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All taxonomy terms: NL Central, MLB, News
Path: /mlb/pirates-cap-incredible-end-mlb-first-half
Body:

The MLB season opened with the St. Louis Cardinals, and the first half of the season wrapped up with them. However, the past two games for the Cardinals have been heartbreakers, having faced their division rival Pirates. Both games have gone to extra innings, and both have ended in a Pirates come from behind walkoff victory.

 

On Saturday, St. Louis led by two in the 8th, one in the 10th, and one in the 14th, all before the Pirates mounted comebacks and scored a two-run homerun off the bat of Pirates superstar Andrew McCutchen. Then, last night, after tying the game in the 8th, the Cardinals struck early in extra innings, scoring two runs in the 10th. With All-Star closer Trevor Rosenthal on the mound, the game seemed all but locked up. With a man on second and two outs, the Pirates singled three straight times to tie up the game. A walk loaded the bases, and Gregory Polanco drove in the winning run on a single. What a great ending to the first half.

Watch the two walkoff hits below:



Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 12:55
Path: /college-football/sec-dominates-preseason-outland-trophy-watch-list-15-nominees
Body:

The preseason Outland Trophy award watch list was announced on Friday with 81 of the top interior linemen in the nation receiving recognition from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). The watch list included players from all Power 5 Conferences with the SEC leading the pack with 15 nominees. The Pac-12 had 13 players on the list, followed by 11 each from the Big 12 and Big Ten, and seven from the ACC.

 

Among the early favorites to capture the 2015 honor is the lone returning semifinalist from last season, Baylor’s Spencer Drango. Ole Miss has two potential candidates to earn the honors, offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche. South Carolina right tackle Brandon Shell, Ohio State’s Taylor Decker, UCLA defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, and Alabama nose guard A’Shawn Robinson are among the other players who could grind their way to the postseason hardware.

 

Other SEC contenders with a reasonable shot at winning include Alabama center Ryan Kelly and left tackle Cam Robinson, Arkansas right guard Sebastian Tretola, and Georgia right guard Greg Pyke.

 

The three semifinalists will be announced on Nov. 19 with the winner being named on Dec. 10 during "The Home Depot College Football Awards Show" at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, which will be televised on ESPN.

 

Outland Trophy Watch List (SEC players highlighted)

 

G Vadal Alexander, LSU
C Jack Allen, Michigan State
OT Adrian Bellard, Texas State
DT Andrew Billings, Baylor
DT Beau Blackshear, Baylor
C Austin Blythe, Iowa
C Evan Boehm, Missouri
C J.T. Boyd, East Carolina
C Jake Brendel, UCLA
DT Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech
OT Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech
DT Kenny Clark, UCLA
DT Maliek Collins, Nebraska
OT Jack Conklin, Michigan State
OT Austin Corbett, Nevada
OT Joe Dahl, Washington State
C Ty Darlington, Oklahoma
DT Sheldon Day, Notre Dame
OT Taylor Decker, Ohio State
OT Spencer Drango, Baylor
G Parker Ehinger, Cincinnati
G Pat Elflein, Ohio State
G Dan Feeney, Indiana
G Joshua Garnett, Stanford
DT Adam Gotsis, Georgia Tech
Darius Hamilton, Rutgers
OT Ike Harris, East Carolina
C Marcus Henry, Boise State
C Joey Hunt, TCU
OT Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M
OT Roderick Johnson, Florida State
DT Gerrand Johnson, ULM
OT Tyler Johnstone, Oregon
DT Chris Jones, Mississippi State
C Ryan Kelly, Alabama

C Nick Kelly, Arizona State
OT Denver Kirkland, Arkansas
G Alex Kozan, Auburn

G Jimmy Kristof, Western Michigan
DT Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech
DT Corey Marshall, Virginia Tech
C Nick Martin, Notre Dame
OT Ryker Mathews, BYU
OT Kyle Murphy, Stanford
C Andrew Ness, Northern Illinois
DT Thomas Niles, UCF
DT Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
C Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia
DT Joe Ostman, Central Michigan
DT Davion Pierson, TCU
G Greg Pyke, Georgia
DT Jarran Reed, Alabama

G Andrew Reue, Rice
DT Hassan Ridgeway, Texas
DT A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama
OT Cam Robinson, Alabama

G Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State
OT Brandon Shell, South Carolina
C Matt Skura, Duke
C Matt Sparks, Massachusetts
OT Garrett Stafford, Tulsa
OT Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
OT Freddie Tagaloa, Arizona
G Chris Taylor, Tulane
G Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech
G Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas
C Max Tuerk, USC
DT Travis Tuiloma, BYU
OT Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
G Landon Turner, North Carolina
OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, TCU
OT Clint Van Horn, Marshall
DT Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA
C Dan Voltz, Wisconsin
DT Adolphus Washington, Ohio State
G Christian Westerman, Arizona State
OT Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
DT Antwaun Woods, USC

 

— 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:
SEC Dominates Preseason Outland Trophy Watch List with 15 Nominees
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/rapper-mekka-don-creates-ohio-state-hype-video-buckeyes-silver-bullets
Body:

The man who brought you the most convincing video for Ezekiel Elliott's bid for the Heisman, is back with another hit.

 

His beloved Ohio State Buckeyes are the centerpiece yet again. Meshed with highlights and a song the team needs to play in the locker room before each game, this video will get you excited for the second coming of the Silver Bullets.

 

Darron Lee, Joey Bosa, Elliott and more make appearances and if this is any indication, no one will want to be in the way of these Silver Bullets.

The song is great, but will the Buckeyes' play match?

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 12:24
All taxonomy terms: Golf, News
Path: /golf/jordan-spieth-wins-john-deere-classic-playoff
Body:

It was considered a bold move, but Jordan Spieth went ahead and competed in the John Deere Classic this past weekend. And he proved that it was a great idea, as he took home the title in a two-hole playoff with Tom Gillis. Down a few strokes on the back nine, Spieth came roaring back, almost as if it was to be expected.

 

The win marks his second there and fourth of the year, as he will head to the British Open this week with all the momentum. Without defending champion Rory McIlroy playing, Spieth will come into the event as the favorite. Not only that, but there is a chance for him to claim the No. 1 ranking in the world. 

Watch some highlights of the final round below:

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: MLB, News
Path: /mlb/top-10-mlb-all-star-game-moments-2000
Body:

The MLB has been bringing its best players together since 1933 in an annual All Star Game. Since its inception, countless memories have been made, from game-winning hits to final farewells. The game started to gain greater importance in 2003, as the winner began to determine home-field advantage for the World Series. This year's game takes place on July 14 at Great American Ballpark, home to the Cincinnati Reds. Take a look at some of the most memorable moments since 2000 (listed chronologically):

2000: Andres Galarraga receives a standing ovation in his first at bat after non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma forced him to sit out the entirety of the 1999 season. He singled in that at bat and later ended the season as the NL Comeback Player of the Year.

