating only 3.6 yards per carry. The inconsistency and development of this group last year should pay dividends for 2015. Tennessee returns four starters this season, and the depth has improved with the addition of talented freshmen Drew Richmond and Jack Jones. If this group takes a step forward in its development, the Volunteers should have one of the SEC’s top offenses.

 

Related: SEC Football 2015 Predictions

 

UCLA Offensive Line

This unit was under attack last year, as the Bruins gave up 40 sacks in 13 contests. While the sack total was high, this unit played better in the second half of the season, and there’s optimism for 2015. With all five starters returning, the offensive line could be a strength for UCLA. Left tackle Conor McDermott stabilized this unit after he started the last eight games of 2014 and is expected to anchor the blindside for quarterback Josh Rosen. Center Jake Brendel is also one of the best in the nation. With a true freshman taking over at quarterback, UCLA needs its supporting cast to step up in a big way with key games against Arizona, Arizona State and BYU early in the year.

 

USC Defensive Line

With Leonard Williams off to the NFL, USC has to reload in the trenches and find a new player to disrupt opposing offenses. In Pac-12-only matchups last year, the Trojans allowed the fewest yards per game (97.4) but also faced the fewest attempts (298). Additionally, Williams and departed senior J.R. Tavai accounted for 14 of the team’s 33 sacks last season. It’s up to seniors Delvon Simmons, Antwaun Woods and Claude Pelon to keep this unit performing at a high level. Depth is a concern for coordinator Justin Wilcox.

 

Related: Pac-12 Predictions for 2015

 

Virginia Tech Offensive Line

This unit has been a question mark in recent years, and the Hokies need better play in the trenches on offense to get back to the ACC Championship. This unit allowed 34 sacks last season, and the rushing attack averaged only 3.2 yards per carry in ACC games. Improvement for this group rests on the development of junior left tackle Jonathan McLaughlin and sophomore guard Wyatt Teller. Both players should be in the mix for All-ACC honors and could develop into one of the ACC’s top pairings on the left side of the line. Promising pieces are in place for line coach Stacy Searels. How much will this unit improve by the fall?
 

Related: Ranking the ACC Cornerback Tandems for 2015

 

West Virginia Wide Receivers

It’s safe to assume a Dana Holgorsen-coached offense will continue to rank among the Big 12’s best even with a few personnel question marks. But in order for Holgorsen to elevate West Virginia in the conference standings, the play of the receiving corps will be under the spotlight. No. 1 target Kevin White (109 catches) and Mario Alford (65) have expired their eligibility, leaving Jordan Thompson, Daikiel Shorts and Shelton Gibson as the top returning options at wide receiver. Running back Wendell Smallwood may also see time on the outside to help alleviate the losses of Alford and White. Incoming freshmen Gary Jennings and Jovon Durante, along with junior college recruit Ka’Raun White (Kevin’s brother) may also crack the rotation. 

Teaser:
College Football's Top 25 Position Groups Under Pressure in 2015
Post date: Monday, July 6, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-pac-12-stadiums-2015
Body:

Last summer, Athlon Sports asked 10 Pac-12 experts like Rick Neuheisel, Dan Hawkins, Chris HustonRyan Nece and more to rank their favorite stadiums in the Pac-12.

 

Based on general atmosphere, fan support, home-field advantage, amenities, tailgating, surrounding campus and even scoreboards, here is how the voting shook out.

 

However, attendance is an increasing concern for all athletic directors and tweaks are made to college football stadiums every year. Using our expert rankings, here is a statistical breakdown and update of Pac-12 stadiums and how they stack up against each other entering the 2015 season.



 

1. Autzen Stadium, Oregon

Oregon isn't the biggest stadium in the land, ranked 31st nationally in attendance and seventh in the Pac-12 in capacity, but it's the fullest. The Ducks led the league at 106.3 percent average capacity in 2014. Smooth design lines, a beautiful setting, signature, two-tone green field turf, a brand new digital scoreboard and outrageously loud fans make Autzen Stadium one of the nation’s top venues.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
196754,000 (7th)57,422 (31st)106.3% (1st)

60,055 ('11)


2. Husky Stadium, Washington

With a breath-taking view of Lake Washington, new Husky Stadium is one of the finest facilities in the nation. The trademark cantilever roofs trap sound and make the venue one of the Pac-12’s loudest. The Huskies finished behind only UCLA and USC in attendance last fall, ranking 25th nationally.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192070,138 (3rd)64,508 (25th)91.9% (6th)76,125 ('95)

 

 

