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Path: /college-football/five-mac-football-players-know-2016
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The popularity and obsession of the big boys in college football - the Power 5 - has continued to rise. But there still are some very elite football players at the second tier of the FBS rankings - the Group of 5. The Group of 5 term refers to players from teams in the Mountain West, Conference USA, MAC, Sun Belt and American Athletic Conference. While the coverage and exposure for teams in these leagues has improved in recent years, plenty of the stars from the Group of 5 conferences fly under the radar each preseason. Who are the names to watch in 2016 as players on the rise in the Group of 5 rankings? Here are five names to know now that spring ball has finished across the nation:


Five MAC Football Players to Know for 2016

 

Cooper Rush, QB, Central Michigan

After throwing for 25 touchdowns, 3,848 yards and completing 66 percent of his passes last fall, expectations are high for Rush to lead the Chippewas. He enters 2016 on pace to throw over 10,000 yards for his career, and does a tremendous job of spreading the ball around by having five receivers accumulate over 500 receiving yards last season. Four of those five playmakers return, making it seem that Rush will have another monster year.

 

Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

The former freshman All-American sure has lived up to the hype since 2013. Davis is the active leading receiver in FBS with 33 career receiving touchdowns and should only increase his targets after All-MAC WR and teammate Daniel Braverman left for the NFL. Also getting back QB Zach Terrell for another year won’t hurt either.

 

Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo

With two wins over Power 5 teams last year - Arkansas and Iowa State - the Rockets are hungry for more in 2016. They are led by second team all-conference back Kareem Hunt, who rushed for 999 yards despite missing three games to a hamstring injury. The Ohio native has topped the 100-yard rushing mark 21 times in his impressive career. Hunt will eclipse over 4,000 career rushing yards this season and he’s ready to empower “” to new heights.

 

Jamal Marcus, DE, Akron

Marcus, an Ohio State transfer, has brought his big-play ability to Akron and it has translated quite well for coach Terry Bowden's defense. Last year he racked up 30 tackles (12.5 tackles for a loss), 5.5 sacks, 12 hurries, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Marcus was a big reason why the Zips ranked third nationally against the run. Expect him to push for All-MAC honors in 2016.

 

Shawun Lurry, CB, Northern Illinois

Lurry is certainly a known commodity to most around the MAC, but the Florida native deserves more attention on the national level. There aren’t a lot of corners who can cover top receivers on an island, but the 5-foot-8 standout certainly can. After leading the nation in interceptions and having five games in a row with a pick last year, look for Lurry to contend for the Jim Thorpe award this season.

 

- Written by Lance Dozier

Teaser:
Five MAC Football Players to Know for 2016
Post date: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/ray-lewis-cris-carter-espn-randy-moss-join-nfl-countdown-mike-ditka-sean-mcdonough-monday-night
Body:

More shakeups are heading to ESPN.

 

The worldwide leader is getting rid of longtime NFL Countdown personality Cris Carter along with Ray Lewis. Mike Ditka is already out and that leaves the countdown crew with a whole new look for next season. It's rumored ESPN will bring legendary wide receiver Randy Moss over from his Fox Sports job.

 

Many speculated about Lewis' absence from ESPN's NFL Draft coverage, and it turns out the suspicions were correct. The network has quietly tried to phase him out in recent weeks.

 

Get ready for brand new coverage of the NFL from Bristol, including Sean McDonough to the Monday Night Football booth.

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, May 9, 2016 - 16:28
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/fox-sports-deletes-espn-analyst-jessica-mendoza-mike-north-mlb-announcer
Body:

It's rare to see a sports media company go after another so directly.

 

In a post that has since been deleted, Fox Sports used the headline, "Mike North: Jessica Mendoza is the worst announcer in baseball" to discuss ESPN's MLB commentator. To see the cached version, click .

 

"Jessica Mendoza is the worst baseball announcer who has ever announced the game of baseball," Mike North says. "Now if you want to call me sexist go ahead, but I'm an observer and I've been observing and listening to baseball announcer for 20, 30, 40, 50 years."

 

Whether you agree with North or not, you have to admit that naming all the females he likes before mentioning one you don't raises more eyebrows than if he would've given his opinion straight up.
 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, May 9, 2016 - 14:26
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/curt-schilling-rips-espn-dan-patrick-show-bigoted-intolerant-fired-mlb-analyst
Body:

Curt Schilling isn't handling his exit from ESPN well.

 

On Monday's "Dan Patrick Show," the former analyst spills the beans on his former employer and how the worldwide leader is being selective in how it handles certain employees. Schilling says ESPN favors those who are democrats, and wouldn't reprimand them the same way he was.

 

"The only irony in all this, for me, is that a company that is outwardly bigoted and intolerant is calling itself inclusive," Schilling said. 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, May 9, 2016 - 13:02
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/wheelchair-basketball-game-ends-fan-brawl-turkey-bats-knives-eurocup
Body:

A wheelchair basketball game turned into something completely unexpected in Turkey.

 

During an IWBF Eurocup game some fans armed with bats and knives partook in a brawl. Though there were no serious injuries, police said the game had to be abandoned due to the violent nature of the fans. Seven fans were taken to the hospital, and six were released after treatment. No word on a make-up date for the game.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, May 9, 2016 - 12:28
All taxonomy terms: Chicago Cubs, MLB
Path: /mlb/10-amazing-statistics-about-chicago-cubs-historic-start
Body:

Could 2016 finally be the Chicago Cubs’ year? The World Series is still five months away, but five weeks into the season the Cubs are clearly baseball’s best team.

 

After beating Washington 4-3 in 13 innings on Sunday, the Cubs extended their winning streak to seven and entered Monday night’s home game against San Diego with an -best 24-6 record. That’s the best in franchise history since the 1907 team also got out to a 24-6 start. That year, the Cubs won the World Series, something they did again the following year. Since 1908, however, the Cubs have not won the Fall Classic.

 

But after making it to the NLCS last year and given how dominant this team has looked at times in the early going, could the longest championship drought in North American sports come to an end this October? Here are 10 statistics that should give all Cubs fans hope, even if it is only the second week of May.

 

+102

The Cubs’ major league-leading run differential, a category that they lead by a whopping 58 runs. Chicago has scored the most (184) while giving up the fewest (82) runs entering Monday’s games. The New York Mets (+44) are second, while two teams (Atlanta and New York Yankees) have scored fewer runs than the Cubs have outscored their opponents. In fact, on Saturday the Cubs became the second-fastest team in major league history (since at least 1900) to reach plus-100 in run differential, according to Sportsnet Stats. The only team to do it faster was the 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates, who needed just 26 games.

 

+70

The Cubs’ run differential on the road. They are 13-3 away from Wrigley Field, having scored 110 runs (6.9 per game) and giving up 40. Outside of losing 13-5 to Cincinnati on April 23, the Cubs other two road losses this season have come by two runs (at St. Louis, April 20) and one run (at Arizona, April 8).


13

The Cubs have already won 13 games by five or more runs. That’s more blowout victories than four teams (Atlanta, Minnesota, New York Yankees, Houston) have entering Monday and the same number of total wins that four other teams have. Chicago has 17 wins by four or more runs. Only eight teams have more total wins to this point.

 

13-2

It’s early, but Chicago is dominating its NL Central counterparts. Not only have the Cubs lost just twice in 15 games in divisional play, they have outscored the four teams 101-36. Cincinnati (6-1 record against) is the only team Chicago has faced twice, but the Cubs are 5-1 in the early going against Pittsburgh and St. Louis, the two teams they beat in last year’s playoffs before getting swept by the New York Mets in the NLCS.

 

156

Even though the Cubs are eighth in team batting average at .263, they lead baseball with a .368 on-base percentage. This is fueled by an MLB-best 156 walks, which is 26 more than the next team (San Francisco). Chicago hitters have drawn nearly nice twice as many walks as the pitching staff has allowed (88).

 

.462

Dexter Fowler, who signed a one-year deal to return to the Cubs at the start of spring training, is leading baseball with a .462 on-base percentage. He also is tied for seventh in batting average (.340), tied for sixth in runs (24), already has 17 RBIs (fifth on the team), six stolen bases and has nearly as many walks (21) as strikeouts (26).

 

.248

As good as the Cubs have been scoring runs, the scary thought is there’s room for improvement. As a team, the Cubs are batting just .248 with runners in scoring position, which places them 20th in the majors entering Monday. The hitters are still producing (MLB-best 146 runs) in these situations, and that’s despite the fact that guys like Jason Heyward (.229 average) and Ben Zobrist (.233) have struggled in the early going. Just imagine what this offense can do when everyone is clicking, especially when the wind is blowing out at Wrigley Field.

 

Related: 

 

2.48

Manager Joe Maddon has pointed out on several occasions that pitching is just as important to the Cubs’ run differential as the offense has been. The Cubs’ major-league leading team ERA of 2.48 is just one of several categories the pitching staff currently is No. 1 in. It also leads the way in WHIP (1.03), batting average against (.201), hits allowed (194) and opponents’ OPS (.586).

 

5

The Cubs are currently tied for fourth in the majors in quality starts with 21, but Maddon has gotten quality innings from his starter every time out. In 30 games the shortest outing of any Chicago starting pitcher has been five innings. For the season, the Cubs’ rotation of Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks is No. 1 in MLB with a 2.26 collective ERA and .209 batting average against while compiling a 19-4 record.

 

81 1/3

Because of the great work from the starters, the Cubs’ bullpen has only pitched 81 1/3 innings. That’s tied with Toronto for the fewest in baseball entering Monday’s games. Chicago relievers have done a pretty good job thus far, posting a collective ERA of 2.99 (seventh among bullpens) and holding opponents to a .184 batting average (second). The bullpen’s WHIP is just 1.06 and the relief corps is averaging an impressive 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings.

