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This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for Feb. 8.

• We all tend to dismiss the National Enquirer as a slanderous gossip rag, but they've been right plenty of times, as in the case of Tiger and Elin. Here's a rundown of that and other notable investigative home runs from the Enquirer.

• An overlooked story from Signing Day: A 25-year-old ex-Marine will be playing football at Youngstown State.

The No. 1 college basketball team in the land suffered a shocking defensive breakdown in the final seconds, and lost. In a nutshell, the Illini caught the Hoosiers watchin' the paint dry.

There's a Twitter debate raging over just what the Cameron Crazies were chanting last night. Depending on your feelings about Duke, you'll probably hear what you want to hear.

• On the positive side of the Dookies' ledger, here's a classy letter from 1980 that Coach K wrote to Michael Jordan after MJ decided to look elsewhere.

• While you were watching Indiana lose, Nate Wolters was getting off for 53 points last night, a season high in college basketball.

• On a night of fantastic finishes, the best may have come in the MAAC.

• I probably don't have to tell him this, but Chris Rix may want to avoid former Florida State teammate Darnell Dockett from here on.

• Here's a rundown of NBA greats who lack rings and are running out of time to get them.

• Now that the dust has settled, just how did things shake out in SEC recruiting? Here's a hint: Pretty well. All 14 SEC teams are in the top 39 classes in the nation.

• Dustin Johnson was proud of his facial hair until he ran into Bill Murray at Pebble Beach.

• Profiles in courage: A sideline hockey reporter took a puck to the face and kept reporting with blood gushing from the wound.

 

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


Feb. 7

• It's almost SI Swimsuit time. In anticipation, Coed runs down the 15 sexiest SI Swimsuit rookies of the last 15 years. Not surprisingly, Brooklyn Decker (right) made the list.

• Best story of Signing Day: Top recruit Alex Collins wanted to commit to Arkansas, but his mom absconded with his papers. As someone pointed out on Twitter, if the guy couldn't catch his mom, he doesn't have SEC speed anyway.

Bama recruit Reuben Foster dressed up like Nick Saban to sign his letter of intent. I hope he knows what he's doing; apparently, nobody told him that St. Nick has no detectable sense of humor.

• Tennessee Sports Radio came up with a fool-proof way to draw people to their Signing Day event: They hired a lingerie model to be their Fax Cam Girl.

• Before you get all hyped up on your team's 5-star prospects, remember that recruiting is an inexact science. ESPN chronicles SEC booms and busts from four short years ago. Darren Rovell reminds us also that on NSD 2008, Andrew Luck was rated the 68th-best player in the country. Hey, at least he cracked the top 100.

• Last Signing Day link: Athlon's Braden Gall runs down the day's winners and losers.

Deadspin ranked all 47 Super Bowls according to watchability. Extra points given for close games, upsets, shootouts and games that went to the last play. Nice list, although I still contend that XIV (Steelers 31, Rams 19) is an underrated gem.

• Proposing by text, mailing the engagement ring: Jay Cutler is truly the last of the romantics.

• Ray Rice couldn't hang on to the ball in the Super Bowl, and he couldn't hang on to the float in the celebration parade, either.

• Longtime Rockies slugger Todd Helton got popped for DUI, and his mugshot immediately joined the Gallery of the Greats.

• College basketball's taking a lot of heat this year for the poor quality of play, but hoops doesn't get much better than the ending of last night's Baylor-Oklahoma State game.

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


Feb. 6

ESPN The Magazine persuaded soccer star Alex Morgan to dress up as Katy Perry for a photo shoot. Alex doesn't share all of Katy's most obvious assets, but it's a pretty good approximation nonetheless.

• It's the fax machine's last day in the sun — National Signing Day, an unofficial holiday in SEC country (people may be at work, but no one's getting any work done). The nation's No. 1 prospect has signed with Ole Miss, part of a stunning haul for the Rebels. You can follow the big announcements here. The guys at Saturday Down South offer a tasty assortment of Signing Day links as well. Finally, here's a slideshow of top quarterbacks and their destinations.

Click here for a scathing look at the Miami-NCAA mess.

This kid's going places. He just needs a growth spurt.

Lance Armstrong: the Nixon White House of sports. Obstruction of justice? Check. Intimidation? Check. Witness tampering? Check.

The 100 Greatest Wrestlers of the 1990s. Those were the days — the economy was booming, it was peacetime, The Rock was just The Rock and Ric Flair's "Wooos" weren't embarrassing yet.

• Last night in answered prayers: Danilo Gallinari's circus shot somehow goes down.

• Appropriately enough, a one-handed safety made a one-handed interception at the International Bowl prep all-star game.

• In today's featured video, Kobe gives us two posterizations for the price of one.

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


Feb. 5

Laura McKeeman, the reigning Miss Florida, is dating Colorado Rockie Josh Rutledge, and she's also a sideline reporter for the Pac-12 Network/Fox Sports. Seems like a good excuse to run her photo.

• In case you just can't let go of football, here are 10 moments from Super Bowl weekend worth reliving.

• In this age of viral videos, one way to keep score of popularity is the amount of sharing over social media. Here's a rundown of the six most shared Super Bowl ads.

A Pixar animator spent the season making matchup-based sketches. Some of them are pretty awesome.

• Tomorrow is National Kids and Hats Day. Here's a handy schedule of Signing Day announcements. And here's a rundown of everything you need to know to get ready to have your heart broken by a bunch of 17-year-olds.

• What? Soccer is dirty? Color me shocked.

• On a serious note, skier Lindsey Vonn was injured during a crash and airlifted to a hospital. Video footage here. No word yet on her condition.

Krispy Kreme is unveiling an Oreo-filled donut. I can feel my arteries harden in anticipation.

Last night in JR Smith: He airballed a free throw, then joined a kids' game at halftime.

• Happy 79th birthday to the great Hank Aaron. 755 homers, all of them legit. Here's one guy's argument that he's now our Greatest Living Hitter. I'm convinced.

• Today's video: A key moment in Super Bowl 47 — Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones — re-created in Lego. Enjoy.

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


Feb. 4

• In case you were at the fridge, Beyonce rocked the halftime stage. The guys at Bleacher compiled the reactions from the Twitterverse. Les Miles called the performance "very athletic."

• The interwebs were made for mornings like this. Here are the funniest Super Bowl GIFs, pics and tweets, from our friends at Mandatory.

• Deadspin compiled the best, eeriest images from the night the lights went out in New Orleans.

Sportswriter Robert Klemko went partying with Joe Flacco after the game. Flacco's living the life: He's the Super Bowl MVP, and he announced last night that his wife is pregnant. And he capped off the CBS broadcast with a clear, well-placed F-bomb.

Eight amazing stats from last night. Here's a sample: San Fran outscored Baltimore 25-6 following the power outage.

John Harbaugh's devastated for little bro Jim. Something tells me he'll get over it.

• There were some decent commercials last night. I liked the Montana Miracle Stain and Leon Sandcastle. But people seem to be talking the most about the Paul Harvey farmer shout-out from Ram this morning.

• We don't often link to GIFs of missed dunks, but in Victor Oladipo's case, we'll make an exception. If it had gone down, it might have brought Assembly Hall down with it.

• What happens when you edit together the drama of the movie "Apollo 13" with Alabama's national championship game? One awesome video. Well, unless your a Notre Dame fan.

• There were many compelling moments from last night's game, but for our video of the day, we gotta go with Jacoby Jones' 108-yard kickoff return. Turns out, the Ravens needed those points when it was over.

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

Teaser:
<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, February 8, 2013 - 09:26
Path: /college-football/10-college-football-true-freshmen-likely-make-impact-2013
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The first Wednesday in February for college football coaches is almost like Christmas morning. With national signing day in the books, each coach can officially talk about their recruiting class after months of hard work, which includes anywhere from 10-30 prospects. While no coach will admit they aren’t happy with their signing class, there are plenty of clear winners. Alabama brought in another loaded class, which includes standouts Robert Foster, Derrick Henry, Reuben Foster, Dee Liner and O.J. Howard. In addition to Alabama, Ohio State, Florida, Ole Miss and Notre Dame reeled in some of the nation’s top classes.

It’s never easy to predict which freshmen could make an early impact in 2013 but here’s an early look at 10 players that can make a big splash on the gridiron next season.

10 True Freshmen Likely to Make an Impact in 2013

Max Browne, QB, USC
Lane Kiffin’s 2013 signing class suffered some late hits, but Browne never waivered in his commitment to the Trojans and will be in the mix to win the starting job this season. Matt Barkley missed the last two games of the season due to a shoulder injury, which allowed redshirt freshman Max Wittek to get an early start on the starting quarterback competition. However, Wittek’s two-game trial was a mixed bag of results. He threw for 388 yards and three touchdowns but also tossed five picks and completed just 52.2 percent of his throws. Browne enrolled early and has an opportunity to surpass Wittek and sophomore Cody Kessler on the depth chart. The Washington native ranked as the No. 1 quarterback recruit by Athlon Sports in the 2013 signing class. 
 

Greg Bryant, RB, Notre Dame
With Theo Riddick out of eligibility and Cierre Wood leaving for the NFL, the Fighting Irish are counting on Bryant to play right away. George Atkinson III rushed for 365 yards last season but is best suited to play in a change of pace role. Bryant ranked as the No. 46 overall prospect in the 2013 Athlon Consensus 100 and brings a good blend of power and elusiveness to South Bend. Atkinson and Amir Carlisle will start ahead of Bryant in spring practice, but Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin will find it difficult to keep Bryant on the sidelines. 
 

Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Fuller’s commitment to Virginia Tech really came as no surprise since he had three older brothers play their collegiate career in Blacksburg. However, his commitment to the Hokies became even more important when Antone Exum suffered a torn ACL during the offseason and is questionable to play in the season opener. Fuller ranked as the No. 4 defensive back in the 2013 recruiting class by Athlon Sports and the No. 16 overall prospect. At 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Fuller has the size and athleticism to match the top receivers in the ACC. With Exum’s status in doubt, Fuller could join his brother Kyle in the starting lineup.
 

Derrick Green, RB, Michigan
Although Michigan ranked fifth in the Big Ten in rushing last season, one of the top spring priorities for Brady Hoke and coordinator Al Borges was finding a go-to running back. Quarterback Denard Robinson led the team with 1,266 rushing yards last season, with the top rushing total from a running back being Fitzgerald Toussaint with 514 yards. Toussaint suffered a leg injury late in the year and won’t return to the team in time for spring practice. With Toussaint hobbled and no clear No. 1 option, Green will be awarded an opportunity to play right away. The Virginia native ranked as the No. 5 running back recruit by Athlon Sports and has the size and power to be an every down back. With Devin Gardner entrenched as the starting quarterback, if Green is as good as advertised, the Wolverines could be the favorites to win the Legends Division in 2013.
 

Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
Matt McGloin thrived in his only season under Bill O’Brien, throwing for 3,271 yards and 24 touchdowns to only five interceptions. With all of the turmoil surrounding the program in the offseason, the senior quarterback was a stabilizing force for an offense that lost running back Silas Redd to a transfer and had to break in four new starters on the line. With McGloin out of eligibility, O’Brien is searching for a new No. 1 passer. Sophomore Steven Bench has the most experience on the roster, completing two of eight passes for 12 yards. However, Bench will face plenty of competition in spring ball. Junior college recruit Tyler Ferguson has three seasons of eligibility remaining, while Hackenberg ranked as the No. 2 quarterback by Athlon Sports in the 2013 signing class. In his senior year at Fork Union Military Academy, Hackenberg threw for 2,144 yards and 24 scores. Hackenberg isn’t a lock to see any action in 2013, but if he gets on the field, he should thrive under O’Brien’s tutelage. The Nittany Lions have a tough road to navigate, especially with the loss in scholarships and no postseason appearances over the next few years. However, if Hackenberg is as good as advertised, Penn State may not take as big of a step back as most anticipated after the NCAA sanctions were announced last summer.
 

Robert Nkemdiche, DE, Ole Miss
By landing a top-10 recruiting class, the Rebels were the biggest surprise of signing day. And after a 7-6 season under first-year coach Hugh Freeze, the future of Ole Miss football is very bright. The Rebels’ recruiting class has plenty of names that can make an instant impact but none bigger than Nkemdiche. The Georgia native has the potential to be a game-changer for Ole Miss’ defense, similar to South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney. Nkemdiche ranked as the No. 1 recruit in the 2013 Athlon Consensus 100 and will immediately bolster a defensive line that allowed 129.3 rushing yards and generated 2.9 sacks a game. Even if Nkemdiche doesn’t become an All-SEC player in 2013, he will be a valuable contributor in the rotation.
 

Ricky Seals-Jones, WR, Texas A&M
The Aggies' high-powered offense took the SEC by storm last year, averaging 44.4 points and 558.5 yards a game and producing a Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Johnny Manziel. Coordinator Kliff Kingsbury left to be the head coach at Texas Tech, but Texas A&M isn’t expected to miss much of a beat on offense next year. Coach Kevin Sumlin recruited Manziel plenty of help on the recruiting trail, including Seals-Jones and Sebastian Larue at receiver. Seals-Jones is a big target at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds but is still developing as a receiver after playing a variety of positions during his high school career. With the Aggies losing Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu, Seals-Jones' size and physical presence will be needed in the red zone and across the middle of the field.
 

Anu Solomon, QB, Arizona
After the Wildcats averaged 526.2 yards and 38.2 points a game last season, it’s safe to say Rich Rodriguez’s debut as Arizona’s head coach wasn’t a disappointment. Now the Wildcats head into 2013 with a question mark under center, as Matt Scott expired his eligibility after the New Mexico Bowl. Former USC quarterback Jesse Scroggins will compete with last season’s backup (B.J. Denker) and redshirt freshman Javelle Allen this spring, but the real battle will begin in the fall when Solomon arrives on campus. The Las Vegas native ranked as the No. 17 quarterback in the 2013 signing class by Athlon Sports and has the skill set to thrive in Rodriguez’s offense. Starting a freshman quarterback is nothing new for Rodriguez, as Pat White started after a redshirt season at West Virginia, while Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson saw playing time as true freshmen at Michigan.
 

Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida
Even though Florida finished last season 11-2 and made an appearance in the Sugar Bowl, Will Muschamp has a lot of work to do if the Gators want to remain in the hunt to win the SEC East in 2013. Improving the offense is the top priority, especially a passing attack that finished 114th nationally last season. While quarterback Jeff Driskel remains a work in progress, Florida must find a replacement for Mike Gillislee. The departing senior ran for 1,152 yards and 10 touchdowns last season and there’s no proven backup on the roster. Matt Jones rushed for 275 yards on 52 attempts last year and will likely open spring practice as the No. 1 back. Taylor is the son of former NFL standout Fred Taylor and ranked as the No. 3 running back in the 2013 signing class by Athlon. Even if Jones starts the opener, look for Taylor to see plenty of action next season.
 

Thomas Tyner, RB, Oregon
Even though Chip Kelly bolted for the NFL, the Ducks aren’t expected to miss a beat in 2013. New coach Mark Helfrich spent the last four seasons as Kelly’s offensive coordinator and isn’t expected to change Oregon’s up-tempo attack in 2013. Despite the return of De’Anthony Thomas and Byron Marshall, the Ducks need some help at running back. While Tyner may not handle 25 carries a game, he is expected to contribute significantly in the backfield rotation. The Oregon native has excellent speed and is another big-play threat for the Ducks to use in 2013.


15 More Recruits to Watch:

Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Vernon Hargreaves III, DB, Florida
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Frank Herron, DE, LSU
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Ty Isaac, RB, USC
Dorian Johnson, OL, Pittsburgh
Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
Jalin Marshall, WR, Ohio State
Marquez North, WR, Tennessee
Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
Max Redfield, DB, Notre Dame
Robbie Rhodes, WR, Baylor
Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss


Related Recruiting Content

Winners and Losers of 2013 National Signing Day
Ranking the Early Enrollees in the SEC

Alabama Claims the Recruiting Championship in 2013

Teaser:
<p> 10 College Football True Freshmen Likely to Make an Impact in 2013</p>
Post date: Friday, February 8, 2013 - 08:05
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-recruiting-rankings-no-2-ohio-state-buckeyes
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College football's 2013 National Signing Day is in the books and Athlon Sports kicks off its 2013 team recruiting rankings countdown with an in-depth look at the best classes in the nation.

Ohio State and Michigan are poised for another memorable head-to-head run at Big Ten greatness and it starts with recruiting. Urban Meyer has made no friends in his first two romps through the Big Ten recruiting trail and it has netted him two elite classes. And with 10 Athlon Consensus 100 prospects, good for second nationally, the Buckeyes might be the top challengers to Alabama outside of the SEC.

No. 2: Ohio State Buckeyes

Big Ten Rank: First
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 10
National Signees: 14
Total Signees: 24

Where They Got 'Em:

One thing is for sure, Meyer knows where the good players are. Talent-rich states Ohio (10), Texas (3), Florida (2) and Georgia (2) provided more than 70 percent of this class, including seven of the 10 top 100 recruits. California also shipped an AC100 prospect to Columbus while New Jersey, Missouri, Indiana, North and South Carolina each sent one prospect to Ohio State as well. 

Areas of Focus:

The Buckeyes had a clear plan during this recruiting cycle. Defense, defense and more defense. Of the 24 signees in this class, as many as 16 could end up playing on the defensive side of the ball. Five of the top six players in this class are locked in to the defense. In particular, Meyer focused on his defensive line and secondary.

Three of the top six players in this class are defensive backs. Safety Vonn Bell is the top prospect in the class and will be joined on the backend of the defense by Jayme Thompson and Christopher Worley. This gives Meyer one of the best safety classes in the nation. On the outside, AC100 cornerbacks Eli Apple and Cam Burrows provide elite cover skills. This set of five defensive backs is one of the best in the nation and could also feature more talent should one of the three “athletes” land in the secondary.

Along the defensive front, Ohio State is watching Jonathan Hankins and John Simon leave campus for the bright lights of the NFL. To help combat the losses, the Buckeyes are bringing in six highly rated D-linemen. This group is led by AC100 end Joey Bosa and tackle Michael Hill. Early enrollees Tracy Sprinkle and Tyquan Lewis bring speed to the edge and both could be ready to play quickly with one spring practice under their belts before fall. Billy Price and Donovan Munger bring over 600 pounds of presence to the interior of the line. After the best defensive line class in the nation a year ago, Meyer has made it clear his front line will be a constant area of focus. Especially, if Ohio State wants to win a BCS title game against the SEC.

A pair of elite linebackers in superstar Mike Mitchell and Trey Johnson adds great depth to the roster.

The offense wasn’t ignored by any means, however. National recruit J.T. Barrett is the heir apparent to Braxton Miller at quarterback and should fit perfectly in Meyer’s spread scheme. Jalin Marshall, the nation’s No. 5 wide receiver, James Clark and Corey Smith add some much-needed play-making ability on the outside. The No. 4-rated tight end, Marcus Baugh, should also help the passing game as well.

Top 100 signees Evan Lisle and Ezekiel Elliott lead small offensive line (2) and running back (1) classes. This could change when Lone Star State running back and AC100 prospect Dontre Wilson eventually has a position. He should play a Percy Harvin-type of role for Meyer as he can score from anywhere on the field.

Two other athletes, Gareon Conley and Darron Lee, could play a variety of positions. 

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 1, RB: 1, WR: 3, TE: 1, OL: 2
Defense: DL: 6, LB: 2, DB: 5, ATH: 3

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rank Hometown Ht Wt
27. Vonn Bell S No. 5 (DB) Rossville, Ga. 6-1 190
35. Jalin Marshall WR No. 5 Middletown, Ohio 6-0 190
37. Joey Bosa DL No. 9 Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. 6-5 270
49. Eli Apple CB No. 11 (DB) Voorhees, N.J. 6-0 184
58. Mike Mitchell LB No. 7 Plano, Texas 6-4 225
61. Cam Burrows CB No. 13 (DB) Trotwood, Ohio 5-11 200
69. Ezekiel Elliott RB No. 14 St. Louis, Mo. 6-0 210
71. Dontre Wilson ATH No. 2 DeSoto, Texas 5-10 174
80. Evan Lisle OL No. 8 Centerville, Ohio 6-6 290
91. Marcus Baugh TE No. 4 Riverside, Calif. 6-4 245
111. Trey Johnson LB No. 13 Lawrenceville, Ga. 6-2 220
116. Gareon Conley ATH No. 6 Massillon, Ohio 6-2 170
174. J.T. Barrett QB No. 18 Wichita Falls, Texas 6-1 225
228. Michael Hill DL No. 43 Pendleton, S.C. 6-2 305

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht. Wt. AC100
Eli Apple CB Voorhees, N.J. 6-0 184 No. 49
J.T. Barrett QB Wichita Falls, Texas 6-1 225 No. 174
Cam Burrows CB Trotwood, Ohio 5-11 200 No. 61
Tyquan Lewis DE Tarboro, N.C. 6-3 223 --
Tracy Sprinkle DE Elyria, Ohio 6-2 241 --

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Rankings No. 2: Ohio State Buckeyes</p>
Post date: Friday, February 8, 2013 - 06:45
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/five-star-coach-cliches-national-signing-day
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Fax machines aren’t the only thing dusted off and put to use on national signing day.

After the letters had been signed and the faxes sent, 125 FBS coaches headed to their press conferences and all were in agreement: This year’s class is great, it fills needs, and it will be best judged later, and not by star rankings.