3. Rose Bowl, UCLA

There may not be more hallowed ground in college football than the Rose Bowl. The building is 30 minutes from campus, but that didn't keep the Bruins from leading the Pac-12 in attendance last year at 76,650 per game (19th nationally) — up a Pac-12-leading nine percent from 2013. Strangely enough, Jim Mora has lost four of his last seven at home and his home record (13-6) is worse than his road mark (16-5) while at UCLA. The Rose Bowl also holds the current Pac-12 single-game attendance record — even if it was USC and Ohio State.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192192,542 (2nd)76,650 (19th)82.8% (9th)106,869 ('73)

 

4. Folsom Field, Colorado

When the Buffs are good, this is one of the greatest places to watch a game in the nation. Unfortunately, the Buffs weren't good last year, finishing 61st in attendance nationally and last in the league at just 70.5 percent full. This building, like the team, is all potential right now and needs lots of work.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192453,613 (8th)37,778 (61st)70.5% (12th)54,972 ('05)

 

 

5. Los Angeles Coliseum, USC

The biggest venue in the Pac-12 is home to the Men of Troy and can almost be too massive at times. USC finished behind only UCLA in attendance last year (21st nationally) but was just 10th in the league at 78.3 percent full. Much-needed, newer end zone seating has brought fans closer to the action.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192393,607 (1st)73,272 (21st)78.3% (10th)105,236 ('47)

Related: Pac-12 Football Teams as Rock and Roll Bands


6. Memorial Stadium, Cal

This venue was in dire need of an upgrade and the administration has done a great job refurbishing one of the more unique stadiums in the Pac-12. The $321 million renovation took two years but was hailed as a rousing success. The fifth-biggest building in the league has been home to bad teams but it still managed to draw nearly 50,000 per game. As this team improves, look for Cal to move up in attendance rankings.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192362,467 (5th)47,675 (47th)76.3% (11th)83,000 ('47/'52)

 


7. Rice-Eccles Stadium, Utah

There is work to be done to make this place competitive in the league from a facilities standpoint despite being the newest venue in the league, but that hasn't kept the fans away. Utah was one of only two teams in the league to average over capacity (101.4 percent full) last fall.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
199845,807 (10th)46,437 (50th)101.4% (2nd)46,768 ('03)

 

8. Sun Devil Stadium, Arizona State

The crowd is one of the most beautiful in the nation and climbing nearby Tempe Butte is a rite of passage for many. Arizona State claims the fourth-largest venue in the league and routinely led the Pac-12 in attendance during the 1980s. In 2014, ASU was fourth in the league in attendance and 32nd nationally. Renovations are underway. Its league-leading nine percent drop in attendance in 2014 was due in part to a drop in capacity.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
195865,870 (4th)57,179 (32nd)86.8% (8th)74,963 ('96)
 
9. Arizona Stadium, Arizona

The recent $378 million renovation project added a new video board, upgraded team facilities and football offices while expanding seating in the north end zone. In fact, Arizona Stadium might be a bit underrated, ranking seventh or better in the league in capacity, attendance and percentage. It trailed only UCLA (+9 percent) with a growth of six percent from '13.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192856,029 (6th)50,710 (42nd)90.5% (7th)59,920 ('96)

 


10. Stanford Stadium, Stanford

The Farm's amenities are second-to-none and the state-of-the-art building is located on one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation. It's not the loudest of places but the quality football team has kept the venue full, placing Stanford third in the league at 94.9 percent of capacity last fall. The second-oldest building in the league is ninth in capacity but sixth in attendance. Its six percent drop in attendance was second-worst in the league last year (Arizona State).

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192150,424 (9th)47,862 (46th)94.9% (3rd)51,607 ('10)

 

11. Reser Stadium, Oregon State

Quaint Reser Stadium ranked fifth in the Pac-12 at 92.3 percent full last season despite an average team while also being the second-smallest venue in the league. Recent renovations gave Oregon State faithful one of the biggest video boards in the nation, expanded seating in the end zones, hip upgrades to the East Grandstand and improved amenities. Future plans also call for more growth, targeting a 55,000 seat capacity by 2016.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
195345,674 (11th)42,176 (53rd)92.3% (5th)46,469 ('10)

 

12. Martin Stadium, Washington State

During a big game, Martin Stadium will pop to life and make fans forget the building is the smallest in the league. Or that it’s located in the Pac-12’s most distant outpost. Wazzu did finish fourth in the league last fall at 93.5 percent full on average, despite finishing last in total attendance.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
197232,952 (12th)30,794 (72nd)93.5% (4th)40,306 ('97)
Teaser:
Ranking the Pac-12 Stadiums for 2015
Post date: Monday, July 6, 2015 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/sec-teams-rival-colors-georgia-alabama-auburn-texas-am-florida-ole-miss-lsu
Body:

One mark of pride for college football fans are the colors of their beloved football team. 

