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Preseason prognosticators like Athlon Sports — the most accurate college football preview magazine on newsstands — use many things to predict what the coming football season will look like. Returning starters, scheduling, historic trends, coaching, pending off-the-field issues and, of course, recruiting rankings all help Athlon editors predict the future of college football.

Recruiting rankings have their detractors. Yes, evaluating 16- and 17-year-old kids is an inexact science. No, star rankings aren’t the only thing that matters. Yes, leadership (e.g., Nick Saban) is more important than national recruiting rankings (See Auburn).

But using national team recruiting rankings to attempt to pinpoint how “talented” any given roster is an interesting and illuminating practice.

For the sake of this discussion, the 2013 conference alignment was used to calculate, rank and organize teams and leagues. Rivals.com national team rankings over a five-year span (2008-12) were used for the sake of consistency. And the 72 “BCS” conference teams as well as Notre Dame, Boise State and BYU were used to form the 75-team ranking.

Rutgers and Maryland are not included in the rankings, however, tune in Monday for the national rankings to see how they compare to the Big Ten.

So what do the team recruiting rankings teach us about the Big Ten:

Ohio State is a cut above
This isn’t some newsflash or top secret recruiting bulletin, but the numbers are clear. Ohio State has the best roster in the Big Ten and is five losses better than any other team in the league. The OSU football budget is significantly larger than any other program in the Big Ten, they reinvest in football more than any other school and it shows on the field with at least a share of seven Big Ten championships since 2002. If the unblemished 12-0 mark of 2012 counts, Ohio State has four outright Big Ten titles since 2006. With Urban Meyer instantly returning the Bucknuts to prominence both on the field and on the recruiting trail, fans better get used to hearing Hang On Sloopy.

Big Ten-Year War on the horizon
Ohio State's exploits are well-documented but Michigan is no slouch either. Despite three poor seasons (2008-10), the Maize and Blue still recruited at a near top-ten level nationally and is clearly the second-most talented team in the league. With Brady Hoke at the helm, however, the team has had success on the field as well. Michigan is tied with Nebraska and Penn State for the best conference record in the Big Ten (12-4) over the last two seasons. With OSU coming off of sanctions and the Wolverines returning to national relevance, the second coming of the 10-Year War is upon the Big Ten. And fans in every other city in the league should be concerned.

The curious case of Bo Pelini
If Bo Pelini had left Lincoln for the Tennessee job, let’s just say, would Big Red Nation have been devastated? Pelini has recruited well with the No. 3-rated roster in the Big Ten, the No. 21st-rated roster in the nation and a top 25 average ranking (24.0). He also has led his team to 29 conference wins in his five-year tenure at Nebraska, including three championship game appearances and four division titles. He’s also lost four games in each of the last five seasons. Pelini’s antagonistic demeanor and boiling temper likely give him a short leash with some, but his win-loss record matches his recruiting and the Cornhuskers are competing for league championships nearly every year.

Bill O’Brien was smart to stay
If Coach O’Brien wants to win the Lombardi Trophy, he will have to go to the NFL to do it. If winning the Crystal Ball is what he wants, then Penn State is the place to do it. Not only is he coaching and recruiting extremely well in the face of the worst NCAA scandal in history, but the Penn State brand has tons of upside. Joe Paterno recruited the 4th-best roster in the Big Ten and just the 30th-best roster over the last five seasons. However, the Nittany Lions have the No. 2 Big Ten record (29-11) over that span and is No. 3 overall at 48-20. Coach BoB will have to face tough sanctions including a bowl ban the next three seasons, but if he sticks it out, Penn State could easily be the next national super power. Something Jim Delany is likely rooting for as well.

Northwestern can’t overpay Pat Fitzgerald
According to the recruiting rankings, Northwestern has the least talented roster in the Big Ten and is better than only Syracuse, SMU, Washington State, UConn and Temple among BCS conference teams. Yet, the Wildcats are 40-25 over that span and are sixth in the conference with 21 Big Ten wins. Coach Fitz also has led his alma mater to five straight bowl games at a school with 11 total bowl appearances in program history, not to mention its first postseason win since 1949. All while doing it with the worst roster in the league.

Who gets the credit in Madison?
Many thought Bret Bielema’s move to Fayetteville, Ark., was curious but one look at the recruiting rankings might shed some light on the situation. Wisconsin is a unique job with elite fan support and a powerful athletic department. However, it also is nestled in a terrible recruiting territory and rarely can win battles with the big boys of the Big Ten much less the SEC. This team owns the ninth-most talented roster in the league and the 55th-rated roster in the nation — well behind teams like Minnesota, Kansas, Illinois, Colorado or Boston College. Yet, the Badgers have been to three straight Rose Bowls and are competing for Big Ten titles nearly every season. So why did Bielema leave? Did he feel like he topped out? Or that the Big Red has reached its peak as a program? Does it even matter who coaches as long as Barry Alvarez is still in the building? Many believe Gary Andersen was a great hire, but make no mistake, Wisconsin will always have to overachieve to find success on the field.

Midwestern volatility
In terms of recruiting, it appears that the true pecking order (after Ohio State and Michigan) is more volatile in the Big Ten than any other league. Minnesota has had a class rank of 17th nationally and then 72nd a few years later. Penn State posted the No. 12-rated class in 2010 and then the 51st-rated group two years later. Illinois went from 23rd nationally in 2008 to 70th in 2010. Michigan State was ranked 47th in 2008 and then 17th in 2009. Balance and parity is a good thing for the league as a whole as it indicates potential across the board, but it can’t be good for the individual coach’s indigestion.

More: Ranking the ACC's Best Rosters
More: Ranking the SEC's Best Rosters
More: Ranking the Big 12's Best Rosters
More: Ranking the Big East's Best Rosters
More: Ranking the Pac-12's Best Rosters

Big Ten's National Team Recruiting Rankings Breakdown:

  School Avg Nat'l Rank "BCS" Rank 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Record (Conf.)
1. Ohio State 9.4 8th 4th 3rd 25th 11th 4th 51-13 (32-8)
2. Michigan 13.2 11th 10th 8th 20th 21st 7th 34-29 (18-22)
3. Nebraska 24.0 21st 30th 28th 22nd 15th 25th 48-20 (29-11)
4. Penn State 33.0 30th 43rd 24th 12th 35th 51st 46-18 (29-11)
5. Michigan State 33.2 32nd 47th 17th 30th 31st 41st 44-22 (27-13)
6. Iowa 46.2 42nd 53rd 63rd 42nd 30th 43rd 39-25 (21-19)
7. Minnesota 46.2 43rd 17th 39th 51st 52nd 72nd 25-38 (12-28)
8. Illinois 46.8 45th 23rd 35th 70th 42nd 64th 24-38 (11-29)
9. Wisconsin 53.4 55th 41st 43rd 87th 40th 56th 47-20 (25-15)
10. Purdue 63.4 62nd 63rd 74th 54th 93rd 33rd 26-36 (15-25)
11. Indiana 70.8 69th 78th 59th 92nd 59th 66th 17-43 (5-35)
12. Northwestern 71.0 70th 73rd 58th 77th 87th 60th 40-25 (21-19)

 

Related: How many five-star RBs panned out in the last 10 years?

Teaser:
<p> Recruiting: Ranking the Big Ten's Best Football Rosters</p>
Post date: Friday, February 1, 2013 - 06:20
Path: /college-football/2013-football-recruiting-rankings-quarterbacks
Body:

National Signing Day 2013 is right around the corner and Athlon Sports is releasing its position-by-position rankings for the Class of 2013 based on the Athlon Consensus 100. Who is left on the board? Who has the best class at one position? Who had positional needs to fill? And, obviously, who are the stars of tomorrow fans can look forward to at every position?

Every quarterback class is different and the tiers of talent vary greatly from one year to the next. In the Class of 2013, there are two names, literally and figuratively, above the rest.

Max Browne is the nation's top quarterback and is headed to USC from storied Pacific Northwest prep program Skyline High School. He is a prototypical Trojans quarterback at 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds. Browne is poised, mature, a natural leader, has an accurate arm and will push for early playing time.

Meanwhile, 3000 miles away at Fork Union Military Academy, Christian Hackenberg has Penn State fans excited about their future for the first time in over a year. Hackenberg has a huge frame, huge arm and huge upside. There is a reason Bill O’Brien stayed put at Penn State instead of bolting for the NFL and he stands 6-foot-4 and will grow into a 230-pound monster in Happy Valley.

No other quarterback is ranked in the top 70 nationally, so these two pro-style signal callers are head and shoulders above the rest of this class.

The rest of the rankings read as a who’s who of college football powerhouses. And since very few quarterbacks are willing to compete with another star recruit for playing time, everyone got in on the action. Miami, Michigan, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, LSU, Texas, Stanford, Washington and a dozen other major programs landed their future leader at quarterback.

In fact, Texas A&M is the only program with two nationally ranked quarterbacks committed currently in Lone Star State prospects Kenny Hill and Kohl Stewart. Running Kevin Sumlin’s system is extremely attractive and Johnny Manziel has made College Station a glamorous place to play, so both players are willing to compete for time. Few programs right now can demand competition for star quarterback recruits like the Aggies.

The name to watch might be out in the desert, however. Rich Rodriguez has found a guy to immediately replace Matt Scott in dual-threat star Anu Solomon. He led famed high school Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas to a 57-3 record and four straight state championships. He has the perfect skill set to run the zone read option and is thick enough (205 pounds) to withstand the beating. Pac-12 defensive coordinators might want to start watching film on him as soon as possible.

2013 Positional Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ATH

  Name AC100 Hometown Ht Wt Verbal
1. Max Browne No. 11 Sammamish, WA 6-5 210 USC
2. Christian Hackenberg No. 13 Fork Union, VA 6-4 210 Penn St
3. Shane Morris No. 74 Warren, MI 6-3 200 Michigan
4. Cooper Bateman No. 76 Salt Lake City, UT 6-3 195 Alabama
5. Brice Ramsey No. 86 Kingsland, GA 6-3 200 Georgia
6. Kevin Olsen No. 87 Wayne, NJ 6-3 195 Miami
7. Ryan Burns No. 113 Ashburn, VA 6-5 225 Stanford
8. Troy Williams No. 114 Harbor City, CA 6-0 175 Washington
9. Cody Thomas No. 119 Colleyville, TX 6-5 220 Oklahoma
10. Hayden Rettig No. 143 Los Angeles, CA 6-4 210 LSU
11. Tyrone Swoopes No. 150 Whitewright, TX 6-4 230 Texas
12. Mitch Trubisky No. 151 Mentor, OH 6-3 195 North Carolina
13. Aslantli Woulard No. 153 Winter Park, FL 6-3 205 --
14. Jeremy Johnson No. 155 Montgomery, AL 6-5 205 Auburn
15. Joshua Dobbs No. 166 Alpharetta, GA 6-3 190 Arizona St
16. Kohl Stewart No. 170 Houston, TX 6-3 185 Texas A&M
17. Anu Solomon No. 173 Las Vegas, NV 6-1 205 Arizona
18. J.T. Barrett No. 175 Wichita Falls, TX 6-1 210 Ohio St
19. Bucky Hodges No. 188 Farnham, VA 6-5 225 Virginia Tech
20. Damion Terry No. 198 Erie, PA 6-4 210 Michigan St
21. Malik Zaire No. 199 Ketting, OH 6-0 195 Notre Dame
22. Aaron Bailey No. 215 Bolingbrook, IL 6-2 215 Illinois
23. Kenny Hill No. 219 Southlake, TX 6-1 205 Texas A&M
24. Jared Goff No. 224 Kentfield, CA 6-4 190 Cal
25. Anthony Jennings No. 231 Marietta, GA 6-2 205 LSU
26. Zack Greenlee No. 232 Stockton, CA 6-2 185 Fresno St

View the complete 2013 Athlon Consensus 100

Recruiting Videos:

AC100 On Campus: Su'a Cravens
AC100 On Campus: Jalen Ramsey

AC100 On Campus: Ethan Pocic

AC100 On Campus: Robbie Rhodes

AC100 On Campus: Jalin Marshall

AC100 On Campus: Jake Raulerson

AC100 On Campus: Cameron Burrows

AC100 On Campus: Dontre Wilson

AC100 On Campus: Taco Charlton

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part I

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part II

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part I

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part II

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Football Recruiting Rankings: Quarterbacks</p>
Post date: Friday, February 1, 2013 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/2013-football-recruiting-rankings-defensive-line
Body:

National Signing Day 2013 is right around the corner and Athlon Sports is releasing its position-by-position rankings for the Class of 2013 based on the Athlon Consensus 100. Who is left on the board? Who has the best class at one position? Who had positional needs to fill? And, obviously, who are the stars of tomorrow fans can look forward to at every position?

The defensive line is the new high profile football position. More nationally ranked prospects are left uncommitted along the defensive line than any other position on the field and the recruiting sagas are something out of a daytime TV script. Three of the top four and four of the top 10 are still on the board including the nation's No. 1 player Robert Nkemdiche. The former Clemson Tigers verbal is now apparently set to pick between Ole Miss and LSU.

Speaking of LSU, should the Tigers land Nkemdiche, Les Miles' defensive line class would have to be considered one of the best in history. The Bayou Bengals already have three AC100 commitments in Frank Herron (No. 70), Greg Gilmore (No. 73) and Kendell Beckwith (No. 77) as well as two other nationally ranked prospects in Christian Lecouture and Maquedius Bain. It is easily the best D-line haul in the nation.

Many point to the SEC's defensive lines as the key reason why the conference is dominating college football. The SEC is poised to land three of the five uncommitted AC100 defensive lineman. If that happens, the seven-time BCS champions would claim 13 of the top 19 defensive lineman in the nation. Currently, seven different SEC schools have an AC100 D-Lineman committed with Georgia, Auburn, Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss still competing for Nkemdiche, Dee Liner and Montravius Adams.

Out West, USC has three commitments at the key position including a top-ten talent in Kenny Bigelow. If Eddie Vanderdoes re-commits to the Trojans, it would give Lane Kiffin two of the top three prospects in the nation and four total nationally ranked tackles or ends. This group would be second only to LSU nationally if Vanderdoes picks USC.

Tosh Lupoi's influence is also being felt on the West Coast as the star defensive line coach and ace recruiter has Washington poised to sign a pair of top prospects in Elijah Qualls and Daeshon Hall — both of whom rank in the top 150 nationally. Otherwise, the rest of the Pac-12, and most of the Big 12 for that matter, is noticeably absent from the defensive line rankings. 

2013 Positional Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ATH

  Name AC100 Hometown Ht Wt Verbal
1. Robert Nkemdiche No. 1 Loganville, GA 6-4 285 --
2. Eddie Vanderdoes No. 6 Auburn, CA 6-3 300 --
3. Kenny Bigelow No. 9 Elkton, MD 6-3 300 USC
4. Montravius Adams No. 10 Vienna, GA 6-4 310 --
5. Chris Jones No. 18 Houston, MS 6-5 250 Mississippi St
6. Carl Lawson No. 21 Alpharetta, GA 6-3 250 Auburn
7. A'Shawn Robinson No. 34 Ft. Worth, TX 6-5 300 Texas
8. Demarcus Walker No. 36 Jacksonville, FL 6-3 275 Florida St
9. Joey Bosa No. 37 Ft. Lauderdale, FL 6-5 270 Ohio St
10. Dee Liner No. 47 Muscle Shoals, AL 6-3 275 --
11. Alquadin Muhammad No. 48 Ramsey, NJ 6-4 230 Miami
12. Elijah Daniel No. 51 Avon, IN 6-4 250 Ole Miss
13. Frank Herron No. 70 Memphis, TN 6-5 260 LSU
14. Greg Gilmore No. 73 Hope Mills, NC 6-4 275 LSU
15. Justin Manning No. 75 Dallas, TX 6-3 275 Texas A&M
16. Kendell Beckwith No. 77 Jackson, LA 6-3 230 LSU
17. Tim Williams No. 83 Baton Rouge, LA 6-3 230 Alabama
18. Kelsey Griffin No. 90 Hoschton, GA 6-2 285 South Carolina
19. Isaiah Golden No. 94 Carthage, TX 6-2 295 Texas A&M
20. Kylie Fitts No. 103 Redlands, CA 6-4 245 --
21. Elijah Qualls No. 109 Petaluma, CA 6-1 280 Washington
22. Wyatt Teller No. 116 Bealeton, VA 6-4 265 Virginia Tech
23. Caleb Brantley No. 118 Crescent City, FL 6-3 310 Florida
24. Henry Poggi No. 122 Baltimore, MD 6-4 260 Michigan
25. Darius Page No. 129 Foley, AL 6-3 295 Alabama
26. Daeshon Hall No. 136 Lancaster, TX 6-6 240 Washington
27. Taco Charlton No. 142 Pickerington, OH 6-5 250 Michigan
28. Greg Webb No. 156 Erial, NJ 6-2 290 North Carolina
29. Isaac Rochell No. 158 McDonough, GA 6-5 260 Notre Dame
30. D.J. Ward No. 164 Moore, OK 6-3 245 Oklahoma
31. Andrew Billings No. 171 Waco, TX 6-1 305 --
32. Garrett Sickels No. 176 Little Silver, NJ 6-4 245 Penn St
33. Jason Hatcher No. 177 Louisville, KY 6-2 240 USC
34. Jason Carr No. 192 Memphis, TN 6-6 280 Tennessee
35. Dajuan Drennon No. 196 Sicklerville, NJ 6-3 230 North Carolina
36. Torrodney Prevot No. 202 Houston, TX 6-3 210 USC
37. Ebenezer Ogundeko No. 204 Brooklyn, NY 6-3 230 Clemson
38. Christian Lecouture No. 206 Lincoln, NE 6-5 270 LSU
39. Maquedius Bain No. 209 Ft. Lauderdale, FL 6-3 310 LSU
40. Tashawn Bower No. 212 Somerville, NJ 6-5 240 Auburn
41. Takkarist McKinley No. 213 Fremont, CA 6-3 240 Cal
42. Keith Bryant No. 216 Delray Beach, FL 6-2 305 --
43. Maurice Hurst Jr. No. 222 Westwood, MA 6-2 305 Michigan
44. Michael Hill No. 227 Pendleton, SC 6-3 315 Ohio St
45. Joe Mathis No. 234 Upland, CA 6-4 255 Washington

View the complete 2013 Athlon Consensus 100

Recruiting Videos:

AC100 On Campus: Su'a Cravens
AC100 On Campus: Jalen Ramsey

AC100 On Campus: Ethan Pocic

AC100 On Campus: Robbie Rhodes

AC100 On Campus: Jalin Marshall

AC100 On Campus: Jake Raulerson

AC100 On Campus: Cameron Burrows

AC100 On Campus: Dontre Wilson

AC100 On Campus: Taco Charlton

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part I

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part II

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part I

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part II

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Football Recruiting Rankings: Defensive Line</p>
Post date: Friday, February 1, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /nfl/30-best-brothers-sisters-and-twins-sports
Body:

The Harbaugh Brothers are hogging — or Har-gging or whatever — all the attention at Super Bowl XLVII. But little Johnny and Jimbo aren’t the only tikes in the backyard turned titans in the world of sports. Here’s a rundown of the top 30 sets of active athlete siblings, with the combined accomplishments of the top 10 brothers, sisters and twins.


