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Here is a complete list and ranking of SEC early football enrollees for the Class of 2013:
1. Georgia Bulldogs (13):
Few teams have ever brought in a bigger early enrollee class than this year's Georgia Bulldogs. Three or four potential defensive backs get to campus just as Shawn Williams, Sanders Cummings and Baccari Rambo depart for the NFL. A pair of star linebackers in Reggie Carter and Ryne Rankin show up just as Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree also leave for the pros. A pair of defensive tackles signed early as well. With upwards of nine or 10 starters departing from this defense, it was huge for Mark Richt to get so many fresh faces on campus a semester early. Top it off with the quarterback of the future, Brice Ramsey, getting an extra spring under his belt before Aaron Murray enters his final season, and the Bulldogs inked one of the best early enrollee classes in history.
|Johnathan Atkins||DT||Chatham, VA||6-4||310||--||4-star Prep School|
|Aulden Bynum||OL||Valdosta, GA||6-5||260||--||3-star|
|Josh Cardiello||OL||Buford, GA||6-3||280||--||3-star|
|Reggie Carter||LB||Snellville, GA||6-1||225||--||4-star|
|J.J. Green||ATH||Kingsland, GA||5-9||190||--||3-star|
|Tray Matthews||DB||Newnan, GA||6-0||195||No. 82|
|Quincy Mauger||DB||Marietta, GA||6-0||200||--||3-star|
|Chris Mayes||DT||Perkinston, MS||6-4||315||--||JUCO|
|Brice Ramsey||QB||Kingsland, GA||6-3||205||No. 86|
|Ryne Rankin||LB||Orlando, FL||6-1||230||--||3-star|
|Jonathon Rumph||WR||Goodman, MS||6-4||215||--||4-star JUCO|
|Tramel Terry||ATH||Goose Creek, SC||6-0||190||No. 117|
|Reggie Wilkerson||DB||Ocala, FL||5-11||165||--||4-star|
2. Alabama Crimson Tide (9):
The No. 1 running back in the nation, Derrick Henry, and the No. 1 tight end in the nation, O.J. Howard, were on campus a few weeks ago to watch the Crimson Tide's domination of Notre Dame in the BCS title game. Both could contribute right away and fans should be excited about such elite talents getting a head start on the rest of the 2013 class. The replacement for star quarterback A.J. McCarron joined them as well — in one form or another. Nick Saban signed two quarterbacks in the 2013 class and both — as well as a third walk-on — have a chance to step into the limelight once McCarron finishes his eligibility next season. Cooper Bateman is the highest rated as an AC100 player while Parker McLeod and walk-on Luke Del Rio are willing to battle to prove himself. It cannot be overstated how important it could be for Saban to have two quality QB options already in the fold. Toss in a pair of OL — to help replace three stud starters along the line — a four-star wide receiver and talented defensive back and the Tide has a big chunk of its No. 1-rated class already on campus.
|Cooper Bateman||QB||Murray, UT||6-3||205||No. 76|
|Leon Brown||OL||Riverdale, MD||6-6||310||--||3-star|
|Luke Del Rio||QB||Highland Ranch, CO||6-2||200||--||Walk-on|
|Raheem Falkins||WR||New Orleans, LA||6-4||195||--||4-star|
|Derrick Henry||RB||Yulee, FL||6-3||240||No. 12|
|Brandon Hill||OL||Chatham, VA||6-6||340||--||Prep School|
|O.J. Howard||TE||Prattville, AL||6-5||225||No. 19|
|Parker McLeod||QB||Marietta, GA||6-3||190||--||3-star|
|Jai Miller||DB||Valley Grande, AL||6-3||210||--||Walk-on|
3. Florida Gators (8):
Few teams in the nation will have as much freshman talent on the field this spring as the Gators. Four Athlon Consensus 100 prospects, including the No. 3 running back in the nation, and five total national recruits will be ready to compete in spring practice for Will Muschamp. Getting three elite linebackers on campus early could be huge for Florida, as Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic have moved on to the NFL. And these aren't "average" linebackers either, as Alex Anzalone (No. 5), Daniel McMillian (No. 6) and Matt Rolin (No. 19) are all among the top 20 LB prospects in the nation. With workhorse Mike Gillislee moving on as well, Kevlin Taylor will have a chance to build on his mythical prep resume early on in Gainesville.
|Alex Anzalone||LB||Wyomissing, PA||6-3||230||No. 54||Rivals 5-star|
|Trenton Brown||OL||Milledgeville, GA||6-7||350||--||JUCO|
|Darious Cummings||DT||Scoba, MS||6-3||300||--||JUCO|
|Joey Ivie||DE||Dade City, FL||6-3||270||--||4-star|
|Daniel McMillian||LB||Jacksonville, FL||6-2||220||No. 55||AC100|
|Demarcus Robinson||WR||Fr. Valley, GA||6-2||200||No. 81||AC100|
|Matt Rolin||LB||Ashburn, VA||6-3||210||No. 152||4-star|
|Kevlin Taylor||RB||Belle Glade, FL||5-10||215||No. 22||AC100|
4. LSU Tigers (6):
Les Miles has loads of important pieces to replace from his 2012 team as nearly a dozen juniors declared early for the NFL Draft. A trio of offensive junior college prospects will help provide immediate depth at wide receiver, tight end and along the offensive line. Star AC100 offensive lineman Ethan Pocic will also benefit greatly from an extra semester of practice. Nationally rated quarterback Anthony Jennings has a chance to start once Zach Mettenberger leaves campus and getting into the program early will prove to be invaluable for the young signal caller.
|John Diarse||WR||Monroe, LA||6-0||210||--||4-star|
|Fehoko Fanaika||OL||San Mateo, CA||6-6||340||--||JUCO|
|Anthony Jennings||QB||Marietta, GA||6-2||205||No. 231|
|Christian LaCouture||DE||Lincoln, NE||6-4||260||No. 206|
|Ethan Pocic||OL||Lemont, IL||6-6||285||No. 57|
|Logan Stokes||TE||Booneville, MS||6-4||240||--||JUCO|
5. Texas A&M Aggies (8):
Four of the Aggies' starting front seven on defense has moved on while a pair of talented defensive backs have departed as well. This is why Kevin Sumlin has enrolled three linebackers, a defensive end and a cornerback early in his 2013 class. Star wide receiver Ja'Quay Williams was an AC100 prospect a year ago and initially signed with Auburn. He ended up in prep school at Fork Union Military Academy and instead signed with Texas A&M. He will be a part of one of the best pass-catching classes in the nation. One that former Tennessee Vols tight end Cameron Clear will be a part of as well.
|Reggie Chevis||LB||Houston, TX||6-2||235||--||3-star|
|Cameron Clear||TE||Yuma, AZ||6-5||270||--||JUCO|
|Jordan Points||DL||Rockwall, TX||6-4||255||--||3-star|
|Tommy Sanders Jr||LB||El Dorado, KS||6-2||215||--||JUCO|
|Alex Sezer||CB||Orange, TX||5-10||170||--||2-star|
|Jeremiah Stuckey||OL||San Francisco, CA||6-5||280||--||JUCO|
|Brett Wade||LB||Kennedale, TX||6-2||220||--||3-star|
|Ja'Quay Williams||WR||Fork Union, VA||6-3||195||--||4-star Prep School|
6. Tennessee Volunteers (5):
The Vols have seen Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson and Da'Rick Rogers leave the program in one fashion or another over the last nine months. So bringing in four-star wide receiver Paul Harris as well as two other potential pass-catchers in athletes Lemond Johnson and Jalen Reeves-Maybin was huge for new head coach Butch Jones. Reeves-Maybin could also grow into the linebacker position and join fellow early enrollee Corey Vereen at the position. Any help on defense is welcome in Knoxville. Junior college defensive back Riyahd Jones could compete for playing time at a position of need right away.
|Paul Harris||WR||Accokeek, MD||6-4||195||--||4-star|
|Lemond Johnson||ATH||Cooper City, FL||6-1||190||--||3-star|
|Riyahd Jones||DB||Garden City, KS||6-0||185||--||JUCO|
|Jalen Reeves-Maybin||ATH||Clarksville, TN||6-1||200||--||4-star|
|Corey Vereen||LB||Winter Garden, FL||6-2||230||--||3-star|
7. Arkansas Razorbacks (5):
Bret Bielema will get some instant help at some positions of need with five junior college prospects. There are no elite stars in this group, but the back seven of the defense will get some interesting depth with two defensive backs and two linebackers. This should help ease the loss of Alonzo Highsmith, Ross Rasner and Terrell Williams off of the linebacking corps. And, yes, Weed, Calif. is a real place.
|Tiquention Coleman||DB||Milledgeville, GA||5-10||200||--||JUCO|
|John McClure||OL||El Dorado, KS||6-4||320||--||JUCO|
|Martrell Spaight||LB||Coffeyville, KS||6-1||220||--||JUCO|
|Myke Tavarres||LB||Weed, CA||6-2||220||--||JUCO|
|Carroll Washington||DB||Salinas, CA||6-0||180||--||JUCO|
8. Ole Miss Rebels (4):
Nothing could overshadow what Hugh Freeze did on the recruiting trail on National Signing Day, however, four talented names have already hit campus in Oxford. Mark Dodson is the star of the group as a nationally rated running back prospect in what is considered to be one of the deepest RB classes in recent history. Freeze also lured a pair of junior college prospects and tight end Christian Morgan into the fold early. The group that shows up in August will steal the headlines but look for some of these names to contribute the earliest.
|Mark Dodson Jr.||RB||Memphis, TN||5-10||195||No. 217|
|Lavon Hooks||DT||Booneville, MS||6-4||290||--||4-star JUCO|
|Quadarus Mireles||ATH||Raymond, MS||5-11||185||--||JUCO|
|Christian Morgan||TE||Plano, TX||6-4||255||--||3-star|
9. South Carolina Gamecocks (3):
This isn't a deep or nationally elite class for Steve Spurrier, but a trio of early enrollees will try to make an early impact in Columbia. The name to watch of the group is star quarterback recruit Connor Mitch. The 6-3, 210-pounder hails from North Carolina and could push for playing time as early as 2014.
|Ronnie Martin||CB||Milledgeville, GA||5-10||180||--||Prep School|
|Connor Mitch||QB||Raleigh, NC||6-3||210||--||4-star|
|D.J. Park||DT||Dillon, SC||6-5||330||--||4-star|
10. Auburn Tigers (3):
A pair of four-star junior college prospects and one three-star are joining the Auburn fold this spring. On a very young team with a large portion of the roster returning, one would normally think there aren't too many position battles up for grabs this semester. However, the Tigers were 3-9 and had major issues on both sides of the ball. Is Cameron Artis-Payne ready to carry the load? He rushed for 3,412 yards and 43 touchdowns in two seasons in JUCO ball out west and could push for early playing time.
|Cameron Artis-Payne||RB||Santa Maria, CA||5-11||210||--||4-star JUCO|
|Ben Bradley||DT||Hutchinson, KS||6-2||315||--||4-star JUCO|
|Devonte Danzey||OL||Hutchinson, KS||6-3||285||--||JUCO|
11. Vanderbilt Commodores (2):
The quarterback position is really the only position on the offense that is up in the air for the Dores heading into 2013. And while it is a longshot that Johnathon McCrary is the starter next fall, getting him into the fold was huge for James Franklin's team. He is one of the biggest quarterback recruits to sign with Vanderbilt in the history of the program. Sean Dowling is a three-star prospect who joins McCrary early in Nashville.
|Sean Dowling||OL||Fallbrook, CA||6-6||260||--||3-star|
|Johnathon McCrary||QB||Ellenwood, GA||6-3||190||--||4-star|
12. Missouri Tigers (2):
Neither of these recruits are elite, top flight prospects, but both play the most important position on the field. Hosick is a dual-threat prospect who brings the athleticism that Gary Pinkel normally demands of his signal callers. Printz is a pro-style passer who has a bigger, more traditional frame and will play in the pocket. James Franklin is returning for another year under center, but with his injury history, it's smart to get a couple of backups into practice early.
|Trent Hosick||QB||Kansas City, MO||6-1||220||--||3-star|
|Eddie Printz||QB||Marietta, GA||6-3||200||--||3-star|
13. Mississippi State Bulldogs (4):
The state of Mississippi is arguably the best junior college state in the nation and both Ole Miss and Mississippi State have milked these programs for talent for decades. Dan Mullen brings in three JUCOs in his early signing class and one prep schooler to help with losses in the starting lineup — especially in the defensive backfield.
|Jeremy Chappelle||WR||Tyler, TX||6-2||210||--||JUCO|
|Kivon Coman||DB||Chatham, VA||6-0||195||--||Prep School|
|Justin Cox||DB||Scooba, MS||6-3||190||--||JUCO|
|Artimas Samuel||TE||Chatham, VA||6-2||225||--||JUCO|
14. Kentucky Wildcats (3):
Mark Stoops did a great job injecting excitement into Wildcats recruiting in short order in Lexington. A potential future starter under center, Reese Phillips, is already on campus and working to get accustomed to the college game. A pair of junior college prospects will offer some immediate help in terms of depth at tight end and defensive end.
|Steven Borden||TE||Waxahachie, TX||6-3||250||--||JUCO|
|Reese Phillips||QB||Signal Mountain, TN||6-2||225||--||3-star|
|Za'Darius Smith||DE||Scooba, MS||6-4||250||--||4-star JUCO|
The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season will be revving up this month, so we decided to give you a look at the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule in 2013, along with the previous year's winners and our predictions for the 2013 race winners. As you know, nothing’s harder to handicap than a NASCAR race; especially 38 NASCAR races before the season even starts. But we're giving it a shot.
Is it time to start celebrating or time to start worrying?
Those are the questions fans of a handful of teams will start asking over the next month or so of the season. Are NCAA bids or conference contender status being locked up? Or for other teams, are the wheels to a satisfying season starting to fall off?
Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon had much to celebrate after he continued his good fortune against Syracuse, but he has plenty of reasons to avoid getting too comfortable. His team has won six of seven, the exception being a three-point loss to Louisville on the road. With three of the next four on the road, including Saturday at Cincinnati, he’ll have a good idea where his team stands in the next two weeks.
And only at Kansas would the second loss of the season -- in early February, no less -- be cause for concern. Kansas is still a title contender, but the loss to Oklahoma State caught everyone by surprise, including Bill Self. His team will have a warm-up game against TCU before facing Oklahoma on the road.
For this week, there’s no marquee game similar to last week’s Big Ten showdown between Indiana and Michigan, but this could shape up to be a critical week for conference races and the NCAA bubble watch.
All times Eastern.
FEB. 6 NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET UPDATE
MOST IMPORTANT GAME:
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN)
The Big East standings are a jumble with four teams with in a game of first-place Syracuse at 7-2. That doesn’t include Pittsburgh at 7-4 in the Big East. Both Pitt and Cincinnati are on hot streaks, yet their potential as top-flight Big East teams and top-five seeds in the NCAA Tournament remains in question. Both teams are perimeter-oriented, but Pitt's 7-foot freshman Steven Adams has come on of late with 8.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in the last four.
Related: Feb. 5 Power Rankings
ALL EYES ON: New Mexico
Air Force (Wednesday, 9 p.m., ROOT Sports)
at UNLV (Saturday, 9 p.m., NBC Sports Network)
The Lobos are looking more and more like the class of the Mountain West, but this will be a tough week. First, the Lobos catch Air Force, which has worked its way into the NCAA Tournament conversation with three top-100 wins in the last five games (Boise State, Wyoming, San Diego State). Later this week, a road trip to Vegas will be tough against a talented Rebels team. This is a big week for New Mexico, but the same could be said of UNLV: Should we start to worry about the Rebels if they struggle through another week?
UNDER PRESSURE: Kansas
at TCU (Wednesday, 9 p.m., ESPNU)
at Oklahoma (Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN)
Kansas remains in the Big 12 lead and in the running for a No. 1 seed, but the Jayhawks stumbled a bit last week. First, Kansas slipped past a bad West Virginia team by 5 and then lost to Oklahoma State at home to end a 33-game win streak in Lawrence. TCU (8-12) will be an easy trip, but Oklahoma will not. Kansas needs some answers, especially at point guard where Elijah Johnson has had trouble in recent games.
Related: Key stats from the weekend
North Carolina (Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN)
The Hurricanes have gone from a surprise team to a possible ACC contender to now threatening for a conference title and a top seed in the Tourney. The Hurricanes have nine wins against the top 50 in the RPI. Only Kansas has more with 10. A win over North Carolina at home wouldn't be a huge resume boost, not that the Hurricanes will let that dampen a chance to sweep the Tar Heels. A win over No. 32 North Carolina on the road is merely the fourth-best win of the year for Miami as far as the RPI is concerned.
at Oregon (Thursday, 10 p.m., ESPNU)
at Oregon State (Saturday, 9 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)
Colorado still has the RPI (25th) and strength of schedule (16th) to stay in the field, but it may be time to start worrying about the Buffaloes after a 58-55 loss to Utah (RPI No. 159) on Saturday. Colorado is 2-5 on the road heading into a pair of games against the Oregon schools -- Oregon, too, needs a win after being swept by Stanford and Cal last week. Colorado was 10-2 before the controversial finish to regulation against Arizona. The Buffaloes are 4-5 since.