 

Some crazy person out there decided to put SEC teams in the colors of their most-hated rivals. Alabama in Auburn colors, Georgia rocking the white and gold of Georgia Tech, and Texas A&M in the burnt orange of Texas. Seriously, it's bad.

 

Rivalry Uniform (SEC)

 

(h/t College Spun

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 6, 2015 - 10:06
Path: /college-football/secs-10-most-underrated-players-2015
Body:

Every college football team has players most would consider underrated. However, defining underrated players is no easy assignment, as that term varies in meaning between fans and experts.

 

The SEC is home to college football’s best talent, and with this conference always in the spotlight, it’s hard for players to be under the radar each preseason.

 

With the 2015 season approaching, Athlon Sports wanted to take a look at some players deserving of more preseason accolades or discussion. In an effort to get to 10 names, we tried to stick to players that had yet to earn all-conference honors in their career. However, a few exceptions were made.

 

SEC’s 10 Most Underrated Players for 2015

 

Otaro Alaka, LB, Texas A&M

Alaka is definitely a breakout candidate for 2015, but the Texas native is an underrated piece to the rebuilding effort on defense for new coordinator John Chavis. Alaka recorded 33 tackles in 12 games last year, including a season high of seven in the Liberty Bowl win over West Virginia. Even though Alaka has yet to take a full season of snaps as a starter, his development will be critical to Texas A&M’s defense in 2015. And if Alaka picks up where he left off in the Liberty Bowl, the Aggies linebacking corps should show big improvement.

 

Related: Ranking the SEC's Wide Receiving Corps for 2015

 

Kendell Beckwith, LB, LSU

Talent has never been an issue for Beckwith. The top 100 high school recruit played in 12 games as a true freshman in 2013, but everything started to fall into place for the Louisiana native last year. Beckwith started the final seven games and finished 2014 with 77 tackles (7.5 for a loss), two sacks and one interception. With Beckwith entrenched in the starting lineup, LSU allowed only one team (Notre Dame) over the final seven contests to surpass 140 rushing yards. Beckwith clearly had a huge impact on this defense last year and will be an even bigger part of the scheme as new coordinator Kevin Steele hopes to utilize more 3-4 looks.

 

Related: No Pressure: LSU's 2015 Season Will Hinge on its Quarterbacks

 

Kenya Dennis, CB, Missouri

Dennis or fellow Missouri corner Aarion Penton deserve a mention in this space. This duo anchored a secondary ranked 39th nationally in pass efficiency defense, and no opponent in 2014 recorded more than 270 yards through the air in a game last season. In his first season from the junior college ranks, Dennis recorded 61 stops, one interception and nine pass breakups.

 

Related: Ranking the SEC's Coaches for 2015

 

Marquis Haynes, DE, Ole Miss

Haynes was surprisingly a key piece of the Ole Miss defensive front as a true freshman last year. The Florida native recorded 31 tackles (nine for a loss) and led the team with 7.5 sacks. Haynes also forced three fumbles and broke up two passes. After a standout freshman campaign, Haynes will only get better with another year to develop in the weight room and within the scheme. Look for Haynes to push for All-SEC honors in 2015.

 

Related: SEC Predictions for 2015

 

Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee

Sutton has started all 25 games in his Tennessee career, and the Georgia native has quietly emerged as one of the SEC’s top defenders. Yet, headed into the 2015 campaign, Sutton has yet to earn All-SEC honors. In two seasons with the Volunteers, Sutton has recorded 76 tackles, 20 pass breakups and five interceptions. He’s also a key cog in a pass defense that held SEC opponents to just 11 passing scores last year.

 

Related: SEC 2015 All-Conference Team

 

John Theus, OT, Georgia

Georgia’s offensive line could be the nation’s best in 2015. This unit allowed only 12 sacks in SEC games last season and cleared the way for the Bulldogs to average 257.9 rushing yards per contest. Theus and guard Greg Pyke are the anchors for Georgia’s offensive line, and both players could earn All-America consideration in 2015. Theus enters his senior year with 35 career starts and is regarded as one of the top offensive linemen for the 2016 NFL Draft.

 

Related: College Football 2015 All-America Team

 

Jon Toth, C, Kentucky

Kentucky’s offensive line should show marked improvement with the return of four starters for 2015. Toth and seniors Zach West and Jordan Swindle anchor the line for coach Mark Stoops, and any of the players in that trio could earn All-SEC honors this season. Toth enters 2015 with 23 consecutive starts and earned a place on the SEC’s All-Freshman team in 2014. Toth could emerge as one of the league’s top centers by the end of this year.