Teaser:
10 Amazing Statistics About the Chicago Cubs’ Historic Start
Post date: Monday, May 9, 2016 - 11:45
Path: /college-football/ncaa-helps-open-flood-gates-growth-nebraska-cornhuskers-future
Body:

When secures a new football commitment, you’ll see Husker fans cheer across social media. A hefty amount of talent from all over is signing up to play for Mike Riley, but the NCAA recently did Nebraska perhaps the biggest favor it ever could in regards to recruiting.

 

Starting Aug. 1, . With this ruling, the NCAA has given the thumbs up for Nebraska’s staff to roll out the red carpet not only for its athletic targets, but also for the people closest to them and quite possibly the ones that will ultimately help these recruits make their decision. Why is this so big?

 

While seeing the academic and athletic sides of what the Cornhuskers have to offer a prospect as a person and a player, one of Nebraska’s biggest recruiting assets will be on display for many who’d normally never be able to see it: the fans.

 

Two parents of current Huskers—one that prefers to remain anonymous and the other, Kim Westerkamp, mother of senior sensation wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp—were warmly welcomed by residents of the state.

 

“Lincoln was the only official visit where people ‘on the street’ knew who he was,” said the anonymous parent. “Strangers stopped us in restaurants or approached at breakfast in the hotel to say, ‘Welcome to Nebraska, we hope you like it here.’ And it wasn’t in a stalkerish, weird way, but in a genuine ‘welcoming’ way.”

 

Kim Westerkamp had a similar experience. “Jordan started being recruited by Nebraska as a sophomore," she said. "Everywhere we went in Lincoln, everyone we ran into was just truly genuinely nice. Six years ago when nobody knew who me and Bob (Westerkamp) were, they were just genuinely nice and that was just huge... When we went to the university, when we went to the hotel, went we went to the restaurant, the McDonald’s drive-thru, somebody passes by you and says, ‘Hi, have a good day!’ Simple, little things.”

 

There’s that word again: genuine. Both parents agreed that the fans and their fervor for the Big Red is a major influence in a recruit’s decision. Four-star wide receiver and legacy recruit Keyshawn Johnson Jr. can attest to that.

 

“They have these things that say, ‘Through these gates pass the greatest fans in college football’ and I couldn’t agree more," said Johnson. "I feel that the Cornhuskers have probably the best fan base in America when it comes to college football. I feel a lot of love from them."

 

You can understand how important it is for Nebraska’s staff to have that sincerely pleasant demeanor on display as much as possible if a young man’s going to spend his most formidable years in the Cornhusker State.

 

Now that the NCAA says that schools can welcome parents and guardians with open arms, expect the Huskers to take full advantage of the new rules now that money isn’t an obstacle.

 

“Can I get back the thousands of dollars we spent?” asked the anonymous parent. “(Kids of lesser means) rarely had a parent at the visit. Even if you book early, a cross country ticket is $400-$500. Not everyone can afford that.

 

"We went because we wanted to see where our son might end up living, playing, etc. But in general with any big decision (car purchase, etc.), you want a second or third set of ears. Different people remember and interpret things differently and it's good to have mom and dad's perspective/input after a visit.”

 

Kim Westerkamp was vehement that the NCAA’s decision was a long time coming.

 

“Parents coming with (recruits), guardians coming with them, it should’ve been like that all along," she said. "How can you send a 17-year-old kid (to a school), have them come home and expect them to tell you about it and you make a decision?”

 

Johnson can affirm that it was a boon for his mother to finally see what Nebraska can offer for herself.

 

“When she finally got to see it, she fell in love with the Life Skills program and stuff like that. To have both of your parents’ perception of the school, them getting a free trip just like the athletes, because they put in as much work as I do, it’s pretty cool,” he said.

 

A scarlet and cream cookie bouquet should be sent to the NCAA offices. While Nebraska must work hard to catch up to the Alabamas and Ohio States of the world, this ruling helps perhaps no one more than the Cornhuskers.

 

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to like his follow him on Twitter () and on Periscope ().

Teaser:
NCAA Helps Open Flood Gates for Growth of Nebraska Cornhuskers’ Future
Post date: Monday, May 9, 2016 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/canadians-upset-dwyane-wade-shooting-during-national-anthem-miami-heat-canada-toronto-raptors
Body:

Basketball players have to respect the national anthem, even if it isn't their own.

 

Dwyane Wade is catching heat from Canadian fans after shooting around during the country's anthem. Players and coaches are supposed to stand and observe during the anthems.

 

 

People took immediate notice of the Heat star's actions.

 

 

 

Wade issued a statement about the incident, stating that disrespect was not his intention.

 

"It's something that I do before every game that I prepare for, and I've been doing it my whole career," Wade told . "So I understand whatever is said from that standpoint, but I'm not a disrespectful person. So if anybody thinks I'm being disrespectful towards a country, then they have no idea of who Dwyane Wade is."

 

Toronto politician Norm Kelly had an interesting idea for the next game.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, May 9, 2016 - 10:18
Path: /college-football/ranking-secs-quarterbacks-2016
Body:

Spring practice has finished for all 14 SEC teams, but the question marks at quarterback for most of the league will continue into the fall. Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly and Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs are easily the top returning quarterbacks in the league, with LSU’s Brandon Harris, Texas A&M’s Trevor Knight and Georgia’s Jacob Eason in the next group. Cooper Bateman holds a slight edge at Alabama, but Blake Barnett and David Cornwell will continue to push for the starting job. The question marks under center continue with new starters at Florida, Mississippi State, Auburn and South Carolina. 

 

How do the new starters in the SEC project with proven options like Dobbs and Kelly? Athlon has ranked all 14 starters for 2016.

 

To help compile the rankings, there was some projection involved for 2016. This was not a ranking of quarterbacks only based on accomplishments so far or pro potential. All factors - pure talent, supporting cast, 2016 projection and scheme changes (just to name a few) - were considered and projected to rank the quarterbacks in the SEC for 2016.

 

Ranking the SEC’s Quarterbacks for 2016

 

1. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss

2016 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Uncertainty is the word that comes to mind when ranking the SEC quarterbacks for 2016. However, there’s no doubt which signal-caller ranks No. 1. In his first year with the Rebels, Chad Kelly threw for 4,042 yards and 31 scores and earned second-team All-SEC honors by the Associated Press. Kelly also completed 65.1 percent of his passes and connected on eight plays of 50 yards or more. Even though standout receiver Laquon Treadwell is off to the NFL, Kelly should have another All-SEC caliber season and finish 2016 as the league’s No. 1 quarterback.

 

Related:

 

2. Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee

2016 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

The stock on Dobbs’ career is trending up entering 2016. The Georgia native led all SEC quarterbacks by rushing for 671 yards last season and threw for 2,291 yards and 15 scores in 13 starts. Dobbs also produced one of the SEC’s top individual performances from last season, accounting for 430 total yards and five scores in a 38-31 win over Georgia. Tennessee needs to stretch the field more with its passing attack in 2016, but with an improved group of receivers and Dobbs’ development over the last three years, this offense should easily rank among the best in the SEC.

 

3. Brandon Harris, LSU

2016 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Ranking Harris at No. 3 shows how thin the SEC is at quarterback entering the 2016 season. In his first full season as a starter in 2015, Harris completed 53.6 percent of his throws for 2,158 yards and 13 scores. He also added 226 yards and four rushing touchdowns. Harris quietly connected on seven passes of 50 yards or more, which tied for third among SEC quarterbacks last year. While Harris still has a lot to prove, he’s surrounded by a good supporting cast and now has a full season of starts under his belt. Slight improvement out of the passing game could be enough to help LSU push Alabama in the SEC West.

 

4. Trevor Knight, Texas A&M

2016 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Knight’s decision to transfer to Texas A&M was a huge boost to a program that lost Kyler Murray and Kyle Allen to transfer prior to the Music City Bowl. Knight started 15 games over three years at Oklahoma, accounting for 4,277 total yards and 33 overall scores. The Aggies have a strong supporting cast in place, starting with one of the SEC’s top receiving corps and an intriguing transfer at running back in Keith Ford. Texas A&M doesn’t need Knight to be prolific, but his experience and ability to make plays with his legs should provide stability for the offense.

 

Related:

 

5. Jacob Eason, Georgia

2016 Year of Eligibility: Freshman

 

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Eason rank a few spots higher on this list by the end of 2016. The Washington native ranked as the No. 5 overall prospect in the 2016 247Sports Composite and was regarded as a five-star recruit. Eason enrolled in time to compete in spring workouts and had a strong showing in the G-Day game, completing 19 of 29 passes for 244 yards and one score. Talent certainly isn’t the issue for Eason. However, will coach Kirby Smart start Brice Ramsey or Greyson Lambert early in the year while Eason gains experience?

 

6. Cooper Bateman, Alabama

2016 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

It’s hard to get a good read on Alabama’s quarterback situation, but Bateman seemed to have an edge over David Cornwell and Blake Barnett exiting spring ball. The junior has the most experience of the candidates vying for the starting job and completed 37 of 52 throws for 291 yards and one score last season. Bateman also started one game (Ole Miss) in 2015. Even though there is some uncertainty here as to the projected starter, Alabama should be fine at quarterback. 

 

7. Austin Allen, Arkansas

2016 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Bret Bielema’s decision to hire Dan Enos as the Razorbacks’ coordinator paid huge dividends last season. Arkansas led the SEC (conference-only games) by averaging 34.4 points a game and generated 6.83 yards per play. However, Enos has some renovating to do this offseason, as quarterback Brandon Allen, tight end Hunter Henry, running back Alex Collins and standout linemen Sebastian Tretola and Denver Kirkland must be replaced. Austin Allen – Brandon’s brother – is expected to take over under center in 2016. Austin has attempted only 19 passes over the last two years, but the guess here is Enos and Bielema will get steady play from the Fayetteville native in 2016.

