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Path: /nfl/outrageous-predictions-super-bowl-li-2017
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Super Bowl LI is only a couple of days away, and by all accounts, it should be a big game for the ages.

 

The New England Patriots are the standard for success in the NFL. Led by the most decorated quarterback and head coach in the Super Bowl era, they have been serious Super Bowl contenders nearly every season since 2001. The Atlanta Falcons arrive in Houston on the back of an explosive offense with an assist by a young, speedy defense that has been on fire in the postseason.

 

Related: Super Bowl LI Preview and Predictions

 

With each team having so many elite weapons and playmakers on both sides of the ball, Super Bowl LI could shake out a number of different ways. Here is some of the outrageousness you can expect.

 

Outrageous Predictions for Super Bowl LI

 

Julio Jones does not score

This isn't all on the New England defense. Atlanta has weapons all over the field, but Jones will likely be matched up with Malcolm Butler — the Patriots' best cornerback — for most of the game. New England also will make sure Devin McCourty cheats to Jones' side to guard against his big-play capability. That means most, if not all, of the targets that go Jones' way are going to be risky — especially in the red zone. As a result, look for Ryan to target his other receivers and running backs more often near the goal line.

 

Chris Hogan won't catch a single pass

In fact, he'll be lucky if he gets many targets. In typical Bill Belichick fashion, look for New England to line up in similar formations and sets as the ones that had Hogan wide open all day against the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. Tom Brady will bank on Atlanta jumping any routes Hogan runs, and instead deliver the ball to the open man — as he always does. Martellus Bennett, Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman will be the primary beneficiaries of the extra attention paid to Hogan.

 

Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman combine for 250 rushing and receiving yards

Some of this will be by design. Much of it will be by choice — of Bill Belichick. The Patriot head coach has faced two other prolific offenses in Super Bowls during his career. The first time was when he was the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV. In that game, Belichick implemented a strategy against Buffalo's high-powered "K-Gun" offense where he allowed Thurman Thomas to pile up rushing and receiving yards between the 20's. That strategy shortened the game, thus limiting Buffalo's possessions.

 

He implemented a similar approach in Super Bowl XXXVI against the Rams. In that matchup, he made "The Greatest Show on Turf" one-dimensional, opting to allow Marshall Faulk to roam free on runs and short pass plays while taking St. Louis' elite deep threats out of the equation and out of quarterback Kurt Warner's reads.

 

I'll be stunned if Belichick and New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia stray too far from that approach against Atlanta.

 

Julian Edelman is your Super Bowl MVP

Conventional wisdom says Tom Brady has the best shot at winning the game's MVP award should New England come away victorious. On Sunday, however, Edelman will be stealing the spotlight. The last time the Patriot offense faced a Dan Quinn-coached defense was Super Bowl XLIX against the Seahawks two years ago. In that game, against a much better secondary than what the Falcons will field on Sunday, Edelman caught nine passes for 109 yards and a score. Look for Edelman to take advantage of the extra attention paid to New England's other targets and best all three of those totals. To seal the deal, he'll return a punt for a touchdown in a high-scoring Patriot win.

 

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

Teaser:
Outrageous Predictions for Super Bowl LI
Post date: Friday, February 3, 2017 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/super-bowl-51-li-bingo-2017
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Super Bowl LI (aka Super Bowl 51, or Super Bowl 2017, for those of us who are too lazy to translate Roman numerals) is nearly upon us. As you gather with friends and family to watch Sunday's big game between the Patriots and Falcons, we put together this Super Bowl Bingo card to keep things lively. As each moment occurs (and it will), mark off your card, crack a beer and celebrate knowing that somewhere we're saying, "We told you so."

 

Super Bowl Bingo 2017, Super Bowl 51, LI

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 14:58
All taxonomy terms: Washington Huskies, NFL, Pac 12
Path: /nfl/nfl-scouting-combine-watch-washington-defensive-tackle-elijah-qualls-2017
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It's probably beyond cliché to say that football is a game that is won in the trenches. Be that as it may, it's as close to a scientific theory as you can get in the sport. For that reason, interior linemen are hot commodities on draft day.

 

Heading into the NFL Scouting Combine, one of the more interesting prospects at the defensive tackle position is Washington's Elijah Qualls.

 

The 6-foot-1, 320-pound wrecking ball was part of an interior line duo (along with Greg Gaines) that wreaked havoc on the Pac-12 all season, catapulting the Huskies into the College Football Playoff.

 

Despite his statue, Qualls penetrates the pocket and pressures the quarterback with the athleticism of a defensive end. He also excels at gap control, winning the hands battle with opposing offensive linemen and holding his ground to keep running lanes closed.

 

 

Speaking of that hand-fighting that goes on, Qualls has a bit of an advantage over most opponents in that regard. He spent a year boxing while in high school and still works out at local MMA gyms in the offseason.

 

And as far as that athleticism goes -- the junior defensive tackle is not shy about putting it on full display. There are not many 320-pounders walking the earth who can pull off an Olympic-caliber handspring. Qualls does so with ease.

 

Keep an eye on how Qualls performs in speed and agility drills at the Combine. If his game film is any indicator, he'll be near the top of every one of those categories. It wouldn't shock me to see him near the top of the pack in the bench press, either. 

 

Most mocks and analysts have Qualls being drafted somewhere in the late second or early third rounds. Given the lack of any character issues and his aforementioned rare athleticism, I wouldn't be shocked to see him move up closer to the first round come draft day.

 

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

Teaser:
NFL Scouting Combine Watch: Elijah Qualls
Post date: Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/national-signing-day-2017-winners-and-losers
Body:

Team recruiting rankings are not a definitive sign that a given college football team will rise or fall on the gridiron in the immediate future but certainly does help paint a picture about potential success. A high-achieving class gives hope for the fan base and respective coaching staffs that conference titles and bowl game victories are to come.

 

Related: College Football 2017 Team Recruiting Rankings

 

The culmination of hard work for players and coaches alike on the recruiting trail comes together on National Signing Day when the majority of players ink their letters of intent. Simply put, National Signing Day is a feeding frenzy for college football fans at all levels.

 

In every aspect of sports there are winners and losers even in theoretical terms in regards to recruiting rankings. The following is a list of teams that rose to the occasion on Wednesday, signing outstanding classes, those that fell short of high expectations, with a few surprises (good and bad) thrown in for good measure.

 

National Signing Day 2017 Winners, Losers and Surprises

 

(Note: All rankings per Rivals)

 

Winners

 

Alabama – No. 1 recruiting class

The Crimson Tide entered National Signing Day with the top class in the nation with 24 commits that included seven 5-star players and 14 four-star talents. After all the faxed National Letters of Intent (NLI) were in, Bama held the top spot finishing with 28 signatures that included the addition of four 4-star players; DT Phidarian Mathis, DE LaBryan Ray, WR DeVonta Smith, and WR Henry Ruggs. The Tide’s acceptance of signed letters of intent beyond the typical 25-man class bumped 4-star defensive end Jarez Parks out of the picture, at least temporarily. The Sebastian River (Fla.) native was given the option to grayshirt, which if he accepts would delay his appearance in an Alabama uniform until next spring.

 

USC – No. 6 recruiting class

The Trojans jumped three spots in the rankings with 18 commits to start the week finishing with 24 on Wednesday. USC did not sign a five-star but loaded up with 17 4-star prospects. The run to close the class were all 4-star studs; TE Josh Falo, LB, Levi Jones, RB Greg Johnson, DT Jay Tufele, OG Austin Jackson, and WR Joseph Lewis all committed to head coach Clay Helton on Wednesday.

 

Florida – No. 9 recruiting class

The Gators were one of the teams to close really strong, jumping 10 spots in the rankings. Florida started the week with 17 commits consisting of nine 4-stars and eight 3-stars. The collective staff called it a day with 15 4-stars and seven 3-stars. One of the headline-grabbing signatures came from 4-star wide receiver James Robinson. Robinson was cited for marijuana use during an official visit to Ohio State over the weekend. While not technically arrested, the incident cast a shadow on his recruitment. The Buckeyes immediately backed off of him, leaving an opportunity for the Gators.

 

Losers

 

Ohio State – No. 2 recruiting class

It’s hard to say that the Buckeyes were losers on NSD considering they put together the No. 2-ranked class in the nation, but it could have been better. Urban Meyer and his staff entered this week in the second spot with 19 commits already on board. The Buckeyes were poised to add some more names, and did so with the commitments of three-stars Elijah Gardiner (WR) and Thayer Munford (OL) on Monday and Tuesday. However, Meyer and company were shut out on National Signing Day, to the surprise of many. Don’t feel bad for OSU, however, as its 2017 class is still sterling with six 5-star and 11 4-star players.

 

Texas – No. 31 recruiting class

Somewhere in Tampa, former Texas head coach Charlie Strong is resting easy after his replacement, Tom Herman, fell way short on NSD. The Longhorns started the week at No. 37 with eight 4-star recruits and ended the day with the same total. Herman closed the week with 3-star OL Samuel Cosmi, 2-star defensive end Jamari Chisholm, and 3-star receiver Jordan Pouncey. The fan base expects to be in the top 10 in recruiting every year not outside of the top 30. To be fair, Herman didn’t have the benefit of a full cycle to put his first class together and no one would be shocked to see Texas back near the top next year.

 

California – No. 75 recruiting class

The Justin Wilcox era has not started off well at Cal. The fans had little to cheer about on NSD seeing the haul move the wrong way in the rankings. The staff had 14 commits on Monday with a No. 73 ranking and ended up slipping to No. 75 with those same 14 commits. Gauging the falloff, former head coach Sonny Dykes inked the No. 22 class a year ago.

 

Surprises

 

Maryland – No. 17 recruiting class

The Terrapins jumped from a No. 39 ranking in 2016 with 22 commits to No. 17 in 2017 with 29 signatures. The consistency in signed talent was the big difference ending with eight 4-star players and 20 3-star talents this year over four and 10 in 2016. Things are definitely looking up for DJ Durkin and company.

 

Ole Miss – No. 39 recruiting class

Even Baylor with all of their previous troubles out-recruited Ole Miss with all of their current potential NCAA issues. Baylor ended NSD at No. 34. The Rebels signed 22 players but somehow fell way off previous class performances with just four 4-stars. In 2016, Ole Miss had the No. 8 class with two 5-stars and 10 4-stars.

 

TCU – No. 41 recruiting class

The Horned Frogs lagged on the recruiting trail in comparison to a year ago when they gathered the No. 20 class. With three fewer total recruits added, the Horned Frogs spiraled to No. 41 adding just three 4-star players and 12 3-star prospects.

 

— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @HogManInLA.

Teaser:
National Signing Day 2017 Winners and Losers
Post date: Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 10:45
Path: /nfl/10-stats-you-need-know-super-bowl-li-new-england-patriots-vs-atlanta-falcons
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Super Bowl LI between New England and Atlanta features two teams that are on the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to Super Sunday experience. The Patriots are playing in their record ninth Super Bowl, the seventh under head coach Bill Belichick. It’s also the franchise’s second appearance in three years, while Atlanta is playing in just its second Super Bowl. The Falcons lost to Denver (34-19) in Super Bowl XXXIII, which took place 18 years ago.

 

As for this Super Bowl, the Falcons arrive in Houston having won their six last games, including a 44-21 domination of Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game. The Patriots have been even hotter, however, as they have rolled off nine straight wins, the most recent being a 36-17 dismantling of Pittsburgh for the AFC crown.

 

Related: Super Bowl LI Preview and Predictions

 

Here are 10 stats you need to know to get you ready for Super Bowl LI:

 

13: Number of times Atlanta and New England have previously played each other

Sunday’s big game will mark the 14th time the Falcons and Patriots have met on the gridiron. Both teams first squared off Sept. 24, 1972, with New England winning the inaugural meeting 21-20. After winning three games in five meetings from 1972-86, Atlanta went on a four-game winning streak that ran from 1989-98. Since then, the Patriots have won four in a row, the most recent a 30-23 victory in Atlanta during the 2013 season. That win gave New England a slim 7-6 edge in the series.

 

66: Number of days since New England last trailed in a game

On Nov. 27, 2016, with 10:17 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Patriots surrendered a touchdown to the New York Jets and found themselves trailing 13-17. New England would answer with a field goal and then on the next drive, Tom Brady would find Malcolm Mitchell for an eight-yard touchdown pass with 1:56 left for the go-ahead touchdown as the Patriots would hold on for a 22-17 road win in Week 12. New England has yet to fall behind in any of its subsequent seven games and enters Super Bowl LI on a nine-game winning streak.

 

4-0: New England quarterback Tom Brady’s career record against the Falcons

Brady’s first career start against Atlanta in 2001 produced 250 passing yards and three touchdowns in a 24-10 victory. Since then, he’s thrown for 943 yards, six scores and just one interception in winning all four of his games against the Falcons. His closest contest against Atlanta was in 2005 when the Patriots escaped the Georgia Dome with a 31-28 victory. In that game, Brady threw for 350 yards (most against Falcons), three touchdowns and the one interception he’s had in his career thus far against Sunday night’s opponent.

 

1,605: Tom Brady’s passing yards in Super Bowls

At 39, Brady is eight years older than his Atlanta counterpart, Matt Ryan. Brady’s name is synonymous with Super Bowls, as evidenced by his numbers and the records he holds. Besides this being his seventh Super Bowl start, Brady has thrown for 1,605 yards in his previous six appearances. He also holds the record for career touchdown passes (13), completions (164), and attempts (247), among others. Brady will no doubt add to his Super Bowl resume this Sunday, including the possibility of the most impressive achievement of all – a record fifth victory by a starting quarterback.

