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Path: /college-football/accs-top-heisman-contenders-2013
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The ACC has won two Heisman Trophies. Ever.

Florida State has provided both awards to the league when quarterbacks Chris Weinke won the award in 2000 and Charlie Ward took home the stiff-armed trophy in 1993. Both quarterbacks also have National Championship rings on their fingers as well.

Needless to say, the ACC is lagging behind the rest of big-time college football when it comes to the most prestigious award in sports. Miami and Boston College do have Heismans sitting in their trophy cases but those — Vinny Testaverde, Doug Flutie and Gino Torretta — all took place in the Big East Conference. And C.J. Spiller in 2006 was the last ACC player to even crack the top 10 in the voting.

So could 2013 break the 12-year Heisman drought in the ACC? It’s certainly possible as more than one elite player has a chance to represent the league in New York come December.

Here are the ACC’s top Heisman candidates for 2013 (complete with current Vegas odds):

1. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson (16/1)
Few players posted numbers comparable to Johnny Heisman, but Boyd was one of them. He led the ACC in passing efficiency (165.59) and total offense (339.2 ypg) and was fifth and seventh in each category nationally. He scored 46 total touchdowns (36 pass, 10 rush) and has a host of elite weapons returning. More importantly, this team should be the preseason favorite in the ACC with Boyd under center and Chad Morris calling the plays. He is one of few players who will have the numbers, the marquee showdowns (vs. Georgia, at South Carolina), the potential championship and the offensive support to win the Heisman.

2. Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (14/1)
The De’Anthony Thomas of the East Coast, Johnson led the ACC in kickoff returns and was third in all-purpose running as just a freshman. As the season went on, Al Golden trusted Johnson more on offense and he topped 100 yards three times in his last four games. The key will be his role in 2013 as Golden looks to get him more involved in the traditional offense. He could see a big jump from 139 carries a year ago, and should that happen, fans can bet the sophomore speedster's numbers will be eye-popping.

3. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson (--)
When it comes to raw upside and physical talent, Watkins is second to none nationally. But staying healthy and focused has been an issue for the electric playmaker, causing him to miss four games in his first two years. With DeAndre Hopkins off to the NFL and his quarterback Boyd returning, the sky could be the limit for the star wideout. Consistency will be the name of the game for the junior-to-be.

4. Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech (--)
Many people were massively disappointed by the 260-pound quarterback in 2012. He rallied the Hokies late and the offense should be improved in 2013 under new coordinator Scott Loeffler, but Thomas needs to show more growth as a passer (18 TD, 16 INT) to get to New York. The good news is he did run the ball more effectively and threw it with more accuracy as a sophomore than he did as a junior. A return to 2011 will get Thomas back in the mix.

5. Stephen Morris, QB, Miami (25/1)
The Canes quarterback blossomed as a junior in 2012. Morris set a Miami single-season total offense record (3,415) as well as the ACC’s all-time single-game record with 566 yards against NC State. In fact, he threw for over 1,000 yards (1,002) over a two-game span to finish the month of September. He proved to be dependable as well, tossing just seven interceptions in a school-record 421 attempts. With the youth developing around him and the running game improving, the Hurricanes gunslinger is poised for a big senior season this fall.

6. Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland (40/1)
This dynamic, explosive all-purpose talent can do a little bit of everything. As just a true freshman, he is the leading returning all-purpose “runner” in the ACC at 172.4 yards per game and a sick 15.7 yards per play. He ran the ball 20 times for 114 yards. He caught 54 passes for 848 yards. He returned 22 punts for 221 yards. And he returned 25 kicks for 713 yards. He could easily double his eight total touchdowns from a year ago and that would put him squarely in Player of the Year contention.

7. Bryn Renner, QB, North Carolina (--)
Playing in Larry Fedora’s high-flying offensive scheme will give Renner a chance to compete for the nation’s top honor. He lost plenty of talent to the NFL (Gio Bernard, Jonathan Cooper) but also has tons of future draft picks returning. He trails only Boyd as the ACC’s most efficient returning starter as he tossed just seven interceptions and completed 65.4-percent of his passes a year ago (422 att.). He won’t add much to the running game so he will have to post huge numbers through the air — and likely win the Coastal Division — to get Heisman consideration. But after 3,356 yards, 28 TDs and a co-division title a year ago, that isn’t far fetched at all.

8. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (--)
The raw talent and pure athletic ability of Winston has fans in Tallahassee raving about their future signal-caller. He has a huge arm, elite size, above-average mobility and the poise of an upperclassman. If his offensive line and running game can give him some help, Winston could easily lead his team to an ACC title and complete for Player of the Year honors.

9. Vad Lee, QB, Georgia Tech (--) 
Lee is the next in line to pilot Paul Johnson’s triple option attack. Like Josh Nesbitt and Tevin Washington before him, Lee’s physicality and athletic ability are a perfect match for the Yellow Jackets’ offensive scheme. Lee saw his playing time steadily increase last season, as Johnson got more comfortable going to the sophomore. He got 19 carries and threw nine passes in the first six games, but carried 77 times for 358 yards and six touchdowns while throwing 47 times over the final eight games of the year. His playing time last year should help the 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior-to-be immensely as he takes over as the leader of the Ramblin’ Wreck in '13.

10. Jerome Smith, RB, Syracuse (--)
In his first year as the starter, Smith delivered admirably with 1,171 yards on 227 carries. The 220-pounder came on strong in the second half as well, posting five 100-yard efforts and all three touchdowns in the season’s final seven games. Look for a new coaching staff and new quarterback to lean on Smith early and often in 2013.

11. Kevin Parks, RB, Virginia (--)
The short but powerful running back is finally looking at a full-time work load for the Cavaliers. And with Steve Fairchild now calling the plays, Parks could be in for a huge season. The powerful little back is great between the tackles and, despite splitting time his first two years, has had plenty of success around the goal line (15 career TD).

12. James Wilder Jr., RB, Florida State (--)
The Noles tailback was one of the most highly touted prospects in the nation a few years ago and 2013 is his time to shine. He is an extremely gifted and physical player who is at his best between the tackles and around the goal line — as his 11 touchdowns last year indicate. He only gets better with a heavy workload and could become a star as a junior. He could easily be Winston’s best friend early in the season as Jimbo Fisher breaks in his new quarterback.

Best of the Rest:

13. Tanner Price, QB, Wake Forest
14. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
15. James Hurst, OL, North Carolina
16. David Sims, RB, Georgia Tech
17. Roderick McDowell, RB, Clemson
18. Rashad Greene, WR, Florida State
19. Quinshad Davis, WR, North Carolina
20. Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest

Five Defensive Players to Watch:

Christian Jones, LB, Florida State
Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
James Gayle, DE, Virginia Tech
Lamarcus Joyner, DB, Florida State
Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina


Prep for the 2013 season on Twitter @AthlonSports


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Teaser:
<p> The ACC's Top Heisman Contenders in 2013</p>
Post date: Monday, June 24, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-best-coaches-under-40
Body:

Thirty is the new 40. At least in coaching.

During the last run through the coaching carousel, five schools hired coaches who had yet to reach their 40th birthday. That included the nation’s youngest coach, P.J. Fleck, who took the Western Michigan job at age 32 with neither head coaching nor coordinator experience.

Meanwhile, one 30-something coach, Willie Taggart, took his second head coaching job when he left Western Kentucky for USF.

At some schools, it’s tough to argue against the youth movement. Stanford’s David Shaw, who turned 40 last summer, has led Stanford to two BCS bowls and a Pac-12 title. Steve Sarkisian has revived the Washington program. And that’s just on the West Coast. Pat Fitzgerald, once the youngest coach in the country himself, has led Northwestern to unprecedented heights.

The under-40 coaching crowd is an interesting fraternity in college football, especially now that nearly half of it is made up of first-time head coaches in 2013. Programs hiring coaches are often looking for an influx of youthful energy, especially if the coach has local or school ties.

Whether any of these coaches will be in the game long enough to challenge records is unknown, but many of them have built enviable careers before their 40th birthdays.

*All ages as of Sept. 1, 2013.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S BEST COACHES UNDER 40

1. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern (team preview)
Record: 50-39
Age: 38
Fitzgerald was tabbed as a potential head coach at Northwestern years before the sudden passing of Randy Walker put him in the position at 31. Now, he’s the second-longest tenured coach in the Big Ten. In 2012, Fitzgerald led Northwestern to its first 10-win season since 1995 and first ranked finish since 1996 (Fitzgerald, of course, played linebacker for both of those teams in the 90s). He’s already Northwestern’s all-time wins leader at 50, passing Pappy Waldorf with the Gator Bowl victory over Mississippi State. As usual, Northwestern is rarely the most talented team on the field, but the Wildcats find a way to be competitive. The only question is if any job, college or otherwise, could pry him from Evanston.

2. Steve Sarkisian, Washington (team preview)
Record: 26-25
Age: 39
The former BYU quarterback and USC assistant Sarkisian brought Washington back to relevance within the Pac-12 after taking over an 0-12 team in 2009. The Huskies have gone 7-6 in each of the last three seasons, but Washington fans would like to see the program take the next step. After rebuilding the defensive coaching staff after 2011 and dealing with the injury bug in 2012, Sarkisian’s team is ready.

3. Willie Taggart, USF (team preview)
Record: 16-20
Age: 37
In his first head coaching job, Taggart led his alma mater Western Kentucky into the FBS. The Hilltoppers went 7-5 in each of the last two seasons, including 7-1 in the Sun Belt in 2011 and the program’s first bowl game in 2012. Now, he’ll try to revive the program in his old backyard. Taggart graduated from Manatee High in Bradenton, Fla., and now his job is to lead a stagnant USF program over the hump. A Jim Harbaugh disciple, Taggart knows how to build a program built on toughness and resilience, something the Bulls have lacked in recent years.

4. Lane Kiffin, USC (team preview)
Record: 32-19
Age: 37
Where to start with Kiffin? It’s tough to find a more interesting — putting it gently — six years for a head coach in college and the NFL. He was hired and fired by Al Davis, hailed as a hero and scorned at Tennessee, and then had mixed results at USC. Despite NCAA sanctions, the Trojans went 10-2 including a win over Oregon on the road in 2011. That high mark as a coach only set Kiffin up for a dramatic fall from No. 1 in the preseason to 7-6 last season. For 2013, Kiffin parted ways with his father as defensive coordinator and Matt Barkley as quarterback. He could surprise again or he could land himself on the hot seat before his 40th birthday.

5. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech (team preview)
Record: 0-0
Age: 34
Even the risk averse might be OK with Texas Tech hiring a 33-year-old with only four years of full-time coaching experience. The former Red Raiders quarterback Kingsbury worked with NCAA career leading passer Case Keenum and Heisman winner Johnny Manziel in his brief career. Moreover, Kingsbury is intimately familiar with what worked not so long ago in Lubbock. Kingsbury was Mike Leach’s first quarterback at Tech and an assistant under Kevin Sumlin and Dana Holgorsen at Houston. After the uncomfortable fit Tommy Tuberville was in Lubbock, Kingsbury will be a return to familiarity.

6. Justin Fuente, Memphis (team preview)
Record: 4-8
Age: 37
The 4-8 record isn’t impressive and three-game winning streak to end the 2012 season were over patsies like Tulane, UAB and Southern Miss. Still, it’s not like Memphis had three-game win streaks of any kind under Larry Porter or in the final years of Tommy West’s tenure. Porter’s 3-21 stint was a disaster, but Fuente, the former TCU offensive coordinator, turned the culture around by November. Will it be enough for Memphis to compete in the American Athletic Conference?

7. Matt Campbell, Toledo (team preview)
Record: 10-4
Age: 33
Campbell was the youngest coach in the country when Toledo promoted him for the Military Bowl against Air Force after the 2011 season. As former Rockets coach Tim Beckman limped to a 2-10 season at Illinois, Campbell went 9-4 in his first full season at Toledo, displaying the same explosive offense that’s become a trademark at the Glass Bowl. This season, the Rockets should be in the mix for their first MAC title since 2004.

8. Bryan Harsin, Arkansas State (team preview)
Record: 0-0
Age: 36
Harsin hopes to become the next former offensive coordinator to win big at Arkansas State, and the Red Wolves wouldn’t mind if he sticks around a little longer than Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn. Harsin’s best days as an offensive coordinator came at Boise State where he coached Jared Zabransky, Ian Johnson and Kellen Moore during undefeated seasons in 2006 and 2009. While Texas never finished higher than 40th nationally in total offense under Harsin, the Longhorns’ output increased both years.

9. Brian Polian, Nevada (team preview)
Record: 0-0
Age: 38
Let’s say this: Nevada had better field good special teams. Polian, the son of NFL executive Bill Polian, has been special teams coach for Notre Dame, Stanford and Texas A&M. Those aren’t bad places to be an assistant, particularly under Kevin Sumlin, David Shaw and Jim Harbaugh. He’ll keep the Pistol offense installed at Nevada, which is good news for a program that hasn’t won under anyone other than former coach Chris Ault.

10. Matt Rhule, Temple (team preview)
Record: 0-0
Age: 38
Rhule was integral in the rebuilding job at Temple in recent years, helping to transform the Owls from a doormat to MAC contender. In between then and taking over for Steve Addazio, Rhule spent a season as offensive line coach with the New York Giants.

Related College Football Content

2013 College Football Preview
Top 25
No. 26-40
No. 41-60
No. 61-80
No. 81-100
No. 101-125

Top Players of the BCS Era
Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Offensive line

Teaser:
<p> Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald leads the list</p>
Post date: Monday, June 24, 2013 - 07:55
Path: /college-football/best-and-worst-times-be-alabama-football-fan
Body:

When Alabama is on the top of its game, it tends to loom over the rest of the sport.

When the SEC is on top — as it’s been for several seasons — Alabama has been at the top of the mountain. When Alabama, USC and Oklahoma all finished No. 1, 2 and 3 in 1978 and ’79, guess which team claimed the top spot.

Coaches here tend to tower over the program — Wade, Bryant and Saban. And it doesn’t get any better when Auburn is firmly under the thumb of the Tide.

At the same time, the drive to be the best contributes to some of the lowest lows. Alabama spent the early part of the 2000s largely off the map, due to NCAA sanctions.

But Alabama came back with a vengeance in the last five seasons, reaching the same heights as the Tide did under the Bear.

With Alabama gearing up for potentially a third consecutive national title, this is a great time to wear a Houndstooth hat. Maybe it’s the best time to scream Roll Tide. The first half of the 2000s weren’t great for Alabama, but was it worse than the pre-Bear Bryant depths?

Here are the best and worst times to be an Alabama fan.