Related: NCAA Tournament Report Card: Villanova
MID-MAJOR TO WATCH:
Belmont at Murray State (Thursday, 8 p.m., ESPNU)
Time to get familiar with Belmont as the NCAA Tournament draws closer. In their first season in the league, the Bruins are running all over the Ohio Valley Conference. Belmont is outscoring league opponents by 18.6 points per game heading into a road trip against last year’s conference champion. Bruins 6-foot-3 junior Ian Clark leads the nation in effective field goal percentage and is the only guard averaging better than 70 percent in that category. Against Murray, he’ll have to contend with Isaiah Canaan.
Baylor at Oklahoma State (Wednesday, 7 p.m., ESPN)
Baylor’s rough week (losses to Oklahoma and Iowa State) showed the hot start in Big 12 play may have been a mirage. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State looks a little more dangerous with guards Marcus Smart and Markel Brown leading a win at Phog Allen Fieldhouse.
Minnesota at Michigan State (Wednesday, 7 p.m., Big Ten Network)
Minnesota ended its four-game losing streak with home wins over Nebraska and Iowa. The Gophers will revisit opponents from their signature wins from earlier this season when the face the Spartans and Illinois this week.
NC State at Duke (Thursday, 9 p.m., ACC syndication)
Duke has figured out how to play without Ryan Kelly. The Blue Devils are shooting 54.8 percent from the field in the last three games since the lopsided loss to Miami. Now, a rematch with erratic NC State minus Lorenzo Brown.
Michigan at Wisconsin (Saturday, noon, ESPN)
A bizarre week for Wisconsin started with the Badgers not reaching the free throw line against Ohio State and then going 28 of 42 from the line against Illinois.
Ole Miss at Missouri (Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS)
Ole Miss’ time in the spotlight skidded to a halt with losses to Kentucky and Florida where Nerlens Noel, Kyle Wiltjer and Erik Murphy were the stars of the show and not Marshall Henderson. Missouri’s getting stronger with Laurence Bowers healthy, but a loss to LSU last week is embarrassing.
Iowa State at Kansas State (Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN2)
Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg has done it again in Ames, but can the Cyclones win on the road? The Cyclones lost their last two road games to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State and now face a tougher test in K-State.
Louisville at Notre Dame (Saturday, 9 p.m., ESPN)
The Cardinals are back to winning again after a three-game losing streak, but are they title contenders? Peyton Siva was 6 of 9 from the field with seven assists against Marquette. But he’s still struggling to get to the line, and he’s had more turnovers in a two-game span (10) than he’s had all year.
Indiana at Ohio State (Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS)
Ohio State is still having trouble getting production from someone other than Deshaun Thomas against good teams. He can’t do it alone against an offensive juggernaut like Indiana.
St. John’s at Syracuse (Sunday, 1 p.m., ESPN)
Syracuse is down a starter and its third leading scorer, but C.J. Fair had a breakout game against Notre Dame on Monday. St. John’s is 6-4 in the Big East and inching onto the NCAA Tournament bubble. Winning in the Carrier Dome would go a long way for the Red Storm’s Tournament hopes.
The nation's No. 1 player in the nation for 2013 has been compared to Reggie White numerous times.
Loganville (Ga.) Grayson defensive end Robert Nkemdiche is the consensus overall top prospect in the Athlon Consensus 100, but instead of playing for the Tennessee Volunteers like White, he is headed to Oxford, Miss., to play for the Ole Miss Rebels. Nkemdiche got National Signing Day 2013 started in style when he ended a long and circuitous recruitment by signing his national Letter of Intent for the Rebs.
It is the single biggest recruiting coup for Ole Miss since it signed a star quarterback prospect by the name of Eli Manning over a decade ago.
The story began with the Clemson Tigers, however. Nkemdiche, along with a handful of high school teammates, appeared poised to move to Death Valley when the top prospect committed to the ACC program in the middle of 2012. Yet, his family wanted him elsewhere. Nkemdiche's older brother, Denzel, excelled this season as a redshirt freshman linebacker at Ole Miss and their mother never hid that she wanted her boys to be on the same field together.
So after de-committing from Clemson, his final decision came down to LSU and Ole Miss. Les Miles put on the full-court press during the 11th hour in an effort to lure the top player into what is considered the top defensive line class in the nation. But the power of Hugh Freeze tugging on Nkemdiche's family heart strings was too much to overcome.
Like many of the nation's No. 1 players in the nation — many of whom have recently waited until well after NSD to officially sign — Nkemdiche's recruitment had its fair share of dramatic storylines. However, it is somewhat refreshing to see the top prospect not only sign on the day he is supposed to but to do it right out of the gate in the early morning and with few superfluous bells and whistles. There were no live props or bait-and-switch hat games. He stepped to the podium and announced he would sign with "the University of Ole Miss." (Okay, maybe there was one Freudian Slip).
Nkemdiche has an elite blend of size (6-foot-4, 285 pounds) and speed (4.7-second 40-time) to go with a motor that never stops. He is a slightly different prospect than former No. 1 overall end Jadeveon Clowney, but has a similar upside. He is an instant impact prospect who will compete right away for playing time. He is physically prepared to rush the passer, but what makes him special will be his ability to stay on the field in running situations. Few players are ready to line up against SEC offensive lines and hold their own in the ground game right out of high school, but Nkemdiche might be one of them.
He is a versatile prospect who will start on the outside as an up-the-field edge player but could easily develop and grow into an interior stopper by the end of his career. Needless to say, he has rare physical skills.
Ole Miss fans have been been buoyed by Freeze's presence on the recruiting trail of late, landing elite AC100 names like the No. 1 wide receiver in the nation Laquon Treadwell. Nkemdiche makes this group a top 10 class nationally and it makes the Rebels one of the biggest stories this year in recruiting. It's an exciting day to be a part of The Grove, but come this fall, the focus will shift to see if Nkemdiche, Freeze and the rest of the Rebels can put it together and win at a much higher level than Ole Miss has in the last few years.
Most of the dust has settled on the Class of 2013, however, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty of fireworks to come on National Signing Day 2013. Five of the top ten players in the nation are still left on the board and those decisions will undoubtedly influence the national team rankings in a big way.
Additionally, 12 of the top 50 are still left uncommitted and more than two dozen total national — or four-star — recruits have yet to make their final college decision. Here is a complete list of the National Signing Day announcments:
View the complete Athlon Consensus 100
Note: Updated Feb. 6, 4:00 p.m. CT
No. 1: Robert Nkemdiche, DE (6-4, 285)
Loganville (Ga.) Grayson
Choices: LSU, Ole Miss
SIGNED: Ole Miss
No. 4: Laremy Tunsil, OL (6-6, 295)
Lake City (Fla.) Columbia
Choices: Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Ole Miss
SIGNED: Ole Miss
No. 6: Eddie Vanderdoes, DT (6-3, 300)
Placer (Calif.) High
Choices: Alabama, Notre Dame, UCLA, USC, Washington
Time: 9:00 p.m. ET
Farrell’s Prediction: UCLA
No. 7: Reuben Foster, LB (6-1, 250)
Auburn (Ala.) High
Choices: Alabama, Auburn, Washington, Georgia
No. 8: Matthew Thomas, LB (6-3, 210)
Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington
Choices: Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, USC
SIGNED: Florida State
No. 10: Montravius Adams, DT (6-4, 310)
Vienna (Ga.) Dooly County
Choices: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia
No. 15: Jalen Ramsey, DB (6-1, 200)
Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy
Choices: Florida, Florida State, USC
SIGNED: Florida State
No. 26: Vonn Bell, DB (5-11, 190)
Rossville (Ga.) Ridgeland
Choices: Alabama, Ohio State, Tennessee
SIGNED: Ohio State
No. 30: Mackensie Alexander, DB (5-10, 175)
Immokalee (Fla.) High
Choices: Florida, Florida State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Clemson
No. 32: Tony Conner, DB (6-1, 205)
Batesville (Miss.) South Panola
Choices: Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Texas A&M
SIGNED: Ole Miss
No. 34: A’Shawn Robinson, DL (6-5, 300)
Ft. Worth (Texas) Arlington Heights
Choices: Alabama, Texas
No. 42: Alvin Kamara, RB (5-10, 195)
Norcross (Ga.) High
Choices: Alabama, Georgia
No. 47: Dee Liner, DL (6-3, 275)
Muscle Shoals (Ala.) High
Choices: Alabama, Miami
No. 64: Stacy Coley, WR (6-1, 175)
Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Northeast
Choices: Florida State, Clemson, Nebraska, Oregon, Wisconsin, UCF
No. 93: Isaac Savaiinaea, LB (6-3, 230)
Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou
Choices: UCLA, Texas A&M, Stanford
No. 99: Marquez North, WR (6-3, 210)
Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek
Choices: Clemson, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee
No. 108: Austin Golson (6-6, 285)
Prattville (Ala.) High
Choices: Ole Miss, Florida State
SIGNED: Ole Miss
No. 131: Tyrell Robinson, ATH (6-3, 195)
San Diego (Calif.) Lincoln
Choices: Oregon, Washington
No. 135: Tyrone Crowder, OL (6-1, 330)
Rockingham (N.C.) Richmond Senior
Choices: Clemson, Georgia
No. 136: Daeshon Hall, DE (6-5, 220)
Lancaster (Texas) High
Choices: Texas A&M, TCU, Washington
SIGNED: Texas A&M
No. 153: Aslantli Woulard, QB (6-3, 205)
Winter Park (Fla.) High
Choices: Clemson, Kentucky, UCLA
No. 159: Yannick Ngakoue, LB (6-3, 235)
Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate
Choices: Florida State, South Carolina
No. 165: Joshua Dobbs, QB (6-3, 190)
Alpharetta (Ga.) High
Choices: Arizona State, Tennessee
No. 174: Quinton Powell, LB (6-2, 195)
Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland
Choices: Florida, USC
No. 182: Jordan Cunningham, WR (6-1, 175)
Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Nova South
Choices: Alabama, Miami, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Stanford
No. 183: Denver Kirkland, OL (6-5, 330)
Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington
Choices: Florida State, Louisville, Miami, Rutgers, USF
No. 202: Torrodney Prevot, DE (6-3, 210)
Houston (Texas) Alief Taylor
Choices: USC, Texas A&M, Oregon
No. 211: Tyree Robinson, ATH (6-3, 195)
San Diego (Calif.) Lincoln
Choices: Oregon, Washington
No. 212: Tashawn Bower, DE (6-5, 240)
Sommerville (N.J.) Immaculata
Choices: Auburn, Florida, LSU
No. 216: Keith Bryant, DT (6-2, 305)
Delray Beach (Fla.) Atlantic Community
Choices: Alabama, Florida State, Miami, South Carolina, Tennessee
SIGNED: Florida State
No. 220: Jermaine Grace (6-1, 200)
Miramar (Fla.) High
Choices: Bowling Green, Florida State, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse
View the complete 2013 Athlon Consensus 100
AC100 On Campus: Su'a Cravens
AC100 On Campus: Jalen Ramsey
AC100 On Campus: Max Redfield
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
Teenagers are complicated, fickle, naive creatures who seldom have any perspective on the trappings of adult life. It’s why uniform colors, shoes, weather, license plates and even a coin flip have been used to select a university in the recent past. Don’t expect National Signing Day 2013 to be much different.
Auburn (Ala.) linebacker Reuben Foster is one of the nation's elite prospects and his recruitment has been a wild ride back and forth across the state of Alabama. Once an Alabama verbal pledge, Foster decommitted from the Crimson Tide and picked the Auburn Tigers, getting a War Eagle tattoo to prove his dedication. There is only one problem, however, as Foster decommitted again. He is now poised to picked between Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Washington and South Carolina.
Consensus No. 1 recruit Robert Nkemdiche may have potential for Signing Day drama, too. He committed to Clemson early, but he's considering Ole Miss, where is brother plays linebacker. All the while, his parents have been vocal through the recruiting process.
National Signing Day is an exciting time for coaches, recruits and fans, but it also ends up being one of the most bizarre days of the year in college football. Here's why:
The forged signature
Mothers and sons don't always see eye to eye in the recruiting process, though few moms would have gone as far as Floyd Raven's. Reserve (La.) East St. John defensive back Floyd Raven had decided Texas A&M was the right school for him. Only one issue: his letter of intent had already been sent to Ole Miss. The Rebels admissions department couldn’t read the signature and asked for a second copy. Raven’s mother wanted him to go to Ole Miss so badly she forged the signature and sent it to Oxford without her son’s knowledge. Eventually, Floyd learned of his mother’s forgery and sent the appropriately signed paperwork to Texas A&M.
The coin flip
It takes thousands of hours of labor and thousands of dollars to recruit athletes at the highest level. But in 2009, Atco (N.J.) Winsow Township linebacker Ka’Lial Glaud trimmed the entire process to a few cents. After taking five school-funded official visits, Glaud had narrowed his list to West Virginia and Rutgers. But the linebacker was still so torn he couldn’t make up his mind. So naturally, he decided to let chance decide his fate as he literally flipped a coin between the two programs. Heads he goes to WVU, tails he goes to Rutgers. He has posted 47 total tackles in three seasons for the Scarlet Knights.
Deontay Greenberry's cold shoulder
Fresno (Calif.) Washington Union wide receiver Deontay Greenberry was the No. 52 player in the nation last season. He was a long-time Notre Dame commitment whose best friend and cousin, fellow Athlon Consensus 100 talent Tee Shepard, had already enrolled in class in South Bend weeks prior to NSD. All signs pointed to the duo continuing their friendship on the football field as Irish teammates. But after a very late visit to the Houston Cougars, Greenberry pulled the biggest shocker of National Signing Day '12 by signing with the Conference USA program. The 6-3, 190-pound wideout is the first AC100 signee in Cougars’ program history and the Twittersphere gasped when his LOI arrived in Houston.
There was just one problem, Greenberry never told Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly or anyone in South Bend his faxed LOI had been sent to Houston. Kelly was as shocked as anyone at the news. Kelly may regret letting his emotions get the better of him with this commentary on Greenberry: "I used to have a saying about players like that, and that was I'd rather play against him for four games than with him for four years." Sounds an awful lot like message board trolls who scream sour grapes when star recruits sign elsewhere.
Landon Collins boisterous Mom
The 2012 cycle provided one of the most bizarre public announcements ever witnessed. Geismar (La.) Dutchtown safety Landon Collins, the No. 21-rated player in the Athlon Consensus 100, announced on national television for Alabama much to the chagrin of his mother, April Justin. Justin, moments after her son committed to the Tide, was not only visibly upset but openly cheered for LSU:
"I feel like LSU is a better place for him to be," Justin said at the time. "LSU Tigers, No. 1. Go Tigers.”
But Mama didn't go down without a fight as she has accused Nick Saban and Alabama of a recruiting violation, claiming that Collins' girlfriend at the time was given a job at the University.
The imaginary scholarship
As bizarre as the Collins’ girlfriend-mother feud is, nothing compares to Kevin Hart’s story. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive lineman at Fernely (Nev.) High wanted so badly to play college football he wrote his own fairytale ending complete with press conference. On Feb. 1, 2008, Hart held a press conference at his high school complete with hats lined up on a table in which he picked Cal over Oregon. “Coach Tedford and I talked a lot, and the fact that the head coach did most of the recruiting of me kind gave me that real personal experience,” Hart said at the announcement.
There was only one problem: Jeff Tedford had never spoken to, visited or contacted Hart. Neither had Oregon, Washington or Oklahoma State, his other finalists, for that matter. Eventually, Hart admitted the entire recruitment was fictitious and apologized to all parties involved.
The announcement props
Commitment announcements tend to be more spectacle than substance. Rarely does a recruit offer any pertinent news or information other than his college of choice. Every now and then, however, if done with style, an announcement can be fun – or infuriating. Georgia’s Isaiah Crowell made fans coo when he pulled out a live Bulldog puppy in 2011 to signify his decision to play for Mark Richt in Athens. Andre Smith sent the Crimson Tiders into hysterics when he pulled out the houndstooth hat at his announcement for Alabama.
But Antonio Logan-El’s live announcement in 2006 was met with a slightly harsher response. The Forestville (Md.) High offensive lineman had been committed to Maryland for the better part of a year. While dressed in Maryland red in front of a Terps crowd at the ESPN Sportszone in Maryland — including head coach Ralph Friedgen’s wife — Logan-El first pulled out a Florida hat before tossing it to the ground. He then pulled out a Tennessee hat. That, too, was tossed aside before picking up the Terps black and red headgear. After a few nice words, Logan-El threw his Maryland hat to the ground and held up a picture of Joe Paterno and announced he would be heading to Penn State. The decision was met with screams of “traitor” and violence nearly resulted. Logan-El, much to the pleasure of Terps fans, washed out at Penn State after only one redshirt year.