 

69.9: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan’s completion percentage entering Super Bowl LI

Simply put, Ryan’s numbers this year are from another stratosphere. In his ninth year, Ryan was first-team All-Pro on his way to setting numerous career highs, including passing yards (4,944), touchdown passes (38) and completion percentage (69.9). The latter ranked him third in the NFL in the regular season and he’s been even better in the playoffs, completing 70.7 percent of his attempts. Ryan’s numbers and the Falcons’ success are the main reasons he’s considered the front-runner for MVP. With Ryan as the trigger man, the Falcons led the league with 540 points in the regular season and have tacked on 80 more in two playoff games.

 

212: Number of passes Matt Ryan has thrown since his last interception

With 37 seconds left in the first half of the Falcons-Chiefs game on Dec. 4, Kansas City’s Eric Berry returned a Matt Ryan interception 37 yards for a touchdown. That was the last interception (Berry also returned Ryan’s two-point attempt for a rare defensive conversion in the Chiefs’ 29-28 win, but that doesn’t count as a pick) Ryan has thrown. He has gone 212 straight attempts without an interception and over his last six games alone he has posted a 18:0 TD-to-INT ratio, all Atlanta wins.

 

19.3: Points per game Atlanta has allowed in its last six games

Some Atlanta critics like to bring up the Falcons’ less-than-stellar numbers on defense (5,939 yards allowed, 25.4 points per game) as to why the team’s road to its first-ever Super Bowl victory will be littered with obstacles. But it’s been a tale of two seasons for head coach Dan Quinn’s young defense. In the last six games, Atlanta has given up just 19.3 points per game, including victories over New Orleans, Seattle and Green Bay. In the NFC Championship Game, the Falcons held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers scoreless until they scored a touchdown with 9:19 remaining in the third quarter. Green Bay’s other touchdowns came when the game was well decided, as it appears Atlanta’s young defense is peaking at just the right time.

 

247: Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones’ receiving yards this postseason

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Jones’ body of work this season has been spectacular. Look no further than his 180 yards and two touchdowns on nine receptions against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game, while dealing with a nagging toe injury. The NFL’s most dangerous target hauled in 83 catches for 1,409 yards and six scores during the regular season, falling just 39 yards of shy of tying Indianapolis’ T.Y. Hilton for the league lead in receiving yards. Jones has since added 247 yards and three touchdowns to his season totals. He has a total of eight 100-yard games, including his monster 300-yard effort against Carolina back in Week 4. Jones will no doubt be priority No. 1 for New England’s defense.

 

5: Numbers of players from Stanford and Rutgers that are on New England’s and Atlanta’s rosters for Super Bowl LI

Falcon tight ends Austin Hooper and Levine Toilolo, along with the Patriots’ Jordan Richards, Tyler Gaffney and Cameron Fleming all played their college ball at Stanford. Rutgers is equally represented in Houston with Atlanta wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and four New England defenders – defensive backs Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan (cornerback) and Duron Harmon, along with linebacker Jonathan Freeny – all former Scarlet Knights and all expected to start on Super Sunday. These two programs are tied for the most former players in Super Bowl LI.

 

59,060: Number of people that have signed a change.org petition (as of Jan. 31) to have Georgia-based hip-hop group Migos replace Lady Gaga for the Super Bowl LI halftime show

So this stat might not directly relate to action on the field, but hear me out. Six-time Grammy Award-winning artist Lady Gaga is set to hold center stage during Sunday’s Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show, but a new grassroots movement to supplant her with Migos — the trio from Lawrenceville, Ga., which brought you the wildly popular “Bad and Boujee” — has caught fire. The change.org petition is quickly approaching its goal of 75,000 signees, but Lady Gaga likely isn’t going anywhere. Sorry, Migos fans.

 

Related: Ranking Every Super Bowl Halftime Show

 

— Written by Elton Hayes, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. A sports reporter for The Meridian Star Newspaper, Hayes also has been an invited guest on “The Paul Finebaum Show.” Follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.

Teaser:
10 Stats You Need to Know for Super Bowl LI (New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons)
Post date: Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/justin-bieber-super-bowl-commercial-rob-gronkowski-terrell-owens-t-mobile-li-gronk-patriots
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If you ever wanted to see Justin Bieber, Rob Gronkowski, and Terrell Owens in the same place, your wish has been granted.

 

The three interesting characters have teamed up for a T-Mobile Super Bowl LI commercial and demonstrate the fine art of the celebration. It's harder than it looks.

 

 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 10:19
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/betting-against-spread-super-bowl-li-picks-and-odds-lines-2017
Body:

There is just one more NFL game left this season, as the New England Patriots will take on the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI on Sunday at NRG Stadium in Houston. If you were hoping to get a spread other than three points in either direction then you are out of luck because there's next to no chance that they take it off the key number of a field goal. The total has stayed pretty firm as well at 58.5 with some negligible movement.

 

Related: Super Bowl LI Preview and Predictions

 

From the AFC, you've got a New England (16-2 overall) team that demolished Vegas and was 15-3 against the spread. The Patriots have covered seven of eight games against teams with a winning record. The defense has held five straight opponents to 20 points or fewer. Yes, the numbers are glorious for that side of the ball, but when you look at their list of games and the QBs that they saw, you can see why.

 

Until facing Ben Roethlisberger in the AFC Championship Game, it was a who's who of mediocre quarterbacks. I especially enjoyed the stretch where they got the 49ers, Jets and Rams in a row. Now, that's not to say New England’s defense isn’t solid, but this unit is finally going to be stressed as Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has had two weeks to analyze the Patriots’ defense and put together a game plan to attack it. Although to be fair, Shanahan has been interviewing with San Francisco for its head coach vacancy and probably spent some time preparing for that eventual move, so his focus hasn’t been 100 percent on the Super Bowl.

 

New England’s offense continues to roll despite not having Rob Gronkowski and featuring a wide receiver corps that is mediocre outside of Julian Edelman. The Patriots have scored 30 or more points in four straight games and five of their last six. The backfield tandem of LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis has done enough to keep teams honest, but the running game hasn't really been featured too much. What else is there to be said about this side of the ball other than forcing Tom Brady off of the field without getting any points is a huge win.

 

Atlanta (13-5 overall) went 12-6 ATS and had 15 overs in 18 contests including all nine when the total was 49.5 or more. The Falcons were just 2-2 against the spread in their four games against the AFC West in the regular season. This offense has been rolling with just one game of fewer than 23 points and that was back in Week 10 at Philadelphia. Matt Ryan is considered one of the front-runners for MVP and you can see why when you look at his game logs.

 

Julio Jones is arguably the best wide receiver in the league and he lit up the Packers in the NFC Championship Game even though he wasn’t 100 percent healthy because of nagging toe injury. He’s had plenty of time to recover and heal up and the Patriots are going to pay plenty of attention to him, which is where Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel come into play. Gabriel’s big-play capability in particular could be an x-factor. I also like what I've seen from running back Tevin Coleman as a weapon and a complementary piece to Devonta Freeman. All-Pro center Alex Mack's health will be of importance because he's the most important piece to this offensive line.

 

The Falcons’ defense is another story. They've held five of their last six opponents to 21 points or fewer. All-Pro linebacker and NFL sacks leader Vic Beasley Jr. is dominant up front and Dwight Freeney has helped be a nice veteran presence. To me though, the concern is the secondary. Robert Alford and Jalen Collins aren't terrible cornerbacks, but they are potentially in over their heads against this Brady and this Pats offense. Young safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen are going to improve even more, but once again, I don't know if they are ready for the big stage.

 

Overall, I keep trying to think of reasons to take Atlanta. But in the end, I keep coming back to the extra prep time to let Bill Belichick study and game plan against his opponent. Falcons head coach Dan Quinn did great things with Seattle's defense, but this is a lot different for him. You are going to read big bets have come in on both teams over the week, but to me, the Patriots are the wager. With regards to the total, it seems too easy to take the over. If New England gets out to a big enough lead, then the Falcons’ passing attack comes more into play and we get closer and closer to the number. If you like the under, I'd wait a little bit because the public doesn't bet unders since it wants to root for points.

 

Pick: Patriots 34-23

 

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.

 

(Top photo courtesy of NRGPark.com)

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: Super Bowl LI Picks and Odds
Post date: Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/5-things-we-learned-about-nebraska-after-national-signing-day-2017
Body:

Nebraska endured a little bit of National Signing Day drama — for better and worse — but the Cornhuskers’ 2017 class is officially signed, sealed and delivered.

 

What are the biggest takeaways for Mike Riley’s crew as the head coach enters Year 3 in Lincoln? Glad you asked.

 

1. Hey, those names look familiar

Keyshawn Johnson Jr., son of the former No. 1 NFL Draft pick by the same name, became an early enrollee last month with Nebraska, after tallying 2,300 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns at Calabasas (Calif.) High.

 

Ben Miles, meanwhile, earned a reputation as one of the nation’s top fullback prospects after amassing 459 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns for Catholic High in Baton Rouge, La. If that last name and location ring a bell, that’s because Miles is the son of former LSU head coach Les Miles.

 

2. Save the best for last

Nebraska signed 20 scholarship players Wednesday, but only one of those players is a defensive back: four-star cornerback Elijah Blades, from Muir High in Pasadena, Calif. Blades was a former Florida commit and announced his pledge to Nebraska late afternoon Wednesday, giving the Huskers some late, great news. The lack of DBs in this class likely isn’t a problem: The Huskers already have 17 on their roster, including four who redshirted as freshmen in 2016.

 

3. California continues to deliver

In addition to Johnson and Blades, Nebraska landed four-star quarterback Tristan Gebbia from California. Gebbia actually comes from Calabasas High, and threw to Johnson — along with four other players that committed to Power Five programs. Johnson and Gebbia join 2016 Calabasas safety Marquel Dismuke on the Huskers, who now have three players from the school, which is coached by former Tennessee quarterback Casey Clausen, whose brother, another former Volunteers signal-caller, Rick, is now the offensive coordinator at Calabasas.

 

Nebraska signed four players from California last season, giving the program nine players from the state in three years under Riley, who was no stranger to the state during his two separate stints in the Pac-12 as Oregon State’s head coach, in addition to his time as the San Diego Chargers’ head man.

 

4. A much-needed infusion of DTs

Nebraska didn’t sign a single defensive tackle prospect in the 2016 class, but the Huskers made up for it this time around by landing a trio of interior linemen: Damion Daniels, Deontre Thomas and Deiontae Watts.

All three players are three-star prospects, with Daniels and Watts hailing from Texas, while Thomas is an Oklahoma native. Daniels announced the Nebraska commitment Wednesday on ESPNU, and all three players could make for strong fits in new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco’s 3-4 scheme.

 

5. Late drama hurts, but not too much

The drama-filled recruitment of four-star receiver Jamire Calvin reached its unconventional conclusion Wednesday, as the Los Angeles native committed to Washington State — his third different choice in less than a month’s time.

 

To recap: Calvin committed to Oregon State at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 7, but then flipped to Nebraska on Jan. 27. In the end, Rivals’ 31st-ranked wide receiver went to Pullman, although the Huskers should be able to withstand his loss in this class: In addition to the already-enrolled four-star prospects Johnson and Jaevon McQuitty, the Huskers signed four-star receiver Tyjon Lindsey out of Las Vegas power Bishop Gorman. Lindsey is Rivals’ No. 9 wide receiver.

 

— Written by Matt Fortuna, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and spent six seasons covering college football for ESPN.com. Fortuna’s work has been honored by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) seven times. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_Fortuna and like his Facebook page.

Teaser:
5 Things We Learned About Nebraska after National Signing Day 2017
Post date: Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 09:45
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Clemson Tigers, College Football
Path: /college-football/5-things-we-learned-about-clemson-after-national-signing-day-2017
Body:

The building of the Clemson brand is just about complete. The success of the past two seasons, culminating in a recent national championship, has proven to the college football world that the Tiger program has no ceiling.

 

Now, it is about maintaining the success and that can be as difficult as building a champion. The Tigers face the daunting task of replacing all-everything quarterback Deshaun Watson as well as several other stars that helped Clemson reach the promised land.

 

That replenishment started on Wednesday, National Signing Day. Here is a look at five things we learned about Clemson now that their 2017 recruits have put pen to paper and are officially part of the Tigers’ future.

 

1. The Class is Short in Numbers, Long in Talent

Despite losing a number of key components from last season’s title team, Clemson does not have a large total number of players walking out the door. There were only eight scholarship members of the senior class, meaning that even with the four early entries to the NFL, head coach Dabo Swinney and his staff could only sign 14 prospects. As a result, the team’s recruiting rankings were held down despite landing a very talented group of high school stars. But the average rating of each player would place them sixth in 247Sports’ Team Recruiting Rankings. Clemson may not have signed many, but those the Tigers got are really good.

 

2. Clemson Knows How to Fill Gaps

Even though the class is not large, it filled the gaps created by the departing players. The Tigers lose two quarterbacks, including arguably the best in the country. They signed two quarterbacks, including one of the highest-rated prep prospects. Wide receivers Mike Williams and Artavis Scott turned pro and Clemson brought in two quality replacements, including a 6-foot-4, five-star guy in Tee Higgins. Good-bye top running back Wayne Gallman, hello 5-foot-11, 210-pound Travis Etienne. On defense, Cordrea Tankersley and Jadar Johnson depart the secondary, A.J. Terrell and LeAnthony Williams arrive. Linebacker Ben Boulware’s spot has been taken by Logan Rudolph and with Carlos Watkins gone, Clemson added a couple of coveted defensive linemen. Clemson will certainly not get the same immediate production from the incoming freshmen that they got from the guys that graduated or left early. But from a roster management perspective, the Tigers’ coaching staff nailed it.