 

Will Redmond, CB, Mississippi State

Despite having zero career starts, Redmond is regarded as one of the top defensive backs for the 2016 NFL Draft. Why? It’s a bit of a technicality on the starts, as Redmond has excelled as the team’s nickel back over the last two seasons. The Memphis native played in 12 games last year and recorded 51 tackles and three interceptions. Redmond should team with Taveze Calhoun to form one of the nation’s top cornerback tandems in 2015.

 

Related: Ranking College Football's Top Cornerback Tandems for 2015

 

Stephen Weatherly, LB, Vanderbilt

With Derek Mason taking over the defensive signals, the Commodores should show improvement after allowing 33.3 points per game in 2014. And in Vanderbilt’s 3-4 attack, Mason needs the outside linebackers to generate a pass rush on opposing quarterbacks to reduce some of the pressure on the secondary. Weatherly tied for second among SEC defenders in conference games with 12 tackles for a loss and finished 2014 with 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble. Entering his second full season as a starter, Weatherly is a defender just scratching the surface of his upside.

 

Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas

Yes, Williams earned second-team All-SEC honors last year, but it’s still fair to say the Texas native is still an underrated player. Williams shared carries with Alex Collins for the second consecutive season and finished 2014 with 1,190 yards and 12 rushing scores. In the Razorbacks’ seven victories last year, Williams averaged 6.3 yards per carry and averaged 107.3 yards in that span. Considering Arkansas uses two running backs and one player doesn’t get 275-300 carries, Williams or Collins won’t match the production by Georgia’s Nick Chubb or LSU’s Leonard Fournette this year. However, don’t overlook Williams as a potential All-America back in 2015.

 

Related: College Football's Top Coordinators on the Rise for 2015

Teaser:
The SEC's 10 Most Underrated Players for 2015
Post date: Monday, July 6, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR
Path: /nascar/spectacular-austin-dillon-crash-daytona-video
Body:

During the final lap of the rain-delayed Coke Zero 400 NASCAR race, driver Austin Dillon—behind the wheel of the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet—was involved in a spectacular crash that sent his car flying into the catchfence at Daytona International Speedway. 

 

While Dillon walked away from the accident, debris from his car flew into the stands hitting a handful of spectators. According to reports, fours fans were treated at the track, while one spectator was taken to the hospital. 

 

The incident occured as Dale Earnhardt Jr. took home the checkered flag. 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 6, 2015 - 09:01
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/big-12-middle-recruiting-crisis
Body:

Mike Gundy sat in his office, admiring the framed jerseys of the six first-round NFL Draft picks of his time at Oklahoma State. He considered, too, where they came from.

 

“Four of them weren’t even recruited,” Gundy said.

 

Not coveted prospects, carrying the sparkling five-star status that every prep player desires. Not the talk of recruitniks on National Signing Day. “The other guys,” Gundy said, “they weren’t very highly recruited. For that reason, I don’t put a lot of stock in recruiting rankings.”

 

Perhaps not, and Gundy has a strong track record of making more out of less in terms of prospect perceptions, evident in the jersey wall decorations adorning his office: Brandon Pettigrew, Russell Okung, Dez Bryant, Justin Blackmon, Brandon Weeden and Justin Gilbert.

 

Still, others are taking stock of Big 12 recruiting as a whole, coming off a February in which the conference lagged significantly in the rankings. That stock watch is trending down.

 

Moreover, the Big 12 hasn’t claimed a national championship since 2005, and it hasn’t played for one since 2009. It found itself shut out of the first College Football Playoff, failing to land even one of the four spots to conclude last season. Maybe some concern is in order?

 

This Feature and More are Available in the 2015 Athlon Sports Big 12 Preview Magazine

 

Don’t expect anyone in the Big 12 to cop to such a stance. No coach ever met a recruiting class — his recruiting class — that he couldn’t gush over publicly. Case in point, Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads, whose class was ranked No. 9 in the Big 12 and No. 70 nationally by the 247Sports Composite, just ahead of Kansas, which was recruiting with a just-hired head coach:

 

“We had a great finish with the class of 2015,” Rhoads said on Signing Day. “In previous years, we pretty much had a full understanding of where we were by the middle of January. With this particular class, we were in a lot of fights in the last two weeks leading up to Signing Day. We closed in tremendous fashion. We picked up much-needed size, physical explosiveness on both lines, great skill in the backfield and overall numbers that were necessary for success in 2015.”