Other best times/worst times:
Miami
Nebraska

Notre Dame

Texas A&M


BEST TIMES TO BE AN ALABAMA FAN

1971-79
Record: 97-11
National championships: 3
Coach: Bear Bryant
Notable players: John Hannah, Ozzie Newsome, Dwight Stephenson, Johnny Musso, Bob Baumhower, Marty Lyons, Barry Krauss, Don McNeal, Leroy Cook
Bryant’s second act as a national championship coach may be more impressive than the run in the ‘60s. The run includes the 1979 team, Bryant’s final title-winning team and Alabama’s only undefeated national champ before Saban’s BCS title in 2009. A year earlier, Alabama defeated No. 1 Penn State 14-7 in the Sugar Bowl on a goal line stand for the ages when Barry Krauss stuffed the Nittany Lions’ quarterback Chuck Fusina on fourth down and inches. The 1975 season ended a bizarre stretch of bowl futility when Alabama went 0-7-1 in bowl games, going back to 1968. As Alabama won more games than any other program during the ‘70s, Bryant showed he could change with the times. He adopted the Wishbone offense and more important, began to further integrate the SEC by recruiting black football players to Alabama.

Related: Alabama ranks first in 2013 countdown

2008-present
Record: 61-7
National championships: 3
Coach: Nick Saban
Notable players: Mark Ingram, Barrett Jones, Terrence Cody, AJ McCarron, Greg McElroy, Trent Richardson, Julio Jones, Courtney Upshaw, Dee Milliner, Mark Barron, C.J. Mosley, Chance Warmack, Dont’a Hightower, Mike Johnson, Javier Arenas
Alabama has been restored to its rightful place in college football, on the top of the sport. With three BCS titles in four seasons, the Tide have established a dominance the sport hasn’t seen since Miami of the 1980s and ‘90s. Over the course of the last five seasons, Alabama has defeated opponents by an average of 22.5 points per game. Even in the supposed down year of 2010, Alabama went 10-3 with two of those losses coming by a field goal or less. The Crimson Tide have taken over every corner of the sport even away from Saturdays — from recruiting national titles to the NFL Draft (11 first-round picks in the last three years to being the topic du jour of opposing coaches on the summer speaking circuit. This stretch also captured the lone piece of hardware Alabama lacked — the Heisman Trophy. At a time when the SEC is on top of college football, Alabama is the team the other 13 SEC programs want to be.

Related: Poisoning of Toomer's trees leads our list of infamous pranks

1961-66
Record: 60-5-2
National championships: 3
Coach: Bear Bryant
Notable players: Joe Namath, Ken Stabler, Billy Neighbors, Lee Roy Jordan, Ray Perkins
Alabama began to flex its muscles under Bryant in 1961 when the Tide won their final seven games 161-3. From Joe Namath to Ken Stabler during this era, Alabama rarely had this much star power at quarterback. Alabama won three titles during this time, but the most satisfying may have been the 1965 title. The lone loss that season was a controversial one-point defeat to Georgia, but Alabama had a chance to redeem itself when title contenders Arkansas and Michigan State lost during bowl season. Alabama upset Nebraska 39-28 in the Orange Bowl to claim a second consecutive title.

Related: Alabama has 14 selections on preseason All-SEC team

WORST TIMES TO BE AN ALABAMA FAN

1955-57
Record: 4-24-2
Coach: Jennings Whitworth
Alabama was a power under coaches Wallace Wade, Frank Thomas and Red Drew, but passing the baton to the alum Whitworth was a disaster. Whitworth went 0-10 in his first season and didn’t get much better from there. More than that, Alabama lost three times to Auburn by a combined score of 100-7. The tenure wasn’t all bad though: Alabama fired a coach nicknamed "Ears" to hire a coach nicknamed "Bear."

Related: 2013 SEC predictions

2000-06
Record: 30-40
Coaches: Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione, Mike Shula
Alabama showed signs of returning to prominence during this span, including 10-win seasons under each coach: DuBose, Franchione and Shula. But any strides were countered with disappointment. Alabama spent most of this period watching the rise of LSU and Auburn, who went 6-1 against the Tide from 2000-07. Alabama also spent most of these years under NCAA sanctions, including a postseason ban in 2002 when the Tide won the SEC West on the field (10-2, 6-2). After that season, Franchione spurned Alabama for Texas A&M. Alabama tried to replace him with Washington State’s Mike Price, but his when his trip to a Florida strip club went public, he was fired before coaching a game. A period of embarrassment on and off the field ended when Shula was fired in 2006.

IT WASN’T SO BAD WHEN...

1991-96
Record: 63-11-1
National championships: 1
Coach: Gene Stallings
Notable players: John Copeland, Eric Curry, Antonio Langham, Kevin Jackson
Few would call this era of Alabama football “bad,” but it is easy to overlook. Florida, not Alabama, was the SEC’s team of the ‘90s after defeating the Tide three of four times in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama won the national title in 1992, its only title in a 30-year period, and finished ranked in the top five two other times. Stallings ended up in the College Football Hall of Fame, but it’s tough to crack Alabama’s coaching Mount Rushmore when Bryant and Saban take up two spots already.

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2013 College Football Preview
Top 25
No. 26-40

No. 41-60

No. 61-80

No. 81-100

No. 101-125

Top Players of the BCS Era
Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive line

Teaser:
<p> Best and Worst Times to be an Alabama Football Fan</p>
Post date: Monday, June 24, 2013 - 07:45
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2013-team-defense-rankings
Body:

Fall college fantasy football drafts are right around the corner and Athlon is here to help win your league in 2013. Athlon Sports has teamed with Joe DiSalvo of thecffsite.com to provide the latest rankings for the upcoming year.

Rankings will be updated right up until kickoff and expect plenty of tweaks to over the next couple of months.

Scoring system rankings based upon:

All draft values are based on a 12-team, 20-round draft using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point
Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point
Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point
FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points
Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point,

Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)

2013 College Fantasy Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Team Defenses

Updated: August 17, by Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)
 

College Fantasy Football 2013 Rankings: Team Defenses

RankTeam
1Alabama
2Stanford
3Notre Dame
4South Carolina
5Michigan State
6Louisville
7LSU
8TCU
9Florida
10Clemson
11Texas
12Florida State
13Oregon State
14Wisconsin
15Vanderbilt
16Bowling Green
17Ohio State
18Boise State
19Northwestern
20Georgia
21Washington
22Michigan
23Oregon
24North Carolina
25Virginia Tech
26Miami
27Ole Miss
28Pitt
29Oklahoma State
30USC

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: 2013 Team Defense Rankings</p>
Post date: Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 23:50
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2013-kicker-rankings
Body:

Fall college fantasy football drafts are right around the corner and Athlon is here to help win your league in 2013. Athlon Sports has teamed with Joe DiSalvo of thecffsite.com to provide the latest rankings for the upcoming year.

Rankings will be updated right up until kickoff and expect plenty of tweaks to over the next couple of months.

Scoring system rankings based upon:

All draft values are based on a 12-team, 20-round draft using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point
Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point
Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point
FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points
Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point,

Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)

2013 College Fantasy Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Team Defenses

Updated: August 17, by Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)
 

College Fantasy Football 2013 Rankings: Kickers

RankPlayerTeam
1Taylor BertoletTexas A&M
2Chandler CatanzaroClemson
3Aaron JonesBaylor
4Chris BoswellRice
5Jaden OberkromTCU
6Jeremiah DetmerToledo
7Andre HeidariUSC
8Cairo SantosTulane
9Jordan WilliamsonStanford
10Kyle BrindzaNotre Dame
11Ka’imi FairbairnUCLA
12Justin HaigMarshall
13Ross MartinDuke
14Mathew SimsNorthern Illinois
15Austin LopezSan Jose State

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: 2013 Kicker Rankings</p>
Post date: Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 23:48
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2013-tight-ends-rankings
Body:

Fall college fantasy football drafts are right around the corner and Athlon is here to help win your league in 2013. Athlon Sports has teamed with Joe DiSalvo of thecffsite.com to provide the latest rankings for the upcoming year.

Rankings will be updated right up until kickoff and expect plenty of tweaks to over the next couple of months.

Scoring system rankings based upon:

All draft values are based on a 12-team, 20-round draft using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point
Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point
Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point
FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points
Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point,

Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)

2013 College Fantasy Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Team Defenses

Updated: August 17, by Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)
 

College Fantasy Football 2013 Rankings: Tight Ends

RankPlayerTeam
1Austin Sefarian-JenkinsWashington
2Gator HoskinsMarshall
3Eric EbronNorth Carolina
4Jace AmaroTexas Tech
5Chris CoyleArizona State
6C.J. FiedorowiczIowa
7Colt LyerlaOregon
8Arthur LynchGeorgia
9Clive WalfordMiami
10Ted BolserIndiana
11Dan VitaleNorthwestern
12Jake McGeeVirginia
13Jake MurphyUtah
14Kyle CarterPenn State
15Devin FunchessMichigan
16Nick O’LearyFlorida State
17Zane FakesBall State
18Alex BayerBowling Green
19Jacob PedersenWisconsin
20Xavier GrimbleUSC
21Rob BlanchflowerUMass
22Kaneauka FrielBYU
23Beckett WalesSyracuse
24Connor HamletOregon State
25Cole HubbleUTSA
Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: 2013 Tight Ends Rankings</p>
Post date: Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 23:44
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2013-wide-receiver-rankings
Body:

Fall college fantasy football drafts are right around the corner and Athlon is here to help win your league in 2013. Athlon Sports has teamed with Joe DiSalvo of thecffsite.com to provide the latest rankings for the upcoming year.

Rankings will be updated right up until kickoff and expect plenty of tweaks to over the next couple of months.

Scoring system rankings based upon:

All draft values are based on a 12-team, 20-round draft using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point
Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point
Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point
FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points
Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point,

Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)

2013 College Fantasy Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Team Defenses

Updated: August 22, by Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)
 

College Fantasy Football 2013 Rankings: Wide Receivers

RankPlayerTeam
1Marqise LeeUSC
2Sammy WatkinsClemson
3Josh StewartOklahoma State
4Davante AdamsFresno State
5Eric WardTexas Tech
6Tommy ShulerMarshall
7Justin HardyEast Carolina
8Jordan MatthewsVanderbilt
9Bernard ReedyToledo
10Willie SneadBall State
11Brandin CooksOregon State
12Cody HoffmanBYU
13Noel GrigsbySan Jose State
14Quinshad DavisNorth Carolina
15Mike EvansTexas A&M
16Jamison CrowderDuke
17Amari CooperAlabama
18Michael CampanaroWake Forest
19Jalen SaundersOklahoma
20Alex NeutzBuffalo
21Stefon DiggsMaryland
22Ryan GrantTulane
23Donte MoncriefOle Miss
24Jeremy GallonMichigan
25Mario AlfordWest Virginia
26Der’rikk ThompsonSMU
27Jay LeeBaylor
28DeVante ParkerLouisville
29Allen RobinsonPenn State
30Dawan ScottMiami (OH)
31Alex AmidonBoston College
32Je’Ron HammUL-Monroe
33Keyarris GarrettTulsa
34David RichardsArizona
35Kasen WilliamsWashington
36Tevin ReeseBaylor
37Matt MillerBoise State
38Titus DavisCentral Michigan
39Deontay GreenberryHouston
40Dominique WilliamsWashington State
41Chris HarperCalifornia
42Phillip DorsettMiami
43Donte FosterOhio
44Jordan ThompsonWest Virginia
45Brandon CarterTCU
46Andre DavisSouth Florida
47J.D. McKissicArkansas State
48Chris GallonBowling Green
49K.J. MyersWest Virginia
50T.J. JonesNotre Dame
51Martavis BryantClemson
52Brandon ColemanRutgers
53J.J. WortonCentral Florida
54Bradley MarquezTexas Tech
55Jordan TaylorRice
56Mike DavisTexas
57Shaquelle EvansUCLA
58Robbie RhodesBaylor
59Robert HerronWyoming
60Eric ThomasTroy
61Rashad GreeneFlorida State
62Dorial Green-BeckhamMissouri
63Willie McNealWestern Kentucky
64Tracy MooreOklahoma State
65Nelson AgohlorUSC
66Michael BennettGeorgia
67Joe MorrowMississippi State
68Kevonte Martin-ManleyIowa
69Paul RichardsonColorado
70Kevin OzierArizona State
71D.J. ColesVirginia Tech
72Jamill SmithBall State
73Bruce EllingtonSouth Carolina
74L.T. SmithAkron
75Jamal RobinsonUL-Lafayette
76Kenny BellNebraska
77Quan BrayAuburn
78Sterling ShepardOklahoma
79Jarvis LandryLSU
80Jordan LeslieUTEP
81Jeremy JohnsonSMU
82Alonzo RussellToledo
83LeKendrick WilliamsTexas A&M
84Chandler JonesSan Jose State
85Gabe MarksWashington St
86Brandon WimberlyNevada
87Kofi HughesIndiana
88Dontre WilsonOhio State
89Ty MontgomeryStanford
90Tavarese MayeUL-Monroe
91Josh SchafferWestern Michigan
92Ronald CarswellWest Virginia
93Devin StreetPitt
94Josh HuffOregon
95Tommylee LewisNorthern Illinois
96Jared AbbrederisWisconsin
97Malcolm MitchellGeorgia
98Tyler LockettKansas State
99Darius JenningsVirginia
100Trey MetoyerOklahoma
101Isiah MyersWashington State
102Devante DavisUNLV
103William DukesFlorida Atlantic
104Albert WilsonGeorgia State
105Isaiah BurseFresno State
106Antwan GoodleyBaylor
107Shane Williams-RhodesBoise State
108Bennie FowlerMichigan State
109Shaun JoplinBowling Green
110Terrence MillerArizona
111Kenneth ScottUtah
112Chris BoydVanderbilt
113Quintin PaytonNorth Carolina State
114Daniel SpencerHouston
115Charlie MooreOklahoma State
116Drew DileoMichigan
117Christian JonesNorthwestern
118Charone PeakeClemson
119Damiere ByrdSouth Carolina
120Geraldo BoldewijnBoise State
121Blake JacksonOklahoma State

 

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: 2013 Wide Receiver Rankings</p>
Post date: Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 23:33
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2013-running-back-rankings
Body:

Fall college fantasy football drafts are right around the corner and Athlon is here to help win your league in 2013. Athlon Sports has teamed with Joe DiSalvo of thecffsite.com to provide the latest rankings for the upcoming year.

Rankings will be updated right up until kickoff and expect plenty of tweaks to over the next couple of months.