"Every coach around the country says they like their class, but I really do like our class,” East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeil said.

Or was it Nick Saban? Or Lane Kiffin? Or Charlie Weis? Or Chris Petersen?

“This is always like Christmas to me,” new Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said.

Yep, a Christmas with no coal, neckties or socks. We’re all getting that video game system or drum kit or bicycle we wanted.

Here, we've compiled a sampling of the signing day coaching cliches from yesterday’s press conferences. A few caveats, though: We didn’t count coaches thanking assistants and support staff (really, you’d have to kinda be a jerk not to). We also didn’t count coaches who talked about “filling needs.”

Also, many coaches used multiple signing day cliches, sometime within the same sentence. We applaud their efficiency, but we’re only taking one cliche per coach.

BEST CLASS EVER
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss: “I think today has the possibility of being a program changer.”

James Franklin, Vanderbilt: “This is our best class.”

Doc Holliday, Marshall: “There’s no doubt we’re better personnel-wise than we’ve been since I’ve been here.”

June Jones, SMU: "We think as coaches this is our best-looking class physically, along with our best athletically at all positions, since coming to SMU.”

Curtis Johnson, Tulane: "This is a special class, a dream class for us."

Bob Davie, New Mexico: “I think the word is out. You go around and it's kind of amazing ... that New Mexico and Albuquerque are kind of hidden gems.”

Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette: “It will grade out as the most-talented class in school history, but the true test of their quality will be determined on the field in two or three years.”

Dennis Franchionie, Texas State: “This is the best class that we have been able to sign here.”

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Lane Kiffin, USC: “This is certainly a class of quality over quantity.”

Larry Fedora, North Carolina: “Quality over quantity is the way I like to talk about it.”

JUDGE THIS CLASS LATER
Nick Saban, Alabama: “We had a good recruiting year, but again I think it's hard to make predictions about the guys you recruited today, and where they are going to be two or three years from now.”

Will Muschamp, Florida: You can pull out your tape recorders from the previous two years and we will know about this class in two or three years.”

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State: “It's not really where you come in at, it's where you finish.”

Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech: “I think this will go down as an outstanding recruiting class. Time will tell, but I really like the athletic ability in this class and the size in our linemen.”

Tony Levine, Houston: “We redshirted about 20 freshmen last season and when you speculate a recruiting class, you can't fairly answer who I going to stand out until a few years down the road. You need to let the class play out.”

Bill Snyder, Kansas State: “As we've always maintained, it takes several years to accurately assess the quality of a recruiting class and the young men who represent it.”

Mack Brown, Texas: “We need to evaluate this class four or five years from now and see who is playing. A lot of times perception is not reality with these guys.”

Norm Chow, Hawaii: “We need to temper our enthusiasm and reserve judgment on this class until 2-3 years from now.”

Rich Rodriguez, Arizona: “You definitely need to wait a few years before you can evaluate a recruiting class.”

REFERENCES TO THE STAR RANKINGS
Brian Polian, Nevada: “These guys are what we are looking for here. The star system and the rankings mean nothing to us.”

Todd Graham, Arizona State: “A team is not just about talent. It's not just about how many stars a person has and what you see out there.”

Bobby Petrino, Western Kentucky: “We don’t go out placing an emphasis on rankings or stars, but we go out trying to find the right guys that will fit our system, and I believe that we were able to do that.”

P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan: “I think all of these kids are football players, period.  You take all of the rankings and the ‘stars’ out of it and you look at the tape and we needed to find football players. That is what we found.”

PLAYERS WHO FIT OUR PROGRAM
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa: “I think for the most part we fit most of the needs that we felt were important. And most importantly I think we found players that we feel are going to fit our program.”

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern: "We as a staff are confident we've signed a group of young men who are tremendous fits for our program athletically, academically and socially.”

Jim Grobe, Wake Forest: “Lots of guys who love to play football and are really good football players who fit at Wake Forest.”

Justin Fuente, Memphis: “I think it's another step in the right direction to building our football program.”

Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut: “What we're trying to do in building the program, and it's hard to do it overnight, we're trying to recruit pro-type size guys.”

Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky: “These coaches wanted to be here and these players wanted to be here. That's what it's going to take to build this program - a bunch of guys that want to chase greatness."

Paul Haynes, Kent State: “We wanted to get our kind of guys.  And that's what we got."

Sonny Dykes, Cal: "We made a concerted and successful effort to sign both the best players we could and also the student-athletes that we thought would be the best fits at Cal.”

KIDS WITH CHARACTER
Les Miles, LSU: "I think it has quality and players with good character and integrity.”

Tim Beckman, Illinois: “We were able to add quality depth at several positions and upgraded the total athleticism of the team across the board.”

Bo Pelini, Nebraska: “I’m excited about this class, I think it adds a lot to our football team, not only with talented football players but tremendous young men, a lot of character type of kids that I want to coach, and kids we want to represent our university, the state and our fans.”

Bill O’Brien, Penn State: “This is a group of high character kids who are tough, go to class and do things the right way.”

Sean Kugler, UTEP: “We feel like we not only added some outstanding football players, but some outstanding student-athletes with strong character.”

Charlie Strong, Louisville: “It is key that we recruit character – young men that want to be a part of something special – height, speed, football awareness, toughness – that’s what’s critical when we go out to recruit.”

Scott Shafer, Syracuse: "I'm really excited about this class because it represents high character men who really love that game of football and treat it with respect.”

Pete Lembo, Ball State: ”We have added a lot of talent to our roster with this class, but perhaps more importantly, we are surrounding ourselves with some terrific leaders and charismatic personalities.”

Jeff Quinn, Buffalo: “What stood out most to me with the entire signing class of 2013, was the fact that these are tremendous leaders and winners.”

Dan Enos, Central Michigan: “It is a group of gifted, high character, and hard-working individuals that will contribute to our program on the football field.”

Matt Campbell, Toledo: “From top to bottom, this is a class of high-caliber players who have high-caliber character.”

GETTING MORE ATHLETIC, FASTER, BIGGER, STRONGER
David Shaw, Stanford: “When you look at our 2013 class, you will see size. You will see athleticism. You will see toughness.”

Kyle Whittingham, Utah: “We definitely feel we became a bigger, faster football team with this recruiting class.”

Bill Blankenship, Tulsa: “With this class, we are excited about getting more athletic and just recruiting really good football players. Overall, we felt like we needed to continue to get bigger and faster, and when I say bigger, I really mean taller and longer. Those athletes with length have an opportunity to grow into being much bigger players."

George O’Leary, UCF: “The three key elements that we looked for was obviously range, speed and versatility”

Rod Carey, Northern Illinois: "Overall, when you look at this class, it's dominated by skill, which it should be. The skill has power and speed and that's what I love about it. Every guy that's fast is powerful and every guy that's powerful has good speed."

WHA?
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State: “Without everyone pulling together and without the use of airplanes it would be difficult to put a class like this together.”

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma: “We really addressed some of the major needs that we needed.”

Garrick McGee, UAB: “They were recruiting guys that were very highly recruited. There were teams in our area that were after these players and our coaching staff had to stay firm on the things that we believe in. There was a lot of negative recruiting going on, and I want to give our coaching staff credit for sticking to our principles.”

MOMENTS OF CANDOR
Urban Meyer, Ohio State: “Our first year together as a coaching staff last year did not count because that was not a coaching staff. That was a bunch of guys coming together like a bunch of gypsies trying to find players anywhere we could find them. We did pretty good.”

Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: “The only thing I know, back in 2008, I think Florida had the No. 1 class, and two years later that No. 1 class drove Urban Meyer to retirement. Of course, he came back a year later and he's an excellent coach, but I know later there were comments that that No. 1 class just didn't pan out. Of course, it usually pans out at Alabama every year. But, again, recruiting is extremely important, but after they get there is really what's most important.

Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati: “I’m going to start teaching a class on how to sign a recruiting class in 30 days. I think I’ve done it three or four times now, but it doesn’t get any easier.”

Teaser:
<p> Five-star coach cliches from National Signing Day</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 14:12
Path: /college-football/footballs-2013-composite-team-recruiting-rankings
Body:

Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football. Without good players, winning championships is nearly impossible. But there is much debate as too just how much recruiting rankings matter.

Here is something for doubters to consider: Alabama has claimed the No. 1 class in the nation three of the last six years and their average national recruiting ranking of 1.8 (by Rivals) over the last five seasons prior tops the nation. The Tide has subsequently won three BCS titles in four years because, in large part, it has the best players in the nation. 

Related: Alabama claims the nation's top class in 2013

That said, not all scouts agree on how touted any given prospect or class should be. This is why Athlon Sports has taken the four major online recruiting websites and averaged their team rankings together to give the fans the truest and most accurate look at the best recruiting classes of 2013. 

Scout likes the Big Ten
Rivals, 247Sports and ESPN awarded Alabama as the national recruiting champion. Scout ranked Nick Saban's class No. 3 in the nation behind both Ohio State and Michigan. Scout has the highest opinion of Brady Hoke's haul and clearly doesn't appreciate the record 15 Athlon Consensus 100 signings by the Crimson Tide. Although the Wolverines and Buckeyes have elite classes with loads of talent, it is hard to argue with what Alabama did this year on the trial.

Everyone agrees on the Sooners, Big 12
Rivals and Scout have Oklahoma ranked as the 15th-best class in the nation while ESPN has the Sooners ranked 16th and 247Sports has OU at 13th. All four consider this the best class in the Big 12 but all agree that it isn't a top 10 group. Few teams have this much agreement across all websites. The only two teams to get a top 25 vote from any of the four recruiting sites are Texas and Oklahoma.

Nebraska's class is polarizing
Scout thinks Bo Pelini landed the No. 11-ranked class in the nation. Both 247Sports and ESPN, however, have the Huskers ranked outside of the top 20 at 21st and 23rd respectively. The composite rankings agree with Rivals, who has the Big Red ranked at No. 17. Few teams in the top 20 provided as much disagreement as Nebraska.

Frank Beamer is in the same boat
Just like Pelini at Nebraska, the experts do not agree on Virginia Tech's class. Scout doesn't think nearly as high of the Hokies haul, ranking them 35th nationally. 247Sports, however, loves Tech's 18-man signing class ranking it 14th nationally. In fact, 247 likes this group so much that it ranked VT's group the No. 2 signing class in 2013 behind only Florida State.

USC's quality didn't matter
Based on sheer numbers, most sites agree that USC didn't belong in the top 10 nationally. However, with nine AC100 prospects in 13 total signees, it is hard to argue that the Trojans don't have the best quantity-to-quality ratio in the nation. Their nine top-100 recruits trails only Alabama and Michigan and likely means this group deserves to be a bit higher than 16th.

19th is about right for Texas
247Sports (18th) and ESPN (15th) ranked the Longhorns smallish 15-man class higher than Rivals and Scout, both of which rank Texas 23rd nationally. So Athlon's composite median ranking of 19th is just about right. It is a talented class with plenty of quality but the sheer size of the class keeps Mack Brown's haul outside of the top 15. And gives the Horns one of their worst overall national rankings in recent memory.

Where should the state of Tennessee rank?
James Franklin and the Commodores have one of the best classes in memory. But some (247Sports) don't believe it is a Top 25 class while others (Rivals, Scout) have the Dores inside of the top 20 nationally. There is disagreement with the Volunteers as well. Scout (32nd) and ESPN (29th) were not nearly as impressed with Butch Jones' class as Rivals (25th) apparently was. It appears that 247Sports got this one right.

Related: National Signing Day's 2013 Winners and Losers

Athlon Sports 2013 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings:

Rk Team AC100 Signees Rivals 247 Scout ESPN
1. Alabama 15 25 1st 1st 3rd 1st
2. Ohio State 10 24 2nd 5th 1st 3rd
3. Notre Dame 5 24 3rd 3rd 4th 4th
4. Florida 6 28 4th 4th 8th 2nd
5. Michigan 5 27 5th 5th 2nd 6th
6. Ole Miss 4 28 7th 2nd 10th 5th
7. LSU 5 27 6th 7th 6th 7th
8. Texas A&M 3 32 10th 7th 7th 8th
9. UCLA 3 23 11th 11th 5th 12th
10. Auburn 3 23 8th 10th 13th 11th
11. Florida State 4 22 9th 9th 16th 9th
12. Georgia 2 32 12th 12th 9th 10th
13. Clemson 1 23 14th 15th 12th 13th
14. Oklahoma 1 24 15th 13th 15th 16th
15. Washington 1 22 18th 17th 14th 18th
16. USC 9 13 13th 25th 18th 14th
17. Nebraska 0 26 17th 21st 11th 23rd
18. South Carolina 2 21 16th 20th 21st 17th
19. Texas 2 15 23rd 18th 23rd 15th
20. Oregon 1 19 21st 16th 17th 26th
21. Virginia Tech 2 18 22nd 14th 35th 19th
22. Mississippi State 1 20 25th 22nd 20th 25th
23. Vanderbilt 0 26 19th 35th 19th 22nd
24. Baylor 1 23 28th 24th 25th 28th
25. Tennessee 1 21 20th 27th 32nd 29th

Best of the Rest:

26. Miami, Fla., 27. West Virginia, 28. North Carolina, 29. Arkansas, 30. Oklahoma State

Teaser:
<p> College Football's 2013 Team Recruiting Rankings</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 12:26
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-bracket-projections-and-bubble-watch-jan-31
Body:

Selection Sunday is about six weeks away, but the picture for who’s in and who’s out of the NCAA Tournament is starting to take shape.

In general, most of the 68 spots are fairly certain. Of the 32 conferences, we’ve tabbed 20 as being one-bid leagues, determined solely by conference tournaments. On the other end of the spectrum, at least 30 teams are safely in the field barring a total collapse between now and March 17.

That leaves the bubble, where every win and loss is magnified and every result from November and December takes on a renewed significance.

Here’s our look at the NCAA Tournament field for 2013. This is not intended to be a prediction, per se, but a snapshot at how the field may look right now.

We looked at RPI, strength of schedule, good wins and bad losses in our projections. You will also see references to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. The selection committee does not use them as a reference, but we include them as an added resource.

NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET PROJECTIONS: FEB. 6

TOP FOUR SEEDS
Indiana 
Michigan
Duke
Miami

ACC (4)
In: Duke, Miami, North Carolina, NC State
Worth a mention: Florida State, Maryland, Virginia
Bubble notes: Maryland remains on the outside looking in. The Terps' RPI is 66, and their only good win is vs. NC State at home. Virginia had a four-game winning streak snapped at Georgia Tech last weekend. That was a troubling loss — the Cavs' sixth to team ranked 100th or worse in the RPI. North Carolina has only one top-50 RPI win, vs. UNLV at home. Florida State already has nine losses and only has one top-50 win (BYU).

Atlantic 10 (5)
In: Butler, La Salle, Saint Louis, Temple, VCU
Worth a mention: UMass, Xavier
Bubble notes: Saint Louis is new to the field this week. The Billikens crushed Butler last Thursday and followed up with a convincing win over Dayton. SLU's RPI is 57 and it has two top-50 wins. The loss at home to Rhode Island is the biggest blemish on the resume. La Salle bounced back from a loss at home to UMass on Thursday by winning at George Washington over the weekend. The Explorers have a strong RPI (27) and two top-50 wins. Barring a late-season slide, Temple should remain in the field thanks in large part to its win over Syracuse at MSG. The Owls have a couple of bad home losses — vs. Canisius in December and St. Bonaventure last week. UMass is in the discussion because of a realtively solid RPI (52) and that road win over La Salle last week. The Minutemen have a lot of work ahead of them.

Related: Key games with postseason implications to watch this week

Big 12 (5)
In: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Worth a mention: None
Bubble notes: Baylor remained in the field this week despite losing three straight — vs. OU, at Iowa State and at Oklahoma State in a heartbreaker Wednesday night. The Bears have some solid wins (at Kentucky, vs. Oklahoma State), and their RPI is a respectable 49. Iowa State padded its resume with wins over Baylor and Oklahoma to improve to 6–3 in the Big 12. The Cyclones' RPI is 36. With a win at Kansas in its back pocket, Oklahoma State should have nothing to worry about down the stretch — barring an implosion.

Related: This week's college basketball power rankings

Big East (7)
In: Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
Worth a mention: St. John’s, Villanova
Bubble notes: Villanova followed up its two wins at home vs. top-10 RPI foes (Louisville and Syracuse) by losing at Notre Dame and at home vs. Providence. The Wildcats (RPI 65) bounced back with a win at DePaul, but their resume has too many stains at this point. St. John’s beat UConn Wednesday night to improve to 7–4 in the league. The Red Storm (RPI 55) have one really good win (at Cincinnati) and several bad losses (at San Francisco and at home vs. UNC Asheville. Pittsburgh put itself in great position by beating Syracuse on Saturday (and not losing to Seton Hall on Monday).

Related: NCAA Tournament Report Card: Villanova

Big Ten (7)
In: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Worth a mention: Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue
Bubble notes: Iowa is good enough to play in the NCAA Touranment, but the Hawkeyes lack an NCAA Tournament resume. They dropped to 3–7 in the Big Ten with a loss on Wednesday at Wisconsin. They do have a home win vs. the Badgers, but their other two wins in the league came against Northwestern (on the road) and Penn State. Illinois is still in the field despite a 2–7 record in the league — but the Fighting Illini are on the thin ice. They have three top-20 RPI wins, including two away from home (Butler on a neutral court, at Gonzaga). Illinois hosts Indiana this weekend and then visits Minnesota. Winning one of those two would really help. Northwestern has a bad RPI (85) and a lot of losses (10), but the Wildcats are hanging around. Baylor's struggles have weakened Northwestern's resume (the Cats won in Waco). Purdue is 5–5 in the league with an RPI of 119 and only one top-80 win.

Related: Key stats from Jan. 21-27

Conference USA (1)
In: Memphis
Worth a mention: Southern Miss
Bubble notes: Southern Miss lost at UCF on Wednesday night, the Golden Eagles' first defeat in league play. It was enough to knock them out of the field. They are 16–4 against Division I opponents but have no wins against top-100 RPI teams. That is just tough to overlook. USM hosts Memphis this weekend. Memphis is 19–3 but lacks quality wins — but also has no bad losses.

Missouri Valley (3)
In: Creighton, Indiana State, Wichita State
Worth a mention: None
Bubble notes: The Valley is a mess. Indiana State sandwiched huge wins over Wichita State (on the road) and Creighton (at home) around a loss at Drake (RPI 147). The Sycamores have eight losses, including four to teams ranked 130 or worse in the RPI, but they also have four top-50 RPI wins. Their profile is very interesting. Wichita State has lost three straight games but still has a solid RPI (38) and three top-60 wins. The Shockers, however, must start playing better ball.

Mountain West (4)

In: Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Worth a mention: Boise State, Wyoming
Bubble notes: Boise State is out this week after losing three of its last four — including by one point at San Diego State on Wednesday night— to drop to 3–5 in the league. The Broncos' RPI is 53 and they have two top-40 RPI wins (at Creighton, 34; vs. UNLV, 20). A very weak non-conference schedule has hurt their profile. Wyoming has lost four straight in the league and its RPI is down to 63. The Cowboys also don't have a top-125 RPI win away from home. UNLV has been a disappointment, but the Rebels aren't in any danger of missing the field — yet.

Pac-12 (5)
In: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA
Worth a mention: Washington
Bubble notes: Colorado is 4–5 in the league and lost at Utah over the weekend, but the Buffaloes still have a strong RPI (26) and five wins vs. top 70 RPI teams. They probably can't afford get swept this weekend by Oregon and Oregon State. Arizona State has been one of the nation’s biggest surprises. The Sun Devils are 6–3 in the Pac-12 and only have one bad loss, vs. DePaul at home. They might need to sweep Cal and Stanford at home to remain in the field next week. Washington is barely in the discussion. The Huskies are 5–4 in the league with an RPI of 69. They have lost four of five and play at UCLA on Thursday night.

SEC (4)
In: Florida, Kentucky Ole Miss, Missouri
Worth a mention: Alabama, Arkansas
Bubble notes: Kentucky is playing very well of late. The Wildcats have won four straight to improve to 7–2 in the SEC. The RPI is solid (43), but they are lacking in qaulity wins. UK still has two games with Florida, a home date with Missouri and a visit to emerging Arkansas on the slate. Alabama's resume took a huge hit Wednesday night with a loss at Auburn. The Crimson Tide also have three damaging losses at home — to Dayton (RPI 103), Tulane (166) and Mercer (173). Also, they have only one top-60 win, vs. Kentucky (46). Arkansas's RPI is up to 77 after Tuesday's big win over Florida. The Hogs have the talent to get on a roll in the month of the season, but they can't afford any bad losses to remain in the picture.

West Coast (2)
In: Gonzaga, Saint Mary's
Worth a mention: BYU
Bubble notes: Saint Mary’s has decent computer numbers (60 RPI, 24 KenPom), but only one win vs. a top-90 RPI team (at BYU). The Gaels also have lost two games, on a neutral court, to teams ranked lower than 100th. They are in the field this week — barely. BYU only has two top-100 wins, both against Santa Clara (RPI 84).