At least he actually made a decision, however, as the worst recruiting press conference in history belongs to Greg Little. The peculiar wide receiver held a press conference in October of his senior year to announce what school he would be attending. Fans waited with anticipation while Little huddled with his family and coaches for a long period of time. He emerged from the mini-summit to announce that he had narrowed his list to Notre Dame and North Carolina. It’s the rare news conference where a recruit officially announced that there was nothing to announce.
The five-minute flip-flop
Flip-flops happen in recruiting all the time – especially, as National Signing Day draws near. The recruiting picture gets clearer for all parties involved, while schools get desperate to fill needs with late scholarship offers. The nation’s No. 2 player in 2011, however, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, made heads spin in record time last year. Kouandjio, whose older brother was/is a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide, announced on ESPN he would be attend Auburn. Yet, five minutes after the bright TV lights had gone out, the younger Kouandjio, recanted his pledge to Auburn. He never sent in his letter of intent to the Tigers and three days later it was revealed he had officially signed with Alabama via Twitter. Longtime commitments are snaked away at the last minute every season, but never has a kid committed on national television only to decide to sign with someone else five minutes later. The venom of the Yellow Hammer rivalry only added to the drama of the Kouandjio signing.
What Fred wanna do?
A kid referring to himself in third person and taking liberties with the English language is always radio gold. On Sirius Satellite Radio, five-star wide receiver recruit Fred Rouse he was asked: Where are you going to college? Rouse responded with “You know, a lot of people want me to go here or there. But I had to think, you know, 'what Fred wanna do?' And Fred want to go to Florida State.” Unfortunately, his career wasn’t nearly as entertaining on the football field as it was on the radio.
The slimy mentor
The most recent trend for elite recruits is to wait until after National Signing Day to make a decision. Terrelle Pryor, Orson Charles, Latwan Anderson, Vidal Hazelton, Seantrel Henderson, Kouandjio and 2011 top prospect Jadeveon Clowney all signed their LOIs well past signing day. But Wichita (Kan.) East running back Bryce Brown, and his handler/mentor/coach Brian Butler, set a new low for recruiting sludge.
Brown, whose older brother Arthur was enrolled at Miami, had been committed to the Hurricanes from the early stages. He did not sign on Signing Day and instead took extra visits to Tennessee and LSU after Signing Day. While Brown watched the calendar flip to March without a decision, Butler, who pleaded guilty to a felony charge for forgery in 1997, set up a website in order to charge $9.99 per month for recruiting updates on his protégé.
Threats from Butler about Brown potentially skipping college for the Canadian Football League only further exemplified how ridiculous the handler’s influence was over Brown. Meanwhile, Miami (and others) stopped recruiting the troubled tailback until halfway through March, when Brown got “a sign from God” to sign with Tennessee. Arthur left Miami for Kansas State (where he became a star for two seasons) shortly thereafter. Bryce lasted one year in Knoxville before transferring back to Kansas State as well. He played in two games in 2011, got three carries and then declared for the 2012 NFL Draft.
Who knows what National Signing Day 2013 will bring. Will Foster stay in the Yellowhammer State or go 2,000 miles to Seattle? Will Robert Nkemdiche sign with Ole Miss to be with his brother? Will Jalen Ramsey stay put with the Trojans or make a last second flip?
Love or hate the press conferences and high-profile visibility of high school students, National Signing Day has become appointment viewing for all college football fans and NSD 2013 should be just as exciting as all the rest.
See the complete Athlon Consensus 100
AC100 On Campus: Su'a Cravens
AC100 On Campus: Jalen Ramsey
AC100 On Campus: Max Redfield
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
The "modern" recruiting era is tied directly to the online recruiting websites. Rivals and Scout began the explosion around 2001 and ESPN and 247Sports have powerfully entered the market since. The rankings databases only go back 10 or 11 years, so it is difficult to evaluate historic recruiting classes. But since the turn of the millennium, fans and analysts alike have a tremendous amount of data to evaluate recruiting rankings, talent development and scouting evaluations.
Studying recruiting rankings can highlight coaching deficiencies as well as the overachievers. That said, the best recruiting classes of the modern era are more about salesmanship, brand equity, the NFL and big-time athletic department budgets.
Here are the best 10 modern recruiting classes:
1. Alabama Crimson Tide, 2008
Rank: 1st (Athlon Sports), 32 signees
Key Players: Mark Barron, Julio Jones, Terrence Cody, Marcel Dareus, Don’ta Hightower, Mark Ingram, Barrett Jones, Courtney Upshaw, Damion Square, Michael Williams, Robert Lester, Brad Smelley
Nowhere is the impact of recruiting rankings more apparent that in Tuscaloosa, Ala. On the verge of signing yet another No. 1 class, Nick Saban began his domination of the recruiting trail back in 2008 when he signed Athlon Sports’ No. 1 class. This group was a huge part of the 2009 national championship and obviously was featured in both the '11 and '12 title runs. This group includes five first-round picks and two second-rounders while Brad Smelley was a seventh-rounder. Barrett Jones, Robert Lester, Damion Square and Michael Williams could all be drafted as well. It is hard to argue that a group that won three BCS titles and features double-digit NFL draft picks isn’t the best modern collection of talent ever assembled.
2. USC Trojans, 2003
Rank: 3rd (Rivals), 28 signees
Key Players: Reggie Bush, Sam Baker, Sedrick Ellis, Lawrence Jackson, Ryan Kalil, Terrell Thomas, Steve Smith, LenDale White, Fili Moala, John David Booty, Eric Wright, Brandon Ting, Ryan Ting, Drean Rucker, Chauncey Washington
Much like the ’08 Alabama group, this team experienced three national championship runs. Only two ended in victory — it lost to Texas in 2005, but more on that in a second — but this class was the foundation of USC's Pac-10 dynasty. Reggie Bush won the Heisman Trophy and is one of four first-round picks from this class. Steve Smith, Terrell Thomas, Ryan Kalil and LenDale White were second-round picks while still others went later in the draft. USC dominated recruiting for nearly a decade and it led to seven conference championships from 2002-08.
3. Florida Gators, 2006
Rank: 2nd (Rivals), 27 signees
Key Players: Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Brandon Spikes, Maurice Hurt, Riley Cooper, Jermaine Cunningham, Lawrence Marsh, Brandon James, Marcus Gilbert, Terron Sanders, Dustin Doe, AJ Jones, Carl Johnson
At one point or another, 16 of the 27 recruits in this class went on to start a game for the Gators. But this class was led at the top by elite superstars Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes. Jermaine Cunningham and Spikes were second-rounders while Maurice Hurt and Riley Cooper went later in the draft. Tebow alone makes this class a gem for Florida and it led directly to two BCS national championships. The depth in the middle and at the bottom are nearly as impressive as the elite-level talent of the top names.
4. Alabama Crimson Tide, 2009
Rank: 3rd (Athlon Sports), 28 signees
Key Players: AJ McCarron, Trent Richardson, Dre Kirkpatrick, James Carpenter, Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker, Eddie Lacy, Quinton Dial, Nico Johnson, Ed Stinson, Anthony Steen, Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood, Tana Patrick
This group was a big part of three national championships at the Capstone and played a much bigger role in the 2012 title than the '08 haul. This class has already featured three first-round picks and could boast as many as three more come April (Fluker, Warmack, Lacy). AJ McCarron is putting together one of the greatest college careers in history and others like Dial, Johnson, Stinson and Norwood have been contributors for most of their careers at Alabama. An interesting thing to note about this class is the offensive line. It was the best OL in the nation last season and three-fifths of the starters signed in this class.
5. Texas Longhorns, 2002
Rank: 1st (Rivals), 28 signees
Key Players: Vince Young, Kasey Studdard, Rod Wright, Brian Robison, Aaron Ross, Chase Pittman, Justin Blalock, Aaron Harris, David Thomas, Selvin Young
This group was the core of the 2005 national championship run led by superstar quarterback and five-star recruit Vince Young. He was the gem of the nation’s No. 1 class that eventually featured numerous NFL Draft picks. Ross, Studdard, Wright, Robison, Pittman, Thomas and Blalock were all huge pieces to Mack Brown’s championship puzzle and most of them have gone on to excel in the NFL.
6. Ohio State Buckeyes, 2002
Rank: 5th (Rivals), 24 signees
Key Players: AJ Hawk, Santonio Holmes, Nick Mangold, Troy Smith, Maurice Clarett, Bobby Carpenter, Mike D’Andrea, Doug Datish, Quinn Pitcock, Nate Salley, Roy Hall
This class was a big part of the 2002 national championship run as just freshman, with Maurice Clarett playing the biggest role. This group features elite offensive firepower and Troy Smith, a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who led his team to the national title game in 2006. This group provided four first-round picks in the 2006 NFL Draft and included six other picks from the 2005-07 drafts as well. Three BCS title appearances and four Big Ten titles over a five-year span indicates that Jim Tressell’s ’02 haul was one the best in memory.
7. Oklahoma Sooners, 2006
Rank: 9th (Rivals), 28 signees
Key Players: Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy, Jermaine Gresham, Trent Williams, Demarco Murray, Jeremy Beal, Quinton Carter, Chris Brown, Dominique Franks, Mossis Madu, Tim Johnson, Brandon Caleb, Malcolm Williams, Chase Beeler
All four Sooners first-round picks from the 2010 NFL Draft signed with Bob Stoops in the 2006 class and all four NFL draft picks from Oklahoma in 2011 came from this class. Sam Bradford set all types of record, won the Heisman Trophy and led this team to the 2008 BCS National Championship game. Even a guy who ended up transferring (Beeler) went on to star at his second school (Stanford).
8. LSU Tigers, 2009
Rank: 1st (Athlon Sports), 24 signees
Key Players: Michael Brockers, Morris Claiborne, Kevin Minter, Rueben Randle, Chris Faulk, Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo, Chris Davenport, Bennio Logan, Michael Ford, Craig Loston, Josh Downs, Stavion Lowe, Lamin Barrow, Russell Shepard
This group was the foundation of the 13-0 regular season run to the title game in 2011. And had it finished the job against Alabama, it might be considered the better group. The potential of this class is astounding. It already claims three first-round picks in Brockers, Claiborne and Randle and as many as half-a-dozen players could be drafted this spring. Three-fourths of the 2012 defensive line signed in this group as well as star linebacker Kevin Minter. The star power is obvious but the supporting cast is impressive as well.
9. Oregon Ducks, 2008
Rank: 16th (Athlon Sports), 22 signees
Key Players: LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, Darron Thomas, Dion Jordan, Kiko Alonso, John Boyett, Nick Cody, Hamani Stevens, LeGarrette Blount, Josh Kaddu, DeWitt Stuckey, Jeremiah Masoli
There have only been two NFL picks from this class thus far but a host of players should hear their named called this spring (Jordan, Barner, Alonso) and Blount has proven to be a productive player even though he went undrafted. Darron Thomas was the most productive quarterback in school history over two years and led his team to the BCS National Championship game. Two starting offensive lineman helped pave the way for a trio of running backs any school would covet in one class (Barner, James, Blount). The defense is also well represented with steady leaders (Boyett) as well as athletic freaks of nature (Jordan, Alonso). This class went 40-5 in Pac-12 play over a five-year period of time from 2008-12.
10. LSU Tigers, 2004
Rank: 2nd (Rivals), 26 signees
Key Players: Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson, Jacob Hester, Early Doucet, Chevis Jackson, Herman Johnson, Quinn Johnson, Craig Steltz, Claude Wroten, Tremaine Johnson, Curtis Taylor, Brett Helms, Lavelle Hawkins, Mit Cole
The 2004 class set the foundation for the run at the 2007 BCS national championship. Dorsey and Hester were the primary leaders on both sides of the ball and eventually hoisted the crystal football. Five players were selected in the 2008 NFL Draft and four more were taken in the '09 draft. Three star defensive lineman, including two first-round picks in Dorsey and Tyson Jackson led this defense when it dominated Ohio State in the title game. Hawkins was a big time player but did it for Cal after transferring.
The Best of the Rest:
Florida Gators, 2007
Rank: 1st (Rivals), 27 signees
Key Players: Ahmad Black, Carlos Dunlap, Joe Haden, Chas Henry, Aaron Hernandez, Cam Newton, Chris Rainey, Maurkice Pouncey, Michael Pouncey, Major Wright, John Brantley
Georgia Bulldogs, 2006
Rank: 4th (Rivals), 28 signees
Key Players: Asher Allen, Geno Atkins, Shaun Chapas, Akeem Dent, Kris Durham, Akeem Hebron, Reshad Jones, Knowshon Moreno, Matthew Stafford, Kiante Tripp, Clifton Geathers, Prince Miller
Ohio State Buckeyes, 2008
Rank: 2nd (Athlon Sports), 20 signees
Key Players: Mike Adams, Terrelle Pryor, Travis Howard, DeVier Posey, Michael Brewster, Nathan Williams, Garrett Goebel, Etienne Sabino, JB Shurgarts, Andrew Sweat
LSU Tigers, 2003
Rank: 1st (Rivals), 28 signees
Key Players: LaRon Landry, Will Arnold, Dwayne Bowe, Craig Davis, Matt Flynn, Alley Broussard,, Anthony Hill, JaMarcus Russell, Jonathon Zenon, Justin Vincent
Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 2008
Rank: 4th (Athlon Sports), 23 signees
Key Players: Kyle Rudolph, Michael Floyd, Braxton Cave, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Jamoris Slaughter, Mike Golic, Robert Blanton, Darius Fleming, John Goodman, Jonas Gray, Trevor Robinson, Steven Filer, Sean Cwynar, Dayne Crist, Ethan Johnson
Texas Longhorns, 2005
Rank: 20th (Rivals), 15 signees
Key Players: Colt McCoy, Roddrick Muckelroy, Henry Melton, Jermichael Finley, Quan Cosby, Jamaal Charles, Chris Brown, Aaron Lewis, Roy Miller
USC Trojans, 2005
Rank: 1st (Rivals), 19 signees
Key Players: Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga, Mark Sanchez, Kevin Ellison, Charles Brown, Patrick Turner, Kyle Moore, Kaluka Maiava, Will Harris, Cary Harris
Another week, another No. 1 in the Athlon Sports college basketball power rankings.
For the third week in a row, we have a new team in the top spot following Duke two weeks ago, then Michigan. We return to an old friend at No. 1 in Indiana, who defeated the Wolverines 81-73 on Saturday.
Illustrating how closely matched the two Big Ten giants seem to be, Michigan dropped just one spot to No. 2 this week. In the marquee game of the week, the Wolverines fell behind by a wide margin early in Bloomington, but battled back to tie the Hoosiers in the second half before Michigan’s eventual loss.
Indiana may have been the No. 1 team regardless of other movement around the country, but Kansas’ stunning home loss to Oklahoma State made the decision an easy one.
Meanwhile, the Sunshine State is enjoying unparalleled success with both Florida and Miami in our top five this week. The Gators keep steamrolling through the SEC with their 14-point win over Ole Miss qualifying as a squeaker for Billy Donovan these days.
But the bigger story is in Miami, where Jim Larranaga continues to prove his credentials as a miracle worker. The Hurricanes used a late 8-2 run and a Reggie Johnson tip-in against NC State to remain undefeated in the ACC and two games ahead of Duke for the conference lead.
Related: Key stats from Jan. 28-Feb. 3
COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS: FEB. 5
1. Indiana (20-2, 8-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 3
Last week’s results: Defeated Purdue 97-60, defeated Michigan 81-73
This week: at Illinois, at Ohio State
Buzz: Indiana’s starters hit 23-of-38 from field vs. Michigan.
2. Michigan (20-2, 7-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 1
Last week’s results: Defeated Northwestern 68-46, lost to Indiana 81-73
This week: Ohio State, at Wisconsin
Buzz: Trey Burke needed 24 shots to score 25 points vs Indiana.
3. Florida (18-2, 8-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 6
Last week’s results: Defeated South Carolina 75-36, defeated Ole Miss 78-64
This week: at Arkansas, Mississippi State
Buzz: The Gators are shooting 51.4 percent from the floor in SEC games.
4. Kansas (19-2, 7-1 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 2
Last week’s results: Lost to Oklahoma State 85-80
This week: at TCU, at Oklahoma
Buzz: Oklahoma State ended Jayhawks’ 33-game home winning streak.
5. Miami (17-3, 8-0 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 10
Last week’s results: Defeated Virginia Tech 73-64, defeated NC State 79-78
This week: Boston College, North Carolina
Buzz: First-place Hurricanes are 5-0 on the road in the ACC.
6. Duke (19-2, 6-2 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Defeated Wake Forest 75-70, defeated Florida State 79-60
This week: NC State, at Boston College
Buzz: The Blue Devils struggling from line in ACC games (61.9 percent).
7. Syracuse (19-3, 7-2 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 4
Last week’s results: Lost to Pittsburgh 65-55, defeated Notre Dame 63-47
This week: St. John's
Buzz: Orange only had three points from bench in loss to Pitt and seven in win over Notre Dame.
8. Gonzaga (21-2, 8-0 West Coast Conference)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Defeated Loyola Marymount 88-43, defeated San Diego 65-63
This week: Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount
Buzz: Zags play five of final eight games at home.
9. Arizona (19-2, 7-2 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 8
Last week’s results: Defeated Washington 57-53, defeated Washington State 79-65
This week: Stanford, Cal
Buzz: Wildcats back in race after sweep of Washington schools on the road.