Scoring system rankings based upon:

All draft values are based on a 12-team, 20-round draft using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point
Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point
Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point
FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points
Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point,

Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)

2013 College Fantasy Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Team Defenses

Updated: August 17, by Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)
 

College Fantasy Football 2013 Rankings: Running Backs

RankPlayerTeam
1Ka’Deem CareyArizona
2Adam MuemaSan Diego State
3Todd GurleyGeorgia
4David FluellenToledo
5Antonio AndrewsWestern Kentucky
6T.J. YeldonAlabama
7Duke JohnsonMiami
8Dri ArcherKent State
9Ameer AbdullahNebraska
10Zurlon TiptonCentral Michigan
11Lache SeastrunkBaylor
12Bishop SankeyWashington
13De’Anthony ThomasOregon
14Venric MarkNorthwestern
15Branden OliverBuffalo
16Darrin ReavesUAB
17Storm WoodsOregon State
18Charles SimsWest Virginia
19John HubertKansas State
20Kenneth DixonLouisiana Tech
21Kasey CarrierNew Mexico
22Beau BlankenshipOhio
23Melvin GordonWisconsin
24Storm JohnsonCentral Florida
25Jeremy SmithOklahoma State
26Mike DavisSouth Carolina
27Jay AjayiBoise State
28Orleans DarkwaTulane
29Carlos HydeOhio State
30Jamaal WilliamsBYU
31Isaac BennettPitt
32Jahwan EdwardsBall State
33James SimsKansas
34Andre WilliamsBoston College
35Ben MalenaTexas A&M
36Silas ReddUSC
37Damien WilliamsOklahoma
38Rod McDowellClemson
39Trey WattsTulsa
40David OkuArkansas State
41LaDarius PerkinsMississippi State
42Donnell KirkwoodMinnesota
43Stephen HoustonIndiana
44Alonzo HarrisUL-Lafayette
45Tim CornettUNLV
46Marlon GriceArizona State
47Brendan BigelowCal
48Jordan JamesUCLA
49George Atkinson IIINotre Dame
50Vintavious CooperEast Carolina
51Jeff ScottOle Miss
52Jordan ParkerMiddle Tennessee
53Jerome SmithSyracuse
54Jordan HopgoodBowling Green
55Wesley TateVanderbilt
56Jeremy HillLSU
57Tre MasonAuburn
58Kelvin YorkUtah
59Michael DyerLouisville
60Christian PowellColorado
61David SimsGeorgia Tech
62Romar MorrisNorth Carolina
63Lyle McCombsConnecticut
64Joe HillUtah State
65James WhiteWisconsin
66Matt JonesFlorida
67Byron MarshallOregon
68Bronson HillEastern Michigan
69Savon HugginsRutgers
70Marlin LaneTennessee
71Derrick GreenMichigan
72Chris NwokeColorado State
73Marteze WallerFresno State
74Jawon ChisholmAkron
75Dominique BrownLouisville
76James Wilder, Jr.Florida State
77Trayion DurhamKent State
78Johnathan GrayTexas
79Cameron StingilyNorthern Illinois
80Kenny WilliamsTexas Tech
81Kevin ParksVirginia
82Mark WeismanIowa
83Alex CollinsArkansas
84Don JacksonNevada
85Jyruss EdwardsLA-Monroe
86Noah CopelandNavy
87Glasco MartinBaylor
88Alfred BlueLSU
89J.C. ColemanVirginia Tech
90Marcus ShawSouth Florida
91Zach ZwinakPenn State
92Andrew BuieWest Virginia
93Nick HillMichigan State
94Raymond MaplesArmy
95Henry JoseyMissouri
96Nathan JefferyUTEP
97Raymond SandersKentucky
98Devonta FreemanFlorida State
99Brandon HayesMemphis
100Senorise PerryLouisville
101Josh HarrisWake Forest
102Malcolm BrownTexas
103D.J. FosterArizona State
104James WhiteIowa State

 

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: 2013 Running Back Rankings</p>
Post date: Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 23:12
Path: /nascar/martin-truex-jr-ends-nascar-skid-wins-sonoma
Body:

Not long ago, Sonoma Raceway was owned by drivers Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart who, between 1998-2006, won seven of the nine NASCAR Sprint Cup races at the 1.99-mile road course. Road-racing aces like Robby Gordon and Juan Pablo Montoya were the real competition, not the typical oval-centric stock car crowd. And certainly not drivers with a short-track background like Martin Truex Jr., in the midst of a 218-race winless skid.

The last seven trips have proved different, though. And Sunday was no exception, as Truex became the seventh straight driver to notch his first career road course win in Sonoma, winning the Toyota-Save Mart 350, and in the process, collecting his first Cup win since June 2007.

Road racing in NASCAR is all a matter of pit strategy — whether or not it all plays out as planned, or even makes any sense, is a different story — but Truex’s No. 56 team played it like a fiddle (or in this case, a violin) in California’s wine country.

Having abandoned the lead on lap 69 under a caution period, Truex found his Chad Johnston-led team hanging onto the top 15 when the race restarted. But when Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards tangled with 28 laps remaining, the leaders, including Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch, pitted for fuel and tires. That handed the lead back to Truex when the field took the green flag with 24 laps to go.

What was assumed would be a frantic final two dozen laps resulted in a tame affair, as Truex sprinted away from Matt Kenseth and Juan Pablo Montoya, and cruised to a 8.133-second win, his second career Cup victory.

“I was a frigging mess,” Truex said of his emotional state on the cool-down lap. “I had to stop and start doing donuts because I couldn't think about what I was doing. I tried to cue the radio once and I couldn't even talk.

“You can't explain the feeling (of winning). When it's been that long and you worked so hard and you've been so close and so many things have just — when you think at times, ‘Man, is this ever going to happen again,’ it's just … you can't explain the feeling. It's pretty surreal. Unbelievable.”

Truex’s main challenger, Montoya, ran out of fuel on the white flag lap, dropping from the runner-up spot to 34th. Meanwhile, Gordon tore through the field, gaining 16 spots over the last green flag run, and finished second. Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch and Bowyer rounded out the top 5.

“After Bowyer won (at Sonoma) last year it's obvious that Michael Waltrip Racing has a really good road racing program, and I've raced with Martin here before and he gets around here pretty good,” Gordon said. “They had a good strategy and that can make or break you. And he does a nice job on the road courses. They had a good car.”

The win vaulted Truex from 13th to 10th in the championship standings and, more importantly, gave him an insurance policy were he forced to rely on a “wild card” to qualify for NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. Currently, Kahne (12th) and Tony Stewart (15th) are drivers outside of the top 10 that have a race win to their credit.
 

Teaser:
<p> Martin Truex Jr. ends 218-race winless skid, wins the NASCAR Toyota-Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.</p>
Post date: Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 20:47
Path: /nfl/new-york-giants-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

After 14 years in Philadelphia, Andy Reid takes over the reigns in Kansas City. Can he and new Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith turn around a team that went 2-14 last season? Here's our look at the Chiefs' 2013 NFL schedule.

New York Giants 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: at Dallas
Week 2: Denver
Week 3: at Carolina
Week 4: at Kansas City
Week 5: Philadelphia
Week 6: at Chicago (Thurs.)
Week 7: Minnesota (Mon.)
Week 8: at Philadelphia
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Oakland
Week 11: Green Bay
Week 12: Dallas
Week 13: at Washington
Week 14: at San Diego
Week 15: Seattle
Week 16: at Detroit
Week 17: Washington

Order your 2013 New York Giants Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: After spending more than a deacade leading the Eagles, it's only fitting that the NFL helps Reid settle in with the Chiefs by providing him with some familiar opponents, no? If not, then it appears the schedule-makers did Reid and Kansas City a favor by letting them open up, albeit on the road against Jacksonville. After the Jaguars it's three straight NFC East games with Dallas and the New York Giants set to come to Arrowhead and, of course, the Chiefs going to Philadelphia to face Reid's former charges. A strong opening month by Kansas City would not only bode well for the team, also would probably provide some extra satisfaction for their new head coach.

Toughest Stretch: Kansas City plays one playoff team from last season (Houston, Week 7) leading up to its bye in Week 10. The script flips after the bye, however, as four of their final seven games are against teams that played in the postseason in 2012. This includes two games against defending AFC West champion Denver, starting with a trip to the Mile High City in Week 11. A home game against San Diego follows before the Broncos come to Arrowhead and then the Chiefs head east to finish off NFC crossover play with a game against Washington in Week 14. Even though Kansas City has to play three straight NFC East foes from Weeks 2-4, this four-game stretch against AFC teams gets the nod for its toughest because of the divisional i

Swing Games:at CAR (Week 3), SEA (Week 15)
Crossover Divisions:NFC North, AFC West
Bye Week:Week 9
Opp. 2012 W/L %:.480 (T-24h)
Athlon's SOS Rank:22nd

Easiest Stretch: Once Reid and the Chiefs get the bulk of their NFC crossover games out of the way, their schedule opens up somewhat. From Week 4 up until going on bye in Week 10, Kansas City faces just one team that won more than six games in 2012. Houston (12-4) will pay a visit to Arrowhead in Week 7, while the Chiefs' remaining opponents during this five-game stretch went a combined 21-43 (.328) last season. Oakland and Cleveland are at home, while road trips to Tennessee and Buffalo don't appear be all that daunting at this point either. Even if September goes poorly, Kansas City should have a chance to right the ship and pick up some wins leading into its Week 10 bye.

Circle The Calendar: Reid's history with the NFC East alone makes the four crossover games intriguing, but nothing will top his return to Philadelphia in Week 3. Not surprisingly, it's a primetime game (Thursday), and it will be interesting to see what type of welcome the former Eagles head coach gets from his former home crowd. Outside of that, the Week 1 opener at Jacksonville could be interesting to watch in that it will feature the first two picks of April's draft on the same field. Both  Kansas City's Eric Fisher (No. 1 overall) and the Jaguars' Luke Joeckel are offensive tackles who are expected to start for their respective teams. The Chiefs surprised some when they took Fisher over Joeckel, who was rated by many the No. 1 overall prospect headed into the draft, so no doubt a lot of attention will be paid to how these two fare in their first NFL game.

Divisional Notes: The Chiefs will see lots of familiar faces in November and December as all but one of their divisional games comes after their Week 10 bye. Oakland comes to town in Week 6 and after that Kansas City's next AFC West contest isn't until Week 11 at Denver. The Chiefs will play the Broncos twice in a three-week span, with a home date with the Chargers sandwiched in between. The final two divisional games are in Weeks and 17 and both are on the road, with the season ending in San Diego. If anything, the weather should be nice out west compared to last December at Arrowhead.

Playoff Push: If Kansas City is still in the playoff hunt by the time December rolls around, the Chiefs will have plenty of opportunities to make some noise. The final month of the season includes three divisional games, starting with Denver at home in Week 13. Kansas City also will play two other playoff teams from last season in Washington (away) and Indianapolis (home), as well as facing off with Oakland and San Diego for a second time. The three road games coupled with home dates with the Broncos and Colts make this a challenging finish to the season, but one that also could prove beneficial to Reid in his first season in Kansas City even if it doesn't culimate with a postseason berth.

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): The first and third weeks of the fantasy playoffs will present a great opportunity for Eli Manning and the Giants’ wide receivers. San Diego and Detroit were both in the bottom 13 against QBs and WRs last season. The same cannot be said for Seattle, which had the No. 1 fantasy defense against QBs and No. 2 against WRs. At least that game’s at home.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimoreHouston Denver
Miami (6/25)CincinnatiIndianapolisKansas City
New England (6/26)ClevelandJacksonvilleOakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27)Pittsburgh (7/1)Tennessee (7/3)San Diego (7/2)
    
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
DallasChicagoAtlantaArizona
NY GiantsDetroitCarolinaSt. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26)Green BayNew OrleansSan Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3)MinnesotaTampa Bay (7/2)Seattle (7/1)

Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Teaser:
<p> New York Giants 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 17:03
Path: /nfl/minnesota-vikings-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

There are plenty of storylines to track in Minnesota this year. The team made the playoffs a year ago and Adrian Peterson topped 2,000 yards rushing. Can either repeat remains to be seen. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

Minnesota Vikings 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: at Detroit
Week 2: at Chicago
Week 3: Cleveland
Week 4: Pittsburgh
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: Carolina
Week 7: at New York Giants (Mon.)
Week 8: Green Bay
Week 9: at Dallas
Week 10: Washington (Thurs.)
Week 11: at Seattle
Week 12: at Green Bay
Week 13: Chicago
Week 14: at Baltimore
Week 15: Philadelphia
Week 16: at Cincinnati
Week 17: Detroit

Order your 2013 Minnesota Vikings Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: There are wins to be had for Minnesota in the first four weeks of the season. They won't be easy and they carry plenty of importance, but these games are winnable. Road trips to divisional foes Detroit and Chicago open the 2013 season before home games with AFC North foes Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Only one of those four is picked to make the postseason (PIT) and that one comes at home. The first month also ends with an off weekend in Week 5.

Toughest Stretch: The Vikings better pick up some wins early in the year because few teams will deal with a six-week stretch like Minnesota will from Week 7 to Week 12. Four road games against the Giants, Cowboys, Seahawks and Packers sandwiched around home tests with the Redskins and Packers makes this arguably the toughest six-week slate in all of the NFL in 2013.

Swing Games: CAR (Week 6), at SEA (Week 11)
Crossover Divisions: NFC East, AFC North
Bye Week: Week 5
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .516 (10th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 2nd

Easiest Stretch: The first four weeks and the final three provide some chances for wins. Philadelphia and Detroit combined for 24 losses a year ago and the Vikings will play both at home in the final three weeks. Certainly, a road trip to Cincy won't be easy, but a 2-1 finish is a must for the Vikes. As is a 3-1 start if the Purple People Eaters want to return to the postseason.

Circle The Calendar: Anytime All Day is running the football it should be appointment viewing. And he could be pushing for another 2,000-yard season in the final month of the season. But a mid-season road trip to Seattle could give football fans a matchup between the league's best defense and the league's best running back. That game will be as physical as any in the league this fall.

Divisional Notes: Not many teams will start the season with back-to-back divisional games on the road like the Vikings. The good news is that it isn't the Packers, but getting off to a fast start won't be easy with trips to Detroit and Chicago. More bad NFC North news kicks in during that nasty six-game stretch that will include two with the division favorite Packers. A home game with the Bears would be the seventh game in that stretch. The only good news in the division for Minnesota is a home season finale against the Lions — which could be a huge playoff-clinching type of win.

Playoff Push: There are worse ways to finish the season. There are three extremely winnable home games against the Bears, Eagles and Lions in the final five weeks. The two AFC North road trips to Baltimore and Cincinnati look equally as daunting but nether is picked by Athlon Sports to win their division. The first and last months will determine where the Vikings end up next season.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): It doesn’t matter which team the Vikings play: If you own Adrian Peterson, you are taking your chances with the reigning MVP. For this season’s fantasy playoffs, Peterson gets three of last season’s middle of the pack fantasy defenses against RBs in Baltimore (18th), Philadelphia (16th) and Cincinnati (15th). Even if Christian Ponder shows dramatic improvement in 2013, the Ravens and Bengals were both in the top six fantasy defenses against QBs.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston Denver
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas  Chicago Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)


Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Teaser:
<p> Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 12:20
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC South, Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL
Path: /nfl/jacksonville-jaguars-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

The Jacksonville Jaguars won just two games last season, the fewest in franchise history. How many victories can rookie head coach Gus Bradley lead this team to this fall? Here's our look at the Jaguars' 2013 NFL schedule.