1. Manning Brothers
Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos (36)
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants (32)


91,014 passing yards
647 TD passes
15 Pro Bowls
4 NFL MVPs
3 Super Bowl wins
3 Super Bowl MVPs
2 No. 1 overall picks

Archie and Olivia’s boys — you know, Cooper’s younger brothers — are still the standard. Both Peyton and Eli are former No. 1 overall picks, Super Bowl MVPs and Saturday Night Live hosts.


2. Williams Sisters
Venus Williams, Tennis (32)
Serena Williams, Tennis (31)


10 Wimbledon singles titles
6 U.S. Open singles titles
5 Australian Open singles titles
2 Olympic Gold singles medals
1 French Open singles title

5 Wimbledon doubles titles
4 Australian Open doubles titles
3 Olympic Gold doubles medals
2 U.S. Open doubles titles
2 French Open doubles titles

Everyone thought Richard was the craziest cook in Compton, Calif., when he was training Venus and Serena. Everyone still thinks he’s a loon, but his unorthodox style resulted in a pair of champions.
 

3. Harbaugh Brothers
John Harbaugh, Coach, Baltimore Ravens (50)
Jim Harbaugh, Coach, San Francisco 49ers (49)


78–33–1 regular season record
11–5 postseason record
1 Super Bowl win (pending)

Jack’s coaching career included an FCS national title at Western Kentucky. Impressive. But one of his boys is about to win the Super Bowl, while the other will lose the NFL’s big game. Unbelievable.


4. Klitschko Brothers
Vitali Klitschko, Boxing (41)
Wladimir Klitschko, Boxing (36)


104–5 record
91 KO
6 Heavyweight title belts (WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO, Ring)
1 Olympic Gold medal

The Ukrainian fighters weigh in at 6’8”, 245 pounds and 6’6”, 245 pounds, respectively. But the heavyweight champs will never fight each other — despite the fact that it would be a pay per view goldmine.


5. Bryan Twins
Bob Bryan, Tennis (34)
Mike Bryan, Tennis (34)


6 Australian Open doubles titles
4 U.S. Open doubles titles
2 Wimbledon doubles titles
1 French Open doubles titles
1 Olympic Gold doubles medal
1 Olympic Bronze doubles medal

The greatest doubles tennis team in the history of racket sports, Bob’s the lefty and Mike’s the righty — that’s how you tell the identical duo apart. Together, they’ve won a record 13 Grand Slam titles.


6. Sedin Twins
Daniel Sedin, LW, Vancouver Canucks (32)
Henrik Sedin, C, Vancouver Canucks (32)


5 All-Star Games
2 Olympic Gold medals
2 Art Ross Trophies
1 Hart Memorial Trophy
1 Ted Lindsay Award
Nos. 2-3 overall picks

The cerebral Swedes are identical twins with a seemingly telepathic connection on the ice. Henrik is the passer and Daniel is the scorer — but both ginger geniuses look a little like Vincent van Gogh.


7. Gasol Hermanos
Pau Gasol, C, Los Angeles Lakers (32)
Marc Gasol, C, Memphis Grizzlies (27)


5 NBA All-Star Games
4 Olympic Silver medals
2 NBA championships
1 Rookie of the Year Award

The Spanish 7-footers were traded for each other back when Pau was an All-Star and Marc was his baby-fatted kid brother. Times have changed. Pau is on the trade block and Marc is the All-Star.


8. Kalil Brothers
Ryan Kalil, C, Carolina Panthers (27)
Matt Kalil, LT, Minnesota Vikings (23)


4 Pro Bowl appearances
2 Morris Trophies
2 First-team All-America

Two of the best young O-linemen in the NFL, Ryan and Matt were both named Pac-12 lineman of the year at USC. That’s great and all, but everyone really just wants to talk about their mom, Cheryl.


9. Upton Brothers
B.J. Upton, CF, Atlanta Braves (28)
Justin Upton, LF, Atlanta Braves (25)


312 Stolen Bases
226 Home Runs
2 MLB All-Star Games
1 Silver Slugger Award
Nos. 1-2 overall picks

After the Braves signed Bossman Junior to a five-year, $75-million free agent deal, they turned around and traded for little-but-bigger Justin. Their next move should be to acquire Kate Upton (no relation).


10. Busch Brothers
Kurt Busch, NASCAR (34)
Kyle Busch, NASCAR (27)


48 Cup Series wins
3 Rookie of the Year Awards (Cup, Busch, Truck)
1 Cup Series championship
1 Nationwide Series championship

The troubled but talent Busch bros are known as much for their hot tempers as they are for their hot wheels. Kurt is a former Cup champ; it’s only a matter of time before Kyle joins those ranks.



11. Boateng Brothers
Kevin-Prince Boateng, M, A.C. Milan (25)
Jerome Boateng, D, Bayern Munich (24)

In the 2010 World Cup, Prince played for Ghana and Jerome suited up for Germany.


12. Harrison Twins
Andrew Harrison, G, Kentucky signee (18)
Aaron Harrison, G, Kentucky signee (18)

John Calipari has already locked up the blue-chip twin talents for Big Blue Nation.


13. Dillon Brothers
Austin Dillon, NASCAR (22)
Ty Dillon, NASCAR (20)

Richard Childress’ grandsons are on the fast track — with Austin driving Dale’s No. 3.



14. Jones Brothers
Arthur Jones, DE, Baltimore Ravens (26)
Jon Jones, MMA fighter, UFC (25)
Chandler Jones, DE, New England Patriots (22)

“Bones” is a mixed martial artist, while Arthur and Chandler are both sack artists.


15. Lopez Twins
Brook Lopez, C, Brooklyn Nets (24)
Robin Lopez, C, New Orleans Hornets (24)

Following in the pine tree footsteps of Stanford twin towers Jason and Jarron Collins.


16. Pouncey Twins
Maurkice Pouncey, C, Pittsburgh Steelers (23)
Mike Pouncey, C, Miami Dolphins (23)

Maurkice is more talented but Mike lives in Miami, where there’s way more talent.


17. Staal Brothers
Eric Staal, C, Carolina Hurricanes (28)
Marc Staal, D, New York Rangers (26)
Jordan Staal, C, Carolina Hurricanes (24)
Jared Staal, RW, Charlotte Checkers (22)

Quantity outweighs quality with these Thunder Bay, Ontario, thunder-stick clappers.


18. Molina Brothers
Jose Molina, C, Tampa Bay Rays (37)
Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals (30)

The mystique of the Molina family name results in overrating; plus Bengie just retired.


19. Davis Brothers
Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers (28)
Vontae Davis, CB, Indianapolis Colts (24)

Vernon (6’3”, 250) and Vontae (5’11”, 205) are like Schwarzenegger and DeVito, right?


20. Brownlee Brothers
Alistair Brownlee, Triathlon (24)
Jonny Brownlee, Triathlon (22)

Alistair is a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire; Jonny is not.


21. McCourty Twins
Devin McCourty, S, New England Patriots (25)
Jason McCourty, CB, Tennessee Titans (25)

Did Devin and Jason pull a Parent Trap this year, when Devin moved from CB to FS?


22. Zeller Brothers
Luke Zeller, F, Phoenix Suns (25)
Tyler Zeller, F, Cleveland Cavaliers (23)
Cody Zeller, F, Indiana Hoosiers (20)

Are there any more Zeller boys coming up? They keep getting better and better.


23. Plumlee Brothers
Miles Plumlee, F, Indiana Pacers (24)
Mason Plumlee, F, Duke Blue Devils (22)
Marshall Plumlee, C, Duke Blue Devils (20)

Like the Zellers, only less talented and all alums of Coach K’s school of hardwood.


24. Curry Brothers
Stephen Curry, G, Golden State Warriors (24)
Seth Curry, G, Duke Blue Devils (22)

Dell’s sons inherited their old man’s 3-point stroke but mom Sonya is the real star.


25. Ryan Twins
Rex Ryan, Coach, New York Jets (50)
Rob Ryan, Defensive Coordinator, TBD (50)

Buddy’s boys would have been ranked higher in years past — or like five minutes ago.


26. Molinari Brothers
Edoardo Molinari, Golf (31)
Francesco Molinari, Golf (30)

The Italian maestros are have strikingly different swings but similar disappointing results.


27. Jerry Brothers
Peria Jerry, DT, Atlanta Falcons (28)
John Jerry, G, Miami Dolphins (26)

Imagine dinner with the Jerrys, who live large at 295 and 345 pounds, respectively.


28. Landry Brothers
Dawan Landry, S, Jacksonville Jaguars (30)
LaRon Landry, S, New York Jets (28)

LaRon is jacked up and hyped up, but on game days it’s Dawan who actually shows up.


29. Trufant Brothers
Marcus Trufant, CB, Seattle Seahawks (32)
Isaiah Trufant, CB, New York Jets (30)
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington Huskies (21)

Desmond is quickly moving up draft boards and might join Marcus as a first-round pick.

30. Mowen Sisters
Justine Mowen, Beach Volleyball (26)
Jordan Mowen, Beach Volleyball (23)

Australian blondes will take their bikinis to Brazil for the 2016 Olympics — hopefully.

 

Teaser:
<p> The Harbaugh Brothers are both in Super Bowl XLVII, but are not the only active siblings in sports.</p>
Post date: Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 13:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/behind-scenes-super-bowl-xlvii-things-are-about-get-weird
Body:

NEW ORLEANS—I am at the Super Bowl — No. XV for me — and I’m pretty sure I have seen it all. Well, maybe not “all” but over the years I’ve seen Gilbert Gottfried shouting at Bill Belichick, a Brazilian woman in a wedding dress proposing to Tom Brady, Michael Strahan singing, and this guy (pictured right) who defies description.

I’m not sure what else there really is.
 
It’s funny. When people ask me about my Super Bowl experience, it rarely has anything to do with the game, which might just be the least important part of any Super Bowl week. This is all about hyperventilating over hype and an excess of access, and it only seems to grow bigger every year. There were more than 5,200 “journalists” at Media Day on Tuesday, for example, even though it’s fair to say that less than half of them actually knew what the word “journalist” really means.
 
For a writer during Super Bowl week, though, journalism doesn’t define the experience. It’s about surviving the noise, marveling at the spectacle and trying hard not to be annoyed. Yes, the games have been great over the last decade, for the most part. And yes, it is a special thing having a seat inside a party that more than 100 million people around the world would love to attend.
 
But what is it really like to be a writer during Super Bowl week? It’s aggravating and exhilarating, all at the same time. To survive it, though, here are eight “truths” that everyone really needs to know:
 

1. Real journalists don’t wear beads – They also don’t wear clown costumes, Superhero outfits, masks, wedding dresses, football uniforms, big wooly hats, crowns and robes, or anything else that would be considered a costume. OK, sportswriters don’t always dress nicely (or, in some cases, even appropriately). You’ll find many of them at fancy restaurants in ripped sweatshirts and the same jeans they wore the day before. But the idiots you see walking around Super Bowl Media Day in costumes aren't real media members. They are, in fact, idiots.
 
2. TV Azteca is real, but not spectacular – They get a lot of attention because they send scantily clad women to the Super Bowl so they can pretend to be reporters. There may even be a few of them who are serious about it too, but dancing with athletes and shaking their assets for the cameras probably isn’t the best way to prove it. Perhaps viewers of TV Azteca love it, but most of the media in the United States find it offensive and degrading to women, and most – not all, but most – of the athletes are uncomfortable with the spectacle, too. The NFL actually should be embarrassed by their presence. Sadly we know they’re not.
 
3.  All Super Bowl bus drivers are from out of town – They must be, because none of them know where they are going. I can only vouch for the media buses, but I’ve heard the same horror stories from fans trying to 
get to and from games. In Jacksonville, my bus driver was actually from Detroit and took us on a 10-mile ride to go one actual mile. In New Orleans last week, a ride from the Superdome to the Media Center a mere half-mile away, took nearly a half hour. The NFL is a $9 billion industry, but it apparently can’t afford maps.
 
4. The Media Party is all about free food (and it certainly isn’t about the media) – The NFL every year hosts a “Media Party” that is attended by several thousand people who definitely are not part of the media. It’s usually at an interesting venue and involves interesting things, such as the gymnasts suspended from the ceiling doing routines while hanging onto curtains on Tuesday night. I’m sure the NFL spends a lot of money on it, but the only reason any writer goes there is because the food and drinks are free. An open bar in the Marriott lobby would be cheaper and would definitely suffice. Maybe throw in the gymnasts on the ceiling, too.
 
5. The Commissioner’s Party was a monument to excess – It doesn’t exist anymore, at least in its old form, but back in “the day” it was held in every Super Bowl city, usually in a unique local venue and redefined the word “overdone.” For example, when the Super Bowl was in Houston, the party was in the Astrodome. The whole Astrodome. The entire field was covered by a floor and big black curtains separated the dome into five separate rooms. Each room had a band and mounds and mounds of food. Oh, and there were living statues everywhere. People who were paid to be painted like statues and stand there, on a podium, not moving at all. And all that was only in the part of the party that media types were invited to. I have no doubt that somewhere there was an “A list” room. It was probably solid gold.
 
6. Actual writers hate Media Day. Hate it. Hate. It. – Did I mention we hate it? It’s not just the clowns and comedians, it’s Deion Sanders and other former NFL players walking around and hijacking interviews. It’s the fact that it’s so crowded that you’re basically left to shout questions at players from afar, and you can forget about following up. Now the NFL has allowed fans to watch – why you’d pay money to do that, I’ll never know – which has only added to the chaos. When the clock on the scoreboard at Media Day reads “0:00”, writers on the field celebrate like they just won the Super Bowl themselves.
 
7. By Thursday, most writers are bored – Seriously, we’re just killing time during the Thursday interview sessions. Think about this: The 49ers arrived on Sunday night and we talked to about a half dozen of them. Then on Monday, we talked to another half dozen. Then on Tuesday we got the full team and all the coaches. Then on Wednesday we got the full team and all the coaches. And then – and only then – did they head out for their first practice. By the time they did, most of the assembled media had enough to write books on both teams. Yet on Thursday, another hour of full team access was scheduled. With both teams.
 
8. The game is not the thing – For anyone. At least not anyone who is actually in the Super Bowl city. It’s all about the hype, the event, the corporate sponsorships, being seen, seeing people, a week’s worth of interviews, hype and total craziness. Yeah, for the players the game seems to matter, but they revel in the experience too. It’s why most of them are constantly holding video cameras taking video of people who are probably taking pictures of them.
 
It’s the same for the members of the media, although no one is taking pictures of us – unless we’re wearing wedding dresses or clown makeup. Maybe more of us should, though, since most of the coverage is about the circus anyway. The game is just the thing at the end of the week.
 
—By RALPH VACCHIANO
 
Teaser:
<p> 8 truths that everyone really needs to know</p>
Post date: Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 12:45
Path: /nfl/super-bowl-xlviis-top-5-most-likely-mvps
Body:

Pinpointing any big game MVP is a complete crapshoot. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways of handicapping the most likely candidates — or keeping Vegas from setting odds on favorites.

San Francisco and Baltimore will battle Sunday night in the 47th edition of the Super Bowl. As the world’s biggest sporting event each year, the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player is, in some sense, the most important athlete of each calendar year.

The quarterback position is an obvious place to start looking for MVPs. It is the most important player on any football field as 25 of the 46 Super Bowl MVPs, including the last three, have been quarterbacks. Seven MVPs were running backs, six were wide receivers, one (Desmond Howard) was technically a wide receiver but won it on special teams and seven times has a defensive player won the award.

More: The 20 Most Interesting Super Bowl Stats of All-Time

Who are the odds-on favorites to be named the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII?

1. Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco
Vegas Odds: 7/4

The odds are heavily in favor of a signal caller winning the award and CK-7 is playing for the team that is favored to win the game. However, this is only Kaepernick’s ninth career NFL start and despite his other-worldy performance against Green Bay, one has to believe that the veteran Ravens defenders will have a sound game plan for the Niners QB. While quarterbacks are the heavy favorites to win the award, generally speaking, they are established stars (Manning, Brady, Rodgers, Elway, Warner). Doug Williams in Super Bowl XXII is the last time a non-established star QB won the MVP. That said, No. 7 has the athletic ability to do things on the football field that no one else in this game is capable of.

2. Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore
Vegas Odds: 5/2

Flacco is dramatically more established player than Kaepernick and it’s why he would be my top choice for MVP. This Ravens team has some special mojo working in the locker room, but Flacco has been nearly as inspirational in the playoffs thus far. He has thrown eight touchdowns and no interceptions in three playoff wins and has averaged 284 yards passing per game. He also made the big plays needed to defeat the Broncos in Denver. Flacco is in the best situation to win the MVP heading into the game.

3. Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore
Vegas Odds: 6/1

Lewis is too high (or low) in the odds so it makes little sense to put anything down on the aging linebacker to win the MVP. He is a 6:1 favorite to win the MVP based on history — he won the MVP in Super Bowl XXXV — storylines and general appeal. Lewis has made plenty of tackles this postseason but hasn’t been the driving force on the field of years past. He is the most important Raven in the locker room, but he might be the third- or fourth-best Raven defender at this point of his career.

4. Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco
Vegas Odds: 17/2

This is as safe a bet as there is on Sunday due in large part to the San Francisco game plan. It is unlikely Kaepernick can carry his team to victory without the help of the 49ers' powerful running game and offensive line. Gore is the Niners' all-time leading rusher and all-time rushing touchdown leader and could get some sentimental votes should no one player stand out. If San-Fran is going to win the game, the ground game will have to be a focal point. And Frank Gore is the lead actor in that role.

5. Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore
Vegas Odds: 12/1

Rice is younger, more talented, more explosive and is an overall better player than Gore. However, the emergence of Bernard Pierce has eaten into his workload and is likely why Gore is favored in the MVP race over the Ravens running back. That said, he could easily be the most important player on the field come Sunday night. He will get goal-line carries and his ability to catch passes and improvise gives him as good a chance as any to be the star of the show.

More: Athlon's sit-down with Baltimore LB Dannell Ellerbe

Long shots I’d take a chance on:

Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco
Vegas Odds: 22/1

A tight end has never won the award but there is no reason to think Davis won’t be a super star in this game. He is too big for corners to cover and too fast for safeties and his postseason resume proves that. He has shredded defenses in the playoffs to the tune of 442 yards and five touchdowns on 16 catches — for a sick 27.6 yards per catch — in four career playoff games. He is the single-most difficult matchup on either side of the ball.

Ed Reed, S, Baltimore
Vegas Odds: 33/1

Yes, Ray-Ray is the star of the show, but Reed might be the better player right now. He hasn’t won a Super Bowl and could retire after the game himself. He is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and can change the game instantly with one big play. If I am betting on a defensive player from the Ravens, my money is on No. 20.

Patrick Willis, LB, San Francisco
Vegas Odds: 66/1

Lewis might be the third- or fourth-best linebacker in the game, depending on what position Aldon Smith is listed, and few would disagree that Willis is tops. The former Ole Miss Rebels tackler should be the best defensive player on the field Sunday night, and at 66:1, what’s the harm in dropping a little coin on the superstar defensive leader of the 49ers?

More: Who are the greatest NFL player to never play in the Super Bowl?

Teaser:
<p> The Top 5 Most Likely Super Bowl MVPs</p>
Post date: Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/recruiting-ranking-pac-12s-best-football-rosters
Body:

Preseason prognosticators like Athlon Sports — the most accurate college football preview magazine on newsstands — use many things to predict what the coming football season will look like. Returning starters, scheduling, historic trends, coaching, pending off-the-field issues and, of course, recruiting rankings all help Athlon editors predict the future of college football.

Recruiting rankings have their detractors. Yes, evaluating 16- and 17-year-old kids is an inexact science. No, star rankings aren’t the only thing that matters. Yes, leadership (e.g., Nick Saban) is more important than national recruiting rankings (See Auburn).

But using national team recruiting rankings to attempt to pinpoint how “talented” any given roster is an interesting and illuminating practice.

For the sake of this discussion, the 2013 conference alignment was used to calculate, rank and organize teams and leagues. Rivals.com national team rankings over a five-year span (2008-12) were used for the sake of consistency. And the 72 “BCS” conference teams as well as Notre Dame, Boise State and BYU were used to form the 75-team ranking.

So what do the team recruiting rankings teach us about the Pac-12:

The Most Top-Heavy League in America
There is a reason that Stanford in 2012 was the first outright Pac-12 champion not named USC or Oregon since 1999. The Ducks and Trojans are the two most-talented teams in the league over the last five years, ranking first (40-5) and third (30-15) in Pac-12 wins. These two powerhouses have earned at least a share of the conference crown for 12 straight seasons prior to last season. Only Stanford (34-11) and Oregon State (26-19) have winning Pac-12 records over the last five years — Utah's winning clip came mostly in the Mountain West. The rest of the league is getting better and coaching issues in both L.A. and Eugene will help close the gap, but make no mistake, this has been a two-horse conference race for over a decade.

The magical Jim Harbaugh
David Shaw is the head coach at Stanford and has done a remarkable job continuing Stanford's success over the last two seasons both on the field and on the recruiting trail. However, Jim Harbaugh deserves much of the credit for rebuilding the Cardinal program. Stanford was 16-40 the five years prior to Harbaugh taking over and he immediately raised the awareness of Palo Alto on the recruiting trail. By his second full class (2009), he had Stanford securely in the top 25 nationally in terms of talent. Shaw needs to be given loads of credit for continuing success post-Andrew Luck last fall, but there is a reason the San Francisco 49ers are in the Super Bowl and his name is Jim Harbaugh.

Mike Riley is consistently underrated
The Beavers are ranked ahead of only Washington State in terms of roster talent in the Pac-12 and are 49th nationally in recruiting over the last five years. And while Oregon State has had a down year or two here or there, Riley has this team achieving at unprecedented levels in Corvallis. The Beavers are being out-recruited by teams like Colorado, Kansas, Illinois and Minnesota but have experienced dramatically more success than all of the above. The credit has to go to Riley, one of the nicest guys in the business.

UCLA was in much better shape than their record indicated
The Bruins have always had talent. That has never been the issue in Westwood, be it under Rick Neuheisel or DeWayne Walker. Both coaches clearly recruited at an elite level, ranking the Bruins' roster third in the Pac-12 and 17th nationally in terms of talent. It was the coaching that was the issue. And it only took a small bit of energy from the new regime to kickstart the very talented UCLA roster. A 19-26 conference record is unacceptable for a team with "better" talent than Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, Wisconsin and Stanford.

The middle of the league has upside
Washington, Arizona State and Cal have recruited at a top-35 level the last five years despite all being at least five games under .500 in Pac-12 play over that same span. Only Cal (32-31) has a winning overall record as well over that span. However, the Huskies were 0-12 in 2008 and are 26-25 under Steve Sarkisian. And with a potential top 10 class signing in 2013 and totally reworked facilities, Washington appears poised to return to national prominence. There also appears to be plenty of talent for Todd Graham in year two at Arizona State and Sonny Dykes in his first season at Cal for each to be much better than past regimes.

Welcome to the big leagues, Utah
Kyle Whittingham’s team is 7-11 in two seasons in the Pac-12. The Utes were 21-3 in the Mountain West the three years prior to entering one of the power conferences. Yet, their recruiting has only gotten better over the last five years going from 60th to 44th to 32nd over that span. While 37th in the nation would likely give them the top roster in the MWC, it gives them the eighth-best collection of players in the Pac-12. It indicates that sledding will be tough in the loaded and developing Pac-12 South for the newbies from Salt Lake City.

What is wrong in Pullman?
There have been some famous quotes from players — recently and historically — about how tough it is to be a Wazzu football player. But this team won at least a share of the conference championship and went to the Rose Bowl twice between 1997 and 2003. So how is it that the Cougars are only ahead of UConn and Temple in terms of talent nationally? No power conference team has won fewer conference games over the last five than the Cougars (Indiana is tied with five wins as well but in five fewer games). Mike Leach has his hands full in Pullman, but if anyone’s scheme can overcome a talent differential like the one WSU is facing, it is the crazy pirate.

More: Ranking the ACC's Best Rosters
More: Ranking the SEC's Best Rosters
More: Ranking the Big 12's Best Rosters
More: Ranking the Big East's Best Rosters

Pac-12's National Team Recruiting Rankings Breakdown:

  School Avg Nat'l Rank "BCS" Rank 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Record (Conf.)
1. USC 5.0 2nd 8th 4th 1st 4th 8th 46-18 (30-15)
2. Oregon 17.8 15th 19th 32nd 13th 9th 16th 56-10 (40-5)
3. UCLA 18.6 17th 13th 14th 8th 45th 13th 30-33 (19-26)
4. Stanford 24.6 22nd 50th 20th 26th 22nd 5th 48-17 (34-11)
5. Cal 25.4 24th 34th 42nd 11th 17th 23rd 32-31 (20-25)
6. Washington 32.8 28th 24th 68th 28th 23rd 21st 26-37 (19-26)
7. Arizona St 36.2 35th 21st 30th 35th 57th 38th 29-33 (19-26)
8. Utah 40.2 37th 60th 44th 32nd 37th 32nd 46-18 (28-14)
9. Arizona 44.4 41st 39th 45th 37th 55th 46th 35-29 (21-24)
10. Colorado 47.8 48th 15th 48th 66th 74th 36th 17-44 (9-33)
11. Oregon St 49.0 49th 52nd 54th 44th 56th 39th 34-27 (26-19)
12. Washington St 79.6 73rd 87th 92nd 92nd 72nd 55th 12-49 (5-40)

Teaser:
<p> Recruiting: Ranking the Pac-12's Best Football Rosters</p>
Post date: Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/2013-football-recruiting-rankings-wide-receivers
Body:

National Signing Day 2013 is right around the corner and Athlon Sports is releasing its position-by-position rankings for the Class of 2013 based on the Athlon Consensus 100. Who is left on the board? Who has the best class at one position? Who had positional needs to fill? And, obviously, who are the stars of tomorrow fans can look forward to at every position?

The growth of the spread offense has created a need for more pass-catchers. This means more smallish, quicker slot receivers who can make things happen with the ball in their hands. This means more rangy, vertical threats who can stretch the defense down the field. It means more big, physical red-zone targets. And the 2013 class is loaded with all of the above.

It also appears that catching passes for Johnny Manziel is appealing to high school athletes. The Aggies have the No. 3- (Ricky Seals-Jean), No. 5- (Derrick Griffin) and No. 13-rated (Sebastian Larue) wide receivers in the nation. Seals-Jean, listed at 6-5 and 225 pounds, and Griffin, listed at 6-5 and 215 pounds, gives Kevin Sumlin two of the biggest pass-catchers in the nation. Larue, at 5-11 and 185 pounds, gives the offense another dimension in the slot. Should Manziel stick around for more than one more season, he is assured an elite collection of wideouts.

The Washington Huskies aren't too far behind the Aggies in this class as they landed three of the top 25 wideouts in the nation. Demorea Stringfellow has an elite combination of size and speed and has No. 1 wide receiver written all over him. Darrell Daniels has a similar build and will push for early playing time as well while John Ross brings speed to the slot. Both Washington and Texas A&M recruited complete starting lineups (X, Y and Z) in this class.

The Florida Gators have a chance to challenge these two, however, should they land one of the remaining targets. Demarcus Robinson and Ahmad Fulwood are both ranked in the Top 12 nationally and both bring size and strength to a major position of need for the Gators. Oregon, Texas and Auburn also landed two of the nationally rated wideouts as well.

Otherwise, Ole Miss, Baylor and Louisville landed their newest superstar with Laquon Treadwell, Robbie Rhodes and James Quick respectively. All three are special talents who will immediately change the dynamics of their respective offenses. Bears fans should be daydreaming about Rhodes in Art Briles' pass-happy system.

2013 Positional Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ATH

  Name AC100 Hometown Ht Wt Verbal
1. Laquon Treadwell No. 14 Crete, IL 6-3 195 Ole Miss
2. Robert Foster No. 23 Monaca, PA 6-3 190 Alabama
3. Ricky Seals-Jean No. 25 Sealy, TX 6-5 225 Texas A&M
4. Robbie Rhodes No. 28 Ft. Worth, TX 6-1 190 Baylor
5. Derrick Griffin No. 40 Rosenberg, TX 6-5 215 Texas A&M
6. James Quick No. 63 Louisville, KY 6-0 180 Louisville
7. Stacy Coley No. 64 Ft. Lauderdale, FL 6-1 175 --
8. Steven Mitchell No. 67 Mission Hills, CA 5-10 180 USC
9. Demorea Stringfellow No. 79 Moreno Valley, CA 6-3 195 Washington
10. Demarcus Robinson No. 81 Ft. Valley, GA 6-2 200 Florida
11. Marquez North No. 99 Charlotte, NC 6-3 215 Tennessee
12. Ahmad Fulwood No. 126 Jacksonville, FL 6-4 200 Florida
13. Sebastian Larue No. 127 Santa Monica, CA 5-11 185 Texas A&M
14. Stanvon Taylor No. 160 Tulsa, OK 5-11 165 Oklahoma
15. Tony Stevens No. 167 Orlando, FL 6-4 185 Auburn
16. Torii Hunter Jr. No. 168 Prosper, TX 6-0 175 Notre Dame
17. Tyler Boyd No. 179 Clairton, PA 6-1 170 Pitt
18. Jason Smith No. 180 Mobile, AL 6-1 190 Auburn
19. Jordan Cunningham No. 182 Ft. Lauderdale, FL 6-1 175 --
20. John Ross No. 186 Long Beach, CA 5-9 165 Washington
21. Devon Allen No. 189 Phoenix, AZ 6-1 190 Oregon
22. Earnest Robinson No. 190 Pinson Valley, AL 6-2 200 Auburn
23. Jacorey Warrick No. 197 Houston, TX 5-10 170 Texas
24. Darrell Daniels No. 200 Oakley, CA 6-3 210 Washington
25. Shelton Gibson No. 208 Cleveland Heights, OH 5-11 175 West Virginia
26. Darren Carrington No. 210 San Diego, CA 6-3 185 Oregon
27. Jake Oliver No. 235 Dallas, TX 6-4 205 Texas

View the complete 2013 Athlon Consensus 100

Recruiting Videos:

AC100 On Campus: Su'a Cravens
AC100 On Campus: Jalen Ramsey

AC100 On Campus: Ethan Pocic

AC100 On Campus: Robbie Rhodes

AC100 On Campus: Jalin Marshall

AC100 On Campus: Jake Raulerson

AC100 On Campus: Cameron Burrows

AC100 On Campus: Dontre Wilson

AC100 On Campus: Taco Charlton

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part I

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part II

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part I

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part II

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Football Recruiting Rankings: Wide Receivers</p>
Post date: Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/2013-football-recruiting-rankings-defensive-backs
Body:

National Signing Day 2013 is right around the corner and Athlon Sports is releasing its position-by-position rankings for the Class of 2013 based on the Athlon Consensus 100. Who is left on the board? Who has the best class at one position? Who had positional needs to fill? And, obviously, who are the stars of tomorrow fans can look forward to at every position?

As passing offenses and the talent that makes those offenses run get more advanced and more talented, the need for elite defensive backs continues to rise. Lockdown cover corners who can play the run or physical high-point safeties who can man-up in coverage have become the norm. Versatility is the name of the game when defending the pass these days. This is why both safeties and corners are listed below in one list.

Florida and USC lead the way in the 2013 secondary class. The Gators claim three of the top 19 DBs in the nation including the top coverman, Vernon Hargreaves III. He is an elite talent who will continue the recent trend of young star corners (Joe Haden, Janoris Jenkins). VH-3 will be joined by a pair of big safeties in Marcell Harris (6-1, 210) and Keanu Neal (6-1, 205).

While the Gators have the top prospect in the class, the Trojans have the best overall collection. Su'a Cravens is the top safety in the nation while Jalen Ramsey offers Lane Kiffin tremendous cover-corner skills in the body of a safety. Leon McQuay III and Chris Hawkins give the Trojans four of the top 12 defensive backs. All four are ranked in the top 50 nationally.

UCLA also landed four nationally rated defensive backs with two AC100 talents leading the way, Priest Willis and Tahaan Goodman. Ohio State also landed two AC100 talents in Eli Apple and Cam Burrows, as well as nationally ranked Gareon Conley. Alabama is poised to sign three nationally ranked defensive backs too.

Georgia and LSU each landed a pair of nationally ranked DBs.  

2013 Positional Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ATH

  Name AC100 Hometown Ht Wt Verbal
1. Vernon Hargreaves III No. 3 Tampa, FL 5-11 185 Florida
2. Su'a Cravens No. 5 Murrieta, CA 6-1 205 USC
3. Jalen Ramsey No. 15 Nashville, TN 6-0 190 USC
4. Kendall Fuller No. 16 Olney, MD 6-0 175 Virginia Tech
5. Vonn Bell No. 26 Rossville, GA 5-11 190 --
6. Mackensie Alexander No. 30 Immokalee, FL 5-10 175 --
7. Leon McQuay III No. 31 Seffner, FL 6-2 185 USC
8. Tony Conner No. 32 Batesville, MS 6-1 205 --
9. Priest Willis No. 39 Tempe, AZ 6-2 200 UCLA
10. Tre'Davious White No. 45 Shreveport, LA 5-10 170 LSU
11. Eli Apple No. 49 Voorhees, NJ 6-1 185 Ohio St
12. Chris Hawkins No. 50 Rancho Cucamonga, CA 6-0 175 USC
13. Cameron Burrows No. 61 Trotwood, OH 6-0 195 Ohio St
14. Tahaan Goodman No. 65 Rancho Cucamonga, CA 6-1 185 UCLA
15. Marcell Harris No. 78 Orlando, FL 6-1 210 Florida
16. Tray Matthews No. 82 Newnan, GA 6-0 195 Georgia
17. Maurice Smith No. 89 Sugar Land, TX 5-11 175 Alabama
18. Artie Burns No. 98 Miami, FL 6-0 180 Miami
19. Keanu Neal No. 104 Bushnell, FL 6-1 205 Florida
20. Jourdan Lewis No. 107 Detroit, MI 5-10 160 Michigan
21. Gareon Conley No. 115 Massillon, OH 6-1 165 Ohio St
22. Shaq Wiggins No. 124 Tyrone, GA 5-10 170 Georgia
23. Cole Luke No. 133 Chandler, AZ 6-0 170 Notre Dame
24. Johnny Johnson No. 146 Fresno, CA 5-10 175 UCLA
25. Antwuan Davis No. 162 Bastrop, LA 6-0 180 Texas
26. Hatari Byrd No. 163 Fresno, CA 6-1 190 Oklahoma
27. Tyler Foreman No. 169 Encino, CA 6-2 190 UCLA
28. Ashton Shumpert No. 187 Tupelo, MS 6-1 205 Miss. St
29. Anthony Averett No. 191 Woodbury, NJ 6-1 175 Alabama
30. Brian Walker No. 193 Charlotte, NC 5-10 170 North Carolina
31. Rashard Robinson No. 194 Pompano Beach, FL 6-1 170 LSU
32. Kameron Miles No. 195 Mesquite, TX 6-2 200 Texas A&M
33. Tim Harris No. 225 Richmond, VA 6-2 190 Virginia
34. Jonathan Cook No. 229 Spanish Fort, AL 6-0 185 Alabama

View the complete 2013 Athlon Consensus 100

Recruiting Videos:

AC100 On Campus: Su'a Cravens
AC100 On Campus: Jalen Ramsey

AC100 On Campus: Ethan Pocic

AC100 On Campus: Robbie Rhodes

AC100 On Campus: Jalin Marshall

AC100 On Campus: Jake Raulerson

AC100 On Campus: Cameron Burrows

AC100 On Campus: Dontre Wilson

AC100 On Campus: Taco Charlton

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part I

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part II

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part I

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part II

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Football Recruiting Rankings: Defensive Backs</p>
Post date: Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /news/vandy-coach-james-franklin-calls-nick-saban-nicky-satan
Body:

With college football’s national signing day coming up next week, coaches are hitting the recruiting trail in full force. And it’s no surprise every coach is doing whatever they can to win every prospect battle. The war that is recruiting is magnified in the SEC, where programs are going head-to-head for several big-name prospects.

