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Path: /mlb/ubaldo-jimenez-robs-hit-willie-mays-catch
Body:

With two men in scoring position with two outs, Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was forced to channel his inner Willie Mays to prevent any runs to score. In the bottom of the third, Eddie Rosario had the opportunity to break the scoreless game. Jimenez delivered a high inside fastball that jammed Rosario, but it was a weak hit with the infield playing deep.

 

Thus, that left no player with a clean play, and Jimenez was the only one close enough to get to the ball. With his back turned to the ball and racing to the front edge of the infield, he reached up and out in front of him, snagging it. The catch was certainly incredible for any player, let alone a pitcher.

 

Compare this catch to Willie Mays’ famous one in 1954:





 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 16:14
Path: /college-football/retrial-date-set-vanderbilt-rape-case
Body:

After the conviction then mistrial in the Vanderbilt rape case that exposed some major problems between sports and college, the judge has set a new trial date for November 30. Former Commodores Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey were convicted on January 27 for their role in a rape of an unconscious woman in June 2013 at a campus dorm. However, it was declared a mistrial after a juror did not disclose that he had previously been a victim of a sexual assault.

 

While the victim and prosecution have stated that they are ready for the upcoming trial, the defense seems to be worried about the lack of time. The prosecution remains optimistic about a conviction given the overwhelming evidence and success in the last trial.  

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 15:39
Path: /college-football/deandre-johnson-allegedly-called-racial-slurs-and-attacked-punch
Body:

After a video showing De’Andre Johnson allegedly striking a woman at a bar surfaced, Florida State quickly dismissed him from the team. However, Johnson’s lawyer has come out and stated that the woman instigated the punch. He alleged that she used racial slurs and hit him twice, including a knee to the groin and an attempted punch.

 

While Johnson pleads his case, his lawyer also noted that he fully regrets the actions he took that night at the bar. He stated his wrongdoings, as he recognizes that he should have walked away from the situation instead of retaliating. Johnson has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor battery for the incident.

See the disturbing video below:

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 15:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA, Overtime
Path: /nba/emoji-war-breaks-out-deandre-jordan-race-clippers-mavericks-chris-paul-chandler-parsons-blake
Body:

I've never seen grown men use more emojis than in the quest for DeAndre Jordan.

 

After word spread that Jordan was having second thoughts about signing with the Mavericks and would have another meeting with the Clippers, it was off to the races. First Chandler Parsons let the world know he was not going to give up the big man that easy.

 

 

 

 

Chris Paul won the day, by far. After his now infamous picture of having fun on a banana boat with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Gabrielle Union, he tweeted this.

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, NBA champ Draymond Green is just enjoying the show.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 14:57
All taxonomy terms: Golf, News
Path: /golf/injury-forces-rory-mcilroy-out-british-open
Body:

After recently revealing his off-the-field injury, Rory McIlroy announced on Instagram that he is withdrawing from the upcoming Open Championship. Due to the extent of the injury, it seemed unlikely that the defending champion would be able to play. Even if he did, he surely would have not been at his full ability and that served as one of his reasons.

 

Many fans will certainly be disappointed that his newly formed competitive rivalry with Jordan Spieth will be absent for the Major Championship. McIlroy has not announced any timetable for his return, but he stated that his rehab is going well so far. In the meantime, he has been following Wimbledon on TV at home.

See his announcement below:
 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 14:28
Path: /nfl/cj-wilson-becomes-second-nfl-player-be-injured-fireworks
Body:

Like Andy Warhol said, “one’s company, two’s a crowd,” Jason Pierre Paul is apparently not the only one to suffer from a fireworks-related injury. Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback C.J. Wilson reportedly injured himself over the July 4th holiday while shooting off fireworks. He too suffered a hand injury, but the extent is unknown.

 

According to 2012 data from the National Fire Protection Association, around 8,700 people were treated for injuries resulting from fireworks. July 4th certainly sees the highest amount of these injuries due to the sheer volume of fireworks shot off. It seems that not even NFL players are immune from such injuries, with two suffering from them this past weekend. 

Read the Buccaneers' statement below:
 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 13:41
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/all-about-2015-espy-awards
Body:

While professional sports may stop for a week in July, the ESPY Awards celebrate the incredible accomplishments of athletes on and off the field. Like always, it is an exciting night full of laughs, joys, and even tears. It's a cant-miss event for any sports event, so here is some information you need to know beforehand:

Event: 23rd annual ESPY Awards

 

Time: July 15, 8/7 CT

 

Channel: ABC

 

Place: Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, California

 

Host: Joel McHale

 

 

What to expect: Plenty of jokes, especially on sensitive issues. Awards hosts never shy away from any type of joke, especially at the ESPYs. A tribute of Stuart Scott that will leave the whole audience teary-eyed. All eyes on Caitlyn Jenner’s speech and a standing ovation from the crowd of A-listers there. However, don’t expect the same support on social media. Gift bags for athletes and celebrities in attendance worth over $20,000. Jealous of everybody there, as it’s the best place to be that night.

 

 

Major Awards Predictions

 

Best Male Athlete: Stephen Curry, Lebron James, Aaron Rodgers, J.J. Watt

 

Of the four candidates, Steph Curry is the only one to have won a championship this year. He also took home the NBA MVP Award and has emerged as one of the best young athletes in the country.

 

Best Female Athlete: Ronda Rousey, Breanna Stewart, Serena Williams

 

At 33 years old, Serena Williams is still dominating the women's tennis scene. Since last year's ESPY Awards, she has won the Australian Open, French Open, and US Open, among several other tournament wins. She's arguably one of the best athletes in the world, as seen by her ongoing display at Wimbledon.

 

Best Team: New England Patriots, Connecticut Huskies, Golden State Warriors, Chicago Blackhawks, Ohio State Buckeyes, U.S. Women’s Soccer

 

While these are all championship teams, the Ohio State Buckeyes take the honor because of their ability to perform so well when their first two quarterbacks went down with injuries. But they persevered through the season and the playoffs and cruised to a 42-20 victory over Oregon in the championship.

 

Best Game: A’s vs. Royals, Spurs vs. Clippers Game 7, Seahawks vs. Patriots

 

If Marshawn Lynch runs the ball, this isn’t the winner. But the ending to Super Bowl XLIX is certainly up there in the best all-time category. The dramatic finish with Malcolm Butler’s interception of Russell Wilson created controversy immediately, and it still continues to be brought up as one of the most questionable play calls ever.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 13:06
All taxonomy terms: MLB, News
Path: /mlb/best-candidates-2015-home-run-derby
Body:

To help boost low ratings, MLB has changed some of the rules for this year's Home Run Derby, which will take place on July 13 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. Instead of 10 batters, only eight will compete, and they will be given five minutes each round, as opposed to 10 outs. Batters will be given extra time increments for home runs of 420 and 475 feet, and time will stop after each home run with under a minute left. With the event coming next week, under two weeks away, here's a look at six of the best candidates in each league for this year's derby:

 

American League

 

Albert Pujols

We're cheating a bit here since Pujols said on Tuesday that he would be participating in the Home Run Derby. And it's an honor, Pujols has earned, as the three-time NL MVP is enjoying a resurgent season at the plate. Since June 1, he has belted 15 home runs, which is tied with J.D. Martinez for the most in baseball during this span. His 26 total home runs currently lead the AL and are just one behind Miami's Giancarlo Stanton, who is on the DL with a broken wrist. At this rate, Pujols could wind up having his best home run season of his career at age 35. He has participated in the event three times in his career, with his last time coming in 2009.


 

Mike Trout

This one goes pretty much without saying, as Trout clubbed his 120th career home run on Tuesday night in Colorado. Already the youngest with 100 career home runs and stolen bases, Trout is on pace for a career-best 42 long balls this season. Don't forget, he won't even turn 24 until August. If Trout and fellow Angel Pujols are both in the Derby, not only would give it offer some friendly competition between teammates, it also would make for a great storyline as the game's former best player would go head-to-head against the current holder of said title.

 


 

Josh Donaldson

Even though he plays north of the border for the Blue Jays, Donaldson has been able to garner plenty of attention. The AL's starting third baseman in the All-Star Game, Donaldson also set a single-season record by receiving more than 14 million votes from the fans. He's tied for eighth in the majors with 21 home runs, but he makes the most of them, as two of his blasts have traveled more than 450 feet. They don't call him "Bringer of Rain" for nothing.