10. Louisville (18-4, 6-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Defeated Marquette 70-51
This week: at Rutgers, at Notre Dame
Buzz: Despite recent struggles, Cardinals only one game back in the loss column in Big East.
11. Michigan State (14-3, 7-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 12
Last week’s results: Defeated Illinois 80-75
This week: Minnesota, at Purdue
Buzz: Michigan State has three players averaging more than six boards.
12. Ohio State (17-4, 7-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 13
Last week’s results: Defeated Wisconsin 58-49, defeated Nebraska 63-56
This week: at Michigan, Indiana
Buzz: The Buckeyes are hanging around in Big Ten title chase. Will they still be after this week?
13. Kansas State (17-4, 6-2 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 18
Last week’s results: Defeated Texas 83-57, defeated Oklahoma 52-50
This week: at Texas Tech, Iowa State
Buzz: The Wildcats’ padded NCAA Tournament resume with win at Oklahoma.
14. New Mexico (19-3, 6-1 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 20
Last week’s results: Defeated Wyoming 63-59, defeated Nevada 75-62
This week: Air Force, at UNLV
Buzz: The Lobos are emerging as the team to beat in deep MWC.
15. Cincinnati (18-4, 6-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 21
Last week’s results: Defeated Rutgers 62-54, Seton Hall 65-59
This week: at Providence, Pittsburgh
Buzz: The Bearcats' four losses have come by a total of 10 points.
16. Butler (18-4, 5-2 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 11
Last week’s results: Lost to Saint Louis 75-58, defeated Rhode Island 75-68
This week: St. Bonaventure, at George Washington
Buzz: The Road in the A-10 has not been kind to Butler with losses to La Salle and Saint Louis.
17. Minnesota (17-5, 5-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 19
Last week’s results: Defeated Nebraska 84-65, defeated Iowa 62-59
This week: at Michigan State, Illinois
Buzz: Hollins and Hollins pulled Gophers out of a four-game losing streak.
18. Pittsburgh (19-5, 7-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Syracuse 65-55, defeated Seton Hall 56-46
This week: at Cincinnati
Buzz: Pitt has won seven of eight, with only loss by 3 at Louisville.
19. Georgetown (16-4, 6-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Seton Hall 74-52, defeated St. John's 68-56
This week: at Rutgers
Buzz: Hoyas' opponents are shooting only 41.2 percent from two.
20. Marquette (15-5, 6-2 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 22
Last week’s results: Lost to Louisville 70-51
This week: at Wyoming, Nevada
Buzz: Eagles have already played three overtime games in Big East.
21. Oregon (18-4, 7-2 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 14
Last week’s results: Lost to Stanford 76-52, lost to Cal 58-54
This week: Colorado, Utah
Buzz: Ducks fall down to Earth with Bay Area-sweep
22. Oklahoma State (15-5, 5-3 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Iowa State 78-76, defeated Kansas 85-80
This week: Baylor, at Texas
Buzz: Cowboys were 0-3 on the road in the Big 12 before rare win in Lawrence.
23. Wisconsin (15-7, 6-3 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 23
Last week’s results: Lost to Ohio State 58-49, defeated Illinois 74-68
This week: Iowa, Michigan
Buzz: Wisconsin shot 42 free throws in win at Illinois after shooting none in a loss at Ohio State.
24. Creighton (20-3, 9-2 Missouri Valley)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Missouri State 91-77, defeated Bradley 75-58
This week: at Indiana State, Illinois State
Buzz: Bluejays back on track after two-game slide.
25. Colorado State (18-4, 5-2 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Boise State 77-57, defeated Wyoming 65-46
This week: at Nevada
Buzz: The Rams have won their last three MWC games comfortably in time for stretch against San Diego State, Air Force, UNLV and New Mexico next week.
Out: No. 15 NC State, No. 16 Wichita State, No. 17 Ole Miss, No. 24 Missouri, No. 25 San Diego State
National Signing Day 2013 is here!
It’s college football’s version of Christmas morning when millions of dollars, thousands of man-hours traveling and countless phone calls come to fruition in the form of a single sheet of faxed paper. Nowhere in sports are grown adults held captive by the musings of teenagers like the first Wednesday in February.
Bizarre flip-flops, surprise press conferences, unique props and wacky storylines all make NSD one of the more intriguing days in all of sports. And 2013 should have its fair share of teams, players, coaches and recruits to watch:
All eyes on Oxford, Miss.
The Ole Miss Rebels are the top college football recruiting storyline for the 2013 cycle. Hugh Freeze is coaching a team that has won four SEC games over the last three years but is hotter than any team in the nation on the recruiting trail. With the additions of the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver, Laquon Treadwell, and Athlon Consensus 100 defensive lineman Elijah Daniel joining the fold in recent weeks and rumors swirling that four-star lineman Austin Golson will switch from Florida State to Ole Miss, Freeze is pushing for a top 10 class nationally. Needless to say, NSD ’13 could be historic for Ole Miss football.
Robert Nkemdiche is the nation’s No. 1 player and his older brother, Denzel, plays in Oxford. Ever since decommitting from Clemson, the Rebels have long been the favorite for the elite defensive end. LSU made a strong push, but it would be an upset if Nkemdiche signed anywhere but with Ole Miss. He is a game-changer who will make an immediate impact, however, the nation’s No. 1 prospect isn’t the only highly-coveted name on Freeze’s recruiting board.
Ole Miss has put the full-court press on the nation’s No. 1 offensive lineman, Laremy Tunsil (AC100 No. 4), fast-rising star defensive end and longtime Mississippi State commitment Chris Jones (No. 18) and elite defensive backs Mackensie Alexander (No. 30) and Antonio Conner (No. 32). If the Rebs can land just one of these names in addition to Nkemdiche, National Signing Day 2013 would be considered a massive success and would make Freeze the toast of Oxford.
But Nick Saban still owns college football
The Crimson Tide has three national championships in four years and is the No. 1 name brand on the recruiting trail. Saban has landed five top-five classes in a row after finishing No. 1 in 2012 and '08, No. 3 in '11 and '09 and No. 5 in '10. Entering Wednesday, 247Sports has the Tide at No. 1 in the team rankings, ESPN lists Alabama at No. 2, Rivals has the BCS champs at No. 3. Scout is the lone outlier with “just” a ninth-place ranking nationally.
What is scary, however, is how Saban and Alabama could finish on Wednesday. Rumors are that the Tide have already flipped long-time Texas Longhorns commitment A’Shawn Robinson (No. 34) and the nation's No. 1 linebacker, Reuben Foster (No. 7), announced his intentions to join the Tide on Monday evening. The star AC100 duo could be just the tip of the what might be a devastating iceberg.
Six of the top ten players in the nation are still uncommitted and Alabama is a finalist for five of them. There are 15 players left uncommitted in the AC100 and 10 of them list the Crimson Tide as a finalist. Other national recruits like Kylie Fitts, Jordan Cunningham and Keith Bryant have Bama figured heavily into the mix as well. Certainly, there is no chance that Saban lands all or even a majority of these names. However, if four or five sign with Alabama, the Crimson Tide is all but assured their third recruiting national championship in six seasons. And while Ole Miss might be a bigger story, Alabama would still have the best players.
What happens out West?
Lane Kiffin has watched his consensus No. 1 overall recruiting class take a major step back of late. Losing commitments left and right has hurt the Trojans and Kiffin needs to stop the bleeding immediately. Jalen Ramsey (No. 15) is rumored to be looking around and could be off to the state of Florida while former commitments Eddie Vanderdoes (No. 6) and Kylie Fitts appear to be headed to crosstown rival UCLA. This class isn’t very big in the first place due to sanctions, but still has some room to grow. Four-star prospects Quinton Powell, Nico Flash and Torrodney Prevot might be the Trojans' only hope at a top-ten class this year. With Tosh Lupoi excelling on the trail in Washington, Jim Mora constructing a top-ten class of his own in L.A. and new coaching staffs up and down the west coast gaining steam, the pressure is on the Men of Troy to finish well. This program is accustomed to winning the first Wednesday in February virtually every season so a slow NSD ’13 would only increase the temperature beneath Kiffin’s hind-quarters.
Ohio State vs. Michigan
Urban Meyer jumped head-first into Big Ten recruiting last year and made no friends among his coaching brethren. He swiped commitments from Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Penn State and Michigan State en route to the No. 4 class in the nation. Michigan and Brady Hoke were No. 6 last season and many believe that a new Ten-Year War has begun not only on the field but on the recruiting trail.
Scout has Michigan and Ohio State ranked No. 1 and 2 nationally in the team rankings. 247Sports and ESPN have both teams in the top five nationally while Rivals has them both in the top six. These two programs don’t like each other, will do anything to land elite players and should distance themselves from the rest of the conference in terms of talent.
Both classes are fairly stable on the eve of National Signing Day with just a few names left for either team. Vonn Bell (No. 26) is the top prize for the Buckeyes while Ezekiel Elliott, Cornelius Elder, James Clark and Dontre Wilson (No. 71) could still be in the mix as well. Michigan is waiting on word from Henry Poggi and Cameron Hunt. While it is unlikely that either wins the recruiting national championship, both are safely in the top five nationally and either could win the Big Ten recruiting championship on Wednesday.
Channel your inner Bobby Bowden
The Hall of Fame icon in Tallahassee made a living dominating National Signing Day by closing strong each and every season. Now, it’s Jimbo Fisher’s turn. Two of the top ten players in the nation, Tunsil and Matthew Thomas (No. 8), have the Seminoles listed as a finalist while three other AC100 talents, Mackensie Alexander, Alex Collins (No. 41) and Stacy Coley (No. 64) are possibilities as well. Collins is a longshot and Tunsil appears to be down to Alabama, Georgia and Ole Miss, but landing Thomas, Coley and/or Alexander is well within the realm of possibility.
If Fisher can somehow lure five-star USC commit Jalen Ramsey to Tallahassee and finish strong with names like Denver Kirkland, E.J. Levenberry, Jermaine Grace or Yannick Ngakoue, this class has a chance to work its way up the rankings and into the top ten nationally.
New coaching staffs offer plenty to watch
Major college football powerhouses at Oregon, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Tennessee and Auburn are all installing new coaching staffs and each has to capitalize on the renewed energy that comes with a coaching change. Bret Bielema landed star tailback Alex Collins on Monday night, so what can he do for an encore on Wednesday? Will Gus Malzahn convince Mackensie Alexander Auburn is the right place for him? Can Mark Helfrich keep the Robinson twins (Tyrell, Tyree) in Eugene while appealing to Dontre Wilson? Will Butch Jones convince Vonn Bell that Knoxville is the right place for him? Even Mark Stoops at Kentucky has seen a small recruiting surge of late as his first NSD approaches. All of these staffs and many other new coaches have their first tangible chance to prove they belong as the 2013 cycle comes to a close.
Who needs a strong finish?
Depending on which recruiting service you prefer, Tennessee, Louisville, Stanford and Miami are four programs that stand out as needing to finish strong to salvage the year. All four are ranked outside of the top 20 by every service and many have these teams ranked outside of the top 50 nationally. Each program has plenty of talent left on the board but small miracles will have to be done to get the Cardinal or Cardinals into the top 50. Should the Vols land Vonn Bell, many will be pleased with Butch Jones’ finish to the ’13 cycle. It is the Hurricanes, however, that have most upside of the bunch. Matthew Thomas, Stacy Coley, Alex Collins, Denver Kirkland, Jordan Cunningham and Jermaince Grace all still have Miami very much in the mix and all could land in South Beach. Al Golden has his work cut out for him, but the payoff could be one of the best NSD’s in the nation. Look for at least two or three of above names to sign with The U.
Johnny Heisman’s ripple effect
Ricky Seals-Jean (No. 25), Justin Manning (No. 75) and Sebastian LaRue are all elite prospects who have recently cast their lot with the Texas A&M Aggies. Few programs have as much going for them right now as Kevin Sumlin’s squad. A new home in the SEC, a Heisman Trophy-winning redshirt freshman quarterback and a highly effective, electric offensive scheme that is irresistible to elite prospects have all made TAMU one of the hottest brand names on the trail. This class is one of the biggest in the nation (32 verbals) and doesn’t have a ton of space to grow, but it will be fun to watch what type of NSD drama the Aggies deal with on Wednesday. Kenny Hill and Torrodney Prevot are just two names to keep an eye on in College Station.
The first Wednesday in February is essentially Christmas for every college football head coach. After months of hard work on the recruiting trail, coaches will hit the offices bright and early on Wednesday for National Signing Day to welcome a new class full of freshmen and maybe a few junior college transfers to chase a national championship. With a new crop of players joining the program on National Signing Day, each coach now has a good idea about how their roster looks for the upcoming season and beyond. While National Signing Day is an important moment in building a national title contender, it also signifies the official start of next year’s recruiting class.
With most college football teams signing over 20 prospects on Wednesday, there’s over 2,000 players coming to the FBS ranks next season. And it’s no surprise there are some rather entertaining names among the new group of college players. Athlon combed through the recruits for the 2013 signing class by using the databases at Rivals, Scout and ESPN and rounded up the best (and most interesting) names joining an FBS roster next season.
2013 College Football Recruiting All-Name Team
Lars Blix, Wahkiakum (Cathlamet, Washington)
Boeing Brown, Brookfield (Brookfield Connecticut)
Quade Coward, Cleburne (Cleburne, Texas)
Bucky Hodges, Salem (Virginia Beach, Virginia) – Virginia Tech
Brogan Roback, St. John’s (Toledo, Ohio) – Eastern Michigan
E.J. Speed, North Crowley (Fort Worth, Texas)
Quinterris Toppings, Blount (Eight Mile, Alabama)
Skyler Windmiller, Mill Valley (Shawnee, Kansas)
Shermand Badie, John Curtis (New Orleans, Louisiana) – Tulane
Kamari Cotton-Moya, Ridgeview (Bakersfield, California) – Iowa State
Miguel Hermosillo, Ottawa Township (Ottawa, Illinois) - Illinois
Jabo Lee, Dillon (Dillon, South Carolina) – East Carolina
Manusamoa Luuga, Polytechnic (Long Beach, California)
RJihaad Pretlow, Blair Academy (Blairstown, New Jersey) – Temple
L.A. Ramsby, Colerain (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Superiorr Reid, Mount San Jacinto C.C. (San Jacinto, California)
Dishan Romine, DuPont Manual (Louisville, Kentucky)
Diocemy Saint Juste, Santaluces (Lantana, Florida) - Hawaii
Dreamius Smith, Butler County C.C. (El Dorado, Kansas) – West Virginia
Altee Tenpenny, North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Arkansas) - Alabama
Quanties Armand, West Jefferson (Harvey, Louisiana)
Beau Artist, Logan (Logan, Utah)
Dazz Bush, Austin (Decatur, Alabama)
River Cracraft, Santa Margarita Catholic (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) – Washington State
Andre Cumberbatch, Oak Harbor (Oak Harbor, Washington)
Christian Cumberlander, Jireh Prep (Matthews, North Carolina)
Corn Elder, Ensworth (Nashville, Tennessee)
Brisly Estime, Atlantic (Delray Beach, Florida)
Dameon Gamblin, Mesquite (Mesquite, Texas)
Pharoah McKever, South Columbus (Tabor City, North Carolina) – NC State
Jazz Peavy, Kenosha Tremper (Kenosha, Wisconsin) - Wisconsin
James Quick, Trinity (Louisville, Kentucky) – Louisville
Ladarious Spearman, West Brook Senior High (Beaumont, Texas)
Hunter Bull, Southhaven (Southhaven, Mississippi)
Jake Butt, Pickerington North (Pickerington, Ohio) – Michigan
Standish Dobard, Edna Karr (New Orleans, Louisiana) – Miami
Durham Smythe, Belton (Belton, Texas) – Notre Dame
Nicholas Bonaparte, Dunbar (Baltimore, Maryland) – Coastal Carolina)
Eric Bonenberger, Pottsgrove (Pottstown, Pennsylvania)
Dane Crane, Santa Margarita Catholic (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) - Washington
Emerald Faletuipapai, Junipero Serra (Gardena, California) – Houston
Gardner Fish, Pelham (Pelham, Alabama)
Grant Hill, Huntsville (Huntsville, Alabama) – Alabama
Dallas Hinkhouse, Iowa Western C.C. (Council Bluffs, Iowa) - Illinois
Chongo Kondolo, Fresno City C.C. (Fresno, California) - Nebraska
Grant Lingafelter, Chagrin Falls (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) – West Virginia
Karl Malone, Cedar Creek (Ruston, Louisiana) – LSU
Chuddy Nwachukwu, Dighton Rehboth Regional (North Dighton, Massachusetts)
Sunny Odogwu, Hargrave Military Academy (Chatham, Virginia) - Miami
JonRyheem Peoples, Rigby (Rigby, Idaho) – BYU
Bailey Pepper, Madison (Madison Central)
Buster Posey, Gadsden City (Gadsden, Alabama)
Kenneth Santa Marina, McDonogh 35 (New Orleans, Louisiana) – Tulane
Dan Skipper, Ralston Valley (Arvada, Colorado) - Arkansas
Stone Underwood, Copiah-Lincoln C.C. (Wesson, Mississippi) – West Virginia
Wolfgang Zacheri, Broughton (Raleigh, North Carolina) – UNC Charlotte
Taco Charlton, Central (Pickerington, Ohio) – Michigan
Rashaad Coward, Sheepshead Bay (Brooklyn, New York) – Old Dominion
Bear Cummings, East Mississippi C.C. (Scooba, Mississippi) – Florida
Carmine Goldsack, Bergen Catholic (Oradell, New Jersey)
Dee Liner, Muscle Shoals (Muscle Shoals, Alabama)
Finesse Middleton, Gadsden City (Gadsden, Alabama) - Louisville
Naim Mustafaa, Alpharetta (Alpharetta, Georgia) – Oklahoma State
Roc-m Nesbitt, Carver (Atlanta, Georgia)
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Alief Taylor (Houston, Texas) - Oklahoma
Kingsley Opara, Mandarin (Jacksonville, Florida) - Maryland
Jock Petree, West Orange (Winter Garden, Florida)
Stone Sander, Placer (Auburn, California)
Buddy Shutlock, Dallas SHS (Dallas, PA)
Junius Smalls, West Jefferson (Harvey, Louisiana)
Wyatt Teller, Liberty (Bealeton, Virginia) – Virginia Tech
Wa’Keem Whipper, Atlantic (Port Orange, Florida)
Buddy Brown, Williamstown (Williamstown, New Jersey) – Temple
Dance Estes, Bay (Panama City, Florida)
Holland Fisher, Manchester (Midlothian, Virginia) – Virginia Tech
Pierre Gee-Tucker, Belleville (Belleville, Illinois)
Courtney Love, Cardinal Mooney (Youngstown, Ohio) – Nebraska
Ebenezer Ogundeko, Thomas Jefferson (Brooklyn, New York) – Clemson
Money Peterson, Wilmer-Hutchins (Dallas, Texas)
Johnny Ragin III, Wilsonville (Wilsonville, Oregon) - California
Matt Smallbone, St. Joseph’s (South Bend, Indiana) – Miami (Ohio)
Eli Apple, Eastern (Voorhees, New Jersey) – Ohio State
Will Barrow, Skyline (Dallas, Texas) – Tulsa
Stormy Butler, College of the Sequoias (Visalia, California)
Money Hunter, Prosper (Prosper, Texas)
William Likely, Glades Central (Belle Glade, Florida) – Maryland
Montrel Meander, Palo Duro (Amarillo, Texas) - Texas
Atem Ntantang, Woodgrove (Purcellville, Virginia) – Boston College
Montavious Smoke, Stanhope Elmore (Millbrook, Alabama)
Weston Steelhammer, Calvary Academy (Shreveport, Louisiana)
Mason Stone, Mountlake Terrace (Mountlake-Terrace, Washington)
Mike Tyson, Hargrave Military Academy (Chatham, Virginia) – Cincinnati
Priest Willis, Marcos De Niza (Tempe, Arizona) – UCLA
Chocolate Wilson, Myrtle Beach (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina) – Marshall
Diquon Woodhouse, Altus (Altus, Oklahoma) – Navy
Related Recruiting Content
Baltimore won the Super Bowl, but as it relates to Athlon Sports’ early ranking of NFL teams for next season, not ALL of the spoils go to the victor. San Francisco, who came up short against the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday night in New Orleans, comes in at No. 1, while the newly crowned world champions slot in at No. 4.