Jacksonville Jaguars 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: Kansas City
Week 2: at Oakland
Week 3: at Seattle
Week 4: Indianapolis
Week 5: at St. Louis
Week 6: at Denver
Week 7: San Diego
Week 8: San Francisco (London)
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: at Tennessee
Week 11: Arizona
Week 12: at Houston
Week 13: at Cleveland
Week 14: Houston (Thurs.)
Week 15: Buffalo
Week 16: Tennessee
Week 17: at Indianapolis

Order your 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: Based on Jacksonville's 2-14 showing last season, ongoing quarterback issues and the fact there is a new coaching staff in charge, wins figure to be at a premium for the Jaguars in 2013. That said, the opportunity exists for the new regime to start things on a positive note with Kansas City and Oakland on tap the first two weeks. Like the Jags, the Chiefs are under new leadership with Andy Reid taking over, so the best time to get them may be in Week 1. The Raiders have just as many issues as the Jaguars, so this may be a fairly even matchup with the loser taking the lead in the sweepstakes for the No. 1 overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. After that, however, the honeymoon is clearly over for Jacksonville first-year head coach Gus Bradley and company with a road trip to Seattle and a visit from Indianapolis to close out September.

Toughest Stretch: Most games figure to be an uphill battle for a team like the Jaguars, but October in particular looks like it will be a long month for this team. Two road games to start things off, one at St. Louis and the other in Denver against Peyton Manning and the Broncos' explosive offense. The next two are "home" games, if you call playing across the pond home. Jacksonville will host San Diego at EverBank Stadium before flying across the Atlantic Ocean to play San Francisco in the second of two NFL games in London's Wembley Stadium this season. The Jaguars are technically the home team, but that matters little when you are playing thousands of miles away from your normal base of operations. The best part of October for Jacksonville may very well end up being the bye week that follows the Jags' international business trip to England.

Swing Games: at CLE (Week 13), BUF (Week 15)
Crossover Divisions: AFC West, NFC West
Bye Week: Week 9
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .508 (T-12th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 12th

Easiest Stretch: Easy is a relative term when it comes to the Jaguars. The only team that won as few games as Jacksonville did last season was Kansas City, the Jags' Week 1 opponent at home. That and the following game against Oakland are one of two home double-dips on the schedule that could present the best chance for victories for Bradley and his team. The other pair of potentially winnable home games is near the end of the season when the Jaguars host the Bills and the Titans on consecutive Sundays.

Circle The Calendar: The two most important games on Jacksonville's schedule just may be the opening two, but for different reasons. The opener with Kansas City at home presents Bradley the golden opportunity of not only winning his first game as an NFL head coach, but to give a lethargic fan base something to get excited about. A Week 2 visit from Oakland could be significant in that a victory would mean either a 1-1 or 2-0 start for the Jaguars, while the loser becomes the early frontrunner for the "winner" of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Week 8 matchup with San Francisco doesn't figure to be all that competitive, but it will be "special" because it will be played in London's Wembley Stadium. This also will be the first of Jacksonville's four consecutive visits to England, so if anything maybe the Jags can lay the ground work to become Europe's team.

Divisional Notes: The Jaguars host Indianapolis in Week 4 and don't play another AFC South opponent prior to their Week 9 bye. More than half of Jacksonville's final eight games are divisional affairs, including three of its final four. The Jags have the misfortune of playing the Texans twice in a three-week span, with a road game at Cleveland sandwiched in between. Jacksonville's season also ends with a double-dip of divisional action, a Week 16 home game against the Titans and the finale at the Colts. Don't forget, both of the Jags' wins last season were against divisional opponents – a Week 3 win at Indianapolis and a Week 12 victory against Tennessee.

Playoff Push: Let's be realistic, the chances of Jacksonville contending for a playoff spot this season are remote at best. That said, the Jaguars do appear to have some winnable games in December and also could impact the AFC playoff race for other teams. Jacksonville opens the final month of the season in Cleveland, a team similar to the Jags in that the Browns have a new head coach and a great running back (Trent Richardson), but questions when it comes to quarterback and the passing game as a whole. Houston is next on tap the following Thursday, the only game Jacksonville plays all season that's not on Sunday. That's the first of three divisional games the Jags play in December with the Titans (home) and Colts (away) on the docket in Weeks 16 and 17. The other December game is a Week 15 visit from Buffalo, which was 6-10 in 2012 and has a rookie NFL head coach in '13. Finishing with no worse than two wins in December would be a nice way to end Bradley's first season in charge and give the Jaguars something to build on in the offseason.

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Is Maurice Jones-Drew back? His fantasy owners hope so, especially for the playoffs. Once he gets past Houston, which was seventh in rushing defense last season and allowed the fewest fantasy to RBs, MJD has Buffalo and Tennessee in his sights. Only one team in the NFL last season surrendered more fantasy points to backs than the Bills and Titans (New Orleans).


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston Denver
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas Chicago Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)

Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Teaser:
<p> Jacksonville Jaguars 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 12:15
All taxonomy terms: NFL, NBA, MLB, Monthly
Path: /monthly/jay-z-becoming-sports-newest-super-agent
Body:

Jay-Z has built an empire in the worlds of music and fashion. Now the 43-year-old is set to try his hand at building the brands of athletes across the sports landscape. Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports has teamed with Creative Artists Agency (CAA) — which represents everyone from Tom Cruise to Justin Timberlake to Derek Jeter — to form an alliance with the potential to become an immediate power player. 

“Because of my love of sports, it was a natural progression to form a company where we can help top athletes in various sports the same way we have been helping artists in the music industry for years,” Jay-Z said.
 
After serving as the posterboy of the Nets’ move from New Jersey to his home borough of Brooklyn, Jay-Z’s time as an NBA “owner” — his shares totaled less than one percent of the franchise — is over.
 
“Our newest endeavor is committed to building the brands of professional athletes as we have done for some of today’s top music artists,” Jay-Z wrote on his website, LifeandTimes.com. “For Roc Nation Sports to function at its full potential, NBA rules stipulate that I relinquish my ownership in the Brooklyn Nets.”
 
Jay-Z came out swinging for the fences, signing Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano as Roc Nation Sports’ first client. Fitting, since Jay-Z boasts that he “made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can.” But Cano is more than just the best player on Jay-Z’s favorite team. Cano is a pending free agent and a former client of Scott Boras — the most feared agent in baseball. If Jay-Z can play hardball and beat Boras at his own game, the rest of the industry should be on high alert.
 
Roc Nation Sports’ first NFL client is cha-cha dancing New York Giants wideout Victor Cruz, whose “prior relationship” with Jay-Z allowed the music mogul to side-step the NFL’s “runner rule,” which bans anyone who is not a certified agent to recruit players.
 
Recently, the NFLPA enacted what has been called the “Jay-Z Rule,” which states: “Whereas, the Regulations Governing Contract Advisors requires applicants to hold an undergraduate degree and post-graduate degree from an accredited college or university.” Apparently, the School of Hard Knocks is not an accredited university.
 
To counter that, Roc Nation Sports hired Kimberly Miale as its first agent certified by the NFLPA. Although she has never negotiated an active NFL contract, Miale is the de facto face of the franchise. Miale’s status had many NFL agents crying foul following Roc Nation Sports’ signing of New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who infamously fired his agents after falling in the draft. Smith was photographed with Jay-Z before signing with Miale — but really Jay-Z.
 
Signing with Jay-Z has more perks than just the occasional photo-op, though. Roc Nation Sports’ first female athlete, WNBA rookie Skylar Diggins, was gifted a new Mercedes Benz (photo to right) as a surprise present at Notre Dame graduation, prompting Diggins to reference Jay-Z in a tweet: “99 Problems but a Benz Ain’t One.”
 
Another wave of hoopers is expected to join Jay-Z's expanding empire. Among the most likely candidates are three-time scoring champion and national ad campaign pitchman Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the current consensus No. 1 prospect in the 2013 NBA Draft, Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel.
 
Boras and other established sports agents can compete with buying their clients new cars. But it will be tough to compete with Jay-Z’s crossover appeal to a generation of athletes who grew up singing his songs.
Teaser:
<p> Jay-Z is Becoming Sports' Newest Super Agent&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 11:15
All taxonomy terms: Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/tiger-woods-injury-history-breakdown
Body:

Even while winning 78 PGA Tour events and 14 majors, Tiger Woods has suffered an alarming litany of injuries, to the point that we have to wonder whether he’ll ever be truly healthy again. On the occasion of his latest malady (a strained left elbow that will keep him sidelined until the British Open), we present a breakdown of many (but not all) of the well-known injuries that have befallen Woods — and this doesn’t include anything that may or may not have happened to his face on that fateful Thanksgiving night in 2009. Not to mention the injuries to his pride, reputation and self-esteem.

Teaser:
<p> Tiger Woods' Injury History: A Visual Breakdown</p>
Post date: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-11-links-day-june-17
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for June 21.

• So did Kate Upton zing her apparent ex-boyfriend Justin Verlander via Twitter? Sure seems like it. Of course, that just gives us the excuse to link to another Kate Upton photo.

• The Heat finished off one of the most compelling NBA Finals in years, a series that was so intense that both teams were exhausted by the end of it. Here's a comprehensive rundown of a historic evening.

Nike was quick to celebrate LeBron's title with this cool ad.

So this is how South Beach superstars celebrate an NBA title: By eating pizza on-stage with Drake.

Hey LeBron: Bill Russell is bored and unimpressed by your two rings.

Somebody tell Aaron Hernandez the cops want to chat. I'm sure he'd want to know.

A ballboy made one of the catches of the year, considering he started from a seated position. Of course, when you get a good look at him, he's actually a ball-man. Time to get a real job, bro.

Did Kim and Kanye really name their baby North? As in North West? Is this real life?

• In honor of Chad Johnson's recent indiscretion, here are the most awkward hugs and butt-slaps in sports.

• The SEC West will be the epicenter of college football this year. Here are the most important games in the most important division. And speaking of the SEC, here are the most dominant linebacker duos the league has to offer. Also, are SEC offenses going too fast for their own good? 

• Let the LeBron-MJ comparisons commence. As this video asserts, The King is on pace to surpass His Airness.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]


June 20

• Wanna score a date with a professional cheerleader? Some of them were nice enough to share the path to their heart with Bleacher Report.

LeBron James. Tim Duncan. Game 7. Not much at stake, other than a title and a legacy.

The Stanley Cup is tied, Yasiel Puig is inhuman and more from last night.

• What's the sound of one hand high-fiving? Justin Morneau found out last night.

The SEC's mediocrity-fighting team of Stoops and Jones continues to impress on the recruiting trail.

• Over in the Ladies' NBA, they make their big announcements without any fanfare. The league's second all-time leading scorer announced her retirement by responding to a Tweet. Of course, I guess for there to be any fanfare, there have to be fans.

• Got $3.195 million lying around? You can have Chipper Jones' Roswell mansion. Take a virtual tour here.

• We lost James Gandolfini yesterday at the shockingly young age of 51. Here is his appearance on Inside the Actor's Studio. And here's a worthy tribute from someone who knew him.

The Aaron Hernandez story continues to unfold. I'm going to withhold judgment, but it doesn't look great.

SEC rookies are already making an impact.

• Routine popup? For Ronald Belisario, there are no routine popups.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]


June 19

• Summer TV used to be a wasteland of reruns interrupted by the occasional sporting event. Not anymore. The hottest women of summer television, including The Newsroom's Olivia Munn.

The big winners last night? Fans of compelling basketball. The losers? Sellers of headbands.

The greatest moment from last night's game captured on film: Ray Allen's game-tying 3. My only question: Why is Ginobili flopping in the photo? Floppers gonna flop, I guess.

Stupid Heat fans who left early last night soon realized their mistake.

Are there chinks in Pop's armor after the Spurs' late-game mistakes last night?

Saturday Down South gives Athlon's rundown of opposing coaches' comments about SEC West teams. Thanks for the shout-out.

Mets pitcher Matt Harvey lost a no-hitter yesterday in the Mets-iest way possible.

Serena Williams played a little blame-the-victim in the Steubenville rape case in her Rolling Stone interview. Predictably, she's apologized.

Hadn't heard much from Charlie Sheen lately. Glad to see he's still winning at the expense of others.

• It was classic Pop in the postgame press conference. His classiest answer: "Is that a European question?"

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]


June 18

• Not all supermodels are created equal. Here are the 10 who are dominating 2013 so far, including our old favorite Kate Upton.

• There's nothing better in sports than a Game 7. Let's hope the current respective finals get there, and if they do, that they live up to the greatest game 7s since 2000.

Alabama is adding a waterfall to its locker room. What's next, live mermaids?

• Don't you like those history what-if games? Here's one: Vin Scully could have been a Yankee.

Seven SEC East teams, seven questions for the fall (and their answers).

The most interesting team in the world: Texas A&M. I don't always watch college football, but when I do, I watch the Aggies.

• Note to shock jocks: If you're going to disgustingly mock a beloved guy with Lou Gehrig's disease, at least be funny doing it.

I find the headline at this link highly amusing. Gotta click to see it, though.

If you were waiting to buy the new Kanye album until you heard Dick Vitale's opinion, you're in luck.

Possibly gay NFL player Kerry Rhodes thinks he could be the father of Kim Kardashian's baby. In other news, Kim's baby has already been kicked out of a club and hired Jay-Z as her agent.

• Remember Bruce Hornsby? His kid's gonna play hoops in the SEC. That's just the way it is.

• I'm not a fan of the look-at-me home run bat flip. But there's something mesmerizing about two minutes' worth of such behavior. Judge for yourself.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]


June 17

• Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan and the other losers of the weekend's U.S. Open can console themselves with some of sports' finest WAGs.

Phil Mickelson plays U.S. Open word association: "Heartbreak."

It was an eventful Father's Day weekend. Here's a roundup.

• What's it like to date Tiger Woods? The New York Times asked, and Lindsey Vonn answered.

• Tis the season for meat. Here's a handy grilling guide for the carnivore in your life.

• During a pause in the golf action, Bob Costas took a moment to eviscerate the New York Mets. Now back to Dan Hicks.

Miss Utah displayed her mastery of economics with a classic pageant answer. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

• From the "Where Are They Now" files: Former Bowling Green great Omar Jacobs is still winning and putting up video game numbers, just on a small stage.