 

3. Clemson is on its Way to Being Quarterback U

First, it was Tajh Boyd. Then came the incomparable Deshaun Watson. Now Clemson has brought in Hunter Johnson, a five-star recruit that is the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the 247Sports Composite Rankings. Even though he enrolled early, as a true freshman Johnson will face an uphill battle to win the starting spot next year. And things will get even more difficult next year when Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2018 and a player some believe is a once-in-a-decade talent, slaps on the orange uniform. Without a doubt, Clemson is well positioned at quarterback going forward.

 

4. With Trevor Lawrence, the 2018 Class Could Be Special

Since the Tigers could only add a small number of players this year and they had 12 commitments before the 2016 season even began, the national championship did not have a big impact on this class. But the title is already having a major influence on the Class of 2018. Along with Lawrence, the Tigers have four other commitments, including two four-star players that committed this past weekend, picking Clemson over some of the other top programs in the country. Next year’s senior class will again be small, so for the second straight year Clemson's recruiting numbers may be down. But the talent level may be even better than this year’s group.

 

5. The New Football Complex is Amazing

When South Carolina built its new football facility a few years ago, the Gamecocks got a leg up on their rivals to the Northwest. But now, not only have the Tigers blown by their in-state competition, but they have a claim on boasting the best football facilities in the entire country. The brand-new, $55 million Allen N. Reeves Football Complex was unveiled for the first time on National Signing Day and it includes a 20,000-square foot weight room, dining rooms with a state-of-the-art nutrition center, and a high-tech rehab and training area. Also, the players will enjoy a movie theater, nap rooms and a plunge pool. Clemson is investing its recent riches to achieve future success.

 

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

 

(Top photo courtesy of Clemson Football's Facebook page)

Teaser:
5 Things We Learned About Clemson After National Signing Day 2017
Post date: Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army West Point Black Knights, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, James Madison Dukes, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami (OH) RedHawks, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Troy University, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, Youngstown State Penguins, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-15-impact-true-freshmen-2017
Body:

College football’s 2017 National Signing Day is officially in the books. Every FBS program inked recruits to a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday, which means coaching staffs should have a good snapshot of how their program looks for the upcoming season. With spring practice just around the corner, the focus around the nation now shifts to the 2017 season. Some of the top names from 2017 signing classes included UCLA defensive end Jaelan Phillips, Clemson quarterback Hunter Johnson, Florida State running back Cam Akers and Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses.

 

There will be several impact performers from the 2017 class this season, and it’s impossible to narrow the names down to just 15. However, now that signing day is complete, let’s take a look at 15 names to watch in 2017 and how they could impact their team in on-field action. 

 

College Football's Top 15 Impact True Freshmen for 2017

 

Cam Akers, RB, Florida State

Dalvin Cook leaves big shoes to fill in Tallahassee, but Florida State isn’t hurting for talent at running back for 2017. Akers ranked as the top running back recruit and the No. 2 overall prospect in the 247Sports Composite after a prolific high school career in Mississippi. The 5-foot-11 prospect won the U.S. Army Player of the Year Award in 2016 and ran for 2,105 yards and 34 scores as a senior.

 

A.J. Epenesa, DL, Iowa

Epenesa is the first five-star prospect since 2005 to sign with the Hawkeyes, and the Illinois native fills an immediate need in the trenches. Tackles Jaleel Johnson and Faith Ekakitie expired their eligibility following the 2016 season, and Iowa is looking for more of a pass rush after generating just 28 sacks last year. Epenesa recorded five sacks and 13 tackles for a loss as a high school senior. He should push for snaps right away at end.

 

Hunter Johnson, QB, Clemson

Replacing Deshaun Watson is no easy task for coach Dabo Swinney, but the Tigers have recruited well at the quarterback position. Kelly Bryant is slated to open spring ball as the No. 1 quarterback, with Zerrick Cooper likely slotted into the No. 2 role. However, Johnson will be afforded an opportunity to win the starting job. Johnson ranked as a five-star prospect and the No. 30 overall player in the 247Sports Composite and arrives on campus after throwing for 2,233 yards and 25 scores as a senior. Johnson is already on campus and will compete in spring practice.

 

Alex Leatherwood, OL, Alabama

It’s never easy asking a true freshman to start on the offensive line for a full season in the SEC. However, the Crimson Tide have experience in this area, as Jonah Williams anchored the right side of the line in all 15 games in 2016. Leatherwood – the No. 4 prospect in the 247Sports Composite – could do the same in 2017. The Florida product could fill the void at right tackle with Williams flipping to the left side to replace Cam Robinson.

 

Joseph Lewis, WR, USC

With JuJu Smith-Schuster off to the NFL, and Darreus Rogers exhausting his eligibility, the Trojans are losing two of quarterback Sam Darnold’s top targets. With the losses at receiver, Lewis should be able to crack the rotation right away. The California native was a five-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite and ranked as a five-star recruit. He averaged 26.4 yards per catch with seven touchdown receptions as a high school senior.

 

Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M

Texas A&M’s quarterback situation will be one of the most intriguing to watch in spring practice this offseason. Jake Hubenak is the team’s most-experienced option, but redshirt freshman Nick Starkel and Mond will compete for the job. Mond ranked as a four-star prospect and the No. 108 player in the 247Sports Composite for the 2017 signing class and enrolled in time to compete in spring ball. Mond threw for 1,936 yards and 20 scores and added 775 yards and 18 touchdowns at IMG Academy in 2016.

 

Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama

The spotlight has been on Moses since he was offered a scholarship by LSU in 2012, and the Louisiana native finished his high school career as a five-star prospect at IMG Academy. Moses should fill an immediate need for help at linebacker, as the Crimson Tide lose Reuben Foster, Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams from a standout group. Moses is expected to help off the edge at outside linebacker in 2017.

 

Jeffrey Okudah/Shaun Wade, DB, Ohio State

The Buckeyes are looking for help in the secondary after losing a couple of key players here for the second year in a row. Safety Malik Hooker and cornerbacks Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore decided to leave Columbus for the NFL following the 2016 season. Coach Urban Meyer brought in a standout class to alleviate some of the losses, which includes Okudah and Wade – five-star prospects by the 247Sports Composite.

 

Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan

The Wolverines need playmakers to emerge this offseason after the departure of the top three targets from 2016. With Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson departing Ann Arbor, and Grant Perry’s status with the team unsettled, Michigan’s top statistical returning wide receiver is Eddie McDoom (five catches). Peoples-Jones – a five-star recruit – has already enrolled and is slated to push for time this spring.

 

Jaelan Phillips, DE, UCLA

Phillips ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the 2017 247Sports Composite and fills an immediate need for the Bruins. At 6-foot-5 and just over 250 pounds, the California native should help a defense looking to replace standout linemen Eddie Vanderdoes and Takkarist McKinley. In 2016 at Redlands East Valley High School, Phillips recorded 21 sacks, forced three fumbles and generated 142 tackles.

 

Foster Sarell/Walker Little, OL, Stanford

Stanford’s offensive line wasn’t as dominant in 2016 as it was in previous seasons. However, help is on the way for coach David Shaw. The Cardinal inked two out of the top three offensive linemen in the 2017 class according to the 247Sports Composite. Sarell – a Washington native – was the No. 5 overall prospect, while Little – a Texas native – ranked No. 10. Both are five-star recruits who could play right away in 2017.

 

Trey Smith, OL, Tennessee

Tennessee returns six players with at least six starts in the trenches last season, but it will be tough for the coaching staff to keep Smith on the sidelines. The Tennessee native ranked as a five-star recruit in the 247Sports Composite and was the No. 1 player in the ESPN 300. According to Tennessee’s Signing Day release, Smith did not allow a sack as a high school senior.

 

JaCoby Stevens, S, LSU

LSU reeled in a standout class of defensive backs, as four players headed to Baton Rouge ranked inside of the top 100 recruits in the 247Sports Composite. Stevens is the highest rated of the bunch, checking in at No. 18 in the 247Sports Composite. The Tennessee native could be an instant impact player for coach Ed Orgeron, especially after safety Jamal Adams left for the NFL.

 

Others to Watch

 

Christopher Allen, LB, Alabama

Jack Anderson, OL, Texas Tech

Kennedy Brooks, RB, Oklahoma

Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State

Navaughn Donaldson, OL, Miami

Trevon Grimes, WR, Ohio State

Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

Anthony Hines, LB, Texas A&M

Joshua Kaindoh, DL, Florida State

Richard LeCounte III, S, Georgia

N’Kosi Perry, QB, Miami

LaBryan Ray, DL, Alabama

Shawn Robinson, QB, TCU

Trey Sermon, RB, Oklahoma

Aubrey Solomon, DL, Michigan

Jeff Thomas, WR, Miami

Marlon Tuipulotu, DL, USC

Isaiah Wilson, OL, Georgia

Marvin Wilson, DL, Florida State

Teaser:
College Football's Top 15 Impact True Freshmen for 2017
Post date: Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 09:20
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army West Point Black Knights, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, James Madison Dukes, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami (OH) RedHawks, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Troy University, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, Youngstown State Penguins, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/how-college-footballs-new-coaches-recruited-2017
Body:

Recruiting is the basic blueprint for any college football program. Building a winner starts on the recruiting trail, and the data is there to back up just how important Signing Day is to all 130 teams. Sure, there are going to be hits and misses in the team and player projections each season, but there’s plenty of accuracy and meaning behind the final rankings.

 

Recruiting isn’t just a one-month exercise, as coaches are essentially on the trail all year for multiple classes. Whether it's the junior college ranks or high school prospects, coaches are constantly looking for talent and their next standout players.

 

New coaches are often placed into a difficult position, as it takes a year or two to build relationships for a signing class. Most new coaches only have a couple of months (if that) to target their prospects to fit the new systems and fight for commitments on the recruiting trail.

We can’t read much into how new coaches recruited this season due to the short turnaround time. However, the numbers are certainly interesting. And it will be critical to see how these numbers change after each coach has a full year to recruit.

 

Let’s take a look at how the new coaches for 2017 recruited (all rankings and data from 247Sports Composite)

 

Power 5 Conferences

 

Big 12
Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
Baylor          
Art Briles (2016) 18 41 13 2 0
Matt Rhule (2017) 27 39 26 0 0

 

Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
Texas          
Charlie Strong (2016) 28 7 12 16 0
Tom Herman (2017) 18 26 11 7 0

 

Big Ten
Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
Indiana          
Kevin Wilson (2016) 21 55 20 0 0
Tom Allen (2017) 23 61 22 0 0

 

Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
Minnesota          
Tracy Claeys (2016) 21 46 19 1 0
P.J. Fleck (2017) 26 57 25 0 0

 

Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
Purdue          
Darrell Hazell (2016) 23 80 17 0 0
Jeff Brohm (2017) 21 69 18 0 0

 

Pac-12
Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
California          
Sonny Dykes (2016) 27 31 25 1 1
Justin Wilcox (2017) 14 72 13 0 0

 

Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
Oregon          
Mark Helfrich (2016) 20 27 14 6 0
Willie Taggart (2017) 24 20 19 5 0

 

SEC
Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
LSU          
Les Miles (2016) 26 3 8 16 2
Ed Orgeron (2017) 24 7 8 15 1

 

Group of 5

 
American Athletic Conference
Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
Cincinnati          
Tommy Tuberville (2016) 21 74 18 0 0
Luke Fickell (2017) 23 67 17 1 0

 

Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
Houston          
Tom Herman (2016) 19 36 14 3 1
Major Applewhite (2017) 20 68 15 0 0

 

Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
Temple          
Matt Rhule (2016) 28 58 16 1 0
Geoff Collins (2017) 17 112 5 0 0

 

Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
UConn          
Bob Diaco (2016) 16 103 10 0 0
Randy Edsall (2017) 19 97 9 0 0

 

Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
USF          
Willie Taggart (2016) 16 66 14 2 0
Charlie Strong (2017) 18 75 13 0 0

 

Conference USA
Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
FAU          
Charlie Partridge (2016) 19 100 8 0 0
Lane Kiffin (2017) 24 71 15 0 0

 

Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
FIU          
Ron Turner (2016) 26 101 6 0 0
Butch Davis (2017) 28 77 12 0 0
Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
WKU          
Jeff Brohm (2016) 19 99 8 0 0
MIke Sanford (2017) 19 84 9 0 0

 

MAC
Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
Western Michigan          
P.J. Fleck (2016) 27 71 19 0 0
Tim Lester (2017) 22 89 11 0 0

 

Mountain West
Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
Fresno State          
Tim DeRuyter (2016) 24 85 12 0 0
Jeff Tedford (2017) 21 101 7 0 0

 

Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
Nevada          
Brian Polian (2016) 22 104 9 0 0
Jay Norvell (2017) 18 109 7 0 0

 

Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
San Jose State          
Ron Caragher (2016) 18 88 11 0 0
Brent Brennan (2017) 24 103 6 0 0

 

Sun Belt
Team Total National Rank 3 Stars Signed 4 Stars Signed 5 Stars Signed
Georgia State          
Trent Miles (2016) 21 125 3 0 0
Shawn Elliott (2017) 20 95 8 0 0

 

(Tom Herman photo courtesy of www.texassports.com)

Teaser:
How College Football's New Coaches Recruited in 2017
Post date: Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 09:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army West Point Black Knights, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, James Madison Dukes, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami (OH) RedHawks, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Troy University, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-2017-team-recruiting-rankings
Body:

College football’s 2017 National Signing Day ended with a familiar face at the top of the team recruiting rankings: Alabama. The Crimson Tide claimed the recruiting national championship for the seventh consecutive season with a clean sweep at the top of the four scouting services. Nick Saban reeled in six five-star prospects and 18 four-star recruits to claim another title on National Signing Day. The SEC also claimed another team inside of the top five, with Georgia ranking at No. 3 in coach Kirby Smart's first full class in Athens. The Big Ten took spots No. 2 (Ohio State) and No. 4 (Michigan), with USC and Florida State rounding out the top six recruiting hauls for 2017.