Yoenis Cespedes

Cespedes hasn’t hit home runs well enough to truly deserve a spot on this list, but he might get the nod solely because he has won the past two contests. He could join Ken Griffey Jr. as the only player with three titles, and a win would make it his third consecutive victory. He’ll add a historical effect to the derby, as he has the chance to tie an all-time legend.

 

J.D. Martinez

On a team highlighted by Miguel Cabrera, Martinez also has gotten the job done at the plate this year, helping keep the Tigers competitive in a surprisingly tough AL Central. His 24 home runs lead his team and are second only to Pujols in the AL. With teammate Cespedes a possible candidate, bragging rights in the clubhouse could be on the line Monday night in Cincinnati.


 

Luis Valbuena

On a Houston Astros team that leads baseball in both home runs and strike outs, it only seems fitting that they send a player to the derby. Valbuena leads the team with 19 home runs, as he already has amassed more than any of his previous seasons since 2008. He's not quite the big name they might be seeking, but he has the power they want, and in a competition like this his near-Mendoza-level batting average (.203) won't stick out as much.

 

National League

 

Todd Frazier

Frazier has to be the lock of the home run derby. Not only is he tied for third in the majors with 25 home runs, he's the NL's starting third baseman for the All-Star Game, which is being played in Cincinnati. Frazier also made it to last year’s derby championship round, so he certainly would be the fan favorite to win it in his home ball park.



 

Nolan Arenado

The Colorado Rockies don’t get talked about much because of their struggles over the past few years. But that shouldn't overshadow the season Arenado is putting together. HIs 24 home runs put him in a tie for fifth in the majors, while his 68 RBIs lead the way. Already a Gold Glove winner at third and widely considered one of the best defensive players in the game, this derby would give the Rockies' emerging superstar a chance to showcase his talents at the plate, and perhaps (but not likely) take the spotlight off of the ever-present Troy Tulowitzki trade rumors.

 

 

Joc Pederson

Rookies have grabbed their share of headlines and attention this season, and none has displayed more power than Pederson. The Dodgers' center fielder already has 20 home runs, but he also lays claim to the third-longest hit this season, a titanic blast of 480 feet, according to ESPN's Home Run Tracker. In fact, Pederson leads all players in average true distance for his home runs (min. 9) 430.5 feet. His combination of youth and extreme power make him a perfect fit for this year’s derby.

 

 

Paul Goldschmidt

The Diamondbacks’ first baseman might be the league’s most complete player this year, both on offense and defense. He’s hit 20 home runs, while sporting a .351 batting average and .470 OBP. In addition, he has been walked more than any other batter (68), and thus his home run total could certainly be a couple better. However, Goldschmidt has voiced that he may not be interested in it, stating his pleasure in just watching.

 


 

Bryce Harper

After battling claims as an overrated player through his career so far, Harper has really silenced any haters this year. He has dominated this year with 25 home runs and a .343 batting average, providing arguably the most excitement in the league this year. A battle between Trout and him would be a great storyline, arguably the best player of each league could wind up going head-to-head for the title. Unfortunately for fans, this will not come to fruition, as Harper has said he will pass on the derby because his father won't be able to pitch to him because he's recovering from a rotator cuff injury.

 

Anthony Rizzo

Last year, Rizzo asked NL captain Troy Tulowitzki to be a part of the derby. However, he was not chosen, and he was presumably upset. Thus, Rizzo seems to be a great fit with his power and attitude toward the event. Many players pass up on this chance, but Rizzo would certainly be glad to help bring the NL the title.  

Teaser:
Best Candidates for 2015 Home Run Derby
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 13:00
Path: /college-football/arizona-wildcats-add-california-lb-2016-recruiting-class
Body:

The Arizona Wildcats have gone at a slow pace during the offseason acquiring talent for the 2016 recruiting class, but claimed a prized recruit from southern California on Tuesday in linebacker Jacob Colacion.

 

Colacion (6-1, 216) could easily been seen as a rising star in the 2016 class with recruiting interest picking up through the camp circuit. To date 13 teams have offered including Boise State, Illinois, Utah State, Wyoming, Indiana, San Jose State, San Diego State, Nevada, Fresno State, Air Force, Washington State and Northwestern.

 

Football camps held by the Wildcats over the weekend should start showing results. Colacion was offered by Arizona in late April but attended camp on Monday leading to Tuesday’s commitment.

 

The La Habra High School talent helped the Highlanders to a 7-4 record last year, going undefeated in the Freeway League and making the playoffs. Colacion is an athletic linebacker primarily lining up on the outside as a pass-rushing option but filled in at middle linebacker and even played some safety in 2014. He’s quick, can drop in coverage, aggressive against the run, and plays with an angry confidence one wants to see in a linebacker.

 

Arizona Wildcats 2016 Verbal Commitment List

LB Jacob Colacion, 6-1, 216 lbs, La Habra HS, La Habra, CA

DB Isaiah Hayes, 5-11, 175 lbs, Calabasas HS, Calabasas, CA

RB Russell Halimon, 5-9, 180 lbs, Allatoona HS, Acworth, GA

DT Justin Holt, 6-1, 300 lbs, Salpointe HS, Tucson, AZ

QB Devon Modster, 6-1, 217 lbs, Tesoro HS, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA

RB Sean Riley, 5-9, 165 lbs, Narbonne HS, Harbor City, CA

QB/ATH Khalil Tate, 6-2, 200 lbs, Junipero Serra HS, Gardena, CA

DE Jabari Watson, 6-3, 255 lbs, Summit HS, Fontana, CA

 

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

Teaser:
Arizona Wildcats Add California LB to 2016 Recruiting Class
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 12:45
Path: /college-football/two-arkansas-razorbacks-land-preseason-maxwell-award-watch-list
Body:

The Maxwell Award has been given to the top player in college football since 1937. On Monday the Maxwell Football Club announced their preseason watch list, which includes two Arkansas Razorbacks among the 80 early qualifiers.

 

The Hogs enter the 2015 season with a loaded backfield thanks to the return of two 1,100-yard rushers, senior Jonathan Williams and junior Alex Collins.

 

Williams and Collins are physical clones of one another matching similar on the field results. Williams is listed at 6-foot, 224 pounds, while Collins comes in at 5-11 and 224. When the 2014 season was finished Williams piled up 1,190 yards on 211 carries with 12 touchdowns and Collins chipped in 1,100 yards on 204 carries with another 12 scores.


Related: College Football's Top 20 Running Back Tandems for 2015

 

Former offensive coordinator Jim Chaney did not throw to the talented backs often, but when he did he turned to Williams to make something happen. Williams delivered on the rare occasions turning 11 receptions into two touchdowns.

 

Thanks in large part to the Razorbacks' dynamic duo in the backfield and four returning offensive linemen, Arkansas is a dark horse candidate to win the SEC West after a bounce-back 2014 season.

 

Collins and Williams could benefit from a change in the Razorbacks’ offensive scheme with former Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos now in charge. During spring practices Enos has opened up the offense more, which includes Williams and Collins getting touches on the outside to create one-on-one opportunities against linebackers and safeties in space. Look for the talented running backs to post similar, if not better, numbers in 2015.

 

The Maxwell Award watch list of 80 will be pared down to the semifinalists on Nov. 2. The winner of the 79th annual Maxwell Award will be announced on Dec. 10 during "The Home Depot College Football Awards Show" on ESPN.

 

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

Teaser:
Two Arkansas Razorbacks Land on Preseason Maxwell Award Watch List
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Pac-12, Utah Utes
Path: /college-football/utah-utes-pull-dynamic-pass-receiving-te-out-southern-california
Body:

On Monday Utah continued its streak of stealing top talent out from under the noses of their Pac-12 competitors, landing three-down tight end Cole Fotheringham.

 

Fotheringham was a playmaking tight end for San Clemente High School in southern California throughout the 2014 season. He pulled down 55 passes for 650 yards and nine touchdowns, helping lead the Tritons to a 12-2 record.

 

Along the way to a great season Fotheringham caught the attention of college coaches, earning scholarship offers from Boise State, BYU, Nevada, Utah State and also was garnering interest from Arizona, USC, Nebraska and Washington.