Will Mississippi State actually take the field in these jerseys?

• Cleaning this headline up a bit for a family audience: 20 Coaches Who Just Don't Care.

Jay-Z continues to take over the world.

• Danny Green is putting on a 3-point shooting exhibition the likes of which we've never seen in the NBA playoffs. He's made more 3-pointers in these Finals than Larry Bird ever attempted in an entire postseason. Here's every one of them.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 10:44
Path: /nascar/nascars-new-king-road-hamlins-chase-chances-and-villeneuves-cup-return
Body:

1. NASCAR's new king of the road?
Remember back when you could basically predict a Jeff Gordon win at these road course events? Ah, those sure were easier times. But, alas, they've been gone for a long while.

Gordon hasn't won on the series’ two road courses since 2006 at Sonoma and 2001 at Watkins Glen. As a result, NASCAR has gone a while now without a resident "King of the Road."

For example, look no farther than Sonoma. Gordon's ’06 victory was the last for a driver who had previously won at the track. Since then, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer have been one-off and first-time Sonoma winners.

The story is a bit different at Sprint Cup's other road racetrack in Watkins Glen. Marcos Ambrose is a two-time defending winner there, and Tony Stewart has three wins at the New York track since 2004.

Should Ambrose win Sunday — his Richard Petty Motorsports team dedicated a test to Sonoma earlier in the season — it would mark three wins in the last four NASCAR road course races. It wouldn't quite match Gordon, but it'd put the V8 Supercars champion on a level pretty close in terms of road course dominance.


2. NASCAR finally decides to try something new in qualifying
If you've seen the attendance for NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying at mostly every track in the last few years, you've realized that, to many, the format has lost its luster. NASCAR has yet to make a substantial change to fix some of that lost excitement on ovals, but it is making a change effective for this weekend's road course events.

It's about time.

Saturday, the Sprint Cup teams will qualify for Sunday's race at Sonoma Raceway in a group format. The cars will be evenly split in the groups and placed together based on practice speeds in the final practice session held Friday. Each group will have a set amount of time to qualify, and a driver's best lap during the timed period counts as the qualifying speed.

However, we don't know quite yet how many groups will run or how long the groups will be on the track. NASCAR's April news release on the subject says the race director will make that call. The weekend schedule has roughly one hour and 40 minutes set aside for Saturday's qualifying.

The Nationwide Series will use the same setup this weekend at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc.
 

Teaser:
<p> Geoffrey Miller highlights the five storylines to follow as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Sonoma Raceway for the Toyota-SaveMart 350.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 10:22
Path: /college-football/heisman-revolution
Body:

If Heisman voters were as open minded as Hugh Green’s peers in 1980, the fraternity of the award for the most outstanding college football player would be much different.

During a tour organized to promote the 1980 football season, the Pittsburgh defensive end, along with five other top players that year, made a handful of stops across the country to meet with reporters.

The tour led to plenty of down time for Green, Cal quarterback Rich Campbell, Purdue quarterback Mark Herrmann, Alabama running back Major Ogilvie, South Carolina running back George Rogers and Baylor linebacker Mike Singletary. During a stop somewhere in Indiana, Green recalls, the six conducted their own vote for who would win the Heisman in 1980.

Whether through humility or foresight, Green was the only one who ended up making the correct pick. He chose Rogers.

The other five picked Green.

Green had a fine season in 1980, wrapping up one of history’s best careers by a defensive player. He won the Maxwell Award for Player of the Year on a team that finished 11–1 and No. 2 in the country. He was a consensus All-American and the Lombardi Award winner. He stood out on a team that included quarterback Dan Marino and Outland Trophy-winning offensive tackle Mark May.

The Heisman, though, was out of reach for Green.

South Carolina’s Rogers beat Green by 267 points in the voting that year. Still, it was a victory for defensive players. In the two-platoon era, Green’s 861 points were the most for a defender until Michigan’s Charles Woodson won the Heisman in 1997. Woodson, though, returned kicks and played receiver, putting him over the top in the Heisman race.

“That’s the perspective of the best player — he has to have possession of the ball,” Green says. 

Beyond Green, the 1980 Heisman vote was also notable for the third-place finisher, Herschel Walker. The Georgia running back earned the most first-place votes (107) and total points (683) for a freshman up to that point.

So here’s the question: Had the 1980 Heisman vote been taken in 2012, would the result have been different? Would Green have won? What about Walker?

Since 2007, the Heisman has undergone a major shift.

That season brought the award’s first sophomore winner (Florida’s Tim Tebow), followed by the second in 2008 (Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford) and the third in 2009 (Alabama’s Mark Ingram). In 2012, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win the award — albeit a redshirt freshman and not the youngest player to win the Heisman. That’s still Ingram, who won at age 19.

And those are just the winners who have bucked Heisman tradition. Three defensive players have been Heisman finalists since 2009, and two of those — Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o and Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh — were purely defensive players.

Related: Texas A&M team preview

“Most of the barriers have been broken down,” Manziel says. “The way the award is set up, it’s more the most outstanding player in all of college football, whatever the situation. If people think you’re the best college football player that year, you deserve to win it, whether you play defense or whatever.”

The mainstreaming of sophomores, freshmen and defensive players in the Heisman voting may have been tough to envision a decade ago.

Just 10 years before Manziel (right) won the Heisman, the balloting was typical for the award most years. USC senior quarterback Carson Palmer won in 2002, a year when all of the top 10 vote-getters were either quarterbacks or running backs, seniors or juniors, with nine of them from power conferences. The only true outlier that season was Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich, who finished sixth.

Since Palmer, only one senior — Ohio State’s Troy Smith in 2006 — has won the award. And now, the 2013 Heisman race opens with a handful of possibilities for rare and first-time achievements.

Manziel has a chance to join Ohio State’s Archie Griffin (1974-75) as the only repeat winner in history. In theory, he’ll have three chances to join Griffin in elite company. However, after this season, Manziel will be eligible to leave school early for the NFL Draft.

Manziel will be a contender in 2013, but to become a two-time winner he may have to beat out a defensive end. South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney is unquestionably the nation’s top defensive player and already appears to be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Related: South Carolina team preview

In short, this isn’t your father’s Heisman.

“There’s a clear demarcation from the Tebow point onward,” says Chris Huston, founder of HeismanPundit.com. “It doesn’t really matter if they are seniors or juniors or sophomores or freshmen. What wins out are these tremendous numbers.”

If a defensive player is going to win the Heisman, though, the overwhelming numbers may be tough to acquire.

Green has been beating the drum for a defensive player to win the award for several years. He begrudgingly latched onto Michigan’s Woodson, who played offense (17 total touches for 259 yards from scrimmage and three TDs) and returned punts (78-yard TD vs. Ohio State) in addition to excelling at cornerback (eight INTs).


 

The former Pittsburgh lineman is convinced it will take a gargantuan statistical effort to overcome an offensive skill player.

“This guy, to catch the eye of America, would have to have at least 17 or 18 sacks, five or six interceptions returned for touchdowns — something totally incredible. He’d have to totally dominate anything and everything he plays. …

“He’d have to sack the quarterback and intercept him at the same time.”

Clowney (right) would tend to agree. He was been touted as one of the best players in college football even before he landed at South Carolina. He was the consensus No. 1 recruit in the class of 2011 and earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors. As a sophomore, he was a first-team All-American and finished sixth in the Heisman voting.

But even he concedes that the quarterbacks he’s bringing down have a better chance at the most coveted award in college sports.

“That’s what the people like — touchdowns and more touchdowns,” Clowney says. “They don’t worry about the sacks and stuff. I guess they feel like offense is more of an individual side.”

Ironically, the recent batch of defensive players to become Heisman finalists were contenders in the more traditional sense.

Among Huston’s “10 Heismandments” are stipulations that an aspiring winner must put up good numbers in big games on TV, must have prior name recognition and must play for a title contender or a traditional power.

None of those stipulations require a Heisman hopeful to be the best at his position or even the best player in his locker room.

One could argue that neither Te’o nor LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu was the best defensive player on his own team the seasons they went to the Heisman ceremony. And does anyone remember that Suh was fourth in the Big 12 in sacks the year he was a finalist?

Instead, voters gravitated to Te’o’s two interceptions in the Michigan game, Mathieu’s four defensive and special teams touchdowns, and Suh’s 4.5 sacks of Texas’ Colt McCoy in a Big 12 Championship Game loss.

That’s why Clowney is the best defensive candidate for the award since Woodson.

Related: Heisman contenders, challengers and longshots for 2013

Anyone looking for a Heisman-type moment from Clowney just needs to do a quick YouTube or GIF search. Clowney’s finest play — his game-changing tackle and forced fumble of Michigan’s Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl — has been on a highlight reel since January.

Name recognition? Check. Stats? Check. Game-turning plays in big games? Check.

“He has as good as a setup for a defensive player as we’ve seen,” Huston says.

But Clowney isn’t up against the Heisman field of a decade or so ago. He’s up against some of the most prolific quarterbacks in the history of the game.

Huston, who has been studying Heisman trends since he worked in the USC athletic department when Palmer won the award, doesn’t attribute the change in voting trends to any new open-mindedness by voters. Instead, the numbers are impossible to ignore, he says. Huston describes the last six years as the rise of the Super Quarterback. The wide-spread use of spread offenses, the dual-threat quarterbacks excelling in these systems and the proof they can win at a championship level have changed voters’ ideas of the typical Heisman candidate.

In a former era, Tebow’s bruising option attack, Bradford’s Air Raid approach, the track star ability of Baylor’s Robert Griffin III or Auburn’s Cam Newton, or Manziel’s improvisation would have been derided as a “system,” unworthy of the Heisman.

But no matter the style, these offenses are run by great athletes who happen to play quarterback, and they’re the centerpieces of their offenses like never before.

Each of the last five quarterbacks to win the Heisman since and including Tebow has topped at least 500 plays of total offense (carries plus pass attempts) in the years they won the Heisman. Manziel had 635 last season.

Of the six quarterbacks to win the Heisman before 2007, only one topped 500 plays during his award-winning season.

In addition, when spread quarterbacks compete for national championships or win in major conferences — rather than putting up numbers in Conference USA or the MAC — it’s that much tougher for a voter to write off a sophomore or a freshman who happens to be a so-called “system” quarterback.

“It’s kind of overcome the usual biases that used to exist against freshmen or sophomores,” Huston says. “It was not an intentional change. It was structural. By the nature of college football, players need more time building name recognition. Now you have guys who are freshmen and sophomores doing all the things Manziel did. It’s easy to quickly gain notoriety.”

Notoriety seems to be the key to a non-traditional candidate overcoming quarterbacks or running backs.

Clowney has it. Te’o, Mathieu and Suh earned it.

But what about offensive linemen? Have Heisman voters evolved to a point where linemen could become serious candidates?

Prior to the season, a handful of columnists posed that question about Alabama’s Barrett Jones, who at the time was the most decorated offensive player for the Crimson Tide. During his career, he started at guard, tackle and center. He also followed one of Huston’s other Heismandments: He’s likable.

If there were a perfect candidate to represent the offensive line in New York, it seemed to be Jones.

Yet Jones was not one of the top 10 vote-getters in 2012.

The last offensive lineman to make a serious push for the Heisman was Ohio State’s Orlando Pace, who finished fourth in 1996. It was the best finish for an offensive lineman since Buckeyes tackle John Hicks was the runner-up to Penn State’s John Cappelletti in 1973.

Hicks, who blocked for Heisman winner Archie Griffin, says publicity will be the key for a lineman to win the award.

“With the Ohio State publicity machine, if you have a great season here, you can win the Heisman here,” Hicks says. “Can a lineman win it? Sure. But he’s going to have be in the national conscience.”

That’s a double-edged sword. Even if a lineman or a defensive player garners enough name recognition to get to New York through being on television and his highlights showing up on YouTube and social media, quarterbacks and running backs still have all those advantages, too.

Plus every play of theirs is in the camera’s eye, and every stat readily accessible in a box score.

“The problem with defensive players and linemen is the metrics,” Huston says. “The camera follows the ball. The people who argue on behalf (of linemen) tend to argue very nebulous things — they were triple-teamed half the season and things like that. If you look at a box score you don’t get tackle numbers, you don’t get pancakes.”

But that’s the conventional wisdom. And if the last six seasons have proven anything, it’s that the conventional wisdom about the Heisman does not apply.

In 2013, college football may be ready for another two-time Heisman winner. Or a full-time defensive player.

“We’ll see,” Clowney says.

Related College Football Content

2013 College Football Preview
Top 25
No. 26-40
No. 41-60
No. 61-80
No. 81-100
No. 101-125

Top Players of the BCS Era
Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Offensive line

Teaser:
<p> College football's most prestigious award is going through a revolution.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Ole Miss Rebels, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/hugh-freeze-has-ole-miss-rebels-rise
Body:

Hugh Freeze is approachable by nature and has a disarming demeanor. On the surface, it’s hard not to like the Ole Miss football coach.

The same can be said, perhaps, for a used car salesman, and fans of opposing SEC schools were quick to cry foul — regardless of the validity of that cry — as Freeze and his staff compiled a consensus top-10 recruiting class in February.

It hadn’t been done at Ole Miss before. How could Freeze do it?

The Ole Miss class checked in at No. 6 in the Athlon recruiting rankings, but it takes more than a smile and handshake for sustained recruiting success, which is what Freeze must have to lift the Rebels from mediocre to meaningful in the SEC West, the toughest division in college football. In his mind, he has to build relationships, not only with prospects but also throughout his program. If he doesn’t, the players he’s trying to sign will discern the lack of authenticity.

The 2013 class indicates that Freeze and staff are off to a good start in all of the above.

National websites devoted to recruiting took ample notice of the 2013 class. Scout named D-line coach Chris Kiffin — Monte’s son and Lane’s younger brother — its Recruiter of the Year, while Kiffin and fellow assistants Wesley McGriff and Maurice Harris were named among the top 50 recruiters in the nation by 247Sports.

When the Rebels were first mentioned with some of the nation’s upper-tier talent, the idea of Freeze and his staff closing the deal seemed a little “far-fetched,” says Barton Simmons, who covers national recruiting for 247Sports. But there came a tipping point when those who follow the recruiting game began to think differently.

“Once it became clear that Robert Nkemdiche (the top-rated recruit nationally) was headed to Ole Miss, once it became clear that a 5-star receiver in Laquon Treadwell was joining the class, everything started to seem much more likely down that home stretch,” Simmons says. “As an industry it got to the point that nothing surprised us about that staff and what they were able to accomplish.”

Related: Freeze checks in at No. 9 in SEC coach rankings

The key? Relationships.