 

Critique of Big 12 recruiting doesn’t focus on Iowa State, but rather the league’s regular contenders. Even there, you’ll find warning signs. Texas was the only Big 12 team to crack the 247Sports Composite top 10, and that was at No. 10. Oklahoma came in at No. 15. From there, it was a major drop-off to Texas Tech at No. 31. The rest: No. 35 West Virginia, No. 36 Baylor, No. 39 Oklahoma State, No. 40 TCU, No. 53 Kansas State, No. 70 Iowa State and No. 72 Kansas.

 

Big 12 teams signed but nine of the 247Sports Composite’s top 100 players and three of the top 70.

 

247Sports Composite Top 100
ConferenceRecruits Signed
SEC39
Pac-1223
ACC17
Big 129
Big Ten8
Notre Dame4

 

Equally troubling is the league’s performance in the fertile recruiting landscape of Texas, where the Longhorns and Sooners have long dominated and the rest of the Big 12 has scored strong as well. But in February, the conference pulled only two of the Lone Star State’s top 10, while 26 of the top 50 — the state’s premium prospects — fled to other conferences, 21 to the SEC. It appears to be a trend, too, with the SEC plucking five of the top 10 prospects in 2014. The Big 12 managed signatures from only 23 of the top 50 that year. The SEC also grabbed three of the state’s five-star recruits.

 

“Three years from now, look at the signing class and see how those kids are playing,” says West Virginia assistant coach Joe DeForest, long considered one of the Big 12’s top recruiters. “That’s when you know.”

 

The hope come 2018 may be that it’s not too late.

 

Of course, that’s assuming the outside recruiting analysts are to be taken seriously. Coaches, for the most part, suggest otherwise.

 

“It’s about, what does the film say, first and foremost,” says Oklahoma assistant Jay Boulware. “Once you identify a guy on tape, then you go out and see what he looks like physically, in person. Can he play at this level physically? If those two things check out, then it doesn’t matter whether, excuse my language, some reporter has labeled this kid as a four- or five-star. What matters is what we see as coaches. I can look at a guy like Dimitri Flowers, who is here and was a three-star. He’s a true freshman who is playing for us on Saturdays. That’s big. That’s not one of the top-notch guys in the country. I don’t care where I’ve been, that kid will be playing for us anywhere. He’s that type of player.”

 

That’s the evaluation side of the recruiting process from a coaching standpoint; a trained-eye standpoint. Not just stopwatches and bench-presses, but other measurables, along with intangibles, too. “It’s not just talent,” DeForest says. “There has to be a personality fit as well.”

 

During Gundy’s run, Oklahoma State has signed just one high school recruit who received a five-star ranking by any of the recruiting services, running back Herschel Sims out of Abilene, Texas. Sims got in trouble, was dismissed and is now at Abilene Christian, after also washing out at Lamar.

 

“I will say this,” Gundy says, “five-star guys, they’re pretty accurate because they’re easy to identify. Just like McDonald’s All-Americans in basketball, most times they’re pretty good. There’s only so many of them.

 

“You don’t see many five-stars in football, so most of them have been pretty accurate. We had one; didn’t pan out.”

 

247Sports Top 100 Recruits Signed by the Big 12
20159
20145
20132
201210

 

The Cowboys have made their rise in the Big 12 on the backs of players they evaluated differently than others. To an extent, so have Baylor and TCU, who have accounted for the past two Big 12 championships, winning with 3-star recruits at quarterback — Bryce Petty for the Bears and Trevone Boykin for the Horned Frogs — both of whom have been All-Big 12 and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.

 

Mack Brown recruited supposedly elite classes almost annually to Texas yet was fired amid complaints about his evaluation skills. In 2012, Texas ranked second nationally in recruiting, and OU was No. 12. Yet no player in that Longhorns class has played on a conference title team. Instead, it’s been TCU and Baylor, who ranked No. 29 and No. 26, respectively, that year, who have upped the ante in the league with their cast of three-stars.

 

“I’ve been at West Virginia now going on my fourth year,” DeForest says. “I’ve coached two Freshman All-American safeties, the Lou Groza Award finalist, an All-American kick returner, an All-American punt returner. But those guys weren’t all that in the recruiting world.

 

“Karl Joseph was a ‘Mike’ linebacker in high school in Orlando, Fla. Now he’s one of the best safeties in the country. Josh Lambert had nothing in the way of a scholarship offer until I got there in January and we were in dire need of a kicker. Two years later, he’s a Lou Groza Award finalist.”

 

Related: 2015 Big 12 Preview and Picks

 

The second part of the evaluation equation: development.

 

Even five-star players need to be developed, no matter how college-ready they seem. But for teams like TCU, Baylor, OSU, West Virginia and Kansas State — Bill Snyder is considered the king of player development — molding players is their calling card.