 

Evaluating recruiting classes is no easy task, which is why Athlon Sports has looked to the major scouting services (Scout, ESPN, 247Sports and Rivals) to get their take on the best signing hauls of 2017. Every class was listed in a spreadsheet, added to get a point total and averaged by four to create the consensus team rankings for 2017.

 

Here’s a look at how the four major scouting services rank the college football signing classes for 2017:

 

College Football's 2017 Consensus Team Recruiting Rankings
Rank Team   247Sports ESPN Rivals Scout

Total

Points

Average
1 Alabama 1 1 1 1 4 1
2 Ohio State 2 2 2 4 10 2.5
3 Georgia 5 3 3 2 13 3.25
4 Michigan 3 6 4 3 16 4
5 USC 4 5 6 5 20 5
6 Florida State 6 4 5 8 23 5.75
7 LSU 7 7 8 7 29 7.25
8 Oklahoma 9 8 7 6 30 7.5
9T Auburn 8 9 14 11 42 10.5
9T Texas A&M 12 11 10 9 42 10.5
11 Florida 14 13 9 10 46 11.5
12T Miami 15 12 11 17 55 13.75
12T Notre Dame 13 16 13 13 55 13.75
14 Tennessee 11 15 15 15 56 14
15 Penn State 21 17 12 14 64 16
16 Stanford 10 14 19 24 67 16.75
17 Maryland 22 20 16 12 70 17.5
18 South Carolina 17 19 17 19 72 18
19 Clemson 18 10 22 26 76 19
20 Oregon 20 23 18 16 77 19.25
21 Nebraska 24 21 20 18 83 20.75
22 UCLA 26 18 21 21 86 21.5
23 Virginia Tech 16 25 29 20 90 22.5
24 Washington 23 22 23 23 91 22.75
25 Mississippi State 19 24 26 25 94 23.5
26 Arkansas 25 26 24 27 102 25.5
27 North Carolina 28 28 28 32 116 29
28 Kentucky 27 30 25 35 117 29.25
29 Louisville 32 29 27 31 119 29.75
30 Texas 29 33 31 28 121 30.25
31T Colorado 35 27 32 30 124 31
31T Michigan State 37 32 33 22 124 31
33 Ole Miss 31 36 39 29 135 33.75
34 Baylor 30 39 34 36 139 34.75
35 Pitt 36 31 37 42 146 36.5
36T TCU 33 37 41 37 148 37
36T Utah 44 41 30 33 148 37
38 Oklahoma State 43 35 37 41 156 39
39 Iowa 34 43 40 40 157 39.25
40 Wisconsin 38 40 35 51 164 41
41 Arizona 45 45 36 46 172 43
42 Duke 39 34 46 54 173 43.25
43 Arizona State 42 38 51 44 175 43.75
44 Washington State 46 46 52 39 183 45.75
45T Georgia Tech 49 42 41 52 184 46
45T Illinois 47 55 48 34 184 46
47 Rutgers 48 50 43 45 186 46.5
48 Missouri 41 54 48 46 189 47.25
49 Oregon State 55 52 45 43 195 48.75
50T Texas Tech 53 47 47 49 196 49
50T Northwestern 50 44 54 48 196 49
Teaser:
College Football 2017 Team Recruiting Rankings
Post date: Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/national-signing-day-2017-announcement-watchlist
Body:

National Signing Day, the culmination of the college football recruiting cycle, is finally here with the excitement building and continuing throughout the day on Wednesday. Those recruits that live in the eastern part of the country get their moment in the spotlight earlier in the day with the attention shifting focus heading west as the day moves along.

 

While most of the top-ranked recruits across the nation have already verbally committed, the suspense in the day will be focused on where the uncommitted four-star recruits land and to see if there are any last-minute flips for highly prized players.

 

Related: Where Will the Top Recruits in the 2017 Class Sign?

 

The following is a list of some of the top players in the 2017 recruiting class (per Rivals), their list of top schools, and the time when they are expected to sign their national letters of intent. All times ET and subject to change.

 

Top Uncommitted Class of 2017 Recruits with Announcement Times

 

(Note: This list will be updated throughout the day as announcements are made)

 

No. 2 Marvin Wilson

5-star DT, Episcopal High School (Bellaire, Texas)
Announcement: 4:40 p.m. on ESPN2
Top Schools: LSU, Florida State, South Florida, Ohio State, Oklahoma

Pick: The top-ranked uncomitted recruit entering National Signing Day announced he is heading to Florida State.

 

No. 31 Aubrey Solomon

5-star DT, Lee County High School (Leesburg, Ga.)
Announcement: 10:25 a.m. on ESPNU
Top Schools: Georgia, Michigan, USC, Alabama
Pick: Even though he decommited from Michigan earlier in the process, the highly coveted defensive lineman announced he would leave SEC country to play for Jim Harbaugh and be a Wolverine.

 

No. 37 Jay Tufele

4-star DT, Bingham High School (South Jordan, Utah)
Announcement: 12 p.m.
Top Schools: Utah, Michigan, Ohio State, BYU, USC
Pick: Tufele announces he is headed to Los Angeles to play for USC.

 

No. 42 Devonta Smith

4-star WR, Amite High School (Amite, La.)
Announcement: 3 p.m.
Top Schools: LSU, Alabama, Miami, Florida State
Pick: Smith announced his leaving the Bayou State to play at Alabama.

 

No. 45 LaBryan Ray

4-star DE, James Clemens (Madison, Ala.)
Announcement: 12:40 p.m.
Top Schools: Mississippi, Florida, Mississippi State, Alabama, Tennessee
Pick: The rich get richer as Ray announced he will stay in state and sign with Alabama.

 

No. 50 Joseph Lewis

4-star WR, Hawkins High School (Los Angeles)
Announcement: 4:10 p.m. on ESPN2
Top Schools: USC, Oregon, Nebraska

Pick: Lewis annoucned he would stay home and sign with USC, adding to the Trojans' impressive haul.

 

No. 54 Deommodore Lenoir

4-Star, WR/CB, Salesian High School (Los Angeles)
Announcement: 5:30 p.m.
Top Schools: Oregon, Nebraska, USC, Mississippi State

Pick: Lenoir annoucned he would head to the Pacific Northwest and sign with Oregon, putting a nice bow on new head coach Willie Taggart's first National Signing Day with the Ducks.

 

No. 57 Jeff Thomas

4-star WR, East St. Louis High School (East St. Louis, Ill.)
Announcement: 10 a.m. on ESPNU
Top Schools: Miami, Oregon, Louisville
Pick: The 2017 Under Armour All-America Game offensive MVP announced he would attend Miami.

 

No. 73 Willie Gay

4-star OLB, Starkville High School (Starkville, Miss.)
Announcement: 10 a.m.
Top Schools: LSU, Mississippi State, Mississippi, Michigan
Pick: Gay announced he would stay in Starkville and play for Mississippi State.

 

No. 77 Austin Jackson

4-star OT, North Canyon High School (Phoenix)
Announcement: 12 p.m.
Top Schools: Arizona State, USC, Washington
Pick: Jackson annoucned he would sign with USC, adding to the Trojans' haul of offensive and defensive linemen.

 

No. 79 Levi Jones

4-star OLB, Westlake High School (Austin, Texas)
Top Schools: Florida State, Florida, UCLA, Texas A&M, USC
Announcement: 8 a.m., ESPN
Pick: The Lone Star State product picked USC over the two Florida programs.

 

No. 92 Chevin Calloway

4-star CB, Bishop Dunne (Dallas)
Announcement: 11 a.m. on ESPN
Top Schools: Arkansas, Texas, Ole Miss
Pick: Calloway announced he would be signing with Arkansas.

 

No. 103 Greg Johnson

4-star RB, Hawkins High School (Los Angeles)
Announcement: 4:10 p.m. on ESPN2
Top Schools: USC, Nebraska, Oregon
Pick: Johnson announced he would sign with USC, joining Hawkins High teammate Joseph Lewis and giving the Trojans a pair of highly coveted hometown prospects.

 

No. 110 K'Lavon Chaisson

4-star DE, North Shore (Houston)
Announcement: 12 p.m.
Top Schools: Texas, LSU
Pick: Ed Orgeron goes into the Lone Star State and picks up a big win as Chaisson announced he will sign with LSU.

 

No. 118 Jarez Parks

4-star DE, Sebastian River High School (Sebastian, Fla.)
Announcement: 12 p.m.
Top Schools: Alabama, Auburn, North Carolina, Florida, Florida State
Pick: After initially postponing his anouncement, Parks revealed on Twitter via a Bleacher Report-produced video that he would sign with Alabama, where he will reportedly grayshirt, which means he won't be able to participate in practice until spring 2018.

 

No. 120 Nico Collins

4-star WR, Clay High School (Pinson, Ala.)
Announcement: 3 p.m.
Top Schools: Georgia, Michigan, Alabama
Pick: Collins announced he will head north and join Michgan's impressive crop of wide receivers in this class.

 

No. 125 Henry Ruggs III

4-star WR, Robert E. Lee High School (Montgomery, Ala.)
Announcement: 11 a.m.
Top Schools: Alabama, Florida State
Pick: Ruggs is staying close to home, as he announced he is signing with Alabama.

 

No. 166 Todd Harris

4-star SS, Plaquemine High School (Plaquemine, La.)
Announcement: 10 a.m. on ESPN
Top Schools: LSU, TCU, Alabama
Pick: Harris announced he would fulfill his dream and play for his home state at LSU.

 

No. 174 Chaz Ah You

4-star SS, Timpview High School (Provo, Utah)
Announcement: 12 p.m.
Top Schools: Stanford, UCLA, Utah, Washington, BYU
Pick: Ah You announced he would stay in Provo and play for BYU.

 

— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @HogManInLA.

Teaser:
National Signing Day 2017 Announcement Watchlist
Post date: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 21:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Overtime
Path: /overtime/illinois-state-commit-kobe-buffalomeat-secures-his-place-among-best-names-all-time
Body:

What's in a name? Kobe Buffalomeat has an idea.

 

Illinois State commit was the talk of National Signing Day, mainly for that amazing name of his.

 

 

From there, Mr. Buffalomeat got the gold star treatment from the internet.

 

 

 

 

Buffalomeat is clearly everyone's new favorite player.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 14:01
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/tom-brady-super-bowl-commercial-ad-li-new-england-patriots-intel-epic
Body:

Tom Brady has the tendency to make everything epic.

 

Pair the Patriots star with Intel's "epic" Super Bowl commercial and it's almost too much to handle. Almost.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 11:54
All taxonomy terms: NFL, NFL
Path: /nfl/all-time-super-bowl-team
Body:

There’s a reason the NFL’s biggest game is called the Super Bowl. Not only is it the most watched game of the year, it’s arguably the biggest stage in all of sports, a game where the legacies of Hall of Famers are cemented while formerly unknown players can leave their own indelible mark.

 

In the Super Bowl’s 50-year history, some of the best to ever play the game have shined while a fair share of under-the-radar players have taken advantage of the moment to earn MVP honors. So with more than a half-century’s worth of games to look back on, who has been the best at their respective position with the Lombardi Trophy on the line? Here is Athlon Sports’ All-Time Super Bowl Team. 