 

Related:

 

8. Luke Del Rio, Florida

2016 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Will Grier’s suspension derailed Florida’s offense last season, as the Gators only eclipsed more than 200 passing yards once over the final seven games. Treon Harris started the final eight contests under center but is expected to move to wide receiver in 2016. With Harris changing positions, Del Rio, Purdue graduate transfer Austin Appleby and freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask battled for the starting job in spring ball. Del Rio – a transfer from Oregon State – seemed to take control of the No. 1 spot during spring practice and should bring stability to the quarterback position for McElwain.  

 

9. Drew Barker, Kentucky

2016 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

It’s no secret Kentucky’s hopes of reaching a bowl in 2016 could rest on the development of Barker under new coordinator Eddie Gran. Barker was a four-star recruit in the Wildcats’ 2014 class and received his first extended action last season. The Kentucky native completed 35 of 70 passes for 364 yards and one score in five games but never eclipsed more than 130 passing yards in a single contest. Barker was a four-star prospect coming out of high school, and it’s up to Gran to mold the sophomore into a consistent quarterback to improve an offense that managed 17.5 points in SEC games last year.

 

10. Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State

2016 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Replacing arguably the best player in school history (Dak Prescott) won’t be easy. However, coach Dan Mullen has some intriguing options vying for the starting job. Damian Williams is back after a redshirt year, while Nick Fitzgerald and Elijah Staley are promising sophomores who gained experience in limited action in 2015. Fitzgerald completed 11 of 14 passes for 235 yards and three scores last season. The 6-foot-5, 227-pound Georgia native is a slight favorite to take the first snap in 2016.

 

Related:

 

11. Brandon McIlwain, South Carolina

2016 Year of Eligibility: Freshman

 

Will the Gamecocks turn to a former walk-on (Perry Orth) or hand the reins to top recruit Brandon McIlwain? Orth threw for 1,929 yards and 12 scores in 12 appearances last season and was expected to finish spring at the top of the depth chart. However, he missed part of spring practice due to a broken collarbone, allowing McIlwain to state his case for the starting job. The talented freshman completed 19 of 26 passes for 169 yards and two scores in South Carolina’s spring game.

 

12. John Franklin, Auburn

2016 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Franklin is penciled in here, but Sean White and Jeremy Johnson remain in the mix for the starting spot. Regardless of which quarterback gets the nod under center, Auburn needs big-time improvement from its offense. In SEC games last year, the Tigers averaged only 22.1 points a game. Franklin is still developing as a passer, but the former Florida State quarterback is the team’s most-dynamic option under center. At East Mississippi Community College in 2015, Franklin rushed for 451 yards and nine touchdowns, while throwing for 733 yards and seven scores.

 

13. Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt

2016 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason removed Shurmur’s redshirt midway through 2015, which allowed the Pennsylvania native to gain valuable experience for 2016. In five appearances, Shurmur threw for 503 yards and five touchdowns and completed 42.7 percent of his passes. While Shurmur has room to improve, he also needs more help from the supporting cast. The good news? Vanderbilt has help coming in the form of lineman Andrew Jelks and receiver C.J. Duncan after both missed 2015 due to injury.

 

14. Drew Lock, Missouri

2016 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Missouri’s offense struggled mightily last season by averaging only 9.1 points in SEC contests. New coordinator Josh Heupel is tasked with improving this unit, but question marks remain at several positions exiting spring ball. Lock was pressed into action as a true freshman last year and threw for 1,332 yards and four scores. He also tossed eight picks and completed only 49 percent of his throws. Lock should be better in his second season as the starter. However, he needs more help from the supporting cast to rank higher on this list.

Teaser:
Ranking the SEC's Quarterbacks for 2016
Post date: Monday, May 9, 2016 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/five-group-5-players-know-2016
Body:

The popularity and obsession of the big boys in college football - the Power 5 - has continued to rise. But there still are some very elite football players at the second tier of the FBS rankings - the Group of 5. The Group of 5 term refers to players from teams in the Mountain West, Conference USA, MAC, Sun Belt and American Athletic Conference. While the coverage and exposure for teams in these leagues has improved in recent years, plenty of the stars from the Group of 5 conferences fly under the radar each preseason. Who are the names to watch in 2016 as players on the rise in the Group of 5 rankings? Here are five names to know now that spring ball has finished across the nation:

 

Five Group of 5 Players to Know for 2016

 

Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State

The Las Vegas native considered an early departure to the NFL but decided to lead the Aztecs for one more season. Pumphrey, the reigning Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, can do it all by leading the team in rushing and receiving- not to mention throwing a touchdown in San Diego State’s 42-7 bowl victory over Cincinnati. The all-purpose superstar looks to carry that momentum into 2016 and help the Aztecs push for another school-record 11-win season.

 

Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky

Overshadowed by All-American and NFL draft pick QB Brandon Doughty, Taylor will be a household name come this fall. The Biletnikoff Award Semifinalist ranked third nationally with 1,467 receiving yards and caught 17 touchdowns in 2015. Additionally, he has explosiveness which was put on display through a 17.1 yards per catch average. With all five offensive linemen returning, WKU’s new quarterback will have all day to let Taylor stretch the field once again.

 

Nick Mullens, QB, Southern Miss

New coach Jay Hopson knows how important having an established passer is, and he has one of the best in the nation under center. Mullens threw for 38 touchdowns and 4,476 yards last season and is on pace to set numerous school records for his final season. The four-year starter will be the glue on the offensive side for the Golden Eagles.

 

Latrell Gibbs, CB, Appalachian State

Gibbs emerged as one of the Sun Belt’s top defenders last season and showcased his playmaking ability with a 91-yard interception return to the house against Wyoming. The lockdown corner didn’t stop there, finishing 2015 with seven interceptions and 19 deflections on the year. Expect the junior to flourish as the anchor of the Mountaineers’ secondary next season.

 

Steven Taylor, OLB, Houston

Taylor earned second-team American Athletic all-conference honors and was one of only six Group of 5 players to record over 10 sacks last season. The Texas native filled the stat sheet as one of the leaders of Tom Herman’s defense, totaling 92 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, 12 hurries and a blocked kick. Herman and coordinator Todd Orlando will continue to look for ways to let Taylor shine on defense one last time in H-Town.

 

Written by Lance Dozier

Teaser:
Five Group of 5 Players to Know for 2016
Post date: Monday, May 9, 2016 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR
Path: /nascar/gobowlingcom-400-kansas-preview-and-fantasy-nascar-predictions-2016
Body:

After a brief stop into the world of restrictor plate Russian roulette it appears on paper that is returning to the world of normalcy this weekend at Kansas Speedway. The 1.5-mile intermediate oval was once the “cookie cutter” of all cookie-cutter tracks, serving as the final expansion pack with Chicagoland when NASCAR moved to its current schedule of 36 races prior to the 2001 season. Early races at Kansas were wreckfests; a single-groove racetrack frustrated teams and foreshadowed handling difficulties that would plague the Cup Series at all tracks during much of the past decade.

 

But a funny thing happened while the NASCAR has been busy trying to reinvent itself. The racing at Kansas, once a guaranteed snoozer, has suddenly gotten good. Even during the Car of Tomorrow era, you had weird finishes – there was Carl Edwards’ banzai effort to take the checkered that fell short during the 2008 Chase and Greg Biffle’s win while crossing the line in third (he ran out of gas under yellow) the year before.

 

A repave briefly halted the unpredictability but recent changes to both track and banking have served this oval well. Only three of the first 15 races held here produced more than 21 lead changes; we’ve now seen that happen four times in the last five events. The side-by-side racing has gotten intense and we’ve seen some fantastic battles for the lead, most recently the Joe Logano-Matt Kenseth contact that started their yearlong feud.

 

Will Logano and Kenseth come together again? Or will some other driver emerge with an unlikely upset? The lineup heading to Kansas appears to be unpredictable, a gargantuan shift for where this racetrack was headed as little as a decade ago. You never know...

 

2016 GoBowling.com 400

 

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

Track: Kansas Speedway (Kansas City)

TV: FOX Sports 1

Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM Channel 90

 

Who’s at the Front: Brad Keselowski

Talladega, by nature is unpredictable, big wrecks taking a winner right to the wrecker on a second’s notice, but Keselowski has somehow found a way to beat the odds. The driver of the No. 2 Ford for Team Penske now has four victories there since 2009, the most of any driver and paced the field for 46 laps Sunday. His 2016 season feels a lot like Jimmie Johnson’s last year; a little off on speed but using his talent to maximize limited opportunities and eke out victories.

 

It’s hard to take any momentum from a victory where only four cars in the field didn’t have crash damage. But in a year where Joe Gibbs Racing has dominated, Keselowski has as many victories (two) as any other driver through ten races. The way he’s been able to keep up is impressive.

 

Who’s at the Back: Kasey Kahne

Kahne had a wreck beyond his control at Talladega, slumping to 39th a week after an encouraging fourth-place run at Richmond. But the fact remains the No. 5 car has yet to lead a lap this season for superteam Hendrick Motorsports and Kahne sits 17th in points, the first driver looking in on the Chase after 10 races. What’s discouraging is despite strong qualifying efforts an average start of 11.7 has been wasted; he’s only improved that performance in three of 10 events and has an average finish of 18.6. While there’s a long-term contract in place here it’s one of the worst performances from HMS we’ve seen in recent years; this team is going to need to pick up the pace.

 

News Briefs

 

Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano, after another brouhaha at Talladega appear to have talked Monday night and are “in a good place” heading into their little anniversary of contact racing for the lead at Kansas. Kenseth felt Logano ran him off the track during Sunday’s race and the two had a little public exchange outside the infield care center following the involvement of both in a multi-car wreck. That led to a conversation Monday night and according to FOX Sports 1’s RaceHub, Logano said the two have patched things up to a certain extent.

 

Danica Patrick, Kyle Busch and others were upset about the high number of wrecks and flipping inside Sunday’s race at Talladega. Busch, despite a second-place finish made it clear he didn’t want to be running the event and would rather be “sitting at home” due to two victories that already lock his No. 18 Toyota inside the Chase. As for Patrick, who endured the hardest hit of her Cup career, she was among a group of drivers becoming increasingly vocal about the risks this type of racing poses. No changes to the package have been considered or announced for Daytona in July as of yet.