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin made a stop in Macon, Ga. for a high school football banquet and took a small jab at Alabama, calling head coach Nick Saban “Nicky Satan.”

You can’t blame Franklin for pumping up his program after the last two years, especially since he follows up his “Nicky Satan” comments by mentioning how he plans to outwork him.

Needless to say, this is a perfect example of life in the SEC. 

Who knows, maybe it'll inspire a movie? 

Teaser:
<p> Vandy Coach James Franklin Calls Nick Saban "Nicky Satan</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 14:56
All taxonomy terms: Kentucky Wildcats, SEC, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/ncaa-tournament-report-card-kentucky-or-out
Body:

Throughout the final months of the college basketball season, Athlon Sports will take a quick snapshot of key movers in the potential NCAA field. Who's moving up? Who's moving down? Who's on the bubble and who's off? What can we expect in the coming days from these teams.

We start with Kentucky, which has followed up its national title season with a year of postseason uncertainty. The Wildcats defeated Ole Miss 87-74 on the road for their best win of the season, which is good news for UK’s Tourney hopes.

By the numbers
Record: 14-6, 5-2 SEC
RPI: 44
Strength of schedule: 52
Best wins: No. 39 Ole Miss, No. 63 Maryland
Worst losses: No. 78 Texas A&M, No. 62 Alabama
Source: ESPN.com

Reasons for optimism

In the numbers game: Kentucky lacked a top-60 win until Tuesday night, when the Wildcats picked up an 87-74 road win over Ole Miss. The Wildcats’ victory was a good two-fer: Defeating an opponent in the top 40 of the RPI and doing so on the road. Although it’s been a disappointing season for Kentucky, the Wildcats have few bad losses. An 83-71 home loss to Texas A&M is the worst mark on Kentucky’s NCAA resume, now that the Wildcats have picked up a top-40 win.

In the real game: Kentucky’s talented, for sure, but it’s been a long wait for a group of potential first-round NBA draft picks to put it together. Freshman Nerlens Noel is having a standout defensive season. Meanwhile, sophomore Kyle Wiltjer has been an unexpected spark on offense. He scored 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting against Ole Miss and has averaged 16.4 points in his last five games.

Related: Previewing Michigan-Indiana and key games this week

Reasons for concern

This remains a young team that is a week removed from a 59-55 loss to Alabama. The Wildcats are 13th in the SEC in turnover margin in conference games, thanks to forcing the fewest turnovers in the league (9.7 per game). The SEC will offer more opportunities for bad losses than good wins in the remainder of the schedule. The margin of error is slim.

Related: A new No. 1 in our weekly power rankings

Looking ahead
Kentucky is probably in the field as of today, but the Wildcats need to mind the schedule for the remainder of the season. Facing RPI No. 7 Florida twice in the final eight regular season games is probably good news for a team anchored by freshmen. Otherwise, Florida and No. 28 Missouri are the only top-75 the Wildcats will face in the regular season. In comparison, Kentucky will face two teams ranked 200th or worse (Auburn and Mississippi State) and three more ranked 100th or worse (South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Georgia).

Teaser:
<p> After a convincing win over Ole Miss, Kentucky has improved its NCAA Tournament stock. Here's where the Wildcats stand now, and what they can look forward to down the road.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 13:57
Path: /nfl/super-bowl-xlvii-one-one-baltimore-ravens-linebacker-dannell-ellerbe
Body:

Unless a nagging ankle injury sidelines him, Baltimore linebacker Dannell Ellerbe should line up next to Ray Lewis when the Ravens’ defense takes the field in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday. An undrafted free agent out of Georgia who signed with the Ravens following the 2009 NFL Draft, Ellerbe has asserted and established himself in his fourth pro season.

Besides working his way into the starting lineup, Ellerbe posted a career-high 92 tackles during the regular season, finishing second on the team in that category, to go along with 4.5 sacks (tied for third). Even though Ellerbe’s been dealing with an ankle injury and a back issue, he hasn’t let either malady take him off of the field during the playoffs. He collected nine tackles in Baltimore’s wins over Indianapolis and Denver, and picked up his first interception of the season against New England quarterback Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game.

With the biggest game of his NFL career set to kick off on Sunday, Ellerbe sat down with Athlon Sports earlier this week to talk about the Ravens’ remarkable postseason run, playing alongside a Hall of Fame linebacker, his impressions of his own quarterback, the Super Bowl matchup with San Francisco and more.

What has the past week been like for you and your teammates?
“It’s crazy man, at the beginning of the week you have to put in for rooms and get tickets in line for everyone. It’s a headache getting all of that in line, but this is my first Super Bowl so I want my family to come, and I want them to come and want to get them down there. As far as practice goes, I haven’t been practicing this week because of injuries, but you want to get most of your work done here, before you get down there and give away what you are practicing, and getting most of our work in now so when we get down there we can polish up what we have don. Going forward, this week I’m gonna be in my playbook studying up, but now I’ve just been getting my family straight and all the tickets and rooms in line and rehabbing a lot. It’s busy.”

Is the preparation for this game any different?
“It hasn’t been really different, I wanna treat this like a regular game, I don’t want to be like ‘Oh man, it’s the Super Bowl’ and freak out. I’m just staying lighthearted about it and going about it like a regular season game, and don’t wanna get caught up in the superstitions, and just go out there and have fun like I have been doing all year.”

What has the atmosphere been like in Baltimore this past month on the path to the Super Bowl?
“Oh man, I saw a picture after we beat Denver and there were so many people downtown, it was crazy. At the radio show the fans come out and fans are calling in and the fans are outstanding. It’s just a great time to be in Baltimore right now.”

How much of a challenge will it be facing a guy like Colin Kaepernick, and his unique skill set on Sunday?
“It’s always difficult when you face a dual-threat quarterback. Not only do you have to worry about him throwing the ball, you have to worry about him taking off and running it, or vice versa. I would rather face a pocket passer, because that’s a headache in itself. When you have everyone covered a pocket passer will throw it out of bounds, but a guy that is fast and can take off and run makes it hard. You can’t run too much man defense and you have to spy. It’s tough, but we faced some guys this year like RGIII and Andrew Luck, and Mike Vick, so we know about them.”

Your quarterback isn't mentioned with the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys of the world, but Joe Flacco has an impressive resume in his time in the league. What makes him so good under pressure?
“The more experience he has been getting the better he has been doing, and the offensive line is doing a hell of a job blocking for him. You can tell he is comfortable in the pocket right now and he’s not looking to scramble. You can tell when the timer goes off in his head. I mean its just ‘Joe Cool.’ That’s his nickname around here, because you can never tell if he is flustered or not, he just has that nonchalant attitude, but is cool under pressure.”

You've played with Ray Lewis now for four years. Has his approach changed since coming back from injury and announcing his retirement?
“His approach has been a little more intense, if that’s possible, but I mean he has pretty much stayed the same. I feel like he is upping it a little bit more, because this is his last ride, so you know this is it for him. But he is staying true to his self and bringing the same work ethic. He always puts his all into it, but he is definitely putting everything he has into it now.”

What has he taught you about being an NFL linebacker? And how is it playing alongside a Hall of Famer like Ray?
“I just want to start off saying that it’s a blessing to play beside a guy like Ray Lewis, arguably the best inside linebacker to ever play the game. A guy that’s gonna be a Hall of Famer no doubt about it, great character, Christian guy. As far as what I have learned from him, I have just learned how to watch film a certain way and look for certain things when watching film. The first thing he told me when I got here was treat football like a business, come to work do your job, go home and just do your job, because it is a business, and keep my body fresh and how to take care of my body. There’s just so much I have learned from him, always take notes and learn all the little tools, so you can be a step ahead of everyone else.”

Has it sunk in that you are a part of the defense that beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on the road to get to the Super Bowl?
“I’m not sure, because of everything I’m going through with these tickets and rehab. I am definitely aware that these two quarterbacks are going to be Hall of Famers, and with how our defense played earlier in the year and with all the scrutiny our defense we went through a lot. So for us to come back at the end when it really mattered and play great, and to hold them [Patriots] to 13 points is just crazy. It’s awesome.”

Is there one specific play or moment that you will forever remember from this run through the playoffs?
“Definitely my interception against the Broncos, it basically sealed the game. You know what I’m saying, they were driving to get some points, and I will always remember because I had the cast on my hand and the ball got tipped at the line and it looked like a punt and I felt like I was in a movie. The ball was coming down so slow man, it was crazy, it was a play I will never forget, plus I will never forget any of my picks. I remember all of them like it was yesterday. I’m gonna try and get me one in this Super Bowl hopefully.”

—by Blake Southerland

Check out Athlon Sports' special Super Bowl section for more coverage on the Ravens vs. 49ers and the history of the big game.

Teaser:
<p> Super Bowl XLVII: One on One With Ravens Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-bracket-update-jan-30
Body:

A light week of college basketball, relatively speaking, should come to a thrilling end.

Michigan at Indiana has the potential to be one of the best games of the season, with both teams in the top three, with rosters containing Player of the Year candidates and with both playing some of the best basketball in the country on the offensive end of the floor.

And that’s the finale on Saturday. The undercard is a matchup between Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson, who has quickly become a lightning rod in the SEC, going on the road against the best team in the league.

Elsewhere, the week is a little short on great matchups. The Big 12 will be worth watching, however. Baylor and Oklahoma are in Tournament contention, but both teams need to pick up some wins to convince skeptics.

All times Eastern.

Related: Key stats from last week

JAN. 30 NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET UPDATE

MOST IMPORTANT GAME:
Michigan at Indiana (Saturday, 9 p.m, ESPN)

If only the actual game lives up to the hype: The top two teams in the nation’s top conference, have made returns to national title-winning status. For now, though, the Big Ten is on the line. Michigan hasn’t won an outright conference title since 1985-86. Indiana hasn’t won one in 20 years. Another subplot is the matchup between Michigan point guard Trey Burke and Indiana’s emerging player of the year candidate Victor Oladipo. And from an NCAA Tournament perspective, the winner of this game could be on track for a No. 1 seed.

Related: Michigan takes top spot in power rankings

ALL EYES ON: Baylor
Oklahoma (Wednesday, 7 p.m., ESPNU)
at Iowa State (Saturday, 8 p.m., ESPN2)

Baylor’s 5-1 in the Big 12. Missed it? That’s because the Bears have played few teams of note in the league other than a 61-44 loss to Kansas. Baylor has defeated Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and TCU (twice) on the way to second place in the Big 12. Now, the Bears face three consecutive NCAA contenders, with two on the road. Time to find out where Baylor’s ceiling might be.

UNDER PRESSURE: Oklahoma
at Baylor (Wednesday, 7 p.m., ESPNU)
Kansas State (Saturday, 4 p.m., Big 12 syndication)

We know Oklahoma is better in its second year under Lon Kruger. We know the Sooners are in the NCAA Tournament mix. But we also know the Sooners aren’t good enough to defeat stingy defensive teams like Kansas State and Kansas on the road. The Sooners will find out of those road woes extend to Waco on Wednesday. And Saturday will match the top two scorers in Big 12 games - Kansas State’s Rodney McGruder (18.7 points per game) and Oklahoma’s Romero Osby (18 ppg).

RISING: Villanova
at Notre Dame (Wednesday, 6 p.m., ESPN2)
Providence (Sunday, noon, Big East syndication)

Villanova may have done enough in one week to erase three losses (Alabama, Columbia, La Salle and Temple) in November and December. The Wildcats defeated top-five Louisville and Syracuse at home last week to return to NCAA contention. Now, Nova goes on the road to Notre Dame. The Wildcats like to get to the free throw line, so facing a tough opponent who does a good job of protecting its home court will be interesting. Villanova scores 28.3 percent of its points from free throw line, a stat that leads the nation.

SINKING: Maryland
at Florida State (Wednesday, 8 p.m., ACC syndication)
Wake Forest (Saturday, 2 p.m., ACC syndication)

Early this month, Maryland was a mystery team because it played few quality opponents other than Kentucky in the opener. Now, there’s little mystery: Maryland’s not ready for ACC contention. The Terrapins have lost four of their last six, but they found room to defeat NC State 51-50 during that span. Maryland desperately needs better play in the backcourt: The Terps are last in the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio and turnover margin in conference games.

MID-MAJOR TO WATCH: Ohio at Akron (Saturday, 5 p.m., ESPNU)
Akron gained a little notoriety this week with its to wear jerseys with the Zips' Twitter handle on the back as part of Social Media Night, but this game should stand on its own as a key mid-major contest with or without gimmicks. Both teams are 6-0 in the MAC. Led by NCAA Tournament-tested guard D.J. Cooper, Ohio faces a bigger Akron team that’s played well on the offensive and defensive glass this year.

TIP INS:
Iowa State at Oklahoma State (Wednesday, 8 p.m., Big 12 syndication)
Oklahoma State may be an NCAA Tournament team, but the Cowboys have to pick up better conference wins than TCU (9-11), Texas Tech (9-9), an West Virginia (9-11).

New Mexico at Wyoming (Wednesday, 9 p.m., ROOT Sports)
Wyoming hasn’t been the same since Luke Martinez ran into off-court trouble and ended up suspended. The Cowboys are 3-4 since then, but they can still guard. New Mexico is coming off a 34-point effort against San Diego State.

Syracuse at Pittsburgh (Saturday, noon, ESPN)
James Southerland has been gone for a few weeks. Now center Dajuan Coleman is out for four weeks due to knee surgery. Numbers are dwindling for Syracuse.

Miami at NC State (Saturday, 4 p.m., CBS)
Fun fact: Miami defeated Florida State and Duke by a combined 51 points last week. The Hurricanes scored 51 points in their loss to Florida Gulf Coast in the second game of the season.

Ole Miss at Florida (Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPNU)
Marshall Henderson against the best team in the SEC, in front of rowdy fans on the road -- we’re in.

UNLV at Boise State (Saturday, 9 p.m., Time Warner Cable Sports Net)
UNLV is looking for its talented lineup to find consistency. Meanwhile, NCAA Tournament hopeful Boise State has lost three of four.

Marquette at Louisville (Sunday, 2 p.m., ESPN)
Marquette is quietly sitting atop the Big East standings with Syracuse, but no one seems to consider the Golden Eagles a major player in the league. Vander Blue averages 17.1 points per game in the Big East after a 30-point outburst against USF.

Wisconsin at Illinois (Sunday, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network)
Illinois is in trouble after a hot start. A home game against a stingy defensive team is a tall task and maybe a must-win.

Teaser:
<p> Michigan-Indiana is the week's key game while Ole Miss' Henderson visits Florida. Important matchups in the Big 12 will also be worth watching for NCAA Tournament purposes.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /nfl/20-best-nfl-teams-didnt-play-super-bowl
Body:

It seems that each year the NFL is filled with a handful of great teams that just seem to blow it when it comes to the playoffs, never realizing their full potential by making it to the Super Bowl. Teams like the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots certainly met that criteria this season. That got us to wondering which teams throughout NFL history have had the talent, but perhaps not the luck to make it to the big game. With that in mind, we examined win-loss records, overall talent, statistics, playoff performances and more in determining the best NFL teams that never reached the Super Bowl:

* - eventual Super Bowl Champion

1. San Francisco 49ers, 1992 (14-2)
Lost: 30-20 to Dallas* in NFC Championship
Pro Bowlers: 7

Steve Young won the MVP and led a 49ers offense that topped the NFL in scoring (26.9 ppg) and total offense. The defense was third in the NFL in points allowed and 15th in total defense. The only losses came to the defending and would-be AFC champion Bills in Week 2 and on the road against the Cardinals in Week 9. Ricky Waters led the team in rushing while Jerry Rice, John Taylor and Brent Jones torched secondaries. This defense also was loaded with names like Dave Whitemore, Bill Romanowski, Merton Hanks, Eric Davis and sack leader Tim Harris (17.0).

2. Dallas Cowboys, 1994 (12-4)
Lost: 38-28 to San Francisco* in NFC Championship
Pro Bowlers: 7

These two franchises went back and forth in the early '90s and this was the best Dallas team not to finish the deal. This was essentially the same team that won three of four Super Bowls as the triplets came up just one game short of four straight Super Sundays. This unit was second in the league in scoring (25.9 ppg) and was third in points allowed (15.5 ppg). Charles Haley led the team in sacks, Robert Jones led in tackles while Darren Woodson led in interceptions.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers, 2004 (15-1)
Lost: 41-27 to New England* in AFC Championship
Pro Bowlers: 9

Tommy Maddox started three games in 2004 and was 2-1. Ben Roethlisberger started 13 games and won every start behind the best defense in the NFL. This Steelers team led the league in scoring (15.7 ppg) and total defense en route to a near-perfect record. Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis formed a one-two punch in the backfield while a loaded receiving corps gave Big Ben plenty to work with. What made this team great, however, was the nasty, Pro Bowl-laden defense. The lone regular season loss came in Week 2 against Baltimore.

4. Minnesota Vikings, 1998 (15-1)
Lost: 30-27 (OT) to Atlanta in NFC Championship
Pro Bowlers: 10

This team scored at an alarming rate. Led by Randall Cunningham at quarterback and a trio of playmakers in Robert Smith, Cris Carter and Randy Moss, the Vikings paced the NFL at 34.8 points per game. As well as owning the top offense in the league, Minnesota boasted the No. 6-rated scoring defense and No. 13-rated total defense. One loss to Tampa Bay in the middle of the year was the only regular season blemish and these Vikings came one missed Gary Anderson field goal away from playing in the Super Bowl.

5. San Francisco 49ers, 1990 (14-2)
Lost: 15-13 to NY Giants* in NFC Championship
Pro Bowlers: 5

The defending Super Bowl champs rolled through the regular season led by NFL MVP Joe Montana. This unit was No. 2 in total offense and No. 3 in total defense while ranking No. 2 in scoring defense and No. 8 in total offense. Ronnie Lott, Charles Haley and Bill Romanowski led one of the best 49ers defenses of all-time.