 

2000: In front of his home crowd in Atlanta, Chipper Jones homered off of James Baldwin to left-center field, bringing the crowd to its feet. Hank Aaron hit a homerun when the last All Star Game was in Atlanta, and he happened to throw out the game’s first pitch.
 

2001: In Cal Ripken’s final All Star Game, he received an ovation and treated the fans to a home run in route to the MVP. When the AL took the field, Alex Rodriguez, the team’s shortstop, surprised Ripken and gave him the position. Ripken had played third base for his first and last few years of his career, but he helped revolutionize the shortstop position.

 

2002: Barry Bonds had been the league’s most feared hitter and connected on a deep shot that looked to be a home run. However, Torii Hunter, arguably the league’s best fielder, robbed Bonds of the home run. The game ended up tying, thus it proved to be a pivotal play.


 

2006: With two outs and two strikes in the top of the 9th down 2-1, Michael Young laced a triple to center field to take a 3-2 lead. Even more impressive, the game-winning hit came off of Trevor Hoffman, who is second in career saves in the MLB.

 

2007: In a feat never accomplished before, Ichiro destroyed a ball to deep right field that hit off the wall and bounced in a strange direction. The ball hit a banner on the wall, which bounced far away from Ken Griffey Jr., who was playing in right field. This allowed for Ichiro to score an inside-the-park-home run, the first and only in All Star Game history.

 

2010: On the morning of the 2010 All Star Game, George Steinbrenner, one of the winningest owners ever, passed away. To honor him, there was a pregame video followed by a moment of silence at the stadium that displayed the history and admiration for the longtime Yankees owner.

 

2013: Mariano Rivera, the all-time saves leader, took the All Star field for the final time of his career before retiring later that year. He came out of the bullpen to “Enter Sandman” and took the field alone out of respect. The entire stadium stood on their feet to pay respect to the future Hall of Famer. He came in and pitched a perfect eight inning as expected.



 

2014: Just one year after his former teammate’s final game, Derek Jeter also played in his last All Star Game. Jeter went 2-2 with a double and a run, although Adam Wainwright, the pitcher he faced in the first inning, claimed after the game that he gave him easy pitches to hit. He drew some questions of integrity over this, but later claimed that he was joking. Jeter came out of the game in the 4th inning to a standing ovation and hugs from the entire dugout.



 

2015: Just one season removed from their first World Series trip since 1985, the Kansas City Royals sent four starters to the MLB All Star Game. Though only a couple may be truly deserving, their fans have been voting excessively as a reward for last year’s success. However, their voting has brought controversy and a possible reconsideration of the All Star voting process. 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 12:00
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-adds-canadian-wr-chase-claypool-2016-recruiting-class
Body:

The long held theory that Canadian football is not on par with American football is starting to pivot. Each year more and more high school talent from up north is making their way south to play college ball in the U.S. Another recruit helping open the floodgates is wide receiver Chase Claypool.

 

Colleges south of the Canadian border are very familiar with Claypool. The 6-foot-5, 214-pound receiver reports 14 scholarship offers with teams like Oregon, Rutgers, Michigan, Arizona, Tennessee, Washington and Nebraska seeking the red zone target on their squad at the next level.

 

On July 7, Claypool broke down his list to five — Rutgers, Notre Dame, Oregon, Michigan and Washington. Many believed the battle was between Oregon and Notre Dame with Washington pushing for a regional advantage.

 

Claypool committed to the Fighting Irish during ESPNU’s telecast of "The Opening" becoming the 12th verbal commitment for Notre Dame. During the on-the-field activities at the Nike camp Claypool demonstrated his effectiveness in the passing game. Due to his frame and athleticism he could be an outside receiver or add weight and become a nightmare mismatch for defensive coordinators as a pass-catching tight end.

 

Notre Dame 2016 Verbal Commitment List

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

WR Chase Claypool, 6-5, 214 lbs, Abbotsford HS, Abbotsford, British Columbia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

— 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:
Notre Dame Adds Canadian WR Chase Claypool to 2016 Recruiting Class
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: BYU Cougars, College Football, Independents
Path: /college-football/byu-wild-card-players-2015
Body:

You'd be hard-pressed to find a team that plays four more high-profile games than BYU does in the month of September. The Cougars open at Nebraska, host Boise State and then travel to UCLA and Michigan to start the season.

 

That's quite a gauntlet.

 

Be that as it may, Taysom Hill and the Cougars are a proud and confident bunch that is ready to take on all comers. Hill — a Heisman candidate a season ago before going down with a leg injury — has said recently that he feels like his team will be in position to win every game on its schedule. If that is going to happen, he'll need a lot of support from teammates on both sides of the ball. There are four players in particular who could hold the key to how BYU kicks off and subsequently finishes the 2015 campaign. If these players can step up and play up to or beyond their potential, the ceiling is pretty high for the Cougars this season.

 

Here are the "wild card" players for BYU in 2015.

 

Jamaal Williams, Running Back

After rushing for more than 1,200 yards in 2013, injuries plagued his '14 campaign and limited him to 518 total yards on the ground. It appears he's now healthy. With Williams behind Hill in the Cougar backfield, defenses will need to account for two elite runners on every down. That will open up BYU's underrated and already efficient passing game.

 

Brad Wilcox, Left Tackle

After seeing time in all 13 of BYU's games a season ago, Wilcox steps into the starting left tackle role. Obviously, he'll be charged with protecting his uber-talented quarterback's blindside. Additionally, he'll play a key role in BYU's running game — especially on off-tackle dives and quarterback keepers/designed runs — against some extremely talented defensive front sevens throughout the season.

 

Bronson Kaufusi, Defensive End

Bronson, the son of BYU's defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi, is projected by many to be one of the better pass rushers in the nation. He'll need to live up to those expectations and possibly exceed them in order for BYU to fulfill Hill's prophecy of being in position to win every game. The Cougars will likely play in many high-scoring shootouts, so Kaufusi should get plenty of opportunities to tee off on opposing signal-callers.

 

Sione Takitaki, Linebacker

Takitaki should end up being the youngest starter in the linebacking corps. He saw considerable playing time a season ago, using his elite athleticism to make a handful of key plays throughout the season. He has the talent to be one of the better linebackers in the nation. If he can realize his potential in 2015, it'll go a long way in making BYU's defense one to be feared by every opponent on the schedule.

 

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

Teaser:
BYU Wild Card Players in 2015
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/john-oliver-explains-how-our-tax-dollars-are-wasted-sports-stadiums-chargers-los-angeles-raiders
Body:

Whether you like sports or not, you're paying for it.

 

John Oliver talks about how billions of our hard-earned money is being used for sports stadiums, despite the team's owners being good for it. The speech will make you think twice about the amazing luxury boxes and swimming pools inside the stadiums.

 

(Warning: Some parts of the video are NSFW)

We should all get into games free. After all, we are paying for the stadiums to be built.

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 11:02
Path: /college-football/big-12-football-breakout-players-2015
Body:

Projecting college football’s breakout players for any given season is no easy assignment. After all, each person has a different take on what a “breakout player” is, and college football is always home to several new faces throughout the season. While it’s difficult to label breakout players, the new stars of any season can have a huge impact on conference championship or national title races.

