Articles By All

All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/golf-experts-poll-who-best-announcer-golf
Body:
Athlon polled a number of golf insiders on a variety of topics, but we start with this question: Are Tiger's problems primarily physical or mental? - See more at: http://athlonsports.com/golf/golf-experts-poll-are-tigers-problems-mental-or-physical#sthash.ovLdgVAh.dpuf
Athlon polled a number of golf insiders on a variety of topics, but we start with this question: Are Tiger's problems primarily physical or mental? - See more at: http://athlonsports.com/golf/golf-experts-poll-are-tigers-problems-mental-or-physical#sthash.ovLdgVAh.dpuf

This one was pretty one-sided and not terribly surprising. The frank, outspoken Johnny Miller stands out in the sometimes safe and vanilla world of golf broadcasting, and he has yet to wear out his welcome with our panel members, who appreciate his candor.  

 

Participants

Jay Coffin, Editorial Director, Golf Channel, @JayCoffinGC

Jason Deegan, Senior Staff Writer and Golf Advisor with The Golf Channel online, @WorldGolfer

Steve DiMeglio, USA Today, @Steve_DiMeglio

Bob Harig, ESPN, @BobHarig

Dan Jenkins, Author, Golf Digest Contributor, @danjenkinsgd

Garrett Johnston, Golf journalist, @JohnstonGarrett

Dave Kindred, Golf Digest, Sports on Earth Contributor, @DaveKindred

Alex Miceli, Senior Writer, Golfweek, @alexmiceli

Dan O’Neill, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Dave Shedloski, Golf World, @DaveShedloski

Art Spander, Global Golf Post, @artspander

 

Who is the best announcer in golf?

 Votes
Johnny Miller6
David Feherty2
Jim Nantz1
Frank Nobilo/Jerry Foltz1
No answer1

 

 

Comments from our panel

• "Johnny Miller. He's not bashful about telling it like it is."

 

• "Jerry Foltz on the ground, Frank Nobilo in the tower."

 

• "Johnny Miller. Still."

 

• "Johnny Miller says it the way he sees it.  Can’t get much better than that, even if you don’t agree."

 

• "Love Johnny Miller. The only man with a mic who is not afraid to say exactly how he feels."

 

• "David Feherty is the best when he's not trying to be 'David Feherty.'"

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 14:55
Path: /nba/memphis-grizzlies-eliminate-blazers-who-face-lot-big-questions
Body:

The NBA playoffs are a time of rising prospects and glory, for many teams and players. For others, they’re a painful review of where a franchise stands on the fence between competition and rebuilding.

 

The Portland Trail Blazers don’t quite know where they are on that dividing line, after being ousted from their first-round series, 4-1, by the Memphis Grizzlies. They were a long shot to put up much of a fight against mighty Memphis with their backcourt depth shot, after injuries to Wesley Matthews and Arron Afflalo.

 

Matthews and roster centerpiece LaMarcus Aldridge are free agents this summer. So is starting center Robin Lopez, who didn’t look so great against the Grizzlies.

The torn Achilles that ended Matthews’ season inspires serious questions about how much of an investment Portland, or any team, should make in him going forward. It’s a sad-but-telling instance of how bad luck and timing with injuries can change somebody’s bank account in this league. 

 

Matthews was leading the league in three-pointers made at the time of his injury, and was the Blazers’ best defender — by many accounts, he was headed for a maximum contract. Now, who knows? What if Matthews had suffered his hurt right after signing a new deal, instead of before? These are the rabbit holes he and his agent are likely looking down.

 

For its part, Portland may have found a bright future without Wes in the person of C.J. McCollum, the second-year guard who had a breakout performance in the Blazers’ final fight last night. He scored a career-high 33 points on scorching shooting in the 99-93 loss.

 

Aldridge, meanwhile, is strapped with the dilemma of deciding whether to stick it out as a beloved hero in Oregon, or try the challenge of upstarting a transitioning franchise elsewhere. There will be no shortage of suitors for the big man: The New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs are all known to covet his skills. But is it worth it for him to leave what he’s worked so hard to help build, for dubious prospects elsewhere? Aldridge will have to answer that question, this July.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 14:25
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/get-nerdy-these-nfl-helmets-marvel-comics-mascots
Body:

Two of the most popular programming in America this week may be the NFL Draft and the premiere of The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

 

In other words, this is a good time to mash the two worlds together. What if the Avengers were the mascots for the Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans.

 

We’ve already seen NBA logos re-imagined as football helmets and college football helmets re-designed among other new looks.

 

Now, designer Justin Kozisek brings us have NFL teams re-imagined with mascots from Marvel Comics. Some of the A-list heroes are there — Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine and The Hulk, but Kozisek also digs deep for Fin Fang Foom, Sentry and Iron Fist.

 

It’s pretty much a bonanza for the 12-year-old version of ourselves.

 

 

MFL Helmets
Teaser:
Designer Re-Imagines NFL Teams with Marvel Comics Helmets
Post date: Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 12:58
All taxonomy terms: Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NFL
Path: /jameis-winston-talks-nfl-draft-and-tampa-bay-buccaneers
Body:

Who should go No. 1 overall in this year’s NFL Draft?

 

“Me,” says Jameis Winston. “Enough said.”

 

That type of confidence from the 21-year-old Florida State quarterback should come as no surprise to anyone who has even casually followed Winston’s controversial career. For his fans, that swagger is a prerequisite for any potential “franchise” player to reach the pinnacle of the profession. For Winston haters, that perceived cocky attitude makes the 6'4", 231-pound passer the embodiment of what’s wrong with today’s “entitled” athletes.

 

Being the No. 1 pick is only the first step of Winston’s long-term plan. The Heisman Trophy and national title winner wants to do it all at the next level. And he wants to enjoy the ride along the way. 

 

“That’s always been a dream of mine, to win some Super Bowls and be in the Hall of Fame,” says Winston. “I enjoy the spotlight. I love it. Any chance that I get to show my smile off or just be around and have fun with other people, it’s awesome.”

 

To paraphrase a sports cliché: “It’s not the X’s and the O’s. It’s the Jameises and the Joes.” Winston can play. His achievements precede him. So does his reputation, which has been shaped in the media to the point where he became a caricature of himself before his 21st birthday. Now he has to convince future employers that he can be the on-field CEO and off-field face of an NFL franchise.

 

“I just want their trust,” Winston says. “I believe I am the best player in this draft. I believe that I could be playing in the NFL for a pretty long time. And I just want their trust.”

 

A laundry list of off-the-field indiscretions includes a Title IX rape investigation (that resulted in no charges being filed) as well as more juvenile run-ins — like shoplifting $32.72 worth of crab legs from a local Publix and standing on a table to yell a tasteless yet popular Internet meme. Comedian Kevin Hart visited Tallahassee and publicly told Winston to, “Stop doing dumb (stuff).” The high-profile ups and downs have certainly made an impact on Winston. 

 

“I just learned that I had to grow up. Everything that happened at Florida State, I feel it made me a better person and a better young man,” says Winston. “My family raised me right and my football family, they know who I am. And they stood beside me. First of all, they knew the truth. And they also knew what type of person I was.”

 

In the months leading up to the draft, Winston has done everything in his power to repair his image and prepare himself for the NFL. He flew to New York to clear the air with Commissioner Roger Goodell, who Winston says is “a very fun guy to be around.” He trained in San Diego with quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr., who also worked with former No. 1 picks Andrew Luck and Cam Newton. Winston shined on the field and was charming in interviews at the NFL Combine and his Pro Day.

 

At Florida State, Winston was able to compartmentalize his stresses and continue a remarkable track record of on-field success — as a star quarterback in the fall and two-way baseball player in the spring. Philosophies learned on the diamond have been a major part of Winston’s formula for success on the gridiron, especially when the stakes are high.

 

“Baseball is a game of failure. You gotta have a strong mind in that sport. And playing quarterback, we’re the most scrutinized and most praised position in all of sports. So you gotta have a strong mind,” says Winston, who was drafted by the Texas Rangers and finished his career at FSU with a 1.94 ERA, nine saves and 52 strikeouts over 60.1 innings.

 

“One thing that helped me out was being a pitcher, how relentless I am just trying to take over a game. As a quarterback, sometimes I just try to take over a game. Two-minute drills. Third downs. Situational football is something I take pride in.”

 

This is the first spring of Winston’s career that the Bessemer, Ala., native has not played baseball. And, in scouting terms, even though his “floor” is higher than his competition due to the pro-style offense he ran under coach Jimbo Fisher at Florida State, Winston’s “ceiling” is even higher considering he’s never been a full-time QB.

 

“I love being a quarterback year-round. It’s amazing,” says Winston. “It’s made a huge difference, especially with my mechanics for football. I never had a chance to just work on the football side of my game. I always watched film. But I never had to work on just my release and my drop and just fine-tuning everything. …

 

“I don’t even know how good I can be at quarterback because I never worked this much at it.”

 

Winston is the frontrunner to go No. 1 overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team whose fanbase includes a significant percentage of FSU fans and plenty of Seminole alumni — including Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn and Brad Johnson, to name a few. It seems too good to be true. But Winston could go from the Noles to the Bucs.

 

“If that’s possible, I would love that opportunity. I just would love the privilege of playing in the NFL,” says Winston. “If it happens to be in Tampa, that would be obviously a blessing.”

 

As for those who doubt his ability to transition from college to the pros? Well, after everything Winston has gone through, he’s not too worried.