6. Chicago Bears, 1986 (14-2)
Lost: 27-13 to Washington in NFC Divisional
Pro Bowlers: 7

Walter Payton and Jim McMahon were electric on offense, but the defending Super Bowl champs won 14 games in 1986 because of the defense. The Bears allowed an absurd 11.7 points and 258.1 yards per game on that side of the ball to lead the NFL in both categories. Wilber Marshall, Steve McMichael, Dave Duerson and Mike Singletary were Pro Bowlers while Richard Dent, William Perry and Dan Hampton did not receive invites to Hawaii. Few defenses were as talented as this version of the Monsters of the Midway.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1999 (14-2)
Lost: 33-14 to Tennessee in AFC Championship
Pro Bowlers: 7

The Jaguars beat Dan Marino and the Dolphins 62-7 in the Hall of Famer's final game to reach the AFC Championship game. But Jacksonville and Mark Brunell lost for a third time to the Titans after going 14-0 against every other team in the NFL. The Brunell, Jimmy Smith, Fred Taylor, James Stewart, Keenan McCardell, Tony Boselli and Leon Searcy offense was sixth in scoring and seventh in total offense, while the defense led the league in points allowed (13.6 ppg) and finished fourth in total defense.

8. Green Bay Packers, 2007 (13-3)
Lost: 23-20 (OT) to NY Giants* in NFC Championship
Pro Bowlers: 5

Three teams finished 13-3 in 2007 (Dallas, Indianapolis) but none came as close to unseating the eventual champs than the Packers. On a frigid night at Lambeau Field, the Giants outlasted this stacked Packers team in overtime. This team was second in total offense and 11th in total defense while finishing fourth in scoring offense and sixth in scoring defense. It was the last time that Brett Favre would ever suit up for Green Bay.

9. Tennessee Titans, 2000 (13-3)
Lost: 24-10 to Baltimore* in AFC Divisional
Pro Bowlers: 9

Despite six Pro Bowlers on offense, it was the defense that made this team special. The defense led the NFL in total defense and was No. 2 in scoring defense. After splitting with the Ravens in the regular season, a bizarre Eddie George-Ray Lewis turnover sealed the Titans' fate. An offense that featured franchise bests at quarterback (Steve McNair), running back (George), tight end (Frank Wycheck), wide receiver (Derrick Mason) and offensive tackle (Bruce Matthews) came up just short of defending their AFC Championship.

10. Indianapolis Colts, 2005 (14-2)
Lost: 21-18 to Pittsburgh* in AFC Divisional
Pro Bowlers: 8

Peyton Manning’s best all-around team (that never played in a Super Bowl) wasn’t necessarily his best statistical year. But this team was No. 2 in the NFL in scoring defense (15.4 ppg) and No. 2 in scoring offense (27.4 ppg) to lead the league in scoring differential. His offense featured a 1,500-yard rusher in Edgerrin James and four elite pass catchers in Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Brandon Stokley. Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney formed an elite pass-rush tandem that combined for 22.5 sacks while Bob Sanders and Cato June led the back seven.

Best of the Rest:

11. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1972 (11-3)
Lost: 21-17 to Miami* in AFC Championship

12. Oakland Raiders, 1974 (12-2)
Lost: 24-13 to Pittsburgh* in AFC Championship

13. Minnesota Vikings, 2009 (12-4)
Lost: 31-28 (OT) to New Orleans* in NFC Championship

14. Green Bay Packers, 2011 (15-1)
Lost: 37-20 to NY Giants* in NFC Championship

15. Indianapolis Colts, 2007 (13-3)
Lost: 28-24 to San Diego in AFC Divisional

16. Miami Dolphins, 1985 (12-4)
Lost: 31-14 to New England in AFC Championship

17. Dallas Cowboys, 1980 (12-4)
Lost: 20-7 to Philadelphia in NFC Championship

18. Pittsburgh Steelers, 2001 (13-3)
Lost: 24-17 to New England* in AFC Championship

19. LA Rams, 1976 (10-3-1)
Lost: 24-13 to Minnesota in NFC Championship

20. Cleveland Browns, 1986 (12-4) CG
Lost: 23-20 to Denver in AFC Championship

21. Dallas, 1981 (12-4)
22. Baltimore, 1967 (11-1-2)
23. Philadelphia, 2002 (12-4)
24. NY Giants, 1989 (12-4)
25. San Francisco, 1987 (13-2)
26. San Diego, 1979 (12-4)
27. New England, 2010 (14-2)
28. New England, 1976 (11-3)
29. LA Rams, 1975 (12-2)
30. San Francisco, 1997 (13-3) 

Check out Athlon Sports' special Super Bowl section for more coverage on the Ravens vs. 49ers and the history of the big game.

Teaser:
<p> How many great teams fell just shy of Super Sunday?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 10:15
Path: /college-football/ranking-best-worst-college-football-coaches-who-went-nfl
Body:

Philadelphia's decision to pick Chip Kelly as its head coach will be one of the most intriguing and heavily scrutinized hires in NFL history. Kelly was a traditional college coach, as he ran an up-tempo, spread offense that most don’t believe will work on a consistent basis in the NFL.

Although he’s yet to coach a game in the NFL, some have already called Kelly’s hire one of the worst ever. Needless to say, there are a lot of misconceptions about Kelly and his offensive scheme that will be played out in the NFL. Will he win multiple Super Bowl titles? Probably not. Will he finish his tenure with Philadelphia as the worst college coach to make the jump to the NFL? Absolutely not.

Hiring a college coach hasn’t produced much in the way of success for NFL franchises. Jimmy Johnson, Tom Coughlin and Barry Switzer won Super Bowl titles, while Dennis Green, Bobby Ross, Pete Carroll, Steve Mariucci and Butch Davis led their teams to playoff appearances. And of course, there’s Jim Harbaugh, leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl in his second season.

With Kelly’s hire in mind, Athlon ranked the top 15 head coaches that jumped from college to the NFL since 1989. The criteria was simple. In order to be ranked, the coach had to be a college head coach, with their next job being in the same position in the NFL. Although Jim Caldwell, Tom Cable and Cam Cameron were head coaches on both levels, all three held positions outside of being a head coach after leaving college.

Ranking the 15 Best College Head Coaches that left for the NFL Since 1989

1. Jimmy Johnson, Miami and Dallas
It’s a close call for the No. 1 spot in these rankings, as Johnson or Tom Coughlin is a worthy candidate. Johnson jumped to the NFL after successful college head coaching stints at Oklahoma State and Miami, recording an 81-34-3 mark from 1979-88. His debut season with the Cowboys resulted in a miserable 1-15 record but the team quickly improved with the emergence of quarterback Troy Aikman. Dallas went 7-9 in Johnson’s second year but made the playoffs – with two Super Bowl wins – in his final three seasons. Johnson left the Cowboys after the 1993 season and resurfaced with the Dolphins in 1996. He led Miami to three playoff games from 1996-99 but never advanced to the AFC Championship game.   

2. Tom Coughlin, Jacksonville and New York Giants
If Jimmy Johnson is 1 in these rankings, Coughlin is essentially 1b. After three years as Boston College’s head coach, the New York native was selected to be the first coach in Jacksonville’s history. The Jaguars went 4-12 in their debut season but made the playoffs in each of the next four seasons. Coughlin took Jacksonville to the AFC Championship game twice but was never able to take the Jaguars to the Super Bowl. He was fired from Jacksonville at the end of the 2002 season and spent 2003 out of football. Coughlin was scooped up by the Giants in 2004 and led New York to a playoff appearance in his second season. The Giants won the Super Bowl in the 2007 and 2011 seasons, while accumulating an 83-61 record under Coughlin’s watch.

3. Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco
Give Harbaugh a couple more seasons and he could climb to the No. 1 spot on this list. In two years with the 49ers, the former NFL quarterback has an impressive 24-7-1 mark, which includes two division titles and two playoff appearances. San Francisco narrowly missed a Super Bowl trip in 2011 and navigated a tough path to get to New Orleans in 2012, beating Green Bay and knocking off No. 1 seed Atlanta. 

4. Bobby Ross, San Diego and Detroit
Ross wasn’t the flashiest coach, but he was a proven winner in both college and the NFL. The Virginia native guided Georgia Tech to a national championship in 1990, before joining the Chargers in 1992. San Diego went 11-5 in Ross’ first year and made the Super Bowl after upsetting the Steelers in the AFC Championship game during the 1994 season. After five successful years with the Chargers, Ross left for Detroit in 1997. Despite his solid tenure in San Diego, he was never able to experience the same success with the Lions. Detroit made two playoff appearances under Ross’ watch but never won more than nine games. 

5. Dennis Green, Minnesota and Arizona
Green didn’t have the best pick of jobs on the college level, finishing with a 26-63 mark in eight years. However, it’s not exactly easy winning at Northwestern and Stanford on a consistent basis. After going 8-4 with the Cardinal in 1991, Green left to become the Vikings’ head coach. Minnesota went 11-5 in Green’s first season and made the playoffs in each of his three years. After missing the playoffs in 1995, the Vikings rebounded with five consecutive postseason appearances from 1996-2000, which included a painful, narrow miss at a Super Bowl berth in 1998. Green was canned after winning just five games in 2001 and resurfaced with the Cardinals in 2004. Although Green was a good coach in Minnesota, he had a miserable tenure in Arizona, winning just 16 games from 2004-06.

6. Pete Carroll, New England, New York Jets, Seattle
Carroll was a relatively average coach in his first two stops, leading the Jets to a 6-10 record in 1994 and then the Patriots to a 27-21 mark with two playoff appearances from 1997-99. However, after leading USC to one of the most successful stints by a program in the BCS era, Carroll has returned to the NFL better than ever. The Seahawks made the playoffs with a losing record in 2010 and then went 7-9 in 2011 despite undergoing a roster transformation. However, Seattle went 11-5 in 2012 and a narrow loss to Atlanta was all that separated it from making it to the NFC Championship game. Carroll is pushing the right buttons with the Seahawks and should rise on this list over the next few years.

7. Barry Switzer, Dallas
After resigning as Oklahoma’s head coach in 1988, Switzer was out of football when the Cowboys came calling after the 1993 season. Dallas was coming off back-to-back Super Bowl wins and needed a coach after Jimmy Johnson decided to leave. Switzer went 12-4 in his first season with the Cowboys, before leading Dallas to a Super Bowl victory over the Steelers in 1995. The win over Pittsburgh was the pinnacle of Switzer’s NFL career, as the Cowboys went 10-6 in 1996 and finished with a disappointing 6-10 mark in 1997. Switzer was handed an excellent roster to work with, so it’s hard to judge just how effective a NFL head coach he really was.

8. Steve Mariucci, San Francisco and Detroit
Mariucci experienced a fast rise through the coaching ranks, working as an assistant in Green Bay from 1992-95 and then taking over at California for just one season in 1996. The Michigan native was picked to lead the 49ers after one year in Berkeley and went 57-39 during his six seasons in San Francisco. Mariucci was never able to lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl but had four playoff appearances. He was fired from San Francisco after 2002 and resurfaced with the Lions in 2003. Mariucci had very little success with Detroit, going 15-28 in three years. 

9. Nick Saban, Miami
Whenever Saban finishes his career at Alabama, there’s no question he will be regarded as one of the most successful coaches to work on the collegiate level. Success in the NFL? Well, that’s a different story. Saban wasn’t awful during his Miami tenure, but he bolted after just two seasons to go back to the college game. The Dolphins went 9-7 in Saban’s first season but backtracked to a 6-10 mark in 2006. Had he stayed in Miami, Saban likely would have eventually led the Dolphins to the playoffs. However, the West Virginia native is clearly at home in the college ranks.

10. Butch Davis, Cleveland
Davis is the third Miami coach since 1989 to leave Coral Gables for the NFL. Jimmy Johnson was the most successful of the trio, while Davis and Dennis Erickson struggled to find their footing. Davis had some success with Cleveland, leading the Browns to a 7-9 mark in 2001 and a 9-7 record with a playoff appearance in 2002. Despite his early success, Davis never elevated Cleveland to be a contender in the AFC North, finishing his last two seasons with an 8-18 record. 

11. Steve Spurrier, Washington
In one of the most puzzling coaching moves of recent memory, Spurrier decided to leave one of college football’s premier jobs (Florida) for a spot in the NFL. After compiling a 122-27-1 mark with the Gators, Spurrier gave his Fun N’Gun offense a shot in the NFL. The results were disappointing for Washington, as the Redskins went 12-20 under his watch. Spurrier did finish 7-9 in his first year, but it’s clear the head ball coach belongs in college.  

12. Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay
Schiano is just one season into his NFL tenure, but the Buccaneers showed marked improvement under his watch. Tampa Bay’s win total improved by three games from 2011 to 2012 and had a differential of only five points this year. The Buccaneers also had a handful of close losses in 2012 and got significant contributions from a few rookies, including running back Doug Martin, linebacker Lavonte David and safety Mark Barron. Schiano still has much to prove heading into the 2013 season. However, the former Rutgers coach seems to have Tampa Bay back on track.

13. Dennis Erickson, Seattle and San Francisco
Erickson was largely a mediocre coach in the NFL, never having one season over .500, while missing the playoffs after all six of his seasons. The Washington native had most of his success in college by following Jimmy Johnson at Miami and Mike Riley at Oregon State and struggled to establish himself as a quality NFL coach. Erickson had plenty to work with during his stint with Seattle, which included a roster featuring quarterback Warren Moon, running back Ricky Watters and receiver Joey Galloway. Despite a mediocre tenure with the Seahawks, San Francisco decided to give Erickson another change. As expected, he was a disaster. The 49ers went 7-9 in 2003 but plummeted to 2-14 in 2004.

14. Rich Brooks, St. Louis
Brooks played a central role in turning around two college programs (Oregon and Kentucky) but was never able to work the same type of magic in the NFL. He inherited a team that just moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis and had five consecutive losing seasons. Brooks improved the Rams’ win total by three in his first season but finished a disappointing 6-10 in his second year.

15. Mike Riley, San Diego
Riley has done a tremendous job on the college level, elevating Oregon State from a Pac-12 doormat to a consistent bowl team. However, his work in the NFL was a forgettable three-year stint. Riley went 8-8 in his debut season but recorded a 6-26 mark in the other two years. Of course, it’s hard to evaluate Riley when he was forced to work with Ryan Leaf at quarterback. 

Two other failed tenures:

Bobby Petrino, Atlanta
Not only was Petrino awful in his only season in the NFL (3-10), he quit on his team in the middle of the year to take a college job. 

Dick MacPherson, New England
MacPherson was a good college coach, but he was awful in the NFL. He went 8-24 in two seasons with the Patriots.
 

Check out Athlon Sports' special Super Bowl section for more coverage on the Ravens vs. 49ers and the history of the big game.

Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Best &amp; Worst College Football Coaches Who Went to the NFL</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 07:10
Path: /college-football/recruiting-ranking-big-easts-best-football-rosters
Body:

Preseason prognosticators like Athlon Sports — the most accurate college football preview magazine on newsstands — use many things to attempt to predict what the coming football season will look like. Returning starters, scheduling, historic trends, coaching, pending off-the-field issues and, of course, recruiting rankings all help Athlon editors predict the future of college football.

Recruiting rankings have their detractors. Yes, evaluating 16- and 17-year-old kids is an inexact science. No, star rankings aren’t the only thing that matters. Yes, leadership (e.g., Nick Saban) is more important than national recruiting rankings (See Auburn).

But using national team recruiting rankings to attempt to pinpoint how “talented” any given roster is an interesting and illuminating practice.

For the sake of this discussion, the 2013 conference alignment was used to calculate, rank and organize teams and leagues. Rivals.com national team rankings over a five-year span (2008-12) were used for the sake of consistency. And the 72 “BCS” conference teams as well as Notre Dame, Boise State and BYU were used to form the 75-team ranking.

Therefore, in the Big East rankings below fans will find where new additions UCF, Memphis, Houston and SMU have been ranked in the team rankings while Pitt and Syracuse won't be included. Louisville and Rutgers are still slated to participate in the Big East in 2013 and therefore are a part of the league.

So what do the team recruiting rankings teach us about the Big East:

Three-Star conference
Rutgers has the "best" roster in the Big East and their best recruiting class in the last five years was 24th last season. In fact, the Knights' 2012 class was the Big East's only Top 25 recruiting class over the last five cycles. Only South Florida's 2009 class (29th) and Louisville's 2011 haul (29th) were even ranked in the top 30. Temple and UConn are the least talented rosters of the 75 "BCS" conference teams nationally and only Rutgers was better than 50th nationally. The Big East is widely considered the sixth-best league in the nation and the recruiting rankings only further illustrate that fact.

However, you can win with three-stars
The rankings indicate that this is clearly the least talented conference of the power leagues. However, eight of the 10 teams have an overall winning record over the last five seasons. Only Memphis has failed to win at least 30 games since 2008 and seven of the 10 have won either a share of a conference title (Cincinnati, Rutgers, Louisville, UConn, UCF) or, at least, a division championship (Houston, SMU). While none of the teams are nationally elite, all have been competitive on the field. In fact, the Big East has the best bowl record since the advent of the BCS (1998-2012) of any league in America 46-28 (61.2 percent).

Tommy Tuberville has some big shoes to fill
Mark Dantonio. Brian Kelly. Butch Jones. Cincinnati is the winningest team in the league over the last five years due in large part to those three men. They are responsible for building the Bearcats into a perennial Big East power despite ranking 57th nationally in terms of talent. Kelly won 23 games in 2008 and '09 before Jones won a share of two conference titles of his own in 2011 and '12. All three have gone on to coach bigger and better programs after producing the best win total in the league (47-18) over the last five years. Tuberville takes over as an established coach with a long track record at a school that now expects to win conference championships. And he is supposed to do it with less talent than the Kentucky Wildcats (56th).

South Florida needs a coach
The Bulls are third in the Big East in terms of talent and sit in the heart of the richest recruiting state in the nation. So there is absolutely no excuse for USF to be 10-25 in Big East play over the last five years. Ranking 54th nationally in talent doesn’t indicate that the Bulls should be competing with Florida State or Florida for national recognition, but it definitely means more than two Big East wins per year. The only team with a worse conference record over this span is Memphis.