 

Changes are coming to NASCAR’s Sprint All-Star Race in two weeks. The event is being expanded from 100 to 113 laps and turned into a three-segment race. The first two segments will be 50 laps with mandatory green-flag pit stops sprinkled in. The third segment will be just 13 laps and there will be a vote as to whether the top nine, 10 or 11 drivers will be forced to pit. The remainder will stay out on the track with old tires, moving to the front and creating a breathtaking sprint to the finish where the faster cars start in the back and are forced to move forward for the $1 million grand prize. The exhibition had grown stagnant in recent years as handling woes and aerodynamics caused the leader to easily coast to victory in what’s supposed to be a “for the fans, super aggressive” ending segment.

 

Celebrity Sighting: Baseball Hall of Famer George Brett will be on hand (without his pine tar) to give the Command to Start Engines and serve as Grand Marshal for this weekend’s race.  Brett’s Kansas City Royals won the World Series last year for the first time since his 1985 team.

 

NASCAR by the Numbers

 

2

Steering wheels that have come off during racing conditions this season, both from Hendrick Motorsports. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s came off after returning from crash damage Sunday at Talladega; it’s a safety issue he takes the blame for, claiming he never checked to ensure the wheel was “locked in position” before leaving the garage.

 

40th

The finishing position for Earnhardt at Talladega, the first time he’s run last in a restrictor plate race during his 17-year, full-time Sprint Cup career.

 

Playing the Odds (Fantasy Spin)

 

Top Tier

 

This race is expected to be another clash between superpowers Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing. And while HMS has been a step behind on intermediates this season they’ve got a leg up at this track; Jeff Gordon and , respectively have won the last two spring races at Kansas. I’d go with Johnson again as the No. 48 team has a great track record: he’s got top-10 finishes in every race but one here since 2007.

 

had the spring race won last year until a late strategy call by Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus handed the victory straight to the No. 48. In the last two spring Kansas races Harvick has finished second, led 172 laps and looked absolutely dominant at times. I’d pick him for my roster any day.

 

Middle Tier

 

has come so close at Kansas in recent years but always has a late-race problem with handling that leaves him short. Truex led 95 laps here last spring before falling to ninth and has never been lower than 21st with Furniture Row Racing at this oval. Truex, the beneficiary of strong JGR setups under the new package should have another strong weekend here.

 

Bottom Tier

 

Chase Elliott, a Cup Series rookie, is listed on the bottom in most fantasy formats but he’s far from a C-list driver. After a pole and top-5 finish at Talladega he enters Kansas with momentum and surprised at a similar intermediate oval with this 2016 rules package (Fontana) back in March. Don’t be surprised if the No. 24 team sneaks to the top with another strong effort for the first-year driver.

 

What Vegas Thinks

Jimmie Johnson is listed as the favorite with +450 odds according to lasvegassportsbetting.com. Kevin Harvick comes in second at +550 followed by last fall’s combatants Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth.

 

What I Think

Hendrick Motorsports has something to prove after Joe Gibbs Racing appears to have dominated the early part of the season. Johnson comes in, leads half the race and scores a third win this season heading to a track he owns next week: Dover Downs.

 

— Written by Tom Bowles, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and the Majority Owner of NASCAR Web site . He can be reached at or on Twitter .

 

(Photo by )

Teaser:
GoBowling.com 400 at Kansas Preview and Fantasy NASCAR Predictions
Post date: Friday, May 6, 2016 - 14:30
Path: /college-football/5-redshirt-freshmen-watch-big-ten-west-2016
Body:

Predicting which freshmen will play or make an impact on any given season is no easy assignment. Considering some players aren’t quite ready for the physical nature of college football or may need a year to work on developing within the scheme or playbook, a good chunk of every team’s signing class will take a redshirt season. With the 2016 season just a few months away, it’s never too early to take a look back at some of the recruits from 2015 classes who used last season as a redshirt year. Here are seven potential impact redshirt freshmen to watch in the Big Ten for 2016.

 

5 Redshirt Freshmen to Watch in the Big Ten West in 2016

 

Avery Anderson, S/Eric Lee, CB, Nebraska

Nebraska’s secondary has room to improve after ranking 78th nationally in pass efficiency defense last season. Most of the unit returns intact for coordinator Mark Banker, which includes likely All-Big Ten performers in safety Nate Gerry and cornerback Joshua Kalu. However, two redshirt freshmen – Avery Anderson and Eric Lee – could earn more playing time as the season progresses. Both players were regarded as four-star recruits in the 2015 signing class and should help a secondary that surrendered eight passing plays of 50 yards or more last season.  

 

Related:

 

Carlos Davis/Khalil Davis, DL, Nebraska

At the conclusion of spring practice, it was no secret the defensive line was the biggest concern for coach Mike Riley. This unit lost standout tackles Vincent Valentine and Maliek Collins early to the NFL, end Greg McMullen decided not to return to the team for 2016, and end Jack Gangwish expired his eligibility. While there’s a lot of turnover here, the Cornhuskers still have talented options in place for new line coach John Parrella. After a redshirt year, twin brothers Carlos and Khalil Davis will be counted upon to make an impact up front. Both players were three-star recruits in the 2015 signing class by the 247Sports Composite. Fellow redshirt freshman Alex Davis is another name to remember up front.

 

Alex Hornibrook, QB, Wisconsin

Bart Houston is considered the favorite to replace Joel Stave under center in 2016, but Hornibrook made a late push in spring practice for the No. 1 job. The redshirt freshman stated his case for the starting spot by completing four of eight passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game. Even though it’s tough to read too much into spring game totals, Hornibrook certainly did enough to keep the battle open into the summer and fall workouts. The Pennsylvania native was a three-star recruit in Wisconsin’s 2015 signing class.

 

Related:

 

Gabe Megginson, OL, Illinois

The pieces are in place for the Fighting Illini to have a solid offensive line in 2016. Tackles Austin Schmidt and Christian DiLauro provide a good foundation on the edges, while center Joe Spencer also returns after starting 12 games last season. Megginson ranked as Illinois’ top recruit in its 2015 signing class, as he was regarded as a four-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite. With both guard spots up for grabs, expect this talented redshirt freshman to claim a spot on the interior. 

 

Elijah Sindelar, QB, Purdue

David Blough showed promise in his first opportunity for snaps with the Boilermakers last season, throwing for 1,574 yards and 10 scores in 10 games. The sophomore is still expected to win the starting job for 2016, but Sindelar is a name to watch if Blough struggles at any point. The Kentucky native was Purdue’s top recruit in the 2015 signing class, ranking as a three-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite. Sindelar capped spring workouts with a solid performance (16 of 30, 248 yards and two touchdowns) in the Gold vs. Black game. 

Teaser:
7 Redshirt Freshmen to Watch in the Big Ten West in 2016
Post date: Friday, May 6, 2016 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: MLB
Path: /mlb/top-10-mlb-mothers-day-2016-uniforms
Body:

If your Mother’s Day activities this Sunday include taking in a game in person or watching one on TV expect to see a lot of pink. In celebration of Mother’s Day and to help bring awareness to breast cancer, all 30 major league teams will be wearing specially designed pink-centric uniforms on Sunday.

 

In years past, players wore pink wrist bands and donned pink shoes, with or without the matching pink laces, while swinging pink bats on Mother’s Day and for breast cancer awareness. This year, every player will be adorned in pink, from head to toe. The Mother Day’s uniforms are the first of a series of special event looks that were created by MLB, working in conjunction with Majestic and New Era, which were . Besides Mother’s Day, teams will wear specially designed duds for Father’s Day, Memorial Day and the 4th of July as well.

 

Related:

 

The good news is this is not being done just to make an atypical fashion statement, especially where the pink unis are concerned. MLB will donate a portion of its licensed uniform royalties to specific charitable initiatives that are associated with each of these holidays. For Mother’s Day the charity is Susan G. Komen,  a non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives and ending breast cancer forever.

 

So while baseball fans certainly aren’t used to seeing their favorite player or team wearing pink on the diamond, which Mother’s Day uniforms stand out from the rest? Here are the 10 Mother’s Day uniforms that caught our eye (in alphabetical order).

 

Atlanta Braves

 


Chicago Cubs

 

 

Chicago White Sox

 

 

Detroit Tigers

 

 

Los Angeles Angels

 

 

New York Yankees

 

 

St. Louis Cardinals

 

 

Seattle Mariners

 

 

Tampa Rays

 

 

Washington Nationals

 

(Photos courtesy of . Click to see the entire gallery of 2016 Mother's Day jerseys)

 
Teaser:
Top 10 MLB Mother's Day 2016 Uniforms
Post date: Friday, May 6, 2016 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/top-ten-rookies-2016-fantasy-football
Body:

While it was fun to speculate what would happen if certain players went to certain teams before the NFL Draft, now that all the picks have been made, we can actually look at the value for some of the rookies.

 

Related: 

 

In dynasty leagues, values may be different, so this is just a look at redraft leagues for 2016. Here are the top 10 rookies for 2016, albeit still four months until the season actually starts.

 

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DAL

Without question, the rookie running back worth drafting is Elliott. He will likely be the first rookie off draft boards this fall, and the arguments for him make sense. He has the talent, he's on a team that will use him, and Dallas' offensive line is one of the best in the league. Elliott immediately steps in as the No. 1 running back for the Cowboys, sending Darren McFadden back to possibly handle third downs as needed. Alfred Morris will step in when Elliott needs a break, but this is going to be Elliott's backfield. McFadden, behind Dallas' offensive line ran for more than 1,000 yards (and he wasn't given more than 10 carries until Week 7). It seems great, but keep in mind Elliott is still a rookie running back. Rookies sometimes struggle as they start in the NFL. He's worth a pick in the early second round of drafts, but it's a reach to grab him in the first round.