 

“I don’t got many concerns,” says Winston. “I’m just looking forward to playing football. That’s one thing I love to do, is play football. Whatever may come my way, I’m ready for it.”

Teaser:
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is the No. 1 prospect in the NFL Draft
Post date: Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 12:26
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/potential-coaching-candidates-replace-billy-donovan-florida
Body:

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley is no stranger to conducting a job search in order to replace a championship coach.

 

He’s done it with Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer on the football side. And thanks to Billy Donovan’s brief dalliance with the Orlando Magic in 2007, he started the process to replace Donovan once before. Ironically, the likely replacement in ’07 was then-VCU coach Anthony Grant, who returned to the staff as an assistant this season.

 

Presumably, Donovan’s time with the Oklahoma City Thunder will be longer than his four-day tenure in Orlando, and the Gators will need to hire a new coach.

 

Here are a few potential candidates who might end up in the mix to replace the best basketball coach in program history.

 

Archie Miller, Dayton

He’s one of the hottest coaching candidates out there after taking Dayton to the Elite Eight and NCAA round of 32 in the last two seasons. The 2014-15 season was especially impressive as the shorthanded and undersized Flyers finished 13-5 in the Atlantic 10 and defeated Boise State and Providence in the NCAA Tournament. Miller, however, just agreed a contract extension through 2022 at Dayton. Is Miller waiting for a job like Florida or perhaps a bigger target?

 

Gregg Marshall, Wichita State

Alabama did all it could to woo Marshall from Wichita State, but he resisted. And to Wichita’s credit, the Shockers responded with a contract extension and a raise to a reported $3.3 million a year. Florida is a better situation than Alabama, will that be enough for the coach to both make the move and walk away from a school that did all it could to keep him. Marshall has turned Wichita State into one of the nation's premier programs, leading the Shockers to 30 wins in each of the last three seasons, including a Final Four in 2013 and a 35-1 season in 2013-14. Marshall also led Winthrop to seven NCAA Tournaments in nine seasons.

 

Chris Mack, Xavier

The last three Xavier coaches went to Wake Forest, Ohio State and Arizona with all enjoying success at the major conference level. Mack is just as capable to flourish at a higher level after three Sweet 16 appearances in six seasons.

 

Anthony Grant/John Pelphrey, Florida

The Gators are in a bind by making a coaching change in late April and early May. The carousel has slowed (in particular with Shaka Smart now at Texas and Marshall and Miller agreeing to contract extensions). Grant and Pelphrey have both won on the mid-major level at VCU and South Alabama, respectively. But they’re also back at Florida after being fired from SEC head coaching jobs.

 

Richard Pitino, Minnesota

Donovan did a good job of sending assistants to bigger and better jobs, but few of them would be realistic candidates. Shaka Smart just left VCU for Texas. Anthony Grant and John Pelphrey returned to Donovan’s staff because they were fired at Alabama and Arkansas, respectively. Matt McCall is 33 and was just hired at Chattanooga. That leaves Pitino, who was a Florida assistant for two seasons in between stints working for his father at Louisville. The 32-year-old Pitino is 14-22 in the Big Ten at Minnesota but led an impressive one-year turnaround in his first head coaching gig at FIU.

 

Mike White, Louisiana Tech

White turned down Tennessee hired Donnie Tyndall last season. The 38-year-old is primed for a move, but no NCAA Tournament appearances despite three Conference USA regular season titles is a bit concerning. The Bulldogs are 44-8 in C-USA the last three seasons, stalling in the league tournament each year.

 

Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh

The star has dimmed at bit for Dixon during the last four seasons. His program was once one of the biggest overachievers in the Big East, reaching the NCAA Tournament in each of his first seven years. Pitt has missed the Tournament in two of the last four seasons and has won only three Tournament games since the heartbreaking loss to Villanova in the 2009 Elite Eight.

 

Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa

Jacobson has been at Northern Iowa since 2001 and as head coach since 2006. The entire run includes six NCAA appearances. Jacobson led the Panthers to the Sweet 16 with an upset of No. 1 seed Kansas in 2010, but this year’s squad (31-4) may have been his best team in Cedar Falls.

 

Steve Prohm, Murray State

In four seasons at Murray State, Prohm has coached a team that went 31-2 in 2011-12 and another that won 25 in a row en route to a 27-5 record in 2014-15. He unearthed point guard Cam Payne out of Memphis two years ago and watched him develop into a pro prospect. He’s an Alabama graduate who was not a factor in the Crimson Tide’s coach search.

 

Brad Underwood, Stephen F. Austin

The former Frank Martin assistant has been a head coach for only two seasons, but it’s been quite the run. The Lumberjacks are 61-8 in two seasons with two Tournament appearances and two conference titles. His pressure defense has finished in the top 10 in defensive turnover rate in teach of the last two seasons.

 

Dan Hurley, Rhode Island

Arizona State just hired Hurley’s brother Bobby, but Dan has orchestrated arguably the better programs. He’s never been to the NCAA Tournament but has led dramatic improvement at two spots already. Wagner went 13-17 in his first season and 25-5 in his second. Rhode Island improved from 8-21 in his first year to 23-10 and an NIT appearance in his third.

 

Larry Krystkowiak, Utah

Krystkowiak led a major rebuilding project at Utah, taking over a shell of a roster and going 6-25 in his first season. The Utes improved their Pac-12 record each season and reached the Sweet 16 in 2015. Krystkowiak also took Montana to the NCAA Tournament twice, leading an upset over fifth-seeded Nevada in 2006. He also has significant experience in the NBA, including more than a year as a head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.

 

Larry Shyatt, Wyoming

Florida might be in dire straits if the Gators get to Shyatt. It’s not that he’s a bad candidate. He was an assistant on Florida’s two national championship teams and took Wyoming to the NCAA Tournament last season. But he’s also 64 years old with a 70-84 tenure at Clemson on the resume. 

Teaser:
Potential Coaching Candidates to Replace Billy Donovan at Florida
Post date: Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 11:38
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-tens-quarterbacks-2015
Body:

It’s no secret Ohio State’s quarterback battle is the most intriguing storyline in college football this year. Cardale Jones, Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett will compete this fall to take the first snap against Virginia Tech, and the winner of the competition – assuming they start the full year – should be a Heisman candidate.

 

Michigan State’s Connor Cook ranks No. 2 in the Big Ten quarterback, and the steady senior is poised to keep the Spartans in the hunt for 10 wins. After Cook, there’s a group of intriguing quarterbacks, starting with Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg. The junior hopes to rebound after a sluggish 2014 season.

 

To help compile the rankings, there was some projection involved for 2015. This was not a ranking of quarterbacks only based on accomplishments so far or pro potential. All factors - pure talent, supporting cast, 2015 projection and scheme changes (just to name a few) - were considered and projected to rank the quarterbacks in the Big Ten for 2015. 

 

Ranking the Big Ten Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Cardale Jones/Braxton Miller/J.T. Barrett, Ohio State

 

The Buckeyes have three proven and talented quarterbacks competing for the top spot this offseason. We listed all three names here, but the early favorite to take the first snap of the season has to be Cardale Jones. With Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett recovering from injuries, Jones has been the top quarterback in the spring and played well in Ohio State’s final three games last year. If Jones starts the full season, he should be one of the nation’s top quarterbacks and a Heisman contender.

 

2. Connor Cook, Michigan State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Michigan State is 23-3 with Cook entrenched as the starting quarterback, and the senior should keep the Spartans among the nation’s top 10 teams in 2015. In two years as the starter, Cook passed for 46 touchdowns to just 14 interceptions and 5,969 yards. Cook isn’t going to post monster statistical totals in Michigan State’s offense, but he rarely makes mistakes and has earned back-to-back second-team Big Ten honors.

 

3. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

2014 was a struggle for Penn State’s offense. With a rebuilding offensive line, the passing and rushing attacks for the Nittany Lions were never able to get on track. The overall depth and talent is better up front for Penn State in 2015, which should allow the offense to take a step forward in coach James Franklin’s second season. Hackenberg’s passing totals regressed from throwing 2,955 yards and 20 scores in 2013 to 12 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 2014. Talent isn’t an issue for Hackenberg, but he needs more help from the offensive line.

 

4. Wes Lunt, Illinois

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

It’s a tossup among quarterbacks No. 4-7 on this list. Lunt is arguably the most talented passer out of that bunch, but he has yet to put everything together for a full season of production. However, that could change in 2015. Lunt’s 2014 season was limited by a leg injury, and he finished the year with 1,763 yards and 14 passing scores. The Fighting Illini offense will miss Mike Dudek’s playmaking ability at receiver while he recovers from a torn ACL. However, the cupboard at receiver isn’t bare for Lunt. Geronimo Allison (14.59 ypc in 2014), Justin Hardee and Malik Turner provide three capable options in the passing game.

 

5. Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Armstrong move up this list by the end of November. Of course, that’s assuming the junior has an easy transition to a new offense. New coach Mike Riley is changing up Nebraska’s offense to more of a pro-style attack, and Armstrong has to progress as a passer this season. In 13 games last year, Armstrong passed for 2,695 yards and 22 scores. He also added 705 yards and six scores on the ground. With Jordan Westerkamp, Jamal Turner and De’Mornay Pierson-El returning at receiver, everything is in place for Armstrong to succeed in 2015.