Al Golden is legit
Temple is ranked dead last in the power conferences (75th) in terms of talent. Yet, the Owls are nine games over .500 (35-26) and have the fourth-best conference record of the bunch. Certainly, four of those years were played in the MAC, but Al Golden took a 1-11 team that hadn’t been to a bowl since 1979 and in three years built it into a division champion that won 17 games from 2009-10 and went to just the third bowl game in program history. Golden also deserves credit for building the 2011 bowl team as well as growing the program to a point where it was deemed worthy of (re-)entry into the Big East.

The newbies should be competitive
UCF is the fifth-most talented roster in the league. Houston is sixth, Houston is seventh and SMU is eighth. All four have recruited at a higher level than UConn and Temple — as well as former Big East team Syracuse and the Pac-12’s Washington State. And all but SMU rank ahead of Indiana, Northwestern and Boise State as well. This indicates that with added financial support and brand exposure the new Big East faces should be able to compete rather quickly in Big East recruiting.
 

More: Ranking the ACC's Best Rosters
More: Ranking the SEC's Best Rosters
More: Ranking the Big 12's Best Rosters

Big East's National Team Recruiting Rankings Breakdown:

  Team Avg Nat'l Rank "BCS" Rank 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Record (Conf.)
1. Rutgers 40.8 38th 46th 38th 64th 32nd 24th 39-25 (18-17)
2. Louisville 50.0 50th 55th 76th 48th 29th 42nd 34-29 (15-20)
3. South Florida 51.4 54th 54th 29th 62nd 63rd 49th 32-31 (10-25)
4. Cincinnati 57.0 57th 67th 60th 59th 49th 50th 47-18 (25-10)
5. UCF 61.4 59th 56th 66th 56th 39th 90th 38-27 (26-14)
6. Houston 67.6 66th 100th 61st 45th 73rd 59th 41-24 (28-12)
7. Memphis 69.6 67th 88th 67th 57th 65th 71st 15-46 (10-30)
8. SMU 77.0 72nd 90th 80th 76th 50th 89th 31-34 (22-18)
9. UConn 81.4 74th 71st 75th 83rd 101st 77th 34-29 (16-19)
10. Temple 90.4 75th 82nd 112th 75th 107th 76th 35-26 (23-16)

Teaser:
<p> Recruiting: Ranking the Big East's Best Football Rosters</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/2013-football-recruiting-rankings-athletes
Body:

National Signing Day 2013 is right around the corner and Athlon Sports is releasing its position-by-position rankings for the Class of 2013 based on the Athlon Consensus 100. Who is left on the board? Who has the best class at one position? Who had positional needs to fill? And, obviously, who are the stars of tomorrow fans can look forward to at every position?

The term "athlete" is used to define a player who is an elite talent but doesn't really fit into one specific position. Many cornerbacks could play wide receiver or running back. Many tight ends could play linebacker or defensive end. Many offensive linemen end up as defensive tackles. Athlon Sports tries to limit this position to just a handful of names, which is why Derrick Henry and Dontre Wilson are listed as running backs, Jalen Ramsey is listed as a defensive back and Ricky Seals-Jean is listed as a wide receiver.

The top "athlete" is Max Redfield from Mission Viejo, Calif. He is headed to Notre Dame and has the skill set to be a special hybrid safety-linebacker. Brian Kelly will have fun finding him a spot in the rotation next season. The former USC commit is one of the few bigger athletes in this year's class as most of the names appear to be headed for cornerback, running back or wide receiver.

The only other set of larger prospects are the two-sport Robinson twins from San Diego. Tyrell and Tyree are both committed to Oregon and both want to play football and basketball on the next level. Their 6-4, 190 pound frames afford college coaches plenty of versatility.

2013 Positional Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ATH

  Name AC100 Hometown Ht Wt Verbal
1. Max Redfield No. 29 Mission Viejo, CA 6-3 195 Notre Dame
2. Jalin Marshall No. 35 Middletown, OH 6-0 190 Ohio St
3. Dymonte Thomas No. 72 Alliance, OH 6-1 190 Michigan
4. ArDarius Stewart No. 84 Birmingham, AL 6-1 185 Alabama
5. Alvin Bailey No. 106 Seffner, FL 5-10 175 Florida
6. Tramel Terry No. 117 Goose Creek, SC 6-0 190 Georgia
7. Jeryl Brazil No. 128 Loranger, LA 5-10 180 LSU
8. Tyrell Robinson No. 131 San Diego, CA 6-4 190 Oregon
9. Levonte Whitfield No. 141 Orlando, FL 5-9 165 Florida St
10. LaQuvionte Gonzalez No. 185 Cedar Hill, TX 5-10 155 Texas A&M
11. Tyree Robinson No. 211 San Diego, CA 6-4 190 Oregon
12. Rashard Fant No. 233 Fairburn, GA 5-9 160 Indiana

View the complete 2013 Athlon Consensus 100

Recruiting Videos:

AC100 On Campus: Su'a Cravens
AC100 On Campus: Jalen Ramsey

AC100 On Campus: Ethan Pocic

AC100 On Campus: Robbie Rhodes

AC100 On Campus: Jalin Marshall

AC100 On Campus: Jake Raulerson

AC100 On Campus: Cameron Burrows

AC100 On Campus: Dontre Wilson

AC100 On Campus: Taco Charlton

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part I

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part II

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part I

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part II

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Football Recruiting Rankings: Athletes</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/2013-football-recruiting-rankings-tight-ends
Body:

National Signing Day 2013 is right around the corner and Athlon Sports is releasing its position-by-position rankings for the Class of 2013 based on the Athlon Consensus 100. Who is left on the board? Who has the best class at one position? Who had positional needs to fill? And, obviously, who are the stars of tomorrow fans can look forward to at every position?

Only seven tight ends are ranked nationally in the top 150 by the four recruiting services. This is on par for the rankings each season as the AC100 has 3-5 tight end prospects in each class. It should come as no surprise that the major power programs are the ones landing the true tight end prospects either. Alabama, Arkansas and LSU from the SEC while Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan from the Big Ten each landed their future TE. 

O.J. Howard is the best prospect in the nation and one of the better all-around prospects at the position since Austin Seferian-Jenkins (2011). He is a polished pass catcher with electric athletic ability for his size. He also won Alabama Lineman of the Year despite missing four games. 

Adam Breneman is the prototypical Penn State Nittany Lion tight end. With Bill O'Brien showing the world how to use two tight ends at New England, Breneman should team with star quarterback prospect Christian Hackenburg to form a dynamic combination for the next four years in Happy Valley.

LSU also is getting a good one that it will be able to use in the passing game right away. DeSean Smith is a long, rangy prospect who is right at home in the slot. He will need to add size and bulk to play inline but that will come with time in Baton Rouge. Otherwise, his pass-catching ability is college ready and could serve Les Miles right away in 2013.

2013 Positional Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ATH

  Name AC100 Hometown Ht Wt Verbal
1. O.J. Howard No. 19 Prattville, AL 6-5 220 Alabama
2. Adam Breneman No. 44 Camp Hill, PA 6-5 230 Penn St
3. Hunter Henry No. 85 Little Rock, AR 6-6 235 Arkansas
4. Marcus Baugh No. 91 Riverside, CA 6-4 225 Ohio St
5. DeSean Smith No. 125 Lake Charles, LA 6-4 225 LSU
6. Standish Dobard No. 218 New Orleans, LA 6-4 240 Miami
7. Jake Butt No. 221 Pickerington, OH 6-6 235 Michigan

View the complete 2013 Athlon Consensus 100

Recruiting Videos:

AC100 On Campus: Su'a Cravens
AC100 On Campus: Jalen Ramsey

AC100 On Campus: Ethan Pocic

AC100 On Campus: Robbie Rhodes

AC100 On Campus: Jalin Marshall

AC100 On Campus: Jake Raulerson

AC100 On Campus: Cameron Burrows

AC100 On Campus: Dontre Wilson

AC100 On Campus: Taco Charlton

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part I

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part II

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part I

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part II

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Football Recruiting Rankings: Tight Ends</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, MLB, Monthly
Path: /mlb/should-steroids-forever-keep-barry-bonds-and-roger-clemens-out-baseballs-hall-fame
Body:

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the greatest hitter and pitcher of the “Steroid Era,” headlined a group of 37 players eligible for the Class of 2013 in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But for the first time since 1996, zero players were immortalized by baseball writers in the museum at Cooperstown, N.Y.

 
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America made a collective statement. Needing 75 percent of the BBWAA vote for enshrinement, Clemens (37.6) and Bonds (36.2) — undeniably the faces of the PED generation — finished eighth and ninth, despite being two of the most dominant players in history.
 
Both men have gone to trial for obstruction of justice and perjury charges stemming from testimony regarding alleged steroid use. Using the established legal timelines, we attempt to break down the career numbers of Bonds and Clemens — from the clean years to the potentially juiced seasons.
 
Reportedly jealous of the attention received by both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa during the home run race that “saved baseball” in 1998, Bonds allegedly turned to PEDs. Evidence points to 1999 as his first tainted season; he posted the lowest AB-per-HR total of his career (10.4 in 1999, 16.1 from 1986-98) and played a career-low 102 games due to an elbow injury that is speculated to have been a result of steroid overuse.
 

From there, Bonds’ hat size and stat size grew to otherworldly levels — as he hit 73 HRs in 2001 and batted .370 in 2002. It’s hard to deny Bonds’ résumé prior to 1999. The son former All-Star Bobby Bonds and godson of Hall of Famer Willie Mays was already a one-man member of the 400-400 HR-SB club.
 
After posting a 4.00 ERA or higher in two of his last four seasons in Boston, “Rocket” found new fuel after going to Toronto in 1997 — with back-to-back Cy Young seasons. He then went on to post two more Cy Young years, as a 38-year-old 20-game winner with the Yankees in 2001 and a 41-year-old 18-game winner with the Astros in 2004.
­But prior to going north of the border, Clemens was one of only five three-time Cy Young winners — along with Steve Carlton, Greg Maddux, Sandy Koufax, Jim Palmer and Tom Seaver. Of those, only Koufax could match Clemens with one MVP Award to go along with his three Cy Youngs.
 
Teaser:
<p> Should steroids Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens out of Baseball's Hall of Fame?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-power-rankings-michigan-takes-top-spot
Body:

Miami’s 90-63 drubbing of Duke last week shuffled the power rankings in more ways than one.

First, the Blue Devils’ loss means Athlon will have a new No. 1 this week. Our nod goes to Michigan, who is having its best season since Chris Webber and Jalen Rose were on campus. The Wolverines and John Beilein have a chance to either solidify their credentials for the No. 1 spot or open the door for another team when they visit Indiana on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Miami enjoyed the biggest boost in our rankings this week, moving from No. 21 to No. 10 after defeating Duke and Florida State by a combined 52 points last week. Keep in mind, the Hurricanes scored only 51 points in the second game of the season, a loss to Florida Gulf Coast. Miami’s staying power will be tested this week on the road against the nation’s leading scorer in Virginia Tech’s Erick Green and then against erratic NC State.

The biggest drop in this week’s power rankings came from Minnesota, which fell 10 spots to No. 19. The Gophers started 15-1, but they’ve lost four in a for in Big Ten play.

Related: Key stats from Jan. 21-27

COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS: JAN. 29

1. Michigan (19-1, 6-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 2
Last week’s results: Defeated Purdue 68-53, defeated Illinois 74-60
This week: at Indiana
Buzz: The Wolverines top the Associated Press top 25 for first time since Fab Five days.

2. Kansas (19-1, 7-0 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 3
Last week’s results: Defeated Kansas State 59-55, defeated Oklahoma 67-54, defeated West Virginia 61-56
This week: Oklahoma State
Buzz: Kansas is riding an 18-game win streak.

3. Indiana (18-2, 6-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 6
Last week’s results: Defeated Penn State 72-49, defeated Michigan State 75-70
This week: at Purdue, Michigan
Buzz: Home date with Michigan on Saturday is Hoosiers only game at Assembly Hall in four games.

4. Syracuse (18-2, 6-1 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 4
Last week’s results: Lost to Villanova 75-71 (OT)
This week: at Pittsburgh
Buzz: Point guard Michael Carter-Williams has 16 turnovers in his last three games.

5. Duke (17-2, 4-2 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 1
Last week’s results: Lost to Miami 90-63, defeated Maryland 84-64
This week: at Wake Forest, at Florida State
Buzz: Freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon broke out of slump to score 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field against Maryland.

6. Florida (16-2, 6-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 8
Last week’s results: Defeated Georgia 64-47, defeated Mississippi State 82-47
This week: South Carolina, Ole Miss
Buzz: The Gators are eyeing a perfect 18–0 record in the SEC.

7. Gonzaga (19-2, 6-0 West Coast Conference)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Defeated BYU 83-63, defeated San Francisco 66-52
This week: at Loyola Marymount, at San Diego
Buzz: Zags next four opponents are from the bottom half of the WCC before a Feb. 14 trip to Saint Mary’s.

8. Arizona (17-2, 5-2 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Lost to UCLA 84-73, defeated USC 74-50
This week: at Washington, at Washington State
Buzz: Arizona allowed a season-high 84 points in loss to UCLA last week.

9. Louisville (17-4, 5-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Lost to Villanova 73-64, lost to Georgetown 53-51, beat Pittsburgh 64-61
This week: Marquette
Buzz: Louisville broke out of its three-game losing streak with win over Pittsburgh, but Peyton Siva remains in a slump (7 of 31 from the field in the last four games, four free throw attempts in the last six).

10. Miami (15-3, 6-0 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 21
Last week’s results: Defeated Duke 90-63, defeated Florida State 71-47
This week: at Virginia Tech, at NC State
Buzz: Veteran Hurricanes are in control of the ACC race. In basketball.

11. Butler (17-3, 4-1 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 10
Last week’s results: Lost to La Salle 54-53, defeated Temple 83-71
This week: at Saint Louis, Rhode Island
Buzz: Rotnei Clarke’s return against Temple makes Butler team to beat in A-10.

12. Michigan State (17-4, 6-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 14
Last week’s results: Defeated Wisconsin 49-47, lost to Indiana 75-70
This week: Illinois
Buzz: Adreian Payne is emerging as intriguing veteran forward and NBA draft prospect.

13. Ohio State (15-4, 5-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 15
Last week’s results: Defeated Iowa 72-63, defeated Penn State 65-51
This week: Wisconsin, at Nebraska
Buzz: Deshaun Thomas is averaging 15.5 shots per game, most in the Big Ten and 16th-most nationally.

14. Oregon (18-2, 7-0 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 16
Last week’s results: Defeated Washington State 68-61, defeated Washington 81-76
This week: at Stanford, at Cal
Buzz: Freshman point Dominic Artis is out with a foot injury.

15. NC State (16-4, 5-2 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 13
Last week’s results: Lost to Wake Forest 86-84, defeated North Carolina 91-83
This week: at Virginia, Miami
Buzz: Crazy week for the Wolfpack: Lose at Wake, crush North Carolina.

16. Wichita State (19-2, 8-1 Missouri Valley)
Last week’s rank: 19
Last week’s results: Defeated Missouri State 62-52, defeated Bradley 73-39
This week: Indiana State, at Northern Iowa
Buzz: The Shockers are all alone in first in the Valley.

17. Ole Miss (17-2, 6-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 22
Last week’s results: Defeated Tennessee 62-56, defeated Auburn 63-61
This week: Kentucky, at Florida
Buzz: Marshall Henderson (19.2 ppg) is the most hated man in SEC.

18. Kansas State (15-4, 4-2 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 11
Last week’s results: Lost to Kansas 59-55, lost to Iowa State 73-67
This week: Texas, at Oklahoma
Buzz: Wildcats dealing with first back-to-back losses under Bruce Weber.

19. Minnesota (15-5, 3-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Lost to Northwestern 55-48, lost to Wisconsin 45-44
This week: Nebraska, Iowa
Buzz: The Gophers have lost four in a row, all by eight points or fewer.

20. New Mexico (17-3, 4-1 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 18
Last week’s results: Defeated Colorado State 66-61, lost to San Diego State 55-34
This week: at Wyoming, Nevada
Buzz: The Lobos went 11 of 44 from the field and 3 of 15 from three-point range in loss at San Diego State.

21. Cincinnati (16-4, 4-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 23
Last week’s results: None
This week: Rutgers, at Seton Hall
Buzz: Bearcats back in action Wednesday after an eight-day break since loss to Syracuse.

22. Marquette (15-4, 6-1 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 24
Last week’s results: Defeated Providence 81-71, defeated USF 63-50
This week: at Louisville
Buzz: Marquette used a career-high 30 points from Vander Blue to defeat USF on Monday and move into a tie for first place in the Big East.

23. Wisconsin (14-6, 5-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 25
Last week’s results: Lost to Michigan State 49-47, defeated Minnesota 45-44
This week: at Ohio State, at Illinois
Buzz: Badgers averaged 46 points and split the week.

24. Missouri (15-4, 4-2 SEC)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated South Carolina 71-65, defeated Vanderbilt 81-59
This week: at LSU, Auburn
Buzz: Tigers should be back at full strength very soon with return of forward Laurence Bowers.

25. San Diego State (16-4, 4-2 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Nevada 78-57, defeated New Mexico 55-34
This week: at Air Force
Buzz: The Aztecs continue to get it done on defense.

Out: No. 17 VCU, No. 20 Creighton

Teaser:
<p> Michigan is Athlon Sports' new No. 1 team in the power rankings with a key game against Indiana on the horizon. Miami moves into top 10.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /nfl/20-amazing-all-time-nfl-super-bowl-stats
Body:

NFL football is the greatest reality TV program of all time. The Giants and Colts made sure of that back in 1958. Each NFL fall is a completely new and original experience for every player, fan and coach alike. New stories, new personalities, new winners and new losers. And new statistics.

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics to keep in mind about the 46-year history of the Super Bowl:

162,900,000: People who watched Super Bowl XLV
The Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers put together the single-most viewed television program in American history in 2011. The previous record had been the Colts-Saints Super Bowl on Feb. 7, 2010 with 153.4 million viewers. Last year's Super Bowl between the Giants and Patriots was the No. 2-most viewed program with 159.2 million.

0: Time the Vikings have led in the Super Bowl
The Jaguars, Browns, Texans and Lions have never played in a Super Bowl and therefore never led in the Big Game. However, the Vikings have played in four Super Bowls and never held a lead. That's 240 minutes of gametime either tied or trailing.