One-bid conference projections

Conference Projected winner Conference Projected winner
America East Stony Brook MEAC Norfolk State
Atlantic Sun Florida Gulf Coast Northeast Bryant
Big Sky Montana Ohio Valley Belmont
Big South Charleston Southern Patriot Bucknell
Big West Long Beach State Southern Davidson
Colonial Northeastern Southland Stephen F. Austin
Horizon Valparaiso Summit South Dakota State
Ivy Harvard Sun Belt Middle Tennessee
MAAC Niagara SWAC Southern
MAC Akron WAC Louisiana Tech



 

Teaser:
<p> With Selection Sunday less than two months away, Athlon Sports projects the field for the NCAA Tournament, conference by conference</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /nfl/25-greatest-middle-linebackers-nfl-history
Body:

Middle linebackers are the quarterbacks of the defense, the nerve center of a stop-unit. Many of the game’s greatest players have been the man in the middle who called the shots in the huddle before turning into tackling machines and splash-playmakers from sideline-to-sideline once the ball was snapped. Keeping all aspects of the job in mind, we rank the top 25 greatest middle linebackers in NFL history.
 

1. Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens (1996-2012)
2000 Defensive Player of the Year
2003 Defensive Player of the Year
7-time first-team All-Pro
13-time Pro Bowler
Super Bowl XXXV MVP
Super Bowl XXXV champion
Super Bowl XLVII champion


It’s hard to argue with No. 52 — whose off-the-charts football IQ, spiritual leadership and on-field accomplishments are unmatched. Along with his overflowing trophy case, Lewis posted 41.5 sacks, 31 INTs returned for 503 yards and three TDs, 19 forced fumbles, 20 fumble recoveries and one safety in the regular season; and six forced fumbles, two INTs returned for 54 yards and one TD, and two sacks in the playoffs. And that dance. Don’t forget Ray’s dance.


2. Jack Lambert, Pittsburgh Steelers (1974-84)
Hall of Fame, Class of 1990
1976 Defensive Player of the Year
1974 Defensive Rookie of the Year
6-time first-team All-Pro
9-time Pro Bowler
Super Bowl IX champion
Super Bowl X champion
Super Bowl XIII champion
Super Bowl XIV champion


The foreman of the “Steel Curtain” defense, Lambert expanded the job description of the middle backer — dropping into pass coverage as smooth as a safety while remaining the sledgehammer enforcer of an old-school middle man. Lambert hauled in 28 INTs and scooped up 17 fumble recoveries. But it was his leadership in four Super Bowl wins that moves Lambert ahead of Dick Butkus — as sacrilegious as that may seem.


3. Dick Butkus, Chicago Bears (1965-73)
Hall of Fame, Class of 1979
1969 Defensive Player of the Year
1970 Defensive Player of the Year
5-time first-team All-Pro
8-time Pro Bowler


The best high school, college and NFL linebackers are annually presented with the Butkus Award, named in honor of arguably the greatest linebacker — possibly the best defensive player — to ever put on a helmet. Butkus punished ball carriers and crushed spirits. But for all his individual success, he never made the playoffs.


4. Mike Singletary, Chicago Bears (1981-92)
Hall of Fame, Class of 1998
1985 Defensive Player of the Year
1988 Defensive Player of the Year
7-time first-team All-Pro
10-time Pro Bowler
Super Bowl XX champion


“Samurai Mike” had crazy eyes that struck fear into an opposing offense even before he laid the smack down. The on-field brains behind Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan’s famed 1985 Bears defense, Singletary is undeniably one of the greatest to ever play the position.


5. Ray Nitschke, Green Bay Packers (1958-72)
Hall of Fame, Class of 1978
2-time first-team All-Pro
1-time Pro Bowler
Super Bowl I champion
Super Bowl II champion
5-time NFL Championship Game winner
NFL Championship Game MVP (1962)


Before becoming a pop culture reference in Brian’s Song and an actor in The Longest Yard and Head, Nitschke was one of the most feared men in football. Vince Lombardi’s leader on defense, Nitschke (No. 66) and Bart Starr (No. 15) are the only Lombardi players whose numbers were retired.


6. Bill George, Chicago Bears (1952-65), Los Angeles Rams (’66)
Hall of Fame, Class of 1974
8-time first-team All-Pro
8-time Pro Bowler


George is credited by many as being the first-ever true middle linebacker, creating a legacy that future Bears like Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher would cement in history.


7. Junior Seau, San Diego Chargers (1990-2002), Miami Dolphins (’03-05), New England Patriots (’06-09)
1992 Defensive Player of the Year
1994 Walter Payton Man of the Year
6-time first-team All-Pro
12-time Pro Bowler


Arguably USC’s most notable No. 55, Seau went on to become a legend in San Diego. A notorious freelancer, Seau notched 56.5 sacks, 18 INTs returned for 238 yards, 11 forced fumbles, 18 fumble recoveries and one TD while winning two AFC titles with the 1994 Chargers and 2007 Patriots.


8. Chuck Bednarik, Philadelphia Eagles (1949-62)
Hall of Fame, Class of 1967
5-time first-team All-Pro
8-time Pro Bowler
2-time NFL Championship Game winner


A two-way player who also played center on offense, Bednarik was in the middle of the action on both sides of the ball — ask Frank Gifford.


9. Nick Buoniconti, Boston Patriots (1962-68), Miami Dolphins (’69-76)
Hall of Fame, Class of 2001
5-time first-team All-Pro
8-time Pro Bowler
Super Bowl VII champion
Super Bowl VIII champion


The most famous member of the “No Name Defense,” Buoniconti is alleged to be the ringleader of the 1972 Dolphins’ annual champagne toast when the last undefeated team loses each season.


10. Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears (2000-12)
2005 Defensive Player of the Year
2000 Defensive Rookie of the Year
4-time first-team All-Pro
8-time Pro Bowler


The latest in an historic line of Hall of Fame caliber Bears middle linebackers, Urlacher has produced 41.5 sacks, 22 INTs returned for 324 yards and two TDs, 11 forced fumbles and 15 fumble recoveries returned for 177 yards and one TD during his career. Urlacher’s legacy was secure after leading Chicago to the NFC title in 2006


11. Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers (2007-12)
2009 NFL Butkus Award winner
2007 Defensive Rookie of the Year
5-time first-team All-Pro
6-time Pro Bowler


12. Joe Schmidt, Detroit Lions (1953-65)
Hall of Fame, Class of 1973
8-time first-team All-Pro
10-time Pro Bowler
2-time NFL Championship Game winner


13. Willie Lanier, Kansas City Chiefs (1967-77)
Hall of Fame, Class of 1986
1972 NFL Man of the Year
3-time first-team All-Pro
8-time Pro Bowler


14. Sam Huff, New York Giants (1956-63), Washington Redskins (’64-69)
Hall of Fame, Class of 1982
2-time first-team All-Pro
5-time Pro Bowler


15. Harry Carson, New York Giants (1976-88)
Hall of Fame, Class of 2006
9-time Pro Bowler
Super Bowl XXI champion


16. Lee Roy Jordan, Dallas Cowboys (1963-76)
1973 Defensive Player of the Year
1-time first-team All-Pro
5-time Pro Bowler
Super Bowl VI champion


17. Zach Thomas, Miami Dolphins (1996-2007), Dallas Cowboys (’08)
5-time first-team All-Pro
7-time Pro Bowler


18. Randy Gradishar, Denver Broncos (1974-83)
1978 Defensive Player of the Year
2-time first-team All-Pro
7-time Pro Bowler


19. Les Richter, Los Angeles Rams (1954-62)
Hall of Fame, Class of 2011
1-time first-team All-Pro
8-time Pro Bowler


20. Karl Mecklenburg, Denver Broncos (1983-94)
3-time first-team All-Pro
6-time Pro Bowler


21. Ken Norton Jr., Dallas Cowboys (1988-93), San Francisco 49ers (1994-2000)
1-time first-team All-Pro
3-time Pro Bowler
Super Bowl XXVII champion
Super Bowl XXVIII champion
Super Bowl XXIX champion


22. James Farrior, New York Jets (1997-2001), Pittsburgh Steelers (’02-11)
1-time first-team All-Pro
2-time Pro Bowler
Super Bowl XL champion
Super Bowl XLIII champion


23. Hardy Nickerson, Pittsburgh Steelers (1987-92), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (’93-99), Jacksonville Jaguars (2000-01), Green Bay Packers (’02)
2-time first-team All-Pro
5-time Pro Bowler


24. London Fletcher, St. Louis Rams (1998-2001), Buffalo Bills (’02-06), Washington Redskins (’07-12)
3-time Pro Bowler
Super Bowl XXXIV champion


25. Tedy Bruschi, New England Patriots (1996-2008)
2005 Comeback Player of the Year
1-time Pro Bowler
Super Bowl XXXVI champion
Super Bowl XXXVIII champion
Super Bowl XXXIX champion
 
Teaser:
<p> 25 Greatest Middle Linebackers in NFL History, including Ray Lewis, Jack Lambert, Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, Ray Nitschke, Bill George, Junior Seau, Brian Urlacher, Patrick Willis, Chuck Bednarik, Nick Buoniconti, Joe Schmidt, Willie Lanier, Harry Carson, Lee Roy Jordan, Ken Norton Jr. and Tedy Bruschi.</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 09:47
Path: /college-football/2013-recruiting-rankings-no-1-alabama-crimson-tide
Body:

College football's 2013 National Signing Day is in the books and Athlon Sports kicks off its 2013 team recruiting rankings countdown with an in-depth look at the some of the best classes in the nation.

Recruiting championships led to national championships, which have led to more recruiting championships. See a pattern for Alabama? The 2013 recruiting national championship is the third recruiting title in six seasons and each of the last six signing classes rank in the top five nationally. Nick Saban also set an Athlon Sports record with 15 Athlon Consensus 100 signees. The previous record was set by Florida in 2010 (13). The Process has become The Machine.

No. 1: Alabama Crimson Tide

SEC Rank: First
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 15
National Signees: 18
Total Signees: 25

Where They Got 'Em:

Nick Saban continues to recruit nationally after his fourth BCS Championship and third in four years at Alabama. He used 13 different states to land his 25 new faces in 2013. The Southeast remained his primary focus as Alabama (seven), Georgia (three), Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas (two each) and Arkansas (one) provided the majority of the class. He landed the top five players in the state of Alabama.

But it wasn't the just the SEC footprint that provided Alabama with elite talent. Saban continued his remarkable ability to recruit the Northeast by landing a star player from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey. He also went out west to snag an AC100 quarterback from Utah and long snapper from California. 

Areas of Focus:

Alabama's 2013 haul is a balanced group with elite level skill at nearly every position. The offensive skill positions, however, appeared to be a major area of focus for Saban and his staff. The Tide brought in two scholarship quarterbacks and one walk-on in this group. Cooper Bateman is the highest rated of the bunch, landing in the AC100 as the No. 4-rated QB prospect in the nation. He will be pushed by three-star Parker McLeod and walk-on Luke Del Rio. All three have enrolled early and have a chance to learn under A.J. McCarron before he leaves for the NFL following the 2013 season.

The running back corps in this class is downright nasty. Alabama signed four of the top 13 running backs in the nation. Derrick Henry (No. 1), Alvin Kamara (No. 7), Altee Tenpenny (No. 10) and Tyren Jones (No. 13) form what has to be one of the best running back classes in the history of recruiting. Each brings something different and unique to the offense as Henry and Jones bring big, physical frames while Kamara and Tenpenny bring speed and elusiveness.

A three-man pass-catching class wraps up one of the best offensive skill classes in the nation. Robert Foster is the No. 2-ranked wide receiver in the nation while tight end O.J. Howard is considered the top player at his position nationally. Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has plenty of new toys to utilize. And with two athletes signed — Anthony Averett and ArDarius Stewart — this class could actually get deeper should they land on the offensive side of the ball as receivers.

The offensive line didn't get much focus as just three blockers signed in this group. Grant Hill is an AC100 talent and leads the small class that includes a junior college transfer and prep school recruit.

On defense, the front seven was clearly the area of focus. Three true defensive linemen, two of which were AC100 prospects, add elite depth to the most important position in the SEC. The appropriately named Dee Liner and A'Shawn Robinson were both top-50 players nationally while Darius Page was a four-star national recruit in his own right. All three were ranked in the top 25 nationally at their position.

The linebacker class is similar to the running backs in how scary good it could be in a few years. Reuben Foster is a prototype middle linebacker and was the No. 2 LB in the nation. Jonathan Allen is a hybrid end/outside backer who was the No. 4 LB in the nation. Tim Williams was ranked as the No. 9 linebacker in the nation. Toss in Walker Jones and the Tide has its next elite wave of linebackers. This group is versatile and can play all four positions in Kirby Smart's defense.

Saban signed three defensive backs, for now, with AC100 talent Maurice Smith leading the way. The wide receiver and secondary classes overall depth hinge on where the two "athletes" end up playing.

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 2, RB: 4, WR: 2, TE: 1, OL: 3, ATH: 2
Defense: DL: 4, LB: 3, DB: 3, LS: 1

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rank Hometown Ht. Wt.
6. Reuben Foster LB No. 2 Auburn, Ala. 6-1 244
12. Derrick Henry RB No. 1 Yulee, Fla. 6-3 242
17. Jonathan Allen DL/LB No. 2 Leesburg, Va. 6-3 264
19. O.J. Howard TE No. 1 Prattville, Ala. 6-6 235
23. Robert Foster WR No. 2 Monaca, Pa. 6-3 187
34. A'Shawn Robinson DL No. 7 Fort Worth, Texas 6-4 320
42. Alvin Kamara RB No. 7 Norcross, Ga. 5-10 195
47. Dee Liner DL No. 10 Muscle Shoals, Ala. 6-3 281
54. Altee Tenpenny RB No. 10 North Little Rock, Ark. 6-0 207
62. Grant Hill OL No. 6 Huntsville, Ala. 6-6 301
65. Tyren Jones RB No. 13 Marietta, Ga. 5-9 215
76. Cooper Bateman QB No. 4 Murray, Utah 6-3 215
83. Tim Williams LB No. 9 Baton Rouge, La. 6-3 235
84. ArDarius Stewart ATH No. 4 Fultondale, Ala. 6-0 190
89. Maurice Smith DB No. 17 Sugar Land, Texas 6-0 180
129. Darius Page DL No. 24 Foley, Ala. 6-4 314
191. Anthony Averett ATH No. 11 Woodbury, N.J. 6-0 170
229. Jonathan Cook DB No. 33 Daphne, Ala. 6-0 186

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht. Wt. AC100 Misc.
Cooper Bateman QB Murray, Utah 6-3 205 No. 76  
Leon Brown OL Riverdale, Md. 6-6 310 -- 3-star
Luke Del Rio QB Highland Ranch, Colo. 6-2 200 -- Walk-on
Raheem Falkins WR New Orleans, La. 6-4 195 -- 4-star
Derrick Henry RB Yulee, Fla. 6-3 240 No. 12  
Brandon Hill OL Chatham, Va. 6-6 340 -- Prep School
O.J. Howard TE Prattville, Ala. 6-5 225 No. 19  
Parker McLeod QB Marietta, Ga. 6-3 190 -- 3-star
Jai Miller DB Valley Grande, Ala. 6-3 210 -- Walk-on

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Recruiting Rankings No. 1: Alabama Crimson Tide</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 08:20
Path: /nfl/very-early-2013-fantasy-football-top-200
Body:

The 2012 NFL season may have just ended, but that doesn't mean it's too early to starting thinking about next season. Even though teams have just started adjusting their rosters, free agency has yet to begin and the draft is still more than two months away, here's Athlon Sports' early fantasy football rankings for 2013.

As it stands now, Arian Foster and not NFL MVP Adrian Peterson tops our rankings, while Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco comes in at No. 89. Fifteen quarterbacks are ranked higher than Flacco, including Robert Griffin III, who falls in at No. 37 (eighth at his position). Griffin, who was the AP's Offensive Rookie of the Year, is without a doubt the biggest question mark at this point, since his return timetable from his January knee surgery is still unknown. Griffin is the prime example as to why this list will go through many changes between now and the fall.

As for how things currently look, a few early observations. Quarterback appears to be rather deep and the same could be said to a degree for wide receiver. Once you get past the 15 or so running backs it is anyone's guess and tight end is another intriguing position to watch as the offseason plays out.

 

Rk Player Position Team Comment
1 Arian Foster RB HOU Edges out A.D. b/c of less tread on the tires.
2 Adrian Peterson RB MIN Be wary of 2,000-yard "curse."
3 Marshawn Lynch RB SEA  
4 Doug Martin RB TB Can he avoid sophomore slump?
5 Calvin Johnson WR DET Top fantasy WR had just 5 TDs.
6 Jamaal Charles RB KC Is he Reid's McCoy in KC?
7 Aaron Rodgers QB GB Still had 39 TDs despite WR injuries.
8 Drew Brees QB NO Led NFL in INTs and fantasy points.
9 Tom Brady QB NE Could be in market for new No. 1 WR.
10 Ray Rice RB BAL Pierce's touches went up at season's end.
11 LeSean McCoy RB PHI Interesting to see how Kelly uses him.
12 C.J. Spiller RB BUF Should get lion's share of carries over FJax.
13 A.J. Green WR CIN  
14 Brandon Marshall WR CHI If Bears fix OL, watch out.
15 Trent Richardson RB CLE Needs more support from passing game.
16 Julio Jones WR ATL  
17 Demaryius Thomas WR DEN Big target should continue to improve.
18 Dez Bryant WR DAL Really came on late in the season.
19 Alfred Morris RB WAS Will Griffin's injury/absence impact him?
20 Cam Newton QB CAR  
21 Maurice Jones-Drew RB JAC If healthy, he should get lots of touches.
22 Stevan Ridley RB NE  
23 Peyton Manning QB DEN  
24 Rob Gronkowski TE NE Health starting to become an issue.
25 Percy Harvin WR MIN Is he long for Minny?
26 Vincent Jackson WR TB Delivered in his first year as Buc.
27 Andre Johnson WR HOU A reliable No. 2 WR would help him and team.
28 Chris Johnson RB TEN  
29 Matt Forte RB CHI  
30 Roddy White WR ATL  
31 Jimmy Graham TE NO  
32 Frank Gore RB SF Finished with strong postseason.
33 Demarco Murray RB DAL Foot injury plagued him last season.
34 Matt Ryan QB ATL  
35 Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI All hinges on who his QB is.
36 Matthew Stafford QB DET Don’t forget he posted 5,000-40 in 2011.
37 Robert Griffin III QB WAS The No. 1 question mark in fantasy.
38 Victor Cruz WR NYG Will the Giants pay him?
39 Eric Decker WR DEN  
40 Randall Cobb WR GB His role should only increase in '13.
41 Wes Welker WR NE If not Patriots, where will he end up?
42 Marques Colston WR NO When healthy, he produces.
43 Darren McFadden RB OAK Will he ever stay healthy?
44 Hakeem Nicks WR NYG Another one who's been held back by injuries.
45 Andrew Luck QB IND Reunited with Stanford OC.
46 Mike Wallace WR PIT His 2013 team will dictate potential value.
47 Michael Crabtree WR SF Kaepernick's clear-cut No. 1 target.
48 Tony Romo QB DAL  
49 Russell Wilson QB SEA What can he do for an encore?
50 Colin Kaepernick QB SF  
51 Darren Sproles RB NO Different player in '11 when Payton was HC.
52 Jordy Nelson WR GB  
53 Steve Smith WR CAR  
54 BenJarvus Green-Ellis RB CIN  
55 Pierre Garcon WR WAS Foot injury sidetracked first season in WAS.
56 Greg Jennings WR GB Where will he end up?
57 Reggie Wayne WR IND  
58 Jason Witten TE DAL  
59 Ryan Mathews RB SD His collarbone was not his friend last season.
60 David Wilson RB NYG Came on strong late in the season, no more Bradshaw.
61 Aaron Hernandez TE NE  
62 Steven Jackson RB STL Won't turn 30 until July.
63 Danario Alexander WR SD  
64 Reggie Bush RB MIA Will he be his (new) team's No. 1 back in '13?
65 Willis McGahee RB DEN  
66 Mikel Leshoure RB DET  
67 Cecil Shorts WR JAC  
68 Eli Manning QB NYG  
69 Tony Gonzalez TE ATL Will he back for another year?
70 Ben Roethlisberger QB PIT  
71 Stevie Johnson WR BUF  
72 T.Y. Hilton WR IND  
73 Andy Dalton QB CIN  
74 Torrey Smith WR BAL  
75 Antonio Brown WR PIT Becomes No. 1 if Wallace doesn't stay.
76 Dwayne Bowe WR KC Potential tied to 2013 team.
77 Brandon Lloyd WR NE His role only increases should Welker leave.
78 Miles Austin WR DAL  
79 James Jones WR GB  
80 Lance Moore WR NO  
81 Mike Williams WR TB  
82 Danny Amendola WR STL Another free agent who could be in new uni.
83 Josh Freeman QB TB  
84 Owen Daniels TE HOU  
85 Kyle Rudolph TE MIN Established himself after Harvin's injury.
86 Greg Olsen TE CAR  
87 Jermaine Gresham TE CIN  
88 Matt Schaub QB HOU  
89 Joe Flacco QB BAL Don't overrate SB MVP's fantasy value.
90 Justin Blackmon WR JAC  
91 Sidney Rice WR SEA  
92 Shonn Greene RB NYJ His time is running out to prove he's a No. 1 back.
93 Jacquizz Rodgers RB ATL Should see even more touches in '13.
94 Jeremy Maclin WR PHI Which Eagle WR benefits most from Kelly's system?
95 DeSean Jackson WR PHI  
96 Vick Ballard RB IND  
97 Knowshon Moreno RB DEN Effective after McGahee went down until he got hurt too.
98 Kenny Britt WR TEN Could be running out of time/chances w/ Titans.
99 Denarius Moore WR OAK  
100 Josh Gordon WR CLE  
101 Philip Rivers QB SD Can McCoy/Whisenhunt turn him around?
102 Ahmad Bradshaw RB NYG Will be looking for new team after Giants released him.
103 Jay Cutler QB CHI Can Trestman make him better?
104 Dennis Pitta TE BAL  
105 Vernon Davis TE SF He and Kaepernick started clicking late.
106 Antionio Gates TE SD Days as elite option are well pas him.
107 Michael Vick QB PHI Won't know for sure until '13 team is determined.
108 Jonathan Dwyer RB PIT Steelers have to figure backfield out.
109 Jonathan Stewart RB CAR If he or Williams is traded, their ranks change.
110 DeAngelo Williams RB CAR  
111 Rashard Mendenhall RB PIT  
112 Michael Turner RB ATL Veteran no longer a viable every-week starter.
113 Vincent Brown WR SD Broken ankle wiped out last season.
114 Bilal Powell RB NYJ Could get No. 1 job if Greene doesn't return.
115 Mark Ingram RB NO  
116 Carson Palmer QB OAK His weapons couldn't stay healthy last season.
117 Martellus Bennett TE NYG Free agent, keep eye on where he lands.
118 Seattle DST SEA  
119 Denver DST DEN  
120 Bernard Pierce RB BAL Got his number called often late in the season.
121 Daryl Richardson RB STL He and Pead will fight for carries if SJax leaves.
122 Brian Hartline WR MIA  
123 Kendall Wright WR TEN Can he build off of respectable rookie season?
124 Chris Givens WR STL  
125 Sam Bradford QB STL  
126 Heath Miller TE PIT How quickly can be bounce back from ACL injury?
127 Brandon Myers TE OAK  
128 San Francisco DST SF  
129 Jermichael Finley TE GB  
130 Brent Celek TE PHI  
131 Ryan Fitzpatrick QB BUF May not even be the Bills' starter in Week 1.
132 Cincinnati DST CIN Young Bengals should only get better.
133 Houston DST HOU  
134 Anquan Boldin WR BAL Veteran may have played his last game for Ravens.
135 Santonio Holmes WR NYJ  
136 Brandon LaFell WR CAR  
137 Golden Tate WR SEA  
138 Andre Roberts WR ARI  
139 Chicago DST CHI Don't count on repeat of last year's fantasy output.
140 Michael Floyd WR ARI  
141 Alshon Jeffery WR CHI  
142 Jarius Wright WR MIN He and Harvin could be dangerous combo.
143 DuJuan Harris RB GB Took advantage of injuries to be a factor late.
144 Brandon Pettigrew TE DET  
145 Dwayne Allen TE IND  
146 Beanie Wells RB ARI Never has proven he can stay healthy.
147 Ryan Williams RB ARI Still not sure what he's capable of.
148 San Diego DST SD  
149 Christian Ponder QB MIN  
150 Pittsburgh DST PIT Veteran unit starting to show its age.
151 New England DST NE  
152 Nick Foles QB PHI Will be he Kelly's guy?
153 Jake Locker QB TEN Can he take that next step in '13?
154 Ryan Tannehill QB MIA  
155 Jared Cook TE TEN Where will he play in '13?
156 Jacob Tamme TE DEN  
157 Mohamed Sanu WR CIN Opportunity knocks for someone to pair w/ Green.
158 Malcom Floyd WR SD  
159 Emmanuel Sanders WR PIT  
160 Darrius Heyward-Bey WR OAK  
161 Jon Baldwin WR KC If Bowe leaves, Baldwin becomes No. 1?
162 Donnie Avery WR IND  
163 Andrew Hawkins WR CIN  
164 Lamar Miller RB MIA  
165 Ben Tate RB HOU  
166 Bryce Brown RB PHI Kelly used two backs at Oregon.
167 Dexter McCluster WR KC  
168 Cleveland Browns DST CLE  
169 LaMichael James RB SF Has he replaced Hunter as 49ers' No. 2?
170 Ronnie Hillman RB DEN  
171 Isaiah Pead RB STL  
172 Nate Washington WR TEN  
173 Scott Chandler TE BUF  
174 Coby Fleener TE IND Somewhat of a disappointment in his rookie season.
175 Atlanta Falcons DST ATL  
176 Joique Bell RB DET  
177 Andre Brown RB NYG Probably been passed by Wilson on depth chart.
178 Lance Kendricks TE STL  
179 Blair Walsh K MIN Rookie's big leg made big first impression.
180 Stephen Gostkowski K NE  
181 Michael Bush RB CHI  
182 Baltimore Ravens DST BAL This unit will look different in '13.
183 Daniel Thomas RB MIA  
184 Shane Vereen RB NE Had big game against Texans in playoffs.
185 Jason Avant WR PHI  
186 Marcel Reece RB OAK  
187 Fred Davis TE WAS His tenure w/ Redskins may be over.
188 Kendall Hunter RB SF  
189 New York Jets DST NYJ  
190 Matt Bryant K ATL  
191 Shayne Graham K HOU  
192 Mark Sanchez QB NYJ No Tebow, no more excuses in '13.
193 St. Louis Rams DST STL  
194 Robert Turbin RB SEA  
195 Donald Brown RB IND  
196 Jason Hanson K DET  
197 Mike Tolbert RB CAR  
198 Matt Flynn QB SEA Will he be with a new team in '13?
199 Arizona Cardinals DST ARI  
200 Matt Cassel QB KC Will Reid even give him a chance?