 

Related: Big 12 Predictions for 2015

 

The Big 12 has several names waiting to emerge as breakout players for 2015, including three quarterbacks in Baylor’s Seth Russell, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes. There’s no shortage of talent on defense, as Oklahoma State’s Vincent Taylor and Texas’ Malik Jefferson are names to watch in the fall.

 

Predicting the Big 12's Breakout Players for 2015

 

Mike Freeze, LB, TCU

The back seven of TCU’s defense must be retooled this offseason. The Horned Frogs lost standout linebackers Paul Dawson and Marcus Mallet, and the secondary lost three all-conference performers. The linebacker position was a work in progress for coach Gary Patterson in the spring, but Freeze made a push for a starting job after enrolling early in spring practice. The three-star recruit is penciled in as one of TCU’s starting linebackers. 

 

Related: Big 12 Predictions for 2015

 

Shelton Gibson, WR, West Virginia

Dana Holgorsen’s high-powered offense is looking for new playmakers at receiver after the departure of Kevin White (109 catches in 2014) and Mario Alford (65 receptions). Jordan Thompson is the team’s leading option at receiver, but the Mountaineers have a collection of young receivers pushing for snaps. Gibson redshirted in his first season with the Mountaineers and caught four passes for 60 yards in 2014. The Ohio native took a step forward in the spring and caught four passes for 84 yards in the final scrimmage. Gibson should be one of the go-to targets for quarterback Skyler Howard in 2015.

 

Related: The Big 12's Most Underrated Players for 2015

 

Dravon Henry, S, West Virginia

High expectations followed Henry in 2014, and the true freshman turned in a solid debut for coordinator Tony Gibson. In 13 games, Henry recorded 45 tackles (one for a loss), two interceptions and two pass breakups. With cornerback Daryl Worley and safety Karl Joseph established as stars, combined with Henry’s development, the Mountaineers should have one of the nation’s top defensive backfields. 

 

Related: College Football 2015 All-America Team

 

Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Jefferson is only a true freshman, but high expectations surround the Mesquite, Texas native in 2015. Jefferson ranked as the No. 10 overall player in the 247Sports Composite and enrolled in time to compete in spring ball. Jefferson recorded five stops (one for a loss) in the Orange-White scrimmage and is expected to start at linebacker this season.

 

Related: Big 12's 2015 All-Conference Team

 

Elijah Lee, LB, Kansas State

With the departures of quarterback Jake Waters and receiver Tyler Lockett, Kansas State has to lean on its defense in 2015. With six starters back, there’s plenty of talent for coordinator Tom Hayes to rely on. Lee is another impact defender to watch for Hayes, as he impressed in 13 games as a freshman last season. Lee recorded 19 tackles and 4.5 sacks in limited action and should push for all-conference honors in his first full year as a starter.

 

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech

Mahomes isn’t guaranteed the starting job yet, as he will compete with Davis Webb in the fall for the No. 1 spot. However, Mahomes showcased his upside as a true freshman and his case for the starting spot in seven games last season. He completed 105 of 185 passes for 1,547 yards and 16 scores and tossed only four picks. In the season finale against Baylor, Mahomes threw for 598 yards.

 

Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2015

 

Mike Mitchell, LB, Texas Tech

After giving up 41.3 points per game last season, Texas Tech’s defense will be under the microscope in 2015. New coordinator David Gibbs should help this unit improve, and seven returning starters certainly helps the rebuilding process. Mitchell was a five-star recruit in the 2013 signing class and redshirted in his only year at Ohio State. The Texas native sat out 2014 due to transfer rules but is expected to be a key cog in Gibbs’ defense this season.

 

Steven Parker, S, Oklahoma

The Sooners certainly have room to improve in the defensive secondary after giving up 24 plays of 30 yards or more last season. Cornerback Zack Sanchez is one of the best in the nation, but new secondary coach Kerry Cooks is looking for players to step up at the other positions. Parker is expected to take on a bigger role this season after playing in 13 games in 2014. The sophomore recorded 31 tackles, one sack and six pass breakups in limited action. 

 

Related: College Football 2015 All-Freshman Team

 

Dalton Risner, C, Kansas State

B.J. Finney leaves big shoes to fill on Kansas State’s offensive line. The All-Big 12 center started 52 consecutive games in his career and was a Rimington Trophy semifinalist in 2014. Risner redshirted in his first year on campus and is expected to anchor the center position for coach Bill Snyder in 2015.

 

Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

Rudolph’s emergence in the final three games of 2014 is one of the biggest reasons for optimism in Stillwater this season. Rudolph closed out last season by passing for 853 yards and six passing scores on 49 completions and guided Oklahoma State to a 2-1 mark in the final three games of the year. In the bowl win over Washington, Rudolph passed for 299 yards and two touchdowns. With an improving offensive line and a deep corps of receivers at his disposal, Rudolph should be able to build off a solid finish to 2014 and emerge as one of the Big 12’s top quarterbacks.

 

Related: Ranking the Big 12's Stadiums for 2015

 

Seth Russell, QB, Baylor

Robert Griffin III, Nick Florence and Bryce Petty each produced big seasons in coach Art Briles’ offense at Baylor. And Russell has been handed the keys to the high-powered attack after completing 48 of 85 passes for 804 yards and eight touchdowns in 2014. In each of the last four years, Baylor’s starting quarterback has surpassed 3,850 passing yards and 29 scores. Expect Russell to easily eclipse those marks in 2015.

 

Kent Taylor, TE, Kansas

Quarterback play is a big question mark for new coach David Beaty after Michael Cummings was injured in the spring game. It’s uncertain if Cummings will make it back by the opener, but if he doesn’t play in 2015, Beaty is expected to turn to Montell Cozart or true freshmen Carter Stanley or Ryan Willis. In addition to the quarterback concerns, the Jayhawks also lack proven options at receiver. Taylor should alleviate some of the concerns from this group, as the Florida transfer is eligible after sitting out 2014 due to NCAA rules. Taylor ranked as the No. 79 recruit in the 2012 signing class.

 

Vincent Taylor, DT, Oklahoma State

Coordinator Glenn Spencer should have one of the most improved defenses in the Big 12 in 2015. The Cowboys return seven starters, and the overall depth and experience for this unit should be better this season. The defensive tackle position is one of the few positions of concern for Spencer, as last year’s starters – James Castleman and Ofa Hautau – expired their eligibility. Taylor played in 10 games in 2014 and recorded 13 tackles and continued his development with a strong spring performance. 

 

Related: Big 12 Predictions for 2015

 

Ranthony Texada, CB, TCU

The secondary is usually a strength under Gary Patterson’s watch at TCU, but this unit will be a work in progress in 2015. The Horned Frogs must replace standout cornerback Kevin White, as well as All-Big 12 safeties Sam Carter and Chris Hackett. Texada joins Derrick Kindred as the returning starters for Patterson, and both players will have to anchor the unit early in the year. Texada started all 13 games as a redshirt freshman in 2014 and recorded seven pass breakups and 31 tackles. Texada should be even better as a sophomore.