 

When Snyder’s 2014 class actually made a ripple in the recruiting rankings, the coach hardly sounded any trumpets. “I think it is a good class,” Snyder says. “How will it rank? Who knows? A bunch of those guys are ranked extremely high by ESPN. There are 13 of our guys who are ranked, at their position, in the top 44 of the country. Some of them are high school; some of them are community college. You know me. That doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. That doesn’t mean it will be a great class or a bad class or anything else. … It will prove itself out.”

 

The Horned Frogs have ranked higher than No. 30 in the 247Sports Composite rankings only once — they came in at No. 29 in 2012.

 

“I really think it’s about player development. I think it’s about fit and player development,” DeForest says. “I don’t think rankings mean anything. The people who get caught up in that are the fans. The coaches don’t. Now, some coaches have bonuses tied up in it, if you get a top-10 class, you get a bonus, things like that.

 

“Social media, rankings, the fact that ESPN is doing an entire day on it — on Signing Day — I think it’s gotten out of hand. That’s my opinion. But I do think that coaches who get ‘two-stars’ and develop them into three-year starters at the Division-I level and give them an opportunity to go to the NFL, those are the coaches who are lot more valuable.”

 

Boulware sees it similarly. And he finds value in a very specific style of player. “There are a lot of guys that go off press clippings,” Boulware says. “It means something to their staff to have a top-five or top-10 recruiting class. That’s nice. I get it. What matters to me is winning football games and winning football games with the right people.

 

“The guys that fit into our program, good character young men that physically have all the tools and the things that we look for, if they have those, that’s who we’re going after.”

 

-by John Helsley, NewsOK.com

Teaser:
Is the Big 12 in the Middle of a Recruiting Crisis?
Post date: Monday, July 6, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-lands-4-star-florida-og-70-scholarship-offers-parker-boudreaux
Body:

Notre Dame added their 11th verbal commitment to their 2016 recruiting class on Thursday but what turned out to be more interesting is how Parker Boudreaux made his announcement.

 

Boudreaux is a 6-foot-4, 287-pound, offensive lineman for Bishop Moore Catholic. The Orlando, Florida area native looks like a Brock Lesnar understudy but has clearly been influenced by “World’s Strongest Man” competitions. During a two-minute long video set to a background of music, the Class of 2016 recruit pulled an 8-ton school bus down the road and then walked next to a chalked or spray painted Notre Dame helmet next to the Fighting Irish leprechaun logo stating, “I’d fight for the Irish any day.”

 

The recruit with over 70 reported scholarship offers added, “South Bend, get ready for me.”

 

Check out video of Boudreaux's commitment:

 

The list of 70 scholarship offers was trimmed to Georgia Southern, Florida, Oklahoma, Clemson, and Notre Dame on June 17 after taking some 25 unofficial visits. Schools who hosted Boudreaux included Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Florida among others.

 

Boudreaux is the third offensive lineman to join Notre Dame’s 2016 recruiting class and fourth from the state of Florida.

 

 

Notre Dame 2016 Verbal Commitment List

CB/WR Jalen Elliott, 6’1”, 175 lbs, Lloyd C. Bird HS, Chesterfield, Virginia

CB Julian Love, 5’11”, 175 lbs, Nazareth Academy, LaGrange Park, Illinois

SS Spencer Perry, 6’3”, 200 lbs, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Florida

LB Jamir Jones, 6’3”, 230 lbs, Aquinas Institute, Rochester, New York

DE Julian Okwara, 6’4”, 220 lbs, Ardrey Kell HS, Charlotte, North Carolina

OG Parker Boudreaux, 6’4”, 287 lbs, Bishop Moore Catholic, Orlando, Florida

OT Liam Eichenberg, 6’6”, 290 lbs, St. Ignatius HS, Cleveland, Ohio

OT Tommy Kraemer, 6’5”, 305 lbs, Elder HS, Cincinnati, Ohio

LS John Shannon, 6’2”, 230 lbs, Loyola Academy, Wilmette, Illinois

RB Tony Jones Jr., 6’0”, 212 lbs, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Florida

WR Kevin Stepherson, 6’0”, 180 lbs, First Coast HS, Jacksonville, Florida

Teaser:
Notre Dame Lands 4-Star Florida OG With 70 Scholarship Offers
Post date: Friday, July 3, 2015 - 12:19
All taxonomy terms: Funny, Overtime
Path: /overtime/nathans-hot-dog-eating-champ-joey-chestnut-teaches-us-how-eat-69-hot-dogs-10-minutes
Body:

On the Fourth of July, onlookers will watch in amazement during the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, as competitive eaters scarf down dozens of dogs in an Independence Day tradition unlike any other. We spoke with the event’s eight-time defending champ Joey Chestnut, 31, a man whose career consumption numbers are staggering: 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes, a world-record 182 chicken wings in 10 minutes and 390 shrimp in a single sitting just because he could. 