 

6. Nate Sudfeld, Indiana

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Sudfeld’s 2014 season was cut short by a shoulder injury suffered against Iowa. Prior to his injury, Sudfeld was still trying to adapt to a new group of receivers and threw for 1,151 yards and six scores through six appearances. But rewind back to 2013 and it’s easy to see Sudfeld’s potential in Kevin Wilson’s offense. In 12 appearances (with eight starts), Sudfeld threw for 2,523 yards, 21 scores and completed 60.2 percent of his throws. Assuming he’s healthy, Sudfeld will have Indiana in contention for a bowl this season.

 

7. Jake Rudock, Michigan

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

After a two-year stint as Iowa’s starting quarterback, Rudock transferred to Michigan for his final year of eligibility. C.J. Beathard was expected to replace Rudock as the starter with Iowa this season, so getting a chance to learn under Jim Harbaugh and remain in the Big Ten is a good move for the senior quarterback. Rudock was productive from 2013-14 with the Hawkeyes, throwing for 4,819 yards and 34 touchdowns to interceptions. How quickly will he mesh with the supporting cast at Michigan? Harbaugh is one of the Big Ten’s top offensive coaches, and Rudock should have a solid year in 2015.

 

8. Mitch Leidner, Minnesota

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

In his first full season as Minnesota’s starter, Leidner led the Golden Gophers to an 8-5 record and a 5-3 mark in Big Ten play. The Minnesota native passed for 1,798 yards and 11 scores and rushed for 452 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. While Leidner’s debut was solid, there are plenty of areas for him to work on in 2015. Leidner has to become a better passer after completing just 51.5 percent of his throws last year. The struggles in the passing game aren’t solely on Leidner’s right arm, as Minnesota has to develop more playmakers at receiver. That task is even more critical with the departure of tight end Maxx Williams to the NFL.

 

9. Joel Stave, Wisconsin

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Stave has been a steady presence for Wisconsin over the last three seasons. The Wisconsin native has passed for 4,948 yards and 37 scores since 2012. New coach Paul Chryst is tasked with improving the Badgers’ passing attack after averaging only 148.7 yards in 14 games last season. Considering the punishing rushing attacks Wisconsin has generated recently, a prolific passing game isn’t needed. However, Stave has to elevate his performance if the Badgers want to challenge Ohio State and Michigan State for a spot at the top of the Big Ten in 2015.

 

10. C.J. Beathard, Iowa

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Jake Rudock was a solid starter for Iowa, but Kirk Ferentz and coordinator Greg Davis hope Beathard brings more big-play ability to the offense. In nine appearances last year, Beathard passed for 645 yards and five scores and completed 52 of 92 throws. It’s a small sample size to draw conclusions from, but it’s interesting to note Beathard completed three passes of 40 yards or more last year. Rudock had just eight with more playing time. With a strong arm and good mobility, Beathard could provide a spark for an Iowa offense that produced only 12 plays of 40 yards or more last season and ranked seventh in the Big Ten in scoring.

 

11. Caleb Rowe, Maryland

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

An offensive makeover is underway at Maryland this offseason. Quarterback C.J. Brown expired his eligibility, the receiving corps lost key targets Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, and the offensive line could have two promising freshmen start at the tackle positions. Rowe did not participate in spring practice while recovering from a torn ACL, but he is the favorite to replace Brown under center in 2015. The South Carolina native is a better pocket passer than Brown and is 123 of 229 for 1,768 yards and 12 scores over the last three years.

 

12. Zack Oliver/Matt Alviti/Clayton Thorson, Northwestern

 

It’s a wide-open battle to replace Trevor Siemian at Northwestern. Oliver, Alviti and Thorson finished spring with little separation, meaning the quarterback competition will extend into the fall. Thorson has the most upside, but Oliver and Alviti have the edge in experience. Oliver started the finale against Illinois last year and threw for 221 yards on 23 completions.

 

13. Chris Laviano, Rutgers

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Laviano edged slightly ahead of LSU transfer Hayden Rettig for the starting quarterback job at the conclusion of spring practice. In Rutgers’ spring game, Laviano completed 8 of 10 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns, while Rettig went 4 of 7 for 37 yards. Laviano also played in five games as Gary Nova’s backup last season, completing 11 of 28 passes for 107 yards. There’s some upside with Laviano, especially with top receiver Leonte Carroo returning for his senior year and an underrated stable of running backs. But will there be a transition period with Ben McDaniels taking over for Ralph Friedgen as the team’s play-caller?

 

14. Austin Appleby, Purdue

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Appleby and Chris Laviano easily could be flipped on this list. However, for now, the edge goes to Appleby at No. 13. The Ohio native started the final six games of 2014 and passed for 1,449 yards and 10 scores, while adding 198 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Appleby isn’t secure in the starting job, as Danny Etling and David Blough will push for time once again in the fall.

Teaser:
Ranking the Big Ten's Quarterbacks for 2015
Post date: Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /nba/dallas-mavericks-have-shaky-short-term-future
Body:

After getting bounced from the first round of the NBA Playoffs by the in-state rival Houston Rockets, four games to one, the Dallas Mavericks face very uncertain territory.

 

Franchise cornerstone piece Dirk Nowitzki showed against Houston that he’s no longer quite great enough to build around. While his shot is still a beautiful sight, his aging legs mean he’s no longer able to create the needed air space to score with great volume and efficiency. More importantly, he’s become a sieve on defense — Rockets super-sub Josh Smith moved around him like he was nothing more than a glorified pylon, through much of the series.

 

Rajon Rondo’s stay in Texas was an utter disaster, and there’s virtually no chance he’ll return to Dallas as a free agent this summer. Starting shooting guard Monta Ellis has a player option for next season, and can become a free agent himself if he chooses. With the expected jump in salary caps league-wide, it would seem he’s likely to test the market at the very least, and would come at a greater cost to Dallas even if he stays.

 

Starting center Tyson Chandler? Also headed for free agency. As is the lone bright spot from the Mavericks’ short-lived postseason run, forward Al-Farouq Aminu, who made himself a lot of extra money with his performance against Houston.

 

Assembling a team around the declining Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons — who missed all of the series with a knee injury, and may be having surgery that could affect his play going forward — makes for some dubious prospects, at best. Especially in the ever-loaded Western Conference.

 

All these question marks amount to some pretty slim chances at elevated competition in Mavericksland, and some serious decisions for owner Mark Cuban about whether he should begin to rebuild, instead of hunting down marginally better returns in the short term, by spending more money this summer.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 10:23
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/11-crazy-predictions-2015-nfl-draft
Body:

There shouldn’t be much drama with the No. 1 pick, but the first round of any NFL Draft is never boring.

 

Throw Chip Kelly, Jerry Jones, Roger Goodell, Adrian Peterson, the Browns, Rex Ryan and 32 million of their closest friends (and wanna-be analysts) into a brand-spanking new blender in Chicago and fireworks are bound to ensue. And entertain.

 

Part of what makes the NFL Draft one of the biggest sporting events of the year is its unpredictable nature.

 

Players drop, owners reach, trade offers are flying and some teams (looking at you Minnesota) have even passed on drafting anyone at all.

 

So what craziness should fans be looking for this weekend?


Brett Hundley is a first-round pick

Hundley is a poor man’s version of Mariota with a big frame, a winning track record, huge production and well above-average athleticism. Don’t be surprised if Hundley is a first-round draft pick Thursday night. How awesome would it be if Kelly and the Eagles don’t trade with anyone and simply draft Hundley at No. 20?

 

Trading up for Marcus Mariota

The most obvious and talked about trade for any team in the league is the move up to the second pick to presumably take Mariota. Tennessee doesn’t want to pick No. 2 and many teams — San Diego, Cleveland, Philadelphia — have shown interest. However, don’t be surprised if a surprise team ends up making the move to get the second pick and draft the Heisman winner. Like, say, the Cardinals? Either way, someone is trading up to draft Mariota.

 

Related: Don't be Stupid Tampa Bay, Take Winston No. 1

 

Browns will ruin their future

With Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel last year, the Browns might have set their franchise back years. Should they screw up two more first-round picks again this year, this team is all but guaranteed another decade of losing. Offering a Redskins-esque package to trade up to draft Mariota or taking risks on players like wide receivers Breshad Perriman, Phillip Dorsett, defensive lineman Arik Armstead or defensive back Byron Jones would ruin any chance of making the playoffs in Cleveland.

 

New WR record

In 2004, Larry Fitzgerald led a deep wide receiver class that still owns the first-round NFL Draft record for the most taken (7). Amari Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Jaelen Strong, Dorial Green-Beckham, Perriman, Dorsett and Devin Smith have all seen their stock fly as high as the first round. I'm saying eight get picked tonight, setting a new record.

 

Dorial Green-Beckham is a top 10 pick

DGB has legitimate off-the-field issues that he will need to answer, but his on-the-field talent may be second-to-none at his position. He is 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds with elite-level athleticism. Should he mature and behave, he could be the best player in the entire draft.

 

The Raiders will do something intelligent

Odds are either Leonard Williams or Cooper will be available for the Raiders with the fourth pick — and they could be the best two prospects in the draft. And, yes, Oakland will do the right/intelligent/smart thing and draft either Williams or Cooper.

 

Chip Kelly will blow our minds

This could be trading for Peterson. This could be shipping Sam Bradford to Cleveland. This could be trading up to get Mariota. This could be naming Tim Tebow his starting quarterback four months before Week 1. I have no idea what it will be but you can bet Kelly will do something totally off the wall. And it will be totally calculated. 