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Teaser:
<p> A Very Early 2013 Fantasy Football Top 200</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 07:30
Path: /college-football/national-signing-day-2013-winners-and-losers
Body:

National Signing Day 2013 has come and gone. Fans, coaches and players alike rode a yearlong roller-coaster to the first Wednesday in February and it all ended with over 3,000 new college football players.

While coaching and leadership is still the No. 1 factor in winning and losing games, recruiting and the subsequent rankings are a close No. 2. Having better players than the next guy will go a long way in winning. What happens when you have both? How about three BCS national championships in four years.

Some programs spent NSD ’13 celebrating thousands of hours of work with deep and talented signing classes that point to future success on the field. Others’ dreams were dashed when players flip-flopped in the 11th hour or simply decided to go elsewhere.

Who were National Signing Day’s biggest winners and toughest losers?

Winners:

Ole Miss Rebels
There is only one place to start this Signing Day and it’s Oxford, Miss. The momentum leading into NSD was tangible in The Grove after the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver, Laquon Treadwell (No. 14), committed two weeks ago. Then the first Wednesday in February got started in the best possible way for the Rebels when the top player in the nation, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, picked Mississippi over LSU. He was then followed by the nation’s No. 1 offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil (No. 4) and four-star blocker Austin Golson (No. 108). Finally, one of the nation’s elite safeties in Antonio Conner (No. 32) shunned Alabama for the in-state Rebels as well. To put into perspective the job Hugh Freeze did with this class, Ole Miss has signed four total AC100 — or Top 100 — recruits in the five classes. No player ranked in the top 35 of the AC100 had previously signed with Ole Miss, as 2012 signee Channing Ward ranked the highest at No. 38 nationally. In this class, Freeze signed two of the top four, three of the top 15 and four of the top 32 players in the nation.

Ohio State Buckeyes
Urban Meyer has a reputation on the trail as one of the most cut-throat closers in the business. Coaches all over the Midwest will attest to that as he sliced and diced through the region a year ago. What did he do for an encore in 2013? He snagged former Oregon commit and AC100 running back Dontre Wilson (No. 71) from Texas. He pulled four-star wide receiver James Clark from the state of Florida. And dipped into Georgia for an elite AC100 safety prospect in Vonn Bell (No. 27). The Buckeyes entered National Signing Day battling Michigan for the Big Ten recruiting title, but left the day with not only the best class in the conference but the only group that came close to challenging Alabama for the No. 1 spot in the nation. Meyer is simply a beast on the recruiting trail.

Florida State Seminoles
The day started well for the Seminoles as star AC100 linebacker and top-10 player in the nation Matthew Thomas (No. 8) picked FSU over Alabama, Georgia, Miami and USC. Next came confirmation that long-time USC commit Jalen Ramsey (No. 15) did, in fact, switch in the 11th hour to Florida State. Both Thomas and Ramsey rank in the Top 15 nationally of the AC100 and are two of the top gets on NSD. Last but not least, nationally ranked defensive tackle Keith Bryant picked the Noles over Alabama, Miami, Tennessee and South Carolina. In true Bobby Bowden fashion, Jimbo Fisher closed extremely well and added three more superstar defensive prospects.

Oregon Ducks
When Chip Kelly told the Ducks he would return, potential signees all across the nation breathed a sigh of relief. But two weeks later when Kelly bolted for the NFL, those same recruits started looking elsewhere. And while star tailback Dontre Wilson did land at Ohio State, new head coach Mark Helfrich did an excellent job to stabilize the 2013 haul. Twin two-sport athletes Tyree and Tyrell Robinson were reportedly leaning towards Washington after a last-second visit to Seattle,  but Helfrich calmed their nerves and got the four-star tandem to sign with Oregon. Additionally, he stole four-star defensive end Torrendy Prevot from USC and Texas A&M while inking Cameron Hunt away from the Cal Golden Bears. This was a tenuous class to watch the last month but all signs are positive after a strong showing on NSD ’13.

Alabama Crimson Tide
It’s good to be Nick Saban. How many teams can miss out on top-40 prospects like Laremy Tunsil, Matthew Thomas, Montravius Adams, Vonn Bell and Tony Conner and still consider the day a huge success? That is where Alabama and Saban are in the recruiting world. National Signing Day got started two nights earlier when the nation’s No. 1 inside linebacker Reuben Foster (No. 7) picked the Tide over archrival Auburn. Alabama then stole long-time Texas commit and AC100 defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson (No. 34) late in the process. Saban also won the battle for AC100 running back Alvin Kamara (No. 42) with Georgia. And 'Bama defeated Miami head-to-head for the appropriately named AC100 defensive lineman Dee Liner (No. 47). This is the best class in the nation for the third time in six years and it is a top-five class for the sixth consecutive season.

Auburn Tigers
Across the state, new Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn put together his own top-ten recruiting class. Convincing elite prospect Carl Lawson (No. 21) to honor his commitment was the first big step while an 11th hour swipe of AC100 defensive end Elijah Daniel only furthered the excitement on the Plains. The biggest get of the day for Malzahn, however, came when the No. 10-rated player in the nation picked the Tigers. Montravius Adams picked Auburn over Alabama, Clemson, Florida and Georgia. The day was then capped by four-star tailback Johnathan Ford officially becoming a War Eagle. There is some excellent offensive talent in this class, but it’s the defensive line that makes this group special. Three AC100 prospects give Auburn one of the most talented D-line classes in the nation.

UCLA Bruins
The Bruins, like many other programs out west, have capitalized on the struggles across town by USC. Entering NSD, Jim Mora had picked up pledges from former Trojans commit and four-star offensive lineman Kylie Fitts on Tuesday. He also had a stellar month of January, landing four total commitments, including AC100 prospects Priest Willis (No. 39) and Tahaan Goodman (No. 65) just a two weeks before Signing Day. The momentum was there for Mora and he closed strong by landing star dual-threat quarterback Asianti Woulard all the way from Florida and AC100 linebacker and former Stanford commitment Isaac Savaiinaea. It was a huge day for UCLA as the Bruins claimed the top class in the Pac-12.

Losers:

USC Trojans
Few teams elicit a response nationally like the Lane Kiffin-led Trojans. With a poor showing on the field and coaching instability, USC watched its consensus No. 1 overall class wilt before their eyes. This group is still a solid haul with an impressive nine AC100 signees, but elite AC100 stars Jalen Ramsey and Eddie Vanderdoes decided to sign elsewhere on Wednesday. Their decisions capped a horrible stretch run for the Men of Troy who watched upwards of six or seven players decommit and sign with arch rivals like Notre Dame and UCLA. This class is still stacked with talent as the nine top 100 prospects indicate, however, the bleeding in L.A. only stopped because the cycle came to an end.

Georgia Bulldogs
Much like USC, Mark Richt signed an excellent class that is highly regarded in the national rankings. However, Georgia missed on every major target it had left on the board entering Signing Day. Not only did the Dawgs not land Tunsil, Foster, Thomas, Adams, Kamara or four-star lineman Tyrone Crowder, but all of them signed with SEC or Southern arch-rivals. There are 10 players in the AC100 from The Peach State and the Bulldogs missed on eight of them, including the top seven players in the state. Again, with 13 early enrollees and a deep roster returning, this class is still extremely solid, but this team did absolutely nothing on Wednesday while their direct competition took major steps forward.

Louisville Cardinals
There weren’t a lot of targets on the board for Charlie Strong but the Cardinals missed on all of them. Denver Kirkland, Jermaine Grace and Jason Hatcher signed with Arkansas, Miami and Kentucky respectively and all were high on Strong’s wish list. This is a roster without many holes so a deep class wasn’t expected, but finishing outside of the top 50 in the national rankings has to be disappointing considering the monumental success on the field in 2012.

Big 12
Texas limped to the finish line and has one of its worst classes in recent memory. Oklahoma signed a typically strong group but sits well outside the top ten in national team rankings. No other team will finish in the top 25 in recruiting and not one major recruit picked a Big 12 team on Signing Day. The fact that Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M signed an elite class and that Bo Pelini inked his best group at Nebraska only rubs salt in the open recruiting wound in the Big 12.

Washington Huskies
Steve Sarkisian has a great class coming in this cycle, but his National Signing Day wasn’t as fruitful as expected. The Robinson twins were rumored to have been leaning towards the Huskies after long being committed to Oregon. The Huskies failed to flip them at the last moment. Talented defensive end prospect Daeshon Hall also decommitted from Washington at the last minute and signed with Texas A&M. This class is still very strong, especially at wide receiver and along the defensive line, but what could have been a top ten class looks more like a top 20 group instead.

Crazy recruiting parents
Every year there is at least one bizarre incident with a mother, father, uncle or grandparent of a big-time recruit and this season was no different. Elite AC100 running back Alex Collins hails from Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) South Plantation High School in South Florida. He made his decision on Wednesday to play for Arkansas and Bret Bielema over Florida State, South Florida and Miami. He signed his Letter of Intent and was ready to take the next step in his football life. His mother, Andrea McDonald, had other ideas. She wanted her son to play close to home so badly that she confiscated the paperwork — which she has to sign for Kamara to play anywhere as his guardian — and left the building. She refused to sign the paperwork, which means her son's destination for the fall has yet to be decided.

Teaser:
<p> National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 06:10
Path: /college-football/football-recruiting-ranking-2013-sec-early-enrollees
Body:

Here is a complete list and ranking of SEC early football enrollees for the Class of 2013:

1. Georgia Bulldogs (13):

Few teams have ever brought in a bigger early enrollee class than this year's Georgia Bulldogs. Three or four potential defensive backs get to campus just as Shawn Williams, Sanders Cummings and Baccari Rambo depart for the NFL. A pair of star linebackers in Reggie Carter and Ryne Rankin show up just as Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree also leave for the pros. A pair of defensive tackles signed early as well. With upwards of nine or 10 starters departing from this defense, it was huge for Mark Richt to get so many fresh faces on campus a semester early. Top it off with the quarterback of the future, Brice Ramsey, getting an extra spring under his belt before Aaron Murray enters his final season, and the Bulldogs inked one of the best early enrollee classes in history.

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100 Misc.
Johnathan Atkins DT Chatham, VA 6-4 310 -- 4-star Prep School
Aulden Bynum OL Valdosta, GA 6-5 260 -- 3-star
Josh Cardiello OL Buford, GA 6-3 280 -- 3-star
Reggie Carter LB Snellville, GA 6-1 225 -- 4-star
J.J. Green ATH Kingsland, GA 5-9 190 -- 3-star
Tray Matthews DB Newnan, GA 6-0 195 No. 82  
Quincy Mauger DB Marietta, GA 6-0 200 -- 3-star
Chris Mayes DT Perkinston, MS 6-4 315 -- JUCO
Brice Ramsey QB Kingsland, GA 6-3 205 No. 86  
Ryne Rankin LB Orlando, FL 6-1 230 -- 3-star
Jonathon Rumph WR Goodman, MS 6-4 215 -- 4-star JUCO
Tramel Terry ATH Goose Creek, SC 6-0 190 No. 117  
Reggie Wilkerson DB Ocala, FL 5-11 165 -- 4-star

2. Alabama Crimson Tide (9):

The No. 1 running back in the nation, Derrick Henry, and the No. 1 tight end in the nation, O.J. Howard, were on campus a few weeks ago to watch the Crimson Tide's domination of Notre Dame in the BCS title game. Both could contribute right away and fans should be excited about such elite talents getting a head start on the rest of the 2013 class. The replacement for star quarterback A.J. McCarron joined them as well — in one form or another. Nick Saban signed two quarterbacks in the 2013 class and both — as well as a third walk-on — have a chance to step into the limelight once McCarron finishes his eligibility next season. Cooper Bateman is the highest rated as an AC100 player while Parker McLeod and walk-on Luke Del Rio are willing to battle to prove himself. It cannot be overstated how important it could be for Saban to have two quality QB options already in the fold. Toss in a pair of OL — to help replace three stud starters along the line — a four-star wide receiver and talented defensive back and the Tide has a big chunk of its No. 1-rated class already on campus.

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100 Misc.
Cooper Bateman QB Murray, UT 6-3 205 No. 76  
Leon Brown OL Riverdale, MD 6-6 310 -- 3-star
Luke Del Rio QB Highland Ranch, CO 6-2 200 -- Walk-on
Raheem Falkins WR New Orleans, LA 6-4 195 -- 4-star
Derrick Henry RB Yulee, FL 6-3 240 No. 12  
Brandon Hill OL Chatham, VA 6-6 340 -- Prep School
O.J. Howard TE Prattville, AL 6-5 225 No. 19  
Parker McLeod QB Marietta, GA 6-3 190 -- 3-star
Jai Miller DB Valley Grande, AL 6-3 210 -- Walk-on

 

 

3. Florida Gators (8):

Few teams in the nation will have as much freshman talent on the field this spring as the Gators. Four Athlon Consensus 100 prospects, including the No. 3 running back in the nation, and five total national recruits will be ready to compete in spring practice for Will Muschamp. Getting three elite linebackers on campus early could be huge for Florida, as Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic have moved on to the NFL. And these aren't "average" linebackers either, as Alex Anzalone (No. 5), Daniel McMillian (No. 6) and Matt Rolin (No. 19) are all among the top 20 LB prospects in the  nation. With workhorse Mike Gillislee moving on as well, Kevlin Taylor will have a chance to build on his mythical prep resume early on in Gainesville.

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100 Misc.
Alex Anzalone LB Wyomissing, PA 6-3 230 No. 54 Rivals 5-star
Trenton Brown OL Milledgeville, GA 6-7 350 -- JUCO
Darious Cummings DT Scoba, MS 6-3 300 -- JUCO
Joey Ivie DE Dade City, FL 6-3 270 -- 4-star
Daniel McMillian LB Jacksonville, FL 6-2 220 No. 55 AC100
Demarcus Robinson WR Fr. Valley, GA 6-2 200 No. 81 AC100
Matt Rolin LB Ashburn, VA 6-3 210 No. 152 4-star
Kevlin Taylor RB Belle Glade, FL 5-10 215 No. 22 AC100

4. LSU Tigers (6):

Les Miles has loads of important pieces to replace from his 2012 team as nearly a dozen juniors declared early for the NFL Draft. A trio of offensive junior college prospects will help provide immediate depth at wide receiver, tight end and along the offensive line. Star AC100 offensive lineman Ethan Pocic will also benefit greatly from an extra semester of practice. Nationally rated quarterback Anthony Jennings has a chance to start once Zach Mettenberger leaves campus and getting into the program early will prove to be invaluable for the young signal caller.

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100 Misc.
John Diarse WR Monroe, LA 6-0 210 -- 4-star
Fehoko Fanaika OL San Mateo, CA 6-6 340 -- JUCO
Anthony Jennings QB Marietta, GA 6-2 205 No. 231  
Christian LaCouture DE Lincoln, NE 6-4 260 No. 206  
Ethan Pocic OL Lemont, IL 6-6 285 No. 57  
Logan Stokes TE Booneville, MS 6-4 240 -- JUCO

5. Texas A&M Aggies (8):

Four of the Aggies' starting front seven on defense has moved on  while a pair of talented defensive backs have departed as well. This is why Kevin Sumlin has enrolled three linebackers, a defensive end and a cornerback early in his 2013 class. Star wide receiver Ja'Quay Williams was an AC100 prospect a year ago and initially signed with Auburn. He ended up in prep school at Fork Union Military Academy and instead signed with Texas A&M. He will be a part of one of the best pass-catching classes in the nation. One that former Tennessee Vols tight end Cameron Clear will be a part of as well.