 

Joey Chestnut Hot Dog Eating ChampHere are his secrets to success:

 

Qualify to Conquer

“It takes close to 30 hot dogs to advance in a Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest qualifier. If you want to do this, keep a food diary and pay attention to how your body responds to how much you’re eating. It’s not about all that you can eat; it’s about making your body work for you for those 10 minutes.”

  

Fast, Then Furious

“I follow a very strict diet. The day after every practice, I eat yogurt and a salad and then I go into fasting, drinking only water. When I was young I thought I didn’t need a diet, but I do my best the thinner I am. I swim every day in my pool. …

 

“I’ve done this for nine years, and I’ve slowly built up my tolerance. During the competitive season in the summer, I follow a cycle where I practice every fourth day and then I fast for two days. My practices mimic the competitions. If I’m preparing for the hot dog contest, I try to eat 60 hot dogs in 10 minutes.”

 

Liquid Diet

“I’ll fast three days before an event, and during that time I’ll drink three to six gallons of water a day. It’s very much a cleanse to make sure I go into the competition empty. The day of the event I’ll drink a small amount of water and some coffee. … 

 

“Water helps the food settle down deep in my stomach. Soaking the bun also makes swallowing faster. I don’t ever worry about liquid capacity. I’ve found the more liquid I consume, the easier it is to digest the food.”

 

No Pain, No Gain …

“Like how runners hit that wall, I do feel the point when my body tells me to stop. I’m pretty good at ignoring that feeling. I even have ‘Ignore Feelings’ written on my mirror at home. I accept that it is going to hurt, and that makes it easier to push through it.”

 

… No Fear

“Like a professional swimmer can’t imagine choking on water during a race, I can’t imagine choking on hot dogs. It looks like I’m not chewing, but I’m chewing just enough to swallow.”

 

—by Matt McCue

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, July 3, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/nfl-suspends-rolando-mcclain-antonio-gates-and-sheldon-richardson-four-games
Body:

The NFL brought down the gauntlet today, suspending Cowboys’ linebacker Rolando McClain and Jets’ defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Both players received their punishments for not complying with the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.

 

Additionally, San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates was suspended four games for PEDs.

 

The penalties will be a crushing blow to all three teams, as the suspended players were top performers. However, they will still be allowed to participate in camps, practices, and preseason games. The suspensions will simply keep them out of playing in the first four games should they be upheld.

The NFL announced these suspensions via Twitter:
 

 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 16:15
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/conway-ducks
Body:

Is there going to be a real life Mighty Ducks? Well there might be. After being dismissed from the Penn State hockey team, Scott Conway seems to be making an effort for the NHL. The Anaheim Ducks recently tweeted a picture of him donning their jersey.

 

Does something ring a bell? Charlie Conway was one of the players on Coach Bombay’s squad, arguably the leader of the surprise team. Although Scott Conway has not made the team yet, his jersey would certainly be a strong sale.

The Anaheim Ducks are surely excited about this:
 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 15:51
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/bovada-releases-2015-college-football-overunder-win-totals
Body:

Preseason win totals and projections are an interesting part of any college football season. In addition to Athlon’s projected 128 for 2015, a few sportsbooks have released their projected over/under win totals for the upcoming year.

 

On Thursday, Bovada jumped into the mix with their win total projections for the coming year.

 

Needless to say, a few things jump out about the odds. Auburn at 8.5 over/under on the win totals seems a little low. Also, TCU and Baylor are both listed at 10 for the over/under on victories. From the Group of 5 ranks, Bowling Green at 5.5 seems very low for a team projected by most to win the MAC East.

 

Here’s a look at the full over/under odds for the season.

 