 

Demond Tucker, DT, Iowa State

After the Cyclones allowed 246.3 rushing yards per game last season, coach Paul Rhoads wasted no time searching for upgrades. Tucker is one of two junior college recruits brought to Ames to play immediately on the defensive line. The No. 38 recruit in the 247Sports Composite of junior college recruits and was a NJCAA first-team All-American in both years at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. Tucker has to adjust to the Big 12 level, but he could be a difference-maker for the defense.

 

Mike Warren, RB, Iowa State

Iowa State ranked ninth in the Big 12 by averaging only 124.1 rushing yards per game last season. Assuming the Cyclones have better luck in the health department up front, there should be more consistency and production from the ground attack. Of course, coordinator Mark Mangino also needs a go-to running back to emerge. Last season’s top two running backs (Aaron Wimberly and DeVondrick Nealy), leaving Warren and sophomore Tyler Brown as the leading candidates. Warren was a three-star recruit and redshirted in his first season in Ames.

 

Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2015

 

Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma

It’s no secret Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard is one of the Big 12’s best receivers. But coordinator Lincoln Riley needs to find other options to take some of the pressure off of Shepard in 2015. Westbrook only recorded two touches in the spring game but finished with 50 yards. The junior college product has big-play potential for the Sooners and his explosiveness should help the passing attack stretch the field.

 

Connor Williams, OT, Texas

Joe Wickline is one of the best offensive line coaches in the nation, and the Longhorns will be looking for improvement up front after inconsistent play in 2014. Four starters are back, but the lineup and starters may change with added competition through the recruiting ranks. Williams enrolled in time to compete in spring practice, and the true freshman is pushing for a starting spot. If Williams continues to develop in the fall, he should start at one of the tackle positions for Wickline.

Teaser:
Big 12 Football Breakout Players for 2015
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/novak-djokovic-celebrates-wimbledon-taste-grass
Body:

Every athlete has their own unique way of celebrating, and anybody watching Novak Djokovic’s victory over Roger Federer at Wimbledon surely saw how he embraced the moment. Right after he won and shook hands with the chair umpire, he reached down to the famous grass on the court. He ripped out a few pieces and began chomping away on it.

 

The action required a double-take from viewers to confirm what they were seeing, and reporters after the game asked him about this odd celebration in front of the crowd. He announced that this was something he had dreamed about as a child, to do something crazy after an incredible moment. Well, he did it alright.

Watch Djokovic eat the grass below:

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 10:56
Path: /college-football/5-tennessee-volunteers-named-2015-maxwell-and-bednarik-award-watch-lists
Body:

Tennessee's season opener is still nearly two months away, but the Volunteers are already making national headlines, placing five players on the preseason watch lists for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards. The five representatives on the two watch lists is two more than other team in the SEC.

 

Related: Tennessee Volunteers 2015 Preview and Prediction

 

For the Robert W. Maxwell Award, which has been given out annually to the best player in college football since 1937, Tennessee is represented by junior quarterback Joshua Dobbs and sophomore running back Jalen Hurd. A trio of Volunteers made the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which has honored college football’s best defensive player at the conclusion of each season since 1995. Sophomore defensive end Derek Barnett, senior linebacker/defensive end Curt Maggitt and junior cornerback Cameron Sutton are among those vying for the prestigious honor.

 

Dobbs and Hurd are the first Vol players to make the Maxwell watch list since 2012 when quarterback Tyler Bray and wide receiver Da’ Rick Rodgers garnered the honor. The first and only Tennessee player to win the Maxwell Award was Peyton Manning in 1997.

                             

Dobbs is coming off of a very successful 2014 season that concluded with MVP honors in the TaxSlayer Bowl in a lopsided victory over Iowa. Dobbs started five games last season, leading the Vols to a 4-1 record. In six total games played, the dual-threat standout completed 63 percent of his passes and amassed 1,675 yards of total offense and 17 total touchdowns (9 passing, 8 rushing). Dobbs also has been named to several preseason All-SEC lists by various publications, including third team by Athlon Sports.

 

Hurd will attempt to be the first Vol running back to win the Maxwell. Last season, Hurd rushed for 899 yards and five touchdowns on 190 carries, while adding 35 receptions for 221 yards and two scores. The former 5-star recruit concluded his 2014 campaign by rushing for 122 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries in the TaxSlayer Bowl. Hurd has also been receiving his share of preseason accolades (third-team All-SEC by Athlon), as most expect a breakout season for the rising sophomore in 2015.

 

Related: Tennessee's Running Back Duo Ready to Carry Vols Back to Prominence

 

As previously mentioned, the Vols are also well represented on the Bednarik watch list with three defensive standouts making the cut, more than any other team in the SEC, and matched only by Oklahoma and Notre Dame nationally. Tennessee has never had a player win the prestigious Bednarik award, but two Vols have been named semifinalists — linebacker Kevin Burnett in 2004 and defensive back Eric Berry in '08. The last Tennessee player to make the watch list was former linebacker A.J. Johnson, who landed on the list in both 2013 and '14.

 

All three of the Volunteer players represented on this season's Bednarik watch list are worthy of the honor and possess the talent to win the award, but none more so than Barnett. In route to Freshman All-American and second-team All-SEC honors, Barnett led all SEC true freshman with 72 tackles last season. He also broke UT freshman records for sacks in a season (10), a game (3, vs. both South Carolina and Ole Miss), as well as total tackles for a loss (20.5).

 

To put Barnett’s 2014 numbers into perspective, compare them to former South Carolina star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney’s freshman totals. In 13 starts, Clowney had half as many total tackles with 36, almost half the number of tackles for a loss with 12 and two fewer sacks than Barnett.

 

A Vol fan favorite, fifth-year senior Maggitt also should make a strong case for the Bednarik in 2015. Last season, Maggitt recorded a team-best 11 sacks, which were good enough to rank third in the SEC. He also collected 48 tackles and 15 tackles for a loss. He is listed on several preseason All-SEC lists (Athlon second-teamer) for 2015, and a big senior season should result in multiple accolades at year’s end.

 

The final Tennessee player to be named a preseason Bednarik contender is Sutton. The star cornerback and punt returner has started every single game since he set foot on campus in 2013. As a sophomore, Sutton proved to be one of the better defensive backs in the SEC by successfully breaking up 13 passes, which tied him for the most in the league in 2014. This, in spite of opposing quarterbacks often choosing to avoid throwing in his direction. He also had three interceptions, a forced fumble and made 37 tackles last season.

 

As a punt returner, Sutton averaged just over 11 yards per punt return in 2014. His biggest return was a 76-yarder for a touchdown against Vanderbilt. Like Barnett and Maggitt, Sutton’s name can be found on multiple preseason all-conference lists for both roles. He's a second-teamer on defense on Athlon's 2015 All-SEC team and made the fourth team as a punt returner.