 

All-Super Bowl Offense

 

QB: Joe Montana, SF

One could make a strong argument for Tom Brady, who could win a record fifth Lombardi Trophy on Sunday, but for now the nod goes to Montana. The quarterback known as “Joe Cool” was a perfect 4-0 in Super Bowls as his 49er teams won by an impressive average margin of 19 points. Not only does Montana hold the career mark for passer rating in the Super Bowl (127.8), but the three-time MVP also was responsible for 13 total touchdowns (11 passing, 2 rushing) and no turnovers. Honorable Mention: Tom Brady, NE

 

Related: Joe Montana Talks Super Bowl, Tom Brady and John Candy

 

RB: Franco Harris, PIT

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

 

RB: Roger Craig, SF

In three Super Bowls for San Francisco, all wins, Craig amassed 413 yards from scrimmage with four touchdowns, including 101 yards receiving in Super Bowl XXIII. HM: Terrell Davis, DEN

 

WR: Lynn Swann, PIT

Fans who saw him in the Super Bowl probably remember flying, acrobatic catches. But Swann meant more to the Steelers than just a couple of circus catches. He is second all-time with 364 receiving yards, all coming in three Super Bowls. HM: John Stallworth, PIT

 

WR: Jerry Rice, SF

Rice is a no-brainer. Let’s see: most Super Bowl receptions in a career (33), most yards receiving in a career (589) and game (215), most yards from scrimmage in a career (604), the only player to score three TDs in a game twice. Oh, and he earned an MVP. HM: Isaac Bruce, STL

 

TE: Jay Novacek, DAL

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

 

LT: Jon Kolb, PIT

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

 

LG: Nate Newton, DAL

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

 

C: Jim Langer, MIA

Langer anchored the line during Miami’s back-to-back titles in the 1970s. In Super Bowl VIII, Miami rushed 53 times for 196 yards, most of it straight up the middle with bruiser Larry Csonka. HM: Ray Mansfield and Mike Webster, PIT

 

RG: Joe Andruzzi, NE

In three New England wins, the Patriots rushed for 372 yards, and Andruzzi helped protect MVP Tom Brady allowing him to stay comfortable in the pocket. HM: Jerry Kramer, GB

 

RT: Erik Williams, DAL

The heart and soul of the Cowboys’ offensive machine was the offensive line. Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin were the beneficiaries of the hard work done by the likes of Williams. HM: Forrest Gregg, GB

 

All-Super Bowl Defense

 

DE: Charles Haley, SF/DAL

Haley was more of an outside linebacker in San Francisco's 3-4 alignment. He is the only player to win five Super Bowls. Honorable Mention: Reggie White, GB

 

DE: Richard Dent, CHI

The Monsters of the Midway had a stacked roster of defensive stars but Dent won the MVP in Super Bowl XX with 1.5 sacks as the Bears gave up a total of 10 points to New England. HM: Richard Seymour, NE

 

DT: Joe Greene, PIT

As the heart of the front of the Steel Curtain, Greene intimidated quarterbacks, running backs and offensive linemen. In four Super wins, opponents averaged less than 100 yards rushing against Pittsburgh as Greene made life miserable for Roger Staubach, Fran Tarkenton and Vince Ferragamo. HM: Alan Page, MIN

 

DT: Russell Maryland, DAL

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

 

LB: Jack Lambert, PIT

Lambert was in the middle of all things defensively for the Steelers for 11 seasons, including four trips to the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh would not have been 4-0 in the most important game of the season without him. HM: Tedy Bruschi, NE

 

LB: Ray Lewis, BAL

Lewis is one of four linebackers to win a Super Bowl MVP (XXXV) and nearly a decade later posted seven tackles in winning his second Lombardi Trophy with the Ravens. It was his final game in the NFL. HM: Keena Turner, SF

 

LB: Chuck Howley, DAL

This Cowboy is the only player to win an MVP for a losing team in Super Bowl history. He also won a Super Bowl the following year with a big performance (INT, fumble recovery) in Dallas' win over Miami. HM: Mike Vrabel, NE

 

CB: Herb Adderley, GB/DAL

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

 

CB: Mel Blount, PIT

Blount played for four winners, and contributed with an interception in Super Bowls IX and XIII. HM: Deion Sanders, SF/DAL

 

S: Cliff Harris, DAL

One of only 17 players to play in at least five Super Bowls, Harris changed the way the free safety positon was played. He won Super Bowl VI and XII. HM: Troy Polamalu, PIT

 

S: Ronnie Lott, SF

Instrumental in the Niners’ four Super Bowl wins, Lott played corner in the first two before moving to safety. None of his nine postseason interceptions came in the Super Bowl, probably because quarterbacks avoided him. HM: Jake Scott, MIA

 

RS: Desmond Howard, GB

Earned MVP honors in Super Bowl XXXI with a kick return for a touchdown, but also had two punt returns of more than 30 yards. HM: Jacoby Jones, BAL

 

K: Adam Vinatieri, K, NE/IND

Never has there been a more clutch kicker in the Super Bowl.

 

P: Larry Seiple, MIA

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

Teaser:
All-Time Super Bowl Team
Post date: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Austin Dillon, NASCAR
Path: /nascar/austin-dillon-2017-nascar-season-driver-preview
Body:

For Austin Dillon, 2016 was defined by consistency. The third-year driver for Richard Childress Racing finished 20th and 21st in his first two seasons in NASCAR’s Premier Series, but last year he appeared to find his stride, scoring career highs in top 5s and top 10s — enough of them, in fact, to secure a Chase spot on points. But how good was Dillon, really?


Austin Dillon Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Driver informationA closer look at the numbers says that while Dillon put together his best run to date, there’s still work to be done. His 13 top 10s cover a third of the season — not too bad. His four top 5s were good but not stellar, though, in the context that Dillon had never had more than one in a season before, and that it’s on par with a couple other Chase drivers (and double Jamie McMurray’s total). 


So it’s safe to say that last year was a good one, if not a great one.


Going into the new season, though, the pressure is on Dillon not only to repeat his performance, but also to improve on it — and to win. Dillon hasn’t yet broken through in that category, and as he enters his fourth full season in the top division, he’s going to have to start answering to his sponsors if it doesn’t happen. Right now, though, they seem content and willing to wait for the driver to come into his own. Dow Chemical, American Ethanol, Bass Pro Shops and AAA will all return for another run in 2017.

2017 NASCAR Preview MagazineAthlon Sports’ 2017 Racing magazine delivers full NASCAR driver profiles, schedules, track information, fantasy insight, as well as complete 2017 NASCAR coverage. Click here to order your copy today or visit your local newsstand!


Dillon is also going to have to answer to NASCAR Nation. Driving the No. 3 car made famous by Hall of Fame driver Dale Earnhardt, Dillon faces a bit of heat on that front as well, because of the size of the shadow he’s in and the seeming ease of his rise through the ranks. He’s handled it fairly well, though, and has matured greatly in the last three seasons, another contributing factor to his success. 


One person Dillon likely won’t have to answer to is his car owner — Childress is his grandfather — so he doesn’t face the same pressure that another youngster might (ironically, that’s also exactly why he does get questioned by others). That means he’s performing more for pride than ride, and as long as the sponsors are happy, he’ll be as secure as it gets. It also means that at the end of the day, Dillon can focus on racing.


Slugger Labbe will call the shots for Dillon again this season. Labbe joined the No. 3 team as crew chief midway through 2015, so he has had a big hand in Dillon’s improvement as a driver. Labbe is one of the most experienced crew chiefs in NASCAR, with nearly 20 seasons on top of the box. The one question mark on Labbe? A relative lack of production. He has only five career wins, and Dillon’s career-high 13 top-10 runs also mark Labbe’s career best. But his résumé isn’t laden with elite drivers and teams, and he meshes well with Dillon, which is the most important thing. The pair communicates well.


RCR’s strength in recent years has been consistency. While the organization has not quite hit on the combination that keeps all three teams in Chase contention, there are always one or two drivers who perform well week-in and week-out. While they’re not racing for the win every week, they’re running well enough to get by — and if the circumstances play into their favor, they’re in the right spot to steal a win. 


The team’s other strength is its engine program. Earnhardt Childress engines may not be quite as powerful as Hendrick engines, but they’re the most durable in the sport. It’s a rare sight to see an ECR engine not go the distance, and they’re certainly not so far off the competition that they don’t put drivers in good position.


 The task Dillon has this season is to remain as consistent as he was during the 2016 season while improving his running and finishing positions. It won’t be easy, but it’s time for Dillon to make that step if he and his team are truly capable.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 10:25
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/top-50-super-bowl-moments-all-time
Body:

Each of the previous 50 Super Bowls has had its share of memorable moments and each is special to fans in its own unique way. You could ask 10 people their top 10 moments in Super Bowl history and you would get 10 different lists. The following are my unbiased, consensus-less 50 greatest moments in Super Bowl history (Note: I did not include halftime shows or commercials).

 

Related: Ranking the Super Bowls: From I to 50

 

50. Super Bowl XLI: Devin Hester Returns Opening Kickoff for Touchdown

Arguably the greatest kick returner of all time became the only player in Super Bowl history to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown. The Colts chose wisely and decided not to kick to him for the rest of the game.

 

49. Super Bowl I: The Game Airs on Two Networks

Since CBS had rights to telecast all NFL games and NBC had rights for all AFL games, both were allowed to broadcast the first Super Bowl. This is the only time that has ever happened.

 

48. Super Bowl XX: The Fridge Scores a Touchdown

With his Bears leading the Patriots 37-3, head coach Mike Ditka sent defensive lineman William “Refrigerator” Perry in to smash into the end zone for another score. It had no significance on the game, but it was definitely memorable.

 

47. Super Bowl XI: Willie Brown Returns Interception for Touchdown

The Raiders dominated the Vikings throughout this entire game, but Brown put the nail in the coffin when he intercepted Fran Tarkenton’s pass and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

 

46. Super Bowl XXIX: Steve Young Completes Sixth Touchdown Pass

A seven-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Rice in the fourth quarter was an achievement that would have been remarkable in any game, much less a Super Bowl.

 

45. Super Bowl I: Max McGee Scores First Touchdown in Super Bowl History

When Packer receiver Boyd Dowler went down with a separated shoulder, he was replaced by McGee, who caught a one-handed pass and raced into the end zone for the first score in Super Bowl history. It was later revealed that he was hung-over when he accomplished that feat.

 

44. Super Bowl XXXV: Three Touchdowns in 36 Seconds

Baltimore led New York 10-0 in the third quarter, but sealed its victory in less than a minute.  First, Ravens defensive back Duane Stark returned an interception for a touchdown. Giant Ron Dixon then returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, but Baltimore’s Jermaine Lewis responded with one as well. One of the greatest defenses in pro football history had a 24-7 advantage.

 

43. Super Bowl IV: 65 Toss Power Trap

Up 9-0 on the Vikings, Chiefs head coach Hank Stram called the play “65 Toss Power Trap” and Mike Garrett ran into the end zone for the touchdown. The play is immortalized because Stram was miked for sound (starts around 2:00 mark of video below).

 

 

42. Super Bowl I: The Hammer is Hammered

Defensive back and future “Blaxploitation” movie star Fred Williamson, aka “The Hammer,” said in an interview that “two hammers would be enough” to stop Packers receivers Carroll Dale and Boyd Dowler. Williamson was actually the one knocked out of the game when his head hit the knee of running back Donny Anderson. The irony was not lost on the football world.

 

41. Super Bowl XVII: Fulton Walker’s Record Return

With his Dolphins tied 10-10 with the Redskins shortly before halftime, Walker returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. At the time, it was the longest kick return in Super Bowl history.

 

40. Super Bowl XXI: Phil McConkey Catches Tipped Touchdown Pass

Trailing the Broncos 10-9 at the end of the first half, the Giants scored 30 unanswered points in the second. The most memorable was a touchdown pass that bounced off Mark Bavaro’s fingertips into McConkey’s hands.

 

39. Super Bowl XXXI: Brett Favre’s Celebrates His First Touchdown

After completing his first touchdown pass, a 54-yard strike to Andre Rison, Brett Favre took his helmet off and ran around the field in celebration. The genuine excitement is one of the reasons why we always loved to watch Favre play.

 

38. Super Bowl XVIII: Here I am, I’m your Rocket Screen

Down 14-3 shortly before halftime, Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs told quarterback Joe Theismann to run a play called “Rocket Screen,” but Raiders linebacker Jack Squirek leapt in midair to intercept his pass and ran it into the end zone for the touchdown. The Redskins never recovered from the play.

 

37. Super Bowl VI: Bob Griese is Sacked for a 29-Yard Loss

In the first half, the Dolphins quarterback took the snap on his own 38-yard line and kept scrambling until Cowboy Bob Lilly finally brought down Griese all the way back on his own nine-yard line. It remains the longest yardage loss from scrimmage in Super Bowl history.

 

36. Super Bowl XXIII: Stanford Jennings Returns Kickoff for Touchdown

After San Francisco kicked a field goal to tie Cincinnati 6-6 in the third quarter, Stanford Jennings took the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. It was the Bengals’ only touchdown and almost proved to be the difference. Almost.

 

35. Super Bowl XLVIII: The Broncos Open First Drive with a Safety

On the first play from scrimmage, Peyton Manning lined up in a shotgun formation but called an audible. As he moved forward, center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball and it flew past Manning. Knowshon Moreno recovered the ball in the end zone for a Seattle safety. The quickest score in Super Bowl history (12 seconds) set the tone for the rest of the game.

 

34. Super Bowl XXVI: Thurman Thomas Loses His Helmet

When the Bills’ celebrated offense took the field against the Redskins, they were missing their star running back. Thomas couldn’t find his helmet because someone had moved it during the pregame festivities. He only missed two plays but the story of the best running back in the NFL trying to find his helmet in the biggest game of the year is hard to forget.

 

33. Super Bowl XV: The Superdome Sports a Big Yellow Ribbon

During the Iran hostage crisis from 1979-81, wearing a yellow ribbon symbolized that you wanted those Americans held at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran to be freed. The Louisiana Superdome got in the act by displaying a gigantic ribbon on its exterior before the big game five days after the hostages were freed. It represented a true moment of national solidarity.

 

32. Super Bowl X: Jack Lambert Tosses Cliff Harris to the Ground

Down 10-7 to the Cowboys, Steelers kicker Roy Gerela lined up for a 33-yard field goal and missed his second attempt of the game. When Cowboy safety Cliff Harris mocked him, Lambert tossed him to the ground. He was not ejected and it fired the Steelers up.

 

31. Super Bowl XLIII: James Harrison Returns Goal Line Interception for Touchdown

The zone blitz was in full effect 18 seconds before halftime. Down 10-7 to the Steelers, Cardinal quarterback Kurt Warner lined up on the Pittsburgh one-yard line and fired a pass to Anquan Boldin, but linebacker James Harrison intercepted it and ran 99 yards for a touchdown with no time remaining. The shocking play ultimately made the difference in the game’s outcome.

 

 

30. Super Bowl II: Vince Lombardi is Carried Off the Field

After trouncing the Raiders 33-14, the Packers carried head coach Vince Lombardi off the field. It would be his last game as head coach of the Packers. Lombardi would spend one more season in Green Bay as the general manager before coaching the Redskins in 1969 prior to his passing in September 1970. The image of him being carried off the field is how many us of prefer to remember him.

 

29. Super Bowl XXVIII: Emmitt Smith Takes Control

After going in at halftime down 13-6 to the Bills, the Cowboys tied the game and then put together a 64-yard touchdown drive. Smith accounted for 61 of those yards. When he smashed into the end zone, Smith gave what may have been the most animated celebration of his career.