414: Record passing yards for Kurt Warner
The former grocery bagger threw for an Super Bowl-record 414 yards in the win over the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. This included his 73-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce with just over two minutes remaining. Warner also owns the No. 2 passing performance (377 yards for Arizona in a loss to Pittsburgh) and the No. 3 performance (365 yards in a St. Louis loss to New England).

204: Timmy Smith Super Bowl rushing record
The Denver Broncos began Super Bowl XXII by taking a 10-0 lead into the second quarter over the Washington Redskins. But then Doug Williams and Timmy Smith happened. The record 35-point second quarter put the game all but out of reach by halftime. The game was special for a variety of reasons. First, Williams was the first black quarterback to win the Super Bowl, and Smith became the only player to top 200 yards rushing in a Super Bowl. He finished with 204 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns as the Redskins set the Super Bowl record for total offense with 602 yards. Ironically, Smith ended his entire NFL career with exactly 602 yards (21 games).

10: Largest comeback in Super Bowl history
The aforementioned Redskins set this record as well after trailing 10-0 to Denver before finishing off the Broncos 42-10. The deficit was tied in the 2009 season when Drew Brees and the Saints fell behind 10-0 before coming back to defeat the Colts 31-17.

103,985: Largest crowd to attend a Super Bowl
The 1979 season featured the largest crowd to ever attend a Super Bowl when the Steelers defeated the Rams 31-19 in Pasadena, Calif. The Rose Bowl hosted the Los Angeles Rams that year in what remains the closest thing to a home-field advantage in a Super Bowl.
 
6-10: Worst record by a Super Bowl winner the following year
John Elway won back-to-back Super Bowls for the Denver Broncos (XXXII, XXXIII) and ended his playing career in style. However, his Broncos went on to accomplish something no other Super Bowl champion had done once he retired. By losing 10 games in 1999, the Broncos posted the worst record by a Super Bowl champion the following season. Denver finished last in the AFC West.

6: Most Super Bowl appearances by any one player
Mike Lodish played 11 seasons in the NFL, and six of them ended in the Super Bowl. The defensive lineman was drafted out of UCLA in 1990 and played five years for the Buffalo Bills (1990-94) before his six-year career with the Broncos. He played in all four of the Bills' Super Bowls and won twice with the Broncos, making him the only player in NFL history to have played in six Super Bowls. Sixteen players have played in five Super Bowls.

5: Most Super Bowl starts by any one quarterback
John Elway started five Super Bowls when he won his second Lombardi Trophy in 1998 when Denver handled Atlanta with relative ease. Last season, Tom Brady matched Elway with his fifth Super Bowl start. However, neither can claim the most Super Bowl victories as Pittsburgh’s Terry Bradshaw and San Francisco’s Joe Montana won all four of their Super Bowl starts.

7: Fewest rushing yards gained in a Super Bowl
The Monsters of the Midway were one of the most dominate defensive units in NFL history, and it led to the Chicago Bears lone Super Bowl win back in 1985. In the Louisiana Superdome, William Perry and Mike Singletary posted the best defensive performance in Super Bowl history by holding New England to just seven yards rushing. The Patriots' 123 total yards of offense is the second-lowest total in Super Bowl history.

42,000: Average cost of a 30-second commercial in Super Bowl I
The cost of a television ad in Super Bowl I was $42,000 per 30-second spot. That number reached seven figures for the first time in 1995 ($1.15 million) and has more than tripled since. This year, CBS is anticipating more than $225 million in ad revenue alone at a 30-second per unit cost of $3.8 million.

338: Media credentials issued for Super Bowl I
By 2012, the number swelled to 5,156 accredited media members to cover Super Bowl XLVI, a record for the championship game.

22.6: Lowest QB rating for a Super Bowl winner
Ben Roethlisberger completed 9-of-21 passes for 123 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl XL win over Seattle. It is the worst performance by a Super Bowl winning quarterback. At 23 years and 340 days, Big Ben was also the youngest quarterback to ever win the big game.

3: Fewest points scored in a Super Bowl
The 1971 Miami Dolphins are the only team to ever play in a Super Bowl and not reach the endzone. Their 24-3 loss to Dallas in Super Bowl VI featured the lowest scoring offense in the history of the game. The 1974 Minnesota Vikings are the only other team not to reach at least seven points on Super Sunday, but at least they reached the endzone — albeit on defense when Terry Brown recovered a Steelers’ fumble in the endzone. They missed the extra point and set the Super Bowl record for fewest total yards of offense with 119.

9: Bills’ Super Bowl record for turnovers
The Dallas Cowboys crushed the Bills 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII. This lop-sided affair was headlined by a Super Bowl-record nine turnovers lost by Buffalo. Strangely enough, Dallas also claims the No. 2-most forced turnovers with eight against Denver in the Super Bowl XII win and seven forced against Baltimore in the Super Bowl V loss. How did they lose to the Colts after forcing seven turnovers? Speaking of...

34-3: Record of team with fewer turnovers than the opponent
Turnovers are simply the name of the game and there is no more telling stat than this one. In the Super Bowl, the team with fewer turnovers is 34-3 all-time. The formula is fairly straight forward: Protect the football and become a champion. 

11: Player to have won the MVP and the Super Bowl in the same year
Bart Starr (1966), Earl Morrall (1968), Terry Bradshaw (1978), Mark Moseley (1982), Lawrence Taylor (1986), Joe Montana (1989), Emmitt Smith (1993), Steve Young (1994), Brett Favre (1996), Terrell Davis (1998) and Kurt Warner (1999) are the 11 double-dippers.

22-24: Coin toss winners record in the Super Bowl
The winner of the opening coin toss has gone on to win 22 Super Bowls while the loser has won the game more frequently. However, the last decade has indicated that teams should be rooting against the coin toss. The winner of the last nine coin tosses has gone on to win the Super Bowl just three times. Strangely, only three times has a team deferred to the second half and all three have taken place in the last four seasons. The 2010 Packers are the only team to ever defer on the coin toss and then win the Super Bowl.

1: People to win the Super Bowl as a head coach and player
Tom Flores won two Super Bowls as the head coach of the Raiders and was technically on the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs roster. However, he did not see any time on the field in Kansas City's win Minnesota in Super Bowl IV. Mike Ditka, a Hall of Fame tight end for the Bears, Eagles and Cowboys, caught two passes for two passes for 28 yards and touchdown in Super Bowl VI. He then led the Bears to the championship in 1985 to become the only Super Bowl-winning coach to have won the big game as a player as well.

0: Super Bowls without at least one field goal attempt
Four times has a Super Bowl featured one combined field goal attempt, but never has a Super Bowl lacked for at least one field goal try. Super Bowl VII, XXIV, XXXIX and XLII each featured one field goal effort.

Check out Athlon Sports' special Super Bowl section for more coverage on the Ravens vs. 49ers and the history of the big game.

Teaser:
<p> The most important, interesting, intriguing and amazing Super Bowl Stats.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/recruiting-ranking-secs-best-football-rosters
Body:

Preseason prognosticators like Athlon Sports — the most accurate college football preview magazine on newsstands — use many things to attempt to predict what the coming football season will look like. Returning starters, scheduling, historic trends, coaching, pending off-the-field issues and, of course, recruiting rankings all help Athlon editors predict the future of college football.

Recruiting rankings have their detractors. Yes, evaluating 16- and 17-year-old kids is an inexact science. No, star rankings aren’t the only thing that matters. Yes, leadership (e.g., Nick Saban) is more important than national recruiting rankings (See Auburn).

But using national team recruiting rankings to attempt to pinpoint how “talented” any given roster is can be an interesting and illuminating practice.

For the sake of this discussion, the 2013 conference alignment was used to calculate, rank and organize teams and leagues. Rivals.com national team rankings over a five-year span (2008-12) were used for the sake of consistency. And the 72 “BCS” conference teams as well as Notre Dame, Boise State and BYU were used to form the 75-team ranking.

Therefore, in the SEC rankings below, fans will find where Texas A&M and Missouri have been ranked in the team rankings.

So what do the team recruiting rankings teach us about the SEC:

He who has the best players, wins the game
In the Big 12, Kansas State overachieves while Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech do the same in the ACC. But in the SEC, the champions have the best players. Alabama tops the recruiting rankings (1.8) and has the most SEC wins (35-5). Florida is No. 2 in SEC recruiting (6.2) and is No. 2 in wins (29-11). LSU is third on the recruiting trail (8.6) and third in the SEC in wins (28-12). Finally, Georgia is fourth in recruiting rankings (9.0) and fourth in wins (27-13). In the nation’s toughest league, it couldn’t be clearer that he who has the best players wins the most games.

What happened to Auburn and Tennessee?
Since the 2008 football season, the Tigers and Vols have had a combined seven different coaches. They are two of the SEC’s biggest underachievers and one of the obvious reasons has been coaching, because both programs recruit at an elite level. Auburn has the 10th best roster in the nation just behind Ohio State and Oklahoma and just ahead of Michigan and Notre Dame. Tennessee is 14th nationally, just ahead of Oregon and Clemson and just behind Miami since 2008. Needless to say, the coaching has been the issue. Auburn is just 17-23 in league play over that span — including an 8-0 national championship season — and the Vols are even worse at 12-28. Fans have been moaning that both programs haven’t been recruiting at a level required to win in the SEC (especially in Knoxville). The facts indicate this couldn’t be further from the truth. Top 20 classes, most of which were ranked in the top half of the SEC, were not the problem, the coaching was. According to the rankings, both rosters roster are more talented than South Carolina, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Missouri.

Rich Get Richer-er
The SEC is the best conference. There is no arguing that. Commitment from boosters, fans and administrations is a big reason why. But having the best players helps, too. Of the best 25 rosters in the nation over the last five seasons, nine of them hail from the SEC. And that doesn’t include consistent bowl teams like Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi State. Ole Miss, which has won four SEC games in the last three years, is ranked 23rd among power conference teams in terms of recruiting. This makes it all the more difficult for the lower-tier programs to develop into contenders.

Bobby Petrino is THAT good
From 2009 to 2011, Arkansas was 29-10 overall and 15-9 in the SEC under Bobby Petrino. His recruiting classes in Fayetteville ranked no higher than seventh (2009) in the SEC recruiting rankings and cracked the top 20 nationally just once. Otherwise, Arkansas finished ninth or tenth in the SEC rankings every cycle. It proves that not only can a team win big in the SEC (10-11 wins) with a recruiting class ranked outside of the top 20 but that Petrino (aka, elite leadership) was the great equalizer. As soon as he stepped away, the 10th-best roster in the league played like it, finishing 4-8 after back-to-back 10-win seasons. Beware Sun Belt, beware.

Dan Mullen is Petrino-lite
Mississippi State ranks 12th in the SEC and last in the West in terms of talent over the last five years. Yet, the Mullen-led Bulldogs have won 24 games in the last three seasons including three bowl appearances. Hail State has also had nine players selected in the last three NFL Drafts including a first-rounder in each of the last two seasons. Breaking through against LSU or Alabama (and now Texas A&M) is a tall order, but for a team ranked last in the SEC West in terms of talent to win eight games per season is incredibly impressive.

James Franklin isn’t done yet
Vanderbilt has the “worst” roster in the SEC according to the rankings as it has had one class inside of the top 60 over the last five seasons (29th in 2012). Yet, somehow Franklin and his band of merry men got the Commodores to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history. His 2013 class could be the best in the history of the program, so the sky is the limit for this coaching staff once it gets its hands on elite prospects.

Missouri is in for a tough time
The Tigers were 19-14 in Big 12 play over the four years prior to joining the SEC. That is slightly better than average in a league that is perceived to be vastly inferior. Gary Pinkel might be the Tigers' best coach ever, but his current roster ranks 11th in the SEC and it showed with a 2-6 debut performance. This coaching staff will have to consistently overachieve on the field if it expects to compete, because it doesn’t appear Mizzou will be able to attract equivalent talent — despite the once-in-a-while prospects along the lines of a Blaine Gabbert, Sheldon Richardson or Dorial Green-Beckham.

Sleeping giant awakes
Unlike Mizzou, the Texas A&M Aggies are built for long-term, big-time success in the SEC. They have a better natural recruiting base, a richer tradition of winning and dramatically better fan support. This team has recruited at an SEC level (19th nationally over the last five years) and appears to be poised to continue to blossom into a recruiting powerhouse in the Lone Star State. Of course, it takes the right coach leading the way, and in Kevin Sumlin, Aggieland feels like they have found their guy. Winning double-digit games and a Heisman Trophy right out of the gate doesn't hurt either.

What makes Hugh Freeze any different?
Ole Miss has recruited at a surprisingly high level for a team that has been the laughing stock of the league. The Rebels' average class ranked 24.8 nationally, including three straight top 20 classes from 2009-11. Yet, the Rebs went 31-32 overall and just 13-27 in the league over that span. New coach Freeze got fans excited in Oxford with the most surprising 7-6 season in recent SEC memory. And his 2013 signing class is pushing for top 10 status. The pressure will be on the new staff to prove 2012 was no fluke and that they will have a different fate than Ed Orgeron or Houston Nutt — two guys who recruited extremely well but didn’t win many games. 

More: Ranking the ACC's Best Rosters
More: Ranking the Big 12's Best Rosters

SEC's National Team Recruiting Rankings Breakdown:

Rank Team Avg Nat'l Rank "BCS" Rank 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Record (Conf.)
1. Alabama 1.8 1st 1st 1st 5th 1st 1st 61-8 (35-5)
2. Florida 6.2 4th 3rd 11th 2nd 12th 3rd 52-15 (29-11)
3. LSU 8.6 6th 11th 2nd 6th 6th 18th 51-15 (28-12)
4. Georgia 9.0 7th 7th 6th 15th 5th 12th 46-21 (27-13)
5. Auburn 12.0 10th 20th 19th 4th 7th 10th 38-26 (17-23)
6. Tennessee 16.8 14th 35th 10th 9th 13th 17th 28-34 (12-28)
7. South Carolina 19.0 18th 22nd 12th 24th 18th 19th 45-21 (24-16)
8. Texas A&M 19.4 19th 16th 22nd 17th 27th 15th 37-27 (21-20)
9. Ole Miss 24.8 23rd 29th 18th 18th 19th 40th 31-32 (13-27)
10. Arkansas 31.8 27th 36th 16th 49th 24th 34th 38-25 (19-21)
11. Missouri 33.0 31st 25th 40th 21st 48th 31st 41-23 (21-20)
12. Mississippi St 36.2 34th 44th 25th 38th 44th 30th 31-28 (15-25)
13. Kentucky 54.2 56th 57th 41st 50th 61st 62nd 27-36 (9-31)
14. Vanderbilt 64.2 63rd 90th 71st 61st 70th 29th 26-37 (12-28)

Teaser:
<p> Recruiting: Ranking the SEC's Best Football Rosters</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 09:05
Path: /college-football/recruiting-ranking-big-12s-best-football-rosters
Body:

Preseason prognosticators like Athlon Sports — the most accurate college football preview magazine on newsstands — use many things to attempt to predict what the coming football season will look like. Returning starters, scheduling, historic trends, coaching, pending off-the-field issues and, of course, recruiting rankings all help Athlon editors predict the future of college football.

Recruiting rankings have their detractors. Yes, evaluating 16- and 17-year-old kids is an inexact science. No, star rankings aren’t the only thing that matters. Yes, leadership (e.g., Nick Saban) is more important than national recruiting rankings (See Auburn).

But using national team recruiting rankings to attempt to pinpoint how “talented” any given roster is an interesting and illuminating practice.

For the sake of this discussion, the 2013 conference alignment was used to calculate, rank and organize teams and leagues. Rivals.com national team rankings over a five-year span (2008-12) were used for the sake of consistency. And the 72 “BCS” conference teams as well as Notre Dame, Boise State and BYU were used to form the 75-team ranking.

Therefore, in the Big 12 rankings below fans will find where TCU and West Virginia have been ranked in the team rankings while Nebraska, Texas A&M and Missouri are not included.

So what do the team recruiting rankings teach us about the Big 12:

Mack Brown is doing something wrong
There are two rosters in the nation that are better than Mack Brown’s according to the team composite recruiting rankings. Alabama and USC are the only two teams to have recruited better than Texas since 2008. Yet, the Longhorns are 26-16 in the last five years in Big 12 play, and what’s worse, are just 11-15 in the last three years (Texas went 15-1 in 2008-09). Yes, he took Texas to two BCS title games in a four-year span, but after multiple changes on his staff, Brown’s teams have massively underachieved for three straight seasons. Once again, Brown will enter this season with new coaches on his sideline, and once again, the pressure will be on his team to achieve. Especially, considering what Art Briles, Bill Snyder and Mike Gundy have done with much lesser talent.

Bill Snyder is the greatest coach on the planet
Of the 75 teams ranked in this study, the Wildcats claim the 60th best roster in the nation. Iowa State is the only team with a “worse” roster in the Big 12. Kansas State ranks well behind a number of struggling programs like Maryland (33rd) and Colorado (49th) nationally and is looking up at in-state rival Kansas (44th) in terms of overall talent. Yet, the Jayhawks have won just two of their last 32 Big 12 games while Snyder’s squad is 22-12 over that span. The ageless wonder hasn’t had a losing season in his second stint in Manhattan and is proving in remarkable — and championship — fashion why his name is atop the stadium in the Little Apple. No coach has done more with less nationally than Bill Snyder.

Oklahoma State better keep Mike Gundy happy
After Gundy flirted with the SEC this offseason, the powers that be in Stillwater locked him up for the long term. And rightly so. His team is 49-16 overall and 30-12 in the Big 12 over the last five years and Gundy has done it without one Top 25 recruiting class. His best class was 26th in 2008 and the Cowboys sit at an average national ranking of 30.6 over the last five years. Yet, he continues to produce huge numbers — Okie State had three 1,000-yard passers in 2012 — and win games. Only the Sooners (32-10) and Bob Stoops have a better Big 12 record over the last five years than Oklahoma State. There is no reason for Gundy to leave his alma mater, so imagine what he could do if he has enough time to build his brand to a point where he is landing top 10 classes?