 

Jerry Jones will get more airtime than his pick

Jones took offensive guard Zack Martin with the 16th pick in the draft last season. The year before he traded up to take center Travis Frederick with the 31st pick. Both selections elicited a collective “Who?” from fans in Big D. Both players have been studs for the Cowboys in two years and we should expect much of the same this season. Don’t say who this time when Jones selects Kevin Johnson, Jordan Phillips, Damarious Randall or Jalen Collins. Just trust in the newer, savvier Jones.

 

Related: The Top 100 Prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft

 

Not one but two RBs go in the first round

A running back hasn’t been selected in the first round since 2012 and that involved a total bust (Trent Richardson), a guy who’s already retired (David Wilson) and Doug Martin. However, not only will one running back get drafted in this year’s first round but expect to see two players from this position called on Thursday night. Look for Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon to both land in the first round.

 

Adrian Peterson won’t be traded

The biggest name to be traded during the first round of the NFL Draft could be Peterson. He doesn’t want to be a Viking any longer but it doesn’t make a ton of sense for Jones to mortgage the Cowboys' future to get him. Arizona, Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Jacksonville also make sense but will the price be right? No, Peterson will be a Viking after the NFL Draft and that means he will be in the Minnesota backfield in Week 1.

 

The first-round trade record will be broken

The rookie wage scale has changed the way the league views first-round picks. They are less valuable and therefore more likely to be traded. The 2012 set the record with 16 of the 32 picks traded. The 2013 draft saw 14 different picks traded and last April featured nine picks traded in the first round. Look for the tonight's wheeling and dealing to break the 2012 record.

Teaser:
11 Crazy Predictions for the 2015 NFL Draft
Post date: Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/uconn-revamps-uniforms-and-helmets-2015
Body:

UConn is making a few alterations to its uniform and helmet after just two years of a new design.

 

On Wednesday night, the Huskies unveiled their new look for coach Bob Diaco’s second year.

 

Overall, this is a good design for UConn. And the helmet with the updated logo is a solid look.

 

Check out the full gallery of images here.

 

 

 

 

 

Teaser:
UConn Revamps Uniforms and Helmets for 2015
Post date: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 20:57
Path: /college-football/unlv-unveils-new-uniforms-and-las-vegas-themed-helmets-2015
Body:

It’s a new era of UNLV football with first-year coach Tony Sanchez making the jump from Bishop Gorman High School to the head coach position with the Rebels.

 

And Sanchez is hoping to revamp the program with a fresh start, including new uniforms and helmets for 2015.

 

On Wednesday night, UNLV unveiled its new uniforms and helmets for 2015, including a “Welcome to Las Vegas” sticker on the back of the helmets.

 

 

Teaser:
UNLV Unveils New Uniforms and Las Vegas-Themed Helmets for 2015
Post date: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 20:24
All taxonomy terms: Baltimore Orioles, MLB
Path: /mlb/empty-camden-yards-eerie-place-baseball-game
Body:

One of the most bizarre games in Baltimore Orioles history was played in front of nobody.

 

The announced attendance for Wednesday’s game between the Orioles and Chicago White Sox was zero as Camden Yards was closed to the general public due to the ongoing civil unrest in Baltimore.

 

Though the game was closed to fans, it was open to the broadcast teams and other media members.

 

The sights and sounds of the game were ranged from humorous to downright eerie. Here’s a quick look:

 

 

 

 

Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis hit a fourth-inning home run that reverberated through the empty stadium. Inside the stadium, the call from Gary Thorne of MASN could be heard from the booth where WGN's Hawk Harrelson was on the call for the White Sox.

 

 

 

At one point, Thorne was having enough fun to invoke Jim Nantz calling the Masters on this Adam Davis double.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teaser:
An Empty Camden Yards is an Eerie Place for a Baseball Game
Post date: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 16:14
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/ranking-breakout-players-nba-playoffs-first-round
Body:

6. Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs

Mills already made his name in last year’s Spurs’ title run, but his legend is growing anew this spring. After having a so-so regular season, in which he missed 31 games due to injury, Mills is absolutely scorching against the Los Angeles Clippers. San Antonio’s best lineups feature him, not Tony Parker, at the point guard spot. His ridiculous 53 percent mark from beyond the arc is a big part of that. And at 26.37, he has the sixth-highest player efficiency rating among all playoff ballers. Mills is well on his way to proving himself as a starter-quality player this postseason — he could even be the Spurs’ point guard of the future.

 

5. John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks are giving the Chicago Bulls all they can handle, and Henson’s been a big part of their surprising mettle. A tenacious defender and rebounder down low, the third-year big man has upped his game considerably in the postseason. His minutes have gone up as he’s proved himself guarding Pau Gasol, and his rebounding totals have nearly doubled. Perhaps most importantly, though, is that Henson hasn’t looked shaken in the face of pressure. The Bulls may have expected to stomp over the inexperienced Milwaukee, but they’ve risen to the occasion with the calmness of a veteran squad.

 

4. Al-Farouq Aminu, Dallas Mavericks

For at least one man, Chandler Parsons’ season-ending injury had a silver lining. In extended minutes on the wing, in lieu of Parsons’ availability, Aminu has done a lot to improve his value as a free agent this summer. Shooting 55 percent from the field, and a startling 64 percent from three-point land over 30 minutes per contest, he was one of the Mavericks’ best players in their short-lived playoff battle with the Houston Rockets. Based on the way he’s played, Dallas almost certainly won’t be able to pay both him and Parsons going forward.

 

3. Otto Porter Jr., Washington Wizards

This sophomore forward was considered left for dead by many, not too long ago — a bust, a wasted draft pick, a forgotten man. But coach Randy Wittman suddenly injected Porter into his team’s most effective lineup against the Toronto Raptors in the first round, and Otto thrived next to stretch power forward Paul Pierce. Shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc, he’s combined with The Truth and Bradley Beal for an ensemble of Wizards’ floor-spacing shooters that finally maximize John Wall’s defense-penetrating game to an MVP-like level. Porter has earned himself considerably more rotation minutes next season with his performance in these playoffs.

 

2. Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks

Middleton, as he was in the regular season, has been a head-turning player in the playoffs. Like Henson and the rest of the Bucks, he is a long and well-disciplined defender who is giving Chicagoans nightmares these days. Middleton’s shooting marks have been down against a prickly Bulls defense, but he’s made them when they count. He dropped in a bevy of assassin-like three-pointers at the conclusion of Game 3 that brought Milwaukee back from down double digits, to help force two overtimes. Middleton heads into restricted free agency this July, and you better believe the Bucks will have to match some hefty offers from other teams if they want to retain his services.

 

1. Deron Williams 2.0, Brooklyn Nets

Back from the dead is a man who used to be a primary character in barbershop arguments involving the likes of Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Co. Deron Williams hasn’t looked like one of the NBA’s elite point guards for years, but against the Atlanta Hawks you wouldn’t know that. He’s led his Nets to a shocking 2-2 score in their first-round battle with the East’s leading team. Monday night, he turned back the clock and brought back the bulky-but-quick crossover that used to spend the whole league into spin cycles, collecting 35 points as Brooklyn tied up the series with a 120-115 victory. Now, let’s see if he can do it again.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 14:49
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/penn-state-coach-james-franklin-surprises-walk-scholarship
Body:

A football scholarship is no small matter, especially for those who have toiled as walk-ons for years.

 

Penn State head coach James Franklin surprised junior linebacker Von Walker on Tuesday with a surprise scholarship.

 

These videos are somewhat common now, but the clip of Walker calling his mom afterward is great. Check out the video:

 

Teaser:
Penn State Coach James Franklin Surprises Walk On with Scholarship
Post date: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 13:07
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/what-if-nba-teams-had-helmets
Body:

What if NBA teams had helmets? It’s an interesting question posed by James Politi and Luke Daly.

 

The NBA has a good collection of logos – new and old-school designs – so what better way to answer that question than to actually design helmets with NBA logos?

 

To help pass the long offseason until the start of the NFL, Politi and Daly created helmets for all NBA teams. Check out this link to view all of the images:

 

Here are some of our favorites:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teaser:
What if NBA Teams had Helmets?
Post date: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 12:17
Path: /college-football/ranking-pac-12s-quarterbacks-2015
Body:

Quarterback play is usually a strength in the Pac-12, and all signs point to 2015 as another deep year for signal-callers on the West Coast. USC’s Cody Kessler leads the way in our quarterback rankings, but California’s Jared Goff is a rising star and should have a huge season in Sonny Dykes’ offense.

 

After Kessler and Goff is a duo of intriguing quarterbacks in Arizona’s Anu Solomon at No. 3 and Oregon’s Vernon Adams at No. 4. As a graduate transfer, Adams has only one season of eligibility remaining. However, he is a huge addition to the Ducks as they look to replace Marcus Mariota.

 

To help compile the rankings, there was some projection involved for 2015. This was not a ranking of quarterbacks only based on accomplishments so far or pro potential. All factors - pure talent, supporting cast, 2015 projection and scheme changes (just to name a few) - were considered and projected to rank the quarterbacks in the Pac-12 for 2015.

 

Ranking the Pac-12 Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Cody Kessler, USC

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

The Trojans have playoff aspirations in 2015, and coach Steve Sarkisian’s team might have to lean on its offense early in the season with the departure of Leonard Williams at defensive end. Scoring points shouldn’t be a problem for USC next season, as Kessler is poised to challenge for All-American honors, and the receiving corps is stocked with talent. In 13 games last year, Kessler threw for 3,826 yards and 39 scores. He also tossed just five interceptions. One area for Kessler to improve in 2015: Performances against top 25 teams. In games against ranked teams in 2014, Kessler threw only four touchdowns to three interceptions.