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100 Misc.
Reggie Chevis LB Houston, TX 6-2 235 -- 3-star
Cameron Clear TE Yuma, AZ 6-5 270 -- JUCO
Jordan Points DL Rockwall, TX 6-4 255 -- 3-star
Tommy Sanders Jr LB El Dorado, KS 6-2 215 -- JUCO
Alex Sezer CB Orange, TX 5-10 170 -- 2-star
Jeremiah Stuckey OL San Francisco, CA 6-5 280 -- JUCO
Brett Wade LB Kennedale, TX 6-2 220 -- 3-star
Ja'Quay Williams WR Fork Union, VA 6-3 195 -- 4-star Prep School

6. Tennessee Volunteers (5):

The Vols have seen Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson and Da'Rick Rogers leave the program in one fashion or another over the last nine months. So bringing in four-star wide receiver Paul Harris as well as two other potential pass-catchers in athletes Lemond Johnson and Jalen Reeves-Maybin was huge for new head coach Butch Jones. Reeves-Maybin could also grow into the linebacker position and join fellow early enrollee Corey Vereen at the position. Any help on defense is welcome in Knoxville. Junior college defensive back Riyahd Jones could compete for playing time at a position of need right away.

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100 Misc.
Paul Harris WR Accokeek, MD 6-4 195 -- 4-star
Lemond Johnson ATH Cooper City, FL 6-1 190 -- 3-star
Riyahd Jones DB Garden City, KS 6-0 185 -- JUCO
Jalen Reeves-Maybin ATH Clarksville, TN 6-1 200 -- 4-star
Corey Vereen LB Winter Garden, FL 6-2 230 -- 3-star

7. Arkansas Razorbacks (5):

Bret Bielema will get some instant help at some positions of need with five junior college prospects. There are no elite stars in this group, but the back seven of the defense will get some interesting depth with two defensive backs and two linebackers. This should help ease the loss of Alonzo Highsmith, Ross Rasner and Terrell Williams off of the linebacking corps. And, yes, Weed, Calif. is a real place.

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100 Misc.
Tiquention Coleman DB Milledgeville, GA 5-10 200 -- JUCO
John McClure OL El Dorado, KS 6-4 320 -- JUCO
Martrell Spaight LB Coffeyville, KS 6-1 220 -- JUCO
Myke Tavarres LB Weed, CA 6-2 220 -- JUCO
Carroll Washington DB Salinas, CA 6-0 180 -- JUCO

8. Ole Miss Rebels (4):

Nothing could overshadow what Hugh Freeze did on the recruiting trail on National Signing Day, however, four talented names have already hit campus in Oxford. Mark Dodson is the star of the group as a nationally rated running back prospect in what is considered to be one of the deepest RB classes in recent history. Freeze also lured a pair of junior college prospects and tight end Christian Morgan into the fold early. The group that shows up in August will steal the headlines but look for some of these names to contribute the earliest.

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100 Misc.
Mark Dodson Jr. RB Memphis, TN 5-10 195 No. 217  
Lavon Hooks DT Booneville, MS 6-4 290 -- 4-star JUCO
Quadarus Mireles ATH Raymond, MS 5-11 185 -- JUCO
Christian Morgan TE Plano, TX 6-4 255 -- 3-star

9. South Carolina Gamecocks (3):

This isn't a deep or nationally elite class for Steve Spurrier, but a trio of early enrollees will try to make an early impact in Columbia. The name to watch of the group is star quarterback recruit Connor Mitch. The 6-3, 210-pounder hails from North Carolina and could push for playing time as early as 2014. 

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100 Misc.
Ronnie Martin CB Milledgeville, GA 5-10 180 -- Prep School
Connor Mitch QB Raleigh, NC 6-3 210 -- 4-star
D.J. Park DT Dillon, SC 6-5 330 -- 4-star

10. Auburn Tigers (3):

A pair of four-star junior college prospects and one three-star are joining the Auburn fold this spring. On a very young team with a large portion of the roster returning, one would normally think there aren't too many position battles up for grabs this semester. However, the Tigers were 3-9 and had major issues on both sides of the ball. Is Cameron Artis-Payne ready to carry the load? He rushed for 3,412 yards and 43 touchdowns in two seasons in JUCO ball out west and could push for early playing time.

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100 Misc.
Cameron Artis-Payne RB Santa Maria, CA 5-11 210 -- 4-star JUCO
Ben Bradley DT Hutchinson, KS 6-2 315 -- 4-star JUCO
Devonte Danzey OL Hutchinson, KS 6-3 285 -- JUCO

11. Vanderbilt Commodores (2):

The quarterback position is really the only position on the offense that is up in the air for the Dores heading into 2013. And while it is a longshot that Johnathon McCrary is the starter next fall, getting him into the fold was huge for James Franklin's team. He is one of the biggest quarterback recruits to sign with Vanderbilt in the history of the program. Sean Dowling is a three-star prospect who joins McCrary early in Nashville.

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100 Misc.
Sean Dowling OL Fallbrook, CA 6-6 260 -- 3-star
Johnathon McCrary QB Ellenwood, GA 6-3 190 -- 4-star

12. Missouri Tigers (2):

Neither of these recruits are elite, top flight prospects, but both play the most important position on the field. Hosick is a dual-threat prospect who brings the athleticism that Gary Pinkel normally demands of his signal callers. Printz is a pro-style passer who has a bigger, more traditional frame and will play in the pocket. James Franklin is returning for another year under center, but with his injury history, it's smart to get a couple of backups into practice early.

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100 Misc.
Trent Hosick QB Kansas City, MO 6-1 220 -- 3-star
Eddie Printz QB Marietta, GA 6-3 200 -- 3-star

13. Mississippi State Bulldogs (4):

The state of Mississippi is arguably the best junior college state in the nation and both Ole Miss and Mississippi State have milked these programs for talent for decades. Dan Mullen brings in three JUCOs in his early signing class and one prep schooler to help with losses in the starting lineup — especially in the defensive backfield. 

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100 Misc.
Jeremy Chappelle WR Tyler, TX 6-2 210 -- JUCO
Kivon Coman DB Chatham, VA 6-0 195 -- Prep School
Justin Cox DB Scooba, MS 6-3 190 -- JUCO
Artimas Samuel TE Chatham, VA 6-2 225 -- JUCO

14. Kentucky Wildcats (3):

Mark Stoops did a great job injecting excitement into Wildcats recruiting in short order in Lexington. A potential future starter under center, Reese Phillips, is already on campus and working to get accustomed to the college game. A pair of junior college prospects will offer some immediate  help in terms of depth at tight end and defensive end.

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100 Misc.
Steven Borden TE Waxahachie, TX 6-3 250 -- JUCO
Reese Phillips QB Signal Mountain, TN 6-2 225 -- 3-star
Za'Darius Smith DE Scooba, MS 6-4 250 -- 4-star JUCO

Teaser:
<p> College Football Recruiting: 2013 SEC Early Enrollees</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /nascar/2013-nascar-sprint-cup-schedule-and-race-predictions
Body:

2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule and picks

The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season will be revving up this month, so we decided to give you a look at the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule in 2013, along with the previous year's winners and our predictions for the 2013 race winners. As you know, nothing’s harder to handicap than a NASCAR race; especially 38 NASCAR races before the season even starts. But we're giving it a shot. 

Want to match wits? Tell us your preseason picks by emailing us at [email protected], along with your championship pick.
 
Get all of your favorite racing stats, exclusive interviews and more in our 2013 Athlon Sports NASCAR Racing Preview Magazine, available at newsstands and online now.
 
 
2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule
 
 

RELATED: 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series Schedule

 

RELATED: 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Schedule

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule and Race Predictions</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 11:15
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR, News
Path: /nascar/2013-nascar-nationwide-series-schedule
Body:
The 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series will be revving up soon, beginning with Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 23 and ending Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
 
The most notable schedule change is the addition of Mid-Ohio, a 2.4 mile, 15-turn road course in Lexington. 
 
The series will have six standalone races: Iowa Speedway (June 8 and Aug. 3), Chicagoland Speedway (July 21), Kentucky Speedway (Sept. 21), Road America (June 22) and Mid-Ohio (Aug. 17).
 
Get all of your favorite racing stats, exclusive interviews and more in our 2013 Athlon Sports NASCAR Racing Preview Magazine, available at newsstands and online now. 
 
2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series Schedule
 
 

RELATED: 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule and Race Predictions

 

RELATED: 2013 NASCAR Truck Series Schedule and Race Predictions

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 11:10
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR
Path: /nascar/2013-nascar-camping-world-truck-series-schedule
Body:

The 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be revving up soon, beginning with Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 22 and ending Nov. 15 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Of note in 2013, the trucks will make their dirt debut on July 24 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, the .5-mile track owned by three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart. This event will be the first of two Wednesday night races for the series, joining Bristol Motor Speedway’s popular mid-week race on Aug. 21.
 
In addition, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, a 2.459-mile, 10-turn road course in Bowmanville, Ont., will host its inaugural truck event on Sept. 1, becoming the first road-course track for the series since 2000, and ensuring a NASCAR national series presence in Canada for a seventh-consecutive season.
 
Get all of your favorite racing stats, exclusive interviews and more in our 2013 Athlon Sports NASCAR Racing Preview Magazine, available at newsstands and online now. 
 
2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Schedule
 
 
 
Teaser:
<p> 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Schedule</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-bracket-update-kansas-pittsburgh-face-tests-week
Body:

Is it time to start celebrating or time to start worrying?

Those are the questions fans of a handful of teams will start asking over the next month or so of the season. Are NCAA bids or conference contender status being locked up? Or for other teams, are the wheels to a satisfying season starting to fall off?

Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon had much to celebrate after he continued his good fortune against Syracuse, but he has plenty of reasons to avoid getting too comfortable. His team has won six of seven, the exception being a three-point loss to Louisville on the road. With three of the next four on the road, including Saturday at Cincinnati, he’ll have a good idea where his team stands in the next two weeks.

And only at Kansas would the second loss of the season -- in early February, no less -- be cause for concern. Kansas is still a title contender, but the loss to Oklahoma State caught everyone by surprise, including Bill Self. His team will have a warm-up game against TCU before facing Oklahoma on the road.

For this week, there’s no marquee game similar to last week’s Big Ten showdown between Indiana and Michigan, but this could shape up to be a critical week for conference races and the NCAA bubble watch.

All times Eastern.

FEB. 6 NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET UPDATE

MOST IMPORTANT GAME:
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN)

The Big East standings are a jumble with four teams with in a game of first-place Syracuse at 7-2. That doesn’t include Pittsburgh at 7-4 in the Big East. Both Pitt and Cincinnati are on hot streaks, yet their potential as top-flight Big East teams and top-five seeds in the NCAA Tournament remains in question. Both teams are perimeter-oriented, but Pitt's 7-foot freshman Steven Adams has come on of late with 8.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in the last four.

Related: Feb. 5 Power Rankings

ALL EYES ON: New Mexico
Air Force (Wednesday, 9 p.m., ROOT Sports)
at UNLV (Saturday, 9 p.m., NBC Sports Network)

The Lobos are looking more and more like the class of the Mountain West, but this will be a tough week. First, the Lobos catch Air Force, which has worked its way into the NCAA Tournament conversation with three top-100 wins in the last five games (Boise State, Wyoming, San Diego State). Later this week, a road trip to Vegas will be tough against a talented Rebels team. This is a big week for New Mexico, but the same could be said of UNLV: Should we start to worry about the Rebels if they struggle through another week?

UNDER PRESSURE: Kansas
at TCU (Wednesday, 9 p.m., ESPNU)
at Oklahoma (Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN)

Kansas remains in the Big 12 lead and in the running for a No. 1 seed, but the Jayhawks stumbled a bit last week. First, Kansas slipped past a bad West Virginia team by 5 and then lost to Oklahoma State at home to end a 33-game win streak in Lawrence. TCU (8-12) will be an easy trip, but Oklahoma will not. Kansas needs some answers, especially at point guard where Elijah Johnson has had trouble in recent games.

Related: Key stats from the weekend

RISING: Miami
North Carolina (Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN)
The Hurricanes have gone from a surprise team to a possible ACC contender to now threatening for a conference title and a top seed in the Tourney. The Hurricanes have nine wins against the top 50 in the RPI. Only Kansas has more with 10. A win over North Carolina at home wouldn't be a huge resume boost, not that the Hurricanes will let that dampen a chance to sweep the Tar Heels. A win over No. 32 North Carolina on the road is merely the fourth-best win of the year for Miami as far as the RPI is concerned.

SINKING: Colorado
at Oregon (Thursday, 10 p.m., ESPNU)
at Oregon State (Saturday, 9 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)

Colorado still has the RPI (25th) and strength of schedule (16th) to stay in the field, but it may be time to start worrying about the Buffaloes after a 58-55 loss to Utah (RPI No. 159) on Saturday. Colorado is 2-5 on the road heading into a pair of games against the Oregon schools -- Oregon, too, needs a win after being swept by Stanford and Cal last week. Colorado was 10-2 before the controversial finish to regulation against Arizona. The Buffaloes are 4-5 since.

Related: NCAA Tournament Report Card: Villanova

MID-MAJOR TO WATCH:
Belmont at Murray State (Thursday, 8 p.m., ESPNU)

Time to get familiar with Belmont as the NCAA Tournament draws closer. In their first season in the league, the Bruins are running all over the Ohio Valley Conference. Belmont is outscoring league opponents by 18.6 points per game heading into a road trip against last year’s conference champion. Bruins 6-foot-3 junior Ian Clark leads the nation in effective field goal percentage and is the only guard averaging better than 70 percent in that category. Against Murray, he’ll have to contend with Isaiah Canaan.

TIP-INS:
Baylor at Oklahoma State (Wednesday, 7 p.m., ESPN)

Baylor’s rough week (losses to Oklahoma and Iowa State) showed the hot start in Big 12 play may have been a mirage. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State looks a little more dangerous with guards Marcus Smart and Markel Brown leading a win at Phog Allen Fieldhouse.

Minnesota at Michigan State (Wednesday, 7 p.m., Big Ten Network)
Minnesota ended its four-game losing streak with home wins over Nebraska and Iowa. The Gophers will revisit opponents from their signature wins from earlier this season when the face the Spartans and Illinois this week.

NC State at Duke (Thursday, 9 p.m., ACC syndication)
Duke has figured out how to play without Ryan Kelly. The Blue Devils are shooting 54.8 percent from the field in the last three games since the lopsided loss to Miami. Now, a rematch with erratic NC State minus Lorenzo Brown.

Michigan at Wisconsin (Saturday, noon, ESPN)
A bizarre week for Wisconsin started with the Badgers not reaching the free throw line against Ohio State and then going 28 of 42 from the line against Illinois.

Ole Miss at Missouri (Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS)
Ole Miss’ time in the spotlight skidded to a halt with losses to Kentucky and Florida where Nerlens Noel, Kyle Wiltjer and Erik Murphy were the stars of the show and not Marshall Henderson. Missouri’s getting stronger with Laurence Bowers healthy, but a loss to LSU last week is embarrassing.

Iowa State at Kansas State (Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN2)
Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg has done it again in Ames, but can the Cyclones win on the road? The Cyclones lost their last two road games to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State and now face a tougher test in K-State.

Louisville at Notre Dame (Saturday, 9 p.m., ESPN)
The Cardinals are back to winning again after a three-game losing streak, but are they title contenders? Peyton Siva was 6 of 9 from the field with seven assists against Marquette. But he’s still struggling to get to the line, and he’s had more turnovers in a two-game span (10) than he’s had all year.

Indiana at Ohio State (Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS)
Ohio State is still having trouble getting production from someone other than Deshaun Thomas against good teams. He can’t do it alone against an offensive juggernaut like Indiana.

St. John’s at Syracuse (Sunday, 1 p.m., ESPN)
Syracuse is down a starter and its third leading scorer, but C.J. Fair had a breakout game against Notre Dame on Monday. St. John’s is 6-4 in the Big East and inching onto the NCAA Tournament bubble. Winning in the Carrier Dome would go a long way for the Red Storm’s Tournament hopes.

Teaser:
<p> After home loss, Bill Self and Kansas hit road; Can Pittsburgh win on the road?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 10:25
Path: /college-football/robert-nkemdiche-signs-ole-miss-rebels
Body:

The nation's No. 1 player in the nation for 2013 has been compared to Reggie White numerous times.

Loganville (Ga.) Grayson defensive end Robert Nkemdiche is the consensus overall top prospect in the Athlon Consensus 100, but instead of playing for the Tennessee Volunteers like White, he is headed to Oxford, Miss., to play for the Ole Miss Rebels. Nkemdiche got National Signing Day 2013 started in style when he ended a long and circuitous recruitment by signing his national Letter of Intent for the Rebs.

It is the single biggest recruiting coup for Ole Miss since it signed a star quarterback prospect by the name of Eli Manning over a decade ago.

The story began with the Clemson Tigers, however. Nkemdiche, along with a handful of high school teammates, appeared poised to move to Death Valley when the top prospect committed to the ACC program in the middle of 2012. Yet, his family wanted him elsewhere. Nkemdiche's older brother, Denzel, excelled this season as a redshirt freshman linebacker at Ole Miss and their mother never hid that she wanted her boys to be on the same field together.

So after de-committing from Clemson, his final decision came down to LSU and Ole Miss. Les Miles put on the full-court press during the 11th hour in an effort to lure the top player into what is considered the top defensive line class in the nation. But the power of Hugh Freeze tugging on Nkemdiche's family heart strings was too much to overcome.

Like many of the nation's No. 1 players in the nation — many of whom have recently waited until well after NSD to officially sign — Nkemdiche's recruitment had its fair share of dramatic storylines. However, it is somewhat refreshing to see the top prospect not only sign on the day he is supposed to but to do it right out of the gate in the early morning and with few superfluous bells and whistles. There were no live props or bait-and-switch hat games. He stepped to the podium and announced he would sign with "the University of Ole Miss." (Okay, maybe there was one Freudian Slip).

More: Track all of National Signing Day's Biggest Announcements

Nkemdiche has an elite blend of size (6-foot-4, 285 pounds) and speed (4.7-second 40-time) to go with a motor that never stops. He is a slightly different prospect than former No. 1 overall end Jadeveon Clowney, but has a similar upside. He is an instant impact prospect who will compete right away for playing time. He is physically prepared to rush the passer, but what makes him special will be his ability to stay on the field in running situations. Few players are ready to line up against SEC offensive lines and hold their own in the ground game right out of high school, but Nkemdiche might be one of them.

He is a versatile prospect who will start on the outside as an up-the-field edge player but could easily develop and grow into an interior stopper by the end of his career. Needless to say, he has rare physical skills.

Ole Miss fans have been been buoyed by Freeze's presence on the recruiting trail of late, landing elite AC100 names like the No. 1 wide receiver in the nation Laquon Treadwell. Nkemdiche makes this group a top 10 class nationally and it makes the Rebels one of the biggest stories this year in recruiting. It's an exciting day to be a part of The Grove, but come this fall, the focus will shift to see if Nkemdiche, Freeze and the rest of the Rebels can put it together and win at a much higher level than Ole Miss has in the last few years.

Teaser:
<p> Robert Nkemdiche Signs with the Ole Miss Rebels</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 08:08
Path: /college-football/national-signing-day-2013-announcement-watch
Body:

Most of the dust has settled on the Class of 2013, however, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty of fireworks to come on National Signing Day 2013. Five of the top ten players in the nation are still left on the board and those decisions will undoubtedly influence the national team rankings in a big way.