This isn’t the Mountain West… or Big East
West Virginia was 20-8 and never lost more than two games in conference play the four years prior to joining the Big 12. TCU was 30-1 in the Mountain West over that same span. But in year one of Big 12 play, these two combined for 10 league losses in 2012 and will be facing the Big 12 big boys from now on. There is good news, however, as Gary Patterson appears to be growing the Horned Frogs’ brand on the recruiting trail, going from 96th to 26th in the recruiting rankings from 2008 to 2011. West Virginia is currently ranked fifth in the Big 12 in terms of talent, meaning, they were recruiting at a comparable level to most of the Big 12 prior to entering the league. Good things will come, but clearly an adjustment period is to be expected.

Underachieve doesn’t even begin to describe Kansas
Want some perspective on how poorly Kansas has played the last five seasons? The Jayhawks rank ahead of Wisconsin, Louisville, Boise State, Oregon State, Georgia Tech, TCU and, most importantly, Kansas State in terms of talent. But they have won a total of six league games — four of which came in 2008 — over the last five years. The Jayhawks are 2-32 in their last four Big 12 seasons and have out-recruited the likes of Baylor, TCU and Kansas State. These rankings don’t even include landing two of the best QB prospects in the nation the last few seasons in transfers Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps. Where is Mark Mangino’s tough love now?

More: Ranking the ACC's Best Rosters
More: Ranking the SEC's Best Rosters 

Big 12's National Team Recruiting Rankings Breakdown:

  Team Avg Nat'l Rank "BCS" Rank 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Record (Conf.)
1. Texas 5.4 3rd 14th 5th 3rd 3rd 2nd 47-19 (26-16)
2. Oklahoma 10.2 9th 6th 13th 7th 14th 11th 52-15 (32-10)
3. Oklahoma St 30.6 26th 26th 36th 31st 28th 32nd 49-16 (30-12)
4. Texas Tech 33.0 29th 45th 33rd 41st 20th 26th 41-23 (21-21)
5. West Virginia 38.2 36th 42nd 27th 27th 47th 48th 44-21 (24-13)
6. Kansas 46.8 44th 40th 31st 55th 34th 74th 19-42 (6-36)
7. Baylor 47.2 46th 51st 55th 39th 46th 45th 33-30 (17-25)
8. TCU 50.2 51st 96th 46th 46th 26th 37th 54-11 (34-6)
9. Kansas St 61.6 60th 27th 92nd 63rd 68th 58th 39-24 (24-18)
10. Iowa St 66.6 65th 62nd 73rd 60th 51st 87th 26-37 (12-30)

Teaser:
<p> Recruiting: Ranking the Big 12's Best Football Rosters</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /nfl/nfls-all-time-super-bowl-team
Body:

In selecting an all-time Super Bowl team, it is important to establish clear criteria. While there is nothing more subjective than all-time teams, the criteria certainly includes individual performance, but performance that leads to team success carries more weight. Multiple game appearances help, so longevity counts too.

All-time Super Bowl Team:

Joe Montana, QB, San Francisco
This is one of a couple of positions where there is no argument. With four Super Bowl wins, Montana has a career passer rating of 127.8, the best ever. Joe Cool tossed 11 touchdown passes to six different receivers with no interceptions. During his Super Bowl career, he threw 28 passes on third down, completing 19 of them for 14 first downs and one touchdown. There has been no one better in the big game.

Notables: John Elway, Denver; Tom Brady, New England; Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh; Kurt Warner, St. Louis and Arizona

Franco Harris, RB, Pittsburgh
There is no shortage of candidates at running back. Harris rushed for 354 yards in Pittsburgh’s four Super wins in the 1970s and had another 114 yards receiving. In the four games, Harris had 18 touches on third down resulting in 10 first downs and three touchdowns. And Harris is the only runner with more than 100 carries in history.

Roger Craig, RB, San Francisco
In three Super Bowls for San Francisco, all wins, Craig amassed 413 yards from scrimmage with four touchdowns, including 101 yards receiving in Super Bowl XXIII.

Notables: Larry Csonka, Miami; Emmitt Smith, Dallas; Terrell Davis, Denver; John Riggins, Washington; Marcus Allen, LA Raiders

Jerry Rice, WR, San Francisco 
Rice is another no-brainer. Let’s see: most Super Bowl receptions in a career (33), most yards receiving in a career (589) and game (215), most yards from scrimmage in a career (604), the only player to score three TDs in a game twice. Oh, and he earned an MVP. And 77 of his receiving yards and a touchdown came at age 40 for Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Lynn Swann, WR, Pittsburgh
Fans who saw him in the Super Bowl probably remember flying, acrobatic catches. But Swann meant more to the Steelers than just a couple of circus catches. He is second all-time with 364 receiving yards, all coming in three Super Bowls. In his first Super Bowl appearance with the Steelers, Swann was limited to punt return duty.

Notables: Deion Branch, New England; John Stallworth, Pittsburgh; Andre Reed, Buffalo; Isaac Bruce, St. Louis; Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona

Jay Novacek, TE, Dallas
One of quarterback Troy Aikman’s favorite clutch targets, Novacek scored the first Dallas touchdown in Super Bowls XXVII and XXX. In three wins he totaled 148 yards and two scores on 17 catches.

Notables: Shannon Sharpe, Denver and Baltimore; Marv Fleming, Green Bay and Miami

Jon Kolb, LT, Pittsburgh
The only constant along the Pittsburgh offensive line during their run of four Super Bowls in the 1970s, Kolb led the way for Franco Harris’ running and protected Terry Bradshaw in the passing game.

Notables: Mark Tuinei, Dallas; Matt Light, New England

Nate Newton, LG, Dallas
Emmitt Smith became the all-time leading NFL rusher thanks in large — and we do mean large — part to Newton. In Newton’s three Super Bowls, the Cowboys scored 52, 30 and 27 points.

Notable: Bob Kuechenberg, Miami; Russ Grimm, Washington

Jim Langer, C, Miami
Langer anchored the line during Miami’s back-to-back titles in the 1970s. In Super Bowl VIII, Miami rushed 53 times for 196 yards, most of it straight up the middle with bruiser Larry Csonka.

Notables: Ray Mansfield, Pittsburgh; Mike Webster, Pittsburgh

Joe Andruzzi, RG, New England
In three New England wins, the Patriots rushed for 372 yards, and Andruzzi helped protect MVP Tom Brady allowing him to stay comfortable in the pocket.

Notables: Jerry Kramer, Green Bay; Gerry Mullins, Pittsburgh; Larry Little, Miami

Erik Williams, RT, Dallas
The heart and soul of the Cowboys’ offensive machine was the offensive line. Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin were the beneficiaries.

Notables: Forrest Gregg, Green Bay; Norm Evans, Miami

Charles Haley, DE,  Dallas/San Francisco
Haley was more of an outside linebacker in the 3-4 with San Francisco. He is the only player to win five Super Bowls.

L.C. Greenwood, DE, Pittsburgh
An integral part of the Steel Curtain, Greenwood made gold shoes famous, and made life miserable for quarterbacks Roger Staubach, Fran Tarkenton and Vince Ferragamo.

Notables: Richard Seymour, New England; Reggie White, Green Bay; Dwight White, Pittsburgh, Willie Davis, Green Bay

Joe Greene, DT, Pittsburgh
As the heart of the front of the Steel Curtain, Greene intimidated quarterbacks, running backs and offensive linemen. In four Super wins, opponents averaged less than 100 yards rushing against Pittsburgh.

Russell Maryland, DT, Dallas
The offense received much of the credit, but Dallas recorded eight interceptions and held teams to less than four yards a carry in their three Super Bowl wins in the 1990s. Maryland was a load up front in all three games.

Notables: Jethro Pugh, Dallas; Manny Fernandez, Miami, Alan Page, Minnesota

Jack Lambert, MLB, Pittsburgh
Lambert was in the middle of all things defensively for the Steelers. Pittsburgh would not have been 4-0 without him.

Notables: Ray Nitschke, Green Bay; Nick Buoniconti, Miami

Jack Ham, OLB, Pittsburgh
Equally adept at covering the pass as playing the run, Ham excelled as Lambert’s wing man.

Keena Turner, OLB, San Francisco
Turner joins the Steelers’ pair as the only linebacker to claim a 4-0 record. In those four games teams rushed for less than 67 yards a game against the Niners. That made life easier for Joe Montana and company.

Notables: Tedy Bruschi, New England; Mike Vrabel, New England; Rod Martin, Oakland; James Harrison, Pittsburgh

Herb Adderley, CB, Green Bay/Dallas
Adderley was a member of Green Bay’s first two title teams, returning an interception 60 yards for a score in Super Bowl II. He played in two more for Dallas, winning one and losing one.

Mel Blount, CB, Pittsburgh
Blount played for four winners, and contributed with interceptions in both IX and XIII.

Notables: Ty Law, New England; Larry Brown, Dallas; Deion Sanders, San Francisco/Dallas; Tracy Porter, New Orleans

Jake Scott, SS, Miami
Scott intercepted Billy Kilmer twice in the Miami’s hard-fought 14-7 win in Super Bowl VII, earning MVP honors.

Notables: Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh; Charlie Waters, Dallas; Willie Wood, Green Bay; Mike Wagner, Pittsburgh

Ronnie Lott, FS, San Francisco
Instrumental in the Niners’ four Super Bowl wins, Lott played corner in the first two wins before moving to safety. None of his nine postseason interceptions came in the Super Bowl, probably because quarterbacks avoided him.

Notables: Cliff Harris, Dallas; Dick Anderson, Miami

Desmond Howard, KR/PR, Green Bay
Earned MVP honors in Super Bowl XXXI with a kick return for a touchdown, but also had two punt returns of more than 30 yards.

Devin Hester, KR/PR, Chicago
His 92-yard kick return set the tone for the Bears, but the offense couldn’t deliver a win.

Adam Vinatieri, K, New England/Indianapolis
Never has there been a more clutch kicker in the Super Bowl.

Larry Seiple, P, Miami
Always a threat to take off and run (also played some tight end), Seiple kept the Redskins and Vikings bottled up in VII and VIII.

Chuck Noll, Head Coach, Pittsburgh
An easy choice, Noll is the only coach to win four. He won with defense, running and passing. His Pittsburgh teams were complete and dominant.

Notables: Vince Lombardi, Green Bay; Bill Belichick, New England; Bill Walsh, San Francisco, Tom Coughlin, NY Giants; Jimmy Johnson, Dallas

Teaser:
<p> Athlon picks the best that have ever stepped foot on the big stage.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/11-biggest-five-star-busts-last-five-years
Body:

The top 10 players in the 2008 Athlon Consensus 100 included Julio Jones (No. 2), Da’Quan Bowers (No. 4), A.J. Green (No. 6), Arthur Brown (No. 7), Patrick Peterson (No. 9) and Terrelle Pryor (No. 1). Others like Matt Kalil, Tyron Smith, EJ Manuel, Michael Floyd, Kyle Rudolph and Michael Brewster were also “five-star” talents.

“Five-Star” is defined many different ways. Scout.com use to automatically give the top 50 players in every class a fifth star until it changed that approach this cycle (there are 42 for the 2013 class). Rivals and 247 Sports give roughly 30 per year — give or take a few each year based on merit. For example, Rivals’ 2013 class includes 33 five-stars, the 2012 class had 32 and the 2011 class had just 26. ESPN has recently added stars to its ranking process and is far more prudent with its five-star rankings. The 2012 and 2013 classes feature just 11 five-stars each.

That doesn't mean, however, that these five-star prospects are guaranteed success on the college level. Players transfer, are kicked out of school, can't stay eligible or simply aren't as good as anticipated. A big-time recruit can earn the "bust" label for a number of reasons. For the sake of this discussion, Athlon Sports considers the Top 30 players in the AC100 as five-star talents and only players in the last five classes (2008-12) are considered.

So who are the biggest five-star busts of the last five years?

1. Dayne Crist, QB, Notre Dame (2008)
Canoga Park (Calif.) Notre Dame
AC100 No. 20, No. 2 QB

Injuries certainly played a large role in Crist being labeled a bust, but he has had his chances and failed to even come close to his lofty recruiting status. He played in 13 games for Notre Dame in three years (2,163 yards, 16 TD, 8 INT) before transferring to Kansas to reunite with Charlie Weis. At KU, he had yet another shot at being the star, but managed to throw just four touchdowns and nine interceptions this fall (1,313 yards). He trailed only Terrelle Pryor in the '08 quarterback rankings.

2. Bryce Brown, RB, Tennessee (2009)
Wichita (Kan.) East
AC100 No. 4, No. 1 RB

The recruiting process for the top running back of the 2009 class was a circus. He eventually signed with the Vols nearly two months following National Signing Day. He showed ability, rushing for 460 yards and three scores as a freshman. But in the offseason, he left Knoxville to return home to play at Kansas State. He played two games for the Wildcats, rushing for a total of 16 yards on three carries. Regardless of what Brown does in the NFL, his college career must be considered a bust for not one but two college programs.

3. Jermie Calhoun, RB, Oklahoma (2008)
Van (Texas) High
AC100 No. 10, No. 2 RB

The Van High School running back was the highest rated running back recruit to sign with Oklahoma since Adrian Peterson. He never lived up to his lofty top ten status. He played 16 career games, rushing for 242 yards and one career touchdown. He injured his knee and missed all of 2011 before transferring to Angelo State in December 2011.

4. Blake Ayles, TE, USC (2008)
Orange (Calif.) Lutheran
AC100 No. 15, No. 1 TE

Ayles played for two seasons at USC, catching just 14 passes for 182 yards and one touchdown. He then transferred to Miami and was set to contribute in 2011 before a preseason concussion ended his college career. He never played another down and went undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft. It was an unfortunate end for what appeared to be a very promising career for what was considered the best player at his position in the nation.

5. Dorian Bell, LB, Ohio State (2008)
Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway
AC100 No. 11, No. 2 LB

A freakish athlete, Bell could never get his head screwed on straight off the field. Behavior and focus were concerns long before he signed with Ohio State and they continued after he showed up in Columbus. After redshirting in 2009 and playing on special teams in 2010, he was suspended for the 2011 season as one of the 12 involved in Tatoo-Gate. He transferred to Duquesne as a result. He has posted 129 tackles in 15 games for the Dukes.

6. Tyler Love, OL, Alabama (2008)
Mountain Brook (Ala.) High
AC100 No. 23, No. 3 OL

Nick Saban has rarely missed on five-star talent but Love will end his Tide career as an afterthought on some of the most talented teams in program history. He played a total of 12 games in his four-year career (one in 2011 and six in 2009) and will earn two national championship rings. He decided to step away from football after the 2011 season with one year of eligibility remaining.

7. Russell Shepard, WR, LSU (2009)
Houston (Texas) Cypress Ridge
AC100 No. 2, No. 2 QB

Shepard did play 48 games in his LSU career and he did technically play in a national championship game (1 solo tackle). But he finished his career without making any major impact at any one position despite being ranked behind only Matt Barkley in the '09 AC100. He posted 570 yards receiving and rushed for 716 yards over the course of his career, but he never threw a pass at QB and never became a focal point of the offense. His career high in offensive touches for a single-season was 65 in 2010. To be ranked the No. 2 player in the nation, Shepard must be considered a bust.

8. B.J. Scott, ATH, Alabama (2008)
Prichard (Ala.) Vigor
AC100 No. 22, No. 2 ATH

Scott projected as an “athlete” because he had potential at both defensive back and wide receiver. It turns out that he wasn’t good enough at either. He saw time as a freshman at wide receiver catching two passes before redshirting in 2009. He then played six games as a sophomore at defensive back making six total tackles. He transferred to South Alabama and eventually landed back in FBS football when USA joined the Sun Belt in 2012. He had 84 tackles in 2012.

9. Randall Carroll, WR, UCLA (2009)
Inglewood (Calif.) Cathedral
AC100 No. 29, No. 4 WR

The speed demon had loads of ability but couldn’t ever get his game together. He played 34 games in three years before being dismissed from the team in January 2012. Carroll was involved in Twitter wars with his coaching staff, a bench-clearing brawl with Arizona and academic ineptitude during his time in Westwood. You have to produce more than 21 catches, 297 yards and two touchdowns for a program to put up with that much poor behavior.

10. Chris Martin, DL, Cal (2010)
Aurora (Colo.) Grandview
AC100 No. 19, No. 4 DE

After playing high school football for more than one program, Martin is set to play for his fourth college in 2013. He committed to Notre Dame, signed with Cal, transferred to Florida before playing a down and ultimately left Gainesville for City College of San Francisco. He then signed with Kansas in December and it turns out he actually will play for Charlie Weis — but at Kansas instead of Notre Dame. Martin could still alter his legacy, but great players don’t normally play for four different teams in four years.

Others receiving votes:

There are plenty of other names who could eventually land on the above list as well. It is simply too early to evaluate all of the 2010, '11 and '12 classes. Kyle Prater and Darius White, for example, were complete busts for USC and Texas respectively but both have second chances coming in 2013 for Northwestern and Missouri. The same could be said for Jeff Luc at Florida State, Arthur Lynch at Notre Dame or Lache Seastrunk at Oregon. The stud athletes are certainly considered busts by the fans in Tallahassee, South Bend and Eugene no matter what they do at Cincinnati, Florida or Baylor.

 

Darius Winston, DB, Arkansas (2009)
West Helena (Ark.) Central
AC100 No. 22, No. 2 CB

Winston wasn’t kicked out of school and didn’t transfer, but he also did very little of consequence while in Fayetteville. He played in 37 games and made a total of 52 tackles in four years. He had one career interception and set a career high with 23 tackles in 2010. For a school like the Hogs who don't land five-star talent very often, it hurts that much more to "miss" on a five-star.

Darrell Scott, RB, Colorado (2008)
AC100 No. 3, No. 1 RB

Garrett Gilbert, QB, Texas (2008)
AC100 No. 9, No. 3 QB

T.J. Bryant, CB, USC (2008)
AC100 No. 28, No. 2 DB

Patrick Hall, ATH, USC (2009)
AC100 No. 30, No. 1 ATH

Kyle Prater, WR, USC (2010)
AC100 No. 6, No. 2 WR

Darius White, WR, Texas (2010)
AC100 No. 12, No. 3 WR

Malcolm Jones, RB, UCLA (2010)
AC100 No. 29, No. 6 RB

Isaiah Crowell, RB, Georgia (2011)
AC100 No. 9, No. 2 RB

Teaser:
<p> 10 Biggest Five-Star Busts of the Last Five Years</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 06:10

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