 

2. Jared Goff, California

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

California’s offense thrived in coach Sonny Dykes’ second year, increasing its scoring average from 23 points a game in 2013 to 38.3 in 2014. A big reason for the offensive explosion was the development of Goff. In his second year as the starter, Goff threw for 3,973 yards and 35 scores to only seven interceptions. The junior is poised for an even better 2015 season, as California returns one of the nation’s best receiving corps and an underrated running back Daniel Lasco.

 

3. Anu Solomon, Arizona

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Solomon was solid in his first year as the starter, completing 313 of 540 passes for 3,793 yards and 28 scores. He also rushed for 291 yards and two touchdowns. But Solomon suffered an ankle injury late in the year and struggled in his final two outings, tossing two picks against Boise State and throwing for only 34 yards against Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship. While Solomon’s finish left something to be desired, he should rebound with a full offseason to heal. Coach Rich Rodriguez is among the nation’s top offensive minds, and with a loaded receiving corps in place, Solomon is poised to improve off a promising freshman campaign.

 

4. Vernon Adams, Oregon

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Adams is easily one of the nation’s most intriguing quarterbacks for 2015. In three years at Eastern Washington, Adams threw for 10,438 yards and 110 scores and added 1,282 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. With one year of eligibility left as a graduate student, Adams transferred to Oregon for his final season. The senior inherits big shoes to fill with Marcus Mariota off to the NFL, but Adams is a dynamic replacement. It may take a game or two for Adams to adjust to the FBS level. However, the California native should keep Oregon’s offense performing at a high level and will be among the Pac-12’s top quarterbacks in 2015.

 

5. Mike Bercovici, Arizona State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

This will be Bercovici’s first opportunity to be Arizona State’s No. 1 quarterback for a full season, but he’s already a known commodity in Tempe. The California native started three games in 2014 and finished last season with 1,445 yards and 12 passing scores to just four interceptions. Bercovici torched UCLA’s secondary for 488 yards and threw for 510 yards (and the game-winning Hail Mary as time expired) versus USC. If the senior picks up where he left off as a fill-in for Taylor Kelly, Arizona State’s offense will be among the best in the Pac-12 once again. And he has a little extra help on the way with the addition of UCLA graduate transfer Devin Lucien at receiver.

 

6. Kevin Hogan, Stanford

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Stanford’s defense is expected to take a step back with the departure of a handful of key players. But even if the Cardinal isn’t as dominant on defense in 2015, coach David Shaw’s team could match last year’s win total with improvement on offense. Hogan is a three-year starter under center and is coming off back-to-back solid outings to end Stanford 2014 season. Against UCLA and Maryland, Hogan completed 30 of 39 passes for 423 yards and four scores. If Hogan picks up where he left off in 2014, the senior should have his best season in a Stanford uniform.

 

7. Sefo Liufau, Colorado

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Liufau threw for 3,200 yards and 28 scores in his first full year as Colorado’s starting quarterback. The Washington native also completed 66.1 percent of his passes in Pac-12 games and finished 2014 by throwing for 317 yards against Utah. Liufau’s development is a big reason why the Buffaloes are poised to take a step forward in coach Mike MacIntyre’s third season after winning just one conference game over the last two years. Top receiver Nelson Spruce also returns, giving Colorado one of the Pac-12’s top quarterback-receiver connections in the conference.  

 

8. Travis Wilson, Utah

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Wilson returned from an injury-shortened 2013 season to throw for 2,170 yards and 18 touchdowns. The California native lost the starting job to Kendal Thompson for two games but still guided Utah to its best record in Pac-12 play since joining the conference in 2011. In addition to his passing numbers, Wilson added 309 yards and five scores on the ground. The Utes need to find playmakers at receiver, but the offensive line is solid, and running back Devontae Booker is one of the best in the Pac-12. With a good supporting cast, the Utah coaching staff hopes Wilson puts everything together for a solid senior season.

 

9. Josh Rosen, UCLA

2015 Year of Eligibility: True Freshman

 

Talent certainly isn’t an issue for Rosen. The California native ranked as the No. 12 recruit in the 2015 247Sports Composite and enrolled in time to compete in spring practice. It’s never easy starting as a true freshman for a Power 5 team, but Rosen is UCLA’s best option at quarterback. Is he ready to take the reins of the Bruins’ offense in 2015? While he will need time to learn, UCLA should have a solid defense and returns standout running back Paul Perkins.

 

10. Luke Falk, Washington State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Falk isn’t guaranteed to start, as redshirt freshman Peyton Bender is still in the mix. However, Falk finished the spring on a high note, throwing for 323 yards and two scores in Washington State’s final scrimmage. Falk started the last three games of 2014 after Connor Halliday suffered a season-ending leg injury against USC. In five games last year, Falk completed 156 of 243 passes for 1,859 yards and 13 scores. If he holds off Bender, Falk is going to post huge numbers in Mike Leach’s high-powered offense.

 

11. K.J. Carta-Samuels, Washington

2015 Year of Eligibility: Redshirt Freshman

 

The Huskies have a three-way competition for the starting job with Cyler Miles not expected to return to the team in 2015. Carta-Samuels, Jeff Lindquist and true freshman Jake Browning will continue their battle into the fall after a close competition in the spring. Carta-Samuels is penciled in as the favorite here, but Lindquist or Browning could take the top spot in the fall. Carta-Samuels ranked as a four-star recruit in the 2014 247Sports Composite.

 

12. Seth Collins, Oregon State

2015 Year of Eligibility: True Freshman

 

All signs point to a rebuilding year in Gary Andersen’s debut at Oregon State. The Beavers return just nine overall starters and have significant question marks on both sides of the ball. Collins – a true freshman from California – finished spring ball with a slight edge over redshirt freshman Nick Mitchell for the starting job. Collins was regarded as a three-star recruit in the 247Sports Composite and completed 12 of 22 passes for 208 yards and two scores in Oregon State’s spring game. 

Teaser:
Ranking the Pac-12's Quarterbacks for 2015
Post date: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR, News
Path: /nascar/kurt-busch-dominates-rain-soaked-richmond-first-sprint-cup-victory-over-year
Body:

Richmond, where art thou? One of NASCAR’s premier short tracks, a battleground whose second race date serves as the regular season finale has spent much of the past few years off the pace. In the XFINITY Series this weekend, Denny Hamlin led 248 of 250 laps, dominating to the point his competition looked like they’d lost a cylinder. In the last four races at Richmond, the XFINITY race has averaged a paltry 2.5 lead changes while the Cup event hasn’t fared much better. Kurt Busch led 291 of 400 laps Sunday and was never challenged over the final 100. 

 

No wonder why the stands, once over 100,000 strong have been half-full in recent years. The mystery only deepens considering Richmond was always considered the perfect mix, a multi-groove racetrack “slow” enough that you could avoid NASCAR’s dreaded “aero push” and run side-by-side continuously. That’s why its second date earned its lofty place as the sport’s regular season finale, heightening the drama of who would make the Chase.

 

Now, the track is chasing a reputation that’s quickly slipping away. While the sport is focused on fixing 1.5-mile ovals, Richmond’s problems are quickly becoming just as glaring.

 

Let’s take a look Through The Gears at four storylines making headlines midweek…

 

FIRST GEAR: Kurt Busch taking charge

 

Kurt Busch, missing the first three races for a suspension based on domestic violence charges has hardly skipped a beat since returning.  Now armed with a victory that launches him inside the Chase, the No. 41 car was already set on a course of if they’d reach Victory Lane… not when. His 520 laps led on the season are already second best in the series, trailing only teammate Kevin Harvick and his point total is already good enough for 18th in the standings. Busch, whose Chase bid quickly flamed out last season, has gone from accused criminal to championship contender in a matter of two months.

 

“Standing on the truth the whole time, that gave me the feeling of when I do get back to the car, it's going to be easy to focus,” he said, “And I think I've shown that.”

 

Busch, whose protective order against Patricia Driscoll still remains in effect, has the drive to win several more races this season. The No. 41 and No. 4 cars are working together so closely, nailing the setups each week to the point they’ve surpassed chassis and engine provider Hendrick Motorsports as the favorites each week.

 

SECOND GEAR: Driver musical chairs

 

For years, we haven’t seen many driver changes in-season but 2015 has been the year of the substitute. After three months subbing for Kyle Busch, David Ragan is moving from Joe Gibbs Racing to Michael Waltrip Racing beginning next week at Kansas. Ragan, who’s currently on the “bubble” in terms of making the Chase will drive the No. 55 Toyota for the rest of the season. Former driver Brian Vickers, still battling health issues will run part-time when and if he does return to the organization.

 

For Ragan, it’s a fantastic opportunity after years running for underfunded Front Row Motorsports. That team now needs to make a driver decision, opening up a ride for a middle-tier guy on the bench like Cup veteran Reed Sorenson. But the most intriguing switch is at JGR, whose brain trust is putting rookie Erik Jones, just 18 into the No. 18 car beginning at Kansas. Jones, who did an admirable job subbing for Denny Hamlin at Bristol has already won in the XFINITY Series this season. The team, high on Jones’ future potential feels he could be a top-5 contender or even eke out a win in the car.