Note: 2012 Record includes playoffs, if applicable.
1. San Francisco 49ers (13-5-1)
San Francisco’s second-half rally comes up short against Baltimore, but the 49ers are well positioned to make another title run this fall.
2. Denver Broncos (13-4)
Even though Denver’s roster as a whole is relatively young, Peyton Manning (37 in March) is not, so the Broncos’ window may be closing sooner rather than later.
3. Green Bay Packers (12-6)
Greg Jennings may have played his last game in a Packers’ uniform, but the defense will get linebacker Desmond Bishop (hamstring) back. A better running game certainly wouldn’t hurt either.
4. Baltimore Ravens (14-6)
Baltimore’s roster will look quite different for the Ravens’ championship defense this fall. Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco will cash in handsomely, but his new contract will only add to team’s cap woes.
Related: Early Super Bowl XLVIII Contenders
5. Houston Texans (13-5)
Houston stumbled at the finish, but this team still has a bright future and the Texans' defense will get a big boost from the healthy return of linebacker Brian Cushing (ACL).
6. Atlanta Falcons (14-4)
Atlanta finally got that long-sought first playoff win for Mike Smith, Matt Ryan and company. First order of business this offseason is convincing Tony Gonzalez to come back for another run.
7. Seattle Seahawks (12-6)
Seattle and San Francisco going head-to-head in the NFC West should be a lot of fun to watch in the coming seasons.
8. New England Patriots (13-5)
Free agent Wes Welker is just one of several key Patriots who could be in a different uniform next season. Is this the end of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s run in the AFC?
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
Pittsburgh would like nothing more than to knock defending Super Bowl champion Ravens from their perch atop the AFC North. Steelers will need to do some savvy cap maneuvering and draft picks to increase their chances of doing so, however.
10. New York Giants (9-7)
Focus will be on keeping enough pieces in the fold to make another run in the fall. Several key free agents and contract situations will dominate front office’s attention this offseason.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)
Coming off of back-to-back playoff appearances, Cincinnati is out to prove it is ready to challenge Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the AFC North. Bengals have lots of cap space (reported $55 million) and an extra second-round pick in April to improve the roster and address areas of need.
12. Washington Redskins (10-7)
Washington’s 2013 season hinges on the healthy return of Robert Griffin III and when he gets back on the field. Next area of concern has to be improving NFL’s 28th-ranked defense.
13. Chicago Bears (10-6)
First-year NFL head coach Marc Trestman’s goal is to keep Chicago in playoff contention. The Bears’ offseason priorities are to fix the offensive line, help Jay Cutler take that next step and keep league’s No. 5 defense intact (Brian Urlacher?) and on the same page with new coordinator Mel Tucker.
14. New Orleans Saints (7-9)
New Orleans is happy to finally put BountyGate behind it. Reinstated and re-signed head coach Sean Payton ready to lead Saints back to Super Bowl contention.
15. Indianapolis Colts (11-6)
Indianapolis is hoping to build on this past season’s remarkable turnaround and has the plenty of cap space ($46 million) to help improve roster. Andrew Luck loses Bruce Arians, but gets to replace him with Pep Hamilton, his offensive coordinator his senior year at Stanford.
16. Minnesota Vikings (10-7)
Minnesota basking in Adrian Peterson’s MVP season, playoff berth, but the jury is still out on Christian Ponder at quarterback and a decision has to be made about Percy Harvin’s future with the Vikings
17. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
Jason Garrett’s seat is only getting hotter in Dallas, as he brings Monte Kiffin back to the NFL to reinvent the Cowboys’ defense. Kiffin’s “Tampa 2” scheme probably means new personnel, but team’s cap situation ($18 million over) will hinder roster changes.
18. San Diego Chargers (7-9)
Mike McCoy may be a first-year head coach, but he’s already made wise decisions in retaining defensive coordinator John Pagano and bringing in Ken Whisenhunt to run the offense. If McCoy can do for Philip Rivers what he did for Peyton Manning, Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow in Denver, watch out for these Chargers.
19. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1)
Jeff Fisher changes his mind about hiring Rob Ryan to run the defense. Besides finding a defensive coordinator, the team also must decide on whether free agent wide receiver Danny Amendola will be back in a Rams uniform or not.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)
Tampa Bay was quite competitive in first season under Greg Schiano. Can Doug Martin and Lavonte David avoid a sophomore slump and will Josh Johnson show that he’s the long-term answer at quarterback are a few key things to watch next season.
21. Carolina Panthers (7-9)
Carolina finished the season with four straight wins, but lost offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski to Cleveland. Cam Newton’s continued development with new OC David Shula, sorting out a crowded backfield and getting under the salary cap headline the Panthers’ offseason to do list.
22. Miami Dolphins (7-9)
Miami needs to give Ryan Tannehill a bona fide wide receiver and the Dolphins have enough cap room ($35.8 million) to go shopping in fairly deep free agent class. Reggie Bush, Brian Hartline, Jake Long and Randy Starks are key free agents that either need to re-signed or replaced.
23. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)
All eyes will be on Chip Kelly to see if he can make the jump from Oregon to the NFL, as well as how his up-tempo, high-octane offense fares in the pros. Michael Vick may have played his last game in an Eagles uniform, but Kelly has other weapons to work with and the defense was not the team’s biggest problem this past season.
24. Detroit Lions (4-12)
Detroit was unable to build off of its 2011 postseason appearance, as the Lions tumbled into the NFC North basement. This offseason is critical not only for the Lions, but also head coach Jim Schwartz, who could be headed to unemployment if he doesn’t turn things around in the fall.
25. Cleveland Browns (5-11)
Ohio native Rob Chudzinksi lands dream job in taking over hometown team. The first-year head coach has some appealing pieces, including a young defense, in place; but he has several question marks (Brandon Weeden? wide receiver depth?) too.
26. Buffalo Bills (6-10)
Doug Marrone jumps from Syracuse to Buffalo, as he will try and end the Bills’ 13-season playoff drought, the longest active one in the NFL.
27. New York Jets (6-10)
It’s put up or shut up time for Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez as Tim Tebow won’t be around next season to serve as a “distraction” or take the fall should things go wrong.
28. Tennessee Titans (6-10)
Mike Munchak has already made several coaching changes (Gregg Williams next?) in an attempt to start turning things around. Coaching changes aside, the Titans’ 2013 season, and most likely Munchak’s job, hinges on the development of quarterback Jake Locker and marked improvement on defense.
29. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
Arizona replaced Ken Whisenhunt with Bruce Arians, this past season’s NFL Coach of the Year recipient. Unfortunately for Arians, he wasn’t able to bring Andrew Luck, or Indianapolis’ offensive line for that matter, with him. It doesn’t help Arians that he wasn’t able to keep Ray Horton on board as defensive coordinator either.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
Kansas City got its man when the Chiefs hired Andy Reid following his dismissal in Philadelphia. Now Reid will set to work on remaking the roster to his liking, and he has the No. 1 overall pick in April to help him do that.
31. Oakland Raiders (4-12)
Not much went right for head coach Dennis Allen in his first season in Oakland. Given that the Raiders are already over the cap, any improvement will have to be fueled by its young impact players and this April’s draft, minus the second-round pick they traded to Cincinnati in the Carson Palmer deal from 2011.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)
First-year coach Gus Bradley and general manager David Caldwell face league’s toughest task in trying to turnaround the Jacksonville franchise, both on the field and off.
Super Bowl XLVII had it all — a blackout, fireworks, records broken, sex appeal and mass hysteria. The Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers, 34–31, at the Superdome in New Orleans. But there was plenty of action, from Alicia Keys' National Anthem to Beyonce's halftime show to Ray Lewis' postgame speech, and every commercial in between. These are the most memorable moments from Super Bowl XLVII.
Zero Dark 47
The CBS telecast of Super Bowl XLVII became the Will Ferrell “Wake Up and Smile” teleprompter skit on SNL when the lights went out at the Superdome in New Orleans.
National Anthem Remix
Alicia Keys took the over on the Vegas line of 2:10, clocking in at a 2:36 after tickling the ivory and repeating the last line of a record-length “Star Spangled Banner.”
Put a Ring On It
Beyonce’s lip-syncing halftime show included a Destiny’s Child reunion but no Jay-Z. But the Ravens’ best omen came pregame, when Jonathan Ogden showed off his Super Bowl XXXV ring during Class of 2013 Hall of Fame introductions.
Ravens quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco sat out 84 minutes of real time during the Beyonce concert, Jacoby Jones’ kickoff return and the Superdome blackout.
When the game was over, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh refused to be interviewed by CBS — after he had the following exchange with older bro and Ravens coach John Harbaugh: “I love you,” said John. “Congratulations,” replied Jim.
Other Worldly Love
Danica Patrick gave us another wreck to watch, with Israeli ubermodel Bar Refaeli making out with some lucky nerd in a gag reflex GoDaddy.com spot.
Jacoby Jones’ Not-Touched-Down Touchdown
“Smokin’ Joe” Flacco hit Jones on a deep ball which he fielded like a punt, fell down untouched, got back up, juked and sprinted into the end zone to cap a 56-yard score.
Jacoby Jones’ 109-turned-108-yard Kick Return
Jim Nantz credited Jones with a record 109-yard kickoff return to open the second half. The eye in the sky took one yard away for a record-tying 108-yard return.
Ravens safety Ed Reed tied the all-time playoff record with his ninth career INT, which was the first-ever INT thrown by a 49ers quarterback in the Super Bowl. Joe Montana and Steve Young threw 17 TDs and zero INTs before Colin Kaepernick’s miscue.
South Korean psuper pop pstar Psy hit the Super Bowl hard, with a neon-green pistachio dance party that clearly was “Gangnam Style.”
Fake FG, Non-Punt
Former special teams coach John Harbaugh called for both a fake field goal with rookie kicker Justin Tucker and an intentional safety with punter Sam Koch.
The second black referee in Super Bowl history was a controversial choice to work the game, which included several shoving matches but no crazy calls. Unless you think there was a…
Botched Holding Call?
On 4th-and-Goal with the game on the line, 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree and Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith tangled as the ball sailed over their heads and hit the ground. No flag was thrown, causing Jim Harbaugh to lose his mind.
Calvin Klein caused plenty of Super Sunday partygoers to freak out Harbaugh style with its creepy black-and-white ad featuring a half-naked male model.
So God Made a Farmer
Ram brought it all back to Earth with an earnest, honest ode to hard work — brilliantly using Paul Harvey’s famed 1978 speech in a spot that played like a short film.
Ray Lewis' Last Words
Ray tried to wrestle the mic from Jim Nantz in the postgame trophy ceremony. But settled for repeating his familiar message: "When God is for you, who can be against you?"
The Commissioner avoided being beat down on Bourbon Street by watching the big game with nine-year-old phenom Samantha Gordon. Because, win or lose, Ravens or 49ers, everyone loves that girl.
This weekend was vintage Phil Mickelson. In winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale,he played as well as he could possibly play, and yet he left us wanting more.
On Thursday, he saw a putt for a 59 cruelly horseshoe out of the cup even as he was walking it in, putter raised, leaving him a tap-in for a 60.
On Friday, he was cruising toward the PGA Tour's 36-hole scoring record until a double-bogey at 18 left him a shot shy.
On Saturday, he came up just short of the Tour's 54-hole scoring record.
On Sunday, he turned back a Brandt Snedeker charge with one of the greatest putts of his career, a 54-footer through the fringe at No. 7 that was barreling along until the cup got in the way. Three back-nine birdies later, he had a four-shot win over Snedeker and a staggering 28-under finish — and yet, the absence of his career nemesis placed an undeserved asterisk next to his 41st career PGA Tour win.
Yes, as Johnny Miller pointed out during Sunday's broadcast, had Phil not had the misfortune of playing in the Tiger Woods era, he would be the undisputed king of golf. As it is, Mickelson has fashioned a career that would be the envy of all but a handful of players in the game's history. In particular, Lefty has towered over the desert Southwest like a smiling Sphinx, winning six times in the state where he played his collegiate golf. Playing for an adoring crowd, the largest of the PGA Tour season, Mickelson tied the tournament scoring record of 256, 28-under par. Only twice in 72 holes did he post an over-par score on a hole.
Mostly, though, he regained a feel for what it's like to win a golf tournament, which could portend a massive year.
"It's an important one for me, because it's been a while since I won, been a while since I've been in contention," Mickelson said. "I was certainly nervous heading into today's final round.
"I think the thing I'm most excited about was the way I was able to regain control of my thoughts after a few shots early on that I didn't care for and come back and hit a number of good shots on the back nine to do what I needed to do to win."
Next up: it's back to Pebble Beach, where Mickelson is the defending champion and has won four times. Snedeker will be there too, hopeful that Lefty left his best scores in Scottsdale.
• Phil offered a tip of the hat to two key contributors — Butch Harmon, who conducted an emergency session with Lefty prior to the tournament to correct what Mickelson called a "small thing on the takeaway," and his new driver, a Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme that helped him post 29 birdies and an eagle and lead the field in greens in regulation.
• This marked the ninth different time that Tiger Woods and Mickelson have won in back-to-back weeks.
• Of Mickelson's 41 career wins, 19 have come on the Tour's West Coast Swing.
• Snedeker vaulted to the top of the FedExCup standings with his third top-3 finish of the young season. He also moves to a career-high 6th in the World Golf Rankings. A week after finishing second to Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines, he ran into the Mickelson buzzsaw at TPC Scottsdale, although he made Phil work for his win with a final-round 65. "I'm running into Hall of Famers every week," Snedeker said.
• Snedeker's 260 total would have been good enough to win the previous 11 Waste Management Phoenix Opens and has been bested only three times in the tournament's history.