 

Corey Coleman, WR, CLE

Coleman could have done well on a team that already had a solid No. 1 wide receiver, but instead he ended up on a team desperate for a reliable, productive target. With Josh Gordon likely out for the 2016 season (and possibly indefinitely), Coleman will step in as the go-to guy in Cleveland. With guys like Brian Hartline and Andrew Hawkins leading the receiver corps before Coleman joined, he immediately would become the top target for Robert Griffin III or whoever is under center for the Browns. He also has some value on special teams, if your league's scoring system includes return statistiscs.

 

Derrick Henry, RB, TEN

Originally when looking at Henry and the scouting reports, it seemed that he would work best in an offense that also has a pass-catching running back to come in and share the workload. It just so happens that the Tennessee Titans signed DeMarco Murray, who certainly can catch the ball. Henry will likely complement Murray, but may end up with goal-line work as well. At this point, it's Murray's fantasy value that takes a hit, while Henry has the potential to be a RB3.

 

Sterling Shepard, WR, NYG

Before the draft, Shepard wasn't one of the most touted receivers on the board, but now that he's joined the New York Giants, he'll have fantasy value this year. Besides Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants don't have another solid receiver on the team. Shepard will play alongside Beckham, and he'll likely begin the season as the third receiver (assuming Victor Cruz's healthy enough to finally return). Luckily for him, Eli Manning likes three-wide receiver sets. Look for Shepard to step in as a WR4 with potential to become a WR3 sooner rather than later.

 

Paul Perkins, RB, NYG

The Giants added both a wide receiver and a running back that may make an impact for fantasy owners this year. Perkins has been compared to Devonta Freeman (last year's No. 1 fantasy RB). With only Rashad Jennings truly ahead of him on the depth chart (Shane Vereen will just handle passing downs), Perkins will likely see a significant amount of playing time in 2016. Jennings owners should definitely draft him as a handcuff, but even non-Jennings owners might want to consider grabbing him in the later rounds of the draft.

 

Laquon Treadwell, WR, MIN

While the Vikings don't have the best track record in drafting wide receivers (Cordarrelle Patterson), it's worth taking another shot to see if Treadwell pans out. He'll fit right into their offense, opposite Stefon Diggs. While Teddy Bridgewater hasn't shown that he can make his receivers consistently look good, he may be given the opportunity to throw the ball more this year. As Treadwell continues to heal from his injury (a devastating lower leg injury from 2014), he should gain some of the speed he was lacking at the Scouting Combine back. He's a late-round sleeper for 2016.

 

Jordan Howard, RB, CHI

It's hard to say that a player that will be buried on the depth chart will have fantasy value, but Jeremy Langford is truly the only back ahead of Howard in Chicago. Langford did get a chance to be the starter when Matt Forte was injured last season, but he wasn't very consistent with his opportunity. He didn't hit 100 rushing yards in a single game, but he did play a role in the passing game. If Langford is used on passing downs, perhaps Howard can step in with goal-line carries, between-the-tackles carries and eventually, perhaps, the starting role. He's a late-round sleeper.

 

Josh Doctson, WR, WAS

The biggest strength that Doctson has at this point is his size (6-'2), which makes him taller than Pierre Garcon. Doctson does have potential to be a WR3 for fantasy purposes this year. Washington will likely try to use him in the red zone because of his size. Playing behind DeSean Jackson and Garcon, Doctson doesn't start the season with a lot of fantasy potential, but an injury to either receiver vaults him into possible fantasy relevance.

 

Kenneth Dixon, RB, BAL

While Dixon was a fourth-round pick, it is possible that he will not only see the field, but also have fantasy value this year. Javorius Allen showed that he isn't going to win the starting job. Justin Forsett will be 31 during the season, and he's likely not going to make it through all 16 games. Dixon will be the next man up. Forsett owners should be sure to draft him with the hope that Dixon can pass Allen on the depth chart.

 

Jared Goff, QB, LA

Goff is on this list mainly because he's the No. 1 overall pick. As it stands now, Goff doesn't figure to have much fantasy value this season in standard 12-team leagues. He may end up being a bye week fill-in, but that's about it. He's going to be the starter for the Rams, but it's not like the Rams have a ton of weapons to help him succeed. The Rams' offense is going to revolve around Todd Gurley, and unfortunately that doesn't help Goff. He needs better receivers in order to be fantasy relevant outside of two-QB leagues.

 

Honorable Mentions

 

Michael Thomas, WR, NO
He's playing with Drew Brees and has potential to play in three-WR sets. There are always a lot of mouths to feed in New Orleans, but if Thomas can make his presence known, he can have some value.

 

Will Fuller, WR, HOU

He's going to be opposite DeAndre Hopkins and will step into a starting role. However, he does have Brock Osweiler throwing to him, which may be a downside. Hopkins is still an elite WR1, but if Fuller can carve out some targets the rookie also will have some fantasy value in 2016.

 

— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter .

Teaser:
Top 10 Rookies For 2016 Fantasy Football
Post date: Friday, May 6, 2016 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/examining-early-over-under-2016-nfl-win-totals
Body:

The offseason cycle continues as we head towards rookie minicamps, OTAs and other workouts. Free agency and the draft are done so we have an idea of what rosters will look like for the most part. The schedules also have been released so it's a good time to check out some win totals.

 

Related:

 

The Westgate put out its best guesses on win totals for the 2016 season and there are some definite ones to take a look at. Of course, there's still a long time to go before Week 1 so things can change, but that doesn't mean we can't take advantage of some values.

 

Arizona Cardinals (Over 10 EVEN)

Opponents’ 2015 Record: 53.1% (T-7th)

Analysis: The NFC West is always a tough division so that's probably why on face value we're getting a solid price on the over. Arizona's season-opening contest against New England now most likely will not include Tom Brady. As I , the Cardinals play five of their first eight at home giving them a chance to start off strong. The defense will be nasty if Tyrann Mathieu comes back from his torn ACL even close to 100 percent and if first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche can contribute at all. The caveat here is keeping Carson Palmer upright and healthy. A full season of David Johnson will do wonders in accomplishing that.

 

Baltimore Ravens (Over 8.5 EVEN)

Opponents’ 2015 Record: 48.4% (T-19th)

Analysis: The Ravens had awful luck with injuries last year, but are continuing to add some talent to an already solid nucleus. Many people loved what Baltimore did in the draft and the Ravens get a chance for a fast start with one playoff team in their first seven weeks. They have some friendly stretches before finishing out with the Patriots, Steelers and Bengals. With better health and a fast start, this team should go over the total. I don't recommend this one as much if the price is not in our favor.

 

Cincinnati Bengals (Under 9.5 +110)

Opponents’ 2015 Record: 46.5% (T-27th)

Analysis: The Bengals have some holes that they need to fix. Losing wide receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamad Sanu don't seem large on the surface, but this puts more pressure on A.J. Green and Andy Dalton to succeed. The opponents’ record number says that it's an easier slate, but as I mentioned above, I expect an improved Ravens team as well as a tougher time with the NFC East than previously thought. The defense won't have Vontaze Burfict early and I'm just not buying the Bengals right now. I'm also buying into the value of +110 for this one.

 

Cleveland Browns (Under 4.5 +130)

Opponents’ 2015 Record: 48.0% (21st)

Analysis: This is simply a value play right here because there's a very good chance that Cleveland could be the worst team in the league. Not only that, the Browns have five of their first seven on the road and the names competing at quarterback don't exactly inspire much confidence. The offense should get a boost from first-round pick Corey Coleman at wide receiver, but it still figures to be struggle to move the ball and score enough points to win many games, especially against a tough schedule. With a price like this, I have no problem taking a flier on it.

 

Win totals aren't the only thing out right now as Bovada put out some rookie props that have some tastiness to them. The book is under-selling Ezekiel Elliott as they have Dallas’ new running back for just 900 yards and 7.5 touchdowns. To me, Elliott is a slam dunk to go over that number because of his very good offensive line and other weapons to keep teams honest. I think the over should be good on touchdowns, but I'm more confident about the yards.

 

There are two schools of thought to the Jared Goff wager with one being he's going to stink, not get a lot of help and easily go under the number. The other side is that the team will be behind often giving him more chances to add to that total. Last year, Nick Foles, Case Keenum and Sean Mannion accounted for just 11 touchdowns through the air. The lean here is to the under.

 

Finally, offensive rookie of the year doesn't seem like much of a race with Elliott and Goff leading the way. To me, it's really Elliott's to lose as he's going to get the most usage of anyone. If there is a sleeper it could be Corey Coleman (+750) or Kenneth Dixon (+1400). Coleman's going to get a ton of targets in Cleveland while Dixon could win the job at RB in Baltimore. In the end, I'd go Elliott and salvage any value there may be to that pick.

 

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter .

Teaser:
Examining the Early Over/Under 2016 NFL Win Totals
Post date: Friday, May 6, 2016 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: AAC, ACC, College Football, Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-podcast-big-12-expansion-implosion-and-kentucky-derby
Body:

Braden Gall and David Fox break down the latest in Big 12 expansion and preview the 2016 college football magazines. (We also have some fun by naming Kentucky Derby horses too.)

 

- What do the latest data reports mean for the future of the Big 12? What is the right structure for the Big 12?

 

- Who should the league target for expansion and should the Big 12 add a title game?

 

- What happens if Oklahoma decides to leave the Big 12? Who goes with them? Where would they land? And what happens to the rest of the Big 12?

 

- Are we concerned about the new norm in Big 12 football or is this just a regular sports cycle?

 

- To lighten the mood after all of that expansion talk, the guys offer up their favorite college football names for The Kentucky Derby. Bong Mask wasn't one of them.

 

 

Send any ideas, questions or comments to  @AthlonMitch or @DavidFox615 or email . The podcast can be found on  and our .

Teaser:
College Football Podcast: Power 5 Round Table, Art Briles and Idaho
Post date: Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 16:21
Path: /college-football/accs-top-15-players-rise-2016
Body:

Breakout players and the emergence of new faces are one of college football’s annual traditions. Players can go from a backup position into a starting role to earn all-conference honors or produce a big season. Incoming or redshirt freshmen can also make an impact in their first season on campus. Regardless of how players arrive on campus, it’s no secret a new wave of standouts will emerge next season.