Additionally, 12 of the top 50 are still left uncommitted and more than two dozen total national — or four-star — recruits have yet to make their final college decision. Here is a complete list of the National Signing Day announcments:

View the complete Athlon Consensus 100

Note: Updated Feb. 6, 4:00 p.m. CT

No. 1: Robert Nkemdiche, DE (6-4, 285)
Loganville (Ga.) Grayson
Choices: LSU, Ole Miss
SIGNED: Ole Miss

No. 4: Laremy Tunsil, OL (6-6, 295)
Lake City (Fla.) Columbia
Choices: Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Ole Miss
SIGNED: Ole Miss

No. 6: Eddie Vanderdoes, DT (6-3, 300)
Placer (Calif.) High
Choices: Alabama, Notre Dame, UCLA, USC, Washington
Time: 9:00 p.m. ET
Farrell’s Prediction: UCLA

No. 7: Reuben Foster, LB (6-1, 250)
Auburn (Ala.) High
Choices: Alabama, Auburn, Washington, Georgia
SIGNED: Alabama

No. 8: Matthew Thomas, LB (6-3, 210)
Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington
Choices: Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, USC
SIGNED: Florida State

No. 10: Montravius Adams, DT (6-4, 310)
Vienna (Ga.) Dooly County
Choices: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia
SIGNED: Auburn

No. 15: Jalen Ramsey, DB (6-1, 200)
Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy
Choices: Florida, Florida State, USC
SIGNED: Florida State

No. 26: Vonn Bell, DB (5-11, 190)
Rossville (Ga.) Ridgeland
Choices: Alabama, Ohio State, Tennessee
SIGNED: Ohio State

No. 30: Mackensie Alexander, DB (5-10, 175)
Immokalee (Fla.) High
Choices: Florida, Florida State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Clemson
SIGNED: Clemson

No. 32: Tony Conner, DB (6-1, 205)
Batesville (Miss.) South Panola
Choices: Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Texas A&M
SIGNED: Ole Miss

No. 34: A’Shawn Robinson, DL (6-5, 300)
Ft. Worth (Texas) Arlington Heights
Choices: Alabama, Texas
SIGNED: Alabama

No. 42: Alvin Kamara, RB (5-10, 195)
Norcross (Ga.) High
Choices: Alabama, Georgia
SIGNED: Alabama

No. 47: Dee Liner, DL (6-3, 275)
Muscle Shoals (Ala.) High
Choices: Alabama, Miami
SIGNED: Alabama

No. 64: Stacy Coley, WR (6-1, 175)
Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Northeast
Choices: Florida State, Clemson, Nebraska, Oregon, Wisconsin, UCF
SIGNED: Miami

No. 93: Isaac Savaiinaea, LB (6-3, 230)
Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou
Choices: UCLA, Texas A&M, Stanford
SIGNED: UCLA

No. 99: Marquez North, WR (6-3, 210)
Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek
Choices: Clemson, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee
SIGNED: Tennessee

No. 108: Austin Golson (6-6, 285)
Prattville (Ala.) High
Choices: Ole Miss, Florida State
SIGNED: Ole Miss

No. 131: Tyrell Robinson, ATH (6-3, 195)
San Diego (Calif.) Lincoln
Choices: Oregon, Washington
SIGNED: Oregon

No. 135: Tyrone Crowder, OL (6-1, 330)
Rockingham (N.C.) Richmond Senior
Choices: Clemson, Georgia
SIGNED: Clemson

No. 136: Daeshon Hall, DE (6-5, 220)
Lancaster (Texas) High
Choices: Texas A&M, TCU, Washington
SIGNED: Texas A&M

No. 153: Aslantli Woulard, QB (6-3, 205)
Winter Park (Fla.) High
Choices: Clemson, Kentucky, UCLA
SIGNED: UCLA

No. 159: Yannick Ngakoue, LB (6-3, 235)
Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate
Choices: Florida State, South Carolina
SIGNED: Maryland

No. 165: Joshua Dobbs, QB (6-3, 190)
Alpharetta (Ga.) High
Choices: Arizona State, Tennessee
SIGNED: Tennessee

No. 174: Quinton Powell, LB (6-2, 195)
Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland
Choices: Florida, USC
SIGNED: USC

No. 182: Jordan Cunningham, WR (6-1, 175)
Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Nova South
Choices: Alabama, Miami, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Stanford
SIGNED: Vanderbilt

No. 183: Denver Kirkland, OL (6-5, 330)
Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington
Choices: Florida State, Louisville, Miami, Rutgers, USF
SIGNED: Arkansas

No. 202: Torrodney Prevot, DE (6-3, 210)
Houston (Texas) Alief Taylor
Choices: USC, Texas A&M, Oregon
SIGNED: Oregon

No. 211: Tyree Robinson, ATH (6-3, 195)
San Diego (Calif.) Lincoln
Choices: Oregon, Washington
SIGNED: Oregon

No. 212: Tashawn Bower, DE (6-5, 240)
Sommerville (N.J.) Immaculata
Choices: Auburn, Florida, LSU
SIGNED: LSU

No. 216: Keith Bryant, DT (6-2, 305)
Delray Beach (Fla.) Atlantic Community
Choices: Alabama, Florida State, Miami, South Carolina, Tennessee
SIGNED: Florida State

No. 220: Jermaine Grace (6-1, 200)
Miramar (Fla.) High
Choices: Bowling Green, Florida State, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse
SIGNED: Miami

View the complete 2013 Athlon Consensus 100

Recruiting Videos:

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

AC100 On Campus: Max Redfield

AC100 On Campus: Ethan Pocic

AC100 On Campus: Robbie Rhodes

AC100 On Campus: Jalin Marshall

AC100 On Campus: Jake Raulerson

AC100 On Campus: Cameron Burrows

AC100 On Campus: Dontre Wilson

AC100 On Campus: Taco Charlton

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part I

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part II

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part I

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part II

Teaser:
<p> National Signing Day 2013 Announcement Watch</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 06:20
Path: /college-football/football-recruiting-national-signing-days-most-bizarre-stories
Body:

Teenagers are complicated, fickle, naive creatures who seldom have any perspective on the trappings of adult life. It’s why uniform colors, shoes, weather, license plates and even a coin flip have been used to select a university in the recent past. Don’t expect National Signing Day 2013 to be much different.

Auburn (Ala.) linebacker Reuben Foster is one of the nation's elite prospects and his recruitment has been a wild ride back and forth across the state of Alabama. Once an Alabama verbal pledge, Foster decommitted from the Crimson Tide and picked the Auburn Tigers, getting a War Eagle tattoo to prove his dedication. There is only one problem, however, as Foster decommitted again. He is now poised to picked between Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Washington and South Carolina.

Consensus No. 1 recruit Robert Nkemdiche may have potential for Signing Day drama, too. He committed to Clemson early, but he's considering Ole Miss, where is brother plays linebacker. All the while, his parents have been vocal through the recruiting process.

National Signing Day is an exciting time for coaches, recruits and fans, but it also ends up being one of the most bizarre days of the year in college football. Here's why:

The forged signature
Mothers and sons don't always see eye to eye in the recruiting process, though few moms would have gone as far as Floyd Raven's. Reserve (La.) East St. John defensive back Floyd Raven had decided Texas A&M was the right school for him. Only one issue: his letter of intent had already been sent to Ole Miss. The Rebels admissions department couldn’t read the signature and asked for a second copy. Raven’s mother wanted him to go to Ole Miss so badly she forged the signature and sent it to Oxford without her son’s knowledge. Eventually, Floyd learned of his mother’s forgery and sent the appropriately signed paperwork to Texas A&M.

The coin flip
It takes thousands of hours of labor and thousands of dollars to recruit athletes at the highest level. But in 2009, Atco (N.J.) Winsow Township linebacker Ka’Lial Glaud trimmed the entire process to a few cents. After taking five school-funded official visits, Glaud had narrowed his list to West Virginia and Rutgers. But the linebacker was still so torn he couldn’t make up his mind. So naturally, he decided to let chance decide his fate as he literally flipped a coin between the two programs. Heads he goes to WVU, tails he goes to Rutgers. He has posted 47 total tackles in three seasons for the Scarlet Knights.

Deontay Greenberry's cold shoulder
Fresno (Calif.) Washington Union wide receiver Deontay Greenberry was the No. 52 player in the nation last season. He was a long-time Notre Dame commitment whose best friend and cousin, fellow Athlon Consensus 100 talent Tee Shepard, had already enrolled in class in South Bend weeks prior to NSD. All signs pointed to the duo continuing their friendship on the football field as Irish teammates. But after a very late visit to the Houston Cougars, Greenberry pulled the biggest shocker of National Signing Day '12 by signing with the Conference USA program. The 6-3, 190-pound wideout is the first AC100 signee in Cougars’ program history and the Twittersphere gasped when his LOI arrived in Houston.

There was just one problem, Greenberry never told Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly or anyone in South Bend his faxed LOI had been sent to Houston. Kelly was as shocked as anyone at the news. Kelly may regret letting his emotions get the better of him with this commentary on Greenberry: "I used to have a saying about players like that, and that was I'd rather play against him for four games than with him for four years." Sounds an awful lot like message board trolls who scream sour grapes when star recruits sign elsewhere.

Landon Collins boisterous Mom
The 2012 cycle provided one of the most bizarre public announcements ever witnessed. Geismar (La.) Dutchtown safety Landon Collins, the No. 21-rated player in the Athlon Consensus 100, announced on national television for Alabama much to the chagrin of his mother, April Justin. Justin, moments after her son committed to the Tide, was not only visibly upset but openly cheered for LSU:

"I feel like LSU is a better place for him to be," Justin said at the time. "LSU Tigers, No. 1. Go Tigers.”

But Mama didn't go down without a fight as she has accused Nick Saban and Alabama of a recruiting violation, claiming that Collins' girlfriend at the time was given a job at the University.

The imaginary scholarship
As bizarre as the Collins’ girlfriend-mother feud is, nothing compares to Kevin Hart’s story. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive lineman at Fernely (Nev.) High wanted so badly to play college football he wrote his own fairytale ending complete with press conference. On Feb. 1, 2008, Hart held a press conference at his high school complete with hats lined up on a table in which he picked Cal over Oregon. “Coach Tedford and I talked a lot, and the fact that the head coach did most of the recruiting of me kind gave me that real personal experience,” Hart said at the announcement.

There was only one problem: Jeff Tedford had never spoken to, visited or contacted Hart. Neither had Oregon, Washington or Oklahoma State, his other finalists, for that matter. Eventually, Hart admitted the entire recruitment was fictitious and apologized to all parties involved.

View The Top Uncommitted Prospects Left on the Board

The announcement props
Commitment announcements tend to be more spectacle than substance. Rarely does a recruit offer any pertinent news or information other than his college of choice. Every now and then, however, if done with style, an announcement can be fun – or infuriating. Georgia’s Isaiah Crowell made fans coo when he pulled out a live Bulldog puppy in 2011 to signify his decision to play for Mark Richt in Athens. Andre Smith sent the Crimson Tiders into hysterics when he pulled out the houndstooth hat at his announcement for Alabama.

But Antonio Logan-El’s live announcement in 2006 was met with a slightly harsher response. The Forestville (Md.) High offensive lineman had been committed to Maryland for the better part of a year. While dressed in Maryland red in front of a Terps crowd at the ESPN Sportszone in Maryland — including head coach Ralph Friedgen’s wife — Logan-El first pulled out a Florida hat before tossing it to the ground. He then pulled out a Tennessee hat. That, too, was tossed aside before picking up the Terps black and red headgear. After a few nice words, Logan-El threw his Maryland hat to the ground and held up a picture of Joe Paterno and announced he would be heading to Penn State. The decision was met with screams of “traitor” and violence nearly resulted. Logan-El, much to the pleasure of Terps fans, washed out at Penn State after only one redshirt year.

At least he actually made a decision, however, as the worst recruiting press conference in history belongs to Greg Little. The peculiar wide receiver held a press conference in October of his senior year to announce what school he would be attending. Fans waited with anticipation while Little huddled with his family and coaches for a long period of time. He emerged from the mini-summit to announce that he had narrowed his list to Notre Dame and North Carolina. It’s the rare news conference where a recruit officially announced that there was nothing to announce.

The five-minute flip-flop
Flip-flops happen in recruiting all the time – especially, as National Signing Day draws near. The recruiting picture gets clearer for all parties involved, while schools get desperate to fill needs with late scholarship offers. The nation’s No. 2 player in 2011, however, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, made heads spin in record time last year. Kouandjio, whose older brother was/is a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide, announced on ESPN he would be attend Auburn. Yet, five minutes after the bright TV lights had gone out, the younger Kouandjio, recanted his pledge to Auburn. He never sent in his letter of intent to the Tigers and three days later it was revealed he had officially signed with Alabama via Twitter. Longtime commitments are snaked away at the last minute every season, but never has a kid committed on national television only to decide to sign with someone else five minutes later. The venom of the Yellow Hammer rivalry only added to the drama of the Kouandjio signing.

What Fred wanna do?
A kid referring to himself in third person and taking liberties with the English language is always radio gold. On Sirius Satellite Radio, five-star wide receiver recruit Fred Rouse he was asked: Where are you going to college? Rouse responded with “You know, a lot of people want me to go here or there. But I had to think, you know, 'what Fred wanna do?' And Fred want to go to Florida State.” Unfortunately, his career wasn’t nearly as entertaining on the football field as it was on the radio.

The slimy mentor
The most recent trend for elite recruits is to wait until after National Signing Day to make a decision. Terrelle Pryor, Orson Charles, Latwan Anderson, Vidal Hazelton, Seantrel Henderson, Kouandjio and 2011 top prospect Jadeveon Clowney all signed their LOIs well past signing day. But Wichita (Kan.) East running back Bryce Brown, and his handler/mentor/coach Brian Butler, set a new low for recruiting sludge.

Brown, whose older brother Arthur was enrolled at Miami, had been committed to the Hurricanes from the early stages. He did not sign on Signing Day and instead took extra visits to Tennessee and LSU after Signing Day. While Brown watched the calendar flip to March without a decision, Butler, who pleaded guilty to a felony charge for forgery in 1997, set up a website in order to charge $9.99 per month for recruiting updates on his protégé.

Threats from Butler about Brown potentially skipping college for the Canadian Football League only further exemplified how ridiculous the handler’s influence was over Brown. Meanwhile, Miami (and others) stopped recruiting the troubled tailback until halfway through March, when Brown got “a sign from God” to sign with Tennessee. Arthur left Miami for Kansas State (where he became a star for two seasons) shortly thereafter. Bryce lasted one year in Knoxville before transferring back to Kansas State as well. He played in two games in 2011, got three carries and then declared for the 2012 NFL Draft.

Who knows what National Signing Day 2013 will bring. Will Foster stay in the Yellowhammer State or go 2,000 miles to Seattle? Will Robert Nkemdiche sign with Ole Miss to be with his brother? Will Jalen Ramsey stay put with the Trojans or make a last second flip?

Love or hate the press conferences and high-profile visibility of high school students, National Signing Day has become appointment viewing for all college football fans and NSD 2013 should be just as exciting as all the rest.

See the complete Athlon Consensus 100

Recruiting Videos:

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

AC100 On Campus: Max Redfield

AC100 On Campus: Ethan Pocic

AC100 On Campus: Robbie Rhodes

AC100 On Campus: Jalin Marshall

AC100 On Campus: Jake Raulerson

AC100 On Campus: Cameron Burrows

AC100 On Campus: Dontre Wilson

AC100 On Campus: Taco Charlton

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part I

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part II

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part I

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part II

Teaser:
<p> National Signing Day's Most Bizarre Stories</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/10-best-modern-recruiting-class-college-football
Body:

The "modern" recruiting era is tied directly to the online recruiting websites. Rivals and Scout began the explosion around 2001 and ESPN and 247Sports have powerfully entered the market since. The rankings databases only go back 10 or 11 years, so it is difficult to evaluate historic recruiting classes. But since the turn of the millennium, fans and analysts alike have a tremendous amount of data to evaluate recruiting rankings, talent development and scouting evaluations.

Studying recruiting rankings can highlight coaching deficiencies as well as the overachievers. That said, the best recruiting classes of the modern era are more about salesmanship, brand equity, the NFL and big-time athletic department budgets.

Here are the best 10 modern recruiting classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide, 2008
Rank: 1st (Athlon Sports), 32 signees
Key Players: Mark Barron, Julio Jones, Terrence Cody, Marcel Dareus, Don’ta Hightower, Mark Ingram, Barrett Jones, Courtney Upshaw, Damion Square, Michael Williams, Robert Lester, Brad Smelley

Nowhere is the impact of recruiting rankings more apparent that in Tuscaloosa, Ala. On the verge of signing yet another No. 1 class, Nick Saban began his domination of the recruiting trail back in 2008 when he signed Athlon Sports’ No. 1 class. This group was a huge part of the 2009 national championship and obviously was featured in both the '11 and '12 title runs. This group includes five first-round picks and two second-rounders while Brad Smelley was a seventh-rounder. Barrett Jones, Robert Lester, Damion Square and Michael Williams could all be drafted as well. It is hard to argue that a group that won three BCS titles and features double-digit NFL draft picks isn’t the best modern collection of talent ever assembled.

2. USC Trojans, 2003
Rank: 3rd (Rivals), 28 signees
Key Players: Reggie Bush, Sam Baker, Sedrick Ellis, Lawrence Jackson, Ryan Kalil, Terrell Thomas, Steve Smith, LenDale White, Fili Moala, John David Booty, Eric Wright, Brandon Ting, Ryan Ting, Drean Rucker, Chauncey Washington

Much like the ’08 Alabama group, this team experienced three national championship runs. Only two ended in victory — it lost to Texas in 2005, but more on that in a second — but this class was the foundation of USC's Pac-10 dynasty. Reggie Bush won the Heisman Trophy and is one of four first-round picks from this class. Steve Smith, Terrell Thomas, Ryan Kalil and LenDale White were second-round picks while still others went later in the draft. USC dominated recruiting for nearly a decade and it led to seven conference championships from 2002-08.

3. Florida Gators, 2006
Rank: 2nd (Rivals), 27 signees
Key Players: Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Brandon Spikes, Maurice Hurt, Riley Cooper, Jermaine Cunningham, Lawrence Marsh, Brandon James, Marcus Gilbert, Terron Sanders, Dustin Doe, AJ Jones, Carl Johnson

At one point or another, 16 of the 27 recruits in this class went on to start a game for the Gators. But this class was led at the top by elite superstars Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes. Jermaine Cunningham and Spikes were second-rounders while Maurice Hurt and Riley Cooper went later in the draft. Tebow alone makes this class a gem for Florida and it led directly to two BCS national championships. The depth in the middle and at the bottom are nearly as impressive as the elite-level talent of the top names.

4. Alabama Crimson Tide, 2009
Rank: 3rd (Athlon Sports), 28 signees
Key Players: AJ McCarron, Trent Richardson, Dre Kirkpatrick, James Carpenter, Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker, Eddie Lacy, Quinton Dial, Nico Johnson, Ed Stinson, Anthony Steen, Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood, Tana Patrick

This group was a big part of three national championships at the Capstone and played a much bigger role in the 2012 title than the '08 haul. This class has already featured three first-round picks and could boast as many as three more come April (Fluker, Warmack, Lacy). AJ McCarron is putting together one of the greatest college careers in history and others like Dial, Johnson, Stinson and Norwood have been contributors for most of their careers at Alabama. An interesting thing to note about this class is the offensive line. It was the best OL in the nation last season and three-fifths of the starters signed in this class.

5. Texas Longhorns, 2002
Rank: 1st (Rivals), 28 signees
Key Players: Vince Young, Kasey Studdard, Rod Wright, Brian Robison, Aaron Ross, Chase Pittman, Justin Blalock, Aaron Harris, David Thomas, Selvin Young

This group was the core of the 2005 national championship run led by superstar quarterback and five-star recruit Vince Young. He was the gem of the nation’s No. 1 class that eventually featured numerous NFL Draft picks. Ross, Studdard, Wright, Robison, Pittman, Thomas and Blalock were all huge pieces to Mack Brown’s championship puzzle and most of them have gone on to excel in the NFL.

Related: Who has the most talented roster in the nation?

6. Ohio State Buckeyes, 2002
Rank: 5th (Rivals), 24 signees
Key Players: AJ Hawk, Santonio Holmes, Nick Mangold, Troy Smith, Maurice Clarett, Bobby Carpenter, Mike D’Andrea, Doug Datish, Quinn Pitcock, Nate Salley, Roy Hall

This class was a big part of the 2002 national championship run as just freshman, with Maurice Clarett playing the biggest role. This group features elite offensive firepower and Troy Smith, a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who led his team to the national title game in 2006. This group provided four first-round picks in the 2006 NFL Draft and included six other picks from the 2005-07 drafts as well. Three BCS title appearances and four Big Ten titles over a five-year span indicates that Jim Tressell’s ’02 haul was one the best in memory.

7. Oklahoma Sooners, 2006
Rank: 9th (Rivals), 28 signees
Key Players: Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy, Jermaine Gresham, Trent Williams, Demarco Murray, Jeremy Beal, Quinton Carter, Chris Brown, Dominique Franks, Mossis Madu, Tim Johnson, Brandon Caleb, Malcolm Williams, Chase Beeler

All four Sooners first-round picks from the 2010 NFL Draft signed with Bob Stoops in the 2006 class and all four NFL draft picks from Oklahoma in 2011 came from this class. Sam Bradford set all types of record, won the Heisman Trophy and led this team to the 2008 BCS National Championship game. Even a guy who ended up transferring (Beeler) went on to star at his second school (Stanford).

8. LSU Tigers, 2009
Rank: 1st (Athlon Sports), 24 signees
Key Players: Michael Brockers, Morris Claiborne, Kevin Minter, Rueben Randle, Chris Faulk, Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo, Chris Davenport, Bennio Logan, Michael Ford, Craig Loston, Josh Downs, Stavion Lowe, Lamin Barrow, Russell Shepard

This group was the foundation of the 13-0 regular season run to the title game in 2011. And had it finished the job against Alabama, it might be considered the better group. The potential of this class is astounding. It already claims three first-round picks in Brockers, Claiborne and Randle and as many as half-a-dozen players could be drafted this spring. Three-fourths of the 2012 defensive line signed in this group as well as star linebacker Kevin Minter. The star power is obvious but the supporting cast is impressive as well.

9. Oregon Ducks, 2008
Rank: 16th (Athlon Sports), 22 signees
Key Players: LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, Darron Thomas, Dion Jordan, Kiko Alonso, John Boyett, Nick Cody, Hamani Stevens, LeGarrette Blount, Josh Kaddu, DeWitt Stuckey, Jeremiah Masoli

There have only been two NFL picks from this class thus far but a host of players should hear their named called this spring (Jordan, Barner, Alonso) and Blount has proven to be a productive player even though he went undrafted. Darron Thomas was the most productive quarterback in school history over two years and led his team to the BCS National Championship game. Two starting offensive lineman helped pave the way for a trio of running backs any school would covet in one class (Barner, James, Blount). The defense is also well represented with steady leaders (Boyett) as well as athletic freaks of nature (Jordan, Alonso). This class went 40-5 in Pac-12 play over a five-year period of time from 2008-12.

10. LSU Tigers, 2004
Rank: 2nd (Rivals), 26 signees
Key Players: Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson, Jacob Hester, Early Doucet, Chevis Jackson, Herman Johnson, Quinn Johnson, Craig Steltz, Claude Wroten, Tremaine Johnson, Curtis Taylor, Brett Helms, Lavelle Hawkins, Mit Cole

The 2004 class set the foundation for the run at the 2007 BCS national championship. Dorsey and Hester were the primary leaders on both sides of the ball and eventually hoisted the crystal football. Five players were selected in the 2008 NFL Draft and four more were taken in the '09 draft. Three star defensive lineman, including two first-round picks in Dorsey and Tyson Jackson led this defense when it dominated Ohio State in the title game. Hawkins was a big time player but did it for Cal after transferring.