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?
Our next installment assesses Villanova, a perennial NCAA Tournament team under Jay Wright before a down season in 2011-12. The Wildcats have one of the most difficult resumes among bubble teams. They started the season with lopsided losses to teams that may struggle to reach the NCAA Tournament if they make it at all.
Yet Villanova has started to pull its season together with two wins over top-five wins a week ago, followed by two more losses.
Here’s how Villanova looks with six weeks to Selection Sunday.
|By the numbers|
Record: 13-9, 4-5 Big East
Strength of schedule: 40
Best wins: No. 10 Louisville, No. 11 Syracuse
Worst losses: No. 232 Columbia, No. 107 Providence (twice)
Reasons for optimism
In the numbers game: Villanova put itself into the NCAA Tournament conversation by defeating Louisville 73-64 on Jan. 22 and Syracuse 75-71 on Jan. 26. Both were ranked in the top five of the Associated Press poll at the time, but the Cardinals and Orange have slipped to merely the top 15 in the RPI in the first week in February.
In the real game: JayVaughn Pinkston and Darrun Hilliard attack the basket, leading a team that’s one of the best in the country in getting to the free throw line. When forward Mouphtaou Yarou and guard Ryan Arcidiacoco are both playing well, Villanova can be tough to beat. However, both can be streaky at times, putting more on the shoulders of Pinkston and Hilliard.
Reasons for concern
In the numbers game: Two of Villanova’s early losses don’t look nearly as bad as they did back in November: La Salle and Alabama defeated Villanova early, but now the Explorers are in NCAA contention while Alabama is flirting with the top 60 of the RPI. The 75-57 loss to Columbia, though, is as bad as it was back on Nov. 20. Villanova’s main concern is two losses to Providence, including 55-52 at home Sunday. Villanova’s RPI of 71 and middling conference record will be tough to overcome.
In the real game:
Villanova was torched from three-point range in its two losses following the wins over Louisville and Syracuse. Notre Dame shot 9 of 21 from beyond the arc, while Providence went 10 of 15. A three from Bryce Cotton ended a 9-0 run for Villanova and won the game for the Friars. Meanwhile, Villanova is 5 of 26 from long range during that span.
Villanova does not have much wiggle room after Sunday’s loss to Providence, meaning the Wildcats can’t afford a lapse this week against DePaul and Rutgers. For the Wildcats to recover its NCAA Tournament momentum, they may need to sweep two teams on the road in two weeks when they visit Cincinnati on Feb. 12 and Connecticut on Feb. 16. Villanova’s best road win is over USF on Jan. 9.
The verdict: NIT
Villanova’s road loss to Notre Dame was excusable. The Wildcats may have been playing above their heads in the wins over Louisville and Syracuse, and Notre Dame is tough to defeat in South Bend. Being swept by Providence is a different matter. Villanova is an improved team, but the Wildcats’ margin of error is too slim to afford home losses like Sunday’s to the Friars.
Even though the celebration in Baltimore will go on throughout the week and beyond, it’s never too early to look ahead to the 2013 season, right? With that in mind, here’s Athlon Sports’ early look at which teams could be playing in Super Bowl XLVIII in MetLife Stadium in New York City on Feb. 2, 2014.
By the way, the temperature in the Big Apple as of game time on Sunday night was a brisk 31 degrees. Whichever two teams do make it to next season’s Super Bowl will want to be sure and pack their cold-weather gear.
The Reigning Champions
2102 Record: (10-6 — AFC North, AFC, Super Bowl XLVII champions)
Nothing, and I mean nothing, is going to dampen the euphoria in Baltimore this week and probably for a little while longer. To the victor go the spoils, which is why the Ravens lead off our list of next season's contenders. That said, Baltimore's title defense in the 2013 season will be handled by a roster that will look quite different. Besides Ray Lewis retiring, the Ravens have some serious cap issues that must be addressed. Their work begins with Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco, who is a free agent and reportedly looking for a new contract that will pay him as much as $20 million per year. Needless to say he pretty much earned it with his performance in New Orleans, but that doesn't change the fact that his new deal will only make the Ravens' cap situation worse. And unfortunately, Flacco isn’t the only key free agent the Ravens have to worry about, as Ed Reed, Cary Williams, Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger are also in the same category, along with several others. As it stands right now, the Ravens will have to cut some players and/or restructure several contracts before they can even be in a position to talk with any of their free agents not named Flacco. So soak it in Ravens fans, celebrate and enjoy this special, unforgettable season because it’s almost a certainty that Lewis wasn’t the only who has played his last game in a Ravens uniform.
San Francisco 49ers
2012 Record: (11-4-1 — NFC West, NFC champions, lost to Baltimore in Super Bowl XLVII)
They say experience is the best teacher and as tough as the coming weeks are going to be for this San Francisco team, the future still looks incredibly bright. With Colin Kaepernick now entrenched as the starting quarterback, the team’s most important pending free agent is All-Pro free safety Dashon Goldson. A decision will have to be made about Alex Smith’s future, and should defensive end Justin Smith decide to retire some work will need to be done along the defensive line. Otherwise the 49ers’ core remains intact and is still relatively young. This team is not only in great shape to make it back to the Super Bowl next season, but remain a championship contender for years to come.
2012 Record: (13-3 – NFC South champions, lost to San Francisco in NFC Championship)
No doubt blowing a second-half lead at home to San Francisco in the NFC Championship game is going to sting for a while, but there’s no reason to think that Atlanta won’t at least make it back to the playoffs next season. Matt Ryan appears to be entering his prime and the Falcons have plenty of weapons on offense to help, especially if tight end Tony Gonzalez decides to come back for one more season. The team does have key free agents on both the offensive line (Sam Baker) and in the secondary (Brent Grimes, William Moore), but there should be enough cap space to keep the roster mostly intact.
2012 Record: (13-3 — AFC West champions, lost to Baltimore in AFC Divisional round)
The pieces (MVP-worthy season from Peyton Manning, one of the league’s best defenses, home-field advantage throughout the playoffs) were seemingly in place for Denver, but the Broncos couldn’t make the plays they needed to the most in their double overtime loss to the Ravens in the AFC Divisional round. Manning may not be getting any younger (he’ll turn 37 in March), but he has young weapons around him and the defense should continue to get better. Right now, the Broncos’ most pressing need is to re-sign free agent All-Pro offensive tackle Ryan Clady and then use their remaining cap space and the draft to shore up other areas of weakness. The secondary could go through some changes as well, especially based on how poorly it performed in the playoff loss.
Green Bay Packers
2012 Record: (11-5 — NFC North champions, lost to San Francisco in NFC Divisional round)
San Francisco took it to Green Bay in the NFC Divisional round, but as long as Aaron Rodgers is under center, this team can’t be counted out. Whether the Packers re-sign wide receiver Greg Jennings or not remains to be seen, but Rodgers still has Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb in the fold. Also it’s a fairly deep free agent class at receiver, so the Packers should be able to find a replacement for Jennings there or through the draft if need be. Running back has to be another area of concern on offense, but the defense will get an immediate boost with the healthy return of starting linebacker Desmond Bishop. Bishop, who led the team in tackles in 2011, missed all of this past season after tearing his hamstring in a preseason game.
2012 Record: (12-4 — AFC South champions, lost to New England in AFC Divisional round)
After starting the season 11-1, Houston stumbled down the stretch, losing four of its final six games, including getting dispatched by New England, 41-28, in the AFC Divisional round. The future, however, remains bright for the Texans who have Pro Bowl-caliber players on offense in quarterback Matt Schaub, running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson, along with one of the best offensive lines in the entire league. Finding a more reliable and productive second option at wide receiver would only make this offense even more dangerous. On defense, the secondary will probably undergo several changes, but it still has playmaker J.J. Watt up front. The defense also will get linebacker Brian Cushing back next season. Cushing tore his ACL in Week 5, and the Texans’ defense wasn’t quite the same after he was sidelined.
New England Patriots
2012 Record: (12-4 — AFC East champions, lost to Baltimore in AFC Championship)
As good as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have been together, the reality is that New England’s window may be starting to close. For one, Tom Brady will be 36 before the start of next season and this roster is sure to look somewhat different this fall. No fewer than nine key players are pending free agents, the biggest being wide receiver Wes Welker. The secondary, which was victimized often last season (NFL-high 74 passing plays of 20 yards or more), will undergo changes as well, and there’s only so much cap space to go around. The Patriots are among the best in the league at working the cap and the draft, but there appear to be a lot of potential holes to fill here. With so many “new” players coming to a relatively veteran team, you can’t help but wonder if the end of an era is upon us.
2012 Record: (8-8, 3rd in AFC North)
Similar to New England, Pittsburgh is facing some difficult decisions related to the future of its franchise as well. The Steelers were decimated by key injuries last year, especially along the offensive line and on defense. On top of that, the team has several core players either getting older or are free agents. One of those free agents is wide receiver Mike Wallace, who will more than likely have to be replaced, and he’s not the only Pittsburgh starter on that list. Complicating the Steelers’ makeover plans is identifying its lead running back (if they even have one on the roster) and the fact that they are going to have to do some work to get under the cap. The pieces are still in place for the Steelers to contend, but it’s critical that they bring in reinforcements and some new blood this offseason if they want to hang around beyond next season.
2012 Record: (11-5 — Wild Card berth, lost to Atlanta in NFC Divisional round)
If not for San Francisco, Seattle could have potentially topped this list of contenders, as the Seahawks were just a last-second field goal away from playing the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. As it is, these two NFC West foes could be on the verge of establishing a divisional rivalry similar to that of the Steelers and Ravens from recent years. The Seahawks are strikingly similar to their NFC West counterparts in that they both are led by former Pac-12 coaches, like to run the ball, have one of the league’s best defenses, and found their franchise quarterbacks this season because of injuries. There really appear to be no glaring weaknesses on Seattle’s roster, so the mission now is to work on getting better, building depth and look for ways to keep its core intact. Sound familiar? That’s also San Francisco’s game plan this offseason.
Teams to Watch
2012 Record: (10-6, 3rd in NFC North)
Of the eight new head coaches, Marc Trestman is the only one taking over a team that finished with a winning record this season. The Bears won 10 games, but still missed the playoffs, mainly due to a lack of offensive production. Trestman’s main job is to fix the offense, starting with the offensive line, along with helping quarterback Jay Cutler make that next step in his development. The defense was one of the league’s best, but it will undergo some changes as well, starting with a new coordinator in Mel Tucker. Still, if this team can adjust to the new coaching staff and system changes, and the front office can make some shrewd moves in free agency and the draft, there are enough pieces already in place for it to remain competitive in the NFC North.
2012 Record: (10-6 — Wild Card berth, lost to Houston in Wild Card round)
For the second year in a row, Cincinnati watched its season come to an end with a Wild Card loss in Houston. Now it’s time to see if the Bengals can take that next step and challenge the Ravens and Steelers for supremacy in the AFC North. The offensive cornerstones are in place with quarterback Andy Dalton, wide receiver A.J. Green and tight end Jermaine Gresham. The defense made huge strides this season and only should get better. The Bengals do have several free agents to worry about, especially on defense, but with a reported $55.1 million in cap space, the most of any team, there should be more than enough to keep their core intact as well as address other areas of need (running back? wide receiver?).
New York Giants
2012 Record: (9-7, 2nd in NFC East)
The Giants missed out on a chance to defend their Super Bowl title primarily due to a December road loss to Washington. Whether or not the Giants’ window has closed will be determined somewhat by the decisions made this offseason. The Giants have key players entering free agency, namely Victor Cruz, Osi Umenyiora, Martellus Bennett and Will Beatty, and are already up against the cap as it is. That said, unless the front office decides to blow it all up, the Giants should be able to put the pieces together for one more run next season. Their margin of error, however, will be razor-thin.
Potential Dark Horses
2012 Record: (11-5 – AFC Wild Card berth, lost to Baltimore in AFC Wild Card round)
Yes, Indianapolis improved from 2-14 in 2011 to a remarkable 11-5 this season and made the playoffs, and did so with a rookie quarterback and an interim head coach for most of the season. However, this also is a team that walked a fine line between winning and losing. The Colts finished with a point differential of -30 and won eight games by seven or fewer points. This is a young team that should get better and one that has nearly $50 million in projected cap space to help with that. Development and improvement will be necessary to maintain this momentum, however, because it’s too much to ask for the Colts to get all of the breaks on the field again.
New Orleans Saints
2012 Record: (7-9, 2nd in NFC South)
No team will be happier to see the beginning of the new league year come in March than New Orleans, as the Saints will finally be able to put BountyGate and the rest of the distractions behind them. Regardless of the moves the Saints make in free agency or the draft, they have already brought in their biggest “new” acquisition with the reinstatement and re-signing of head coach Sean Payton. The team has some work to do in regards to the cap and one key player to re-sign in offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod, but more than anything the Saints are just looking forward to a return to normalcy. Don’t forget, the last time Payton coached this team the Saints went 13-3 in the 2011 regular season and lost at San Francisco by just four points in the NFC Divisional round.
San Diego Chargers
2012 Record: (7-9, 2nd in AFC West)
San Diego won just seven games, had the second-to-worst offense in the NFL and fired its head coach. So what’s to like, you ask? For starters, how about the fact that the Chargers scored as many points as they allowed, lost five games by seven or fewer points and finished as the league’s ninth-ranked defense? Injuries were certainly not this team’s friend either as they wrecked the offensive line as well as running back Ryan Mathews’ season. There’s no question this team has work to do this offseason, but new coach Mike McCoy has already got things started in the right direction by retaining defensive coordinator John Pagano and bringing in former Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt as offensive coordinator to help turn quarterback Philip Rivers around. The cupboard is far from bare in San Diego and with the right moves, some good health and a few breaks; the Chargers could be one of next season's turnaround teams.
The Wild Cards
Fittingly, the three “wild cards” all reside in the same division, the NFC East. Right now, there is no division in the NFL that is harder to put a finger on than the one the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins call home. Consider that for all of the questions facing the Giants and decisions that will have to be made (see above); they still appear to the most “stable” team in the East.
2012 Record: (8-8, 3rd in NFC East)
Jason Garrett’s seat continues to get warm as the Cowboys missed the playoffs for the third straight season. Expectations in Big D always remain high, at least as long as Jerry Jones is calling the shots, and Garrett’s job may very well be decided by how well the Cowboys adjust to a new defensive system and philosophy that will be installed by new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. New scheme or not, the Cowboys’ roster will look different next year if not for the simple fact the team is already projected to be nearly $20 million over the cap. So new defense, new personnel and a need to win and quickly. Buckle up Cowboys fans, because it may be a bumpy ride.
2012 Record: (4-12, 4th in NFC East)
Pretty much everything is “new” in Philadelphia starting with head coach Chip Kelly. Besides replacing Andy Reid, who led the Eagles for 14 seasons, Kelly will be the latest college coach trying to prove he can be successful on the next level. The Eagles don’t have many key free agents to worry about re-signing (other than cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), but in many ways this team is basically starting over from scratch. Remember, quarterback Nick Foles took over as the starter late last season, and now he has to learn a new system with a new head coach and offensive coordinator (Pat Shurmur). At this point, the defense doesn’t even now who will be calling the shots as Kelly has yet to name a coordinator. At least Kelly is coaching in a city known for patient fans, right?
2012 Record: (10-6 – NFC East champions, lost to Seattle in NFC Wild Card round)
Wait a minute, Washington, the defending division champions, should have nowhere to go but up, right? Perhaps, but that seemed much more likely up until the point in the Wild Card game against Seattle when quarterback Robert Griffin III’s right knee buckled trying to field a bad shotgun snap. Griffin left the game, the Redskins lost to the Seahawks, and everyone’s attention shifted to the severity of the No. 2 overall pick’s injury.
A few days later those fears were realized when Griffin underwent surgery to repair the LCL and ACL in his right knee, the same knee in which he tore the ACL during his sophomore year at Baylor. Griffin was reportedly walking without a noticeable limp on Saturday when he accepted the 2012 Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year award, but he will more than likely open training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list to give him more time to heal and get ready.
There is no mistaking Griffin’s value to this team, so now the Redskins go into what should have been an offseason brimming with optimism with plenty of questions surrounding the immediate and long-term future of the man who is supposed to be their franchise quarterback. Even with Griffin, this is still a team that has room for improvement, especially on defense, but since the Redskins gave up so much in the first place to draft Griffin, they can’t expect a lot of help to come in this April’s draft. Washington probably won’t be able to do much in free agency either, even though that’s been owner Daniel Snyder’s preferred method of improving the roster, since they are already projected to be over the cap.
Barring a serious setback, Griffin should return at some point next season. Backup and fellow 2012 draft pick Kirk Cousins showed that he’s capable of holding the fort down, but that one game he started this season also is the only game he has started. Washington should be fine once it gets Griffin back. When that is exactly and where will the Redskins be in the divisional chase and playoff hunt when he returns are anyone’s guess right now.
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 did we learn about under- and over-achieving?