 

But that development also comes fraught with risk. If Jones succeeds, that means a move up to Cup will be a near-necessity for 2016. JGR, whose four cars are filled by veterans, has no room to put him anywhere. Perhaps that could mean Hamlin is in trouble? On the flip side, if Jones tanks it’ll be hard to find sponsors willing to move him up. Either way, it’s hard not to think about JGR’s past history with a young talent named Joey Logano. Logano, moved up to Cup too soon, struggled and never fully developed until he left the organization. You hope the expectations on Jones don’t turn into too much, too soon for a simple substitute role while Busch keeps healing.

 

THIRD GEAR: Roush’s rough ride

 

It’s hard to believe Roush Fenway Racing, once the top Ford organization doesn’t have a single car inside the top 20 in series points. Newcomer Trevor Bayne has been most disappointing of all, the former Daytona 500 winner not posting a single finish inside the top 15. Greg Biffle hasn’t so much as sniffed the top 10 since that season-opening race, dropping to irrelevance just one year after signing a contract extension. Finally, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has been unimpressive outside of Bristol (fourth). Combined, the organization has led just eight laps, a sting for a group that once had drivers winning eight races or more over the course of a season.

 

Other organizations linked to Roush, like Richard Petty Motorsports have also struggled mightily. Sam Hornish Jr., whose car is being funded largely out of his owner’s pocket, sits outside the top 30 in Sprint Cup points. He and teammate Aric Almirola also have yet to score a top-10 finish this season. It’s a sad scenario for two teams who underwent major overhauls in the offseason, taking major risks to catch up only to take a further step back.

 

FOURTH GEAR: Talladega’s Russian roulette

 

With an underwhelming season thus far, Talladega offers a chance for NASCAR to get back on track. It’s where all 43 cars have a chance to win, the draft creating a rare scenario where the Davids of the world are equal to Goliath.

 

For drivers like Landon Cassill, whose small team pours most of their extra money into restrictor-plate cars Talladega offers perhaps their only chance to win all year. Guys like David Gilliland, Justin Allgaier or even Cole Whitt could throw a wrench into the Chase with a surprise upset victory. Those drivers will be taking chances, and an aggressive race is expected Sunday that will come paired with the backdrop of the dreaded “Big One.”

 

Certainly, big names will be top contenders too, with Jeff Gordon, who ran strong at Daytona expected to have a strong car again for ‘Dega. But for a sport badly in need of a new story, having one of the underdogs pull through would be a big boost in what’s been a quick fade to 2015 thus far.

 

— Written by Tom Bowles, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and the Majority Owner of NASCAR Web site Frontstretch.com. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @NASCARBowles.

 

Photos by Action Sports, Inc.

Teaser:
Kurt Busch Dominates Rain-Soaked Richmond For First Sprint Cup Victory in Over a Year
Post date: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Monthly
Path: /monthly/american-annual-entertaining-informative-thought-provoking
Body:

Every year delivers events that change our lives, alter our thinking and inspire us beyond measure. And every year, people pass away, leaving us sad, sometimes shaken and almost always introspective. This past year was certainly no different.
 
Finally, there is a book that encapsulates the past year and offers relevant perspective to the events and people who changed the world in 2014. The American Annual: 2014 in Perspective was published by AMG/Parade in February.

 

Derek Jeter bid farewell. The Winter Olympics introduced us to fresh faces like Mikaela Shiffrin. Tim Howard became a national hero at the World Cup. Americans were introduced to 13-year-old Mo’ne Davis, a role model in many ways during the Little League World Series. The San Francisco Giants, led by an incredible pitching performance by Madison Bumgarner, won their third World Series in five years. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich continued to prove—in his own way—that he was a mastermind among NBA coaches. Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers posted a record-breaking season, comparable to the great Sandy Koufax. And we finally had a Final Four in College Football, although a catchy name has yet to emerge. 

 

These are just a few of the sports subjects that The American Annual tackles. In addition, an entertainment section explores how Jimmy Fallon hit the REFRESH button on late night TV. The stylish, 160-page coffee table book also offers perspective on ISIS, the threat of Ebola in the U.S. and why Sony cancelled a $75 million movie.

 

As we do every year, we said final good-byes to many American icons in 2014. For some, we celebrated long, full lives. For others, the loss feels too soon and too sudden. In The American Annual, we celebrate cherished memories and contributions that made us think, smile, cheer and learn. Here’s to Tony Gwynn and Chuck Noll, who made us cheer; Don Meyer and Frank Jobe, who—each in their own way—had such profound impacts on others’ lives; Robin Williams and Joan Rivers, who made us laugh; Eileen Ford, who made us rethink women’s roles in business; and Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney and James Garner, who always made us smile. 

 

Readers will enjoy reminiscing about the celebrities we lost in 2014.

 

The American Annual lends perspective to the events of 2014—the celebrations and the tragedies—as well as the people who changed the world. For these entire stories plus many others, go to AmericanAnnual.com for ordering information. 

 

The book is a bargain at $15.95, and is a terrific keepsake for any 2014 graduate, newlywed or newborn.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 10:04
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/ranking-college-football-teams-nfl-draft-2005
Body:

A decade is a long time in college football. Dynasties begin and end. Conferences ebb and flow. National champions are crowned and de-throned.

 

Even as the SEC as a conference replaced USC as the sport’s dominant figure over the last decade, the Trojans remained the prominent team for the NFL draft through the last 10 years.

 

The Trojans have churned out more NFL Draft picks in the last 10 cycles than any other team, despite the SEC’s status as the powerhouse conference of the era.

 

Make no mistake, the SEC is a force on draft day. Alabama has produced more first-round picks than any other team in the last 10 years. Of the top 10 college teams in the NFL from 2005-14, four are from the SEC.

 

The SEC has sent more total players (466) and first-round picks (93) to the draft that any other league by a wide margin.

 

But as far as a single school in the last 10 drafts, USC is still on top.

 

Athlon Sports has looked at each power conference in the NFL Draft in the last 10 seasons. We’ve collected the top 25 teams here.

 

For a more in-depth look at each team in each power conference, we’ve collected them here:

ACC

Big 12

Big Ten

Pac-12

SEC

 

We've also collected the draft numbers for every active coach.

 

College Football's Top Teams in the NFL Draft

2005-2014

 

 SchoolTotal PicksFirst Round2004-13 Record
1.681489-27 (.767)
2.6314104-27 (.794)
3.579105-28 (.789)
4.55794-37 (.718)
5.541380-40 (.667)
6.531680-30 (.727)
7.521392-24 (.793)
8.471194-36 (.723)
9.46675-50 (.600)
10.42696-35 (.733)
T11.41999-30 (.739)
T11.41585-44 (.659)
T13.40668-57 (.544)
T13.40578-48 (.619)
T13.40399-35 (.739)
16.39476-50 (.603)
T17.36484-46 (.646)
T17.36484-39 (.682)

T17.

36498-30 (.766)
20.35967-58 (.536)
T21.34992-37 (.713)
T21.34748-60 (.444)
T21.34677-49 (.611)
T21.34583-44 (.654)
25.33273-52 (.584)

FBS Conferences in the NFL Draft

2005-14

 

ConferenceTotal PicksFirst Round
46693
40363
38254
34238
23337
1346
1209
675
530
442

*in their current lineups

Teaser:
Ranking College Football Teams in the NFL Draft Since 2015
Post date: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: John Wall, Washington Wizards, NBA
Path: /nba/washington-wizards-are-looking-title-contenders
Body:

The regular season and the playoffs are simply not the same, and in the NBA the difference between the two may be more pronounced than in any major sports league.

 

The Washington Wizards are showing us this quite clearly today. The Wizards have advanced to the second round of the postseason after making mincemeat of the Toronto Raptors in a sweep. Now, they wait and rest as the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets carry on with their 2-2 deadlock of a series for the right to face them.

 

It’s looking like this won’t be much of a privilege. Point guard John Wall has been arguably the MVP of this year’s second season, averaging 12.5 assists per game as he zips through defenses and makes life easy for Washington bigs and perimeter shooters. Starting center Marcin Gortat is shooting 75 percent from the floor. Paul Pierce is emboldening the whole crew, talking a brand of trash that breaks enemies down on their insides.

 

Perhaps most important of all, though, is that head coach Randy Wittman seems to have pulled his head out of the mud. After a season spent struggling through frustrating lineups and play calls, he’s suddenly utilizing a five-man set that includes Pierce as a stretch power forward and makes the Wizards look frequently unguardable.

 

Was Wittman playing possum all along? This is an idea that fans and analysts have recently had fun with, particularly given this seemingly telling moment, in which the supposedly witless leader couldn’t figure out his clipboard:

 

With the Hawks looking taxed by a team that barely made the playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers losing Kevin Love for the postseason and the Chicago Bulls struggling against the Milwaukee Bucks, Washington suddenly almost appears to be the favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 14:25
Path: /college-football/2015-nfl-draft-prediction-west-virginia-de-shaq-riddick
Body:

With the 2015 NFL Draft upon us, writers from WVUPros and BlueGoldSports.com will team up and give you our predictions on where some of your favorite Mountaineers might land. Today, we examine DE Shaq Riddick and where he might land in the draft.

 

Many considered Riddick to be West Virginia’s top prospect heading into the last season before he ever played a snap. Riddick played one season at WVU after transferring in from Gardner-Webb. After a slow start to the season, Riddick came on late in the season, showing the speed and motor that led some to compare him to former Mountaineer, now Seattle Seahawk Bruce Irvin.