McGriff, who has left since Signing Day to become secondary coach with the New Orleans Saints, had a friendship with an assistant coach at Treadwell’s high school, and that gave the Rebs a shot with the No. 1 wide receiver.

Kiffin played a big role in the signing of Nkemdiche, the nation’s No. 1 recruit, and also with No. 1 offensive tackle prospect Laremy Tunsil. In addition, Nkemdiche has a brother — All-SEC linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche — already on the Ole Miss roster, while Treadwell has a friend and former high school teammate, defensive back Anthony Standifer, in Oxford. Those are examples of the “natural ins” Freeze references in how the entire 2013 class came together.

“People who criticize don’t understand that we have the brother of the No. 1 recruit in the country who just had an incredible experience at Ole Miss this year,” Freeze says.

“A lot of people talk about family, but we live it,” says offensive line coach Matt Luke, a former Ole Miss center who was also an assistant on Ed Orgeron’s staff. “People see that when they come here. They see us in person. They see that. We build relationships with our guys that are deeper than most. It’s not just, play your four years of football and get out of here.”

Related: Preview of No. 33 Ole Miss

People are attracted to that chemistry, Luke says. In a sport where vicious hits and physical play are applauded, Freeze uses respect for teammate, school and self — and often uses the word “love” — as his main motivating points.

Contact with each recruit from each assistant coach is meticulously planned, as is the Freeze in-home visit — down to what will be discussed and what assistant coaches will be with him.

The classroom discussion is always nearby. Freeze inherited an academic train wreck when he arrived at Ole Miss. Most players — not all — were able to get back on course and become eligible for 2012.

“Academics are non-negotiable in this process,” he says.

Freeze’s devout Christian faith is visible daily through his motivational phraseology and comments on Twitter. That can serve to strengthen a recruiting relationship, or in some cases have no effect.

“You get a mixture. Just like it is in society, but I’m not a guy that forces this on anyone. I tell you who I am,” he says.

The Ole Miss staff could see the momentum building for the class and could predict the reaction from so many who follow the sport of recruiting.

Allegations of cheating began to flood Freeze’s Twitter account to the point that he challenged anyone with evidence of wrongdoing to contact the school’s compliance office. Many did, and their claims were investigated. But nothing was found that raised red flags.

There was discussion with Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork and many others within the athletics department before Freeze issued his Twitter challenge.

“My whole point is, I know our coaches are doing it right,” Freeze says. “Certainly you’re going to do something where you have a secondary violation on something that is totally unintentional, but if somebody does have something that I’m unaware of, there’s too much at stake for me to sit blindly by. I’d like to know it.”

Many of the complaints came from those with ties to Georgia. Mark Richt and his staff had gotten pretty far down the road with Tunsil, and Freeze had no “natural in” with the tackle from Lake City, Fla.

“We had a plan. So we’re thrilled that it worked, but surprised is not a good word,” Luke says. “It’s like when I hit a good golf shot. That’s where I was aiming, it just ­doesn’t happen all the time. We had a lot of things fall right. We had some siblings, some teammates, some things to get the ball rolling.”

Related: 2013 SEC Preview

Freeze expects success in spite of the disadvantages that accompany a state with one of the smallest populations in the country, one that divides its small talent pool with another SEC school (Mississippi State) and a third FBS program (Southern Miss), and must withstand talent raids from more established conference brethren (say, SEC West rivals LSU and Alabama).

Ole Miss was able to do that by landing 4-star prospects Ryan Buchanan and Kailo Moore — a quarterback and running back, respectively — and 5-star safety Tony Conner.

Memphis is a nearby population center that Ole Miss considers “home” recruiting territory. Freeze focuses on advantages like that — and what he says is the ability of Ole Miss to sell itself — as opposed to a lack of numbers inside the state and the year-long battles through recruiting and public relations with SEC rival Mississippi State.

“The same people that (talk about our disadvantages are also) writing that it’s in the top five of most beautiful campuses in the nation or that the game-day experience is among the top three in the nation or that it’s the safest campus in America,” Freeze says.

“And we have a rich tradition in football.”

That tradition is also distant. John Vaught’s best years were five decades ago, and Ole Miss hasn’t won an SEC championship since 1963.

Related: 2013 Preseason All-SEC Team

Freeze contends that recruiting isn’t easy at Ole Miss but that it’s difficult everywhere “with the exception of three or four schools in the conference” and that the past should not dictate the future.

He was a part of three Orgeron teams that never had a winning season, and his 7–6 debut was hailed as remarkable because of the depths to which the program had quickly fallen after Houston Nutt led Ole Miss to Cotton Bowls in his first two seasons.

As with any coach and staff, wins and losses will impact length of tenure. Whether through relationship building or another method, Freeze has to win at recruiting, and winning there can be defined in different ways.

Freeze says he doesn’t need to sign a top-10 class every year, that he can rebuild Ole Miss football with “high 3-stars and 4-stars.”
 Simmons agrees and uses Auburn as an example of the great misconception of recruiting.

“They’ve recruited consistently in the top 10 and top five, and that’s not translated to wins on the field,” he says.

“There’s every reason to believe that if (Ole Miss’) evaluations and developments are right, that the program is headed in the right direction.”

Written by Parrish Alford for Athlon Sports. This article appeared in Athlon Sports' 2013 SEC Preview Edition. Visit our online store to order your copy to get more in-depth analysis on the 2013 SEC season.

Related College Football Content

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SEC 2013 All-Conference Team

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Teaser:
<p> Hugh Freeze Has Ole Miss Rebels on the Rise</p>
Post date: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 07:50
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies, SEC
Path: /college-football/best-and-worst-times-be-texas-am-football-fan
Body:

Texas A&M fans are an odd bunch, even for college football and even for the SEC.

No female cheerleaders, just Yell Leaders and Yell Practice. And then there’s Reveille, the highest ranking member of the Corps of Cadets. She goes to class, she can decide with a single utterance if class is called off, and if she takes a cadet’s bed, the cadet sleeps on the floor.

Did we mention she’s a border collie?

This is also the home of the 12th Man and one of the best game-day atmospheres in college football. Texas A&M is part of what makes college football unlike any other sport — even in the way A&M’s identity is wrapped up in what rival Texas is up to.

Right now is a great time to be an A&M fan with Johnny Manziel running all over SEC defenses and the Aggies challenging for a conference and national title. Kevin Sumlin and Manziel pulled the Aggies out of mediocrity, but do these current teams already stack up to the Bear? And what of the lows under Dennis Franchione and Mike Sherman? Were they really all that low in comparison to seasons past?

Hullabaloo, Caneck! Caneck! Here are the best and worst times to be a Texas A&M fan.

Other best times/worst times:
Miami
Nebraska

Notre Dame


BEST TIMES TO BE A TEXAS A&M FAN

1955-57
Record: 24-5-2
National championships: 0
Coach: Bear Bryant
Notable players: John David Crow (right), Charlie Kreuger, Gene Stallings, Jack Pardee
The Junction Boys are a part of college football lore, but it hardly started that way. Those brutal practices in 1954 yielded a 1-9 season. By 1956, the Junction Boys led one of A&M’s greatest teams when the Aggies that year went 9-0-1. The following season, Crow became the Aggies’ first Heisman winner and the only one before Manziel. The glory years under Bryant were short-lived when “Momma called” the coach back to Tuscaloosa. “And when Momma calls, you just have to come runnin’,” Bryant said.

Related: Texas A&M ranks eighth in 2013 countdown

2012-present
Record: 11-2
National championships: 0
Coach: Kevin Sumlin
Notable players: Johnny Manziel, Luke Joeckel, Damontre Moore, Jake Matthews, Ryan Swope
Only one year into the SEC era for Texas A&M, and, yep, this is one of the best times to be a Texas A&M fan. The Aggies are peaking just in time to play in the best conference in the country. The Heisman-winning Manziel has reached sports celebrity status, and the top-five finish was the best since 1956. Beyond the numbers, A&M with Sumlin and Manziel is video game-quality entertainment. The Aggies’ rematch with Alabama on Sept. 14 will have College Station at a fever pitch. And beyond that, Texas is struggling. All is well in Aggieland.

Related: Texas, Texas A&M exchange pleasantries in our list of infamous pranks

1985-94
Record: 95-24-2
National championships: 0
Coaches: Jackie Sherrill, R.C. Slocum
Notable players: Darren Lewis, Mike Arthur, Richmond Webb, Jerry Fontenot, Rod Bernstine, Sam Adams, Johnny Holland, Aaron Wallace, Aaron Glenn, Kevin Smith
Texas A&M’s investment in former Pittsburgh coach Jackie Sherrill in 1982 — for a then-outrageous sum of $267,000 — paid off by 1985 when the Aggies won their first of three consecutive Southwest Conference titles. Sherrill’s successor, R.C. Slocum, had similar success by going 42-5-1 over a four-year span. Overall, Texas A&M had the fourth-best win percentage (79.3 percent) in the country from 1985-94 behind only Miami, Florida State and Nebraska. Beyond that, Texas A&M went 10-1 against Texas from 1984-94, the only loss by one point in 1990. The records were great, but Texas A&M flourished only as the Southwest Conference crumbled. Led by the Wrecking Crew defense, the Aggies went 10-0-1 in 1994 despite being ineligible for the SWC title.

Related: Texas A&M has 10 selections on preseason All-SEC team

1939-41
Record: 29-3
National championships: 1
Coach: Homer Norton
Notable players: John Kimbrough, Joe Boyd
This was the first taste of national success for the Aggies as Texas A&M won its only national title in 1939, going 11-0 with a win over Tulane in the Sugar Bowl. The fullback Kimbrough was the runner up for the Heisman the following season.

Related: 2013 SEC predictions

WORST TIMES TO BE A TEXAS A&M FAN

1958-70
Record: 40-86-6
Coaches: Jim Myers, Hank Foldberg, Gene Stallings
The post-Bryant era brought Texas A&M to pre-Bryant depths. Foldberg was especially bad, leading Texas A&M to a 6-23-1 record in three seasons. Not even Stallings — a Junction Boy who eventually won a national title at Alabama — could win in College Station. He went 27-45-1, including 8-23 from 1968-70. Texas A&M defeated rival Texas only once from 1957-74.

1947-49
Record: 4-23-1
Coaches: Homer Norton, Harry Stiteler
Norton led Texas A&M to its only national championship in 1939, but the shine wore off less than a decade later. Norton went 3-6-1 in his final season, but it only got worse from there as A&M went 1-17-2 the following two seasons. Only Bear Bryant could dig A&M out of this hole.

IT WASN’T SO BAD WHEN...

1997-99
Record: 28-11
National championships: 0
Coach: R.C. Slocum (right)
Notable players: Dat Nguyen, Dante Hall, Seth McKinney
Slocum’s entire tenure probably went underappreciated at A&M, especially in light of the the failed tenures of Dennis Franchione and Mike Sherman. The Aggies finished in the top 25 all three seasons from ’97-99, including an 11-3 season and the Aggies’ only Big 12 title in 1998. Slocum would be fired by 2002 with a 123-47-2 record in College Station.

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No. 26-40

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Top Players of the BCS Era
Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive line

Teaser:
<p> The times when Kyle Field was especially rowdy</p>
Post date: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 07:35
Path: /nfl/timeline-demise-new-england-patriots
Body:

This isn’t going to be pretty for the New England Patriots.


Contract disputes, broken forearms, video scandals and Super Bowl disappointments are one thing. Murder is an entirely different issue all together.


New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who is originally from Bristol, Conn., has been tied to the investigation of the murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd near the tight end’s $1.3 million Massachusetts home. Lloyd was shot and found dead Monday night about a mile from Hernandez’ North Attleborough mansion.


And it doesn’t look good for the Patriots star tight end.


Every American has the right to be “innocent until proven guilty,” but the court of public opinion has no choice but to rule on Hernandez. His track record of behavior has been well documented and in no way conjures up an image of innocence.


Hernandez is currently the subject of a civil lawsuit in which he allegedly shot a Connecticut man in February — a man who claims to have been a friend of his for many years. He also has a long history of drug issues both at Florida and throughout the NFL Draft process.


Unfortunately, for the once untouchable and revered football genius that is Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, this is simply the latest — and by far the worst — incident in a long line of questionable occurrences that have slowly destroyed this once proud football team.

New England hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 2004 and a murder investigation will be the final nail in the Pats' dynastic coffin. The franchise became the shining example for NFL success when it won three Super Bowls in four years in the early 2000s. However, for the better part of the last decade, this organization has been cannibalizing itself with more punch lines than a Jaguars home game in December.


And its demise began with a perfect season.


2007: Randy Moss and Spygate
Moss is an awesome football player. There is no doubting his ability. But there are plenty of doubts about his character, work ethic and dedication. But Belichick took a risk on the troubled wideout and it paid off in the short term with a monster '07 season. Moss helped lead the Patriots to the NFL’s second unbeaten regular season in history. That same year, however, Belichick was also hit with the largest fine ever imposed on an NFL coach during the 87-year history of the league. Busted for filming the New York Jets’ sideline signals during a game, he was fined $500,000 while the Patriots were hit with a $250,000 fine of their own and forced to forfeit their 2008 first-round pick. Moss had plenty of success for the Pats but his career in Boston came to an abrupt and controversial end three years later when he was traded four weeks into the 2010 season.


2008: Super Bowl XLII
Tom Brady was 3-0 in Super Bowls when he and Moss led the 18-0 Patriots into Super Bowl XLII against the upstart New York Giants, who won the NFC title after getting into the playoffs as a wild card team. With history within the Patriots' grasp, the highest scoring team (589 points) the NFL has ever seen was held to just 14 points by a stellar Giants defensive line. Eli Manning and David Tyree were the heroes that Super Sunday, not Brady or Moss. It was the beginning of the end.


2009: Scott Pioli Heads West
The VP of Player Personnel in New England responsible for building all but one of the Patriots' Super Bowl teams left the organization following the 2008 season to become the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs. This is what Belichick had to say when he lost his long-time wingman: “To sum up in words everything Scott Pioli has meant to this organization and to me personally would be difficult, if not impossible. There is no more capable, hardworking, loyal, team-oriented person than Scott Pioli.” Needless to say, losing Pioli was a huge blow to the Patriots' long-term stability and personnel decisions have been questionable at best since his departure.


2009: Fourth and 2

With 2:23 left in the fourth quarter of a critical Week 10 showdown with archrival Peyton Manning and the Colts, Belichick’s coaching prowess was called into question for the first time. Leading by six, he elected to go for it on fourth and two from his own 28-yard line. The Patriots failed to convert and the Colts scored three plays later to win the game 35-34. It was the first crack in Belichick’s coaching armor, as he was skewered by fans and experts alike for the horrendous decision. His public whining about the spot of the ball the following Monday only stoked the media fire.