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Preview and Storylines to Watch

The Best of the Rest:

Florida Gators, 2007
Rank: 1st (Rivals), 27 signees
Key Players: Ahmad Black, Carlos Dunlap, Joe Haden, Chas Henry, Aaron Hernandez, Cam Newton, Chris Rainey, Maurkice Pouncey, Michael Pouncey, Major Wright, John Brantley

Georgia Bulldogs, 2006
Rank: 4th (Rivals), 28 signees
Key Players: Asher Allen, Geno Atkins, Shaun Chapas, Akeem Dent, Kris Durham, Akeem Hebron, Reshad Jones, Knowshon Moreno, Matthew Stafford, Kiante Tripp, Clifton Geathers, Prince Miller

Ohio State Buckeyes, 2008
Rank: 2nd (Athlon Sports), 20 signees
Key Players: Mike Adams, Terrelle Pryor, Travis Howard, DeVier Posey, Michael Brewster, Nathan Williams, Garrett Goebel, Etienne Sabino, JB Shurgarts, Andrew Sweat

LSU Tigers, 2003
Rank: 1st (Rivals), 28 signees
Key Players: LaRon Landry, Will Arnold, Dwayne Bowe, Craig Davis, Matt Flynn, Alley Broussard,, Anthony Hill, JaMarcus Russell, Jonathon Zenon, Justin Vincent

Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 2008
Rank: 4th (Athlon Sports), 23 signees
Key Players: Kyle Rudolph, Michael Floyd, Braxton Cave, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Jamoris Slaughter, Mike Golic, Robert Blanton, Darius Fleming, John Goodman, Jonas Gray, Trevor Robinson, Steven Filer, Sean Cwynar, Dayne Crist, Ethan Johnson

Texas Longhorns, 2005
Rank: 20th (Rivals), 15 signees
Key Players: Colt McCoy, Roddrick Muckelroy, Henry Melton, Jermichael Finley, Quan Cosby, Jamaal Charles, Chris Brown, Aaron Lewis, Roy Miller

USC Trojans, 2005
Rank: 1st (Rivals), 19 signees
Key Players: Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga, Mark Sanchez, Kevin Ellison, Charles Brown, Patrick Turner, Kyle Moore, Kaluka Maiava, Will Harris, Cary Harris

Conference Recruiting breakdowns: ACC | Big East | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

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

View the complete 2013 Athlon Consensus 100

Recruiting Videos:

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

AC100 On Campus: Max Redfield

AC100 On Campus: Ethan Pocic

AC100 On Campus: Robbie Rhodes

AC100 On Campus: Jalin Marshall

AC100 On Campus: Jake Raulerson

AC100 On Campus: Cameron Burrows

AC100 On Campus: Dontre Wilson

AC100 On Campus: Taco Charlton

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part I

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part II

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part I

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part II

Teaser:
<p> The 10 Best Modern Recruiting Class in College Football</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 06:10
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-power-rankings-indiana-returns-top-spot
Body:

Another week, another No. 1 in the Athlon Sports college basketball power rankings.

For the third week in a row, we have a new team in the top spot following Duke two weeks ago, then Michigan. We return to an old friend at No. 1 in Indiana, who defeated the Wolverines 81-73 on Saturday.

Illustrating how closely matched the two Big Ten giants seem to be, Michigan dropped just one spot to No. 2 this week. In the marquee game of the week, the Wolverines fell behind by a wide margin early in Bloomington, but battled back to tie the Hoosiers in the second half before Michigan’s eventual loss.

Indiana may have been the No. 1 team regardless of other movement around the country, but Kansas’ stunning home loss to Oklahoma State made the decision an easy one.

Meanwhile, the Sunshine State is enjoying unparalleled success with both Florida and Miami in our top five this week. The Gators keep steamrolling through the SEC with their 14-point win over Ole Miss qualifying as a squeaker for Billy Donovan these days.

But the bigger story is in Miami, where Jim Larranaga continues to prove his credentials as a miracle worker. The Hurricanes used a late 8-2 run and a Reggie Johnson tip-in against NC State to remain undefeated in the ACC and two games ahead of Duke for the conference lead.

Related: Key stats from Jan. 28-Feb. 3

COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS: FEB. 5

1. Indiana (20-2, 8-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 3
Last week’s results: Defeated Purdue 97-60, defeated Michigan 81-73
This week: at Illinois, at Ohio State
Buzz: Indiana’s starters hit 23-of-38 from field vs. Michigan.

2. Michigan (20-2, 7-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 1
Last week’s results: Defeated Northwestern 68-46, lost to Indiana 81-73
This week: Ohio State, at Wisconsin
Buzz: Trey Burke needed 24 shots to score 25 points vs Indiana.

3. Florida (18-2, 8-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 6
Last week’s results: Defeated South Carolina 75-36, defeated Ole Miss 78-64
This week: at Arkansas, Mississippi State
Buzz: The Gators are shooting 51.4 percent from the floor in SEC games.

4. Kansas (19-2, 7-1 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 2
Last week’s results: Lost to Oklahoma State 85-80
This week: at TCU, at Oklahoma
Buzz: Oklahoma State ended Jayhawks’ 33-game home winning streak.

5. Miami (17-3, 8-0 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 10
Last week’s results: Defeated Virginia Tech 73-64, defeated NC State 79-78
This week: Boston College, North Carolina
Buzz: First-place Hurricanes are 5-0 on the road in the ACC.

6. Duke (19-2, 6-2 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Defeated Wake Forest 75-70, defeated Florida State 79-60
This week: NC State, at Boston College
Buzz: The Blue Devils struggling from line in ACC games (61.9 percent).

7. Syracuse (19-3, 7-2 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 4
Last week’s results: Lost to Pittsburgh 65-55, defeated Notre Dame 63-47
This week: St. John's
Buzz: Orange only had three points from bench in loss to Pitt and seven in win over Notre Dame.

8. Gonzaga (21-2, 8-0 West Coast Conference)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Defeated Loyola Marymount 88-43, defeated San Diego 65-63
This week: Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount
Buzz: Zags play five of final eight games at home.

9. Arizona (19-2, 7-2 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 8
Last week’s results: Defeated Washington 57-53, defeated Washington State 79-65
This week: Stanford, Cal
Buzz: Wildcats back in race after sweep of Washington schools on the road.

10. Louisville (18-4, 6-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Defeated Marquette 70-51
This week: at Rutgers, at Notre Dame
Buzz: Despite recent struggles, Cardinals only one game back in the loss column in Big East.

11. Michigan State (14-3, 7-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 12
Last week’s results: Defeated Illinois 80-75
This week: Minnesota, at Purdue
Buzz: Michigan State has three players averaging more than six boards.

12. Ohio State (17-4, 7-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 13
Last week’s results: Defeated Wisconsin 58-49, defeated Nebraska 63-56
This week: at Michigan, Indiana
Buzz: The Buckeyes are hanging around in Big Ten title chase. Will they still be after this week?

13. Kansas State (17-4, 6-2 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 18
Last week’s results: Defeated Texas 83-57, defeated Oklahoma 52-50
This week: at Texas Tech, Iowa State
Buzz: The Wildcats’ padded NCAA Tournament resume with win at Oklahoma.

14. New Mexico (19-3, 6-1 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 20
Last week’s results: Defeated Wyoming 63-59, defeated Nevada 75-62
This week: Air Force, at UNLV
Buzz: The Lobos are emerging as the team to beat in deep MWC.

15. Cincinnati (18-4, 6-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 21
Last week’s results: Defeated Rutgers 62-54, Seton Hall 65-59
This week: at Providence, Pittsburgh
Buzz: The Bearcats' four losses have come by a total of 10 points.

16. Butler (18-4, 5-2 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 11
Last week’s results: Lost to Saint Louis 75-58, defeated Rhode Island 75-68
This week: St. Bonaventure, at George Washington
Buzz: The Road in the A-10 has not been kind to Butler with losses to La Salle and Saint Louis.

17. Minnesota (17-5, 5-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 19
Last week’s results: Defeated Nebraska 84-65, defeated Iowa 62-59
This week: at Michigan State, Illinois
Buzz: Hollins and Hollins pulled Gophers out of a four-game losing streak.

18. Pittsburgh (19-5, 7-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Syracuse 65-55, defeated Seton Hall 56-46
This week: at Cincinnati
Buzz: Pitt has won seven of eight, with only loss by 3 at Louisville.

19. Georgetown (16-4, 6-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Seton Hall 74-52, defeated St. John's 68-56
This week: at Rutgers
Buzz: Hoyas' opponents are shooting only 41.2 percent from two.

20. Marquette (15-5, 6-2 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 22
Last week’s results: Lost to Louisville 70-51
This week: at Wyoming, Nevada
Buzz: Eagles have already played three overtime games in Big East.

21. Oregon (18-4, 7-2 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 14
Last week’s results: Lost to Stanford 76-52, lost to Cal 58-54
This week: Colorado, Utah
Buzz: Ducks fall down to Earth with Bay Area-sweep

22. Oklahoma State (15-5, 5-3 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Iowa State 78-76, defeated Kansas 85-80
This week: Baylor, at Texas
Buzz: Cowboys were 0-3 on the road in the Big 12 before rare win in Lawrence.

23. Wisconsin (15-7, 6-3 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 23
Last week’s results: Lost to Ohio State 58-49, defeated Illinois 74-68
This week: Iowa, Michigan
Buzz: Wisconsin shot 42 free throws in win at Illinois after shooting none in a loss at Ohio State.

24. Creighton (20-3, 9-2 Missouri Valley)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Missouri State 91-77, defeated Bradley 75-58
This week: at Indiana State, Illinois State
Buzz: Bluejays back on track after two-game slide.

25. Colorado State (18-4, 5-2 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Boise State 77-57, defeated Wyoming 65-46
This week: at Nevada
Buzz: The Rams have won their last three MWC games comfortably in time for stretch against San Diego State, Air Force, UNLV and New Mexico next week.

Out: No. 15 NC State, No. 16 Wichita State, No. 17 Ole Miss, No. 24 Missouri, No. 25 San Diego State

Teaser:
<p> The Hoosiers back at No. 1 after Michigan win, but Miami is in rare territory in the top five.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/national-signing-day-2013-preview-and-storylines-watch
Body:

National Signing Day 2013 is here!

It’s college football’s version of Christmas morning when millions of dollars, thousands of man-hours traveling and countless phone calls come to fruition in the form of a single sheet of faxed paper. Nowhere in sports are grown adults held captive by the musings of teenagers like the first Wednesday in February.

Bizarre flip-flops, surprise press conferences, unique props and wacky storylines all make NSD one of the more intriguing days in all of sports. And 2013 should have its fair share of teams, players, coaches and recruits to watch:

All eyes on Oxford, Miss.
The Ole Miss Rebels are the top college football recruiting storyline for the 2013 cycle. Hugh Freeze is coaching a team that has won four SEC games over the last three years but is hotter than any team in the nation on the recruiting trail. With the additions of the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver, Laquon Treadwell, and Athlon Consensus 100 defensive lineman Elijah Daniel joining the fold in recent weeks and rumors swirling that four-star lineman Austin Golson will switch from Florida State to Ole Miss, Freeze is pushing for a top 10 class nationally. Needless to say, NSD ’13 could be historic for Ole Miss football.

Robert Nkemdiche is the nation’s No. 1 player and his older brother, Denzel, plays in Oxford. Ever since decommitting from Clemson, the Rebels have long been the favorite for the elite defensive end. LSU made a strong push, but it would be an upset if Nkemdiche signed anywhere but with Ole Miss. He is a game-changer who will make an immediate impact, however, the nation’s No. 1 prospect isn’t the only highly-coveted name on Freeze’s recruiting board.

Ole Miss has put the full-court press on the nation’s No. 1 offensive lineman, Laremy Tunsil (AC100 No. 4), fast-rising star defensive end and longtime Mississippi State commitment Chris Jones (No. 18) and elite defensive backs Mackensie Alexander (No. 30) and Antonio Conner (No. 32). If the Rebs can land just one of these names in addition to Nkemdiche, National Signing Day 2013 would be considered a massive success and would make Freeze the toast of Oxford.

But Nick Saban still owns college football
The Crimson Tide has three national championships in four years and is the No. 1 name brand on the recruiting trail. Saban has landed five top-five classes in a row after finishing No. 1 in 2012 and '08, No. 3 in '11 and '09 and No. 5 in '10. Entering Wednesday, 247Sports has the Tide at No. 1 in the team rankings, ESPN lists Alabama at No. 2, Rivals has the BCS champs at No. 3. Scout is the lone outlier with “just” a ninth-place ranking nationally.

What is scary, however, is how Saban and Alabama could finish on Wednesday. Rumors are that the Tide have already flipped long-time Texas Longhorns commitment A’Shawn Robinson (No. 34) and the nation's No. 1 linebacker, Reuben Foster (No. 7), announced his intentions to join the Tide on Monday evening. The star AC100 duo could be just the tip of the what might be a devastating iceberg.

Six of the top ten players in the nation are still uncommitted and Alabama is a finalist for five of them. There are 15 players left uncommitted in the AC100 and 10 of them list the Crimson Tide as a finalist. Other national recruits like Kylie Fitts, Jordan Cunningham and Keith Bryant have Bama figured heavily into the mix as well. Certainly, there is no chance that Saban lands all or even a majority of these names. However, if four or five sign with Alabama, the Crimson Tide is all but assured their third recruiting national championship in six seasons. And while Ole Miss might be a bigger story, Alabama would still have the best players.

What happens out West?
Lane Kiffin has watched his consensus No. 1 overall recruiting class take a major step back of late. Losing commitments left and right has hurt the Trojans and Kiffin needs to stop the bleeding immediately. Jalen Ramsey (No. 15) is rumored to be looking around and could be off to the state of Florida while former commitments Eddie Vanderdoes (No. 6) and Kylie Fitts appear to be headed to crosstown rival UCLA. This class isn’t very big in the first place due to sanctions, but still has some room to grow. Four-star prospects Quinton Powell, Nico Flash and Torrodney Prevot might be the Trojans' only hope at a top-ten class this year. With Tosh Lupoi excelling on the trail in Washington, Jim Mora constructing a top-ten class of his own in L.A. and new coaching staffs up and down the west coast gaining steam, the pressure is on the Men of Troy to finish well. This program is accustomed to winning the first Wednesday in February virtually every season so a slow NSD ’13 would only increase the temperature beneath Kiffin’s hind-quarters.

Conference Recruiting breakdowns: ACC | Big East | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Ohio State vs. Michigan
Urban Meyer jumped head-first into Big Ten recruiting last year and made no friends among his coaching brethren. He swiped commitments from Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Penn State and Michigan State en route to the No. 4 class in the nation. Michigan and Brady Hoke were No. 6 last season and many believe that a new Ten-Year War has begun not only on the field but on the recruiting trail.

Scout has Michigan and Ohio State ranked No. 1 and 2 nationally in the team rankings. 247Sports and ESPN have both teams in the top five nationally while Rivals has them both in the top six. These two programs don’t like each other, will do anything to land elite players and should distance themselves from the rest of the conference in terms of talent.

Both classes are fairly stable on the eve of National Signing Day with just a few names left for either team. Vonn Bell (No. 26) is the top prize for the Buckeyes while Ezekiel Elliott, Cornelius Elder, James Clark and Dontre Wilson (No. 71) could still be in the mix as well. Michigan is waiting on word from Henry Poggi and Cameron Hunt. While it is unlikely that either wins the recruiting national championship, both are safely in the top five nationally and either could win the Big Ten recruiting championship on Wednesday.

Channel your inner Bobby Bowden
The Hall of Fame icon in Tallahassee made a living dominating National Signing Day by closing strong each and every season. Now, it’s Jimbo Fisher’s turn. Two of the top ten players in the nation, Tunsil and Matthew Thomas (No. 8), have the Seminoles listed as a finalist while three other AC100 talents, Mackensie Alexander, Alex Collins (No. 41) and Stacy Coley (No. 64) are possibilities as well. Collins is a longshot and Tunsil appears to be down to Alabama, Georgia and Ole Miss, but landing Thomas, Coley and/or Alexander is well within the realm of possibility.

If Fisher can somehow lure five-star USC commit Jalen Ramsey to Tallahassee and finish strong with names like Denver Kirkland, E.J. Levenberry, Jermaine Grace or Yannick Ngakoue, this class has a chance to work its way up the rankings and into the top ten nationally.

New coaching staffs offer plenty to watch
Major college football powerhouses at Oregon, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Tennessee and Auburn are all installing new coaching staffs and each has to capitalize on the renewed energy that comes with a coaching change. Bret Bielema landed star tailback Alex Collins on Monday night, so what can he do for an encore on Wednesday? Will Gus Malzahn convince Mackensie Alexander Auburn is the right place for him? Can Mark Helfrich keep the Robinson twins (Tyrell, Tyree) in Eugene while appealing to Dontre Wilson? Will Butch Jones convince Vonn Bell that Knoxville is the right place for him? Even Mark Stoops at Kentucky has seen a small recruiting surge of late as his first NSD approaches. All of these staffs and many other new coaches have their first tangible chance to prove they belong as the 2013 cycle comes to a close.

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

Who needs a strong finish?
Depending on which recruiting service you prefer, Tennessee, Louisville, Stanford and Miami are four programs that stand out as needing to finish strong to salvage the year. All four are ranked outside of the top 20 by every service and many have these teams ranked outside of the top 50 nationally. Each program has plenty of talent left on the board but small miracles will have to be done to get the Cardinal or Cardinals into the top 50. Should the Vols land Vonn Bell, many will be pleased with Butch Jones’ finish to the ’13 cycle. It is the Hurricanes, however, that have most upside of the bunch. Matthew Thomas, Stacy Coley, Alex Collins, Denver Kirkland, Jordan Cunningham and Jermaince Grace all still have Miami very much in the mix and all could land in South Beach. Al Golden has his work cut out for him, but the payoff could be one of the best NSD’s in the nation. Look for at least two or three of above names to sign with The U.

Johnny Heisman’s ripple effect
Ricky Seals-Jean (No. 25), Justin Manning (No. 75) and Sebastian LaRue are all elite prospects who have recently cast their lot with the Texas A&M Aggies. Few programs have as much going for them right now as Kevin Sumlin’s squad. A new home in the SEC, a Heisman Trophy-winning redshirt freshman quarterback and a highly effective, electric offensive scheme that is irresistible to elite prospects have all made TAMU one of the hottest brand names on the trail. This class is one of the biggest in the nation (32 verbals) and doesn’t have a ton of space to grow, but it will be fun to watch what type of NSD drama the Aggies deal with on Wednesday. Kenny Hill and Torrodney Prevot are just two names to keep an eye on in College Station.

View the complete 2013 Athlon Consensus 100

Recruiting Videos:

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

AC100 On Campus: Max Redfield

AC100 On Campus: Ethan Pocic

AC100 On Campus: Robbie Rhodes

AC100 On Campus: Jalin Marshall

AC100 On Campus: Jake Raulerson

AC100 On Campus: Cameron Burrows

AC100 On Campus: Dontre Wilson

AC100 On Campus: Taco Charlton

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part I

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part II

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part I

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part II

Teaser:
<p> National Signing Day 2013 Preview and Storylines to Watch</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 06:11
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-2013-recruiting-all-name-team
Body:

The first Wednesday in February is essentially Christmas for every college football head coach. After months of hard work on the recruiting trail, coaches will hit the offices bright and early on Wednesday for National Signing Day to welcome a new class full of freshmen and maybe a few junior college transfers to chase a national championship. With a new crop of players joining the program on National Signing Day, each coach now has a good idea about how their roster looks for the upcoming season and beyond. While National Signing Day is an important moment in building a national title contender, it also signifies the official start of next year’s recruiting class.

With most college football teams signing over 20 prospects on Wednesday, there’s over 2,000 players coming to the FBS ranks next season. And it’s no surprise there are some rather entertaining names among the new group of college players. Athlon combed through the recruits for the 2013 signing class by using the databases at Rivals, Scout and ESPN and rounded up the best (and most interesting) names joining an FBS roster next season.