 

28. Super Bowl XIV: Terry Bradshaw and John Stallworth Touchdown Drop a Bomb on the Rams

Down 19-17 to the Los Angeles Rams and facing third down with eight yards to go in the fourth quarter, Bradshaw hit Stallworth deep in the middle of the field and he raced into the end zone for a 73-yard score. The Steelers never trailed again.

 

27. Super Bowl XLIX: Jermaine Kearse’s Amazing Catch

Down 28-24 to the Patriots, the Seahawks had time for one final drive. Seattle made it down to New England’s five-yard line thanks to a Russell Wilson pass intended for Jermaine Kearse that was initially deflected by Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler. Despite the sound play by Butler, the ball managed to deflect right into Kearse’s hands, who made the critical catch lying on the ground. Kearse got off the turf and kept running, as Butler saved the touchdown by pushing the Seahawk receiver out of bounds and was ultimately vindicated a few plays later.

 

26. Super Bowl XXVII: Leon Lett Celebrates Too Early

The Cowboys were killing the Bills when Lett recovered a fumble and ran towards the end zone. When he got to the 10-yard line, he slowed down and held the ball out to showboat. Bills wide receiver Don Beebe caught up with him and knocked the ball out of his hands into the end zone for a touchback. Lett’s big mistake was slowing down.

 

25. Super Bowl XIII: Jackie Smith is the Sickest Man in America

Smith was one of the best tight ends to ever play the game. It is a shame that he is remembered for dropping a touchdown pass in the last game of his career, but that is the tragic side of the Super Bowl. Down 21-14 to the Steelers on third down in the third quarter, Roger Staubach threw a pass to Smith in the end zone, which he dropped. Cowboys’ radio announcer Verne Lundquist immortalized the play when he said, “Bless his heart, he’s got to be the sickest man in America.”

 

24. Super Bowl XXX: Larry Brown Snags Two Picks

Brown became an unlikely Super Bowl MVP when he intercepted two Neil O’Donnell passes in the second half. The Steelers quarterback was under heavy pressure from the Cowboys and the passes seemed to be thrown directly to Brown,  but as the Roman philosopher Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

 

23. Super Bowl III: Joe Namath Raises His Finger

After upsetting the Colts, the generally loquacious Jets quarterback did not need to say anything. He simply raised his forefinger as he ran off the field to tell the crowd what they already know.

 

22. Super Bowl XXI: The “Original” Gatorade Shower

There is a bit of disagreement over who actually started the Gatorade shower, but one thing’s for certain: it became a tradition after the Giants did it to head coach Bill Parcells after beating the Broncos in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 25, 1987.

 

21. Super Bowl XXII: The Redskins Score 35 Points in the Second Quarter

Down 10-0 to the Broncos at the end of the first quarter, the Redskins put together the most lopsided quarter in the history of the Super Bowl. The numbers are unbelievable. The Redskins scored 35 unanswered points, as Doug Williams threw for 228 yards and four touchdowns and Ricky Williams ran for 122 yards and a touchdown. The game was over by halftime.

 

20. Super Bowl XXXI: Desmond Howard Seals Win with 99-Yard Kick Return

With his Packers holding a slim 27-21 lead in the third quarter, Howard returned a Patriots kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. The then-record return sealed the Packers’ victory and Howard’s MVP honors.

 

19. Super Bowl XLVII: The Lights Go Out in the Superdome

Baltimore led San Francisco 28-6 in the third quarter when a power outage cut many of the lights out in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  The game was suspended for 34 minutes and when the lights came back on, San Francisco staged a roaring comeback.

 

 

18. Super Bowl XVI: The Greatest Goal-Line Stand in Super Bowl History

Down 20-7 to San Francisco in the third quarter, the Bengals had the ball on the 49ers’ three-yard line. Cincinnati was unable to punch it in on four tries and half the 49er defense jumped in celebration. The other half collapsed in exhaustion.

 

17. Super Bowl XLIV: Sean Payton Surprises Colts with Second-Half Onside Kick

Down 10-6 with the Colts set to receive the ball at the start of the second half, Saints head coach Sean Payton surprised Indianapolis with an onside kick. New Orleans recovered and scored, thus shifting the momentum in the game.

 

16. Super Bowl VII: “Garo’s Gaffe”

Leading the Redskins 14-0 in the final minutes of the game, kicker Garo Yepremian lined up to kick a field goal that would have capped the Dolphins’ 17-0 season with a 17-0 win. Yepremian’s kick was too low and blocked. Yepremian then picked up the ball and attempted a pitiful pass, which was intercepted by cornerback Mike Bass, who ran it into the end zone for a touchdown. It remains the greatest folly in Super Bowl history.

 

15. Super Bowl XLVI: Mario Manningham Keeps Giants Alive with Spectacular Catch

Down 17-15 to the Patriots late in the fourth quarter, the Giants attempted one last drive. They were able to score thanks to a spectacular sideline catch by Manningham at midfield.

 

14. Super Bowl XVIII: Marcus Allen Runs with the Night

Marcus Allen rushed for 191 yards in this game, but his most memorable carry was a 74-yard touchdown on the last play of the third quarter. The play was best summed up by NFL Films’ John Facenda in his last voice-over work when he said, "As Washington's hopes faded into the dying daylight, on came Marcus Allen, running with the night."

 

13. Super Bowl V: Jim O’Brien Kicks the Game-Winning Field Goal

The game, also known as “The Blunder Bowl,” had a cornucopia of errors, but O’Brien’s game-winning kick in the final seconds gave it a thrilling finish.

 

12. Super Bowl XXV: Whitney Houston Sings an Amazing National Anthem

Nothing needs to be said, just listen.

 

 

11. Super Bowl XXXIV: Kevin Dyson is Tackled One Yard Short

"It is caught by Dyson. Can he get in? No, He Cannot! Mike Jones made the tackle...and the Rams have won the Super Bowl!" – Al Michaels

 

10. Super Bowl XVII: John Riggins Runs for a Touchdown on Fourth and One

Down 17-13 to the Dolphins and facing fourth-and-one with 10:10 left in the game, the Redskins gave the ball to John Riggins. Not only did Diesel get the first down, he barreled 57 yards into the end zone.

 

9. Super Bowl X: Lynn Swann Makes Leaping Catch

All four of Swann’s catches in this game were memorable, but his greatest was an acrobatic 53-yard reception in which he bobbled the ball in mid-air and came down with it.

 

8. Super Bowl XXXVI: Adam Vinatieri Kick Starts Patriots Dynasty

Tied 17-17 with the Rams, the Patriots got the ball back with less than 90 seconds left in the game. Instead of running out the clock, Tom Brady drove the team into field goal range and Vinatieri booted the game-winner as time expired. It was only the beginning.

 

7. Super Bowl XXV: Scott Norwood Kicks Wide Right

The closest game in Super Bowl history came down to a field goal attempt by the Bills. Kicker Scott Norwood lined up to attempt and his kick sailed wide right giving the Giants a 20-19 win.

 

6. Super Bowl XLIII: Santonio Holmes Seals Win with Picture-Perfect Catch

This game came down to a final drive by the Steelers that was punctuated with Holmes’ touchdown reception in which he went airborne in the corner of the end zone and managed to keep his feet in bounds after he landed.

 

5. Super Bowl XXXII: John Elway Goes Airborne

After losing three Super Bowls, Elway found himself tied 17-17 with the Packers in the third quarter. Facing third down and six yards to go with no open receivers, Elway scrambled and went airborne to pick up the first down. At that moment, it became clear that this night would be different for Elway and the Broncos.

 

4. Super Bowl XLIX: Malcolm Butler Saves Game with Goal-Line Interception

With Seattle on New England’s one-yard line with a few seconds left, it appeared that the Seahawks would emerge victorious. However, Butler saved the day with a perfect read and an unforgettable interception.

 

3. Super Bowl XXIII: San Francisco’s 92-Yard Game-winning Drive

There have been numerous game-winning drives in the last 15 Super Bowls, but this 92-yard drive led by Joe Montana and punctuated with a pass to John Taylor was the first.

 

2. Super Bowl III: Joe Namath Makes Bold Guarantee

A few days prior to the game, Namath made the bold guarantee that the Jets would win. The shot across the bow would be a footnote if he hadn’t backed it up… but he did.

 

1. Super Bowl XLII: David Tyree’s Helmet Catch

The fact that Eli Manning was able to break away from tacklers and throw this pass was remarkable. The way Tyree caught it made for the most incredible moment in the history of the big game.

 

 

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.

 

(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Teaser:
Top 50 Super Bowl Moments of All Time
Post date: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/cam-newton-super-bowl-commercial-li-51-miranda-kerr-buick-ad-carolina-panthers-kids
Body:

Cam Newton may not be playing in Super Bowl LI but you can catch him in one of the primetime commercials.

 

The Panthers quarterback stars in a Buick commercial, with a cameo by Miranda Kerr, and he shows no mercy on the field no matter how young his opponents are.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 09:54
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/ranking-10-best-college-football-recruiting-classes-2005-2017
Body:

Championship teams in college football are not pieced together by one recruiting class. They are built over multiple cycles. Clemson's recent national championship team was built on recruiting classes that were not necessarily considered the best in the country at the time but included key ingredients spread out over several years.

 

Related: A Closer Look at Clemson’s and Notre Dame’s Recent Recruiting Classes

 

This is why recruiting is referred to as the lifeblood of a college football program. If you strikeout with one recruiting class, it will come back to really hurt you at some point in the next three or four years.

 

Not every program can recruit at a consistently high level like Alabama continues to do, but a handful of programs can bring in a program-changing class. We took a look back at a ranking of the top 10 recruiting classes since 2005 and made a couple of updates given what has transpired over the course of the last year. While most of the list remains in tact, there were a couple of updates that were needed given how some players have performed at the next level and how this last season played out.

 

Note: Team ranks referenced for that year come from 247 Sports Composite

 

1. Alabama, 2008

Rank: 3rd (33 signees)

 

Key Players: Mark Barron, Julio Jones, Terrence Cody, Marcell Dareus, Dont'a Hightower, Mark Ingram, Barrett Jones, Courtney Upshaw, Damion Square, Michael Williams, Robert Lester, Brad Smelley

 

Every dynasty must begin somewhere. For Alabama, it started with the 2008 crop, Nick Saban’s first class with a full recruiting cycle to work his magic. It not only set the tone, but also laid the groundwork for the success to come for the Crimson Tide. Many players in this class became key ingredients in Alabama’s 2009 BCS title run and later in 2011 and even 2012. Besides All-Americans like Mark Barron, Dont’a Hightower, Barrett Jones and Courtney Upshaw, this class also included Mark Ingram, Alabama’s first Heisman Trophy winner.

 

2. Florida, 2006

Rank: 2nd (24 signees)

 

Key Players: Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Brandon Spikes, Maurice Hurt, Riley Cooper, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon James, Marcus Gilbert, Lawrence Marsh, Terron Sanders, Dustin Doe, AJ Jones, Carl Johnson

 

Florida’s 2006 haul would become the core of a national championship run under Urban Meyer, and it is easy to see why. Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and stars in the making in Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes brought a new level of athleticism and energy to the Gators program. With this class leading the charge, Florida would win two BCS national titles.

 

3. Alabama, 2009

Rank: 2nd (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

 

Alabama’s 2008 crop was just the first piece of the championship puzzle. Saban’s work needed to be followed up the following year by continuing to add quality depth to the roster. He got it in 2009 with the likes of Trent Richardson, Dre Kirkpatrick, Chance Warmack, Eddie Lacy, Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood and AJ McCarron, who would become the starting quarterback following Greg McElroy’s run in Tuscaloosa.  Six players went on to become first-round draft picks in the NFL and this crop of players helped push Alabama from very good to great en route to a pair of BCS national titles.

 

4. Oklahoma, 2006

Rank: 8th (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

 

Getting quarterback Sam Bradford and running back DeMarco Murray in the same recruiting class alone is enough to make this Sooners class special, but that was just the beginning. Bradford would go on to win the Heisman Trophy and Murray would later become one of the top running backs in the NFL, but do not overlook the other parts of this class, such as defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, tight end Jermaine Gresham and offensive tackle Trent Williams. All three went in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, as did Bradford. This core helped take Oklahoma to the BCS national title game in 2008, where it was topped by Florida.

 

5. Ohio State, 2013

Rank: 2nd (26 signees)

 

Key Players: Joey Bosa, Vonn Bell, Jalin Marshall, Eli Apple, Ezekiel Elliott, Dontre Wilson, J.T. Barrett, Darron Lee

 

The stock for Ohio State's 2013 group is rising given how running back Ezekiel Elliott took the NFL by storm in his rookie season with the Dallas Cowboys in 2016, and Joey Bosa proved why he was such a high draft pick of the Chargers as well. Urban Meyer’s masterful work in rebuilding Ohio State certainly paid off with this class that would become the main core of the Buckeyes’ College Football Playoff championship run. Bosa was among the best defensive ends in the game. Elliott became one of the top rushers in the country and J.T. Barrett stepped in and saved the 2014 season following the preseason loss of Braxton Miller and is coming off a season that netted him a share of The Silver Football Award as the Big Ten's best player in 2016. Throw in contributions from players like Vonn Bell, Eli Apple and Darron Lee and you have the makings of a championship defense.