 

At almost 6-6, 231 lbs., Riddick needs to add some bulk, particularly in his lower body to fight off would-be blockers when plays are run in his direction. He had a great showing at the Medal of Honor Bowl, logging two sacks in his last collegiate action.

 

Predictions

 

Caleb Wygal, WVUPros

6th Round, 198 overall – Arizona Cardinals

One of the Cards' biggest remaining draft needs is at defensive end. The Cards have shown interest in Riddick, and he could wind up playing in the desert.

 

Jerry McGhee, BlueGoldSports.com

Undrafted

Riddick is a player with a high motor, but never reached his full potential at WVU. If a team takes a chance, it will be after the draft, and then Riddick will have the opportunity to showcase his ability in training camp. Carolina may be a landing spot after the draft.

 

Jeremy Simon, BlueGoldSports.com

6th round, 187 overall – New Orleans Saints

Riddick is low off the line and has a burst that makes him much like Bruce Irvin. While he has to work on his size he could enter the league as a pass rusher. The Saints will be looking to stack up on defense in the draft and Riddick could fit into their plans in the later rounds.


Adam DelGuercio, WVUPros

Undrafted

Riddick is a long and lean situational pass rusher. I’ve heard him referred to as a poor man’s Randy Gregory. Look for a team in the midst of a defensive rebuild to grab him as an undrafted free agent. My prediction is the Atlanta Falcons.

 

 

— Jeremy Simon is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and editor-in-chief of BlueGoldSports.com, a must visit for any and all West Virginia Mountaineer fans. Follow BlueGoldSports.com on Twitter @Blue_GoldSports.

 

Teaser:
BlueGoldSports.com and WVUPros.com offer their best guess as to where the Mountaineers' 2015 draft prospects could hear their name called this weekend
Post date: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: Arkansas Razorbacks, College Football, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/bret-bielema-receives-championship-belt-celebrate-arkansas-bowl-win-over-texas
Body:

Arkansas made quite the statement when it pounded Texas 31-7 in the Texas Bowl on Dec. 29. The Razorbacks thoroughly dominated their old Southwest Conference rivals, and while bowl games aren’t necessarily the best indicator of teams, it was a huge victory for coach Bret Bielema.

 

Fast forward to April and Bielema and Arkansas is still celebrating the victory over Texas.

 

On Monday, Bielema tweeted out this photo from a championship belt he received from the Texas Bowl victory. According to Bielema, the belt was produced by JT Custom Leather from Granbury, Texas.

 

Teaser:
Bret Bielema Receives Championship Belt to Celebrate Arkansas' Bowl Win Over Texas
Post date: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 12:44
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/dont-be-stupid-tampa-bay-take-jameis-winston
Body:

Jameis Winston is going to be the new starting quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

This time of year, narratives floated to the media are intentionally misleading so it’s hard to know what to believe. If anything.

 

So it comes with great comfort that I can report that I have no sources, no inside information, no shadowy figures telling me that Winston will be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

 

It would just be that stupid for the Bucs to pass on the Florida State signal-caller.

 

Like most who have covered Winston’s transition from five-star prep recruit to Heisman Trophy quarterback to NFL prospect, I’m as tired of talking about his maturation process and personal decision-making as much as the next guy.

 

His behavior has been highly suspect at best and allegedly abhorrent at worst. But when it comes to his on-the-field talent, Winston is the best quarterback prospect to enter the NFL Draft since Andrew Luck.

 

Related: NFL Draft 2015: Ranking the Quarterbacks

 

He was the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the nation coming out of Hueytown (Ala.) High School in the class of 2012. After redshirting, all Winston did was lead his team to an undefeated BCS national championship, winning a Heisman Trophy and smashing the NCAA record book along the way.

 

In 2014, against a much tougher schedule with a less talented supporting cast and under a significantly brighter spotlight (some of his own doing), Winston led Florida State to another undefeated ACC championship.

 

He’s big. He’s strong. He’s got a great arm. He’s a leader. He’s a winner. He produced big numbers. And he’s clutch when the game is on the line.

 

What more could you possibly want on the field from a quarterback prospect?

 

Facing certain playoff elimination against Notre Dame in the final 10 minutes? No big deal, Winston drove the Noles for the game-winning touchdown. Trailing 24-7 in the third quarter on the road against Louisville? How about 35 points in the final 24 minutes. Down six points with 11 minutes remaining against rival Miami on the road? Yawn, two drives produce 10 points and another come-from-behind victory.

 

Boston College? Florida? Georgia Tech?

 

And it seems entirely too convenient to forget the final 1:19 of the BCS era. Winston’s seven-play, 80-yard touchdown drive against Auburn in the Rose Bowl was downright masterful. He completed 6-of-7 passes to win the national championship.

 

Time and time again, Winston did what the NFL defines as the ultimate success: Just win baby. Only once in 27 tries did anyone ever beat Winston during his entire college career. He started 25 regular season football games and he won every one.

 

The off-the-field decision-making is a major issue that only hours of face-to-face meetings clarify.

 

But with a strong personality for a head coach in Lovie Smith, a host of elite playmakers surrounding him and a Sunshine State zip code, the Tampa Bay Bucs would be absolutely foolish not to take Jameis Winston with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. 

Teaser:
Don't Be Stupid Tampa Bay, Take Jameis Winston
Post date: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/ranking-2015-nfl-draft-top-100-prospects
Body:

It’s here. NFL Draft week is finally here.

 

For three straight days, 32 fanbases will watch the future of the NFL fall into place as 256 former college players hope to hear their team called between Thursday and Saturday. Super Bowls are won and lost every year on draft weekend and 2015 won’t be any different.

 

With that in mind, here are our Top 100 prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft.

 

2015 NFL Draft Top 100

 

 PlayerTeamPos.HtWt
1Jameis Winston*QB6’4”232
2Leonard Williams*DT6’5”298
3Amari Cooper*WR6’1”210
4Marcus Mariota*QB6’4”222
5Dante Fowler Jr.*DE6’2”261
6Andrus Peat*OT6’7”312
7Brandon ScherffOL6’5”320
8Todd Gurley*RB6'0"222
9Kevin WhiteWR6'2"215
10Vic BeasleyOLB6'3"245
11Alvin DupreeOLB6’4”267
12La’el CollinsOT6’5”321
13Shane Ray*OLB6’3”245
14Landon Collins*S6’0”222
15Dorial Green-Beckham*WR6’5”237
16Melvin Gordon*RB6'0"215
17Trae Waynes*CB6'0"186
18Randy Gregory*OLB6'4"235
19Marcus Peters*CB5'11"198
20Jaelen Strong*WR6'2"217
21Malcom Brown*DT6’4”320
22DeVante ParkerWR6'2"209
23Danny SheltonDT6’2”332
24Ereck Flowers*OT6’5”324
25Shaq Thompson*OLB6’2”231
26Eddie Goldman*DT6’3”320
27TJ ClemmingsOT6’5”305
28Cameron ErvingOL6’5”308
29Benardrick McKinney*ILB6’4”249
30D.J. Humphries*OT6'5"307
31Eric KendricksILB6’0”230
32Nelson Agholor*WR6’1”198
33Jalen Collins*CB6'1"203
34Kevin JohnsonCB6’0”188
35Mario Edwards Jr.*DE6’3”294
36Denzel PerrymanILB5'10"236
37Brett Hundley*QB6’3”227
38Arik Armstead*DE6’7”296
39Hau’oli KikahaOLB6’3”253
40Jordan Phillips*DT6’6”335
41Maxx Williams*TE6’5”250
42Ameer AbdullahRB5'8"205
43Paul DawsonILB6'0"235
44Jay AjayiRB5'11"221
45Cedric OgbuehiOT6’5”300
46P.J. Williams*CB6’0”196
47Jake FisherOT6’6”299
48Breshad Perriman*WR6’2”214
49Stephone AnthonyILB6'2"243
50Duke Johnson*RB5’9”206
51Byron MooreCB6'0"199
52A.J. CannOG6’3”311
53Hroniss GrasuC6’3”297
54Preston SmithDE6’4”263
55T.J. Yeldon*RB6'1"221
56Laken TomlinsonOG6’3”320
57Owamagbe OdighizuwaDE6’3”270
58Eli Harold*OLB6'3"247
59Tyler LockettWR5'9"182
60Carl DavisDT6’5”315
61Damarious RandallS5'11"196
62Michael BennettDT6’2”288
63Tre’ JacksonOG6’4”330
64Trey FlowersDE6'2"266
65Devin Funchess*WR6'4"232
66Anthony HarrisSS6’1”190
67Devin SmithWR6'0"197
68Tevin Coleman*RB5'11"206
69Ifo Ekpre-OlomuCB5’9”195
70Eric RoweCB6'0"205
71Grady JarrettDT6’1”295
72Nate OrchardOLB6'3"255
73Rashad GreeneWR5'11"182
74Bryce PettyQB6'2"230
75Quinten RollinsCB6’0”203
76Kwon Alexander*OLB6’2”230
77Ronald Darby*CB5’11”195
78Rob HavensteinOT6’8”327
79Sammie Coates*WR6’2”212
80Danielle Hunter*OLB6’6”240
81Henry AndersonDE6’6”295
82Jamison CrowderWR5’9”185
83Buck Allen*RB6'0"221
84Markus GoldenDE6‘3”260
85Ali MarpetHobartOG6'3"307
86Donovan Smith*OT6’5”335
87Stefon Diggs*WR6'0"195
88Phillip DorsettWR5'9"185
89Steven NelsonCB5’11”195
90Cody PrewittSS6’2”217
91Daryl WilliamsOT6'5"327
92Sean MannionQB6'5"229
93Senquez GolsonCB5’9”176
94Hayes PullardILB6'0"240
95Garrett GraysonQB6'2"213
96Josh ShawCB6’1”200
97B.J. FinneyC6'3"318
98Doran GrantCB5'10"200
99Ty MontgomeryWR6’2”215
100Gerod Holliman*FS6’0”201
Teaser:
2015 NFL Draft Top 100 Prospects
Post date: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /nba/blazers-bucks-nets-mavericks-fighting-first-round-elimination
Body:

The first round of the NBA playoffs, days ago, looked to be a chalk fest. Save for the intriguing showdown between the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers — a pairing talented enough for a conference finals meeting — we looked to be in for a collection of potential sweeps.