2013 College Football Recruiting All-Name Team

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks
 

Lars Blix, Wahkiakum (Cathlamet, Washington)

Boeing Brown, Brookfield (Brookfield Connecticut)

Quade Coward, Cleburne (Cleburne, Texas)

Bucky Hodges, Salem (Virginia Beach, Virginia) – Virginia Tech

Brogan Roback, St. John’s (Toledo, Ohio) – Eastern Michigan

E.J. Speed, North Crowley (Fort Worth, Texas)

Quinterris Toppings, Blount (Eight Mile, Alabama)

Skyler Windmiller, Mill Valley (Shawnee, Kansas)


Running Backs
 

Shermand Badie, John Curtis (New Orleans, Louisiana) – Tulane

Kamari Cotton-Moya, Ridgeview (Bakersfield, California) – Iowa State

Miguel Hermosillo, Ottawa Township (Ottawa, Illinois) - Illinois

Jabo Lee, Dillon (Dillon, South Carolina) – East Carolina

Manusamoa Luuga, Polytechnic (Long Beach, California)

RJihaad Pretlow, Blair Academy (Blairstown, New Jersey) – Temple

L.A. Ramsby, Colerain (Cincinnati, Ohio)

Superiorr Reid, Mount San Jacinto C.C. (San Jacinto, California)

Dishan Romine, DuPont Manual (Louisville, Kentucky)

Diocemy Saint Juste, Santaluces (Lantana, Florida) - Hawaii

Dreamius Smith, Butler County C.C. (El Dorado, Kansas) – West Virginia

Altee Tenpenny, North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Arkansas) - Alabama


Wide Receivers


Quanties Armand, West Jefferson (Harvey, Louisiana)

Beau Artist, Logan (Logan, Utah)

Dazz Bush, Austin (Decatur, Alabama)

River Cracraft, Santa Margarita Catholic (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) – Washington State

Andre Cumberbatch, Oak Harbor (Oak Harbor, Washington)

Christian Cumberlander, Jireh Prep (Matthews, North Carolina)

Corn Elder, Ensworth (Nashville, Tennessee)

Brisly Estime, Atlantic (Delray Beach, Florida)

Dameon Gamblin, Mesquite (Mesquite, Texas)

Pharoah McKever, South Columbus (Tabor City, North Carolina) – NC State

Jazz Peavy, Kenosha Tremper (Kenosha, Wisconsin) - Wisconsin

James Quick, Trinity (Louisville, Kentucky) – Louisville

Ladarious Spearman, West Brook Senior High (Beaumont, Texas)



Tight Ends
 

Hunter Bull, Southhaven (Southhaven, Mississippi)

Jake Butt, Pickerington North (Pickerington, Ohio) – Michigan

Standish Dobard, Edna Karr (New Orleans, Louisiana) – Miami

Durham Smythe, Belton (Belton, Texas) – Notre Dame


Offensive Linemen
 

Nicholas Bonaparte, Dunbar (Baltimore, Maryland) – Coastal Carolina)

Eric Bonenberger, Pottsgrove (Pottstown, Pennsylvania)

Dane Crane, Santa Margarita Catholic (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) - Washington

Emerald Faletuipapai, Junipero Serra (Gardena, California) – Houston

Gardner Fish, Pelham (Pelham, Alabama)

Grant Hill, Huntsville (Huntsville, Alabama) – Alabama

Dallas Hinkhouse, Iowa Western C.C. (Council Bluffs, Iowa) - Illinois

Chongo Kondolo, Fresno City C.C. (Fresno, California) - Nebraska

Grant Lingafelter, Chagrin Falls (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) – West Virginia

Karl Malone, Cedar Creek (Ruston, Louisiana) – LSU

Chuddy Nwachukwu, Dighton Rehboth Regional (North Dighton, Massachusetts)

Sunny Odogwu, Hargrave Military Academy (Chatham, Virginia) - Miami

JonRyheem Peoples, Rigby (Rigby, Idaho) – BYU

Bailey Pepper, Madison (Madison Central)

Buster Posey, Gadsden City (Gadsden, Alabama)

Kenneth Santa Marina, McDonogh 35 (New Orleans, Louisiana) – Tulane

Dan Skipper, Ralston Valley (Arvada, Colorado) - Arkansas

Stone Underwood, Copiah-Lincoln C.C. (Wesson, Mississippi) – West Virginia

Wolfgang Zacheri, Broughton (Raleigh, North Carolina) – UNC Charlotte

 

DEFENSE

Linemen
 

Taco Charlton, Central (Pickerington, Ohio) – Michigan

Rashaad Coward, Sheepshead Bay (Brooklyn, New York) – Old Dominion

Bear Cummings, East Mississippi C.C. (Scooba, Mississippi) – Florida

Carmine Goldsack, Bergen Catholic (Oradell, New Jersey)

Dee Liner, Muscle Shoals (Muscle Shoals, Alabama)

Finesse Middleton, Gadsden City (Gadsden, Alabama) - Louisville

Naim Mustafaa, Alpharetta (Alpharetta, Georgia) – Oklahoma State

Roc-m Nesbitt, Carver (Atlanta, Georgia)

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Alief Taylor (Houston, Texas) - Oklahoma

Kingsley Opara, Mandarin (Jacksonville, Florida) - Maryland

Jock Petree, West Orange (Winter Garden, Florida)

Stone Sander, Placer (Auburn, California)

Buddy Shutlock, Dallas SHS (Dallas, PA)

Junius Smalls, West Jefferson (Harvey, Louisiana)

Wyatt Teller, Liberty (Bealeton, Virginia) – Virginia Tech

Wa’Keem Whipper, Atlantic (Port Orange, Florida)

 

Linebackers
 

Buddy Brown, Williamstown (Williamstown, New Jersey) – Temple

Dance Estes, Bay (Panama City, Florida)

Holland Fisher, Manchester (Midlothian, Virginia) – Virginia Tech

Pierre Gee-Tucker, Belleville (Belleville, Illinois)

Courtney Love, Cardinal Mooney (Youngstown, Ohio) – Nebraska

Ebenezer Ogundeko, Thomas Jefferson (Brooklyn, New York) – Clemson

Money Peterson, Wilmer-Hutchins (Dallas, Texas)

Johnny Ragin III, Wilsonville (Wilsonville, Oregon) - California

Matt Smallbone, St. Joseph’s (South Bend, Indiana) – Miami (Ohio)
 

Secondary


Eli Apple, Eastern (Voorhees, New Jersey) – Ohio State

Will Barrow, Skyline (Dallas, Texas) – Tulsa

Stormy Butler, College of the Sequoias (Visalia, California)

Money Hunter, Prosper (Prosper, Texas)

William Likely, Glades Central (Belle Glade, Florida) – Maryland

Montrel Meander, Palo Duro (Amarillo, Texas) - Texas

Atem Ntantang, Woodgrove (Purcellville, Virginia) – Boston College

Montavious Smoke, Stanhope Elmore (Millbrook, Alabama)

Weston Steelhammer, Calvary Academy (Shreveport, Louisiana)

Mason Stone, Mountlake Terrace (Mountlake-Terrace, Washington)

Mike Tyson, Hargrave Military Academy (Chatham, Virginia) – Cincinnati

Priest Willis, Marcos De Niza (Tempe, Arizona) – UCLA

Chocolate Wilson, Myrtle Beach (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina) – Marshall

Diquon Woodhouse, Altus (Altus, Oklahoma) – Navy 


Related Recruiting Content

College Football's Top 100 Recruits for 2013
Ranking College Football's Most Talented Rosters

10 Biggest 5-Star Busts Since 2008

Teaser:
<p> College Football's 2013 Recruiting All-Name Team</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 06:09
Path: /nfl/very-early-2013-nfl-power-ranking-predictions
Body:

Baltimore won the Super Bowl, but as it relates to Athlon Sports’ early ranking of NFL teams for next season, not ALL of the spoils go to the victor. San Francisco, who came up short against the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday night in New Orleans, comes in at No. 1, while the newly crowned world champions slot in at No. 4.

Note: 2012 Record includes playoffs, if applicable.

1. San Francisco 49ers (13-5-1)
San Francisco’s second-half rally comes up short against Baltimore, but the 49ers are well positioned to make another title run this fall.
 

2. Denver Broncos (13-4)
Even though Denver’s roster as a whole is relatively young, Peyton Manning (37 in March) is not, so the Broncos’ window may be closing sooner rather than later.
 

3. Green Bay Packers (12-6)
Greg Jennings may have played his last game in a Packers’ uniform, but the defense will get linebacker Desmond Bishop (hamstring) back. A better running game certainly wouldn’t hurt either.
 

4. Baltimore Ravens (14-6)
Baltimore’s roster will look quite different for the Ravens’ championship defense this fall. Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco will cash in handsomely, but his new contract will only add to team’s cap woes.

Related: Early Super Bowl XLVIII Contenders

5. Houston Texans (13-5)
Houston stumbled at the finish, but this team still has a bright future and the Texans' defense will get a big boost from the healthy return of linebacker Brian Cushing (ACL).
 

6. Atlanta Falcons (14-4)
Atlanta finally got that long-sought first playoff win for Mike Smith, Matt Ryan and company. First order of business this offseason is convincing Tony Gonzalez to come back for another run.
 

7. Seattle Seahawks (12-6)
Seattle and San Francisco going head-to-head in the NFC West should be a lot of fun to watch in the coming seasons.
 

8. New England Patriots (13-5)
Free agent Wes Welker is just one of several key Patriots who could be in a different uniform next season. Is this the end of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s run in the AFC?
 

9. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
Pittsburgh would like nothing more than to knock defending Super Bowl champion Ravens from their perch atop the AFC North. Steelers will need to do some savvy cap maneuvering and draft picks to increase their chances of doing so, however.
 

10. New York Giants (9-7)
Focus will be on keeping enough pieces in the fold to make another run in the fall. Several key free agents and contract situations will dominate front office’s attention this offseason.
 

11. Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)
Coming off of back-to-back playoff appearances, Cincinnati is out to prove it is ready to challenge Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the AFC North. Bengals have lots of cap space (reported $55 million) and an extra second-round pick in April to improve the roster and address areas of need.
 

12. Washington Redskins (10-7)
Washington’s 2013 season hinges on the healthy return of Robert Griffin III and when he gets back on the field. Next area of concern has to be improving NFL’s 28th-ranked defense.
 

13. Chicago Bears (10-6)
First-year NFL head coach Marc Trestman’s goal is to keep Chicago in playoff contention. The Bears’ offseason priorities are to fix the offensive line, help Jay Cutler take that next step and keep league’s No. 5 defense intact (Brian Urlacher?) and on the same page with new coordinator Mel Tucker.

Related: Grading the NFL’s Head Coach Hires for 2013

14. New Orleans Saints (7-9)
New Orleans is happy to finally put BountyGate behind it. Reinstated and re-signed head coach Sean Payton ready to lead Saints back to Super Bowl contention.
 

15. Indianapolis Colts (11-6)
Indianapolis is hoping to build on this past season’s remarkable turnaround and has the plenty of cap space ($46 million) to help improve roster. Andrew Luck loses Bruce Arians, but gets to replace him with Pep Hamilton, his offensive coordinator his senior year at Stanford.
 

16. Minnesota Vikings (10-7)
Minnesota basking in Adrian Peterson’s MVP season, playoff berth, but the jury is still out on Christian Ponder at quarterback and a decision has to be made about Percy Harvin’s future with the Vikings
 

17. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
Jason Garrett’s seat is only getting hotter in Dallas, as he brings Monte Kiffin back to the NFL to reinvent the Cowboys’ defense. Kiffin’s “Tampa 2” scheme probably means new personnel, but team’s cap situation ($18 million over) will hinder roster changes.
 

18. San Diego Chargers (7-9)
Mike McCoy may be a first-year head coach, but he’s already made wise decisions in retaining defensive coordinator John Pagano and bringing in Ken Whisenhunt to run the offense. If McCoy can do for Philip Rivers what he did for Peyton Manning, Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow in Denver, watch out for these Chargers.
 

19. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1)
Jeff Fisher changes his mind about hiring Rob Ryan to run the defense. Besides finding a defensive coordinator, the team also must decide on whether free agent wide receiver Danny Amendola will be back in a Rams uniform or not.
 

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)
Tampa Bay was quite competitive in first season under Greg Schiano. Can Doug Martin and Lavonte David avoid a sophomore slump and will Josh Johnson show that he’s the long-term answer at quarterback are a few key things to watch next season.
 

21. Carolina Panthers (7-9)
Carolina finished the season with four straight wins, but lost offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski to Cleveland. Cam Newton’s continued development with new OC David Shula, sorting out a crowded backfield and getting under the salary cap headline the Panthers’ offseason to do list.
 

22. Miami Dolphins (7-9)
Miami needs to give Ryan Tannehill a bona fide wide receiver and the Dolphins have enough cap room ($35.8 million) to go shopping in fairly deep free agent class. Reggie Bush, Brian Hartline, Jake Long and Randy Starks are key free agents that either need to re-signed or replaced.
 

23. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)
All eyes will be on Chip Kelly to see if he can make the jump from Oregon to the NFL, as well as how his up-tempo, high-octane offense fares in the pros. Michael Vick may have played his last game in an Eagles uniform, but Kelly has other weapons to work with and the defense was not the team’s biggest problem this past season.
 

24. Detroit Lions (4-12)
Detroit was unable to build off of its 2011 postseason appearance, as the Lions tumbled into the NFC North basement. This offseason is critical not only for the Lions, but also head coach Jim Schwartz, who could be headed to unemployment if he doesn’t turn things around in the fall.
 

25. Cleveland Browns (5-11)
Ohio native Rob Chudzinksi lands dream job in taking over hometown team. The first-year head coach has some appealing pieces, including a young defense, in place; but he has several question marks (Brandon Weeden? wide receiver depth?) too.
 

26. Buffalo Bills (6-10)
Doug Marrone jumps from Syracuse to Buffalo, as he will try and end the Bills’ 13-season playoff drought, the longest active one in the NFL.
 

27. New York Jets (6-10)
It’s put up or shut up time for Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez as Tim Tebow won’t be around next season to serve as a “distraction” or take the fall should things go wrong.
 

28. Tennessee Titans (6-10)
Mike Munchak has already made several coaching changes (Gregg Williams next?) in an attempt to start turning things around. Coaching changes aside, the Titans’ 2013 season, and most likely Munchak’s job, hinges on the development of quarterback Jake Locker and marked improvement on defense.
 

29. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
Arizona replaced Ken Whisenhunt with Bruce Arians, this past season’s NFL Coach of the Year recipient. Unfortunately for Arians, he wasn’t able to bring Andrew Luck, or Indianapolis’ offensive line for that matter, with him. It doesn’t help Arians that he wasn’t able to keep Ray Horton on board as defensive coordinator either.
 

30. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
Kansas City got its man when the Chiefs hired Andy Reid following his dismissal in Philadelphia. Now Reid will set to work on remaking the roster to his liking, and he has the No. 1 overall pick in April to help him do that.
 

31. Oakland Raiders (4-12)
Not much went right for head coach Dennis Allen in his first season in Oakland. Given that the Raiders are already over the cap, any improvement will have to be fueled by its young impact players and this April’s draft, minus the second-round pick they traded to Cincinnati in the Carson Palmer deal from 2011.
 

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)
First-year coach Gus Bradley and general manager David Caldwell face league’s toughest task in trying to turnaround the Jacksonville franchise, both on the field and off.

Teaser:
<p> Very Early 2013 NFL Power Ranking Predictions</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 06:05
Path: /nfl/most-memorable-moments-super-bowl-xlvii
Body:

Super Bowl XLVII had it all — a blackout, fireworks, records broken, sex appeal and mass hysteria. The Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers, 34–31, at the Superdome in New Orleans. But there was plenty of action, from Alicia Keys' National Anthem to Beyonce's halftime show to Ray Lewis' postgame speech, and every commercial in between. These are the most memorable moments from Super Bowl XLVII.



Zero Dark 47
The CBS telecast of Super Bowl XLVII became the Will Ferrell “Wake Up and Smile” teleprompter skit on SNL when the lights went out at the Superdome in New Orleans.


National Anthem Remix
Alicia Keys took the over on the Vegas line of 2:10, clocking in at a 2:36 after tickling the ivory and repeating the last line of a record-length “Star Spangled Banner.”


Put a Ring On It
Beyonce’s lip-syncing halftime show included a Destiny’s Child reunion but no Jay-Z. But the Ravens’ best omen came pregame, when Jonathan Ogden showed off his Super Bowl XXXV ring during Class of 2013 Hall of Fame introductions.


84-Minute MVP
Ravens quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco sat out 84 minutes of real time during the Beyonce concert, Jacoby Jones’ kickoff return and the Superdome blackout.


Brotherly Love
When the game was over, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh refused to be interviewed by CBS — after he had the following exchange with older bro and Ravens coach John Harbaugh: “I love you,” said John. “Congratulations,” replied Jim.


Other Worldly Love
Danica Patrick gave us another wreck to watch, with Israeli ubermodel Bar Refaeli making out with some lucky nerd in a gag reflex GoDaddy.com spot.



Jacoby Jones’ Not-Touched-Down Touchdown
“Smokin’ Joe” Flacco hit Jones on a deep ball which he fielded like a punt, fell down untouched, got back up, juked and sprinted into the end zone to cap a 56-yard score.


Jacoby Jones’ 109-turned-108-yard Kick Return
Jim Nantz credited Jones with a record 109-yard kickoff return to open the second half. The eye in the sky took one yard away for a record-tying 108-yard return.


Record INT
Ravens safety Ed Reed tied the all-time playoff record with his ninth career INT, which was the first-ever INT thrown by a 49ers quarterback in the Super Bowl. Joe Montana and Steve Young threw 17 TDs and zero INTs before Colin Kaepernick’s miscue.


Pistachio Psy
South Korean psuper pop pstar Psy hit the Super Bowl hard, with a neon-green pistachio dance party that clearly was “Gangnam Style.”


 

Fake FG, Non-Punt
Former special teams coach John Harbaugh called for both a fake field goal with rookie kicker Justin Tucker and an intentional safety with punter Sam Koch.


Jerome Boger
The second black referee in Super Bowl history was a controversial choice to work the game, which included several shoving matches but no crazy calls. Unless you think there was a…


Botched Holding Call?
On 4th-and-Goal with the game on the line, 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree and Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith tangled as the ball sailed over their heads and hit the ground. No flag was thrown, causing Jim Harbaugh to lose his mind.


Ill-Conceived Concept
Calvin Klein caused plenty of Super Sunday partygoers to freak out Harbaugh style with its creepy black-and-white ad featuring a half-naked male model.


So God Made a Farmer
Ram brought it all back to Earth with an earnest, honest ode to hard work — brilliantly using Paul Harvey’s famed 1978 speech in a spot that played like a short film.


Ray Lewis' Last Words
Ray tried to wrestle the mic from Jim Nantz in the postgame trophy ceremony. But settled for repeating his familiar message: "When God is for you, who can be against you?"


Goodell's Girl
The Commissioner avoided being beat down on Bourbon Street by watching the big game with nine-year-old phenom Samantha Gordon. Because, win or lose, Ravens or 49ers, everyone loves that girl.

Teaser:
<p> Most Memorable Moments of Super Bowl XLVII, including the Superdome blackout, Alicia Key's record-breaking National Anthem, Beyonce's halftime performance, Jacoby Jones' record-tying 108-yard kickoff return, Ed Reed's record-tying INT, a fake field goal, intentional safety, Bar Refaeli's kiss, Psy's pistachios, the Harbaugh brothers and Ray Lewis' final speech.</p>
Post date: Monday, February 4, 2013 - 13:19
Path: /golf/mickelson-goes-wire-wire-phoenix
Body:

This weekend was vintage Phil Mickelson. In winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale,he played as well as he could possibly play, and yet he left us wanting more.
On Thursday, he saw a putt for a 59 cruelly horseshoe out of the cup even as he was walking it in, putter raised, leaving him a tap-in for a 60.
On Friday, he was cruising toward the PGA Tour's 36-hole scoring record until a double-bogey at 18 left him a shot shy.
On Saturday, he came up just short of the Tour's 54-hole scoring record.
On Sunday, he turned back a Brandt Snedeker charge with one of the greatest putts of his career, a 54-footer through the fringe at No. 7 that was barreling along until the cup got in the way. Three back-nine birdies later, he had a four-shot win over Snedeker and a staggering 28-under finish — and yet, the absence of his career nemesis placed an undeserved asterisk next to his 41st career PGA Tour win.
Yes, as Johnny Miller pointed out during Sunday's broadcast, had Phil not had the misfortune of playing in the Tiger Woods era, he would be the undisputed king of golf. As it is, Mickelson has fashioned a career that would be the envy of all but a handful of players in the game's history. In particular, Lefty has towered over the desert Southwest like a smiling Sphinx, winning six times in the state where he played his collegiate golf. Playing for an adoring crowd, the largest of the PGA Tour season, Mickelson tied the tournament scoring record of 256, 28-under par. Only twice in 72 holes did he post an over-par score on a hole.
Mostly, though, he regained a feel for what it's like to win a golf tournament, which could portend a massive year.
"It's an important one for me, because it's been a while since I won, been a while since I've been in contention," Mickelson said. "I was certainly nervous heading into today's final round.
"I think the thing I'm most excited about was the way I was able to regain control of my thoughts after a few shots early on that I didn't care for and come back and hit a number of good shots on the back nine to do what I needed to do to win."
Next up: it's back to Pebble Beach, where Mickelson is the defending champion and has won four times. Snedeker will be there too, hopeful that Lefty left his best scores in Scottsdale.

Notes
• Phil offered a tip of the hat to two key contributors — Butch Harmon, who conducted an emergency session with Lefty prior to the tournament to correct what Mickelson called a "small thing on the takeaway," and his new driver, a Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme that helped him post 29 birdies and an eagle and lead the field in greens in regulation.
• This marked the ninth different time that Tiger Woods and Mickelson have won in back-to-back weeks.
• Of Mickelson's 41 career wins, 19 have come on the Tour's West Coast Swing.
• Snedeker vaulted to the top of the FedExCup standings with his third top-3 finish of the young season. He also moves to a career-high 6th in the World Golf Rankings. A week after finishing second to Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines, he ran into the Mickelson buzzsaw at TPC Scottsdale, although he made Phil work for his win with a final-round 65. "I'm running into Hall of Famers every week," Snedeker said.
• Snedeker's 260 total would have been good enough to win the previous 11 Waste Management Phoenix Opens and has been bested only three times in the tournament's history.
 

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<p> Mickelson Goes Wire to Wire in Phoenix</p>
Post date: Monday, February 4, 2013 - 12:51

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