 

6. Florida State, 2011

Rank: 2nd (29 signees)

 

Key Players: Kelvin Benjamin, Nick O'Leary, Timmy Jernigan, Terrance Smith, Tank Carradine, Rashad Greene, Karlos Williams, Bobby Hart, Devonta Freeman, Josue Matias, Tre Jackson, Nile Lawrence-Stample, Nick Waisome

 

The 2011 class was the first under a full recruiting cycle for head coach Jimbo Fisher, and it was a grand one. It was this group of recruits that lay the brickwork for Florida State’s three straight ACC titles, a BCS title run in 2013 and help lead the Seminoles into the Playoff the following season. Before the world knew much about Jameis Winston, Fisher added key players such as Kelvin Benjamin, a first-round draft pick in 2014, one of the nation’s top tight ends in Nick O’Leary, and offensive weapons like Karlos Williams and Devonta Freeman.

 

7. Alabama, 2010

Rank: 5th (25 signees)

 

Key Players: C.J. Mosley, Dee Milliner, Blake Sims, Brandon Ivory, Jalston Fowler, Arie Kouandjio, Chad Lindsay, Austin Shepherd, DeAndrew White, Adrian Hubbard, Brian Vogler, Nick Perry, Jarrick Williams, Deion Belue

 

Alabama just does not stop recruiting big talent, as was demonstrated in 2010. With the '08 and '09 classes establishing the foundation for Alabama’s dynasty, the '10 crop assured Alabama would not be dropping off very far anytime soon. This group packed the likes of C.J. Mosley and Dee Milliner, who became top defensive players for Alabama on a 2012 BCS title run. This class may not have achieved quite the same level of success in terms of championships, but it made sure Alabama was still a team few would want to play.

 

8. LSU, 2009

Rank: 1st (25 signees)

 

Key Players: Michael Brockers, Morris Claiborne, Kevin Minter, Rueben Randle, Chris Faulk, Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo, Chris Davenport, Bennie Logan, Michael Ford, Craig Loston, Josh Downs, Stavion Lowe, Lamin Barrow, Russell Shepard

 

When LSU ran the table and advanced to the BCS National Championship Game in 2011, it was this class that led the way. Morris Claiborne, Michael Brockers and Barkevious Mingo would go on to be first-round NFL Draft picks. This class may not have achieved national title success (See Alabama, 2008, '09, '10) but Les Miles proved he was more than capable of landing a top-ranked class. He might do so again in 2016 too.

 

9. Clemson, 2013

Rank: 15th (22 Signees)

 

Key Players: Mackensie Alexander, Shaq Lawson, Ben Boulware, Mike Williams, Wayne Gallman, Cordrea Tankersley, Jordan Leggett, Jayron Kearse, T.J. Green

 

Clemson's recent national championship run with back-to-back national title game appearances was fueled by two brilliant recruiting classes. While the 2014 group brought Clemson Deshaun Watson, the overall depth of the 2013 class puts them just over the edge when deciding between the two. Clemson landed some of the best players the program has ever had with linebacker Ben Boulware, wide receiver Mike Williams and running back Wayne Gallman. The class has already produced a quartet of NFL Draft picks with linebacker Shaq Lawson (No. 19 overall, Buffalo), five-star cornerback Mackensie Alexander (2nd round, No. 54 overall, Minnesota), fellow corner T.J. Green (2nd, No. 57 overall, Indianapolis) and safety Jayron Kearse (7th round, Minnesota) all being selected in 2016.

 

10. Oregon, 2008

Rank: 23rd (24 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

 

Oregon’s final recruiting class under Mike Bellotti set the tone for Chip Kelly in the coming years. The highlight of the class is running back LaMichael James, but this class included two starting quarterbacks, Jeremiah Masoli and Darron Thomas. It also added to that signature Oregon offensive style with Kenjon Barner and the physical LeGarrette Blount. Defensive end Dion Jordan would go on to become the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft as well.

 

Class to Keep a Close Eye On in 2017: USC, 2015

Rank: 2nd (26 signees)

 

Key Players: Sam Darnold, Ricky Town, Ronald Jones II, Rasheem Green, Porter Gustin, Marvell Tell, Iman Marshall)

 

USC's 2015 group is already blossoming and helping to make the Men of Troy a legitimate contender once again. The class brought in rising quarterback Sam Darnold as well as Ricky Town. Town has since transferred to Arkansas and is now hitting the JUCO circuit before potentially returning to an FBS program for the 2018 season, so keep an eye out for him next year. But this Trojans class also has seen production already from players like defensive linemen Rasheem Green and Porter Gustin (top 11 in Pac-12 in sacks in 2016) and running back Ronald Jones II (seventh-leading rusher in Pac-12 in 2016) and Iman Marshall (three interceptions in 2016). With USC expected to be a Pac-12 favorite in 2016, the Class of 2015 is a big reason why.

 

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook

Teaser:
Ranking the 10 Best College Football Recruiting Classes Since 2005
Post date: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 09:30
Path: /nfl/super-bowl-li-preview-and-predictions-new-england-patriots-vs-atlanta-falcons
Body:

After 266 games, countless highlight-reel touchdowns and plenty of remarkable upsets, 60 minutes is all that stands in our way from the conclusion of the 2016-17 NFL season and the crowning of a new Super Bowl champion. While the road was long, winding, and full of doubters along the way, New England and Atlanta are all that are left standing in the pro football world. Now, one of the two teams is ever so close to capturing the sport’s ultimate prize and holding up that famous Lombardi Trophy.

 

For the Patriots’ dynasty, this whole process is a bit of a “rinse and repeat” situation as they look for a historic fifth title down in Houston. The team marched through the regular season with just two blemishes and managed the league’s best record despite star quarterback Tom Brady missing the first four games of the year. Bill Belichick’s defense is as stout as expected, playing the run extremely well while limiting penalties and big plays through the passing game. Though the numbers are always impressive for a team that seems to consistently excel in the postseason, the fact that so many unexpected contributors have stepped up in the face of some key injuries is one of the biggest reasons why this team is in position to win the big game once again.

 

MVP candidate Matt Ryan and the rest of the Falcons aren’t flinching in the face of all that however. The league’s most potent offense is much more than just their starting signal-caller, as Julio Jones is the most dangerous wideout in the game right now and the two-headed rushing attack of Devota Freeman and Tevin Coleman will make you pay if there’s even a sliver of daylight to run through. Atlanta’s defense may not have the overall numbers to suggest this unit is an elite group, but it has limited ring-holders Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers on the way to the NFC title and the Falcons sport some top-notch defenders like pass rush extraordinaire Vic Beasley Jr.

 

All of which brings us to the final game of the season and what should be one of the more evenly matched Super Bowls in recent years. Neither team is head and shoulders above the other and there’s little indication as to whether it will be a high-flying shootout or devolve into a grind-it-out game of keep away. This is just the second trip to the big game for Atlanta in franchise history (the other, in 1998, resulted in a loss to the Denver Broncos) and the team has never taken home a Lombardi Trophy. The Patriots, on the other hand, will be making a ninth appearance in the Super Bowl (most in NFL history) and aiming for a fifth ring under the leadership of owner Robert Kraft.

 

As a result, this year’s contest figures to be a memorable one no matter what side ultimately winds up victorious. For the final game of the season, there’s not much more you can ask for than that.

 

Super Bowl LI: New England vs. Atlanta

 

Kickoff: Sunday, Feb. 5 at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: NRG Stadium (Houston)

TV Channel: FOX

Line: Patriots -3, over/under 58.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Dueling Gunslingers

As with every major football game, the focus for most will be on the two quarterbacks in this matchup between a pair of signal-callers that are having career years. On the New England sideline stands Tom Brady, making his record seventh Super Bowl appearance and gunning for a fifth title with the franchise that famously drafted him in the sixth round nearly two decades ago. Much has been made this season — and especially in the run-up to Houston — about the season the quarterback has turned in since his involvement in “Deflategate,” but don’t overlook the fact that he has thrown for an eye-popping 33 touchdowns and just four interceptions despite a surrounding cast that wasn’t exactly a laundry list of Pro Bowlers. If he’s able to come out with a victory on Sunday, be prepared for plenty of talk about being the G.O.A.T. as he would move past Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana with that fifth ring.

 

His opposite number is no slouch however, and has put up MVP-caliber numbers in leading the league’s best offense to the doorstep of the ultimate game. Matt Ryan led the NFL in passer rating this season and has been, hard as it is to believe, even better in the postseason — throwing for 18 touchdowns and no picks in the Falcons’ current six-game winning streak. While the quarterback has been able to lob one up to the amazing Julio Jones, the Atlanta offense is much more than just its star wide receiver with 13 different players catching a pass in the end zone for a new league record. This is a versatile and explosive group to try and stop and the biggest reason for that is its remarkable leader under center.

 

2. Finding Stops

It should come as no surprise that these two prolific offenses are being highlighted but the other side of the ball features two units that very well will decide the ultimate outcome of the ultimate game. The Patriots and their defensive-minded head coach gave up the fewest points in the NFL this season and have one of the most versatile groups in the game. Secondary options like Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and recent Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler are some of the headliners on the back end for New England but the team’s front seven defenders like Rob Ninkovich, Chris Long and Dont’a Hightower provide plenty of push up front for a unit that has shut down numerous ground games. The ability to mix-and-match personnel options or keep a group on the field that is fluid enough to stop an up-tempo attack will no doubt play a role in slowing down the best offense in the league.

 

Dan Quinn is just in his second season as Atlanta’s head coach but he has already done a terrific job turning around the Falcons’ defense from lackluster to one of the better groups in the NFC. That reversal in fortune has come in lockstep with a youth movement: second-year player Vic Beasley Jr. led the league in sacks (15.5) and the team starts four rookies, including hard-hitting safety Keanu Neal. The group has really turned things up during the team’s winning streak and has shut down former Super Bowl winners Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers in back-to-back weeks. Is a third straight heroic effort too much to ask for? We’ll soon find out.

 

3. X-Factors

As much as you study the matchups, break down the depth charts and figure out all the chess moves each coaching staff is bound to put together, there’s always a surprise star or two that ends up becoming a Super Bowl hero. The Patriots know that better than most having Malcom Butler on their roster and the Falcons are no stranger to being on the losing end as a result of a surprising breakout performance too.

 

As a result, don’t sleep on somebody like Atlanta wide receiver Taylor Gabriel or Justin Hardy going off or having somebody like Brian Poole step up on defense. New England wideout Chris Hogan has been so prolific this postseason that even his story might be over-emphasized but tailbacks Dion Lewis or even D.J. Foster could be potent weapons in the Patriots’ passing game out of the backfield. Given the pass-happy attack the Falcons trot out, don’t be shocked if athletic linebackers like Kyle Van Noy and Barkevious Mingo go from being talked about as castoffs to key contributors on game day.

 

Related: 5 X-Factors for Super Bowl LI

 

Final Thoughts

 

An NFL season is full of twists and turns, shocking surprises and unpredictable feats. Left standing at the end of this year’s campaign are two teams few would have predicted back in September but, upon closer examination, seem perfectly fit for the moment at hand on Sunday.

 

Out of the AFC comes a motivated New England squad bent on having the last laugh from a tumultuous Deflategate saga that finally came to a close this season. Quarterback Tom Brady has turned in one of his best years ever and continues to perform like one of the elite players in the league at the ripe old age of 39, leading an offense that is as prolific as it is versatile. As usual though, the Patriots are one of the most balanced teams around under future Hall of Fame head coach Bill Belichick and sport another stellar defense that is tough to figure out and even tougher to get past.

 

NFC champion Atlanta is not fazed by the star power on the other sideline however, as the Falcons have been shattering records left and right on their way to Houston. Matt Ryan and the offense are certainly the headliners, proving difficult to stop whether they utilize the dynamic ground game of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, or the aerial attack involving stud Julio Jones and numerous other explosive and productive targets. Don’t sleep on the Atlanta defense either, no matter how maligned this young unit may be entering the game considering it has been phenomenal down the stretch and has taken things to another level to make it to the final game of the season.

 

Legacies are on the line and spots in the hallowed pantheon of the game are at stake. Two teams, one game, and the ultimate prize awaits on Sunday when Super Bowl LI kicks off.

 

Athlon Editors' Super Bowl LI Predictions

Editor Winner Score MVP
Rob Doster 34-31 Tom Brady
John Gworek 33-27 Tom Brady
Steven Lassan 34-31 Matt Ryan
Mitch Light 34-27 Matt Ryan
Rich McVey 31-28 Matt Ryan
Mark Ross 35-34 Julio Jones
Jasmine Watkins 38-28 Tom Brady

 

AthlonSports.com NFL/Fantasy Contributors' Super Bowl LI Predictions

Contributor Winner Score MVP
Nicholas Ian Allen 31-28 Matt Ryan
Tom Bowles 38-24 Tom Brady
Bryan Fischer 31-28 LeGarrette Blount
Elton Hayes 28-21 Tom Brady
Matt Josephs 28-23 Tom Brady
Adam Kurkjian 31-28 Tom Brady
John La Fleur 38-30 Tom Brady
Sarah Lewis 37-31 Tom Brady
Rob McVey 30-27 Tom Brady
Jake Rose 38-34 Tom Brady
J.P. Scott 34-31 Julian Edelman
Antwan Staley 31-23 Tom Brady
Aaron Tallent 27-23 Chris Hogan
Scott Whittum 34-31 Matt Ryan

 

— Preview by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.

Teaser:
Super Bowl LI Preview and Predictions: New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons
Post date: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 09:00
Path: /golf/draftkings-golf-lineup-picks-pgas-waste-management-phoenix-open
Body:

Trying to find your optimal DraftKings lineup for this week's (Feb. 2-5) golf tournament: the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Ariz.? Our fantasy golf experts are ready to help.