2010: The Tight End Draft
Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were elite college players, but both had major red flags on their draft resumes. This is why the Patriots were able to snag both players in the second and fourth rounds, respectively, in the 2010 NFL Draft. Hernandez has an obviously checkered past (and present) off the field and Gronkowski was a wild man with severe injury problems while at Arizona. Well, after three seasons in the league, both players’ warts have returned to haunt New England. Gronkowski can’t stay healthy or out of grainy, late-night cell phone videos while Hernandez is involved in a murder investigation. (Brandon Spikes also was part of this draft class.)


2010: Brandon Spikes Suspended
The troubled middle linebacker from Florida was a second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. The talented tackler violated the NFL’s banned substances policy, however, and was suspended for four games prior to Week 14 of his rookie year. Additionally, he was involved in a bizarre sex tape incident with Doc Rivers' daughter, Callie, and his brother is serving a life sentence in prison for first-degree murder after a drug deal went bad in 2001. Neither of these tidbits are an indictment of his character but are merely statements of fact.


2011: Albert Haynesworth Trade
The Patriots gave up a fifth-round pick in late July 2011 to acquire the troubled and self-absorbed defensive tackle. Haynesworth built a long reputation for poor work ethic and is widely considered a clubhouse cancer. He lasted six games with New England and was placed on waivers four months later after a public sideline confrontation with assistant coach Pepper Johnson.


2012: Super Bowl XLVI
The Patriots once again met the New York Giants in the biggest sporting event of the year. And once again, Brady was defeated by the younger Manning. The Patriots coughed up yet another second half lead to the G-Men as Manning led three unanswered scoring drives in the final 21 minutes of play. The Patriots were held scoreless for the final 26:20.


2012: Aqib Talib's Rap Sheet
Where to begin with the former Kansas Jayhawks star corner? At the rookie symposium, he got into a fight with fellow Bucs rookie Cory Boyd. The following year, he was arrested by Florida police after beating up a taxi driver and resisting arrest. In 2011, a felony warrant was issued for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after he fired a gun at his sister’s boyfriend. And last year, the talented defensive back was suspended by the NFL for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. Belichick and the Pats re-signed Talib to a one-year deal this March.


2013: Wes Welker’s Contract Dispute
Cutting ties with veterans is a tough but necessary part of life in the NFL. Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick had to make a difficult decision on their star wide receiver this offseason, but clearly the Patriots mishandled the situation. Public comments disparaging Welker’s representation were inaccurate and the last-second offer from the Pats left little room for any negotiation. It may seem like an insignificant issue, but it became a very public divorce over a player who will go down as one of the greatest and most beloved in franchise history.


2013: Tebow-a-palooza
Is Belichick simply doing old friend Urban Meyer a favor? Is Robert Kraft simply trying to sell team merchandise during the offseason? Do the Pats think Tim Tebow can play tight end — considering the sudden lack of depth at the position? Or is Belichick simply THAT arrogant? Whatever the reason, the signing of Tebow this summer will be a major distraction with little chance of return on investment.


This, of course, brings us to Odin Lloyd’s murder.


The slow and painful demise of the once venerated franchise appears to be culminating as one of its biggest stars finds himself as the centerpiece of a murder investigation. Innocent or guilty, New England must cut ties with Hernandez immediately and suffer the consequences both from a PR and depth chart standpoint.


Tom Brady is set to enter his 14th NFL season and will turn 36 in August. How many more years does he have left? Two? Maybe three? Yes, the Patriots play in a horrendous AFC East in the much weaker American Football Conference so they should make the playoffs again this fall. But there will come a time in the very near future when Brady will have to walk away from the game. And when that happens, fans in New England better hope the Red Sox and Bruins are still winning games.


Because it sure as hell doesn't look like Belichick will give them anything to cheer about.

Teaser:
<p> Timeline: The Demise of the New England Patriots</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 14:15
Path: /college-football/conference-usa-football-2013-all-conference-team
Body:

The 2013 college football season is just around the corner, and Athlon continues its countdown to kickoff with a look at our first and second All-Conference USA teams for this season.

Related Content: Conference USA Predictions for 2013

First-Team Offense

QB Rakeem Cato, Marshall

RB Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech

RB Trey Watts, Tulsa

WR Justin Hardy, East Carolina

WR Tommy Shuler, Marshall

TE Gator Hoskins, Marshall

C Chris Jasperse, Marshall

OG Stetson Burnett, Tulsa

OG Will Simmons, East Carolina

OT Jake Alexander, Tulsa

OT Brander Craighead, UTEP



First-Team Defense

DE Cody Bauer, Rice

DE IK Enemkpali, Louisiana Tech

DT Brandon Sparrow, Marshall

DT Khyri Thornton, Southern Miss

LB Jeremy Grove, East Carolina

LB Shawn Jackson, Tulsa

LB Derrell Johnson, East Carolina

CB Phillip Gaines, Rice

CB Deron Wilson, Southern Miss

S Marco Nelson, Tulsa

S Richard Spencer, UTEP



First-Team Specialists

K Cairo Santos, Tulane

P Tyler Williams, Marshall

KR Trey Watts, Tulsa

PR Justin Hardy, East Carolina


The Breakdown of Athlon's 2013 All-Conference USA Team
 

  First Second Overall
East Carolina 5 2 7
FAU 0 1 1
FIU 0 1 1
Louisiana Tech 2 0 2
Marshall 6 2 8
MTSU 0 2 2
North Texas 0 3 3
Rice 2 4 6
Southern Miss 2 0 2
Tulane 1 2 3
Tulsa 6 1 7
UAB 0 2 2
UTEP 2 3 5
UTSA 0 3 3



Second-Team Offense

QB Shane Carden, East Carolina

RB Vintavious Cooper, East Carolina

RB Darrin Reaves, UAB

WR Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa

WR Ryan Grant, Tulane

TE Nexon Dorvilus, FAU

C Nate Richards, Rice

OG Cyril Lemon, North Texas

OG Jerel Watkins, UTEP

OT Jordan Jeffries, Marshall

OT Darius Johnson, MTSU



Related Content: Conference USA Predictions for 2013


Second-Team Defense

DE Alex Bazzie, Marshall

DE Horace Miller, UTEP

DT Isame Faciane, FIU

DT Hosam Shahin, Rice

LB Steven Kurfehs, UTSA

LB Cameron Nwosu, Rice

LB Zachary Orr, North Texas

CB Lorenzo Doss, Tulane

CB Zac Whitfield, North Texas

S Kevin Byard, MTSU

S Triston Wade, UTSA



Second-Team Specialists

K Chris Boswell, Rice

P Hunter Mullins, UAB

KR Autrey Golden, UTEP

PR Kenny Harrison, UTSA

 

2013 Conference USA Team Previews

East Division West Division
East Carolina Louisiana Tech
FAU North Texas
FIU Rice
Marshall Tulane
MTSU Tulsa
Southern Miss UTEP
UAB UTSA


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Teaser:
<p> Conference USA Football 2013 All-Conference Team</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 12:53
All taxonomy terms: fishing, outdoors, Monthly, News
Path: /overtime/how-fish-fishing-tips-pro-fishermen
Body:

If you’re a weekend angler preparing for a day on the banks or on the water, you’ve probably got your hooks, lines, sinkers and an assortment of bait and favorite lures. But what other essentials are you carrying? We asked some of the world’s top fishermen to help fill your tackle box with their “must haves” to ensure that your next fishing experience is fun-filled, safe and rewarding.

Polarized sunglasses: preferably Jimmy Houston glasses (or Bill Dance’s if they’ve sold out of mine!) 
— Jimmy Houston, Cookson, Okla., legendary pro angler and TV celebrity
 
Leatherman multi-purpose tool: Think industrial-grade Swiss Army knife. Indispensable for everything from cutting line to repairing reels to an emergency tracheotomy. 
— Steve Wozniak, San Ramon, Calif., holder of 68 International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world records, including most different species caught (1,192). Has fished in 77 different countries.
 
More clothes than you think you’ll need: Because it never fails; the weather always changes and you don’t want to be stuck out there freezing.
— JT Kenny, Palm Bay, Fla., Straight Talk pro angler
 
Baby wipes: They’re a must. Nobody can fish in dirty conditions!
— Scott Suggs, Bryant, Ark., 2007 Forrest Wood Cup champion
 
Lighter: Use it to fix rods and start a fire if an emergency arises. 
— Jason Christie, Park Hill, Okla., FLW Tour Beaver Lake April 2013 winner, Forrest Wood Cup qualifier
 
Net: One that’s light and tough made by Beckman, because: 1) fish have teeth, 2) fish are slimy, and 3) fish flat out stink! 
— David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., all-time FLW leading money winner with more than $3 million; 2003 Forrest Wood Cup champion
 
Serious sun hat: I'm not talking baseball cap here but one of those ridiculous things that makes you look like the head of a religious cult. 
— Wozniak
 
Toilet Paper: I prefer camouflage-colored toilet paper, and make sure it’s scented.  By the way, it's all scented sooner or later! 
— Houston
 
First aid kit: If you don't know why you need this, then I'll hit you in the head with a tack hammer and you'll find out. 
— Kenny
 
A good rain suit: You never know when you might get wet. I prefer Gore-Tex to keep me warm and dry. 
— Suggs 
 
Life jacket: Always use a life jacket; you never know when something is below the water.  
— Christie
 
Extra drain plug: Worth the money at twice the price anytime and much easier than swimming to shore! 
— Houston 
 
Smartphone: If the fish aren’t 
biting, you can always watch YouTube and play games.
— Kenny
 
Sunscreen: 30 SPF. Apply before you make the first cast! 
— Houston
 
Digital camera: It’s nice to have photos to look at from previous trips when the current one is going badly. If it’s a smartphone, you can look up exactly what type of swamp minnow you just caught. 
— Wozniak 
 
12-pack of Keystone Light: You can either celebrate your big catch or drown your sorrows with it.  
 — Kenny
 
Bobber: Even though I’m a professional, I have A.D.D. and need a bobber to help tell me when I have a bite. Thill is the best bobber made. 
— Dudley
 
Visa card with high limit: Because after you put gas in your truck to get to the lake then put gas in your boat to fish, you're going to need a high limit! 
— Kenny
 
Super Glue: There is nothing that Super Glue won't fix. 
— Suggs
 
Jumper cables: If your battery dies, you can jump from a trolling motor
battery or have
someone jump you. 
— Christi
 
A good memory: Because you’re going to have the time of your life. 
— Kenny
 
*Photos courtesy of FLW Outdoors.
Teaser:
<p> 21 Fishing Tips from Pro Fishermen</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 12:50
Path: /nfl/indianapolis-colts-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

The Indianapolis Colts were one of the NFL's surprise teams last season, winning 11 games and making it to the playoffs. What does quarterback Andrew Luck have in mind for an encore? Here's our look at the Colts' 2013 NFL schedule.

Indianapolis Colts 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: Oakland
Week 2: Miami
Week 3: at San Francisco
Week 4: at Jacksonville
Week 5: Seattle
Week 6: at San Diego (Mon.)
Week 7: Denver
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: at Houston
Week 10: St. Louis
Week 11: at Tennessee (Thurs.)
Week 12: at Arizona
Week 13: Tennessee
Week 14: at Cincinnati
Week 15: Houston
Week 16: at Kansas City
Week 17: Jacksonville

Order your 2013 Indianapolis Colts Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: Indianapolis needs to take advantage of its opening double-dip at home against Oakland and Miami, because things get a little bit tougher after that. The Raiders and Dolphins won a combined 11 games last season. San Francisco, the Colts' Week 3 opponent, won 11 in the regular season and then two more in the playoffs before losing to Baltimore in the Super Bowl. This also will be Indianapolis' first road game, meaning a long trip out west to face one of the league's best defenses on their home field. The opening month closes with another road game, but this one is in Jacksonville, which figures to be an entirely different type of challenge.

Toughest Stretch: If not for that Week 4 date with the Jaguars, the Colts could make a strong argument for one of the NFL's toughest six-game stretches. To be fair, their bye week falls within this span, but that shouldn't take away from the level of competition this young team will be facing from the end of September to the first Sunday in November. It all begins with a trip out west to face the defending NFC champion 49ers in Week 3. The Jaguars follow, but the game is in Jacksonville, and when the Colts return home that next week it's to play Seattle, another 2012 playoff team with a strong defense. Then it's another long flight to the west coast for a Monday night affair against San Diego, which precedes Peyton Manning's homecoming when Denver comes to town in Week 7. Indianapolis will need that bye the following week because awaiting them on the other side of it is defending AFC South champion Houston, who will no doubt welcome the Colts to Reliant Stadium with open arms. These six games should be an excellent litmus test to determine if Indianapolis' success last season was a fluke or if this team is a legitimate playoff contender.

Swing Games: MIA (Week 2), at CIN (Week 14)
Crossover Divisions: AFC West, NFC West
Bye Week: Week 8
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .461 (30th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 31st

Easiest Stretch: Even though a trip to San Francisco looms large in Week 3, Indianapolis' other three games in September don't appear to be near as treacherous. The Colts get to open the season by hosting Oakland and Miami in back-to-back weeks. After the visit out west, the Colts are back on the road, but this time the destination is Jacksonville. Collectively the Raiders, Dolphins and Jaguars won 13 games last season, the same number the 49ers won between the regular season and the playoffs combined.

Circle The Calendar: It's all about family reunions for the Colts in 2013. Quarterback Andrew Luck and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton will return to their old stomping grounds in Week 3 to face San Francisco and former coach/boss Jim Harbaugh. A Week 11 trip out to Arizona means first-year Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, who led Indianapolis in Chuck Pagano's absence while he battled leukemia, will be matched up against his former players and colleagues. And there's also the matter of a certain quarterback, who also spent a fair amount of time in a Colts uniform, paying a visit to Lucas Oil Stadium in Week 7. Some guy named Peyton, I think. Perhaps you have heard of him?

Divisional Notes: Five of Indianapolis' six divisional games come after its bye in Week 8. The Colts go to Jacksonville in Week 4 and don't play another AFC South team until they go to Houston in Week 9. Both games with Tennessee come in a span of three weeks (Weeks 11-13) and this pattern repeats itself at the end of the season with the Texans and Jaguars in on tap in Weeks 15 and 17. One interesting aspect to Indianapolis' divisional slate? The first three games are on the road, while the last three are at home and fall among the final five of the regular season.

Playoff Push: Last season, the Colts won five of their final six games to finish off their improbable march to the playoffs. If this team is able to repeat that success in 2013, it's entirely possible that Indianapolis could return to the postseason, especially if the Colts take care of business at home. Their three December home games are also divisional contests, highlighted by a Week 15 visit from defending AFC South champion Houston. That game is preceded by a road game in Cincinnati, a matchup that could end up determining the playoff fates for either or both teams. The other game in the final month is a visit to Arrowhead Stadium to play the Chiefs. As bad as Kansas City was last season, this is a team with a new coaching staff and new quarterback, among several other changes. And if there's any team that's familiar with that recipe and how it can lead to success, it would be the Colts.