 

The Class of 2016 talent is a true weapon in the passing game with enough speed to beat linebackers and big enough to overpower safeties. He works well going across the middle and knows how to find holes in the zone. Expect the Utes to line him up in the slot where he can be a receiving threat and also provide extra beef on the outside to open up running lanes for tailbacks on sweeps or fellow wide receivers on screen passes.

 

Of the 10 verbal commitments Utah has gained eight are from the state of California. As the Utes' 2016 class currently stands, recruits like Kahi Neves, Davir Hamilton, Tucker Scott, and Fotheringham will be considered steals despite their 3-star rankings by various recruiting sites.

 

Utah Utes 2016 Verbal Commitment List

DB Micah Croom, 6-2, 190 lbs, La Mirada HS, La Mirada, California

DT David Fangupo, 6-1, 290 lbs, Cerritos C.C., Norwalk, California

TE Cole Fotheringham, 6-5, 225 lbs, San Clemente HS, San Clemente, California

ATH Davir Hamilton, 6-3, 200 lbs, Verbum Dei HS, Los Angeles, California

RB Thomas McDonald, Grossmont C.C., El Cajon, California

QB Kahi Neves, 6-3, 235 lbs, Brighton HS, Salt Lake City, Utah

OG Tucker Scott, 6-5, 265 lbs, San Clemente HS, San Clemente, California

LB Kurtis Taufa, 6-2, 230 lbs, Snow College, Ephraim, Utah

ATH Daevon Vigilant, 5-7, 180 lbs, Downey HS, Downey, California

K/P Mitch Wishnowsky, 6-4, 220 lbs, Santa Barbara C.C., Santa Barbara, California

 

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

Teaser:
Utah Utes Pull Dynamic TE Out of Southern California
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /nfl/federal-judge-rules-against-washington-redskins-says-name-disparaging-native-americans
Body:

A judge in Virginia has stated that the Redskins should lose their federal trademark registration due to their name.

 

The term "Redskins" is "disparaging" to Native Americans, said Judge Gerald Bruce Lee. He went on to further explain, and even gave us a gem of a quote from Allen Iverson.

 

"Just as Allen Iverson once reminded the media that they were wasting time at the end of the Philadelphia 76ers' season 'talking about practice' and not an actual professional basketball game, the Court is similarly compelled to highlight what is at issue in this case — trademark registration, not the trademark themselves."

 

There's always room for an Iverson quote. The Redskins can still use the name and things associated with it but now that they don't have the government registration for it, others can too.

 

Only time will tell if this decision will cut into their profits.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 11:35
Path: /college-football/examining-overunder-2015-win-totals-sec-west
Body:

The SEC West may no longer have a stranglehold on the national title, but there’s little argument it’s the best division in all of college football. And with all seven teams landing in Athlon Sports’ Preseason Top 25, the SEC West also could be the most exciting, if not intriguing, division to watch this season. Alabama is the reigning champion, but Auburn, Ole Miss, LSU and even Arkansas, Texas A&M and Mississippi State all will have something to say about how the West will be won in 2015.

 

Related: Examining the Over/Under 2015 Win Totals for the SEC East

 

For the purposes of this exercise, projected win totals are broken down into three categories — definite wins, definite losses and toss-ups. Most of the conference games will in the toss-up category, especially ones on the road. This preview will offer thoughts on each team and if there’s any value either over or under.

 

Note: Over/under odds courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbook

 

SEC West

 

Alabama Crimson Tide

(Over 9.5 wins -145...Under 9.5 wins +105)

 

Record Last Year: 12-2, 7-1

 

Returning Starters: 9 (2 on offense, 7 on defense)

 

Offense: They might as well have name cards to help identify all the new pieces here. No Amari Cooper, T.J. Yeldon or Blake Sims among others. Jake Coker and David Cornwell battle it out at QB in the classic senior vs. freshman struggle. Thank goodness for Derrick Henry, who rushed for 11 TDs in 2014.

 

Defense: Kirby Smart is back and that's a good thing for Crimson Tide fans. Reggie Ragland and Cyrus Jones are the best returnees as well as a front line that features A'Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen.

 

Schedule: A neutral-field matchup with Wisconsin starts things off for Alabama. The Tide then play six of their next eight at home. Included in that span are home tilts with Middle Tennessee and Louisiana Monroe.

 

Selection: I'm going under on Nick Saban's squad. I think they lose at Auburn, Georgia and either Texas A&M or to Wisconsin. There are so many question marks that this team will take a rare step back.

 

Arkansas Razorbacks

(Over 8.5 wins +115...Under 8.5 wins -155)

 

Record Last Year: 7-6, 2-6

 

Returning Starters: 14 (9 on offense, 5 on defense)

 

Offense: This team figures to run and run and run the ball some more with Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins back. This destructive duo will do so behind pretty much the same offensive line as last year. Brandon Allen threw 20 TDs in 2014 to just five interceptions.

 

Defense: Taiwan Johnson is back in the middle of a good defensive line. The linebackers will not be the same without Martrell Spaight who was taken in the NFL Draft. This unit allowed just 19.2 points per game last year.

 

Schedule: The Razorbacks get UTEP, Toledo, Texas Tech and Tennessee-Martin outside of SEC play. The first two weeks of October are Tennessee and Alabama back-to-back on the road.

 

Selection: The under is the play on Arkansas. Getting road games at Tennessee and Alabama back-to-back before a home tilt with Auburn is extremely tough.

 

Auburn Tigers

(Over 8.5 wins -190...Under 8.5 wins +150)

 

Record Last Year: 8-5, 4-4

 

Returning Starters: 11 (5 on offense, 6 on defense)

 

Offense: The Jeremy Johnson hype is real as many believe he'll run this offense better then Nick Marshall did. He's got solid WRs in D'haquille Williams, Ricardo Louis and Marcus Davis. The run game will need to be rebuilt a bit with Jovon Robinson and Roc Thomas leading the way.

 

Defense: Will Muschamp now coaches this unit and he's got some things that need to be fixed. The top three tacklers are back in Johnathan Ford, Cassanova McKinzy and Kris Frost. Daniel Carlson was a pleasant surprise at kicker in 2014 as a freshman.

 

Schedule: The Tigers play Louisville in Atlanta on Sept. 5 to open the season. They follow that up with a home game against Jacksonville State. The other two non-SEC games are at home vs. San Jose State and Idaho. The last three tilts on the schedule are all at home.

 

Selection: I hope you've noticed a trend that the most public conference has had correct line moves for almost every team. The upgrade in the coaching staff with Muschamp will help the defense.

 

LSU Tigers

(Over 8 wins -180...Under 8 wins +140)

 

Record Last Year: 8-5, 4-4

 

Returning Starters: 13 (7 on offense, 6 on defense)

 

Offense: Brandon Harris should be under center week 1 with Anthony Jennings' suspension. Harris will need to throw himself into the playbook after struggling with it last year. Leonard Fournette is a stabilizing force in the backfield with Travin Dural and Trey Quinn out wide. If they can figure out QB, watch out for the Tigers' offense.

 

Defense: Kendell Beckwith leads a defense that struggled with the run at times last year. The Tigers have a young defensive line that will need to get pressure.

 

Schedule: LSU has an odd mix of cupcakes on their non-conference schedule. They play at home against McNeese State, Eastern Michigan and Western Kentucky while traveling to Syracuse. The Tigers do not spend more then one week away from Baton Rouge.

 

Selection: Same story, different team as the overwhelming line move to the over is correct. If you are looking for a reason to take the under, look to the uncertainty at QB. I just don't think enough teams on the slate can take advantage of it.

 

Mississippi State Bulldogs

(Over 7 wins -140...Under 7 wins EVEN)

 

Record Last Year: 10-3, 6-2

 

Returning Starters: 7 (4 on offense, 3 on defense)

 

Offense: It's Dak Prescott and a lot of question marks here. Prescott accounted for 41 touchdowns last year and is the team's leading returning rusher as well. De'Runnya Wilson caught nine touchdowns out wide. The offensive line needs to replace the majority of last year's group.

 

Defense: Things may get ugly here for Mississippi State as the Bulldogs were gashed through the air in 2014. The Bulldogs lose three of four starters in the secondary. It's bad when a linebacker is tied for the lead in interceptions among returnees.

 

Schedule: A tricky road game at Southern Miss starts things off before a home tilt with LSU. The other non-SEC matchups are Northwestern State, Troy and Louisiana Tech. Mississippi State finishes up with five of its last seven at home.