Here's what our optimal lineup looks like.

 

Justin Thomas ($11,500)

JT has been in sync like nobody else since September. He has wins in three of his last five tournaments, and he's coming off a week of rest.

 

Phil Mickelson ($8,400)

Lefty's more at home in the desert than a camel. He's a three-time winner at Phoenix, and he's coming off a solid T14 at the Farmers. 

 

Bubba Watson ($8,300)

Bubba's last top 5 on Tour came last March. So why is he on this list? Here's why: In his last five appearances at Phoenix, he's gone T17, T2, T2, 15th and T5.

 

Matt Kuchar ($7,400)

Kuchar is making his 2017 debut this week. We've had bad luck with players coming off long layoffs, but we trust Kooch to finish in the money this week.

 

Keegan Bradley ($7,400)

Bradley seems to be rounding back into form after a long time in the golf wilderness. He's coming off a T4 at the Farmers, his best showing on Tour in two years.

 

Louis Oosthuizen ($6,900)

Oostie hasn't missed a cut since the 2016 British Open. There's a lot to be said for a guy who you can trust to show up and cash a check.

 

DraftKings Best Golf Lineup for the Phoenix Open

 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 - 18:40
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/lane-kiffin-fau-video-gets-hilariously-recreated-owls-si-staples-russillo-kanell-recruiting
Body:

Lane Kiffin is trying to let everyone know that FAU is the place to sign.

 

Unfortunately, the Owls head coach didn't bring much enthusiasm when he decided to appear in the video.

 

 

Calm down there, Lane. At least look like you're happy to be there. The video was so hilariously talked about on Twitter that it was inevitable that the spoofs would come. Danny Kanell and Andy Staples both got in on the fun.

 

 

 

Nailed it.

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 - 15:22
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/50-greatest-super-bowl-performances-all-time
Body:

Every team enters the Super Bowl planning to win and not too worried about how they do it. However, it usually takes an exceptional performance by a player or two to seal the deal.

 

An exceptional Super Bowl performance is not just defined by MVP honors. There are so many other factors, including but not limited to, statistics, contributions to the team and the adversity the player faced. Whittling down the list is not easy, but here are 50 performances that have stood out over the past half-century.

 

Related: Super Bowl MVPs: A Complete List from Super Bowl I to 50

 

50. Roger Craig, RB, San Francisco 49ers – Super Bowl XIX

The 49ers’ offense spread the workload in its 38-16 victory over the Dolphins, but Craig carried a good portion of it, running for 58 yards, catching seven passes for 77 yards and scoring three touchdowns.

 

49. Jake Delhomme, QB, Carolina Panthers – Super Bowl XXXVIII

He saved his best performance of the 2003 season for last, throwing for 323 yards and three touchdowns. If it weren’t for an Adam Vinatieri field goal at the end, Delhomme might be higher on this list.

 

48. Ottis Anderson, RB, New York Giants – Super Bowl XXV

To stop the Bills’ no-huddle attack, the Giants’ offense needed to control the clock. Anderson rose to the challenge, carrying the ball 21 times for 102 yards and a touchdown.

 

47. Hines Ward, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers – Super Bowl XL

Ward caught five clutch passes for 123 yards, including a 43-yard toss from wide receiver Antwaan Randle El for a touchdown.

 

46. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals – Super Bowl XLIII

Fitzgerald caught seven passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns, including one that put the Cardinals in position to win. Sadly for him, the Steelers still had time.

 

45. Max McGee, WR, Green Bay Packers – Super Bowl I

McGee came off the bench to score the first touchdown in Super Bowl history. He finished the day with seven receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns. And he did it all with a wicked hangover.

 

44. John Elway, QB, Denver Broncos – Super Bowl XXXIII

Elway’s MVP performance was a fitting cap to a Hall of Fame career.

 

43. Ricky Sanders, WR, Washington Redskins – Super Bowl XXII

The first of three players in this game to appear on this list, Sanders kick-started Washington’s second quarter explosion with an 80-yard score. He finished the day with nine receptions for 193 yards and two touchdowns, not counting a pass from President Ronald Reagan at the White House.

 

42. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts – Super Bowl XLI

Manning guided the Colts’ offense past the Bears in workmanlike fashion in the rain.

 

41. Clarence Davis, RB, Oakland Raiders – Super Bowl XI

Davis rushed 16 times for 137 yards, averaging 8.5 yards per carry against the Minnesota Vikings’ Purple People Eaters, one of the best defensive lines of all time.

 

40. Chuck Howley, LB, Dallas Cowboys – Super Bowl V

The Colts committed seven turnovers, including two interceptions by Howley, and still won. Howley remains the only member of a losing team to be named Super Bowl MVP.

 

39. Brett Favre, QB, Green Bay Packers – Super Bowl XXXI

Favre was excellent in his only Super Bowl victory, throwing for 246 yards and two touchdowns and running for another. He also did not make any mistakes.

 

38. Rod Martin, LB, Oakland Raiders – Super Bowl XV

Martin picked off Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski three times, a Super Bowl record that still stands.

 

37. Bart Starr, QB, Green Bay Packers – Super Bowl II

Starr called his own plays and guided the Packers’ offense in a rout of the Raiders.

 

36. Jake Scott, DB, Miami Dolphins – Super Bowl VII

Scott intercepted two passes, including one in the end zone in the fourth quarter, to help secure the Dolphins’ close win over the Redskins.

 

35. Roger Staubach, QB, Dallas Cowboys – Super Bowl VI

After earning the starting job earlier in the season, Staubach put on a passing clinic, completing 12 to six different receivers.

 

34. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints – Super Bowl XLIV

The Colts virtually shut down the Saints’ running game so Brees took to the air, completing 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards, and helped regain New Orleans’ pride.

 

33. John Stallworth, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers – Super Bowl XIV

Stallworth only had three receptions, but they were for 121 yards and included a 73-yard bomb that pulled the Steelers ahead of the Rams for good.

 

32. Timmy Smith, RB, Washington Redskins – Super Bowl XXII

Smith shocked everyone when he ran for a Super Bowl-record 204 yards. Then he disappeared off the face of the Earth.

 

31. Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens – Super Bowl XLVII

Flacco did not throw any picks during the Ravens’ playoff run. He showed the same discipline in the Super Bowl, while throwing for 287 yards and three touchdowns.

 

30. Fred Biletnikoff, WR, Oakland Raiders – Super Bowl XI

Three of Biletnikoff’s four receptions set up Raider touchdowns.

 

29. Dwight Smith, DB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Super Bowl XXXVII

Smith returned two picks for touchdowns in the Buccaneers’ 48-21 dismantling of the Raiders.

 

28. Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants – Super Bowl XLVI

In this war of attrition, Manning did not make any mistakes and made big plays when needed. What more could anyone ask for? 

 

27. Malcolm Smith, LB, Seattle Seahawks – Super Bowl XLVIII

With the Broncos driving in Seahawk territory in the second quarter and threatening to cut into Seattle’s 15-0 lead, Smith intercepted Peyton Manning’s pass and ran 69 yards for touchdown. He also recovered a fumble and had nine tackles.

 

26. Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos – Super Bowl 50

How vital was Miller to the Broncos’ domination of the Panthers? He had six tackles, two and a half sacks and forced two fumbles. The first fumble was recovered by Malik Jackson in the end zone for a Denver score. The second squashed Carolina’s chances of winning and led to another Bronco touchdown.

 

25. Emmitt Smith, RB, Dallas Cowboys – Super Bowl XXVIII

Smith did the heavy lifting for the Cowboys’ offense in this game, rushing for 132 yards on 30 carries and scoring two touchdowns.

 

24. Jim Plunkett, QB, Oakland Raiders – Super Bowl XV

After experiencing a revival of his career in Oakland, Plunkett took care of business in the Super Bowl, throwing for 261 yards and three touchdowns.

 

23. Santonio Holmes, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers – Super Bowl XLIII

Holmes caught nine passes for 131 yards and most importantly, he kept his toes in bounds for the game-winning score.

 

22. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers – Super Bowl XLV

Rodgers accounted for most of his team’s offense as the Packers held on to beat the Steelers.

 

21. Troy Aikman, QB, Dallas Cowboys – Super Bowl XXVII

Aikman threw four touchdown passes as the Cowboys slaughtered the Bills.

 

20. Terry Bradshaw, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers – Super Bowl XIII

Facing an equally determined foe in Roger Staubach, Bradshaw put together his best Super Bowl performance, throwing for 318 yards and four touchdowns. Both were records at the time.

 

19. Richard Dent, DE, Chicago Bears – Super Bowl XX

Dent had 1.5 sacks, forced two fumbles and blocked a pass as the ’85 Bears crushed the Patriots.

 

18. Desmond Howard, KR/PR, Green Bay Packers – Super Bowl XXXI

Howard is the only player to be named Super Bowl MVP because of his special teams work. His kick and punt returns produced 244 yards and included a 99-yard touchdown that sealed the Packers’ victory.

 

17. Joe Montana, QB, San Francisco 49ers – Super Bowl XXIV

Montana exposed gaps in the Broncos’ coverage for five touchdowns in the biggest blowout in Super Bowl history.

 

16. Marcus Allen, RB, Los Angeles Raiders – Super Bowl XVIII

Allen rushed for 191 yards on 20 carries and put the nail in the Redskins’ coffin with a 74-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

 

15. Steve Young, QB, San Francisco 49ers – Super Bowl XXIX

A Super Bowl-record six touchdown passes. Enough said.

 

14. Kurt Warner, QB, St. Louis Rams – Super Bowl XXXIV

His 414 yards passing is a still a Super Bowl record. Plus, he did not throw a single interception in a game that came down to the last play.

 

13. Larry Csonka, RB, Miami Dolphins – Super Bowl VIII

Csonka accounted for more than half of the Dolphins’ offense as the Vikings were not able to stop him.

 

12. Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants – Super Bowl XLII

Manning’s numbers in this game (19-of-34, 255 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) do not stand out, but he gave a gutsy performance in leading the upset of the greatest team never to win a Super Bowl.

 

11. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots – Super Bowl XXXVIII

Brady engaged in a shootout with the Panthers’ Jake Delhomme and came away victorious, as both quarterbacks passed for more than 300 yards.

 

10. Franco Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers – Super Bowl IX

Harris’ 158 yards rushing was more than the entire Vikings’ offense gained in the entire game.

 

9. Doug Williams, QB, Washington Redskins – Super Bowl XXII

Williams became the first African-American quarterback to win the Super Bowl with a dominant performance that included four touchdown passes in the second quarter.

 

8. John Riggins, RB, Washington Redskins – Super Bowl XVII

Riggins rushed for 166 yards and made the most clutch fourth down carry in Super Bowl history when he broke free for a 43-yard touchdown run.

 

7. Harvey Martin/Randy White, DL, Dallas Cowboys – Super Bowl XII

Martin and White led a Dallas defense that forced eight turnovers. They are the only co-MVPs in Super Bowl history.

 

6. Phil Simms, QB, New York Giants – Super Bowl XXI

Simms had an unbelievable 88 percent completion rate as he threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns.

 

5. Joe Namath, QB, New York Jets – Super Bowl III

Namath’s numbers were not memorable by any stretch of the imagination, but he guaranteed his victory and then called his own plays in an upset that may have saved pro football as we know it.

 

4. Joe Montana, QB, San Francisco 49ers – Super Bowl XIX

Montana’s best Super Bowl performance came against Dan Marino. Joe Cool threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 59 yards and another score.

 

3. Terrell Davis, RB, Denver Broncos – Super Bowl XXXII

The heart and soul of the Broncos’ upset of the Packers was Davis, who rushed for 157 yards on 30 carries. He did all of this while battling a migraine too.

 

2. Lynn Swann, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers – Super Bowl X

You have probably seen every one of his four receptions in this game in Super Bowl highlight reels.

 

1. Jerry Rice, WR, San Francisco 49ers – Super Bowl XXIII

Rice caught 11 passes for a Super Bowl-record 215 yards and scored a touchdown. He also made a clutch first down when the 49ers faced second-and-20 on their legendary 92-yard game-winning drive.

 

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.

 

(Von Miller photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Teaser:
50 Greatest Super Bowl Performances of All Time
Post date: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/dan-le-batard-highly-questionable-espn-sage-steele-stick-sports-politics
Body:

One thing every sports journalist has been told by someone (most likely on Twitter) is to "stick to sports." It's almost like a person has to be closed off to every other part of their life except sports.

 

Dan Le Batard isn't going to go that route. He spoke up about politics, despite a memo ESPN sent to its employees about the importance of sticking to sports.

Le Batard also goes on to address Sage Steele's Instagram comments about the airport protesters. 

 

Via UPROXX:

 

"The genie is out of the bottle on Twitter and social media... ESPN is trying to keep this genie in the bottle by sending out a memo that keeps us from talking politics, but Sage Steele does this — did you guys see this? See what happened with her Instagram? She is a trending topic now throughout the country because she took a picture of LAX and she wrote this: So this is why thousands of us dragged luggage nearly two miles to get to LAX but still missed our flights...

 

This is what ESPN is trying to prevent because once one person does it, it opens the floodgates for the rest of us because of course, I, as the son of exiles, look at this and I'm like what the hell are you talking about your travel plans were affected? What are you talking about? It's the height of privilege. And so, once you start opening that portal, you get ESPN-on-ESPN crime, you get all this stuff that ESPN doesn't want to have, as people think of ESPN as "liberal" leaning. But you can't give this a voice and then muzzle the rest of us. You can't give Sage Steele this voice and then muzzle the son of exiles."

 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 - 11:52

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