 

With spring practice finished for all 128 teams, this is the first opportunity for coaching staffs to get a look at how their team stacks up for 2016. Additionally, this is also the first chance for players to step up into the spotlight and emerge as a breakout candidate.

 

Who are the names to watch in 2016 as players on the rise in the ACC? Here are 15 names to watch now that spring ball has finished in the conference:

 

ACC's Top 15 Players on the Rise for 2016

 

Andrew Brown, DL, Virginia

Placing Brown in this list is a bit of a gamble. He was a big-time pickup on the recruiting trail in 2014 as a five-star recruit for former coach Mike London. However, over the last two years, Brown has played in only 16 games and has just 10 tackles and one sack on the stat sheet. Despite the minimal production from 2014-15, Brown needs to be a key cog up front on Virginia’s defense under new coach Bronco Mendenhall. With Mendenhall and assistant Ruffin McNeill pushing Brown to improve, the junior should have a breakout performance in 2016.

 

Related:

 

Geron Christian, OT, Louisville

The offensive line is Louisville’s biggest question mark entering the 2016 season, but there are pieces for coach Bobby Petrino to work with. Christian is one of the players to watch in the trenches, as the Florida native returns after starting all 13 games at left tackle as a true freshman last season. At 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, Christian has good size to anchor the left side of the line and will only get better with another year to work in the weight room.

 

Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

Mike Rose (10.5 sacks) departs Raleigh, but NC State’s defensive line still has talented pieces in place. Chubb recorded 5.5 sacks and 11 tackles for a loss in 13 games last season and is poised to take on a bigger role with Rose out of eligibility. The Georgia native is a converted linebacker with good speed off the edge to wreak havoc against opposing offensive linemen.

 

Eric Dungey, QB, Syracuse

It’s no secret Dungey was one of the big winners of Syracuse’s coaching change and the hire of Dino Babers. The Orange are shifting their offensive style to more of an up-tempo, wide-open spread attack, which should play well in the Carrier Dome. And there’s a track record of success under Babers, as his offense at Bowling Green in 2015 averaged 42.2 points a game. Dungey showed promise in eight games last year, throwing for 1,298 yards and 11 scores. With a new wide-open offense in place, Dungey should post huge numbers in his first year under Babers.

 

Related:

 

Duke Ejiofor, DL, Wake Forest

Wake Forest’s defense might have been one of the ACC’s most underrated units last season. The Demon Deacons limited opponents to just 24.6 points a game and ranked second in the ACC in red zone defense. And with a strong core returning in 2016, Wake Forest’s defense should be near the top of the ACC once again. Ejiofor is one of the leaders for coordinator Mike Elko, as he recorded 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for a loss in only seven games last year. With a full season of snaps ahead, Ejiofor should easily surpass those totals and push for All-ACC honors.

 

Dewayne Hendrix, DE, Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh already boasts one of the ACC’s top linemen in end Ejuan Price, and the pass rush could get even better with the addition of Hendrix as a transfer from Tennessee. Hendrix ranked as the No. 117 overall recruit in the 2014 signing class and played in seven games during his first year with the Volunteers. After sitting out a year due to transfer rules, Hendrix is poised to claim a starting job opposite of Price and provide another potential standout to Pat Narduzzi’s defense.

 

Derwin James, S, Florida State

James could be too established for this list, but the sophomore is poised for a monster year. The Florida native played in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2015 and recorded 91 stops (9.5 for a loss), 4.5 sacks, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles. James could be used in a variety of roles for coordinator Charles Kelly, and his versatility will be a huge bonus for a defense that loses Jalen Ramsey.

 

Related:

 

Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

Boston College’s defense didn’t have much help from its offense last year, yet managed to hold opponents to only 15.3 points a game and finish first nationally in fewest yards per play allowed (4.1). Even though coordinator Don Brown left for Michigan, the Eagles should have one of the ACC’s top defenses in 2016. Landry is one of the building blocks for Brown after a promising sophomore campaign. In 12 contests, Landry recorded 60 tackles (15.5 for a loss), 4.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. Expect Landry to push for first-team All-ACC honors in 2016.

 

Travon McMillian, RB, Virginia Tech

McMillian recorded Virginia Tech’s first 1,000-yard season in three years by rushing for 1,042 yards and seven scores last season. He emerged as the Hokies’ go-to option in the second half of 2015 and rushed for at least 80 yards in each of the team’s last eight games. McMillian also recorded three consecutive 100-yard performances late in the year and rushed for 82 yards on 16 attempts against Tulsa in the Independence Bowl. With a full season to work as the starter, another 1,000-yard campaign is certainly within reach for McMillian.

 

Brant Mitchell, LB, Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech’s defense surrendered 31.3 points in ACC contests last season, and with a revamped secondary in place for 2016, improvement on this unit has to start up front. The good news for the Yellow Jackets? There’s talent in the front seven, headlined by end KeShun Freeman, tackle Patrick Gamble and linebacker P.J. Davis. Another player likely to join the list of standouts on defense in 2016 should be Mitchell. In 12 appearances as a true freshman last season, Mitchell impressed by recording 36 tackles (2.5 for a loss), one sack and two interceptions. 

 

Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE, Miami

New line coach Craig Kuligowski was regarded as one of the best in the nation at Missouri, and his arrival in Coral Gables should provide a good boost to Miami’s defensive line. Muhammad flashed potential late last year, recording two sacks over the final three games. The New Jersey native finished 2015 with 54 overall stops (8.5 for a loss), five sacks and one pass breakup. Look for Muhammad to emerge as one of the ACC’s top defensive linemen in 2016.

 

Related:

 

Marquies Price, DE, Duke

Price’s contribution to the stat sheet was minimal last year. In 10 appearances, the Georgia native recorded 11 tackles (3.5 tackles for a loss) and 1.5 sacks. However, the sophomore is expected to have a breakout campaign for Duke’s defense in 2016. The Blue Devils are replacing a handful of key performers in the trenches from last year’s unit, including tackle Carlos Wray and end Kyler Brown. Expect Price to emerge as a key cog in the front seven for coordinator Jim Knowles.

 

Auden Tate, WR, Florida State

Florida State’s receiving corps returns three players with at least 50 receptions, but coach Jimbo Fisher needs more from this unit in 2016. Tate is a name to remember this fall after a huge spring, which was capped by catching six passes for 100 yards and two scores in the Garnet and Gold Game. Even though the Seminoles have proven targets at the top of the receiving corps, why might Tate be an appealing option for more snaps? At 6-foot-5 and 218 pounds, Tate would provide the passing game some much-needed size on the outside.  

 

Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

Marquise Williams leaves big shoes to fill after earning second-team All-ACC honors last season, but North Carolina’s quarterback position is in good hands with Trubisky. In limited snaps over the last two seasons, Trubisky has completed 82 of 125 passes for 1,014 yards and 11 scores. The junior may not be as dynamic of a runner as Williams was, but he certainly isn’t a statue in the pocket. Trubisky could push for All-ACC honors in 2016.

 

Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson

For the second consecutive season, coordinator Brent Venables has plenty of work to do in rebuilding Clemson’s defensive front. However, just as the Tigers showed last year, there’s no shortage of talent and the drop off in production should be minimal. Wilkins flashed his talent in 15 appearances last season, recording 33 tackles (4.5 for a loss), two sacks and one forced fumble. His versatility is also a huge asset for Venables, as Wilkins could see snaps at end and tackle. A breakout year is coming for Wilkins in a full-time role this fall.

Teaser:
ACC's Top 15 Players on the Rise for 2016
Post date: Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Olympics
Path: /olympics/caitlyn-jenner-pose-nude-gold-medal-sports-illustrated-montreal-games-1976-si
Body:

Sports Illustrated is continuing to break barriers and with the Olympics coming up, this seems like the perfect time to showcase Caitlyn Jenner and her medal from the 1976 Montreal Summer Games.

 

According to US Weekly, 66-year-old Jenner, Bruce at the time she won, will pose for the magazine wearing only the medal and the American flag. Jenner's rep told the Huffington Post there was "no comment on any future plans at this time."

 

This isn't the first time Jenner has received praise from the company. Time, Inc., the parent company of Sports Illustrated, named Jenner as a runner-up for person of the year.

 

 

Jenner was also presented with the at the ESPYs in 2015. 

 

Despite people petitioning for Jenner's medal to be revoked, she's still in sole possession and plans to show it off.

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 09:46
Path: /college-football/top-notre-dame-2017-nfl-draft-prospects-watch
Body:

was well represented at the 2016 NFL Draft. From Ronnie Stanley, taken sixth overall by the Baltimore Ravens, to Sheldon Day, selected in the fourth round by Jacksonville, seven Fighting Irish players heard their names called this past weekend.

 

Related:

 

While there are approximately 360 days and a full college season to play before next year’s NFL Draft, let’s take a look ahead and profile Notre Dame’s top prospects (in alphabetical order) for NFL entry in 2017.

 

Tarean Folston, RB (Sr., 5-9, 214)

Folston’s first priority is to fully recover from last season’s knee injury. But when healthy, Folston is a strong, tough runner that can catch the ball out of the backfield and teams could see value in that during the middle rounds.

 

Torii Hunter Jr., WR (Jr., 6-0, 195)

Hunter was not even a starter this past season, but many project him to be Notre Dame’s top wide receiver next fall. If that occurs, considering the success Notre Dame has had throwing the ball in recent years, Hunter will put up numbers that may have him considering an early departure.

 

Jarron Jones, DT (Sr., 6-5, 315)

Jones battled his own knee issues in 2015. The big interior lineman was able to make it back for the Fiesta Bowl game against Ohio State. Like Folston, Jones is an impact player whose draft stock is contingent on the number of snaps he plays this year.