 

Then, things got interesting. The Atlanta Hawks, who have largely not looked like supermen since their dominant winter, started to slip against a resurgent Deron Williams, who led the Brooklyn Nets with 35 points last night, bringing their series to a 2-2 tie after a second-straight home victory.

 

The Chicago Bulls began to look unsure of themselves in the task of closing out the young Milwaukee Bucks, who have suddenly developed into poised, shrewd killers in elimination games. After falling down 3-0, Jason Kidd’s squad has won two straight and made the Windy City quite nervous as the series heads back to Milwaukee 3-2 on Thursday.

 

Closing teams out, even if you’re the better group, is hard. Like the Bulls and Hawks, the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies are seeing that too, dropping sweep opportunities against the the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers, respectively. Veterans and newcomers alike have trouble putting their foot down on the opponent’s neck with finality, and sending their colleagues home for a long, reflective summer.

 

The Golden State Warriors and Washington Wizards, thus, look all the more impressive for being able to complete their bits of postseason euthanasia swiftly. John Wall and Steph Curry catalyzed their teams to sweeps of the Toronto Raptors and New Orleans, and now both survivors sit pretty as they await the arrival of second-round foes who are still ensconced in early struggles.

 

Now, to see if rest or momentum holds the greater benefit for our remaining title contenders.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 11:22
All taxonomy terms: College Football, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/ranking-secs-quarterbacks-2015
Body:

A handful of SEC teams enter the offseason with uncertainty at quarterback, but there’s no doubt about which player belongs at the top of the rankings for 2015. Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott is the reigning first-team All-SEC quarterback and one of the top signal-callers in college football for 2015.

 

After Prescott is where the intrigue begins in the SEC. Auburn’s Jeremy Johnson is poised for a breakout year in his first season as the starter, while Texas A&M’s Kyle Allen and Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs are two other rising stars to watch in 2015. Missouri's Maty Mauk and Arkansas' Brandon Allen are experienced options looking to make a move up the rankings.

 

To help compile the rankings, there was some projection involved for 2015. This was not a ranking of quarterbacks only based on accomplishments so far or pro potential. All factors - pure talent, supporting cast, 2015 projection and scheme changes (just to name a few) - were considered and projected to rank the quarterbacks in the SEC for 2015.

 

Ranking the SEC Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

En route to a top 10 finish in the Heisman voting, Prescott led Mississippi State to only its third double-digit win total in school history and earned first-team All-SEC honors. In 13 games last year, Prescott passed for 3,449 yards and 27 scores and added 986 yards and 14 rushing scores.

 

2. Jeremy Johnson, Auburn

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Johnson might have the most upside of any quarterback in college football for 2015. The Montgomery native is at the controls of a high-powered offense and has impressed in limited action over the last two seasons. Johnson is 57 of 78 for 858 yards and nine scores since 2013 and has rushed for 40 yards and one score on 11 attempts. He may not have the mobility of Nick Marshall, but Malzahn will adapt the offense to fit Johnson’s strengths in 2015.

 

3. Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Dobbs provided a late-season spark for Tennessee’s offense in 2014. After not playing in the first seven games, Dobbs replaced Nathan Peterman against Alabama and threw for 192 yards and two scores in a 34-20 loss to Alabama. The Georgia native started the final five games for the Volunteers and guided the team to a 4-1 mark in that stretch. In his limited 2014 action, Dobbs threw for 1,206 yards and nine scores and added 469 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground.

 

4. Kyle Allen, Texas A&M

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Similar to Auburn’s Jeremy Johnson, Allen is a quarterback with plenty of promise and upside in 2015. Allen replaced Kenny Hill as Texas A&M’s starter for the final five games of 2014 and finished the year with 1,322 passing yards and 16 scores. The Arizona native was the No. 10 prospect in the 2014 247Sports Composite and is only beginning to scratch the surface of his potential entering his sophomore year.

 

5. Maty Mauk, Missouri

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Mauk has experienced his share of ups and downs as Missouri’s No. 1 quarterback. But in his first full season as the starter, Mauk guided the Tigers to a SEC East title and threw for 2,648 yards and 25 scores. Improving his play in conference games is a must if the Tigers want to challenge in the East Division once again. Mauk completed only 48.9 percent of his passes in SEC games last year.

 

6. Brandon Allen, Arkansas

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

New coordinator Dan Enos is tasked with helping Allen and the Arkansas’ passing offense take the next step in 2015. After dealing with a shoulder injury in 2013, Allen rebounded with a solid 2014 campaign and threw for 2,285 yards and 20 scores. Additionally, he only tossed five picks on 339 attempts. Expect more steady production from Allen in 2015.

 

7. Patrick Towles, Kentucky

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Touted redshirt freshman Drew Barker will push for snaps this fall, but Towles is expected to claim the No. 1 spot for the opener. The Kentucky native quietly had a solid debut in his first full year as the starter, throwing for 2,718 yards and 14 scores. Towles also rushed for 303 yards and six touchdowns and ranked sixth in the SEC by averaging 251.8 total yards per game.

 

8. Jacob Coker, Alabama

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Coker was expected by most to win the starting quarterback job last season, but Blake Sims edged the Florida State transfer and started all 14 games for Alabama. Coker enters 2015 as the frontrunner and holds a slight edge over David Cornwell for the No. 1 spot. In six appearances with the Crimson Tide last season, Coker threw for 403 yards and four touchdowns after completing 38 of 59 passes. Can Coker put it all together for a big senior year in Tuscaloosa?

 

9. Brice Ramsey, Georgia

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Ramsey gets the nod here, but Faton Bauta made a strong case for the No. 1 job this spring. And needless to say, it’s safe to assume this battle will continue into the fall. Ramsey completed 24 of 39 passes for 333 yards and three touchdowns as Hutson Mason’s backup last year. Bauta has attempted only five passes in his Georgia career but brings more mobility to the position than Ramsey. The Bulldogs usually reload without much trouble at quarterback. The guess here is that continues, but Ramsey and Bauta will both see time early in 2015.

 

10. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Kelly continues the run of quarterbacks in this list not completely secure as the starter. The New York native started his career at Clemson and spent two years with the Tigers before transferring to East Mississippi Community College. In 12 games on the junior college level, Kelly threw for 3,906 yards and 47 touchdowns. Talent certainly isn’t an issue for the junior. Can he realize that potential under Hugh Freeze?

 

11. Will Grier, Florida

2015 Year of Eligibility: Redshirt Freshman

 

Treon Harris started the final six games of last season and guided Florida to a 4-2 mark. However, Harris could be unseated by Grier – the No. 48 prospect in the 2014 247Sports Composite – by this fall. Grier is a better fit for new coach Jim McElwain’s offense and finished spring by completing 8 of 11 passes for 136 yards in the spring game. While Grier’s arm should infuse some life into the passing attack, a bigger problem for McElwain and the Florida offense is a line that’s thin on overall depth and proven options.

 

12. Brandon Harris, LSU

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Flip a coin on LSU’s starter right now. Anthony Jennings and Harris closed spring with little separation for the No. 1 job, which means the battle will continue into the fall. Jennings started 12 of LSU’s 13 games last year and threw for 1,611 yards and 11 scores. Harris made one start and completed 25 of 45 passes for 452 yards and six touchdowns. The upside is clearly in favor of Harris. But regardless of which quarterback starts, significant improvement is needed from the passing offense after averaging only 140.6 passing yards in SEC games last year.

 

13. Connor Mitch, South Carolina

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Mitch didn’t play much as a freshman last year, completing 2 of 6 passes for 19 yards in two appearances. The sophomore spent the spring as the favorite to win the job and completed 10 of 16 passes for 183 yards and one touchdown in South Carolina’s final scrimmage. The North Carolina native was the No. 345 overall recruit in the 2013 247Sports Composite, and barring a big performance in the fall by true freshman Lorenzo Nunez, he should take the first snap of the season against North Carolina.

 

14. Johnny McCrary, Vanderbilt

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

McCrary was one of four quarterbacks to make a start for Vanderbilt last season. No Commodore quarterback eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in passing yardage, with McCrary leading the way at 985. He also threw nine touchdowns and completed 51.3 percent of his passes. With Patton Robinette retiring from football this offseason, McCrary is the frontrunner, with Wade Freebeck and Shawn Stankavage the next in line.  

Teaser:
Ranking the SEC's Quarterbacks for 2015
Post date: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 11:00

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