 

Selection: The under is the play here. I'm surprised to see the money coming in on the over because this team lacks SEC talent on both sides of the ball. LSU and Auburn among others will be licking their chops for revenge after losing to Mississippi State last season.

 

Ole Miss Rebels

(Over 8.5 wins -110...Under 8.5 wins -130)

 

Record Last Year: 9-4, 5-3

 

Returning Starters: 16 (9 on offense,7 on defense)

 

Offense: It will be great to see Laquon Treadwell back on the field after his gruesome injury. He would have been a first-round pick in the most recent NFL Draft if he stayed healthy. Almost everything is back on this side of the ball except quarterback where the Rebels will start either Chad Kelly or Ryan Buchanan.

 

Defense: It all starts with Robert Nkemdiche on the front line. This secondary figures to be a strength and will be extra tough with the pressure the front seven will generate.

 

Schedule: The Rebels play four of their first six at home. They host Tennessee-Martin, Fresno State and New Mexico State in the non-conference along with a road matchup against Memphis. SEC road games will be tough at Alabama, Florida and Auburn.

 

Selection: I lean to the over as this offense could be the best in the SEC West. The defense should be fun to watch. Don't be surprised if the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft features a ton of Rebels.

 

Texas A&M Aggies

(Over 7.5 wins -210...Under 7.5 wins +160)

 

Record Last Year: 8-5, 3-5

 

Returning Starters: 12 (6 on offense, 6 on defense)

 

Offense: Kyle Allen figures to win the job at QB, but freshman Kyler Murray will make things difficult. Whomever wins gets a complement of weapons including Speedy Noil, Josh Reynolds and Ricky Seals-Jones. Reynolds had 13 touchdowns in 2014. The run game needs improvement and the school hopes former Wyoming coach Dave Christensen brings it.

 

Defense: The Aggies managed to lure coordinator John Chavis over from LSU and that's one of the biggest improvements. He'll love having Myles Garrett, who put up 11.5 sacks as a freshman. The linebacking corps may need the most help on this side of the ball.

 

Schedule: The Aggies don't leave the state of Texas until Oct. 24 when they play at Ole Miss. They take on Arizona State in Houston to start things off before hosting Ball State and Nevada. A&M has just three true road games all year long.

 

Selection: The over is the right side for this one. John Chavis will help Texas A&M pick up at least one win himself this season. With all these home contests, you can't help but think this team will be a factor in the SEC West. Alabama and Auburn both come to College Station.

 

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.

Teaser:
Examining the Over/Under 2015 Win Totals for the SEC West
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/former-oklahoma-dl-tony-casillas-takes-shots-sooners-joe-mixon-florida-state-double-standards
Body:

College programs deal with players in different ways. Florida State has dismissed De'Andre Johnson after an altercation with a woman in a bar.

 

Oklahoma's Joe Mixon was suspended for the 2014 season after being charged with a misdemeanor involving a female student. Mixon will suit up for the Sooners in the fall and has already been back to practicing with the team. Former Oklahoma star Tony Casillas doesn't agree with that decision.

 

 

 

To somewhat soften his harsh take, he then tweeted this.

 

 

Casillas isn't the biggest hit with Oklahoma fans right now. 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 11:15
Path: /mlb/who-should-win-2015-mlb-all-star-game-final-vote
Body:

On Monday, MLB announced its rosters for the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati on July 14. Much has been made in recent weeks about the voting process in which players are chosen. The starters for both the American and National League are voted upon by the fans — which makes the prize for the All-Star game winner (home-field advantage in the World Series for the winning league) completely fraudulent.

 

The reserves are selected by player votes and then the rest of the two teams are filled out by All-Star managers – this year being Ned Yost (Royals) and Bruce Bochy (Giants). But of the teams’ 34 roster spots, only 33 player names were released. The final roster spot for each league is left to the fans in what MLB calls “Final Vote” (eyes continue to roll).

 

Each league has five players vying for the “Final Vote.” In the American League, the candidates are: Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox, SS), Yoenis Cespedes (Tigers, OF), Brian Dozier (Twins, 2B), Brett Gardner (Yankees, OF), and Mike Moustakas (Royals, 3B).

 

Related: Did the Fans Get the AL All-Stars Right?

 

Bogaerts has been one of the few bright spots this season for the last-place Red Sox. The 22-year-old Aruba native is easily putting together his best season in the bigs with a slash line of .304/.341/.418. But the youngster is lacking in power and hasn't done too much on the base paths for his superior athletic ability. The AL is lacking any true All-Star shortstops in the long run, and while Bogaerts won't make the roster this year, there is no doubt he will be in the Midsummer Classic in the near future.

 

Cespedes has a strong case to make it as the “Final Vote” winner. The Cuban import is having his best year to date, not only at the plate but defensively as well. Cespedes was an All-Star last year in his third season, but is hitting 32 points higher this year, and is on pace for 20-plus home runs and 90 RBIs. In his first three seasons, Cespedes was a less than average outfielder in terms of runs saved, but thus far in 2015 he has improved and finds himself on the plus side of that category.

 

Dozier, just like his Twins, has been one of the more pleasant surprises so far this season. He is tied for 11th in the AL in home runs (17), is top 20 in OPS (.843, 16th) and his 43 RBIs lead all second basemen. Dozier’s downfall is his batting average (.258), which is 78 points below reserve second baseman Jason Kipnis (.336) and 41 below starter Jose Alutve (.299).

 

Moustakas is the victim of a loaded third base class in his league, a group headlined by overall top vote-getter Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays and the Orioles’ Manny Machado, both of whom are in the top 10 in all of baseball in WAR. Moustakas is putting together his best season as a pro, and just 26 he figures to have plenty of opportunity to earn an invite to the All-Star Game in the near future. Moustakas could very well set new career highs in RBIs, doubles, triples, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, OPS, and total bases — it just isn’t enough to top his peers at the hot corner.

 

Instead it’s Gardner, the Yankees’ Mr. Do Everything, who gets my “Final Vote” for the AL. Gardner will never have eye-popping numbers that seem to appeal to voters, but his play this season is surely All-Star-worthy. Gardner is easily the best pure hitter in the Yanks’ lineup, hitting .296/.373/.478, and is the biggest offensive reason they are still leading the way in the AL East. Gardner is in the top 10 in the AL in steals (15), WAR (3.2), doubles (21), on-base percentage (.373), and is flirting with a .900 OPS.

 

Switching to the National League and the ballot may be a little more difficult to figure out — at least from where I’m sitting. The Senior Circuit’s “Final Vote” candidates are: Johnny Cueto (Reds, P), Jeurys Familia (Mets, P), Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers, P), Carlos Martinez (Cardinals, P), and Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies, SS).

 

Related: Did the Fans Get the NL All-Stars Right?

 

For starters, Martinez, Familia, and Tulowitzki are putting together very nice seasons for their respective clubs. Martinez has been a pleasant surprise for the injury-ravaged Cardinals, posting a sub-3.00 ERA and ranking in the top 10 in most NL pitching categories. The only problem is that the guys ahead of him are already on the NL’s All-Star team. Familia has been the anchor of the Mets’ bullpen, but the recent struggles for his team, and the constant limelight on the starting rotation, just aren’t helping his cause.

 

Tulowitzki is having a fantastic rebound season after injuries ruined his MVP chances in 2014. While the home run numbers are down from a year ago, the bat is still there for Tulo as he’s hitting .320/.357/.486 with 45 RBIs, 19 doubles, and nine home runs. Tulo’s strikeout numbers have risen and his walk rate has declined along with his defensive metrics thanks to his many injuries over the years. Tulo is simply the victim of fan voting and a poor Rockies team, as the Cardinals’ Jhonny Peralta and Giants’ Brandon Crawford were named the starter and reserve at shortstop for the NL.

 

For my money, Cueto making what could possibly his last appearance in a Reds uniform during a “home” All-Star Game would be a unique sight and a fond farewell for one of the best pitchers in Cincinnati history, as a trade for the veteran ace seems inevitable. Again, Cueto, while he might be having an All-Star season, won't get the necessary love for the “Final Vote” because of the body of work of pitchers who have already been named to the team like the Braves’ Shelby Miller, Pirates’ Gerrit Cole, and Cardinals’ Michael Wacha.