Shockingly, the SEC dominates
Alabama has the best roster in America and has won three of the last four national titles. Additionally, four of the top seven, five of the top 10 and eight of the top 19 rosters in the nation reside in the SEC. Within the SEC, the rankings go chalk. Bama has the best players and has won the most games. Florida ranks No. 2 in talent and is No. 2 in wins. LSU is third in both and Georgia is fourth in both. But after that is where things get interesting…
Bigger they are, heavier they fall
Despite the SEC dominance on the field, the SEC also features some of the largest disappointments as well. Tennessee is ranked ahead of Oregon, Stanford, Oklahoma State, Nebraska and Virginia Tech in terms of talent, but is the first team in the rankings with a losing overall record (28-34). Auburn is the first team in the rankings with a losing conference record (17-23) and claims a top 10 roster nationally. There is a reason these two programs have combined for seven head coaches in the last four seasons. Ole Miss also features top 25 talent but has a hideous 13-27 SEC record in the last five years. National Championship or not, expectations are high in Knoxville and Auburn for a reason.
Concerning struggles for major powers
USC, the second-most talented roster, has lost an average of three Pac-12 games per year over the last five seasons. Texas (No. 3) has averaged more than three losses per season over that span — and that includes a 15-1 mark in 2008-09. The ACC’s two most talented teams, Florida State (No. 5) and Miami (No. 13), have a combined 31 conference losses and one ACC title between them over the last five seasons. And Georgia’s (No. 7) record isn’t all that pretty either (27-13), although it is skewed by one really bad season in 2009 (6-7, 3-5). Lane Kiffin, Mack Brown and Jimbo Fisher need to show improvement, growth and stability and do so quickly.
The little guy has some growing up to do
UCF, Memphis and Houston should all be able to recruit and subsequently compete at a comparable level in the Big East rather quickly. Pitt (ACC), Maryland and Rutgers (Big Ten) are all making semi-parallel moves and should be fine. But TCU, Utah and Boise State will all have to prove they can increase their ability to recruit in order to win with the big boys. The Broncos have the best record of any of the 75 teams in this study but are 68th in talent. TCU and Utah have impressive win-loss records — prior to entering the Big 12 and Pac-12. All three will have to take the next step on the recruiting trail to continue long-term big-time success.
Bill Snyder, Pat Fitzgerald, Bret Bielema and Butch Jones have done the most with the least of any coaches in the nation. Each of their rosters rank outside of the top 50 nationally in terms of talent and the group has a combined seven conference championships and their four teams have made 17 bowl appearances (in 20 potential tries). There is a reason that the Badgers and Bearcats had to find new coaches when the SEC came calling in Madison and Cincinnati. Mike Riley, Paul Johnson, Jim Grobe and James Franklin have all proven that their teams win more than their talent indicates as well.
Who has the biggest upside?
Oklahoma State, Washington and Penn State are three extremely intriguing programs. All are unique programs with unique histories and unique hurdles to overcome, but all are poised to enter the upper echelon of college football. Mike Gundy and the Pokes have an elite record and are increasing their ability to recruit with Texas and Oklahoma. Penn State has an equally impressive win-loss record and appears to have locked-up a good one in Bill O’Brien. Washington’s rebuild has been slow but with near-top 25 talent, an excellent set of assistant coaches and a new stadium, the Huskies' upward mobility should have fans in Seattle excited about the near future. Others with new and intriguing upside are Maryland, Rutgers and West Virginia.
|School||Avg. Nat'l Rank||2008||2009||2010||2011||2012||Record||Conf.|
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 weekend 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.
The only stat that really matters is 34-31. The Baltimore Ravens scored three more points than the San Francisco 49ers to win the organization's second Super Bowl. However, there are so many other numbers to crunch. Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Super Bowl XLVII weekend:
34: Number of minutes delay due to a power outage in the Superdome
Officials are saying that too much electricity was being pumped into the Superdome Sunday night, leading to the power outage that stole headlines in Super Bowl XLVII. For more than half an hour fans all over the world sat waiting for football to return. Conspiracy theorists will point to Roger Goodell and/or CBS as the culprit though. Is it really that far-fetched to believe that, right after the Ravens took a commanding 28-6 lead on the opening kickoff of the second half, that pulling the plug on the power was the only way to keep viewers tuned-in to an otherwise boring showcase? Yes, probably. But the game completely changed following the delay and the stoppage will be the lede of the story.
49ers 25, Ravens 6: The score following the delay
The entire game changed following the delay. The Niners took control of the tempo and went on a scoring spree for the ages. In four minutes and 10 seconds, San Francisco rattled off 17 unanswered points to cut the lead from 22 to five with just over three minutes to play in the third quarter. Of course, this all took place immediately following the electrical issues. The 49ers outscored the Ravens 25-6 and outgained the Baltimore birds 260-126 after play was halted.
11-to-0: Joe Flacco's TD:INT ratio in the playoffs
Only five other quarterbacks have thrown at least eight touchdowns and no interceptions in a single postseason. All five — Joe Montana, Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Phil Simms and Drew Brees — won the Super Bowl and claimed game MVP honors. Just like Flacco. After 287 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, the fifth-year quarterback finished the postseason with 1,140 yards, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. He is now 9-4 all-time in the playoffs — the same number of postseason wins (and Super Bowls) as Peyton Manning — and is the only quarterback in NFL history to win at least one playoff game in each of his first five seasons.
0: Colin Kaepernick's completion rate inside the Ravens' 10 yard line
The 49ers ran 11 offensive plays inside the Ravens 10 yard line, including a two-point conversion. Seven times San Francisco attempted a pass and not once did Kaepernick connect. He took two sacks and threw five incompletions, including three straight misses on their final possession of the game at the five yard line. It's fitting that Ray Lewis' final series as an NFL defender was a Super Bowl-winning goalline stand with less than two minutes to play.
15 yards: The longest TD run by a QB in Super Bowl history
No one was open and the pocket was collapsing around him, but Colin Kaepernick rolled left and found daylight. He sprinted past Ravens defenders down the sideline and into the endzone with just under 10 minutes to play, cutting the Baltimore lead to two points. The 15-yard scramble was the longest touchdown run by a quarterback in Super Bowl history — and CK-7 made it look effortless.
35-3: Super Bowl record for the team with fewer turnovers
Scoring more points than the other team is still the most important statistic in the boxscore, but turnovers might be No. 2. The 49ers had two uncharacteristic first-half turnovers that pushed the Ravens to a commanding 28-6 lead early in the second half. Baltimore turned the ball over just once, and although Ray Rice's fumble was costly, it won the turnover battle 2-1. This gives the team with fewer turnovers a commanding 35-3 record in Super Bowls.
9: NFL record career postseason INTs for Ed Reed
Ed Reed is one of the greatest safeties to ever play the game and he proved why on Sunday with a clutch interception in the biggest game of his storied career. It was his ninth postseason interception and it tied the all-time NFL record. Charlie Waters (Dallas), Bill Simpson (LA Rams, Buffalo) and Ronnie Lott (San Francisco, LA Raiders) each have a piece of the record. What makes this one special for Reed and the Ravens, however, is that it was the first interception thrown by a 49ers quarterback in six Super Bowl appearances.
Leave it to the state of Indiana to remind us how much fun regular season college basketball can be.
The top two games of the year have been played in the Hoosier State with a wildly different cast of characters, different pressures and different outcomes. In January, Butler upset Gonzaga at Hinkle Fieldhouse on a buzzer-beater. Then came Saturday night when two of the nation’s best took each team’s best shot before Indiana emerged with the 81-73 win over top-ranked Michigan.
Indiana started perfect (6 of 6 from the field, 2 for 2 from the free throw line), but Michigan clawed back to a tie at 40 apiece early in the second half. The Hoosiers, however, used their trademark efficiency to finish the game with 13 consecutive free throws. But along the way, Indiana’s Victor Oladipo made a case for National Player of the Year, Cody Zeller showed he’s not out of it, and Michigan’s Trey Burke remains in the conversation despite the loss.
Indiana’s win marked a wild weekend in college basketball where homecourt advantages were extended (Pittsburgh) or ended (Kansas), and where lanky forwards stole the spotlight from an emerging and divisive sharpshooter.
Here’s a look at the key numbers from the week of Jan. 28-Feb. 3:
4: Times Indiana has shot 50 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line in the same game
One of these is not like the other: Bryant, Coppin State, Florida Atlantic and Michigan. All four were the victims of Indiana’s relentlessly efficient offense in which the Hoosiers made half their shots from the field and 80 percent of their shots from the free throw line in the same game. On Saturday, Indiana shot 52 percent from the field (26 of 50) and 88 percent from the free throw line (22 of 25) in the 81-73 win over No. 1 Michigan. Entering the game, Indiana ranked second in the country in points per possession (1.2) behind Michigan. The Hoosiers topped that against the Wolverines with 1.5 points per possession.
4: Pittsburgh wins over top-10 Syracuse teams at home teams since 2002-03
The Panthers are 13-1 at home against top-10 teams since the Peterson Event Center opened in 2002-03, and no one has been a more common victim of Pitt’s homecourt magic than Syracuse. The Panthers’ 65-55 win over No. 6 Syracuse on Saturday moved Pitt to 4-0 against top-10 Orange teams in the Peterson Event Center. Pitt coach Jamie Dixon is 10-3 overall against Syracuse.
24.1, 6-to-8: Michael Carter-Williams’ shooting percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio in Syracuse’s losses last week
Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams is one of the nation’s best point guards, but he struggled mightily last week in two losses for the Orange. Carter-Williams shot 7 of 29 (24.1 percent) from the field and had six assists and eight turnovers in losses to Villanova and Pittsburgh last week. Carter-Williams wasn’t alone in his problems with Pitt. The Orange had five assists and 14 turnovers against the Panthers.
2: Home losses for Kansas since 2006-07
Oklahoma State ended Kansas’ 33-game win streak at the Phog Allen Fieldhouse with an 85-80 win Saturday. That may not be the most impressive part of the Cowboys’ win in Lawrence. Oklahoma State is only the second team to win at the Phog since the 2006-07 season. Kansas’ last home loss was Jan. 22, 2011 to then-No. 11 Texas, which ended a 69-game win streak. The Jayhawks last lost to an unranked opponent in Lawrence on Nov. 15, 2006 to Oral Roberts.
11: Three-pointers by 6-foot-10 forwards against Ole Miss last week
The key perimeter shooters in Ole Miss games this week turned out not to be guard Marshall Henderson but 6-10 forwards Kyle Wiltjer of Kentucky and Erik Murphy of Florida. In an 87-74 win Wednesday, Wiltjer scored 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting, including 5 of 12 from three-point range. Murphy followed suit with 19 points, including 7 of 8 from the field and 5 of 6 from beyond the arc.
7: Combined margin of defeat in NC State’s four ACC losses
Only seven points separate NC State from a perfect ACC record. Saturday added to the Wolfpack’s bad luck as Miami used a late 8-2 run and a Reggie Johnson tip-in to defeat NC State 79-78. The loss was NC State’s second one-point loss in ACC play joining a 51-50 loss to Maryland on Jan. 16. NC State also lost to Wake Forest by 2 and to Virginia by 3 for its 5-4 start in the ACC.
37-23: Amount Florida State’s bench outscored its starters against Duke
Every team needs a little spark off the bench. Florida State took this a little too far against Duke. The Seminoles bench outscored its starters 37-25 in their 79-60 loss to the Blue Devils on Saturday. Two guards alone matched FSU’s starting five -- Aaron Thomas (14 points against Duke, averages 6.5 points per game) and Devon Bookart (9 points, averages 5.1). The main culprits in the futility of the Seminoles’ starters were Michael Snaer and Okaro White. Both average better than 12 points per game but scored seven each against Duke.
23-0: Mike Montgomery’s record against Oregon as coach of Stanford and Cal
With a 58-54 win over Pac-12 leader Oregon, Cal coach Mike Montgomery extended his dominance over the Ducks. Montgomery is 23-0 against Oregon as coach at Stanford (18-0) and Cal (5-0), as noted by Jeff Faraudo of the Bay Area News Group.
10: 3-pointers by Georgia State freshman R.J. Hunter against Old Dominion
Georgia State freshman R.J. Hunter, the son of coach Ron Hunter, had one of the standout performances of the weekend with 38 points, converting 10-of-15 shots from three-point range in an 83-63 win over Old Dominion. The 10 threes was a Colonial Athletic Association record but a long way from the Division I record of 15 three-pointers set by Marshall’s Keith Veney against Morehead State in 1996.
Players who make it to the Super Bowl in 2013 can expect a super-sized bonus. The winning players—from either the San Francisco 49ers or Baltimore Ravens—in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on Feb. 3, 2013, will each receive a massive paycheck to the tune of $88,000, while each member of the losing team will earn $44,000. How does that compare to Super Bowls of the past? Here's a look at the winners' and losers' share from every Super Bowl in the past 46 years.
Super Bowl Date Winner (Share) Loser (Share)
XLVI 2-5-12 New York Giants ($88,000) New England ($44,000)
XLV 2-6-11 Green Bay ($83,000) Pittsburgh ($42,000)
XLIV 2-7-10 New Orleans ($83,000) Indianapolis ($42,000)
XLIII 2-1-09 Pittsburgh ($78,000) Arizona ($40,000)
XLII 2-3-08 N.Y. Giants ($78,000) New England ($40,000)
XLI 2-4-07 Indianapolis ($73,000) Chicago ($38,000)
XL 2-5-06 Pittsburgh ($73,000) Seattle ($38,000)
XXXIX 2-6-05 New England ($68,000) Philadelphia ($36,500)
XXXVIII 2-1-04 New England ($68,000) Carolina (36,500)
XXXVII 1-26-03 Tampa Bay ($63,000) Oakland ($35,000)
XXXVI 2-3-02 New England ($63,000) St. Louis ($34,500)
XXXV 1-28-01 Baltimore ($58,000) N.Y. Giants ($34,500)
XXXIV 1-30-00 St. Louis ($58,000) Tennessee ($33,000)
XXXIII 1-31-99 Denver ($53,000) Atlanta ($32,500)
XXXII 1-25-98 Denver ($48,000) Green Bay ($29,000)
XXXI 1-26-97 Green Bay ($48,000) New England ($29,000)
XXX 1-28-96 Dallas ($42,000) Pittsburgh ($27,000)
XXIX 1-29-95 San Francisco ($42,000) San Diego ($26,000)
XXVIII 1-30-94 Dallas ($38,000) Buffalo ($23,500)
XXVII 1-31-93 Dallas ($36,000) Buffalo ($18,000)
XXVI 1-26-92 Washington ($36,000) Buffalo ($18,000)
XXV 1-27-91 N.Y. Giants ($36,000) Buffalo ($18,000)
XXIV 1-28-90 San Francisco ($36,000) Denver ($18,000)
XXIII 1-22-89 San Francisco ($36,000) Cincinnati ($18,000)
XXII 1-31-88 Washington ($36,000) Denver ($18,000)
XXI 1-25-87 N.Y. Giants ($36,000) Denver ($18,000)
XX 1-26-86 Chicago ($36,000) New England ($18,000)
XIX 1-20-85 San Francisco ($36,000) Miami ($18,000)
XVIII 1-22-84 L.A. Raiders ($36,000) Washington ($18,000)
XVII 1-30-83 Washington ($36,000) Miami ($18,000)
XVI 1-24-82 San Francisco ($18,000) Cincinnati ($9,000)
XV 1-25-81 Oakland ($18,000) Philadelphia ($9,000)
XIV 1-20-80 Pittsburgh ($18,000) Los Angeles ($9,000)
XIII 1-21-79 Pittsburgh ($18,000) Dallas ($9,000)
XII 1-15-78 Dallas ($18,000) Denver ($9,000)
XI 1-9-77 Oakland ($15,000) Minnesota ($7,500)
X 1-18-76 Pittsburgh ($15,000) Dallas ($7,500)
IX 1-12-75 Pittsburgh ($15,000) Minnesota ($7,500)
VIII 1-13-74 Miami ($15,000) Minnesota ($7,500)
VII 1-14-73 Miami ($15,000) Washington ($7,500)
VI 1-16-72 Dallas ($15,000) Miami ($7,500)
V 1-17-71 Baltimore ($15,000) Dallas ($7,500)
IV 1-11-70 Kansas City ($15,000) Minnesota ($7,500)
III 1-12-69 N.Y. Jets ($15,000) Baltimore ($7,500)
II 1-14-68 Green Bay ($15,000) Oakland ($7,500)
I 1-15-67 Green Bay ($15,000) Kansas City ($7,500)
Beyonce will take the stage at halftime for a reunion with Destiny's Child and possibly even a duet with her husband, Jay-Z. This isn't Beyonce's first Super Bowl, however; she sang the national anthem prior to kickoff of Super Bowl XXXVIII in her hometown of Houston.
Check out Athlon Sports' special Super Bowl section for more coverage on the Ravens vs. 49ers and the history of the big game.
It's nearly time for Super Bowl XLVII—aka Super Bowl 2013, Super Bowl 47, and the big game—between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers. So what time does the Super Bowl start? Well, we have that and more for you:
While the head-coaching bloodlines may have been the focus entering Super Bowl XLVII, the attention will finally shift to the teams on Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers face off in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS. As tantalizing as the Harbaugh brothers coaching matchup may be, there are plenty of storylines on both teams to go around. The one that will matter most come late Sunday night, however, is which team will be on the podium when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell presents the Lombardi Trophy to the newest world champions.