TeamBovada Win Over/Under
Air Force6
Akron7
Alabama9.5
Arizona7.5
Arizona State8.5
Arkansas8.5
Arkansas State7
Army3.5
Appalachian State8.5
Auburn8.5
Ball State7
Baylor10
Boise State9.5
Boston College5.5
Bowling Green5.5
Buffalo5
BYU8.5
California5
Central Michigan4
Charlotte2.5
Cincinnati7.5
Clemson8.5
Colorado4.5
Colorado State7.5
UConn3
Duke7
East Carolina7
Eastern Michigan1.5
Florida7.5
FAU5
FIU5.5
Florida State9.5
Fresno State4
Georgia9
Georgia Southern7.5
Georgia State2.5
Georgia Tech7.5
Hawaii5.5
Houston8
Idaho3.5
Illinois3.5
Indiana6
Iowa7.5
Iowa State3
Kansas1.5
Kansas State7
Kentucky6
Kent State4.5
UL Lafayette8
ULM4.5
Louisiana Tech8
Louisville7.5
LSU8.5
Marshall10
Maryland4.5
UMass4.5
Memphis8.5
Miami6
Miami, Ohio3.5
Michigan7.5
Michigan State9.5
MTSU6.5
Minnesota5.5
Ole Miss8.5
Miss. State7
Missouri7.5
Navy7.5
Nebraska8
Nevada6.5
New Mexico4.5
NMSU3
North Carolina8
NC State7.5
North Texas4.5
Northern Illinois8.5
Northwestern6.5
Notre Dame9
Ohio5
Ohio State11
Oklahoma9
Oklahoma State7.5
Old Dominion4.5
Oregon9.5
Oregon State4
Penn State7.5
Pittsburgh6
Purdue4
Rice7.5
Rutgers5
San Diego State7.5
San Jose State4
South Alabama3.5
South Carolina7
South Florida4
SMU2.5
Southern Miss4.5
Stanford9
Syracuse4.5
Temple7
Tennessee7.5
Texas6.5
Texas A&M7.5
TCU10
UTSA7
Texas State7
Texas Tech6
Toledo7
Troy4
Tulane4.5
Tulsa5
UCF7
UCLA9.5
UNLV2.5
USC8.5
Utah7.5
Utah State7.5
UTEP6
Vanderbilt3
Virginia4.5
Virginia Tech8
Wake Forest3.5
Washington4
Washington State5
West Virginia8
WKU7.5
Western Michigan7.5
Wisconsin10
Wyoming5
Teaser:
Bovada Releases 2015 College Football Over/Under Win Totals
Post date: Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 15:39
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/rafael-nadal-upset-again-wimbledon
Body:

Ever since reaching the finals at Wimbledon in 2011, Rafael Nadal has really struggled at the prestigious event. Just moments ago, Dustin Brown became the fourth player ranked over 100 to beat Nadal at Wimbledon in as many years.

 

Though an impressive victory over the No. 10 ranked player in the world, this is the second time Brown has defeated Nadal. He certainly has been a formidable foe for one of the world’s best players in both matches. He was able to change up the tempo a lot, which allowed for him to keep Nadal uneasy all match.


Watch below as Brown finishes the upset:

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 15:23
All taxonomy terms: Kentucky Wildcats, SEC, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/new-dating-website-created-kentucky-fans
Body:

For some, sports can be the difference between a relationship working and falling apart. Well this won’t be a problem anymore for Kentucky Wildcat fans. BBNmeetup has launched a dating website solely for those who love the University of Kentucky.

 

As dating continues to move online, there have been plenty of other niche markets. Yet, this one seems the most narrow focused of them all. Their website asks, “Are you looking for someone that loves the blue and white just as much as you do? Someone that will sit and watch the game with you? Cheer louder than you? For some reason, this seems like it’s going to be successful.


If this GIF excites you, then you should probably check out more info at bbnmeetup.com:

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 14:43
Path: /nfl/marcus-mariota-hasnt-signed-his-contract-because-surfing
Body:

For various reasons, the Tennessee Titans are on track to be the last team to officially sign their first pick in the NFL Draft for the past three years. While it may seem strange to wait so long, Marcus Mariota’s alleged reason for not signing yet is even more bizarre. He wants to surf. The Titans don’t want him to. Allegedly.

 

The Hawaii native apparently enjoys surfing so much that it has been an area of concern on his contract. Allegedly. Reasonably, the Titans don’t want their hopeful franchise quarterback to succumb to an unnecessary injury surfing. In the end, he’ll sign regardless, although this certainly is an unprecedented cause to holdout for now.

Watch below to see some highlights from rookie camp:

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 13:55
Path: /mlb/anthony-rizzo-avoids-tag-impressive-move
Body:

Stealing any base, especially third, is extremely difficult in the MLB because of the power and accuracy of catchers behind the plate. As Anthony Rizzo headed to third base on a steal attempt, Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki delivered a perfect throw to Daniel Murphy covering third base. In perfect position to tag Rizzo out, the Cubs star simply defied all odds, jumping out of his slide to avoid the tag.

 

The play seemed to be a designed hit and run, although the batter could not put the ball in play, leaving Rizzo vulnerable. Yet, Rizzo made an incredible move out of great instinct to leap away from the glove hovering around the ground. Although he didn’t advance after, he later came around to score the game-winning run in the top of the 11th inning. 

Look at the incredible slide below:


Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 13:19

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