 

Not surprisingly, one name stands alone on the NL’s “Final Vote” ballot — Clayton Kershaw. While Kershaw isn’t having the same season he had in 2014, which was historically great, how can he, the reigning NL Cy Young and MVP, not make the roster? If anything, Kershaw is a “victim” of his own success and the fact that there are several pitchers who are simply having better seasons. Looking at the NL’s All-Star pitching staff and it’s hard to argue with the players’ and Bochy’s selections of Max Scherzer, Zach Greinke, Madison Bumgarner, A.J. Burnett, Wacha, Miller, and Cole. But that doesn’t mean that Kershaw isn’t an All-Star either, even if his inclusion is due more to his resume than his 2015 performance to date.

 

To put it another way, how is the most dominant pitcher  of a generation, the winner of three Cy Young Awards and the 2014 NL MVP not in the All-Star Game — especially when his numbers are just as comparable to that of those who are already on the team? Let’s do the right thing here, America. Vote Kershaw.

 

(Note: Statistics as of July 7)

 

— Written by Jake Rose, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. An avid baseball fan, Rose also takes time to do some play-by-play work for the radio broadcasts of Middle Tennessee State Blue Raider baseball games. Follow him on Twitter @JakeRose24.

Teaser:
Who Should Win the 2015 MLB All-Star Game "Final Vote"?
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-sec-stadiums-2015
Body:

Last summer, Athlon Sports asked 12 SEC experts like Tim Brando, Dan Wolken, Steven Godfrey and more to rank their favorite stadiums in the SEC.

 

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

 

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


1. Tiger Stadium, LSU

Baton Rouge at night is an experience. After renovations, Tiger Stadium became the third biggest in the SEC, and finished fourth nationally at 101,723 per game last fall. While the 99.4 percent capacity rate was only eighth in the SEC, the 11 percent jump in attendance in 2014 was second only to Texas A&M.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
1924102,321 (3rd)101,723 (4th)99.4% (8th)102,321 ('14)

 

2. Kyle Field, Texas A&M

The move to the SEC and the massive $450 million renovations are essentially complete and it gives Texas A&M the biggest stadium in the SEC. The 102.5 percent capacity led the SEC in 2014, as did the 21 percent jump in attendance from 2013. At 105,123 per game, the Aggies trailed only Ohio State nationally in attendance. Kevin Sumlin is just 13-7 at home, but his new building should only get more difficult to play in for opposing teams.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
1927102,512 (1st)105,123 (2nd)102.5% (1st)110,633 ('14)

 


3. Sanford Stadium, Georgia

The Bulldogs sold every ticket in 2014, finishing with an average attendance (92,746) that matched its capacity. The fifth-biggest stadium in the SEC finished ninth nationally in attendance and only four other schools in the conference matched or surpassed Georgia's 100 percent capacity mark. Mark Richt is 74-15 “Between the Hedges” in his time at Georgia.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192992,746 (5th)92,746 (9th)100% (4th)92,746 ('14)

 

4. Neyland Stadium, Tennessee

The Big Orange brick cathedral is one of the loudest places to watch football in the nation and the crowds finally started coming back in 2014. The second-biggest venue in the SEC finished seventh nationally in attendance at 99,754 per game — a four percent jump from 2013 — as Neyland was 97.4 percent full. Butch Jones is 12-13 in two years at Tennessee, but 8-6 at home, including the biggest win of his tenure over No. 11 South Carolina two years ago.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
1921102,455 (2nd)99,754 (7th)97.4% (9th)109,061 ('04)

 

 
5. Bryant-Denny Stadium, Alabama

Alabama is 238-52-3 since opening the building in 1929, and Nick Saban is 43-6 at home during his tenure. The Crimson Tide finished sixth nationally in attendance last fall in the fourth-largest building in the SEC. The 99.7 percent capacity ranked sixth in the SEC as well.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
1929101,821 (4th)101,534 (6th)99.7% (6th)101,821 ('14)

 

6. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Florida

"The Swamp" was one of just four SEC stadiums to see a small dip in attendance last fall. The two percent drop still netted Florida 85,834 fans per game, good for 12th nationally. The 96.9 percent capacity average was just 10th in the SEC and one reason why Will Muschamp is now coaching Auburn's defense. Muschamp was 18-8 overall at home but just 3-6 in his last nine games at The Swamp.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (RK)% (Rk)Record
193088,548 (6th)85,834 (12th)96.9% (10th)90,907 ('09)

 


7. Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn

Just like Georgia, Auburn finished with exactly 100 percent attendance in 2014 — just one of five in the league to do so. At 87,451 per game, Auburn ranked 11th in the nation in total attendance in the seventh-largest building in the SEC. Gus Malzahn is 14-1 at home in two years as the head Tiger.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
193987,451 (7th)87,451 (11th)100% (4th)87,451 ('14)

 

8. Williams-Brice Stadium, South Carolina

For a team that lost six times last year, South Carolina fans still packed their home venue. The Gamecocks finished third in the SEC in average attendance and was one of five schools in the conference that drew above capacity. The 101.4 percent average ranked behind only Texas A&M and Ole Miss in '14. The Cocks ranked 16th nationally in attendance, even though their stadium is among the bottom half (eighth) in the SEC when it comes to size.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
193480,250 (8th)81,381 (16th)101.4% (3rd)85,199 ('12)

 


9. Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Arkansas

Arkansas’ all-time record at its home stadium is a solid but uninspiring 171-82-2 but the Razorbacks were 5-1 last year with the only loss coming to SEC champ Alabama. In fact, the eight percent growth in attendance from '13 finished behind only Texas A&M, LSU and Mississippi State in the SEC — all three of which saw major renovations increase capacity last season. The 92.4 percent capacity average was just 11th in the SEC, but the 66,521 average was 23rd nationally.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
193872,000 (9th)66,521 (23rd)92.4% (11th)76,808 ('10)

 

10. Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Ole Miss

The second-oldest venue in the SEC isn't very big — ranking 13th in the league in size — but was packed to the gills last season. The 101.6 percent average capacity was second only to Texas A&M and one of just five in the league above 100. The Rebels were 11th in attendance in the SEC last fall but still ranked 26th nationally, well ahead of programs like Oregon, Miami and Baylor. Capacity will actually drop to 58,580 this fall before moving to 64,038 in 2016.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
191560,580 (13th)61,547 (26th)101.6 (2nd)62,657 ('09)

 


11. Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium, Missouri

Mizzou finished in the top 25 in attendance in college football last fall at 65,285 per game. Unfortunately, the 10th-biggest building in the SEC produced the conference's 10th-largest crowd on average. Such is life in the SEC. The 91.7 percent capacity was ahead of only Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Missouri is 14-7 at home since joining the SEC, but 11-3 the last two seasons.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192771,168 (10th)65,285 (24th)91.7% (12th)75,298 ('80)

 

12. Davis Wade Stadium, Mississippi State

Expansion gave Mississippi State its largest home crowd in history last season when 62,945 poured into Davis Wade Stadium to watch the Auburn game. The Bulldogs finished 12th in the SEC in attendance (28th nationally) but it still was the most successful year in school history. Despite finishing below 100 percent capacity on average (99.6), Mississippi State ranked third in the SEC with a 10 percent jump in average attendance, trailing only Texas A&M and LSU.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
191461,337 (12th)61,127 (28th)99.6% (7th)62,945 ('14)

 


13. Commonwealth Stadium, Kentucky

Despite winning just two games in 2013, this team drew 59,472 fans per game. With a slightly improved team, Kentucky finished 30th in the nation (57,572) last season. At 85.2 percent full each weekend, Kentucky was one of two SEC teams (Vanderbilt) to post a sub-90 percent average capacity. All seven of Mark Stoops' wins at Kentucky have come at home.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
197367,606 (11th)57,572 (30th)85.2% (13th)71,024 ('07)

 

14. Vanderbilt Stadium, Vanderbilt

It's the smallest building in the league and generally the quietest as well. The Dores ranked last in the SEC in attendance, average capacity and were last in the league with a four percent drop from 2013.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192240,550 (14th)34,258 (66th)84.5% (14th)41,448 ('98)
Teaser:
Ranking the SEC Stadiums for 2015
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/big-12s-10-most-underrated-players-2015
Body:

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

 

The Big 12 has two potential playoff teams in place for 2015, as Baylor and TCU should once again rank near the top of contenders for a spot in the four-team postseason. Both teams have starpower and All-American candidates, but underrated players could make a big difference in key games. Additionally, under-the-radar players at other programs in the Big 12 are critical to improvement for a specific unit or the development of the team for the upcoming year.