 

The Maxwell Football Club will announce the semifinalists for both the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards on Nov. 2, followed by the selection of the three finalists on Nov. 23. The winners of each award will be announced as part of "The Home Depot College Awards Show," which will be televised by ESPN on Dec. 10.

 

— Written by Rob McVey, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McVey is a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan who loves singing "Rocky Top" every opportunity he gets. Follow him on Twitter @Rob_UTVOLS

Teaser:
5 Tennessee Volunteers Named to 2015 Maxwell and Bednarik Award Watch Lists
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/texas-kicker-nick-rose-80-yard-field-goal-ease-longhorns
Body:

If your kicker can make a field goal from almost parking lot distance, your team is in pretty good shape.

 

Nick Rose has the leg of something that's not human. The Texas kicker is seen here crushing an 80-yarder with ease.

 

 

Yes, this is the same guy who does the backflip field goal as well.

 

 

This should be a stern warning that no game will be out of reach with this guy on the team. 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 10:19
Path: /college-football/top-10-acc-non-conference-games-2015
Body:

The College Football Playoff Committee proved the general trend of tougher scheduling last fall. 

 

The ACC may not get a team in the playoff and may not be one of the better Power 5 conferences. However, no one can blame the ACC for taking it easy in the non-conference. 

 

There are nearly two dozen great non-conference games in the ACC in 2015.

 

 AwayHomeDate
1.Oct. 3
These two historic programs have only met twice. Clemson won the last meeting 16-10 in 1979 in South Bend. Two years earlier, Joe Montana led the Irish to a 21-17 victory in Death Valley in the battle of two top 15 teams. Both teams could be ranked in the top 10 when they meet Oct. 3 for the rubber match.
2.Nov. 28
The Gators lead the all-time series lead in the Sunshine State rivalry 34-23-2, but the Noles have been the better team since Jimbo Fisher arrived. Florida State has won four of the last five, including his last two trips inside The Swamp.
3.Sept. 19
The Jackets and Irish will be playing for the 35th time — 27 of which resulted in Notre Dame wins. The last time they met, however, Georgia Tech crushed the Golden Domers 33-3 in South Bend. There is a good chance both of these teams could reach 10 wins in 2015.
4.Sept. 7
National television on Labor Day Night to begin a national title defense sounds like fun to me. Bud Foster and one of the nastiest defenses in the nation will test whichever Buckeyes quarterback Urban Meyer decides to run out there. One coach desperately needs a national statement win and the other coach has major revenge on the mind after the Hokies upset win last fall.
5.Nov. 28
Paul Johnson's squad broke through with a huge 30-24 win over the Dawgs in Athens last season. It was just Johnson's second win in seven tries against the Dawgs and his first since beating Mark Richt in his first year in Atlanta in 2008. There is an outside chance both teams are poised to play in a championship game a week after the meeting. 
Related: ACC Teams as Rock and Roll Bands
6.Sept. 5*
Bobby Petrino has won all 10 season openers but will have a tough time against the heavily-favored Tigers. Louisville won the only previous meeting between the two programs with a 16-3 win over Auburn in Birmingham back in 1974.
7.Nov. 28
The Tigers own a 66-42-4 all-time series lead but are coming off their first win in the rivalry since 2008. Clemson could be eyeing a playoff bid in the season finale and will be looking for their first win in Williams-Brice Stadium since 2007. Dabo Swinney is 2-5 against Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks.
8.Sept. 19
Nebraska's 41-31 win in Lincoln last year broke the all-time series tie (6-5). Both teams should be good enough to make a run in their respective leagues but both head coaches need a marquee win (for different reasons). However, there is no national title on the line like in many previous Miami-Nebraska bouts.
9.Sept. 3*
The Carolina Bowl has only taken place twice since 1991 with the South side winning both times (2007, 2013). The season opener features two defenses that are in desperate need of improvement if either team has any prayer of competing in their respective divisions. 
10.Nov. 7
The Panthers and Irish have played a pretty even series almost every year since 1999 with Notre Dame winning seven of the 12 meetings during that span. The last six meetings in Pittsburgh are split 3-3, including a memorable 28-21 Panthers upset win in the last tangle, 

* - neutral site

 

Best of the Rest:

 

Louisville at Kentucky, Nov. 28

Miami at Cincinnati, Oct. 1

LSU at Syracuse, Sept. 26

Boston College vs. Notre Dame, Nov. 21*

Pitt at Iowa, Sept. 19

Notre Dame at Virginia, Sept. 12

Virginia Tech at East Carolina, Sept. 26

Northwestern at Duke, Sept. 19

Virginia at UCLA, Sept. 5

Boise State at Virginia, Sept. 25

Indiana at Wake Forest, Sept. 26

Wake Forest at Notre Dame, Nov. 14

Illinois at North Carolina, Sept. 19

Teaser:
Top 10 ACC Non-Conference Games of 2015
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-blue-bloods-are-thing-past
Body:

You hear the term "blue blood" tossed around quite a bit when talking about college sports. I've used it myself. It's a term we media members and fans use to describe programs that have historically been dominant, and as such, supposedly possess a certain element of prestige.

 

That's no longer the case in college football.

 

Sure, you have your Alabamas and Ohio States — both of whom would presently be classified as blue bloods — still sitting at or close to the top of the college football world. But you also have newly successful programs that, for whatever reason, are right there with them and don't appear to be going away.

 

It used to be that Texas could pull a recruit away from Baylor simply by showing interest. TCU was never a factor. Boise State was a commuter school. Coaches at programs like Nebraska, Michigan, Notre Dame and USC could wow and pull in recruits just by showing up on their doorstep wearing the school colors. Once inside the house, these same coaches could then entertain the entire family with legends and folklore that embodied the rich traditions at that particular university. It made recruits want to be part of it. It made families want to be part of it.

 

Going to one of these schools meant that you would be playing at a place with NFL-caliber facilities. It meant that there would be seemingless endless funds and resources available to you to help develop you into the best player you could be. It meant you'd be playing on national television and have the chance to become a household name long before you left college. And it likely meant you'd have an even greater chance to get to the NFL.

 

The not-so-well-kept secret nowadays is that there aren't many FBS programs in the country that can't provide you those things. In fact, I can't think of a Power 5 program where a player wouldn't have all of those things.

 

I've written a couple of articles about this topic in the past, with the bulk of them directed at Nebraska. The end result was arguments with fans and Nebraska media members alike who disagreed with what I had to say. The thing is, it's not just Nebraska — it's everywhere.

 

No college football program in 2015 can rest on its logo and history and assume it's a more desirable option for potential recruits based on those two things alone. I cringe when I hear fans or media members say thing like "Eight or nine wins is just not acceptable here at School X." They say things like that because of history. It's like there is some scientific formula that only fans and supporters of these "blue blood" schools know about that says "Because this happened here in the past, we should not settle for anything less happening here in the future, because we are School X."

 

Again, you can't do that in 2015.