 

DeShone Kizer, QB (Jr., 6-4, 230)

It’s not a given that Kizer is even named the starting quarterback when the Irish open up at Texas on Sept. 4. But he has NFL size and showed the kind of toughness that NFL teams love. A big season, one that includes cutting down on mistakes, could lead to Kizer being talked about as a top prospect. As of now, though, quarterbacks like Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Miami’s Brad Kaaya, and Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly are being mentioned more in early 2017 mock drafts.

 

Cole Luke, CB (Sr., 5-11, 193)

Luke’s standing may have dipped after a junior season that was not up to the standards set by his sophomore campaign. He’ll have one more crack at impressing the scouts and with KeiVarae Russell gone; Luke now becomes the leader of the Irish secondary.

 

Mike McGlinchey, OT (Sr., 6-7, 310)

Former Irish left tackle Zack Martin was selected in the first round by the Cowboys in 2014. The next fall, right tackle Ronnie Stanley moved into Martin’s spot and made himself into the sixth pick in last week's draft. McGlinchey could be next in line as he will switch sides this season. He is perhaps the most likely Irish candidate to be selected in the first round.

 

Quenton Nelson, OG (Jr., 6-5, 325)

Nelson and McGlinchey will make a formidable left side of the Notre Dame offensive line. Nelson could develop into a top interior line prospect. However, guards are not regarded as highly as tackles, meaning it will be more difficult for him to achieve a really high draft grade.

 

James Onwualu, LB, (Sr., 6-1, 232)

He’s never going to be the biggest linebacker on the planet, but Onwualu has some athleticism that may allow him to stick in the NFL for a while. His versatility to contribute on special teams may make him a possible late-round selection.

 

Max Redfield, S (Sr., 6-1, 205)

There were rumors at the end of last season that Redfield was contemplating entering the 2016 draft. Since his play has been inconsistent throughout his entire Notre Dame career, coming back for a final season was a wise move. Early-entry freshman Devin Studstill is pushing Redfield for playing time and the former 5-star recruit will have difficulty impressing NFL evaluators if he is not on the field.

 

Isaac Rochell, DE (Sr., 6-3, 290)

When considering defensive ends, NFL teams first look at guys that can get after the passer. That’s really not Rochell’s game. His forte is setting the edge in the run game and providing flexibility by being able to shift inside in certain situations. That type of skill set, along with Rochell’s intelligence and motor, probably equate to a middle-round selection.

 

Malik Zaire, QB (Sr., 6-0, 225)

It’s far more likely that if Zaire leaves Notre Dame following the 2016 season it’s as a graduate transfer so that he can play quarterback right away. However, if he is utilized in multiple ways by the Irish this fall and he is okay with continuing the slash role in the NFL, maybe there’s a chance.

 

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the  for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter .

Teaser:
Top Notre Dame 2017 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch
Post date: Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/steph-curry-mistakenly-tweets-porn-account-golden-state-warriors-brandon-rush-twitter
Body:

Steph Curry has over five million followers so he, more than most, has to double-check his tweets.

 

After the Warriors beat the Trail Blazers in Game 2, the Golden State star tweeted to congratulate his teammates with one crucial mistake. He meant to tweet Brandon Rush, @BRush_25, but he mistakenly tweeted at brush_4, which is an account that tweets out NSFW things. In all fairness, it used to be Rush's old account. 

 

 

This is the second tweet and although the first one was deleted, a lot of people saw the mistake. 

 

 

 

 

However, there was some good to come out of the whole ordeal.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - 14:59
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/nfl-teams-star-wars-day-may-4th-be-with-you-bears-browns-ravens-patriots-chiefs-jets-redskins
Body:

The NFL is definitely a fan of Star Wars.

 

On the iconic Star Wars Day, also known as May 4th, teams brought their best to Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Patriots kept it very Patriot-like.

 

 

The Bears definitely put a lot of effort in multiple tweets, showering us with wisdom throughout the day.

 

 

 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - 13:34
All taxonomy terms: High School
Path: /high-school/petition-started-hunter-osborn-red-mountain-high-school-photo-indecent-exposure
Body:

A football player was charged with multiple counts of indecent , and students say he's being unfailry charged.

 

A petition has been started on for Hunter Osborn in order for him to graduate from Red Mountain High School with his peers.

 

The petition states: 

 

"The problem isn't with just the photo but instead that it was published in the school yearbook and distributed. He was jailed on the night of his senior prom with 69 counts of indecent exposure, a class 1 misdemeanor, and a class 4 felony. He didn't put the picture in the yearbook, he didn't create the page, he wasn't the editor that approved it, or the teacher responsible for publishing it and distributing it to students. The team responsible for the yearbook should be fired. Red Mountain High School is using him as a scapegoat instead of taking any responsibility! Hunter needs to be held accountable for his actions but that doesn't mean ruining his life! #FreeHunter"

 

The 10 faculty members and 59 students present when Osborn exposed himself are victims of the crime, but students at the school say he's being punished too harshly. Another problem is that the editors and faculty involved in the yearbook aren't being reprimanded in any way.

 

Osborn's next court appearance is scheduled for May 16.

 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - 11:32
Path: /college-football/top-25-pac-12-2017-nfl-draft-prospects-watch
Body:

Before they were NFL legends, pro football stars like John Elway, Marcus Allen, Dan Fouts and Tedy Bruschi dominated at universities in the present-day Conference. 

 

Related:

 

The next generation of Pac-12-produced NFL talent could get its professional start after being high picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. Which Pac-12 prospects are the ones to keep an eye on this fall? Here are the top 25 names that could wind up atop many draft boards a year from now.

 

Power Five Conference 2017 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch
I I I I  I

 

1. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC (Jr., 6-2, 215)

Strength, speed, agility: Smith-Schuster hits every mark necessary to be an elite wide receiver in the NFL. Smith-Schuster's a consummate possession receiver in the mold of Anquan Boldin.

 

Smith-Schuster should be the first wide receiver taken in the 2017 draft, and perhaps one of the first five players selected overall.

 

2. Christian McCaffrey, RB/RS, Stanford (Jr., 6-0, 202)

The 2015 Heisman Trophy runner-up matched a feat only achieved twice before in college football history, scoring touchdowns in five different ways: run, reception, pass, kickoff return and punt return.

 

McCaffrey's rare blend of talents make him an intriguing prospect. While he may not have the size of a prototypical, every-down back, he's a proven commodity as a wide receiver.

 

3. Zach Banner, OT, USC (Sr., 6-9, 360)

Banner opted to return to USC for his senior season, and his draft stock will be better for it. The son of former Pac-12 (Washington) and NFL standout Lincoln Kennedy, Banner's built to make the same kind of impact on Sundays.

 

Banner started at right tackle each of the last two seasons, but Chad Wheeler's suspension late in 2015 gave him the opportunity to move to the left side. Banner's proven ability to play on either side should make him a potential top 10 pick next spring.

 

4. Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon (Jr., 5-11, 230)

The stigma that briefly plagued running back prospects in the draft has seemingly alleviated in recent years. Most recently, Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott went No. 4 in this year's draft.

 

Freeman is a back in the same mold as Elliott, combining punishing power with breakaway speed.

 

5. Adoree' Jackson, CB/RS, USC (Jr., 5-11, 185)

Multi-talented may not be a strong enough adjective to describe Jackson's game. He's been as good on defense at cornerback as he is on special teams as a returner, and established himself as one of the USC offense's most explosive playmakers as a wide receiver.

 

No doubt an NFL franchise will find a way to make good use of Jackson's many skills. The only question is how.

 

6. Lowell Lotulelei, DT, Utah (Jr., 6-2, 310)

The brother of former first-round pick Star Lotulelei, Lowell Lotulelei is poised to turn draft weekend into a family tradition.

 

Lotulelei's somewhat lighter than the prototypical pro defensive tackle, but more than compensates with his punch off the line and quick footwork. He'll grow into one of the top prospects for organizations seeking help on the interior of the defensive line.

 

7. Budda Baker, FS, Washington (Jr., 5-10, 184)

Baker made an impact from the first game he donned the Huskies' purple and gold. He should play a similar role from the moment he joins the NFL.

 

Baker earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2015, one year removed from Freshman All-American recognition. He's one of the hardest hitting defensive backs in the conference, while simultaneously standing out as one of the speediest.

 

8. Eddie Vanderdoes, DL, UCLA (Jr., 6-3, 305)

Part of Vanderdoes' intrigue as a draft prospect is his versatility. He can play end in a 3-4 base, or tackle in a 4-3. That alone should earn him plenty of attention from the pros.

 

The most damaging knock on Vanderdoes, considered a slam-dunk prospect since his high school days, is his health. He missed all but Week 1 of the 2015 season due to a torn ACL.

 

9. Luke Falk, QB, Washington State (Jr., 6-4, 214)

The breakout player of Washington State's breakout season, Falk turned heads with his big arm and uncanny field vision. 

 

Falk boasts the measurable attributes NFL organizations covet in a quarterback prospect. With Pac-12 counterpart Jared Goff going No. 1 overall this year, the stigma surrounding Air Raid-developed quarterbacks also seems to be relaxing. That's a benefit to Falk, whose stock should soar if he matches his 2015 production.

 

10. Sidney Jones, CB, Washington (Jr., 6-0, 180)

The suspension that sidelined current Kansas City Chief Marcus Peters for most of the 2014 season forced Jones into a key role as a true freshman. He may be just a junior, but Jones heads into the 2016 campaign with plenty of experience at cornerback — and some hardware.

 

Jones was an All-Pac-12 selection in 2015, making opposing offenses pay for throwing in his direction with a conference-best 14 pass deflections. His nose for the ball makes Jones a top-level coverage corner prospect.

 

11. Conor McDermott, OT, UCLA (Sr., 6-9, 310)

Moving McDermott from tight end in goal-line packages to tackle paid immediate dividends for UCLA in 2014. He has since established himself as the Bruins' premier blocker in pass protection, and could develop into one of the nation's top NFL prospects by this time next year.