 

Related: Big 12 2015 Predictions

 

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

 

Big 12's 10 Most Underrated Players for 2015

 

Beau Blackshear, DT, Baylor

Blackshear won’t get the preseason accolades of fellow linemen Shawn Oakman and Andrew Billings, but the senior should push for All-Big 12 honors in 2015. Blackshear enters 2015 with 38 career appearances and started all 13 games for the Bears last season. In 2014, Blackshear recorded 44 tackles and 4.5 sacks. With Oakman, Billings and Blackshear leading the way, Baylor’s defensive line will be among the best in the nation in 2015.

 

Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2015

 

Travis Britz, DT, Kansas State

Britz has earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors in each of the last two seasons and is due for his most productive year in Manhattan in 2015. The Missouri native played in 10 games in 2014 and recorded 27 stops (five for a loss), three sacks and two pass breakups. Britz started all 13 games for the Wildcats in 2013 and played in 11 contests as a true freshman in 2012. Interior linemen aren’t going to post monster statistics, which often pushes players like Britz out of the spotlight. The 293-pound senior is a key piece in Kansas State’s defense this year.

 

Related: Big 12 All-Conference Team for 2015

 

Daniel Burton, OG, Iowa State

Iowa State’s line allowed 30 sacks last year, but with three starters back, expect that total to decline in 2015. Burton started all 12 games for the Cyclones last season and started the first eight contests of 2013. An injury ended Burton’s 2013 campaign after the eighth game, but the Oklahoma native has been a mainstay on Iowa State’s offensive line the last two years. Burton should push for All-Big 12 honors this season.

 

Ty Darlington, C, Oklahoma

The Sooners have four new starters slated to step into the lineup up front this year. Darlington is the lone returning starter on the offensive line for new coordinator Lincoln Riley, and it’s critical for the senior to anchor a unit in transition with a change in scheme coming to Norman. Darlington started all 13 games last season and played in three games in 2013. Although the Florida native still has to be more consistent as a player, all of the necessary skills are in place for the senior to finish 2015 as one of the Big 12’s best centers.

 

Related: College Football's 2015 All-America Team

 

Ben Goodman, DE, Kansas

It’s hard to pinpoint an underrated player for a team that returns just five starters for 2015. However, Goodman has been a steady performer for the Jayhawks over the last three years and enters 2015 with 24 consecutive starts. The Texas native recorded 21 tackles (two for a loss) and one sack last season. With a new coaching staff and a ton of roster turnover, Goodman will be one of the few senior leaders for David Beaty in 2015.

 

Kolby Listenbee, WR, TCU

Josh Doctson headlined TCU’s receiving corps last season, catching 65 passes for 1,108 yards and 11 scores. While Doctson led the way for the Horned Frogs in the three main statistical categories for receivers, Listenbee averaged a healthy 18.4 yards per reception. The 18.4 average on catches ranked fourth among Big 12 receivers, and Listenbee tied for second in the conference by recording seven receptions of 40 yards or more. With another year to develop in TCU’s offense, look for Listenbee to be an even bigger piece of the attack for quarterback Trevone Boykin.

 

Related: Big 12 2015 Predictions

 

Kevin Peterson, CB, Oklahoma State

With 14 returning starters, Oklahoma State should be one of the Big 12’s most improved teams this season. The Cowboys will show marked improvement on defense after giving up 31.2 points per game in 2014, as each level on that side of the ball has the returning talent to rank near the top of the league. Peterson is coming off his best statistical season in Stillwater, as he recorded 59 stops, two interceptions and 11 pass breakups in 2014. The Oklahoma native should be among the Big 12’s top cornerbacks in 2015.

 

Related: College Football's Most Improved Teams for 2015

 

Hassan Ridgeway, DT, Texas

Even with Malcom Brown leaving early for the NFL Draft, Texas is still in good shape up front. Desmond Jackson is back from injury at tackle, and the Longhorns have a good collection of depth and talent in place. Coach Charlie Strong and coordinator Vance Bedford will use a rotation of players to keep everyone fresh, but Ridgeway could be the unit’s top all-conference candidate. Ridgeway started 10 games in 2014 and recorded 43 tackles (11 for a loss) and six sacks.

 

Wendell Smallwood, RB, West Virginia

Rushel Shell is West Virginia’s No. 1 back, but the Pittsburgh transfer isn’t the only option in the backfield for coach Dana Holgorsen. Smallwood finished 2014 with 722 rushing yards and two scores and caught 31 passes for 326 yards. With West Virginia losing top receivers Kevin White and Mario Alford, reinforcements are needed at receiver. Don’t be surprised if Smallwood fills the role as an all-purpose threat in 2015.

 

Related: College Football All-America Team for 2015

 

Justin Stockton, RB, Texas Tech

Texas Tech’s passing game usually grabs all of the attention in Lubbock. But don’t overlook the rushing attack from coach Kliff Kingsbury’s team in 2015. Running back DeAndre Washington rushed for 1,103 yards last season, and Stockton provided another big-play element by averaging 8.3 yards per attempt on 48 carries. Stockton is a big play waiting to happen and should see more than the 60 offensive touches he accumulated in 2014.

Teaser:
The Big 12's 10 Most Underrated Players for 2015
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /nfl/zach-mettenberger-talks-about-jj-watt-selfie-titans-texans
Body:

Selfies can cause a lot of drama in a person's life. Take Zach Mettenberger for example.

 

The Titans quarterback and J.J. Watt have traded insults back and forth regarding Mettenberger's need for a selfie before games. Watt even taunted Mettenberger with a faux-selfie after a sack last season.

 

 

Mettenberger has responded to the fact that Watt calls his selfie-taking "high schoolish." At about the 5:00 mark, the young quarterback takes shots at the Texans star's "high schoolish" attire.

 

This is the Texans jacket he's referring to. It's not too bad.

 

 

Word got back to Watt, as things always do, and he responded with one simple tweet.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:38
Path: /magazines/cooler-heads-prevail-penn-state-needs-rebound-season-christian-hackenberg
Body:

The frustration had been building, and when Christian Hackenberg bounced a short pass to Bill Belton on 3rd-and-10 in the third quarter of Penn State’s Big Ten opener against Northwestern, it finally boiled over.

 

Belton jabbed a finger at Hackenberg’s chest as the offense retreated to the sideline. The two players exchanged words, Hackenberg stalked off and legions of lip-reading Penn State fans watching at home tried to figure out what they’d just seen. Was it, as Hackenberg said afterward, “just the emotions of the game,” a game the Nittany Lions went on to lose, 29–6? Or was it something more, a window into the Lions’ mindset as they coped with the ongoing fallout from an array of NCAA sanctions, the loss of several key offensive players to graduation and another top-to-bottom coaching overhaul, the program’s second in a two-year span?

 

Whatever it was, Hackenberg was at the center of it. He had enjoyed a magnificent debut season, winning Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors in 2013. But his sophomore season was an endurance test, marred by incompletions, interceptions, confrontations and, most of all, sacks. The conciliatory tweets that he and Belton traded the night of the Northwestern game had a nothing-to-see-here-folks tone to them, but when that episode was followed by a heated exchange between Hackenberg and offensive coordinator John Donovan during a 20–19 loss to Maryland, it was easy to draw a different conclusion.

 

Looking back, Hackenberg concedes that last season “was tough mentally on me.” But the tensions that flared up last fall have long since cooled, and he insists that the difficulties he went through have only toughened him up. If that sounds like revisionist history, well, Hackenberg concedes that, too. “You look at those experiences, and some will say, ‘That kid has no reason but to say that it was a terrible experience.’ But for me, I loved it. It was one of those things that pushed me to the brink where I’ve never really been pushed before at this level.”

 

Hackenberg says the challenges Penn State faced last season strengthened his relationship with the coaching staff, and the feeling appears to be mutual, as coach James Franklin has defended his quarterback throughout the offseason.