 

The elephant in the room — and I know Nebraska fans hate hearing it— is that 18-year old kids don't care about your history or traditions. They don't care about sellout streaks, Blackshirts, Bear Bryant's hat, The Four Horseman, slapping the sign, rubbing the rock, The Big House or Something for Joey. They just don't care.

 

Because of this, the coach, his personality and his system are far more important in 2015 than the brand will ever be.

 

Those 18-year-old kids only want the answers to these questions:

 

1. Will I see playing time?

2. Will I get on TV?

3. Will I play in a fun, exciting and winning system?

4. Will I have a shot at making it to the NFL?

 

After that, it's the coach, not the program's history and traditions, who must convince recruits that the answer to all four of those questions is "Yes."

 

I've called Urban Meyer a "used car salesman" in the past. That's not an insult. It's a necessity for success at the college level. In a world where everyone wants to be thought of as the quiet genius, striving to be as Belichickian as they can, it's as though coaches and athletic directors forget what builds successful college football programs in 2015. Meyer is personable. He's likeable. He sells his program with a smile to recruits and families. He then sells his system — one that historically wins everywhere he's been. And then he sells them on getting to the NFL. He's always closing the sale, and right now, he and Ohio State are reaping the rewards.

 

Ohio State's history, tradition and money have little to do with it. Would you bet against Meyer at West Virginia or Iowa?

 

Neither would I.

 

Coaches like Meyer, Art Briles, Steve Sarkisian, James Franklin and Gary Patterson are what drive success in college football in 2015. It's not the maize "M", the red "N", the golden helmets or the 100,000 seats in your ancient stadium. If a school has the fan and booster support combined with the money to invest in being competitive, it's really all you need, regardless of history or tradition. Most schools have tradition. Most have money. It's tougher to change traditions than it is to change how you spend money.

 

Blue bloods have been replaced by new bloods and new ideas. It's happening all over the world in every business. College football is not immune to it and it's not going back to the way it was. Fans, media and athletic directors at "blue blood" schools — if they haven't done so already — need to get on board or get left behind.

 

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

Teaser:
College Football Blue Bloods Are A Thing Of The Past
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/adam-schefter-reveals-why-he-tweeted-jason-pierre-pauls-medical-records-giants-jpp
Body:

What's ok and what's not in the world of journalism. These days the line between right and wrong is severely blurred.

 

After news broke that Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul may have his finger amputated, Adam Schefter caught a lot of flack for tweeting his medical records. In an interview with SI.com, the ESPN NFL insider defended his actions.

 

"This wasn't as if some player were admitted to the hospital with a secret illness or disease ... the extent of his injuries were going to come to light, maybe that day or later that week, but soon," Schefter said.

 

Schefter went on to say that the image of the medical records came to him and that he never requested anything. Although the ESPN reporter doesn't apologize for what he did, he did admit that he should've done a little more before tweeting.

 

"In hindsight I could and should have done even more here due to the sensitivity of the situation," Schefter said. "ESPN has trusted me on any number of stories over the years, and granted me great latitude, fortunately. Sometimes in the fast-paced news world we live in, it's easy to forget you should lean on the knowledge and experience of the people surrounding you ... On this one, there should have been even more discussion than there was due to the sensitivity of the story; that's on me."

 

It's a tough lesson for many journalists to learn. In the end, if you can believe, Schefter will be even better for it.

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 09:26
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-25-most-crowded-stadiums
Body:

Attendance is a function of many things.

 

Renovations, scheduling, prices, realignment and weather can impact attendance numbers. Even how a school reports its given numbers can vary from program to program (unfortunately).

 

Most notably, however, is the quality of the team. The easiest solution to "fixing" dropping attendance numbers is to win more games.

 

In 2014, Texas A&M (+21 percent), Maryland (+14), LSU (+11), Mississippi State (+10), Rutgers (+9), UCLA (+9) and Florida State (+9) led the Power 5 teams in attendance growth for different reasons.

 

The SEC schools saw boosts from renovations while the two Big Ten teams each saw a spike from joining a new league. The Bruins' attendance grew simply because the team was expected to be and was really good.

 

Ranking the Stadiums: ACC | Big Ten | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

 

So Athlon Sports looked back at all 65 Power 5 teams and ranked them by average capacity based on the reported numbers. How packed was your favorite team’s stadium?

 

  Venue Team % Full Att. Rk
1 Autzen Stadium 106.3 54,422 31st
2 Bill Snyder Family Stadium 106.2 53,081 38th
3 Memorial Stadium 104.9 91,249 10th
4 McLane Stadium 103.8 46,710 49th
5 Memorial Stadium 103.7 85,162 13th
6 Kyle Field 102.5 105,123 2nd
7 Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium 101.6 61,547 26th
8 Williams-Brice Stadium 101.4 81,381 16th
9 Rice-Eccles Stadiums 101.3 46,437 50th
10 Ohio Stadium 101.2 106,296 1st
11 Memorial Stadium 100.3 81,752 15th
12 Sanford Stadium 100.0 92,746 9th
13 Jordan-Hare Stadium 100.0 87,451 11th
14 Notre Dame Stadium 100.0 80,795 16th
15 Doak Campbell Stadium 99.9 82,211 14th
16 Bryant-Denny Stadium 99.7 101,534 6th
17 Davis Wade Stadium 99.6 61,127 28th
18 Spartan Stadium 99.5 74,681 20th
19 Tiger Stadium 99.4 101,723 4th
20 Amon Carter Stadium 99.3 44,719 52nd
21 Camp Randall Stadium 99.0 79,520 18th
22 Neyland Stadium 97.4 99,754 7th
23 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium 96.9 85,834 12th
24 Jones AT&T Stadium 96.8 58,934 29th
25 High Point Solutions Stadium 96.5 50,632 43rd
26 Papa John's Stadium 96.3 52,972 39th
27 Kinnick Stadium 95.6 67,512 22nd
28 Michigan Stadium 95.5 104,909 3rd
29 Beaver Stadium 95.4 101,623 5th
30 Jack Trice Stadium 95.3 52,197 41st
31 Stanford Stadium 94.9 47,862 46th
32 Milan Puskar Stadium 94.5 56,686 34th
33 Carter-Finley Stadium 94.4 54,398 36th
34 Darrell K. Royal Stadium 93.9 94,103 8th
35 Martin Stadium 93.5 30,794 72nd
36 Lane Stadium 93.2 61,157 27th
37 Razorback Stadium 92.4 66,521 23rd
38 Reser Stadium 92.3 42,176 53rd
39 Husky Stadium 91.9 64,508 25th
40 Faurot Field 91.7 65,285 24th
41 TFC Bank Stadium 91.1 47,865 45th
42 Byrd Stadium 90.7 46,981 48th
43 Arizona Stadium 90.5 50,710 42nd
44 Boone Pickens Stadium 90.3 54,387 37th
45 Bobby Dodd Stadium 88.2 48,519 44th
46 Sun Devil Stadium 86.8 57,179 32nd
47 Kenan Memorial Stadium 86.7 54,667 35th
48 BB&T Field 86.4 27,210 83rd
49 Commonwealth Stadium 85.2 57,572 30th
50 Vanderbilt Stadium 84.5 34,258 66th
51 Rose Bowl 82.8 76,650 19th
52 Carrier Dome 82.1 40,447 57th
53 Ryan Field 81.9 38,613 59th
54 Wallace Wade Stadium 80.4 27,291 82nd
55 Sun Life Stadium 80.3 52,518 40th
56 Memorial Stadium 78.7 41,657 54th
57 L.A. Coliseum 78.3 73,272 21st
58 Alumni Stadium 77.0 34,270 64th
59 Memorial Stadium 76.3 47,675 47th
60 Folsom Field 70.5 37,778 61st
61 Memorial Stadium 68.5 41,549 55th
62 Memorial Stadium 68.1 34,077 67th
63 Scott Stadium 63.9 39,320 58th
64 Heinz Field 63.1 41,315 56th
65 Ross-Ade Stadium 61.6 35,269 62nd
Teaser:
College Football's Top 25 Most Crowded Stadiums
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/marcus-lattimore-explains-pain-nfl
Body:

There was a time when many considered South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore as one of the best college running backs. However, after two knee injuries in consecutive years, including one of the most gruesome ever seen, his future quickly looked bleak. The San Francisco drafted him with a 4th round pick in 2013, but he never recovered fully from the injury, retiring late in 2014.

 

Reflecting upon his time with the 49ers, he told reporters, “It was hell. Every day.” However, he never really let the team know that, as he participated with a faux smile on. The pain from his knees was apparently too much to bear, and he could no longer go on playing on it. It leaves eevrybody wondering what could have been for the college star.

See the play that forever changed his career:

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, July 10, 2015 - 16:15
Path: /college-football/florida-state-rb-dalvin-cook-facing-battery-charge
Body:

Florida State running back Dalvin Cook is considered one of the rising stars in the ACC, but the sophomore is facing some serious allegations after an incident on June 23.

 

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Cook was allegedly involved in the battery of a woman outside of a bar. The article from the Tallahassee Democrat indicates the police report was heavily redacted and noted the victim was intoxicated and suffered minor bruises.

 

Charges have yet to be filed, but ESPN reports Cook will be charged with misdemeanor battery. An arrest warrant is expected to be issued.

 

Additionally, the ESPN report indicates Cook allegedly punched the woman in the face several times.

 

Earlier this week, Florida State dismissed quarterback De’Andre Johnson after video was released of an incident at a bar, which the freshman punched a woman in the face.

 

Cook was a key part of the Seminoles’ playoff run last season and was considered one of the top running backs in the nation.

 

Needless to say, Cook’s future at Florida State will depend heavily on how this case plays out in the next few months.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, July 10, 2015 - 15:33
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/novak-djokovic-and-roger-federer-meet-again-wimbledon-championship
Body:

After both winning their semifinals matches in straight sets, No. 1 Novak Djokovic will take on No. 2 Roger Federer for the Wimbledon title for the second straight year. Djokovic enters the match as the defending Wimbledon champion, while Federer has won seven titles there previously. The two have been great rivals for several years now, having faced one another 39 times prior.

 

And in those previous head-to-head matchups, Roger Federer holds the lead by one win, with a record of 20-19. Djokovic has won the previous three matchups, and he looks to tie up the all-time series with his third Wimbledon victory. However, a win for Federer would give him the most men’s singles Wimbledon titles.


Here's something to expect this Sunday:

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, July 10, 2015 - 15:30
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, Greg Hardy, NFC, NFC East, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/greg-hardys-suspension-cut-10-4-games
Body:

Several weeks after his appeal, Greg Hardy’s suspension has been cut from 10 to 4 games for the upcoming NFL season. The suspension came about for his alleged involvement in a domestic abuse case. The troubled NFL star was suspended for 15 games last season with the Carolina Panthers.

 

The Cowboys certainly have to be glad that Hardy will be on the field for more games, having signed him to a one-year deal worth $11.3 million in free agency. The reduced suspension may surprise many, considering all of the backlash for the seemingly lenient punishments last year. It will be interesting to see how people react to this change.

See what Hardy brings to the Cowboys:

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, July 10, 2015 - 14:57
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, NFC East, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/dallas-cowboys-2015-team-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Twenty years have passed since the Cowboys last raised the Vince Lombardi Trophy. They have had only nine winning seasons since, with a 158–146 regular-season record and a 3–8 postseason mark. Yet, Jerry Jones has never lost faith.

 

This year begins no differently, although the Cowboys owner actually has reason to believe. The team has turned the momentum from last season into real, live Super Bowl hopes. The Cowboys saw a healthy Tony Romo for the first time in three offseasons. They welcome back the same offensive and defensive coordinators for the first time in four years. The league’s best offensive line returns intact. They helped their defense with some offseason additions. “I like the future of this team,” Jones says.

 

There’s nothing like the present, though.

 

Buy Athlon Sports' 2015 NFL Preview Magazine

 

OFFENSE

The Cowboys believe as long as they have Romo, they have a chance. Romo underwent two back surgeries in two years, and last season he missed a game with two fractures in his transverse process. But he entered the offseason fully healed. Despite throwing for only 3,705 yards, Romo had one of the best seasons of his career with a 12–3 record, 34 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He led the league in completion percentage (69.9), yards per attempt (8.5), passer rating (113.2) and game-winning drives (five), putting his name in the MVP conversation. The Cowboys insist that Romo, 35, has a few good years left. They sought to upgrade their backup quarterback situation, but it appears Brandon Weeden will once again be the No. 2 signal caller.

 

The Cowboys took pressure off Romo last season by running the ball 508 times (vs. 506 pass plays). They’ll continue that approach in 2015, even though the league’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray, left for Philadelphia in free agency. The only change likely comes in how many carries the rushing leader gets. Running back-by-committee appears likely with Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar and Ryan Williams competing for roster spots, playing time and carries. Randle showed signs last season as Murray’s primary backup, averaging 6.7 yards per carry, but he had only 51 attempts. McFadden, the No. 4 overall pick in 2008, gets a new start with a new team after seven injury-plagued seasons in Oakland. He played a full 16-game season for the first time in his career in 2014.

 

Jason Witten, 33, made his 10th Pro Bowl in 2014. Now in his 13th season, he shows no signs of slowing down. Witten remains Romo’s security blanket, and the tight end ranked second on the team in catches (64) and receiving yards (703) last season.

 

Dez Bryant became one of the top receivers in the NFL last season, earning All-Pro honors with 88 catches for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Cowboys applied the franchise tag to Bryant in the offseason, and the two parties have been unable to hash out a long-term contract. Bryant has hinted at the possibility of holding out, even if this means missing regular season games. If it remains unresolved by the time training camp opens, Bryant’s contract situation will no doubt be a hot topic and it remains to be seen if this will develop into a team-wide distraction.

 

Outside of Bryant,Terrance Williams had stretches where he disappeared, but he averaged 16.8 yards per catch and caught eight touchdowns. Romo trusted Cole Beasley as much as Bryant on third down, and Beasley won the job as the third receiver and a new payday at the end of the season.