San Francisco is looking for a record-tying sixth Super Bowl victory in as many tries, while Baltimore would like to pair its Super Bowl XXXV trophy with another. This will be the 10th Super Bowl played in New Orleans and the seventh in what used to be called the Louisiana Superdome. The NFC champion currently holds a 4-2 edge in Super Bowls played in the Superdome, including San Francisco’s 55-10 victory over Denver in Super Bowl XXIV on Jan. 28, 1990. That game remains as the largest rout in Super Bowl history.
Super Bowl XLVII Breakdown
When the Baltimore Ravens run:
Even though Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco and the passing game have been instrumental in the Ravens’ playoff run, this offense is at its best when it can run the ball. The Ravens averaged less than 119 yards rushing per game during the regular season, but have picked up the production in the postseason. In wins over Indianapolis, Denver and New England, Baltimore is averaging nearly 150 yards on the ground.
Running back Ray Rice is the key to the Ravens’ running game and he leads all players this postseason in both attempts (64) and rushing yards (247). Bernard Pierce has averaged more than six yards per carry in the playoffs, and the extended break between the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl should have allowed his knee (bone bruise) to fully heal. Another key cog of the Ravens’ running game is All-Pro fullback Vonta Leach, who will be called on to open up holes and clear lanes for his backfield mates.
San Francisco’s defense was one of the stingiest against the run in the regular season and the unit has maintained its production thus far. The 49ers finished fourth in the NFL in rushing defense during the regular season, allowing less than 95 yards rushing per game, and they have given up a total of 185 yards (92.5 ypg) in their wins over Green Bay and Atlanta. The key to success for San Francisco’s base 3-4 alignment is the depth of its talent, especially at linebacker, and the personnel’s ability to get the job done against the run and in pass coverage.
Up front, starting ends Ray McDonald and Justin Smith take care of their assignments, which allows linebackers NaVorro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks, Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis to hit the gaps and either make plays in the backfield or drop the running back for a loss. All four 49er starting linebackers were named to the Associated Press’ All-Pro team this season with Bowman, Smith and Willis making first team and Brooks named to the second team.
One thing to watch on Sunday is the effectiveness of Justin Smith, who said earlier in the week that he thinks his left triceps tendon is at least 50 percent torn. Smith, who earned second-team All-Pro honors, sustained the injury in Week 15 against New England. The good news is he has been able to play through the injury during the playoffs after missing the final two regular-season games. It’s worth noting, however, that four of the 49ers’ worst defensive performances of the season, in terms of yards allowed, have been over their past five games, or back to when Smith was injured against the Patriots.
When the Ravens pass:
No one has come up bigger in the postseason for Baltimore than Joe Flacco, who leads all quarterbacks with 853 yards passing, eight touchdowns and a 114.7 passer rating. The only quarterback in NFL history to win at least one playoff game in each of the first five seasons of his career, Flacco has yet to throw an interception this postseason either.
Flacco’s main targets in the passing game are wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith and tight end Dennis Pitta. Boldin is the reliable veteran leads all receivers with 276 yards and three touchdown catches. Smith is the Ravens’ main vertical threat (22 ypc in playoffs), while fellow wideout Jacoby Jones also is capable of making the big play, as he did when he caught the game-tying 70-yard touchdown against Denver late in the fourth quarter.
Rice is another reliable receiving option out of the backfield, but the key for the Ravens’ passing game will be attacking the 49ers’ secondary. The wide receivers in particular are the ones to watch as Boldin, Smith and Jones would like nothing more than to duplicate the success that Atlanta’s Julio Jones (11 rec., 182 yds., 2 TDs) and Roddy White (7, 100) had against the 49ers in the NFC Championship game.
Statistically speaking, San Francisco’s defense has fared very well against the pass, but that doesn’t mean plays can’t be made on the 49ers through the air. The 49ers ended the regular season ranked fourth in passing defense (200 ypg), but both (Aaron Rodgers (248 yards passing) and Matt Ryan (396) put up solid numbers against them in their respective playoff matchups.
The 49ers’ don’t have the most productive pass rush in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. Aldon Smith is the team’s sack specialist, a role he excels in (19.5 sacks in regular season), as the 49ers primarily rely on their front three and Smith to generate the pressure. They don’t blitz that much, which allows linebackers Bowman, Brooks and Willis the freedom to make plays and support the secondary in pass coverage.
Baltimore’s offensive line went through a bit of an overhaul late in the regular season and to this point, the changes up front have worked. Flacco is playing the best football of his career this postseason and a big reason for that is his “new” offensive line has allowed just four sacks in the Ravens’ three playoff wins.
When the San Francisco 49ers run:
Following head coach Jim Harbaugh’s “old school” approach, San Francisco’s offense is built around its ability to run the football, something the 49ers do quite well. Fourth in the regular season with 155.7 yards rushing per game, the 49ers have increased that t0 a total of 472 yards on the ground in its two playoff wins.
As a team, the 49ers are averaging 6.6 yards per carry and have scored seven rushing touchdowns already. And while a big chunk of the damage has been done by quarterback Colin Kaepernick (NFL quarterback record 181 vs. Green Bay), it has not been a one-man show.
For one, running back Frank Gore has rushed for 209 yards and three touchdowns in two games, while backups LaMichael James and Anthony Dixon have also scored. Kaepernick’s ability to pick up big gains with his legs (11.2 ypc in the playoffs) certainly makes the 49ers’ rushing attack that much more dangerous, but as he showed in the NFC Championship game, he doesn’t have to run the ball to be effective either.
Even though Kaepernick had just 21 yards rushing against the Falcons, the 49ers as a team piled up 149 yards. Kaepernick had just two of the team’s 29 carries, even though the 49ers used the read option 13 times. On the plays when Kaepernick handed off rather than keeping it himself, the running backs averaged 5.2 yards per attempt and scored three touchdowns.
Regardless of whether it’s Kaepernick getting loose for a big gain or Gore busting it up the middle, the real key to the success of the 49ers’ running game is the offensive line. One of the best in the entire NFL, the starting five of Alex Boone, Anthony Davis, Jonathan Goodwin, Mike Iupati (first team All-Pro) and Joe Staley (second team) excel in run-blocking as they function as a disciplined, physical cohesive unit.
Baltimore’s rush defense has been fairly consistent throughout the season. The Ravens gave up less than 123 yards rushing per game during the regular season and are allowing a little more than 128 on the ground during the playoffs.
Like San Francisco, Baltimore’s base defensive package is a 3-4. One of the keys to Baltimore’s run defense is end Haloti Ngata, who was named second team All-Pro. Ngata is the best run defender the Ravens have up front and he will he need to be effective in some fashion against San Francisco’s staunch offensive line if the Ravens want to slow down the 49ers’ ground game.
Ray Lewis may be leading all players in the postseason in tackles, but he won’t be able to stop the 49ers by himself. He will need younger linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Dannell Ellerbe to continue their strong play against the run. Safety Bernard Pollard is a big hitter who is not afraid to come up to the line and play the run, but the Ravens miss the presence of cornerback Lardarius Webb, who was lost early in the season due to injury.
When the 49ers pass:
San Francisco may not throw the ball as much as some other teams do, but that doesn’t mean the 49ers aren’t productive when they do. Colin Kaepernick has posted a 105.9 passer rating in his first two career playoffs games, having completed 33 of 52 passes for 496 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
Wide receiver Michael Crabtree has emerged as Kaepernick’s go-to target and he should be able to find some space working against the Ravens’ secondary. Remember, the Ravens are without the services of Webb, their top coverage guy. As good as safety Ed Reed has been over the years, his effectiveness has slipped some this season.
Another potential matchup San Francisco may be able to exploit is tight end Vernon Davis. After not getting many looks when Kaepernick first took over the starting quarterback job, Davis (5 rec., 106 yds., TD) played a pivotal role in the 49ers’ second-half comeback in the NFC Championship game.
While not nearly as productive as Crabtree or Davis, veteran wide receiver Randy Moss always seems to thrive playing on the big stage and tight end Delanie Walker has made some key plays when called on.
Baltimore’s pass defense may be allowing nearly 290 yards passing during the playoffs, but the Ravens have made teams work for every yard gained through the air. The Ravens’ road to New Orleans has been anything but easy, especially when you look at the quarterbacks they have defeated.
Not only have they already defeated Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, the latter two victories coming on the road, the Ravens have held the trio to a combined 56.2 completion percentage and four touchdown passes, while forcing seven (5 INTs, 2 fumbles) turnovers. Luck’s Colts were unable to find the end zone in their Wild Card loss, while the Ravens completely shut out Brady and the Patriots in the second half of the AFC Championship game.
The pass rush has helped with this effort, as the Ravens sacked Luck and Manning three times each, and as good as the 49ers’ offensive line is, it also allowed 41 sacks during the regular season. Kaepernick has gone down just twice so far this postseason, so the Ravens will have their work cut out for them if they want to pressure him and, more importantly, bring him down before he can escape the pocket.
Baltimore kick returner Jacoby Jones could be a huge factor on Sunday. Jones was named first-team All-Pro this season after averaging 30.7 yards per kickoff return and scoring three (two kickoffs, one punt) return touchdowns. Not only did the Ravens lead the NFL in kickoff return average (27.3 ypr), San Francisco allowed the second-most (26.9) yards per kickoff return. That could be a recipe for trouble for the 49ers’ kick coverage unit.
That does not mean, however, that the 49ers don’t have their own special teams weapon. A first-team All-Pro in his own right, punter Andy Lee tied for the league lead in net punting (43.2 ypg) and placed more than half (36 of 67) of his punts inside the 20-yard line during the regular season. Opponents averaged less than seven yards per return on Lee’s punts, and he had just four touchbacks.
It’s a good thing the 49ers have Lee since they seem to have very little, if any, confidence in kicker David Akers right now. Akers, a 14-year veteran, finished with the second-lowest success rate (69 percent) on field goals during the regular season and missed his only attempt in the NFC Championship game.
Contrast Akers’ issues with that of his counterpart, rookie Justin Tucker. The Ravens’ kicker is a perfect 14-of-14 in the postseason (12 PATs, 2 FGs) and he missed only three of his 33 field goal attempts during the regular season. It’s no reach to say that Tucker truly does have a leg up on Akers entering the big game.
Much has been made about Jim and John Harbaugh becoming the first brothers to ever coach against one other in a championship game. Familial ties aside for one moment, what really should be lauded is the key coaching decision each made that had direct ramifications on their teams’ respective paths to this Super Bowl.
For Jim, it was his decision to stick with Colin Kaepernick as his starting quarterback even after Alex Smith was cleared to return to the field following his concussion. Kaepernick has started the past nine games under center and in those games the 49ers have averaged 28.6 points per game, which is 4.9 more points than they averaged in the previous nine games that Smith started.
Kaepernick also has some history on his side, as he will become the fifth first- or second-year quarterback to start the Super Bowl. Of the previous four, three (Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XXXIV, Tom Brady in XXXVI , Ben Roethlisberger in XL) led their team to victory and two (Warner, Brady) were named the game’s MVP. The only quarterback that lost was Dan Marino in Super Bowl XIX.
For the Ravens, older brother John’s pivotal decision wasn’t related to a player change, it was a change on his coaching staff. With three games left in the regular season, Harbaugh decided to relieve offensive coordinator Cam Cameron of his duties and turn the play-calling over to quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell.
Even though Baltimore lost two of those final three games, the impact Caldwell has had on the offense, particularly the passing game, is indisputable. Since Caldwell has been running the offense, Flacco has thrown 10 touchdown passes and no interceptions in six total games, including the playoffs, while posting a 111.5 passer rating.
While there’s little doubt the quarterbacks will play a big part in deciding the winner on Sunday, I think another key aspect to watch will be which team is able to run the ball with more success. The 49ers rely heavily on the run to fuel their offense and control the clock, while the Ravens use the ground game to open things up for their aerial attack. If either offense is forced to be more one-dimensional in its game plan, it very likely could sway things in the respective defense’s favor.
Can San Francisco make it a perfect six-for-six in the Super Bowl and tie Pittsburgh for the most Lombardi Trophies? Or will Baltimore write the perfect ending to its fairy tale season?
Athlon’s editors make their pick for Super Bowl XLVII:
|Rob Doster||BAL 20, SF 17||Ray Rice|
|David Fox||SF 28, BAL 21||Colin Kaepernick|
|Braden Gall||SF 20, BAL 17||Vernon Davis|
|Steven Lassan||SF 27, BAL 24||Colin Kaepernick|
|Mitch Light||SF 24, BAL 17||Vernon Davis|
|Rich McVey||SF 24, BAL 17||Colin Kaepernick|
|Charlie Miller||SF 35, BAL 31||Vernon Davis|
|Mark Ross||SF 27, BAL 23||Frank Gore|
|Nathan Rush||BAL 23, SF 17||Joe Flacco|
Check out Athlon Sports' special Super Bowl section for more coverage on the Ravens vs. 49ers and the history of the big game.
Super Bowl betting — and prop bets, in particular — attract sharks and suckers alike who can’t afford a $3.8-million, 30-second commercial spot on CBS’s telecast or a $2,500 nosebleed seat at the Mercedes Benz Superdome, but do have some lunch money to wager on Super Sunday.
Here’s a quick look at this year’s popular Super Bowl bets, along with advice on where the smart money should play. For consistency’s sake, all odds and lines are courtesy of Bovada.lv — the online gambling website formerly known as Bodog.com.
(For the average Joe who doesn’t speak in Vegas tongues, when the odds are –150, you must wager $150 in order to win $100; when the odds are +150, your $100 bet nets $150. Just FYI.)
How long will it take Alicia Keys to sing the National Anthem?
Over 2:10 (+120)
Under 2:10 (–160)
The all-time record is Whitney Houston’s 1:55 effort — which included an 11-second — “brave” finale before Super Bowl XXV. Last year, Kelly Clarkson clocked in at an economical 1:34. The year before, Christina Aguilera went 1:54 without even knowing the lyrics. Alicia Keys would have to add another verse to over 2:10, right?
Heads or tails?
Heads has a 24–22 all-time lead over Tails in this head-to-tail showdown. Expect Tails to make a comeback in the Big Easy.
Which team will win coin toss?
Baltimore Ravens (–105)
San Francisco 49ers (–105)
The NFC has a 31–15 all-time lead, but its streak of 14 straight coin toss victories was snapped last year. Still, the NFC has had the hot hand for 15 years or so, let it ride. Historically, the coin toss hasn’t mattered much; the winner has a 22–24 record.
Will Beyonce be joined by Jay-Z on stage during the halftime show?
A Destiny’s Child reunion won’t be enough. Blue Ivy’s dad has to make an appearance. Expect Shawn Carter to stomp on stage and steal the show in the N-to-the-izz-O.
Total touchdowns scored in game
Over 5.5 (–125)
Under 5.5 (–105)
The Ravens and 49ers have combined to allow 20 second-half points over five games. If there aren’t fireworks on the scoreboard early, there probably won’t be much scoring late.
How many times will Harbaugh be said during the game?
Over 22.5 (–150)
Under 22.5 (+110)
Jim and John are tremendous storylines leading up to kickoff. But neither is playing in the game. There should be long stretches where neither Harbaugh is mentioned at all.
Will the team that scores last win the game?
Let’s hope it’s that kind of Super Bowl.
Will the game go to overtime?
There has never been an overtime game in Super Bowl history. Ofer-46. Go ahead and bet $1,000 to make a sweet $100 profit that there will be no free football. Seriously, don’t do that. Put all your money on the coin toss.
What color will the Gatorade (or liquid) be that is dumped on the winning coach?
Four of the last 10 Gatorade baths have been clear, with orange, yellow and purple each coming in at twice apiece over that same time. Jim Harbaugh was dumped with yellow Gatorade after clinching the NFC West title last season.
Who will be named Super Bowl MVP?
Colin Kaepernick (8/5)
Joe Flacco (11/4)
Frank Gore (7/1)
Ray Lewis (7/1)
Ray Rice (12/1)
Michael Crabtree (14/1)
Anquan Boldin (16/1)
Vernon Davis (18/1)
Torrey Smith (20/1)
Ed Reed (33/1)
Patrick Willis (40/1)
Seven of the last 12 Super Bowl MVPs were the quarterback of the winning team. Ray Lewis is one of the five that wasn’t and he will look to become just the sixth player — and first non-quarterback — to win the award multiple times.
Baltimore Ravens (+4) (+140)
San Francisco 49ers (–4) (–160)
Deer antler spray aside, Ray Lewis will ride off into the sunset as a two-time Super Bowl champ. “Smokin’ Joe” Flacco will hit a deep ball at some point and Ed Reed might just make a splash play in front of his hometown NOLA crowd. Win or lose, the Ravens should keep it close enough to pay out.
Over 47.5 (–110)
Under 47.5 (–110)
The teams combined to score 22 points in the first Har-Bowl on Thanksgiving last year. There will be more points than that this time around, but don’t expect a shootout. Go low.