 

Related: More on Penn State is avaialble in the Athlon Sports 2015 Big Ten Football Preivew Magazine

 

“Last year, Christian spent most of his time solving problems, running from problems, taking a lot of criticism, which I’m really, really defensive about,” Franklin says. “To be honest with you, looking back at it, I’m a little angry that he faced some of the criticism he did. I don’t know if it was fair, just or realistic.”

 

That criticism was rooted in a couple of preconceptions that gained currency after Franklin’s hiring but have since received some pushback.

 

The first was that Hackenberg didn’t fit the system Franklin and Donovan wanted to run. He had been recruited by Bill O’Brien in the hope that he could be developed into a great drop-back passer a la Tom Brady, whom O’Brien had coached as an offensive assistant with the New England Patriots. As his freshman season drew to a close — he passed for 339 yards and four touchdowns in a 31–24 road upset of 14th-ranked Wisconsin — those hopes seemed to be coming true.

 

But when O’Brien left for the Houston Texans a month later, Penn State replaced him with Vanderbilt’s Franklin, and the quick take was that the Lions’ new coach preferred a dual-threat QB. The Commodores’ starting quarterback for most of the 2013 season had been Austyn Carta-Samuels, whose reputation, to the extent that he had one at a Northeastern school located far from SEC country, was as a run-pass guy. Same went for his predecessor, Jordan Rodgers, who was the Commodores’ second-leading rusher in 2011 with 420 yards. With Franklin in charge at Penn State, it seemed logical to assume that those players personified the new QB template. 

 

But look deeper into Franklin’s résumé, and the picture becomes cloudier. Carta-Samuels may have developed a reputation as a runner before transferring from Wyoming, but he completed 68.7 percent of his passes for 2,268 yards as a senior at Vanderbilt. Likewise, Rodgers was primarily a passer as a senior, completing just under 60 percent of his attempts for 2,539 yards. Franklin had also worked with Danny O’Brien at Maryland and Josh Freeman at Kansas State, two quarterbacks known more for their arms than their legs.

 

At Penn State, he’s already gotten a verbal commitment from Jake Zembiec of Rochester, N.Y., one of the top drop-back passers in the Class of 2016. If Zembiec sees himself as a good fit with the Lions, it’s because the quarterback’s job in Franklin’s ideal offense is to “get us into the best play and distribute the ball to our playmakers, and every once in a while pull the ball down and take a six-yard sack and turn it into a six-yard gain.”

 

That’s Hackenberg’s game, too. So why did he struggle so much last year if the system was able to accommodate his strengths? Maybe because of another preconception that proved to be off-base: that the Lions had enough manpower to overcome the loss of five offensive starters to graduation and injury. They didn’t. Not by a long shot.

 

Related: Penn State 2015 Team Preview and Prediction

 

Allen Robinson had left a huge void after accounting for 40 percent of Penn State’s receptions in 2013, and with the second-leading pass catcher in school history off to the NFL, Penn State turned to sophomore Geno Lewis and freshmen DaeSean Hamilton, Chris Godwin and Saeed Blacknall. After a strong start, the young wideouts faded in Big Ten play, failing to get much if any separation against defenses that were focused on stopping the pass. 

 

Even more troublesome was the performance of the offensive line. Only one of Penn State’s first-teamers had ever started a college game prior to opening day, and two of its top three guards had been playing on the defensive line only a few months earlier. The result: a Big Ten-worst 44 sacks and countless pressures and knockdowns.

   

In the end, Hackenberg’s completion rate went from 58.9 percent as a freshman to 55.8 last fall. His touchdown-to-interception ratio went from 20-to-10 to 12-to-15. He did throw for 2,977 yards, 22 more than he’d thrown for the year before, but he also attempted 92 more passes than he had in 2013.

 

The offense’s overall decline contributed to a four-game Big Ten losing streak, and there were times when the frustration showed. One of the reasons that Donovan was on the sideline for part of the season rather than in the booth was because he felt he needed to be a real presence for Hackenberg rather than just a voice in a headset. Sometimes, even that didn’t work.

 

“He’s just a competitive guy who gets his juices flowing,” Donovan says. “He can get frustrated at times. (The coaching staff) gets it. There are certain ways you have to handle yourself because you know the camera’s on you and the team’s looking at you. You can’t always show frustration. There are times where you have to be who you are and show your emotions, but there are times where you have to understand that you’ve got to keep it in check and handle (the emotions), too. He’s learning that, and he will just keep getting better.”

 

Hackenberg ended the season with one of his best games, passing for 371 yards, four TDs and no interceptions in a 31–30 overtime victory over Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl. The line gave up only two sacks, and his young receivers also came up big, as Hamilton, Lewis and Godwin caught seven passes apiece. It may have been the last game of the 2014 season, but for Hackenberg, who looked rejuvenated after a taking a month to recover from all the punishment he’d absorbed, the Pinstripe Bowl may in some ways have been the first game of the 2015 season.

 

“I think this year we’re so much more comfortable with what we’re doing and understanding the expectations,” he says. “We’re going be able to focus on us now and not on outside factors, whatever they may have been in the past, making sure that we’re the best team we can be. If that happens, all the rest will take care of itself.”

 

By Matt Herb, BlueWhiteIllustrated.com 

Teaser:
Cooler Heads Prevail? Penn State Needs Rebound Season from Christian Hackenberg
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy
Path: /115-funny-fantasy-football-team-names
Body:

The 2015 NFL season is nearly upon us, which means one very important thing — fantasy football. While only one person will take home the league championship, you can automatically win over the hearts of your fellow players by having a truly funny, silly, crazy, cool or dirty fantasy football team name. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for the season:

 

DeflateGateChronic Masterdeflater


Check My Balls


Discount Belichick


​I Spygate

 

Marcus Mari...otto

 

Jamaal About That Bass


My Ball Zach Ertz

 

Turn Down for Watt


JJ S.W.A.T.T. Team

 

1.21 JJ WATTS

 

The JPP Fireworks Incident

 

You Down With JPP?


Hernandez Hit Men


Wham! Bam! Thank you Cam!


You Kaepernick the Future


The Walking Dez

 

Dez Does Dallas


Erect Dicker


Geno 911!

 

Show Me Your TDs


Multiple Goregasms


InstaJimmyGraham


Ladies and Edelman


Julio Think you are?


Backfields and McCoys


My Favorite Marshawn


InGorious Staffords


Mike Vick in a box


Montee can buy you happiness


My Percy’s on Broadway


In a Van Down by the Rivers


Beats by Ray


Le’Veon a Prayer


Pitch a Trent


Drake's New Favorite Team


Mount Douchemore


Waka Flacco Flame


U Mad Bro?


Taste My Rainbow


12th Man Records


Bout That Action, Boss


Trolling Crabtree

 

Kung Suh PandaKung Suh Panda

 

Suh Girls, One Cup

 

Boy Named Suh


Vince Young's Steakhouse


Cry Me a Rivers


Connecticut Cholos


It's a Hard Gronk Life


Party Like a Gronk Star


We Wilfork You


Wilfork Dance Party


Keyshawn Beliebs

 

No Money Manziel

 

Brown-out Drunk

 

Touchdown Germany


Evil Empire


Revis' Vineyard

 

Bend it like Beckham Jr.

 

OBJYN


Jay-Z's My Agent


Off to Tennessee the Whiz


Remember the Titans


I Don't Want Your Life


Kissing Suzy Kolber


Pouncey Bouncers


Smokin' Jay Cutler

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Bortles


Dirty Sanchez Butt-Fumblers


Purple Jesus Juice


Kaepernick Swag


Mannings' O-Face


Peyton Manning's 5-Head


Omaha! Omaha!


Mile High Manning


Welker, Texas Ranger


Sherman's Last Rant


The Boldin the Beautiful

 

Gisele's Bundchens

 

Mr. UGG Boots

 

Brady Gaga


Call Me the Brees


No Romo


Monte Kiffin's 401K


80% Mental, 40% Physical


Laces Out


Show Me the Money


Four Horsemen


Titletown TDs


Titletown Cheeseheads


Big Ol' Bortles


RG 3000


Not Racist Redskins


Hard Knocks Life


Motown Megatrons

 

Somewhere Over Dwayne Bowe


K.C. Kool-Aid Man


Drinkin' Fortes


Turn Your Head and Coughlin


Tampa Bay Terminators


Polk High Panthers


Jim Haslem's Accountants


Forgetting Brandon Marshall


It's Always Runny in Philadelphia


Favre Dollar Footlong


Van Buren Boys


Crab-leg Bootleg


Makin' It Wayne


Luckness Monster


Irsay's $29K


Red Hot Julius Peppers


Slow White Bronco


Going Incognito


Wham, Bam, Michael Sam


Straight Cash Homey

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs
Path: /2015-georgia-bulldogs-football-schedule
Body:

The 2015 Georgia football schedule kicks off in Athens, where the Bulldogs take on the ULM Warhawks. Viewers can watch the game at 12:00 p.m. ET on SECN. Here's a look at the team's entire season schedule.