 

Having used three first-round picks on offensive linemen since 2011, the Cowboys have built arguably the league’s best line. Zack Martin, who had never played guard until the Cowboys moved him there after drafting him 16th overall last year, earned Pro Bowl honors as a rookie. He was joined by former first-rounders Travis Frederick (center) and Tyron Smith (left tackle) in the all-star game. The Cowboys kept their line intact by re-signing right tackle Doug Free to a three-year, $15 million deal and left guard Ron Leary to a one-year, $585,000 deal. They drafted Chaz Green in the third round to replace swing tackle Jermey Parnell and signed La’el Collins as a free agent after the projected first-rounder went undrafted due to some legal issues.

 

DEFENSE

The Cowboys’ biggest offseason move was the signing of defensive end Greg Hardy. Dallas had only 28 sacks last season; Hardy had double-digit sacks in 2012 and ’13 but played only one game last season before going on the commissioner’s exempt list. Hardy's original 10-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the league was reduced to four games upon appeal. The Cowboys also drafted talented pass-rusher Randy Gregory in the second round, as this defense looks to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. DeMarcus Lawrence, who missed nine games with a broken foot as a rookie last season, will start at left end. Jeremy Mincey, Jack Crawford and Ben Gardner, who spent his rookie season on injured reserve, will compete for playing time in the team’s rotation. The Cowboys moved Tyrone Crawford from defensive end to the three-technique last season and were happy with the results. He had three sacks and was solid against the run. Nick Hayden re-signed to play the nose. Terrell McClain also will see playing time in the defensive tackle rotation.

 

Sean Lee has missed 34 games in his five-year career, including all 16 games last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee on the first day of OTAs. Lee, who has two 100-tackle seasons and 11 career interceptions, will move from middle linebacker to the weak side, the most important linebacker position in the Tampa 2. The Cowboys re-signed Rolando McClain to man the middle, but he will miss the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Anthony Hitchens, who started at all three linebacker positions among 11 starts as a rookie, leads the candidates at strong-side linebacker. McClain

 

The Cowboys tried to shore up their cornerback position before the 2012 season when they signed Brandon Carr and traded up in the draft to select Morris Claiborne. But Carr hasn’t lived up to the contract, and the Cowboys are expected to ask him to take a pay cut, which could lead to his release. Claiborne missed 12 games last season with a ruptured patellar tendon in his left knee. Even when healthy, Claiborne has done nothing to give the Cowboys an indication that he ever will develop into a shutdown corner. Orlando Scandrick has become the team’s most reliable player at the position, but he did not participate in voluntary offseason workouts while seeking a raise. The Cowboys drafted Byron Jones with their first-round pick and expect him to play a big role as a rookie. Starting safeties J.J. Wilcox and Barry Church rarely make game-changing plays but rarely give up big plays and are sure tacklers.

 

SPECIALISTS

Dan Bailey ranks as the second-most accurate placekicker in NFL history, converting 89.8 percent of his career kicks. He has nine game-winning kicks, including five in overtime, in his career. Dallas re-signed punter Chris Jones, who had a 39.8 net average last season, though Australian Tom Hornsey will compete for the job. The Cowboys will go into training camp looking for return specialists to replace Dwayne Harris.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS

Jason Garrett kept his job with an unexpected playoff run last season; he’ll be expected to produce even more this season. The Cowboys kept defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and offensive play-caller Scott Linehan. The addition of Hardy should help the pass rush, but a big question remains about how the Cowboys will replace Murray. They should contend for the division title, but the NFC title still might be a few more good players away.

 

Prediction: 1st in NFC East

Teaser:
Dallas Cowboys 2015 Team Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, July 10, 2015 - 14:30
All taxonomy terms: Chandler Parsons, Western Conference, NBA, News
Path: /nba/chandler-parsons-has-harsh-words-deandre-jordan
Body:

After Mark Cuban explained his frustration in DeAndre Jordan flopping on his contract, Mavericks star Chandler Parsons lashed out at the Clippers’ center. Parsons had been celebrating the new signing, until he found out that he flipped on his decision. On Jordan, he believes that “he wasn’t ready to be a franchise player. He was scared.”

 

While Parsons saw the huge potential in an increased role for Jordan on the Mavericks, he is now angered and disappointed in the decision. He took this recommitment personally, having spoken to Parsons before and excited to play with him. Now there will certainly be a rivalry between the two teams.

Here is what Jordan will be missing on the Mavericks:

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, July 10, 2015 - 14:22
All taxonomy terms: News, World Cup
Path: /world-cup/uswnt-celebrates-historic-parade-nyc
Body:

After defeating Japan in the World Cup this past Sunday, the USWNT celebrated as part of a historic parade in NYC. The parade down the famed Canyon of Heroes honored this team, making them the first women’s sport team to receive such an event.

 

Ticker-tape parades on this same route in NYC have been ongoing since 1886, often honoring politicians and New York championship teams. The parade, which cost the city $2 million, featured the players aboard different floats, which drove past thousands of screaming fans. Along the way, fans up in buildings covered the streets with confetti, as part of the historic tradition. 

Look at some pictures of the event below:
 

 

 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, July 10, 2015 - 13:25
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/texans-hard-knocks-trailer-foster-houston-watt-clowney
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The Texans are the newest team to be featured on "Hard Knocks," must to the dismay of J.J. Watt.

 

The Houston star has said he wasn't into the idea of cameras at practice, but he's going to learn to live with it. In the HBO trailer, the show takes a look at the past while giving a sneak peek in to what's to come with the Texans.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, July 10, 2015 - 13:14
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-gains-verbal-commitment-virginia-cb-wayne-davis
Body:

On June 18 a Wayne Davis tweet broke the hearts of 17 schools but kept hope alive for three other programs — the University of Michigan, Virginia Tech and Ohio State. On Thursday he especially broke the hearts of in-state power Virginia Tech when the speedy corner verbally committed to Ohio State.

 

The 5-foot-11, 187-pound, 4-star recruit from Lake Taylor High School in Norfolk, Va., posted his announcement on Twitter:

 

 

Ohio State had an inside edge with former teammate and defensive end Jayln Holmes already in Columbus, but many were hoping the pull of staying in-state would be enough for the Hokies.

 

There are no points for being a runner-up in recruiting but now at least Virginia Tech’s staff knows what they are up against in hopes of flipping the Tidewater-area star. Other schools like Auburn, Miami, Georgia, Michigan State, Tennessee, North Carolina, Maryland, Louisville, Wisconsin, Duke and Clemson all extended early offers.

 

Ohio State now has 17 verbal commitments to its 2016 recruiting class. Davis joins Baltimore-area talent Kareem Felder (St. Frances HS) as the other slotted cornerback in the Buckeyes' class.

 

— 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:
Ohio State Gains Verbal Commitment From Virginia CB Wayne Davis
Post date: Friday, July 10, 2015 - 12:45

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