 

McDermott should benefit from UCLA's implementation of an offensive scheme more reflective of those run in the NFL.

 

12. Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado (Sr., 6-0, 205)

The recent trend among NFL defenses is reliance on a bigger cornerback. Awuzie fits the bill at over 200 pounds, giving him the size and strength to jam opposing wide receivers at the line of scrimmage.

 

A defense loses nothing with Awuzie in coverage, either, evident in his 10 pass breakups a season ago. He also can bring heat off the edge in blitz packages when called upon.

 

13. Gabe Marks, WR, Washington State (Sr., 6-0, 188)

Marks had an absolute monster season in 2015, and he's back for more after eschewing this year's draft.

 

Marks proved his reliablity, hauling in 104 passes, 15 of which went for touchdowns. He shortens his road to the end zone with explosive speed, beating defensive backs to find pay dirt. Marks should be one of the faster wide receivers available in the 2017 draft class.

 

14. Tyree Robinson, FS, Oregon (Jr., 6-4, 205)

Robinson has only begun to scratch the surface of his lofty potential. He broke into the starting lineup a season ago and patrolled the secondary to the tune of three interceptions.

 

Because of his size, Robinson can be a unique safety. A big year should propel him up draft boards.

 

15. Darren Carrington, WR, Oregon (Jr., 6-2, 195)

In a loaded Oregon wide receiving corps, Carrington's the star. He was limited in 2015, which prevented him from putting up monster numbers, but look for Carrington to make up for lost time. 

 

As Carrington's statistics climb, so too will his draft stock. He's an excellent route runner with sure hands and an impressive vertical leap.

 

16. Deon Hollins, OLB, UCLA (Sr., 6-0, 230) 

Hollins made an unexpected star turn as one of the Pac-12's elite pass rushers in 2014, but his production dipped a season ago.

 

He needs a return to 2014 form in his final go-around, but statisical output won't define Hollins' draft appeal. He's a tenacious and fast presence blitzing off the edge, and a tireless worker.

 

17. Kylie Fitts, DE, Utah (Jr., 6-4, 265) 

Despite bouncing around early in his career, landing at UCLA for a brief run after decommitting from USC, Fitts found a home at Utah. He was excellent in his first season as a Ute, recording eight tackles for a loss and forcing a remarkable four fumbles.

 

Fitts has NFL-ready size, a contributing factor in the lofty expectations that followed him into college. According to some publications, he was the nation's top-rated defensive end in 2013. Fitts has finally begun to tap into that potential at Utah.

 

18. Randall Goforth, SS, UCLA (Sr., 5-10, 190) 

If there's a turnover forced by the UCLA secondary, chances are Goforth's involved. He's an impressive playmaker with an uncanny nose for the ball, and an even more effective knack for dislodging it from offensive players.

 

19. Michael Rector, WR, Stanford (Sr., 6-1, 185)

Last season, wide receiver Devon Cajuste and tight end Austin Hooper brought the thunder in Stanford's passing attack. Rector supplied the lightning. He was an essential piece in the Cardinal's offense, juxtaposing the big men nicely as the deep-ball threat.

 

His two-touchdown performance in the Rose Bowl could have been a stepping stone to this year's draft, but as Stanford's go-to guy in the fall, he should improve his stock for 2017.

 

20. Darreus Rogers, WR, USC (Sr., 6-1, 215) 

Primed for a breakout fall, Rogers could be one of the conference's big climbers as far as NFL draft stock.
 
Rogers has good size at 215 pounds, helping him overpower smaller defensive backs. He's also surprisingly fast for his frame, positioning him to be one of the Trojans' vertical threats in 2016.

 

21. Paul Magloire, SS, Arizona (Sr., 6-1, 221)

Magloire offers inside linebacker size with the speed and coverage ability of a defensive back. As the Wildcats shift to a more traditional defense than the 3-3-5 scheme employed in recent seasons, Magloire should benefit.

 

An increase in production and more time spent strictly in the secondary under new defensive coordinator Marcel Yates should bolster Magloire's draft profile.

 

22. Justin Davis, RB, USC (Sr., 6-1, 195)

Head coach Clay Helton dubbed Davis the A-1 of USC's loaded backfield in 2016. That's a lofty vote of confidence for the talented senior, and an opportunity for him to show his stuff to NFL scouts.

 

USC's depth also means Davis won't have to rack up too much mileage, a plus for his draft stock.

 

23. Freddie Tagaloa, OT, Arizona (Sr., 6-8, 320)

Few offensive tackles in the 2017 draft class can match Tagaloa's size. He's a massive body blocking on the quarterback's blind side.

 

But injuries across Arizona's front five a season ago forced Tagaloa into other roles. He played on the interior as well as on the outside, showing off versatility that could help his stock with NFL teams.

 

24. Evan Baylis, TE, Oregon (Sr., 6-6, 250)

Teams seeking the dangerous, pass-catching tight end that is all the rage in the present-day NFL just might have their guy in Baylis.

 

He'd been a reliable blocker earlier in his career, but stepped up as a target in 2015. He's primed for a big, final season. 

 

25. Max Browne, QB, USC (Jr., 6-5, 220)

Something of a wild card, as Browne has yet to play a meaningful snap in his college career. However, he arrived at USC with 5-star billing, seemingly ready-made for the NFL with his size, arm strength and grasp of the pro-style offense. 

 

Few players in college football have as much room to rise up draft boards in 2016 as Browne. With a big year, he could play his way to the very top.

 

— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of . Follow him on Twitter

Teaser:
Top 25 Pac-12 2017 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch
Post date: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/6-nebraska-cornhuskers-2017-nfl-draft-prospects-watch
Body:

The 2016 NFL Draft is over and four (Maliek Collins, Vincent Valentine, Alex Lewis, Andy Janovich) heard their names called. However, it’s never too early to look to next year and see which members of the Big Red could keep the Huskers’ impressive of putting players into The League alive.

 

Jordan Westerkamp, WR

A near-lock to extend Nebraska’s streak of NFL draftees, Westerkamp will be Nebraska’s No. 1 receiver and have every opportunity to become the first Husker to break the 1,000-yard barrier as a pass catcher.

 

Route running isn’t an issue and he has arguably . Ideally he can put on some more solid weight during the offseason to up his already impressive durability. He won’t blow scouts away based on raw speed, but his agility and ability to simply make plays speaks for itself.

 

Nate Gerry, S

Gerry’s another Husker that could leap up draft boards with a banner year. He already has excellent size (6-2, 210) and picked up his level of play towards the end of 2015 with solid games versus Iowa and UCLA. Not only can he attack the run well, his heads-up play and nose for the ball have helped him total nine interceptions over the past two seasons.

 

A defensive captain as a junior, Gerry needs to have a consistent year of taking proper tackling angles and not being out of place when trying to play a receiver. Let’s not forget that he was part of a secondary that was ranked No. 122 (290.5 passing ypg) last season. Even a modest uptick in performance should help the Huskers and his draft stock.

 

Related: 

 

Cethan Carter, TE

Quite possibly the first Husker to be taken in the 2017 NFL Draft, Carter is being set up to excel much like fullback Andy Janovich – who was selected in the sixth round by Denver –  was last season. Carter has already showed that he can thrive in Mike Riley’s offense. Not only was he one of six Huskers with more than 20 catches in 2015, he became one of the Big Red’s .

 

Carter also flashed his potential as a running threat with a and a similar 16-yard scamper versus UCLA in the 2015 Foster Farms Bowl. . A solid senior year coupled with a strong showing at the NFL Scouting Combine (assuming he gets an invitation) could make Carter a wanted man a year from now.

 

Terrell Newby, RB

​Newby’s climb onto a team’s draft board is only partially controlled by him. It appears that he’ll be splitting time in the backfield with Devine Ozigbo and Mikale Wilbon as of now. If Newby asserts himself as the No. 1 back and can improve on 2015’s 765 yards rushing, that’ll be part of the equation. He’ll have to polish his pass-blocking skills and show he can be a legitimate receiving threat out of the backfield as well to make a compelling case.

 

Josh Banderas, LB

A potential defensive captain, 2016 is Banderas’ year to shine as he’ll be looked to help stop the run and chip in on pass coverage. He lacks elite speed, but has versatility being able to play both interior and outside roles. He likely sticks to the former for the Huskers’ upcoming season.

 

Despite missing four of the first six games in 2015 with a groin injury, he still managed to be one of the Big Red’s leading tacklers with 61 (34 solo). He already has the size (6-2, 210). He’ll have to show the ability to get into the backfield more often and be a more reliable defensive pest in pass coverage to get noticed.

 

Sam Foltz, P

If former Florida State Seminole kicker Roberto Aguayo is worth trading up to select in the second round, Foltz surely needs to be mentioned as a potential mid- to late-round pick. In 2015, he was ranked No. 21 in the nation with an average of 44 yards per boot, downing 15 punts inside the 20-yard line and booming 16 beyond 50 yards.

 

Three punters were taken in the 2016 NFL Draft. You’d better believe Foltz will have every opportunity to show off his thunderous foot and make hismself too tempting for one of the 32 teams to pass up.

 

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to like his follow him on Twitter () and on Periscope ().

Teaser:
6 Nebraska Cornhuskers 2017 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch
Post date: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/russell-wilson-seattle-supersonics-seahawks-quarterback-petition-twitter
Body:

The Seattle Supersonics represent the highest form of nostalgia. The younger generations remembers them as the team Kevin Durant was drafted to, but they were so much more than that.

 

Russell Wilson is one of those people longing for an NBA to return to Seattle. While watching the Trail Blazers take on the Warriors, he started tweeting about the potential of a team returning to Seattle. Portland is the closest team for Seattle fans to go see, but obviously it's not the same.  

 

 

 

It wasn't the first time Wilson talked about bringing a team back to the area.

 

 

 

It's going to take more than Seattle's biggest star to get an NBA team back there but if anyone can help, it's Wilson.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - 09:57

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