 

DateOpponentLocationTime/Channel
9/5/15ULM Warhawks

Sanford Stadium

Athens, GA

12:00 p.m. ET

SECN

9/12/15Vanderbilt Commodores

Vanderbilt Stadium

Nashville, TN

3:30 p.m. ET

CBS

9/19/15South Carolina Gamecocks

Sanford Stadium

Athens, GA

6:00 p.m. ET

ESPN

9/26/15Southern Jaguars

Sanford Stadium

Athens, GA

TBA
10/3/15Alabama Crimson Tide

Sanford Stadium

Athens, GA

TBA
10/10/15Tennessee Volunteers

Neyland Stadium

Knoxville, TN

TBA
10/17/15Missouri Tigers

Sanford Stadium

Athens, GA

TBA
10/24/15Open Date----
10/31/15Florida Gators

EverBank Field

Jacksonville, FL

3:30 p.m. ET

CBS

11/7/15Kentucky Wildcats

Sanford Stadium

Athens, GA

TBA
11/14/15Auburn Tigers

Jordan-Hare Stadium

Auburn, AL

TBA
11/21/15Georgia Southern Eagles

Sanford Stadium

Athens, GA

TBA
11/28/15Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Bobby Dodd Stadium

Atlanta, GA

TBA
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Baylor Bears, College Football
Path: /2015-baylor-bears-football-schedule
Body:

The 2015 Baylor football schedule kicks off in Dallas, where the Bears take on the SMU Mustangs. Viewers can watch the game at 6:00 p.m. CT on ESPN. Here's a look at the team's entire season schedule.

 

DateOpponentLocationTime/Channel
9/5/15SMU Mustangs

Gerald J. Ford Stadium

Dallas, TX

6:00 p.m. CT

ESPN

9/12/15Lamar Cardinals

McLane Stadium

Waco, TX

TBA
9/19/15Open Date----
9/26/15Rice Owls

McLane Stadium

Waco, TX

2:00 p.m.

CT FSN

10/3/15Texas Tech Red Raiders

AT&T Stadium

Arlington, TX

TBA
10/10/15Kansas Jayhawks

Memorial Stadium

Lawrence, KS

TBA
10/17/15West Virginia Mountaineers

McLane Stadium

Waco, TX

TBA
10/24/15Iowa State Cyclones

McLane Stadium

Waco, TX

TBA
10/31/15Open Date----
11/5/15Kansas State Wildcats

Bill Snyder Family FB Stadium

Manhattan, KS

6:30 p.m.

CT FS1

11/14/15Oklahoma Sooners

McLane Stadium

Waco, TX

TBA
11/21/15Oklahoma State Cowboys

Boone Pickens Stadium

Stillwater, OK

TBA
11/27/15TCU Horned Frogs

Amon G. Carter Stadium

Fort Worth, TX

6:30 p.m.

CT ESPN

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Nebraska Cornhuskers
Path: /2015-nebraska-cornhuskers-football-schedule
Body:

The 2015 Nebraska football schedule kicks off in Lincoln, where the Cornhuskers take on the BYU Cougars. Viewers can watch the game at 2:30 p.m. CT on ABC. Here's a look at the team's entire season schedule.

 

DateOpponentLocationTime/Channel
9/5/15BYU Cougars

Memorial Stadium

Lincoln, NE

2:30 p.m. CT

ABC

9/12/15South Alabama Jaguars

Memorial Stadium

Lincoln, NE

7:00 p.m. CT BTN/BTN2GO
9/19/15Miami Hurricanes

Sun Life Stadium

Miami Gardens, FL

2:30 p.m. CT ABC/ESPN2
9/26/15Southern Miss Golden Eagles

Memorial Stadium

Lincoln, NE

11:00 a.m. CT

TBA

10/3/15Illinois Fighting Illini

Memorial Stadium

Lincoln, NE

TBA
10/10/15Wisconsin Badgers

Memorial Stadium

Lincoln, NE

TBA
10/17/15Minnesota Golden Gophers

TCF Bank Stadium

Minneapolis, MN

TBA
10/24/15Northwestern Wildcats

Memorial Stadium

Lincoln, NE

TBA
10/31/15Purdue Boilermakers

Ross-Ade Stadium

West Lafayette, IN

TBA
11/7/15Michigan State Spartans

Memorial Stadium

Lincoln, NE

6 or 7 p.m. CT ABC/ESPN/2
11/14/15Rutgers Scarlet Knights

High Point Solutions Stadium

Piscataway, NJ

TBA
11/21/15Open Date----
11/27/15Iowa HawkeyesMemorial Stadium, Lincoln, NETBA
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Clemson Tigers, College Football
Path: /2015-clemson-tigers-football-schedule
Body:

The 2015 Clemson football schedule kicks off in Clemson, where the Tigers take on the Wofford Terriers. Viewers can watch the game at 12:30 p.m. ET on ACCN and ESPN3. Here's a look at the team's entire season schedule.

 

DateOpponentLocationTime/Channel
9/5/15Wofford Terriers

Memorial Stadium

Clemson, SC

12:30 p.m. ET ACCN/ESPN3
9/12/15Appalachian State Mountaineers

Memorial Stadium

Clemson, SC

12:30 p.m. ET

ESPN3

9/17/15Louisville Cardinals

Papa John's Cardinal Stadium

Louisville, KY

7:30 p.m. ET

ESPN

9/26/15Open Date----
10/3/15Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Memorial Stadium

Clemson, SC

TBA
10/10/15Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Memorial Stadium

Clemson, SC

TBA
10/17/15Boston College Eagles

Memorial Stadium

Clemson, SC

TBA
10/24/15Miami Hurricanes

Sun Life Stadium

Miami Gardens, FL

TBA
10/31/15NC State Wolfpack

Carter-Finley Stadium

Raleigh, NC

TBA
11/7/15Flordia State Seminoles

Memorial Stadium

Clemson, SC

TBA
11/14/15Syracuse Orange

Carrier Dome

Syracuse, NY

TBA
11/21/15Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Memorial Stadium

Clemson, SC

TBA
11/28/15South Carolina Gamecocks

Williams-Brice Stadium

Columbia, SC

TBA
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies
Path: /2015-texas-am-aggies-football-schedule
Body:

The 2015 Texas A&M football schedule kicks off in Houston, where the Aggies take on the Arizona State Sun Devils. Viewers can watch the game at 6:00 p.m. CT on ESPN.  Here's a look at the team's entire season schedule.

 

DateOpponentLocationTime/Channel
9/5/15Arizona State Sun Devils

NRG Stadium

Houston, TX

6:00 p.m. CT

ESPN

9/12/15Ball State Cardinals

Kyle Field

College Station, TX

6:00 p.m. CT

ESPNU

9/19/15Nevada Wolf Pack

Kyle Field

College Station, TX

11:00 a.m. CT

SECN

9/26/15Arkansas Razorbacks

AT&T Stadium

Arlington, TX

TBA
10/3/15Mississippi State Bulldogs

Kyle Field

College Station, TX

TBA
10/10/15Open Date----
10/17/15Alabama Crimson Tide

Kyle Field

College Station, TX

TBA
10/24/15Ole Miss Rebels

Vaught-Hemingway Stadium

Oxford, MS

TBA
10/31/15South Carolina Gamecocks

Kyle Field

College Station, TX

TBA
11/7/15Auburn Tigers

Kyle Field

College Station, TX

TBA
11/14/15Western Carolina Catamounts

Kyle Field

College Station, TX

TBA
11/21/15Vanderbilt Commodores

Vanderbilt Stadium

Nashville, TN

TBA
11/28/15LSU Tigers

Tiger Stadium

Baton Rouge, LA

TBA
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:00

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