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Andrew Luck struggled somewhat (11 TDs, 13 INTs) in road games as a rookie, so at first glace the games at Cincinnati and Kansas City may not seem ideal. The silver lining to this, however, is that while the Bengals gave up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to QBs last season, the Chiefs came in at No. 28. Luck also gets Houston at home, where he was 7-1 last season.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston Denver
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville (6/21) Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas Chicago Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)

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Teaser:
<p> Indianapolis Colts 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 12:35
All taxonomy terms: Green Bay Packers, NFC, NFC North, NFL
Path: /nfl/green-bay-packers-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

The Packers have gone to the playoffs four straight seasons and in five of head coach Mike McCarthy's seven seasons. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

Green Bay Packers 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: at San Francisco
Week 2: Washington
Week 3: at Cincinnati
Week 4: BYE
Week 5: Detroit
Week 6: at Baltimore
Week 7: Cleveland
Week 8: at Minnesota
Week 9: Chicago (Mon.)
Week 10: Philadelphia
Week 11: at New York Giants
Week 12: Minnesota
Week 13: at Detroit (Thurs.)
Week 14: Atlanta
Week 15: at Dallas
Week 16: Pittsburgh
Week 17: at Chicago

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Out of the Gate: The start to the season won't be easy for the defending NFC North champs. Two road trips to playoff teams in San Francisco and Cincinnati are packaged around a visit from Robert Griffin III, provided he's healthy and on the field. The first month ends abruptly, however, with the earliest possible off weekend in Week 4. A winning record after the first four weeks would be considered a successful start to the year.

Toughest Stretch: Where to begin? The first three are nasty and a four-week stretch in the middle is equally tough (Weeks 8-11). But the final four games will be the toughest and likely most important. Massive NFC matchups with Atlanta and Dallas lead up to a rare visit from historic AFC power Pittsburgh in Week 16 before the season ends on a tough road trip to Chicago. The Packers' fate — and playoff seeding — won't be determined until the final four weeks of the 2013 campaign.

Swing Games: at SF (Week 1), ATL (Week 14)
Crossover Divisions: NFC East, AFC North
Bye Week: Week 4
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .533 (6th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 5th

Easiest Stretch: From Week 4 to Week 7, the Packers will face only one tough opponent. The off weekend feeds into home games with Detroit and Cleveland as well as a road trip to Baltimore. Other than the Ravens, who are clearly not the same team that won the Super Bowl, this four-week stretch should allow for the Packers to breathe somewhat. Additionally, this stretch feeds into games with the Vikings, Bears and Eagles — all of whom are picked to miss the playoffs this year.

Circle The Calendar: There are awesome storylines all over this schedule. A trip to the Bay in a playoff rematch in Week 1, a budding rivalry game with the New York Giants and a trip south to hated rival Dallas in Cowboys Stadium are all huge playoff seeding games. But the date to circle is Week 16. A rematch of Super Bowl XL takes place when the Steel Curtain invades Lambeau Field for a rare cross-conference showdown. Arguably the top two fan bases from the top two franchises will meet in a cold late-season battle. What's not to love?

Divisional Notes: The Packers will play five of their six NFC North games in the second half of their season. Only a home game with the Lions dots the first half of the schedule. But in the middle of the year, divisional games will come hot and heavy. Over a six-week stretch from Week 8 to Week 13, Green Bay will play four divisional games. The season then ends with the oldest and best rivalry game in all of the NFL — in Soldier Field in Chicago.

Playoff Push: As mentioned, the final four weeks might be the toughest of the year, so the playoff push isn't going to be easy for the Pack. But that comes with the territory of being one of the most successful and powerful teams in the league. The real issue may be fatigue and roster depletion. The bye week comes so early that Green Bay could be limping into the final few games. Green Bay will play 13 straight games to end its season.

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Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): The matchup against Atlanta should be equally entertaining and high scoring, as two of the NFL’s best offenses go head-to-head. The road game against Dallas (19th against the pass in 2012) should be business as usual for Aaron Rodgers and company. The same can’t be said, however, for that championship week date with Pittsburgh, which was No. 1 against the pass and No. 2 against fantasy QBs last season.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston Denver
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville (6/21) Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas Chicago Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)


Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Teaser:
<p> Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season.</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 12:30
Path: /college-football/unit-rankings-2013-sec-wide-receivers
Body:

The SEC is very top-heavy when it comes to receivers in 2013. Leading the way is a cast of potential All-Americans, including Alabama’s Amari Cooper, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, Ole Miss’ Donte Moncrief and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans. But Georgia’s Malcolm Mitchell and LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. aren’t far behind.

Just like the individual players, the SEC is relatively top-heavy when it comes to ranking the individual groups for 2013. Alabama ranks as Athlon’s No. 1 receiving corps in the SEC for 2013, with Georgia checking in at No. 2. 

Kickoff for the 2013 college football season is still two months away, but it's never too early to project how the year might play out. Athlon will be taking a look at how each position stacks up in the BCS conferences and nationally until the start of the season.

Each unit ranking was evaluated based upon how it will perform in 2013 - not how it played in 2012.

Ranking the SEC WR/TE Corps for 2013

1. Alabama
Thanks to coach Nick Saban’s relentless work on the recruiting trail, the Crimson Tide’s 2013 receiving corps could be the best of his tenure in Tuscaloosa. Amari Cooper had a standout freshman season last year, catching 59 passes for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. Cooper came on strong at the end of 2012, finishing the year with four 100-yard games over the final five contests. Cooper is an Athlon Sports second-team All-American for 2013. Quarterback AJ McCarron won’t have to look Cooper’s way all of the time, as seniors Kevin Norwood and Kenny Bell are reliable options, and redshirt freshman Chris Black is due for a breakout year. Adding depth will be DeAndrew White and incoming true freshmen Raheem Falkins and Robert Foster. True freshman OJ Howard could push Brian Vogler to start at tight end.


2. Georgia
Despite the departure of Tavarres King and Marlon Brown, the Bulldogs shouldn’t be concerned about their receiving corps. After spending part of last season at cornerback, junior Malcolm Mitchell will spend all of 2013 at receiver. Mitchell caught 40 passes for 572 yards and four scores last year, including nine for 103 yards in a 29-24 win over Kentucky. Michael Bennett caught 24 passes through the first five games but suffered a torn ACL in early October. Mitchell and Bennett should form one of the SEC’s top receiving duos in 2013. Senior Rantavious Wooten, junior Chris Conley and sophomore Justin Scott-Wesley will round out the top five receiver spots, but freshman Tramel Terry and junior college recruit Jonathon Rumph will push for time. Tight end Arthur Lynch averaged 18 yards per reception in 2012 and is an Athlon Sports second-team All-American for 2013.


3. Vanderbilt
The Commodores aren’t particularly flush with depth at receiver, but it’s hard to find a better one-two combination in the SEC. Jordan Matthews turned down a chance to enter the NFL for one more year at Vanderbilt. The senior enters 2013 with 150 career receptions, 2,282 yards and 17 touchdowns. Matthews led all SEC receivers with 94 catches in 2012. Chris Boyd is back after catching 50 passes for 774 yards and five scores last year. And Jonathan Krause is slated to fill the No. 3 role after recording nine receptions in 2012. Freshmen Jordan Cunningham and Carlos Burse will provide depth. Junior college transfer Brandon Vandenburg could push Kris Kentera and Steven Scheu for the starting nod at tight end.


4. LSU
With the defense returning only three starters, LSU’s offense may have to carry this team in the early going. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger returns, and the receiving corps brings back four receivers with at least 18 catches last year. Jarvis Landry led the team with 56 receptions in 2012, but Odell Beckham was the unit’s top playmaker, averaging 16.6 yards per catch. Seniors Kadron Boone and James Wright combined for 44 catches in 2012 and will anchor the No. 3 and No. 4 spots in the receiving corps. However, true freshman Avery Peterson and junior college recruit Quantavius Leslie will push for snaps. LSU could feature the tight end more under new coordinator Cam Cameron, and junior college recruit Logan Stokes could step into the starting role over sophomore Dillon Gordon.


5. Ole Miss
Feed Moncrief became the mantra for the Ole Miss offense last season, which showed marked improvement from the 2011 squad. Sophomore Donte Moncrief emerged as one of the SEC’s top receivers last year, nabbing 66 receptions for 979 yards and 10 touchdowns. He finished 2012 on a tear, catching at least six passes in five out of the last six contests, which included back-to-back 100-yard performances against LSU and Mississippi State. Junior Vince Sanders and senior Ja-Mes Logan combined for 82 receptions last season and will flank Moncrief as the No. 2 and No. 3 options. The receiving corps got deeper over the offseason, as freshman Laquon Treadwell could earn some playing time this fall too. Treadwell ranked as the No. 1 receiver in the nation by Rivals.com in the 2013 signing class. Freshman A.J. Jackson may start over senior Jack Nuismer at tight end in 2013.


6. Texas A&M
Mike Evans broke onto the scene as a redshirt freshman last year, catching 82 passes for 1,105 yards and five scores. The Texas native caught at least four passes in every game in 2012 and is a second-team All-SEC selection by Athlon Sports for 2013. Having Evans back in the lineup is huge for Texas A&M, especially since Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu have expired their eligibility. Swope is the biggest loss for the receiving corps, as he made several tough catches in key moments throughout his career. But the cupboard is far from bare for coach Kevin Sumlin. Juniors LeKendrick Williams and Malcome Kennedy and senior Derel Walker provide quarterback Johnny Manziel with plenty of experience in the receiving corps. However, freshmen Ja’Quay Williams and Ricky Seals-Jones will be two players to watch this fall. The wild card at tight end to watch is former Tennessee Volunteer Cameron Clear, who spent last season at Arizona Western College.


7. Missouri
Much of Missouri’s ranking in this article hinges on the development of sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham. The No. 1 overall prospect in the 2012 Athlon Consensus 100, Green-Beckham caught 28 passes for 395 yards last season, with four of his five touchdowns coming over the final three games. With quarterback James Franklin a year removed from his shoulder surgery, Green-Beckham should be poised to easily outperform his 2012 totals. T.J. Moe will be missed, but Missouri has seniors Marcus Lucas and L’Damian Washington slated to anchor the other two starting spots in the receiving corps. Lucas led the team with 46 receptions for 509 yards last year.


8. South Carolina
The Gamecocks will miss the playmaking ability of Ace Sanders, but the unit has some steady weapons to lean on, including Bruce Ellington. The junior caught 40 passes for 600 yards and seven scores last year, including the game-winning 32-yard pass from Dylan Thompson in the Outback Bowl. But Ellington needs help if the Gamecocks are to reach the SEC championship game. Junior Damiere Byrd and sophomore Shaq Roland will be charged with taking a bigger role in the passing game this year. Junior Nick Jones and sophomore Shamier Jeffery are also expected to see more targets this year. Junior Rory Anderson and sophomore Jerell Adams will battle to replace Justice Cunningham as the team’s top tight end.


9. Florida
Considering the receivers that came through Gainesville in the 1990s under Steve Spurrier and the success of Percy Harvin under Urban Meyer, it’s a surprise to see the Gators struggle to develop a No. 1 option over the last few seasons. No Florida wide receiver has caught more than 40 passes since 2009, and the cupboard is relatively bare entering 2013. Quinton Dunbar is the team’s top returning receiver, but he averaged only 10.6 yards per catch last year. Andre Debose is still looking for his breakout season in his final year on campus. And the coaching staff hopes sophomore Latroy Pittman or true freshman Demarcus Robinson can give quarterback Jeff Driskel a go-to weapon on the outside. If the receiving corps struggles once again, cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy may be spending a good chunk of snaps on offense too.

10. Arkansas
Cobi Hamilton has expired his eligibility after capping off a solid career in the SEC with 90 receptions for 1,335 yards and five scores last year. With Hamilton gone, the Razorbacks will be looking for a new go-to target. Sophomore Mekale McKay showed promise by averaging 15.1 yards per reception in 2012. But McKay should have plenty of help from seniors Julian Horton, Demetrius Wilson and Javontee Herndon. Sophomore Keon Hatcher and true freshman tight end Hunter Henry are two names to watch this fall.


11. Auburn
There’s potential surrounding this group, but Auburn must settle its quarterback situation for this offense to improve from a disappointing 2012 season. But with Gus Malzahn returning to call the plays, the Tigers should have one of the most-improved offenses in the SEC. Quan Bray is the team’s top returning receiver with just 14 receptions, but the unit has interesting options in juniors Trovon Reed and Jaylon Denson, along with sophomore Ricardo Louis. Tight end C.J. Uzomah should surpass his 2012 totals: seven receptions for 136 yards and one score.


Related Content: College Football's Most-Improved Teams for 2013


12. Tennessee
With quarterback Tyler Bray and receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson departing for the NFL, the Volunteers are essentially starting over in the passing attack. New coach Butch Jones has one of the best offensive lines in the nation to build around, but Tennessee’s offense will be a work in progress. Devrin Young, Jacob Carter, Vincent Dallas and Pig Howard are the unit’s most experienced players, but none have played in a No. 1 or No. 2 role. True freshmen MarQuez North and Paul Harris, along with redshirt freshman Jason Croom are promising options and could be Tennessee’s starting trio by the end of 2013. 


13. Mississippi State
Much like Tennessee, the Bulldogs are essentially starting over at receiver. The top four pass-catchers from last year are gone, including Chad Bumphis and tight end Marcus Green. Junior Jameon Lewis will assume a bigger role in the passing attack after catching 10 passes last year. The 5-foot-9 receiver has excellent speed and 17 receptions through his first two years on campus. Junior Robert Johnson and sophomore Joe Morrow will likely round out the starting trio, but junior college recruit Jeremey Chappelle caught eight passes for 114 yards and one score in the Spring Game and should be a key part of the Mississippi State receiving corps this season.


14. Kentucky
New coordinator Neal Brown wants to implement a pass-first offense, but Kentucky is thin on proven weapons in the receiving corps. La’Rod King led the team with 48 catches last season but expired his eligibility at the end of 2012. Junior Demarco Robinson and sophomores A.J. Legree and Daryl Collins appear to have the inside track for starting spots, especially after DeMarcus Sweat left the team in June. Expect the Wildcats to give an extended look to freshmen Jeff Badet and Ryan Timmons, along with junior college recruit Javess Blue this fall. 

 

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Teaser:
<p> Unit Rankings: 2013 SEC Wide Receivers</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 10:23

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